18 Sep Deborah Hanekamp
Interview by Crystal Cheng / Photography by Chaunte Vaughn
In a pure white room full of greeneries are intriguing displays of different crystal quartz, sacred minerals, and multicolored crystal singing bowls. It is hard to not think of it as some kind of exclusive day spa on first impression. However, it is actually an intimate sanctuary and healing center opened by the beautiful healer Deborah Hanekamp. Described as fashion’s favorite healer by Vogue magazine, Deborah has a mystic gift and a unique aesthetic, offering personal consultations and healing treatments with her special ability of reading auras.
After a friendly encounter with Deborah, we are all mesmerized by her elegance and ease. Behind her effortless beauty is a profound spiritual journey filled with trials and hardships. Through her continuous determination of practice and self-discovery, Deborah is now grounded with inner peace and devotes to spreading love and assisting many more lost souls with her special treatment — an original spiritual healing experience called Medicine Reading. As we comfortably immerse in Deborah’s revitalizing energy, allow us to guide you further into the insightful visions of her inner contemplation.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your work?
My name is Deborah Hanekamp. For as long as I can remember, I have always been able to see auras, which are the colors and shapes around people. That ability led me to become a very mystical person. When I was 17, I decided to dive in deeply to the world of spirituality and energy healing. I began meditating and practicing yoga, and later on I became a vegetarian and started practicing Reiki. There was a period where I traveled back and forth to Thailand for 5 years, learning sound healing, energy healing, and crystal healing. After that, I also traveled back and forth to Peru for another 8 years, learning Shamanism. Well over the gate of being on a really strong spiritual journey, I started to develop my own form of healing, and that is what is now called Medicine Reading.
Medicine Reading is a one-on-one or group healing experience and also a retreat, where you come and talk about anything that’s going on in your life or things you’d like to clear out. I read your aura while we sit together, then I tell you what I see coming up in your energy; that could be hidden talents and gifts, or things that could be blocking you on your path. Then we do a whole ceremony where I prescribe you a ritual bath and some spiritual homework so that you can be your own healer. I do this in person and via Skype as well. To me, there is no real time and space separation. We are all very connected. So, I can actually communicate through that connection, and from there, I can read the person even through screens.
Medicine Reading is like the sun of Space by Mama Medicine, and all the other offerings and events that we have here are like rays of that sun. I feel like my clients would benefit so much if they are able to experience Medicine Reading with other additional activities, such as the sharing circle.
Did your family or childhood environment help influence you into the field of spirituality as well?
I was actually raised religious in a Baptist tradition, and I grew up in the woods in Connecticut. My grandfather was part Native American. He would often sing to the birds and talk to the trees, and that whole connection he had with nature was so natural to him, which really fascinated me as a child. When I was 12 years old, a lot changed inside my family and my family sort of fell apart. Then from age 12 to 17, I had a very tumultuous upbringing. I was totally on my own and college wasn’t really an option for me. I had to be completely self-sufficient and that actually helped me so much for having a sense of responsibility and need to take care of myself and others. As I look back, I am extremely grateful for the very difficult time I went through with my family because I think it helped me become more compassionate towards others.
During those difficult times, were you able to find peace and balance with your sensibility in spirituality?
I actually think I wanted my sensitivity to go away. I wanted to be less sensitive towards my surroundings. From age 12 to 17, I would just drink, smoke pot, and take psychedelics… all just to try getting away from myself. I was actually purposely trying to keep out of balance. Then, at age 17, I just had this really massive wake-up call, where I decided no drugs, no alcohol, and no more anything that were going to throw me off of how I feel and how I am supposed to feel. That’s when I really started using my sensitivity to help me.
Why Thailand and Peru?
With Thailand, I had a friend who would just go and stay there regularly, and I thought it would be interesting if I could do the same. While I was there, I came across a healer who I felt really active with. I then learned sound healing, energy healing, and crystal healing from her. Being able to see auras, a lot of times I would be skeptical about people who were teaching anything spiritual. But with her, I just felt really comfortable and connected with her, and I kept on going back to learn more from her.
With Peru, it began when I was age 24. I was opening up a yoga space and healing center in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A Shaman from Peru was coming to New York and needed a space to perform a ceremony, and I offered him my space. When we finally met, he said to me: “You are a healer. You have to come and train with me.” And so a whole new chapter began. I started traveling everywhere with him and spending as much time as I possibly could with him. Eventually, I learned more and more about the Shaman ways of healing things. When I was in the Amazons in Peru, there was a very strong sense of familiarity. Peruvian Shamans do a lot of singing and whistling to nature, where I felt a really strong connection to the Native American practice that my grandfather used to do.
The ritual baths play a big part in your Medicine Readings. Can you tell us more about it’s idea?
You can see the ritual baths as a way to be your own healer. To encourage and inspire people to be their own healer is what I ultimately want to do. I feel like the bath is something that we are all very familiar wit. It is an easy way if you just put intention into it, then it can turn out to be a really personal healing experience. That’s the idea of the ritual bath. So, when people come for a medicine healing, I tell them about different plants, crystals, and salts that they can put in their baths according to their healing needs.
A lot of spiritual practices relate to moon phases or astrology. Does your practice find references in those elements at all?
I don’t use astrology too much because I think maybe only 30 percent of our lives can be predestined or predetermined. That could be something that comes up based on the stars you were born under or the tarot readings on that day. But then, there’s also this other 70 percent which is your free will: “These are the stars I was born under and this is what I was destined for. Now, what do I choose to do with that?”
I think sometimes we could easily give our power away to these different sciences. But for me, I want to focus more on empowerment. I want people to walk out of Space by Mama Medicine with a strong sense of “I decide where I’m going and what I’m doing with my life.” But with all that said, there is definitely a lot of influences from the moon and the planets. For example, my ability to see auras gets so much stronger and easier on a full moon, whereas on a new moon, everything is just quieter.
What is your typical work day like? What are your daily routines?
I wake up very early in the morning so I have my own meditation time and time to do some exercise. I then come to work here at Space by Mama Medicine, which is in SoHo, Manhattan. And I take time to just set everything up. I like to touch and clean everything, burn some sage, and just make sure that I clear out and create the space. The Medicine Reading each takes about 1 hour and 15 mins, and I do four a day. After that, I usually have some kind of meeting or event to go to. Then later, I just go home and spend time with my family, make dinner, and go to bed super early. (laughs)
Would you consider your life pretty balanced right now between your work and personal life?
Yeah, definitely. For the first time in a very long time, I actually have the tendency to really work a lot. I just have so much energy (laughs: my poor husband) and I’m just always fired up. I picked around my schedule back in May and reduced my work time to 9:30 – 15:30 Monday to Friday, which turned out to be so good for me. I truly feel so balanced now. I have more time to take care of myself and do the things I’d like to do. The difference is just amazing. My daughter is happy now that I don’t work on weekends, and we get to make art and bake stuff.
Living in the modern digital world, how do you deal with the exposure of technology, and what are your recommendations to people?
I really like the idea of putting your technology to bed at night. Try not putting your phone by your bed when you sleep, and also just two hours before your bed time, try not to look at screens in order to sleep better and let energy clear. When you wake up, also try not to look at any screens for two hours. In the end, have a little bit of discipline with it. Eventually, we’ll start to be aware that tech addiction is just as bad for us as smoking cigarettes. We don’t have enough studies or evidence in life to immediately realize how harmful it is to look at screens all the time. Now, noticing that we’ve spend too much time on technologies, it is important to remind ourselves to go outside, see things in natural light, and be in nature.
If you must keep your phone on at night for alarm purposes, put it on airplane mode!
How does New York shape you? How does the city benefit you from what you do?
New York has a really interesting energy field because the city is built on quartz crystals and minerals. I think that is why everything is amplified here. If you are creative, you will be super creative here; if you’re stressed out, you will be super stressed out.
I’ve always been drawn to New York City and knew that I was going to move here. During my time living here, whenever I tried to leave, I always got pulled right back. When my daughter was born, we actually decided to move down to Peru to stay for a few years. In the end, we stayed for only three months and moved right back to the city. Now, I am at peace being here in the city. I am very grateful for the work and love that the city has given me. I also feel that my work is really needed here because it helps people find balance, calm and peace. That’s why my space ended up being in the center of SoHo.
In New York, you get to encounter all kinds of people. What type of characteristic in a person are you most drawn by?
Compassion. I just love seeing the compassion in people, as well as helping them grow compassion towards themselves and the world that surrounds them.
Are there any special personal practices you do towards yourself when you’re having down time?
Yeah. I have these crystal quartz singing bowls. I play and listen to them to help clear my energy. It is extremely helpful to me because I feel totally restored when I play them.
What are the suggestions you would give when your clients struggle with self-doubt?
It’s really personal depending on what issues the person is going through and who the person is that I’m seeing in front of me. But mostly, I think we just need to be less indoors and in front of a screen, and more outdoor and in front of a stream. The biggest thing I tell people is this: If you are not feeling balanced, if you are feeling off or feeling down, check to see if you’ve been outside enough.
If you could escape your surrounding for one day, where would you like to be?
I can’t really name one specific place because I get so much from every place I go to. That being said, right now, I’ve been really missing the Amazon where I haven’t been back for so long. I would love to go back there.
Do you like to read? What kind of readings do you prefer?
I like to read poetry, especially poetries from Hafiz and Rumi. Their poems are just so beautiful. Almost every single poem I read by either of them, I feel like it’s speaking directly to my soul.
Can you share with us a phrase or a quote that has inspired you deeply?
It is a phrase from The Sunrise Ruby by Rumi:
Work. Keep digging your well.
Don’t think about getting off from work.
Water is there somewhere.
Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that
is a ring on the door.
Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there.
In your past readings, was there any character that you could relate yourself to?
Harry Potter, for sure. Also, Claire from the novel series Outlander, who is a very intuitive person. She is sort of like a witch who doesn’t know her true identity.
If you were a color, what would it be?
Indigo. I think indigo with a little mix of purple.
Any goals for your next step?
I definitely personally want to try being more consistent on getting out to nature. Professionally, I am currently working on finishing a book.
Knowing that you love to wear jewelleries and that you are familiar with different kinds of natural stones and crystals, is there a particular material you like to wear more?
To me, it depends so specifically on what that material has been through, before it comes to me. But I definitely like to wear more gold now. I think gold has a very protective quality that makes me feel good wearing them.
Lastly, how would you like to be seen and remembered?
I would love to be seen and remembered as a person who is very dedicated to sharing and spreading love around the world.
People can easily lose contact within themselves by trying to fit into various extravagant social expectations. But, from Deborah’s serene smile, we found that true beauty comes from the peace and contentment within. Caring and curing go hand in hand, and if we have good intentions and seek inwardly, we can all be our own individual healer. Like a lighthouse in an urban city, Deborah’s Space by Mama Medicine continues to light a way in darkness, guiding numerous lost boats to their own destinations.
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