Author and Modern Mystic


Bodhisattva Prayer for All Humanity

Bodhisattva Prayer for All Humanity

“May I be a guard for those who need protection,
a guide for those on the path,
a boat, a raft, a bridge for those who wish to cross the flood.
May I be a lamp in the darkness,
a resting place for the weary,
a healing medicine for all who are sick,
a vase of plenty, a tree of miracles.
And for the boundless multitudes of living beings,
may I bring sustenance and awakening,
enduring like the earth and sky
until all beings are freed from sorrow
and all are awakened.”

– Shantideva, Indian Buddhist sage 700 A.D.

The prayer reminds me: 

  1. We each carry within the bodhisattva of compassion when we help another and approach challenges with compassion rather than fear and anger. 
  2. What matters most is how we are in the world. 
  3. Our journey is one of continual awakening if we chose it to be. 

May this prayer guide us throughout this new year — 2018. 

Blessings, Susan

Reconnecting with Ancestors and Linking to Titanic History

Great-grandfather John Bartholomew Jr. (1852-1927) and the RMS Titanic.

On a recent trip to England and Wales with my sister and granddaughter, I did just that. Being in the homes where my British ancestors lived, parks they strolled and buildings they worked in was like putting flesh on the bones of relatives I had never met, and our visit rounded out my understanding of my mother’s life as a child and young teenager. What happens when we honor our ancestors by exploring their lives? The experience continues to impact me since returning home.

One of the big surprises was the towering presence of my great-grandfather, John Bartholomew, Jr. I had heard about him from my mother; glimpsed a photo of him over the years; and I knew he had been on the Titanic. On this trip, I felt like I got to know him.

Born in Ireland in 1852, he went to sea as a young man and spent 40 years working for the White Star Line, making a total of 400 North Atlantic crossings. At the time the White Star Line launched the Titanic, he was the Superintendent of the Commissary, the Victualing Department, responsible for food, wine, china, linen, silver and stewards on all the White Star ships.


John Bartholomew, Jr. (second from right) on the White Star Line ship.


My grandmother, Laura Elizabeth (Dollie) Bartholomew (left); Isabelle Tait Leith Bartholomew, step-great-grandmother and third wife (1876-1923).

He lived large. He married his first wife, Agnes, at 20 and had one son, Charles Edward (known as Ned). At age 24, he married my great-grandmother, Frances, and had 5 children, including my grandmother, Laura Elizabeth, known as Dollie. Then on a trip to New York, he fell in love with a young Scottish woman, Isabelle. He returned to Liverpool, divorced my great-grandmother in 1896, and six months later, he married Isabelle in Manhattan in 1897. He brought her to Liverpool, and they had 4 children. The children of these 3 families grew up knowing each other.   John lived most of his adult life in Liverpool with some years in Southampton. Outliving his third wife, he died of natural causes in Liverpool in 1927 at the age of 75.


Map of the United Kingdom showing Liverpool.

An old seafaring town, Liverpool sits on the Mersey River where it received shipments of goods from around the world. It warehoused slaves from Africa on their way to the New World. Heavily bombed during World War II, it has beautiful old Victorian buildings sitting right next to modern ones. And of course, it is the home of the four Beatles.

We began our adventure by staying in the hotel in the Albion building across from the docks. It had been the headquarters of the Ismay family business: the White Star Line. The hotel rooms were decorated like rooms on the Titanic—we stayed in the John Jacob Astor Suite.

Dock on Mersey River, Liverpool; Albion House, Ismay family headquarters for White Star Line; Astor Suite at St. James Hotel.

Captain Edward J. Smith of the Titanic

The next morning we met the curator of the Maritime Museum at the Titanic exhibit. John was aboard the Titanic in Southampton when owner, Bruce Ismay, told him they did not both need to make the maiden voyage. He got off and survived, but he lost many friends, including Captain Edward J. Smith. He greeted the survivors when they returned to Southampton.

We shared with him a postcard written in 1912 by my grandmother, Laura (Dollie) Elizabeth Bartholomew Aurrecoechea, saying: “Things are pretty sad and depressing round here just now over the Titanic. Poor old Brook, the Captain, Mr. Latimer—doesn’t it seem awful to think we’ll never see them again.” The curator showed us the names of these 3 men on the list of those

who died.  Every time I look at the silver candelabra, given as a wedding gift to my grandparents in 1911 by Captain Edward John Smith, I think of him.


We found the last home where John lived at 15 Sefton Park. Broken into 6 or 7 flats, the renters welcomed us inside. It was an elegant home with tall ceilings and windows. We visited the nearby church where the funeral for his third wife was held and Allerton Cemetery where she and he are most likely buried. We also visited the home at 29 Alexandra Drive, Sefton Park, where my mother lived in 1919 at age 6.

John Bartholomew’s Sefton Park home where he lived in 1927; My mother’s home at 29 Alexandra Drive, Sefton Park.

Mom and her siblings: Mercedes, Bernardo, Marichu (Mom), Nemesio at 29 Alexandra Drive, Sefton Park, Liverpool.

Nearby is Sefton Park, a green oasis of broad lawns and clumps of trees. We walked into the park and visited the greenhouse glass pavilion with beautiful flowers and interesting sculptures, including a delightful one of Peter Pan.

With my granddaughter Natalia; Victorian Glass Pavilion; a statue of Peter Pan at Sefton Park.

Not only did the children of his various families know each other, they summered together in the nearby Welsh beach village, Prestatyn. Growing up I remember our mother telling us about their beach cottage in Wales. Imagine my delight when I found Prestatyn in our Atlas. I sent an old photo of the house to the town clerk and asked if he knew where it was. I received an email back, giving me the address so I sent a note to the “Owners”, telling them it had been my family’s home and that we were coming to visit.

Mom’s beach cottage on 46 Gronant Road, Prestatyn, 1913. My sister, Elena, granddaughter, Natalia and me, 2017.

Mom, on right, in the garden in Prestatyn in both.

We arrived; I knocked on the door; the owner answered and invited us in to meet his wife and see the home. They graciously showed us throughout and around the surrounding gardens. We had a wonderful chat. I learned that it had been built in 1913 so that was when my grandparents bought it. I have a photo of my mother walking down the Gronant Road at age 4; sitting in the garden with her parents and children from John Bartholomew’s third family. I also have a photograph of the grand gentleman, John, walking the promenade with children from both families.

John Bartholomew, Jr., and family on promenade in Prestatyn.

What does it mean to have visited these places? I have a greater sensibility about my mother and other family members. I found myself smiling, celebrating her life and that of this larger-than-life great-grandfather. When I was young, Mom shared with me her love of family. Thank goodness she told me family stories and saved photographs and letters. They helped me trace our history on this trip.

Dollie with son Nemesio and baby Marichu, my mom; Marichu holding me; Mom with my sister Elena (standing) and me.

When I came home, I had another surprise. I was meditating and the spirit of John Bartholomew came to me. He thanked me for exploring his life, having lunch with his grandchildren, Jenny and David, and great-grandchildren. He also wanted me to understand that what we did invigorated his spirit. I saw an image of a burst of golden light going from me to him, lighting him up.

Jenny and me in her garden; Four generations of John Bartholomew Jr.’s American and British descendants gather over lunch at Jenny’s home.

Life is a mystery.  We are connected energetically with our ancestors. Their spirits are enlivened when we honor them. They like being seen. I suspect that people in Eastern cultures know this. I am just learning it.

I cannot put in words the impact this trip has had on me. I feel connected to these people. It is as though my heart has opened, and I feel their strength, love, loss and sorrow. And I respect the challenges they met, decisions they made and how they moved forward at each stage of life.

Thank you, John and Frances Bartholomew, my great grandparents, Laura “Dollie” Bartholomew Aurrecoechea, my grandmother and Marichu Aurrecoechea Beilby, my mother, for giving me life. May my relatives celebrate and honor my life one day.

Image credits: Image of Titanic: Credit: By F.G.O. Stuart (1843-1923) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Image of Captain Edward J. Smith: 

© Susan Beilby Magee, 2017. All Rights Reserved.


Workshop with Susan Beilby Magee: Conversation with Your Soul

with Susan Beilby Magee

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23rd, 10am – 3pm

Meet your Higher Self, the Divine spark, and ask:

What is my soul’s purpose?
How do I pursue it?
What limits my ability to manifest it?

Within each of us lies the Wise One who can answer every question we have. Meet your Higher Self;
learn how to communicate; and discover concrete actions to pursue your passion and fulfill your mission.


Admission: $50
Location: Bethlehem Chapel, Washington National Cathedral

For the past 3 decades Susan Beilby Magee has practiced the healing arts. A certified hypnotherapist and meditation teacher, she leads Circles of Meditation and Healing at the Cathedral, guiding participants into quiet realms to seek healing and find peace. Magee was instrumental in bringing healing prayer to Cathedral Crossroads and continues to volunteer as a healing minister on Crossroads evenings. She practices various forms of meditation, visualization, hypnotherapy and energy healing. One chapter in her spiritual journey culminated with the publication of her book in 2012, Into the Light: The Healing Art of Kalman Aron, a profound story of the personal alchemy of an artist and Holocaust survivor she met at age six.

Susan Beilby Magee’s career spans diverse realms of politics, economics and spirituality. A leader of the women’s movement and director of the Mayor’s Office of Women’s Rights in Seattle, she moved to Washington, D.C., when President Ford appointed her a White House Fellow. Magee held policy and executive positions in the U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments and later served as an international business consultant. Having earned an MBA from the Wharton School and a BA from Pomona College, she has served on numerous boards of directors.

Circle of Meditation and Healing, Washington DC, Fall 2017

The Circle for Meditation and Healing continues to meet at the Washington National Cathedral this Fall.
2017 series: Spiritual Practices in Challenging Times
To learn more and to register, click on the links below. 

The Washington National Cathedral host Susan Beilby Magee's Circle of Meditation and Healing this Fall, 2017

Thursday, October 5, 7:00pm
“Finding Your Path”
What is my most important goal at this time? What are the obstacles and how do I remove them? How do I transform negative thinking into positive realities? Join Susan Beilby Magee in this sacred circle as she shows us how to find a clear path at this time.
Learn more

Thursday, November 2, 7:00pm
“Working in Community”
What is my vision for this world? How may I manifest it? Join Susan Beilby Magee as she leads us to explore how we express our values and collaborate to create a better world.
Learn more

Previously recorded meditations from the Circle of Meditation and Healing at the Washington National Cathedral are available online. Listen now.

Fulfilling a lifelong dream: Finding the right horse and bringing him home

The Hof Westendarp Farm, Wallenhorst, Germany; Tassilo the Magnificient

Occasionally we receive an invitation: “Come with me, just for the fun of it.” I received such an invite in January from my niece, Laura Hermanson.

Last December she accompanied Dinah Babcock on a trip to The Netherlands and Germany to look at Warmblood dressage horses that Dinah might purchase for her clients. Dinah is a world-class judge and Grand Prix dressage trainer and rider with a particularly excellent eye for horses of exceptional quality.

At the Hof Westendarp farm in Wallenhorst, Germany, Laura met world champion dressage rider and horse trainer, Johannes Westendarp, and his lovely wife, Ines. She also met a young horse with whom she instantly bonded.   The next thing we knew, my husband and I purchased this beauty, knowing that Laura would be able to train it in dressage through all the levels of competition. With this horse Laura may pursue her dream.

So when she asked if I would like to go to Germany with her to the Westendarp Farm to see this horse before he came to America, I said “yes”. I jumped a flight to Amsterdam, met her, and we took the train to Osnabruck. The next day I went with her to the famous Westendarp farm to meet Johannes, Ines and our new horse, Tassilo. After seeing him, I began calling him Tassilo, the Magnificent.

I have never seen such a beautiful horse. Clearly present with an inquisitive mind, Tassilo moves with grace and power. A 3-year-old, he is alert and looks directly at you with his eyes. His neck curves beautifully, and he stretches his legs in long flowing strides. A youngster, he is playful with a lot of youthful energy.

Laura Hermanson with Tassilo

Four mornings in a row I had the pleasure of watching Laura ride him as Johannes instructed and prepared her to take Tassilo to America. Watching them brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes. How lucky am I to be present at the beginning of a beautiful partnership that will continue for years.

Hof Westendarp is a beautiful horse farm, created by Johannes Westendarp. His grandfather founded a farm in 1904. He and his son farmed the land, raised pigs and cows and had ponies for the children. But it was Johannes who had the dream to create a world-class horse farm, and that is exactly what he has done. Today, he has 28 horses, and he sells 10 to 12 a year to people in Europe and around the world. All his horses are gorgeous, proud and energetic.

(left to right:) Laura Hermanson and Tassilo with Johannes and Ines Westendarp; Susan B. Magee with Tassilo

I salute what Johannes and Ines have built together. I thank them for their warm hospitality, their amazing professionalism and this beautiful horse. And I thank Dinah Babcock for introducing Laura and me to them and to our Tassilo, the Magnificent. Life is good. Life is joyful…

Tassilo and Laura bonding.


© Susan Beilby Magee, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

An Approach to Challenging Times

January 20, 2017 – Day of the U.S. Presidential Inauguration

Our nation is deeply divided as Donald J. Trump becomes our 45th President. Americans on all sides are frightened, angry, resentful and uncertain. We also face chaos and turmoil abroad.

I ask myself: how may I approach these times in a constructive way, not succumbing to fear, anger, hatred or despair? How do I stay centered in my own power so I may contribute to a peaceful America that includes and honors everyone?

To answer, I turn to the example of Nelson Mandela. After 27 years in prison, he walked out a free man in spirit as well as in body. He transcended his own rage, hatred and desire for revenge to lead his country in a process that embraced everyone, faced the truth and reconciled the past.

As we face challenging times, I offer the sentiments of the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi to serve us all.

Lord, make me a channel of Thy peace,
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Join me at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington DC for the Circle of Meditation and Healing.  In the 2017  series, “Spiritual Practices in Challenging Times,” we will work together to stay centered, clear and focused on a vision of peace for the world.  If you do not live in the D.C. area, you may access these meditations on the following link shortly after each Circle.

Blessings to everyone.

© Susan Beilby Magee, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Circle of Meditation and Healing 2017 Events

All events take place at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC.


The full-moon Circle of Meditation and Healing at the Washington National Cathedral is led by Susan Beilby Magee.
It is a continuing series of meditations that explores personal mastery in all realms of life.
All spiritual seekers are welcome. No experience is necessary.
Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 per session payable at the door.
Click on “learn more” below to be directed to the Washington National Cathedral’s ticketing pages.


We live in challenging times.  In the 2017 Full Moon Circle of Healing and Meditation, we will practice spiritual exercises that help us stay centered, clear and focused on our vision for the world.  In this sacred space, Susan Magee will lead visualizations and teach practices to ground ourselves and be fully present in our personal power; bring our values into focus; clarify our purpose and path; and work collaboratively with others.

Monday, March 13, 7:00pm
“Staying Centered”
In challenging times, how do we stay centered, release fears and be fully present in all our power? Join Susan Beilby Magee in this sacred circle as she guides us to the still point within and teaches us to listen to our own wisdom.
Learn more

Wednesday, May 10, 7:00pm
“Bringing Your Values into Focus”
What are my values; how am I honoring them; and what activities are not in alignment with them? Join Susan Beilby Magee in this sacred circle as she helps us clarify and manifest what is most important to us.
Learn more

Thursday, October 5, 7:00pm
“Finding Your Path”
What is my most important goal at this time? What are the obstacles and how do I remove them? How do I transform negative thinking into positive realities? Join Susan Beilby Magee in this sacred circle as she shows us how to find a clear path at this time.
Learn more

Thursday, November 2, 7:00pm
“Working in Community”
What is my vision for this world? How may I manifest it? Join Susan Beilby Magee as she leads us to explore how we express our values and collaborate to create a better world.
Learn more

Holy Conversations: A Pilgrimage to Iona


The Abbey of Iona

“Behind your image, below your words, above your thoughts, the silence of another world waits.” John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Last May, I joined a group of pilgrims from the Washington National Cathedral to spend a week on the holy Isle of Iona off the west coast of Scotland. I wished to experience silence and listen to the stillness.

After spending 20 years as a community activist and leader in government and business, I had a strange and beautiful experience that opened new worlds to me. I was doing a meditation when I had a vision of my father on his knees, asking me to forgive him for committing suicide 23 years before.

My third eye opened, and from that time I have been able to talk with individual spirits and communities of spirits in this world and “on the other side.”  I have sought understanding, healing and compassion for myself and others. This spiritual journey continues.

During the week on Iona, we walked the island, participated in ecumenical services in the abbey and discussed the meaning and history of Celtic spirituality. I also spent time alone in prayer and meditation, sitting in nature.   I listened to the wind howling, the waves crashing, and watched the sun glimmering on the ocean. The very air I breathed was holy, carrying the resonance of 2000 years of prayer by Druids, Celts and Christians.

Here are some journal notes:

Sunday, May 1: Sitting in the hotel’s quiet garden, I feel the leaves on the trees sprouting; the flowers bursting forth with their blossoms, and I hear the chickadees chirping. Surrounded by nature, I feel enlivened, connected and hear the small voice within: “Be still and open to God.”


Quiet Garden, Iona


Monday, May 2: I walk to the middle of the island to meditate in a circle of stone, called the Hermit Cell. In the late 500s, St. Columba (521-597) prayed there regularly.  St. Columba was a monk who left Ireland and settled in Iona in 563. There, he founded and led a monastery on Iona for many years and from this base he evangelized parts of modern day Scotland and northwest England.

With the wind blowing, I enter the circle, sit quietly and listen.


Hermit Cell, Iona

Wednesday, May 4: We walk across Iona and when we reach St. Columba’s Bay, I stop and sit on a boulder by the water’s edge. The sunlight is shining on the ocean and the waves crash and retreat. The wind whistles past my ears; I listen to the stones tumbling across the sand, and the seagulls chat with each other as they dart back and forth. I feel exhilarated and peaceful.

St. Columba’s Bay, Iona

As I leave, I walk the stone labyrinth in silence. Sheep graze on the land nearby. The wind still howls in my ears.

Labyrinth, Iona

Friday, May 6: My last day, I speak with a familiar spirit who fills me with love. After long travels, she tells me she has decided to remain home in Iona.   I ask: why? She responds:

“I draw strength here, strength from the wind, the sea, the smell of the kelp. It is wild here, untamed and splendidly raw. Feel the elements yourself. The birds fly on my currents. I tousle the water and create waves. I send them crashing against the rocks and create great plumes of salt water. Nature is raw here.   I am home.”

I, too, feel at home. Iona is holy, communal, and intimate. I am grateful to share this journey with my fellow pilgrims.


Bay at the Back of the Ocean, Iona

© Susan Beilby Magee, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Pilgrimage to Scotland: Orkney’s Neolithic Ring of Brodgar and Skara Brae

IMG_0203cropDuring a meditation one morning in Palm Desert, California, I received an invitation to visit the Ring of Brodgar. I had a vision of the stones and noticed white light coming from one of them. I heard:

“You are ancient.” I responded: “I feel it.” “No, really ancient. You carry great sadness for Mother Earth and all life on her. You know that she and all of creation are alive, and you wish to help heal her. First, heal yourself. Leave in the center of the Ring all your sorrow, worries, anger, guilt and shame. We will transmute them. It is time for you to be free—to radiate all that you are—to walk in health, balance, love, compassion, equanimity and joy.”

I quickly added a week to visit the Ring of Brodgar to my plans to join a Washington National Cathedral pilgrimage to the Isle of Iona.

Orkney: An Austere Land, Shaped by Nature’s Elements

IMG_0344On April 26, I fly to Orkney with great anticipation. The sky is grey. I catch a few glimpses of the ocean below. After landing, I drive to Stenness and get my first glimpse of the Ring of Brodgar, a Neolithic circle of stones. No one knows how old it is. The current guess is 4,000 to 4,500 years old.

Even more so than in Edinburgh, the wind and rain determine my schedule out of doors. I see no trees except one grove that sits in a gully, protected from the wind. Along the horizon, hills are rounded by retreating glacial ice of 10,000 years ago. Wheat-colored fields meet green crofts. Water is everywhere, be it the sea or the lochs. Orkney is an austere land, compelling and beautiful.

The Ring of Brodgar

IMG_0329The Ring sits on a raised, broad land. As I walk up the path towards it, I see the standing stones jutting out of the earth, silhouetted against the sky. Water glimmers on two sides; brown heather fills the center. It is a wide circle, over 300 feet in diameter. Stones, varying from 7 to 15-feet tall, greet me. They have mottled surfaces of varied colors. Twenty-seven of the original 60 remain standing. The circle sits on sacred ground.

I quietly walk around the ring, talking to the stones. I touch them and ask that they enliven and realign themselves in harmony for this time in the 21st century.

These ancient standing stones capture my imagination. Who built them? How were they used? What have they witnessed?


Skara Brae, A 5000-Year-Old Neolithic Village

IMG_0203IMG_0312In 1850 a severe storm hit Scotland and stripped the earth from a large knoll, revealing a village whose homes were sunk into the ground. Named Skara Brae, it sits on the Bay of Skaill. There are 8 stone houses, clustered together, connected by stone paths. In each house a fireplace sits in the middle with two areas for sleeping on opposite sides. A dresser or altar stands across from the entrance, and next to it is a square area dug into the ground to hold water to keep fish and crab fresh. Archeologists believe about 50 people lived in this village over a period of 600 years from 3180 BC to 2500 BC.

I visit it twice.

I feel a connection to these people. “From where did they come,” I ask? “By water, of course.” “Who were they?” I hear: “They are we.”


Impact of the Ring and This Dramatic Landscape


The night before I leave, I return to the Ring for the fourth time. I want to watch the sun set and light the stones against a glowing, orange-red sky. Such beauty! I feel alive. My soul stirs. I feel connected to this land and the ancients.

Having returned home, I carry an image of the Ring at sunset in my mind’s eye. I am more alert to nature–its power and beauty. Orkney’s gifts to me:

I am awake.

I am connected.

I am grateful.

I smile.


Photos © Susan Beilby Magee

© Susan Beilby Magee, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Pilgrimage to Scotland: Nature’s Vivid Moods


RainbowOverIona2Rainbow Over Iona © Jonathan Hohman

Recently I spent 18 days on pilgrimage to Scotland, visiting Edinburgh, the Orkney Islands and the Isle of Iona. Nature’s elements were in my face: the howling wind, spitting rain, brilliant sun and roiling sea. Magpies and seagulls flew overhead; sheep grazed as their lambs frolicked in the grass.

The changes in the sky were constant. One moment, massive dark clouds rolled across the sky, hiding the brilliant sun; an hour later, gentle grey clouds replaced them, dropping soft raindrops. In the evening, the setting sun bathed the sky in brilliant hues of orange and gold.

The Scots seem chiseled from the volcanic rock that bursts forth like giants seeking the sun. Weathered like the land by nature’s elements, they stand tall. They are proud, powerful, deeply grounded in Mother Earth and connected to all of creation surrounding them.

I once asked an Englishman how the people of a small group of islands, known as Great Britain, ruled an empire. He replied: “Oh, the answer is easy. The Scots did it. Being comfortable in any challenging environment, they went around the world, knew what needed to be done and did it.”

Mother Nature’s changing kaleidoscope is a metaphor for our lives. I am reminded that the only constant is change. She draws a vivid picture of the moods, mysterious rumblings, challenges, breakthroughs and gentleness we experience as we grow and mature. One afternoon after a gentle rain on the Isle of Iona, a full semi-circle rainbow formed across the water. We stood in wonder. Is this not a symbol of the brilliance and harmony we achieve after we have walked through dark storms and emerged into the light? As within, so without.

mageescotland composite

Photos, clockwise from top right: Sheep Grazing, Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh Sunset and Low Tide at Skara Brae © Susan B. Magee

© Susan Beilby Magee, 2016. All Rights Reserved.