Weird, Wicked Weird: Unusual Ed.

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So you want to see auras. Learn about a past life. Heal Fido with a delicate touch.

There’s a class for that.

This spring around Maine there are no fewer than 10 adult education courses on past life regression. Two on tarot cards. Still more on chakras, channeling and what’s possibly going down in 2012.

“(Past Life Regression) has filled every time we’ve done it, and we’ve done it the last three or four years,” said Mary Barnes, Augusta Adult and Community Education director. “What surprised me is (the instructor) claims that there are some people that are female now who might have been male at another time. The place is packed.”

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Its popularity led her to debut a new class last fall by the same teacher, Richard “Flash” Gordon: Paranormal Potpourri.

“The people in Past Lives wanted to do more,” she said.

Sarah Keddell taught a full “Reiki for Animals” class last Saturday through Lewiston Adult Ed. She’d given it once before, in Portland.

“A lot of us are using adult ed programs as a way to let people know we’re out there,” she said.

She instructs students to “listen to what the animal is telling you. There’s not really hand positions like there are for people.”

An animal that wants help will often present a body part to be worked on. One that doesn’t, won’t.

Keddell credits Reiki energy work with helping pets who are stressed or recovering from an illness. Her class last week was all theory; no pets allowed in school. She’s considering a follow-up, off-campus, with an animal to demonstrate.

“I love that teaching environment because people have come to you,” said Holly Bean, a clinical hypnotherapist with a full plate this spring: three Past Life Regressions, two Spiritual Healings, one Meet Your Spiritual Guides and one Weight Loss Through Hypnotherapy.

She’s noticed that four out of five people who come to her Past Life Regression courses are familiar with Dr. Brian Weiss, a prominent psychiatrist she’s studied under.

“As everybody files into the classroom, it looks like a big pajama party,” Bean said. “You can tell the people who are headed to my class — they look a little apprehensive and they’re carrying their bedding.”

She starts with explanations and handouts. Then, they hit the floor for guided meditation.

“I talk for 45 minutes straight, guiding them through the breathing process,” Bean said. “I do use words like ‘imagine’ and ‘pretend.’ It’s really beneficial to come with no expectations. (Some students have said), ‘I know I was an Indian princess; I was told by somebody and that’s who I’ll be tonight.’ I’ve had people disappointed they didn’t get that, but they got something else.”

Skeptics are welcome, she said. And belief in reincarnation isn’t a must.

As for Past Lives’ popularity, “I think now people are looking for a connection and the connection really is back to themselves,” Bean said. “It’s not for everyone. I would never say it would be.”

Last spring, Lisbon Adult Ed offered “Paranormal Nonfiction.” Last fall, Rockland offered “Ghosts in Coastal Maine.” Some of the more unusual courses last one night, some as long as eight weeks. Prices range from $19 to $64. With all the offerings this spring — “Learn to See Auras” in Auburn, “Intuition: Beyond Sixth Sense” in Oxford Hills — there aren’t always enough takers. This week Barnes canceled the brand-new “Cosmic Communications” after only three people signed up.

“(The same instructor) had run ‘Spirits, Angels and E.T.s’ for several semesters and it went like hot cakes, people really enjoyed it,” Barnes said. “Lately, I’ve found that people are taking more serious classes, or stress-relieving, like Zumba.”

She chalks it up as a sign of the times. Money is tight, and so is time. But, she said, it’s important to at least offer the mix.

“I think this kind of takes them into another world where it makes them feel better,” Barnes said.

Weird, Wicked Weird is a monthly series on the strange, intriguing and unexplained in Maine. Send ideas, photos and a feather from Pegasus’ wing to kskelton@sunjournal.com.

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