Not much seems to shock Nancy Baumgarten. At about 2 1/2 years old, her daughter awoke in the middle of the night to report that there were two people standing in the doorway of their room — two people that Baumgarten herself could not see. So Baumgarten — a self-described “’60s flower child” — started an annual camp for families and teens interested in developing their psychic senses.
Nearly three decades later, Baumgarten, 68, is on the heels of publishing her first book, The AWARE HUMAN: Your Psi Senses & MindField Powers, due out in March. She was raised in St. Louis, Mo., by “your standard ’50s country club parents” (her dad was a lawyer, her mom an anthropology buff), and she attended private school before striking out “in search of the meaning of life.” Baumgarten met her daughter’s father on a spiritual study tour in Egypt before finishing her master’s degree in landscape architecture at the University of Georgia.
After a five-year stint on a naval submarine base in King’s Bay, Ga., Baumgarten moved to Jacksonville, Fla., to work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, then settled in Asheville in 1991 to begin a 15-year career in residential design. Her study of metaphysics has spanned 35 years and was inspired by raising her clairaudient-clairvoyant daughter, she says.
Baumgarten has a warm, nurturing presence and fires up when discussing the science behind her beliefs, as well as her hopes for The Profound Awareness Institute — a learning community focusing on psychic intuition, mystic spirituality and the science of the biofield senses.
Mountain Xpress spent a recent afternoon with Baumgarten and her vigilant pup, Ani, at their home in Swannanoa, drinking green tea, discussing her new book and experiencing the act of dowsing. (Baumgarten used divining rods on this reporter to measure her life force field).
Mountain Xpress: The AWARE HUMAN was 10 years in the making. What was the holdup?
Nancy Baumgarten: [My daughter] was 10 years old when one of her angels from the 13th dimension told her we had to write a book. I wanted to find the science to make it defensible. For those people who have an open feeling about them, I very much enjoy sharing the science available that explains the hows of it all. That is precisely why I’ve been developing this book for so long! Amazingly, the science about the “junk” of DNA has just really recently blown the lid off of the whole subject. It is a true game changer.
What will readers take away from your book?
I’m marrying two books together: 1) I want to help parents and children realize they are not crazy; and 2) I am teaching teens and parents how to put everything in a scientific concept. There are inborn gifts, but outside of that, everybody has the capacity to develop intuition. The right and left brain work together. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and. In order to validate my daughter’s thinking beyond the five senses, I created five more. I thought, what would be a better term for seeing and hearing? I didn’t want to use vocabulary that can’t be accepted by everyone. The term “clairvoyant” is French and too wordy. We use instead, “discerning,” “imaging,” “communing,” “vibe-sensing,” or “appreciating.” “Intuitive” is also acceptable — it’s an umbrella term. Our premise is every human being is born with an ability to access a perception of our reality. It just has to be taught.
Do you remember the moment when you first noticed your daughter was gifted beyond the five senses?
She was looking at things in the corner of the room, totally transfixed. She was 2 1/2 [years old]. She woke me up to say that two people were standing in the doorway. I realized no one was there. I said to her, “Tell me what you see.” She said, “Mommy, they’re asking where they are.” I asked, “Who are they?” She said, “Mommy, they have no feet.” I think they were real people — astral bodies (dreamers who have the ability to go out of body).
How has your daughter reacted to having these additional senses?
She didn’t want to honor her gifts. She was afraid her friends would make fun of her. She didn’t like the word “psychic.” She would say, “Well, I’m not better than anyone else, just more aware.” I was so impressed that an 11-year-old was thinking that way.
What is your experience with dowsing (a controversial technique that employs forked twigs, metal rods or a pendulum to search for groundwater)?
I had a landscape architecture professor at [the University of Georgia] who wouldn’t pass you if you didn’t learn dowsing. I’ve used it to find septic tanks for clients and lost waterlines. It’s a baseline skill that every child should learn.
There’s a saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” What is the point in helping others develop their intuition? Why not let them drift along?
Why are we on the planet if not to bring light, joy and enlightenment to our souls? Not using God’s gift would be throwing away a soul and a body.
How do you deal with skeptics?
Fortunately, I don’t have to deal with the hard-line skeptics very often. But what I personally did years ago, when my daughter was younger, was to take a very matter-of-fact proactive approach to a conversation. As an older mom who no longer felt the need to defend my ego, I discovered that if I simply stated my and my daughter’s reality in a matter-of-fact tone of voice as easily and offhandedly as I would be talking about the children’s soccer game, people would pick on that cue and go along with it.
Some would say the study of metaphysics has become more mainstream. Would you agree? Why is this?
I think it is definitely more acceptable than when [my daughter] was growing up. You’ve probably noticed that the TV media love to create paranormal shows — because people are interested. I think that has helped in the last 15 years or so.
What do you take away from your consulting work and your Experiential Education CampSchool?
My consultations involve the really spiritual AND mental health combined. I regularly get calls from parents wanting to know if their child is schizophrenic or psychic. Helping others to know that all is well and how to interpret their or their children/students’ experiences in a spiritually and mentally healthy context is what I have been doing for years now.
What’s up next for you?
I’d like to grow the institute. I want to spend the rest of my life making programs that will be useful for elementary and high school students. Teachers email me that their kids are so different from five years ago. Teachers are looking for any answers to help at-risk kids. If it means accepting something edgy, they’re going for it. I get to address these issues. I have a number of presentations lined up — including one at the Dowser’s Southeast Regional Conference in Prague in April. I will continue my Yahoo e-group and will offer consultations on a sliding scale. I’m on my third 30-year plan — I just want to get to 98, joyfully healthy.