Wendy Birchall’s not what immediately comes to mind when you think of someone who does readings. She has an M. A. in exercise physiology and ran corporate fitness centers for years; taught courses at Westfield State College; made soap and Christmas wreaths; worked as a floral designer and a Wilton cake decorator; and has raised three children while doing all this. Come to think of it, she could easily be mistaken for a typical suburban wife and mom.
But once you start talking to Birchall, you realize how off-base that picture is. The owner and driving force behind Earth Angel Design in Southwick, Massachusetts, she is an earnest, articulate personality…very much her own woman, well at ease…and all of that comes across in her conversation. Especially when she’s talking about things spiritual.
“I was born and raised Catholic,” Birchall says. That upbringing gave her “a great base,” but there were “things that didn’t feel right – things that I disagreed with on a spiritual level, not even so much a conscious level. Like living one time—trying to get it right in one lifetime. To me, it couldn’t be done in one lifetime. And just some other ideas that I didn’t agree with.”
She had always been drawn to mediums and psychics. “But I always felt that I was doing something wrong by doing that,” Birchall says, laughing a little ruefully. “So there was that fear part of me that kept me from pursuing it.”
She got there eventually and inadvertently, however. A friend who had just lost her sister consulted a medium: the medium “brought her sister through in conversation, and it was such a profound experience. I saw the healing that happened with my friend and said aloud for the first time, ‘I really wish I had the ability to do something like that.’” Birchall’s friend looked at her and said, “Wendy, go pick up a book. You know, there’s books on this stuff.” And, in time, she happened upon the right book – Open to Channel, which focused on “finding a connection with your spirit guides. They never really mentioned angels…just finding that connection with your higher self. And, as I read it, things started to happen – to change – and I realized that as long as my intention was good and that I knew where I wanted to be with it, I could do that. And that’s what began this whole journey.”
Freed from her old fear, she visited a medium. The latter told Birchall that she could best open up her latent female energy or kundalini (“Which, to me at the time, sounded like a pasta product – I had to ask her what it was,” Birchall laughs.) by learning Reiki. It seemed like a good enough place to begin. She took to the Japanese form of energy healing quickly, finding in it “that feeling of a connection to something greater than you that is so meaningful and so beautiful.” Her Reiki experience found its way into her book A Sojourn with the Soul, which deals with her spiritual awakening. She learned to trust what she felt – to let herself be guided by the energy feedback she was getting from the people she worked with. “I used Reiki specifically with my dad a year-and-a-half ago when he passed away," she explains. "But I used it more as a way of helping him make that transition – not asking for anything but allowing the energy to bring him comfort and peace as he was in the process of crossing over.”
Like most spiritual journeys, there was a certain amount of meandering involved. But she did have a guide — the Archangel Aaron, who came to her during an early guided meditation.
“I didn’t know that it was an angel at first,” she admits. “He didn’t have any wings: he was just this beautiful man….He never told me that he was an angel. But I’d get into my car, and there’d be an angel song on.” One song in particular seemed to come on whenever she did her meditations: “It wasn’t a popular song, but it was always on. So he was giving me hints, but I wasn’t quite picking up on them.” Only when she was spiritually ready, she adds, did she realize that an angel was trying to make contact – her guardian angel.
Under Aaron’s guidance, Birchall began keeping the journal that was the basis for Sojourn. At the time, she didn’t view herself as much of a writer or a reader: journaling, however, helped her to see “the synchronicities, how things were coming into my life. And many of the experiences were so profound that had I not written them down immediately, I would’ve doubted the fact that they had happened.”
Earth Angel Design was another offshoot of her journey. At present, the business’ main emphasis is jewelry: the stones used are aligned with the various archangels that Birchall draws her inspiration from. She also carries angel essences and has a high-school girl who “is drawing me some angel portraits. They’re beautiful, and I hope I can reproduce them [so that] people can purchase them.” Then, too, there’s an angel box coming out, “kinda like a God box where you can put your thoughts. Or you can put a special stone in it or angel jewelry – whatever feels right.”
And then there are the readings.
Twice a week, Birchall does her readings, using a deck of angel cards. She herself is clairaudient, so the cards act more as visuals for her clients, driving the messages home: “I could have a conversation with you, and the angels would just kind of bring themselves through.” She doesn’t deal in predictions, she adds; her messages are always rooted "in the here and now. You have to live in the moment. That’s the greatest message.” She speaks, if possible, even more earnestly. She views herself as a kind of teacher trying to "give them the skills and spark their interest enough that when they leave here, they can start on their own journey." “Her readings are, she says, "more a guiding versus a telling, and people are more open to it.”
That being the case, Birchall doesn’t encourage her clients to come back. She takes very seriously the warning about consulting soothsayers in the Old Testament: “I think it’s there to really protect. What is our purpose when we come down here? It’s our job to figure out what it is. If you’re handing it over for someone else to do, you haven’t met your goal here on earth.”
So, that’s about where Birchall is right now – doing readings, sending out queries about her book, and becoming increasingly involved in every aspect of her business. She wants to know about how the items she carries are made partly because she's an artisan at heart and partly because she's a hands-on type of person. To her, it’s all another leg of her journey. Before Earth Angel Design, she “was Wendy the Wanderer.” Birchall laughs. “That’s what my name means, and I felt like I was living up to it. I always hated that, but now I’m embracing it.” She has her “fingers in so many different things, there’s no possible way I’m going to be bored….You have to follow your passion. That’s really what it comes down to, and everything else will happen.”