About Me

Having had my own spiritual initiations, beginning in 1985 at the Jung Institute in Zurich, which are recounted in the latest volume in the Keep This Quiet! series: Initiations, I like working with people to integrate the shift and jolts that often accompany awakening to your deeper identity.  Another thing I like is to mentor people wanting to maximize their potential. I additionally offer services to “read” your energy by tracking its path—its divergences, obstacles, blocks, and potential. My focus is on acceptance and love, a deep sense of reality, humor, diversity, and breakthroughs—cutting out the excuses and detours to get to where the road is open and even sometimes simple.
Light Body Background
I’ve studied the light body through Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer since 1992 – in Belgium, Ibiza, and the U.S. In 1997, I completed the teacher requirements, and upon my return from Belgium to Raleigh in 2001 began teaching a large variety of courses in the Orin/DaBen curriculum.
Other Hats
I wear various hats that all revolve around creativity. Besides working in the light body, I have been for decades a freelance editor and a cloud photographer. Some of my most wonderful memories are as a three-time Fellow of MacDowell Colony for artists in a cabin in New Hampshire. There, artists of all stripes have their own private cabin in the woods to work in, being brought a lunch basket in the middle of the day and congregating in the evening for a meal together. It’s wonderful. In my thirties I switched from novelist to consciousness-research author, and the result is ten books in the Love in Transition/Space Encounters series (published in Romania while I lived in Belgium). Much earlier at Random House, I copy edited Hunter Thompson’s first book, Hell’s  Angels. Hunter lavishly acknowledged me in Gonzo Letters 2. Letters from Hunter from that time gave me the right tuning fork for my 2011-13 Keep This Quiet! I-III memoir series (Saeculum University Press); he is highly prominent in the first two volumes. As a result, I was lucky enough to give a presentation at the 2014 Gonzo Fest in Louisville, KY.
In the wisdom  traditions, I had shaktipat into a Hindu lineage, of Lord Ram in the early 1990s, through the sat guru Dhyanyogi-ji, a Kundalini Maha Yoga teacher. I’m interested in indigenous teachings and was a co-founder—in the early 90s—of Kayumari, a spiritual community in California, which helped open the door to the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. Academically, I graduated with a BA in history (Honors & Distinction) from Duke and an MA in contemporary Brit and American literature from Columbia University. After leaving the Jung Institute Zurich, I’ve continuously studied and experimented in energy and consciousness.
Top Photo:©Jinn Bug
Alternatively:Margaret Harrell in Pittsboro
I have been called “complicated” and “ornery,” “angelic” and “intimidating.”At different times I can identify with them all. My light body teacher in Belgium, Roland Verschaeve, used to say, “Margaret, you don’t have to do anything but show up” (at a workshop). I’ve relished it when someone said that in my classes people leave their egos at the door. I guess that about sums it up. Email me at marharrell[a]nc.rr.com. Below are three testimonials about my light body courses:
I am writing to try to articulate what the Light Body course has done for me. Mainly I am so peaceful inside and I can take the stress of life with much greater ease…Since starting the course I have also been able to take on the world without fear. In fact my income doubled because I took on managing a company that I had been working in for 6 years. You see, I had a very easy, low-paying position that I THOUGHT was the only thing I could handle since I had believed that I was incapable of more. This course has almost made me fearless! I have travels all over the country alone…again before this course I would NEVER fly alone…
On a moment to moment basis I just can let things go…I deal with the issue at hand and then…bam…I lose the emotion and I am back to peace again. Yes, I still have the HABIT of reacting…but it is empty now…like a shadow that fades. I feel wonderful…I am able to draw on the course all thru the day for peace. I really know that I have unlimited potential!!! – Denise Carey, author of A Little Book of Extraordinary Love by an Ordinary Person: 12 Steps to Lead Us All into a More Loving World
Margaret’s Harmonic Melody in voice . . . in presence . . . in word . . . takes you up an octave—Teres Larocca
Witty, gentle and wise, Margaret Harrell guides us to greater awareness and self-knowledge. I recommend her to anyone who, like myself, wants to explore the frontiers of their own inner worlds. North Carolina is lucky to have her—Edward Lee Hester, Founder of the Clan of the Earth Keepers
From Day One to Now of knowing Margaret, she has been only and always purposeful with her life’s work, and aligned integrally with that Work in its myriad forms out in the world. She has a brilliance of light in the mind—and heart—that is a constant in the universe. Thank you, Margaret – Ani Lea, Soul Fusion founder
Publications Where I Can Be Found:
UPDATE – August 2016: If you want a full, narratively told, professional account, click here for my new Marquis Who’s Who Legacy Bio. For a long time, I have been in Marquis Who’s Who in the World, in America, and in American Art. Additionally, in other art books, such as: One Hundred Fine Art Photographers and Seventy-Five Fine Art Photographers (German/English). In November 2016 I became a Marquis Who’s Who Lifetime Achievement Award inductee. I am also officially a Marquis Who’s Who Expert. Also, in 2016, my photography has been exhibited in Florence, Italy, and Vienna, Austria.
Podcast interviews:
The latest: The Hunter-Gatherer Podcasts, 2020, is a short, fun interview; also, Ayrial Talk Time, Victoria Lynn Weston interviews me “On the Value of Meditation.” Click here to listen.
“Using Dreams to Clear Clutter”: Julie  Coraccio (“Reawaken Your Brilliance”). Click here to listen.

See the Media page for more.

Margaret 2014
Margaret 2014



And to round out the picture, up close and personal, here’s the latest in ballet photos at North Carolina Dance Institute.

In class at North Carolina Dance Institute, 2015
In class at North Carolina Dance Institute, 2015
Margaret Harrell, NCDI 2015
Margaret Harrell, NCDI 2015



Hunter-Gatherers Podcast

The Hunter-Gatherers podcasts tell stories by friends of Hunter Thompson, memories from across the spectrum, across time. Find mine here. Or look for these podcasts on Spotify and other places where you go for your favorite podcasts. Even I, who have followed the books on Hunter, was surprised by a lot of the contributors. They tell their stories in a relaxed well, with superb interviewing. Just fun to listen to. Check them out.


“Awakening Gaia” Book Launch – Dr. Fred Grover Jr.

This is the second book by Dr. Fred Grover Jr. – just published. I was thrilled to edit it, as I did the first book. From the publisher:

Fred takes you on a journey of planetary shamanism as he taps into higher-dimensional insights and flows with magical synchronicities to place Lemurian crystals and sacred geometric forms around the world. His ultimate goal is to counter the darkness in our world by reactivating, reconnecting and radiating ancient healing energies and grids of the Incas, Mayas, Native Americans, Polynesians and more. He invites you to experience this growing field of energy, and encourages everyone to spread their own light and love to Gaia and its inhabitants, promoting a sustainable, healthy future for all.

This is Fred’s website, where you can read about his first book, Spiritual Genomics:

Dr. Fred Grover – Spiritual Genomics

After several years of work, Dr. Grover’s book of holistic medicine is finally finished, published, and selling well. It’s Spiritual Genomics: A physician’s deep dive beyond modern medicine, discovering unique keys to optimizing DNA health, longevity, and happiness!

Dr. Grover is known in Denver for his “mind spa,” which represents his own bridge-making with the world of traditional medicine, including through his shamanic experiences. Click here and scroll down to the video clips to see his medical practice at work. He calls himself something of a “renegade” in the primary care and anti-aging field, thinking out of the box, embracing mindfulness. In Spiritual Genomics, he shares some of his wide travels, as well as the latest research and breakthroughs in medicine, including even plant medicine. I enjoyed this book tremendously while watching it come into form, being thrilled to do the editing work this past three years. Below he graciously expresses thanks:

So much gratitude goes out to my editor, Margaret A. Harrell, who helped me maintain momentum and provided amazing editorial assistance throughout this long journey.

The book is so multifaceted that any excerpt is extremely limited. But I’ll give just a couple of paragraphs – that are sidelights to the main focus of how lifestyle expresses our genome: how it “turns on” and “turns off” genes:

Lukla Airstrip Nepal

On a volunteer medical trip to Nepal in 2000, I inaugurated the venture with a climb to the top of Mount Kala Patthar. My father and a few others from our team joined in. On a fall morning we made the dangerous flight from Kathmandu, landing nearly 9,500 feet above sea level on the very short runway at Lukla dubbed “the most dangerous airport in the world.” Sir Edmund Hillary, the first to summit Everest, had this small strip built for a supplies shipment prior to summiting Everest with his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, in 1953. With the runway just under five hundred yards long, carved into the side of a mountain, a small miscalculation can mean smacking into the cliff at the end of the runway. The damaged planes off the side of the runway attest to this!

After a white-knuckled landing and some deep breaths we hired two hardy, elite Sherpas—Pemba and Perba—to assist in carrying our packs and guiding us to the summit. The Sherpas are ethnic Tibetans, many of whom migrated to Nepal when the Chinese took over Tibet in 1950. Our goal was to escape fast-approaching pressures and get a close-up, panoramic view of Everest, the mountain with the highest altitude in the world (29,035 feet above sea level), prior to setting up our large health camp in north-central Nepal in the dusty village of Barabise.

The Mount Kala Patthar trek is a sixty-miles round trip with frequent ups and downs in elevation, wild suspension-bridge crossings, and—to avoid being knocked off the trail—special attention given to passing yaks, goats, and large-load-carrying Sherpas. The summit, at 18,514 feet, has the best panoramic views of Everest, the nearby peaks, Khumbu Glacier, and the base camp below, reached via a safer, easier route. Did I contemplate climbing Everest? Yes, but after seeing the oversized egos of folks that had climbed it and trashed it, I decided I didn’t want to become one of them. Besides, why spend over forty grand to have a 10 percent chance of dying from the Khumbu Glacier falling on me, or the numerous other potential risks such as losing brain cells from hypoxia. I need those to take me to ninety, at least!



Classes in the Luminous Body – opportunity to sign up


Travel into Realms of Light
Receive DaBen’s Individual Transmissions and
Gifts of Light from Luminous Beings for

Evolving into Your Luminous Body – orindaben.com



I have been offered the amazing possibility of teaching “Discovering  Your Luminous Body” and began the first class in November. Afterwards, around February, dtb, I start a new class to again introduce the Luminous Body, a potential part of your energy field that lifts everything into more light, more joy, more ease and clarity. For this second class if you are interested, please contact me. Prerequisite: Awakening Your Light Body.

It’s possible to take this either in a live class or through Skype. You will need to buy the LuminEssence downloads (guided journeys and talks) created by Duane Packer and DaBen. Total cost for that is  discounted to $200. To work with the new consciousness and the journeys and talks, there will be a class with me once a month. Again, I stress that I am incredibly honored to be allowed to teach this course. The cost for the monthly 3-hour class with me is $50 – $100 a class, depending on number of people taking. Total time: 4 – 6 months.

The Luminous Body, once you contact it and begin to assimilate it, brings great peace and high levels of consciousness into your life, sudden sparkle, suddemn moments of being lifted into divine energies.

From the orindaben.com website:

The luminous body is an expansion beyond the light body. Expanding to this level of light brings you insights into the very nature of who you are on the earth plane. As you evolve into your luminous body you can operate from a level of consciousness that allows you to more easily change your life and consciousness. You reorient your consciousness to a higher light and reach a high point above earth plane energies where you are no longer held back by mass consciousness ideas and thought forms. As your consciousness expands you can continually upgrade and improve your circumstances, make the needed changes in your relationships to bring greater peace and harmony, and create shifts in your health, body, and physical well-being.

There is no end to the levels of consciousness you can reach and the experiences you can have. All expansions of consciousness into more light change your perceptions, insights, understandings, and the way you live your life. With each shift into higher consciousness you are able to make choices and decisions, and to live a life that feels more fulfilling and rewarding.

DaBen, your guide, and many luminous beings
will assist you in evolving into your luminous body.



More Gonzo Fest 2019 Photos – at the Frazier

Inside the Kitchen



In Hunter’s Kitchen, Frazier Museum







As my plane was hours late, I missed the Frazier Museum tour the first time round. The next day Rory Feehan returned there with me. With an Irish flare he devoured every detail of the exhibit, as did I. Two of these photos were taken by him. I particularly like the one of us together. As I’d sat in the kitchen right beside that stool many years before, I was glad it was so well reconstructed. A wonderful experience, like the rest of the Frazier exhibit.

Actually, I should say Dr. Rory Feehan, as he was appearing at the GF as an invited VIP speaker, fresh off getting his PhD with a dissertation on the Hunter Thompson, specifically “the Hunter figure,” in Ireland, which made him an even better person to tour the exhibit with. That dissertation is a much-anticipated book we hope to see coming out in 2020. Not sure where the picture of Rory and me was taken, perhaps at the home of a wealthy Louisvillite who invited all of us to a lovely dinner. If so, my hair survived a lively ride there in Ron Whitehead’s jeep.


Rory Feehan films my intro at the GF panel on journalism

Rory Patrick Feehan facilitating a tour at the Speed museum

Below in the photo, the Irish scholar Dr. Rory Patrick Feehan, with a PhD in Hunter Thompson studies, assists in leading a packed-house tour of the exhibit “Gonzo! The Illustrated Guide to Hunter S. Thomson” at the Speed Museum After Hours event Friday night, July 19, with curator Erika Holmquist-Wall in the Loft Gallery. Rory filmed the above video of my intro talk July 20 at the Gonzo Fest panel on changes in journalism since Nixon.

To my right is Ryland Barton, the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio. Beyond him is Olivia Kraft of Insider Louisville. The moderator is Timothy Denevi, the author of Freak Kingdom. Rory’s impressive dissertation will soon be a book available in the U.S.

You can see Rory here for the podcast


In the Panel photo, if you notice a windblown look, I rode to the event with all windows down. It was in the best company imaginable – an exciting way to arrive! One thing I  particularly appreciated from Ryland Barton is his commitment to fact checking. It used to be standard, he pointed out, to have news fact checked after the reporter turned the story in. A team did that. Now, a story can be rushed out, lacking the fact-checking protocol a team provided – which is on the downside of having do-it-yourself journalism. However, there are pluses as well, to getting news not from trained reporters. You have a wider source base. But you don’t necessarily have that commitment to fact checking. Personally, with my training in research, I always prefer solid fact checking. There’s something about starting out on the right foot of a story – getting it right on the ground level.





Photos from the July 2019 Gonzo Fest

William McKeen and Juan Whitehead – book signing at the Gonzofest
Rory Feehan at the Speed Museum
The Kitchen at Owl Farm, as reproduced by the Speed Museum
Juan Thompson, Tim Denevi, and Ron Whitehead speaking at the Speed Museum
Ralph Steadman, artwork for “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved,” 1970, at the Speed Museum
“The Temptation of Jean-Claude Killy” – Scanlan’s cover



Credit: Jeffery Parrish, who did a sequence of shots featuring me in the background of a forefront Rory. In this one, I am the hands, Rory the quizzical expression. We had no idea he was doing this.

Al Satterwhite on the phone

I just had the delightful pleasure of talking for an hour with Al Satterwhite on the phone.

He’s a photographer whose work takes your breath away. Below are two of his YouTube compilations – fascinating:

Hunter Thompson in Cozumel, Mexico, in 1974, photoshoot for Playboy.

The South in the Sixties

If you just want to feel good, browse through his work for the fine detail and slices of life. His work has so much the human touch, telling stories in facial expressions and the lens focus.

Here is his bio.

Remaining copies of The Cozumel Diary are on sale here at the Gonzo  Galleries.

There are other interesting books by him, usually in limited editions, including one on Muhammad Ali and Arnold Schwarznegger., Titans.


William McKeen’s Special Contribution to My New Book, “Hunter Thompson’s Hell’s Angels”

William McKeen is a Special Contributor to my new book, Hunter S. Thompson’s Hell’s Angels: Writers & Editor, Romance & Trouble in collaboration with Ron Whitehead. You can read his contribution by clicking here:

A fast-paced short 1,000 words by a very good writer himself.




Exhibiting at the Oud Sint Jan’s Museum of Bruges – 12/2018

Margaret Harrell – Rider on Horse – in exhibit

Above: Pablo Picasso, The Friendship Bouquet, at the Oud St. Jan’s Museum of Bruges, which just exhibited Rider on Horse – an experimental cloud/sun photograph by me – November 26 through December 1,  2018.

Bruges is the exquisite canal-lined city in Belgium that tourists love, just a half hour from Ghent, another old Flanders city, and I’m a dual national. Bruges is one of the loveliest cities in Europe, a little Venice. The event is the Flanders International Biennal of Contemporary Art. And I will be among 60 artists.

Right in the middle of the city, all that is best about Bruges and about life in general comes together in a unique cultural site: art, culinary delight, elegant meeting and function rooms, stylish interiors and spacious outdoor terraces with a magical view of the picturesque canals. Whoever enters the Old St. John Site will be amazed by the almost tangible presence of the rich history of Bruges. This is the spot where one of the earliest infirmaries in medieval Europe once stood. During the 19th century, it was home to the St. John’s Hospital, with its large communal wards. Following the closure of the hospital in 1976, these spacious wards were restored and since 1989 have formed part of the Old St. John Congress and Event Centre. The different halls are ideally suited for the organization of congresses, trade fairs, events and social functions of all kinds.

Old St. John’s Site, Bruges


Flanders Biannual exhibit – Oud St. Jan Museum – Bruges


A permanent Picasso exhibition is a big draw. It has 300 works of this famous 20th century Spanish artist – mostly graphic art, with one of the most extensive collections in Europe. At the moment, there is also an exhibition of the work of Andy Warhol. In 2015, the Centre was the location for Body Worlds (Körperwelten), in 2016 it was Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Last year, in 2017, it had the exhibition “Da Vinci, the inventions of a genius.” From March 31 on, it became the venue for the exhibition “Mummies, The Secrets of Ancient Egypt.”