Sunday, October 12, 2014

Interview with author Sandra Lee Dennis

 Why did you pursue writing?

As I mention in the book, I never set out to write this book.  More than ten years ago, after revising my dissertation for publication, I swore I would never again undertake the extraordinary demands of writing another book.  Despite my intentions, this time I seemed to have little say in the matter.

I have always kept personal journals, and have gone through periods when I felt compelled to write down my experience—what I would call “automatic writing”—when it feels like a kind of voice from beyond is speaking through/to me.  This information is often rich enough that I felt compelled to share what I was learning with others.

In the world of astrological symbols, a configuration exists called a “finger of God.” This lineup of heavenly indicators point to an area of life where unconscious forces drive a person to turn in a wholly unanticipated direction to accomplish something in the outer world.

In practice the way this shows up in your life is you find yourself suddenly engaged— often even against your conscious intentions— in an undertaking you had not planned. This is how it felt when it came to writing this book. As if I had no choice, the “finger of God” pointed me to my desk, and said “write!” Without those hours of flow and surprise at what was pouring onto the page, I could never have kept at it and finished the task.

What inspired your book?

After being abandoned by my long-time partner a few weeks before a big wedding we had planned, I was shocked by the amount of pain and distress I was going through and was desperate to understand what was happening to me. 

I spent a lot of hours each day the first year in a kind of meditative/inquiry space and learned an enormous amount. I did a lot of automatic/flow writing during this time. The voice coming through me was that of a caring ‘Divine Mother’ often advising me how to survive. While the first draft of the book was taken almost entirely from those communications, eventually it morphed into more personal narrative and psychological/spiritual research and analysis that I hope will be more accessible and helpful for more people.

I strongly believe in telling your story. Betrayal and abandonment are shaming and the tendency is to hide, push aside or gloss over what has happened to you. That only pushes the wound and the deep feelings that to with it down further in the unconscious. After shock and trauma, it is an accepted healing method to write out or tell your story. I wanted to model that for others.

How long have you been publishing your work? 

My first book “Embrace of the Daimon” was published in 2001. It was originally my doctoral dissertation that my advisor sent off to a publisher he knew for me. I was amazed at the time to find myself writing a book.  I have not considered myself a writer per se, more an explorer, researcher and teacher about the mysteries of inner life. My writing has grown out of my impulse to share or teach what I have learned in my own experiential inquiries.

What’s your writing environment like?

I have a lovely space in my home in Sonoma County that looks out on three massive, old oak trees and patches of sky in my little back yard. I live in the center of a small town, and sometimes I go out front with my laptop and sit in my garden to write, taking in the roses and the people passing by going to the post office or the bagel shop on the corner.

What projects are you currently working on?

Right now I am involved in getting the word about “Love and the Mystery of Betrayal” out to the people it can most help. You deliver the baby and then it needs to be nurtured into the world. That means doing interviews like this one, as well as regular blog and social media posts, scheduling opportunities to talk to people about the book and related subjects.  I am also contemplating whether to r run workshops or an ongoing group related to recovery as some people have suggested. That keeps me very busy. 

After a big creative project like this, there is a sense that this is it, no more.  But I must admit I noticed a little seed germinating about the next ‘installment’.  L&MB focuses very much on the trauma and the dark night passage and shadow work that goes with it. I spent more than four years in that space. In the past year have been moving out of it, turning into more spaciousness and “light.” Sometimes this turn has a quite miraculous quality that calls to be shared. 

Primarily, I have learned to listen to my inner guidance in an entirely new way, so that I live more than ever from day to day, never knowing quite what will be coming next. If I am moved to write again, I will!

Visit Sandra’s website at:


  1. Thank you, Emily, for your provocative questions and for helping to get the word out about "Love and the Mystery of Betrayal"— to those who are grappling with emotional crisis themselves and can most benefit from it.

  2. One more thing, Emily, in case any of your readers are interested:
    "Love and the Mystery of Betrayal" is available TODAY through Sat 10/18 for FREE EBOOK download — Nonfiction/memoir/psychological/spiritual/

    "An incredibly compelling journey that speaks to anyone who has experienced the wounding of betrayal in its many aspects, whether it be partner infidelity, abandonment, rape, child abuse, emotional abuse, suicide of a loved one, or any other traumatic event.”—Pam B., Goodreads review

    “Discover how the excruciating pain of betrayal can become a portal to unconditioned love and deep inner freedom.”—Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance