Atlanta, Georgia

Imperfection is the Plan: Donna Peera and Haseena Peera

First Recorded

August 7, 2018


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Donna Peera was raised Catholic, but in adulthood she has found her spiritual home in Shamanism, a collection of practices through which she transcends into different realms to access information from nature. In this conversation, Peera joins her daughter, Haseena, to discuss how Shamanism has shaped her personal and family life as a way of healing. 

This story was produced by Alero Oyinlola.

This story is a part of the American Pilgrimage Project, a conversation series that invites Americans of diverse backgrounds to sit together and talk to each other one-to-one about the role their religious beliefs play at crucial moments in their lives. The interview was recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.

Donna Peera and Haseena Peera

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Haseena Peera: Did anybody know you were converting?

Donna Peera: I was raised Catholic; it's about guilt. And I got tired of the guilt. And the more you question your faith, the foundation and the basics aren't enough. And Shamanism is the ability to go in different realms in a trance-like state, in order to access information from nature, to help people who don't have the answers and healing in the Western world. You've got to have some questions to things unexplained. And when they tell you don't ask those questions. My father taught me to respect all cultures and beliefs and learn as much as you can, ask those questions, but keep them to yourself. He had this hidden fear that if people knew too much from the Native American culture, they would never understand.

Haseena Peera: So, your first experience of seeing things was 3. You really delved into studying it at 35, but you're saying—

Donna Peera: At 13, that trauma opened me up to talking to spirit guides.

Haseena Peera: What...tell me about that time. It seemed like something happened. It clicked.

Donna Peera: I had a lot of anger after a family member molested me. I learned that the only person that matters is Spirit. Because when my parents said, "it's your fault" or "that's not possible," or my brothers were in denial because this was a close friend of the family, was trusted for years. I decided with Spirit, I made a pact: If you have me get through this, I will service you well, Spirit. 

Haseena Peera: So, shamanism is, kind of what I'm getting from it is, it's a mixture of awareness that you are part of something bigger than you would ever imagine, but also that you journey for self-awareness. Your whole entire reasoning is to find out who you really are, where you've really been and what you're really here to do. It's more of's not exactly a religion.

Donna Peera: No, it's a way of healing, but you can make it a way of life.

Haseena Peera: I'm glad you... not converted, but I'm glad you decided to really go into it because it really helped me realize everything is made up and nothing's real, and everyone's just kind of trying to figure out what they're seeing and feeling, and everyone...We only believe what we're taught. And when you really went into that in the middle of, kind of, when I was really young, trying to figure out, am I Muslim? Am I this? Am I that? Trying to figure out. And, you know, you were saying—

Donna Peera: And when you were gay.

Haseena Peera: ...And when I was gay, and when you would say it's silly not to believe in everything, because there's a reason why you hear all those stories. Maybe it all exists. And, at the same time. And it became...I had a sense of awareness that I think helped me grow with a certain sort of understanding that my friends don't have.

Do you struggle with the same things your father struggled with, with knowing too much of something?

Donna Peera: Yes. Everybody's different. Everybody is a vibration of learning. And how they come in this world is pure. And they have to remember that going back to the sacred self is unleashing and unveiling themselves and not being afraid to heal because we're all different. I mean, I'm not perfect. Nobody's perfect. And as I always tell the people at Healium, the imperfection is the plan because if we are imperfect, we are made that way on purpose to unify, to link to each other, to love each other, to be in gratitude of what we have, and to be in love with each other.

Haseena Peera: I love you, Mom.

Donna Peera: I love you too, baby.

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