Helen and the Masters: A Portrait of a California Mystic
Watercolor of Helen by Karen Minton
"A fascinating look at one family's history in the Delta, through flood, fire, earthquake and more," said one reader. "Compelling messages from Masters that I can apply to my life today," said another. This book blends a woman's biography, regional history, and an exploration of spiritualism and channeling.
Born a wealthy, cultured daughter of an East Coast publisher, and raised with family guests such as Walt Whitman and Louis Comfort Tiffany, young Helen Ellsworth came West with her husband in 1905 to ranch in the Sacramento River Delta. While raising seven children and authoring a children's book, she began an unusual practice of automatic writing - what we might call channeling today - and communicating beyond the veil. For this, she nearly wound up institutionalized. Read an excerpt here.
How real were the voices she channeled? Helen's "Masters" (entities who were much like school teachers of different subjects) helped her to heal from an incurable illness, and gave startlingly accurate business advice. Along with vivid descriptions of her life in turn-of-the-century Oakland, the Delta, and the Sierra Nevada, this book explores Helen's writing process and includes passages that she channeled. You can buy it in paperback on Amazon.com.
The first of Helen's 23 great-grandchildren, I discovered her writings in my father's bookshelf when I was ten, and have felt a deep interest in her ever since. Helen and her husband Maurits van Loben Sels were heroes among their families and pillars of their Sacramento River Delta community; in fact, they helped to establish a church in Courtland. This book, I hope, will serve to make their story even richer.
Readers are saying Lisa Francesca takes the reader on a journey into early 20th century rural California in this captivating layering of history, storytelling, and speculation. It's an unforgettable portrayal of a woman who broke many molds. -- Kate Evans, author of Call It Wonder: An Odyssey of Love, Sex, Spirit and Travel, and For the May Queen
Francesca's intimate, affectionate look at her forebears' amazing story is a book to read with the same curiosity she herself reveals in her quiet, compelling, and altogether haunting way with words. A fascinating tale, told in a fascinating way, that causes you to think. -- Colette O'Connor, author of An Apartment in Paris I have such a sensory perception of what it was like to be at Esperanza and the Grove and now at Vorden. . . I have driven along the Delta on those levees many times and she has completely captured it. -- Jenny Clendenen, author of Mine: El Despojo de Maria Zacarias Bernal de Barryessa I will enjoy reading it again and again. And I'll share it with friends. When reading your book I was impressed with how the lessons of one hundred years ago are still relevant today. -- J. Stephen, San Jose, CA It is really an elegant book. -- L. Whitman-Raymond, Blackstone, MA
This is much more than a family book. It is a piece of literature. It is one of my favorite books. -- J. Dederer, Campbell, CA