Featured Altarist – Dana Romine Burns

Dana Romine Burns, Reiki Master, trainer and practitioner.

When did you build your first altar?  Did you think of it as an ‘altar’ at that time?

I never considered the sacred spaces I put together as altars until about 5 years ago when I started studying Reiki, meditation and crystal healing. That is when I was introduced to the concept of an altar. I was raised Catholic so the only altars I was familiar with were at church.

As a child, I was obsessed with making my room “feel” special. I constantly played around with and rearranged a few shelves I had in my room. I would switch out special jewels, or stuffed animals or feathers I would find, etc. It was very cleansing for me, even as a young child, to move things around until it felt right.

This continued into my adult years. I always seemed to have special places around my home that I would tend to regularly. When I was in my early twenties, I really started connecting with energies around me and realized that the energy around these sacred spaces is what I was tending to.

It was really empowering knowing that I could sense when an object was out of place or needed to be moved. This ultimately guided me to get my degree in Interior Architecture and Design. I had such a desire to create beautiful spaces in homes so people would love where they lived.

Our homes are our sacred spaces and I realized not everyone could “feel” what I felt and had no idea why exactly their home didn’t feel right to them.  I then remembered back to being a child and asking all of my friends if I could rearrange their rooms to make it “feel better”.

Even a tablescape can be an altar as shown here in Dana’s living room.

Do you share your practice with others or do this as a solitary practice?

I do share my practice with others. I have been an Interior Designer for the past 23 years and a Reiki Master/Teacher for 4 years. I am drawn to energies and love working with and teaching people about it.

How frequently do you build altars? 

I currently have a few of them around my home. On a daily basis I look at them, meditate with them and when I feel it is time to tend to them, I clean, organize or rearrange them.

What beliefs or ideas influence your altar building?

I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it like that. I have one area that holds some very special crystals/jewelry.  I have another area that is my “mother altar”. It has a picture of myself with my mom, a picture of my daughter and some of my beautiful aura crystals that have always given me a loving/mothering feel.

Another area is on my living room table. It’s a space I look at multiple times a day. This one is a little more whimsical for me. I change it every season/holiday.

It brings me so much joy to recreate it into a new vision! Really, every shelf, table or corner of my home, has things in it that are there for a reason.

Dana’s altar to honor Mother energy.

Can you share an outcome or two from using Altars in your life?

For a time, I studied Wicca. I had an altar in my room that I used for my work. It was adorned with a beautiful plum and gold tapestry. It really helped me focus on what I was trying to accomplish.

I had my rituals that I would do starting with lighting my candle, burning sage and incense. I would then carefully choose the oils and crystals that I would be using.

It was a very sacred space to me for a few years. I still use all of these elements today but not in such a direct “outcome-driven” way. I use them now for energy clearing/alignment and meditation.

What items tend to show up repeatedly when selecting what you will place on your altar? Do you have a reason or guided approach for your selection process?

They all have crystals on them. Not purposely, it just seems to happen that way.

When I decide to build a new altar, I spend time with different pieces playing around with what will be there. I listen to my spirit guides and what the energy of the pieces are telling me should be there.

It’s more of a feeling, rather than a knowing. I will keep moving things and adding/subtracting things until it feels right.

A selection of Dana’s spiritual tools.

What types of items do you use overall?

For the most part, I use candles, crystals, incense, books, pictures, feathers, plants or anything that I’m drawn to.

Do you follow the seasons or another system/set of holidays/moon cycles that impacts when and the type of altars you build?

I don’t. I have one altar that I change each season. I also follow the moon cycles but I haven’t found that it influences what I create.

What is your favorite part of building or using altars in your life – personal/work both?

It lets my creativity flow. It’s a type of meditation for me and brings such a sense of joy for not only me but for others who come to my home.

I find my sacred spaces really resonate with others as well and I love bringing peace into other people’s lives.

Dana surrounds herself with treasures that have meaning.

How or does your culture show up in your altar building?

My family is from Europe and I find that I used to use a lot more family pieces in my altars when I was younger.

Now I find beauty in all religions, spiritual walks of life and cultures.  I find myself using many different elements. Sometimes crosses, sometimes Buddhas. It all depends on what I am being drawn to at the time.  

Can’t you feel the peace and calm at this altar Dana created using orchids and fairy lights.

Do you experience an emotional shift when you put on certain clothing for ceremony?  What difference do you notice on your physical body when you treat it as an altar with sacred adornment?

I do. Getting prepared really relaxes me physically, spiritually and emotionally.

From getting dressed – to lighting the candles and incense – to doing breathing techniques before I get started.

It’s all part of the process and it’s amazingly relaxing. It’s about the focus which helps me to be right there in that moment.

What has been the biggest shift for you since building or using altars in your life?

Wow, I couldn’t really tell you since I don’t remember life without them. Since I was old enough to make them, they have always been in my room and now all over my home.

I could only imagine how empty my home would feel without them. They are a part of who I am and how I live my daily life.

I love how the towels make a Triskelion. Dana’s Interior design eye shows up beautifully.

You and I have an interesting connection, you found me online over 15 years ago when we were both looking for my sister – I’ve always believed it was a destined connection – perhaps energetically attracted – Let’s talk about your gifts with Energy and Reiki.

Tell us how you first came to hear about Reiki and what drew you to becoming a Reiki Master?

My entire life, I have worked with energy, even before I knew that was what I was doing. My family has many members who have different degrees of psychic abilities but never really spoke about it, we just knew.

It’s always been around me but it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I really started speaking to people about it and realizing that what I did and things I knew or felt, weren’t what everybody knew or felt and that I really did have a gift.

Fast forward many years and the word Reiki kept coming up in conversations I had with different people and in articles I read. It peaked my interest but didn’t really speak to me until about 5 years ago when I read an article and I was overcome with knowing that this was something that I absolutely HAD to bring into my life.

It didn’t take long before I connected with my Reiki Master and began taking all of her classes. This began a quick forward moving leap in my life where I connected so deeply with Reiki that I took a huge leap of faith and opened up my own Reiki studio so I could bring this beautiful healing modality to as many people as possible.

Nature and Dana blending together.

How do you feel Reiki can support women especially during our current times of pandemic with limited access to other forms of traditional support?

The beauty of Reiki is that anyone can do it. You don’t need special abilities or religious beliefs to benefit from it.

There are three levels to Reiki. But beginning with Level 1 (Shoden Level), you can perform it on yourself every day. It’s in bringing Reiki into your daily life/routine, that you really begin to feel the empowerment.

It teaches you to stop reacting to things. Especially in today’s world. We can so easily be pulled into this madness, especially those women who may be sensitives or empaths.

We need to hold on to our power – by responding – not reacting to what we are hearing, seeing, experiencing. It can be so draining to try and maneuver around all that is going on around us.

With Reiki, you learn to protect your energy and in doing so, you can respond to things in a much calmer and educated manner.

I had the pleasure of participating in a Full Moon Reiki circle you hosted years back – You incorporated visualization and the Moons’ energy into that reiki experience – How has your Reiki practice evolved?  Do you still use the moon or other things within a session or focused workshop?

When I started my Reiki practice, it was with the intention to offer traditional Reiki treatments. But then my treatments began to shift a bit and I began to incorporate crystal healing, aura cleansing and chakra balancing, if the client was open to it. And boy were they!

Then I began teaching Reiki which allowed me to call myself an Usui Reiki Master and Teacher.

I developed classes for adults Levels I and II and for kids Level I. This allowed me the immense pleasure of teaching this amazing healing modality to dozens and dozens of beautiful souls!

Since then I continued studying under my Reiki Master and became not only a Usui Master but a Kundalini Reiki Master, as well. I’ve also studied Oncology Reiki, Kids Reiki and Animal Reiki.

I do (still use the moon). Especially if the sessions are during a new moon or a full moon. These are the best times to either release and let go of things that are no longer needed in your life and may be weighing you down emotionally or spiritually.

Guided visualization and Reiki workshops are one of Dana’s specialities.

Or to start the ball rolling on things that you would like to attract to your life. By focusing on these things, you are letting the Universe know you are ready to receive them and that is the first step in creating your reality.

What tools do you use to keep yourself both fueled and restored as a healer?  Is there a tool or resource you find that works particularly well in conjunction with Reiki?

Meditation, mediation, meditation.

There are many different types of mediation. Not all appeal to everyone. For instance, I absolutely love guided visualizations. That is why I offer them as a service.

It is such a magical experience for me when I can go deep into a visualization. I always come out of it so relaxed and with some type of message that I needed.

Being a mother of a teenager daughter I’m sure you see so many ways teen girls could benefit from having Reiki and altar building as tools to help them navigate their lives.  Can you share what you see here?  Do you offer training to young women?

My daughter has a sacred space altar in her room. It was something she did on her own and I love watching her tend to it the way I did at her age. I am also grateful when she is having a sad day or is anxious about a test or competition coming up, that she comes to me for Reiki. She also knows how to work on her breathing techniques when she becomes anxious.

The most heartbreaking thing I see these days, with girls even younger than 10, is depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, the most common way to deal with it is prescription pills. It baffles my mind that doctors so easily prescribe these to kids instead of offering or suggesting lifelong coping skills.

Dana works with children and is available for workshops with a groups of kids as well.

How will they ever learn to live a healthy life when they are fed pills. I completely understand that every situation is different and, in some situations, it is absolutely necessary. But that is certainly not the case for the majority of them.

I speak to teenagers, often, about Reiki since I know it is probably the first time they have ever heard about it. I just want to offer them a different perspective on how they may be able to manage their feelings. I lost my father to suicide 6 years ago and it has been my mission to help others with depression ever since.

(Note from Julia: Even though it is 6 years on since Dana’s father, John, committed suicide I would like to encourage our readers to stop and visualize or think the thoughts of him being in a place of peace. You may wish to do this for your family or friends that died in this manner.

I wanted to add that in 1997 I received distance Reiki from friends in the Netherlands at a time when suicide was also my written plan. It changed my life. It saved it. I want to encourage anyone dealing with depression to consider contacting Dana or a trusted Reiki practitioner locally to support them in this area.

For the record, I’ve failed at suicide attempts a few times. I’ve dealt with depression in the past with therapy, medication and finally Reiki. All three helped me.

Please consult your mental health and medical team for the best approach for you. We aren’t here to diagnose or treat you, we are offering our experience, strength and tried results for ourselves personally.)

Who are your typical clients?  Tell us how a mobile practice works? You come to someone’s home or office?  Do you have distance clients as well?

Yes to all of that. ?

As a mobile practitioner, I go to my clients. I find that most people are able to fully relax better in their space. I bring my table, crystals, oils and music and set up a sacred space in their home or office. Whether it is for a Reiki session or a mediation session.

Most of my clients are adults but I do work on a few teenagers and one 9-year-old. Each session is completely unique to the client’s needs.

I also offer distance Reiki. Distance Reiki can be used anywhere in the world. I have a few followers who live far away and are unable to see me in person. So, I give them a distance Reiki session. I still use my oils and stones and they are able to receive all of the healing benefits as someone in person would.

Bonus question #1 if you dare: 
Favorite curse word?

Fuck….fuckity fuck fuck

Bonus question #2 if it applies for you:
What is a favorite sacred tattoo you rock on your bodies altar or favorite piece of jewelry you wear to help create your feeling of sacredness?

I do not have tattoos. I am a Gemini and I constantly change my mind on what I would want so I figure it’s better to play it safe and not get something that I will probably regret sooner than later. But I want one soooooooooooooooooooooo badly!

My favorite piece of jewelry is my smokey quartz, citrine and clear quartz pendant. It’s a one-of-a-kind creation that I adore!

Bonus question if you dare: #3
What would you take your younger self by the shoulders and looking straight in the eyes say to her?

You are special. You are here for a reason. All this negativity around you, is not your fault. Continue to be the peacemaker in the family, even though they chastise you for it. It is your role in this family and your purpose in life. You will bring peace to many people so please love yourself even when it’s hard.

Finally, how can women find you locally and online? 

Best way to stay in touch with Dana these days is via her Facebook page.

Reiki by Dana on Facebook

Altars and Sacred Spaces find their way into every room of Dana Burn’s home.

All images within this interview are copyright of Dana Romine Burns.
Enjoy them, let them inspire you, please don’t share them without honoring who created them. Thank you.

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Imagery: Kaia Pieters and Julia Ferguson Andriessen
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