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Written by Lorna ByrneAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Lorna Byrne



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On Sale: April 28, 2009
Pages: 336 | ISBN: 978-0-385-53058-3
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

For anyone who has ever wondered about the mysteries that lie beyond everyday experience, or doubted the reality of the afterlife, Angels in My Hair is a moving and deeply inspirational journey into the unseen world.

For as long as she can remember, Lorna Byrne has seen angels. As a young child, she assumed everyone could see the otherworldly beings who always accompanied her. Yet in the eyes of adults, her abnormal behavior was a symptom of mental deficiency. Today, sick and troubled people from around the world are drawn to her for comfort and healing, and even theologians of different faiths seek her guidance. Lorna is trusted for her ability to communicate with spirits and angels—and by sharing her intimate knowledge of the spiritual world she offers a message of hope and love to us all.

Angels in My Hair is an engrossing chronicle of Lorna’s incredible life story. Invoking a wonderful sense of place, she describes growing up poor in Ireland, finding work in Dublin, and marrying the man of her dreams—only to have the marriage cut short by tragedy. Already a bestseller in Ireland, her story gives readers a unique insight into the angelic help that is around us and available to us all the time. As Lorna says, "All you have to do is ask."

In this uplifting autobiography, a modern-day Irish mystic shares her vivid encounters and conversations with the angels and spirits she has known her entire life.

Excerpt

Chapter 1


Through different eyes

When I was two years old the doctor told my mother I was "retarded."

When I was a baby, my mother noticed that I always seemed to be in a world of my own. I can even remember lying in a cot--a big basket--and seeing my mother bending over me. Surrounding my mother I saw wonderful bright, shiny beings in all the colors of the rainbow; they were much bigger than I was, but smaller than her--about the size of a three-year-old child. These beings floated in the air like feathers; and I remember reaching out to touch them, but I never succeeded. I was fascinated by these creatures with their beautiful lights. At that time I didn't understand that I was seeing anything different from what other people saw; it would be much later that I learned from them that they were called angels.

As the months passed, my mother noticed that I'd always be looking or staring somewhere else, no matter what she'd do to try to get my attention. In truth, I was somewhere else: I was away with the angels, watching what they were doing and talking and playing with them. I was enthralled.

I was a late talker, but I had been conversing with angels from very early on. Sometimes we used words as you and I understand them, but sometimes no words were needed--we would know each other's thoughts. I believed that everyone else could see what I saw, but then the angels told me that I was not to say anything to anyone about seeing them, that I should keep it a secret between us. In fact, for many years I listened to the angels and I didn't tell people what I saw. It is only now in writing this book that I am for the first time telling much of what I have seen.

The doctor's comment when I was just two was to have a profound effect on my life: I realized that people can be very cruel. At the time I was born, in 1953, my parents lived in Old Kilmainham, near the center of Dublin. My father rented a little bicycle repair shop there, which had a cottage attached. If you walked through the shop and around to the left you would come to a tiny and fairly dilapidated house. It was part of a row of old cottages and shops, but most of them were empty or abandoned because they were in such bad condition. For much of the time we lived in the one little room downstairs: here we cooked, ate, talked, played, and even washed in a big metal basin in front of the fire. Although the house had no bathroom, outside in the back garden, down a little path, was a shed with a loo. Upstairs there were two small bedrooms; at first I shared one of the bedrooms, and a bed, with my older sister Emer.

It wasn't just angels I was seeing (and I saw them constantly--from the moment I woke up until I went to sleep), but also the spirits of people who had died. My brother, Christopher, had been born a year before me but he had died when he was only about ten weeks old. Although I never saw him while he was alive, I could visualize him--he was dark haired, while my sister and I were fair--and I could also play with him in spirit.

At the time I thought there was nothing strange about this; it felt as if he was just another child, although he seemed a little brighter in appearance. One of the first things that made me realize that he was different, though, was that his age could change. Sometimes he appeared as a baby, but other times he looked about the same age as me, toddling across the floor. He wasn't there constantly, either, but seemed to come and go.

Late one cold winter afternoon, just as it was getting dark, I was alone in the little living room of the house in Old Kilmainham. There was fire in the open fireplace, which was the only light in the room. The firelight flickered across the floor where I was sitting playing with little wooden building blocks that my father had made. Christopher came to play with me. He sat nearer the fire--he said that it was too hot for me where he was, but it was okay for him as he didn't feel the heat. Together we built a tower. I would put one brick down and he would put another on top of it. The tower was getting very tall and then, suddenly, our hands touched. I was amazed--he felt so different from other people I touched. When I touched him he sparked; it was as if there were little stars flying. At that moment I went into him (or perhaps he went into me); it was as if we merged and became one. In my shock I knocked over our tower of blocks!

I burst out laughing, then I touched him again. I think that was the first time I fully realized that he wasn't flesh and blood.

I never confused Christopher with an angel; the angels I saw did sometimes have a human appearance, but when they did, most of them had wings and their feet did not touch the ground and they had a sort of bright light shining inside them. Some of the time the angels I saw would have no human aspect at all, but appeared as a sharp glowing light.

Christopher appeared around my mum a lot. Sometimes Mum would be sitting in the chair by the fire and would doze off, and I'd see him cradled in her arms. I didn't know whether my mother was aware of Christopher's presence so I asked him, "Will I tell Mum that you're here?"

"No, you can't tell her," he replied. "She won't understand. But sometimes she feels me."

One winter morning the angels came to my bed as the sun was coming up. I was curled up under the blankets; my sister Emer, with whom I shared the bed, was up and about and instead Christopher was curled up beside me. He tickled me and said, "Look, look, Lorna--over at the window."

As I have said, angels can appear in different forms and sizes; this morning they looked like snowflakes! The glass in the window seemed to become a vapor, and as each snowflake hit the window it was transformed into an angel about the size of a baby. The angels were then carried on a beam of sunlight through the window, and each one seemed to be covered in white and shiny snowflakes. As the angels touched me the snowflakes fell from them onto me; they tickled as they landed and, surprisingly, they felt warm, not cold.

"Wouldn't it be wonderful," Christopher said, "if everybody knew that they could fill their pockets with angels; that they could fit thousands of angels into one pocket, just like with snowflakes, and could carry them around with them and never be alone."

I turned and asked, "What if they melted in their pockets?"

Christopher giggled and said, "No! Angels never melt!"

I rather sadly replied, "Christopher, I wish that you could fit in my mum's pocket like a snowflake, and be there for her all the time."

He turned and looked at me, as we were cuddled up in bed, and said, "You know I'm there already."

When I was an adult my mother told me she had had a baby son called Christopher who had been born a year before me but had only lived ten weeks. I just smiled in response. I remember asking her where Christopher was buried, and she told me that it was in an unmarked grave (as was the custom in those days) in a baby's graveyard in Dublin.

It's sad that there is no grave with his name on it that I can go and visit, but he's not forgotten. Sometimes even now, all these years later, I feel Christopher's hand in my pocket pretending to make snowflakes, reminding me I am never alone.

I learned more about Christopher and my mother one day when I was about four or five years old. I was sitting at the table swinging my legs and eating breakfast when I caught a glimpse of Christopher looking as if he were about twelve years old, running across the room to the shop door just as my mother walked in with some toast. She had a big smile on her face as she said, "Lorna, there is a surprise for you in the back workroom under Da's workbench!"

I jumped up from the table, all excited, and followed Christopher. He went straight through the shop and into the dark workshop; I had to stop at the door because it was so dark in there that I couldn't see anything and I needed my eyes to adjust to the darkness. However, Christopher was just like a light, a soft shimmering glow that lit up a path for me through the cluttered workshop. He called out, "The cat has had kittens!" And there, thanks to Christopher's light, I could see four tiny little kittens--three were _jet-_black, and one was black and white. They were so beautiful, so soft and glossy. The mother cat, Blackie, got out of the box, stretched herself, then jumped out of the little window into the garden. I ran after her and called to Christopher to come too, but he would not come into the garden.

I walked back in and asked Christopher, "Why wouldn't you come outside?"

He took my hand, as if to comfort me--I loved the touch of his hand--and our hands merged again. It felt magical; it made me feel safe and happy.

"Lorna, when babies die their spirits stay with their mothers for as long as they are needed, so I stay here with Mum. If I went outside it would be like breaking those memories--and that I won't do!"

Even at that young age, I knew what he meant. My mother had poured so much love into him: all the memories she had of being pregnant and carrying him inside her, the birth, the joy and the happiness she had holding him in her arms and bringing him home--when even then she had a feeling that something was wrong, despite what the doctors told her. Mum had a precious few weeks at home with Christopher before he died, and Christopher told me of all the love that she had poured on him, and he now poured that love on her.

So my spirit brother would remain in the house, never going out, until the day came when it seemed that my mum felt strong enough to move on and was ready to let my little brother go. That day was the day when we had to leave that little shop in Old Kilmainham for good.



When I see an angel I want to stop and stare; I feel like I am in the presence of a tremendous power. When I was younger the angels generally adopted a human form--to make it easier for me to accept them--but now that's no longer necessary. The angels I see don't always have wings, but when they do I am sometimes amazed by their form; occasionally they are like flames of fire, and yet they have shape and solidity. Some of the angels' wings have feathers; one angel had wings that were so slender, tall, and pointed that I found it hard to _believe that they were wings. I wanted to ask the angel to open them up.

When angels have a human appearance--with or without wings--their eyes are one of their most fascinating features. Angel eyes are not like human eyes; they are so alive, so full of life and light and love. It's as if they contain the essence of life itself--their radiance fills you completely.

I have never seen an angel's feet actually touch the ground; when I see one walking toward me I see what looks like a cushion of energy between the ground and their feet. Sometimes it looks like a thin thread, but other times this cushion grows between the earth and the angel, and even sinks into the earth itself.

Ever since I was very young there was one particular angel who used to appear to me often. The first time I saw him he was in the corner of the bedroom and he just said, "Lorna." In some ways he looked like other angels, but there was something different about him, too; he shone more strongly than the others and he had a commanding presence, a powerful force of male strength. From that first time I saw him I always felt he was ready to protect me, like a shield, and from then on he kept appearing and gradually I befriended him. He told me his name was Michael.



School was difficult for me; most of the teachers treated me as if I were slow. My First Holy Communion was at school when I was six, and it was horrible. It should have been a very special day--as it is for most Irish children. When we were preparing for First Holy Communion in the classroom the teachers would ask the children questions, checking that they had learned their catechism, but they wouldn't bother with me; they'd say, "There is no point asking you!" And when all the other children had to stand in line and say something about the Communion, I would stand in line, too, but then I'd be dragged out and told to go and sit down. As a young child this really hurt. So while I sat down at the back of the class or on one of the benches in the corner I'd ask my angels, "Don't they know that I know my catechism, too? They aren't even giving me a chance."

Then in church on my First Communion day, as I finally made my way up to the altar I was grabbed by the arm and pulled out of the queue again because the teacher decided that the better girls should go ahead of me.

There were some kind people, though; when I was about four there was a nun called (I think) Mother Moderini. She had been told that I was slow and "retarded," but I felt she knew better. When I was in her class she would come down and ask me little questions to which I always knew the answer, so then she'd smile and rub my head.

But despite these occasional acts of kindness from a few people, I grew up an outsider. People could see that I was different and they just couldn't understand it. That aspect of my life has been very, very hard--and it still is today. People say I'm too trusting, too truthful for this world, but I cannot be any other way! The strange thing is, that to be truthful in every way--in how you think and in how you speak--and to be truthful to those around you is hard and it does tend to isolate you.

The way people think about or look at me does affect me greatly even now. Even though they may not know me, or know what I do, they know that on some level I am different. If I go out with friends and meet someone new who knows nothing about me, they will often report back to my friends that there is something unusual about me, something that they can't quite put their finger on. This can be difficult to live with.


From the Hardcover edition.
Lorna Byrne|Author Q&A

About Lorna Byrne

Lorna Byrne - Angels in My Hair

Photo © Shane McCarthy Photography

Lorna Byrne has been seeing and talking to angels since she was a baby. Now, having raised her family, she talks openly for the first time about what she has seen and learned. She lives quietly in rural Ireland.

Author Q&A

How does it feel to have your first book published?
 
Fantastic, it is something I am still trying to get my head around it. To me, it is still unbelievable. I find myself smiling every time I see the book in a book shop, and when I see someone looking at the book, I am overjoyed.  I keep laughing with the angels about the fact that it has really happened, that the book is actually published and on sale.
 
How have you found the process of writing and publishing a book?
 
One thing I have learnt is just how much hard work is involved.  It’s certainly not all glamour -in fact I have seen very little glamour so far- but I do look forward to some in the future!
 
I have been working on this book for three and a half years - it has been a long three and a half years but well worth it.  Every chance I got I wrote, and I got incredible support from family and friends.
 
The book is now published in many countries but I’m busier than ever with interviews, travel, and meetings.  I love walking, and I try to go for a walk every morning, but with all that’s going on, it doesn't always work out.   If I'm lucky I get to walk at the weekend.  It’s all worth it though, I love writing and sharing my life with the world. 
 
That being said, I am looking forward to having some time off, putting my feet up and spending some quality time with my daughter.  But God and the angels have told me I will only get a few days here and there.  I even find it hard to have quality time with God and the angels.  My life belongs to God and writing and publishing this book is what I have been asked to do.
 
Has it changed your life?
Yes, of course, it has.  It has turned my life around in ways I never thought possible. After years of being home based and meeting very few people I’m now out meeting people all the time. Prior to this book I had only been on four planes in my life – last week alone I was on four!
 
 
Before, my time was dictated by the needs of my family. Now I have much less time for myself, I’m very much in demand. But I do enjoy it – well most of  it.
 
What response have you had from readers?
The response has been incredible. People have told me they have stayed up all night reading it. Many have found it very emotional and have told me they were in tears.  Many people told me that it gave them back hope and that knowing they have a guardian angel there beside them has made their life much easier.
 
The angels told me that different parts of the book would resonate with different people. I’m finding that this is very true.
 
Why do you think people react so strongly to Angels in My Hair?
I believe people have reacted so strongly because it has brought hope into their lives.
 
It has made them realize that they are not alone. That God has given them the gift of a guardian angel, who is always there with them, no matter what. They are not alone.
 
The book also helps people to understand that they have a soul - they are not just flesh and blood - and that while their body will die, their soul won’t.
 
 When you started writing, did you have an idea of what you wanted the book to be like?
I didn’t have any idea that the book would involve telling so much about my family and my personal life. I knew it would be about what the Angels had taught me over my life – but my original intention wasn’t for it to be so personal – I’ve always been a very private person
 
My editor, was very adamant about this, he constantly probed. I’d say something – like a particular angel- was “indescribably beautiful” and he’d write in the margin of the manuscript “Please try”,  a little like a school teacher As a result of his perseverance I became much more open and much better at describing my experiences.
 
Where did the title ‘Angels in my hair’ come from?
The angels have always played with my hair when they want to get my attention. As a result of I frequently touch my hair, telling them to go away, not to be annoying me. I had a few other titles that I considered but this was always my favorite.
 
When and where do you write?
I actually started writing in a notebook in bed, but it took me so long and was so difficult that it became clear that there was no way I could write the book this way.
 
I have severe dyslexia, and had very little schooling, so writing is very hard for me – I was determined however to write this book.
 
I started recording my thoughts on to ordinary cassettes, and got a friend to transcribe them. After about a year another friend bought me a voice activated computer – which is fantastic. I still need help to edit, but at least they don’t have to type everything from scratch.
 
I have no particular writing rhythm – largely because of the demands of a young daughter and family. Sometimes I write in the morning and sometimes in the evening. For the three years we were doing the writing of this book, a friend came one day a week to edit with me, and this day we worked very intensively.
 
Did you come across any particular challenges while writing the book?
 
The dyslexia was obviously a big challenge. But there was another one too. I think that what I see and experience is normal and frequently had to be reminded that this was not the case and that I needed to explain or describe more. My editor played an important role in this.
 
What do you like reading?
 
I don’t like reading because it takes so much effort from me.
 
Will you write another book? What about?
 
Yes. I plan to write several more. My second book “Stairways to Heaven” in fact already published in many countries. But not yet the USA. I have asked that the publication of it in the States is delayed until more people have had a chance to read Angels in my Hair.
 
I’m also working on a third book.

About the Book|Discussion Questions

About the Guide

Angels in My Hair is the autobiography of a modern day mystic, an Irish woman with the powers of the saints of old.
 
Lorna Byrne sees and talks with angels every day and has done since she was a baby. Very unusually she sees them physically.  As a young child, she assumed everyone could see the angels who always accompanied her, but adults thought she was mentally deficient because she did not seem to be focusing on the world around her. Today, sick and troubled people from all around the world are drawn to her for comfort and healing, and theologians of different faiths seek her guidance.

Angels in My Hair is a moving and deeply inspirational chronicle of Lorna’s remarkable life story. Invoking a wonderful sense of place, she describes growing up poor in Ireland, and marrying the man of her dreams—only to have the marriage cut short by tragedy.
 
An international bestseller, translated into 23 languages  The overwhelming response of readers around the world to Angels in my hair  - regardless of religious beliefs – is that it  gives them back hope, helping them to realize that no matter alone they might feel they have a Guardian angel by their side

Discussion Guides

1. Which episode in the book sticks most clearly in your mind after reading it?

2. What do you think about the difference in descriptions between the ordinary and the extraordinary – how well does this work?

3. One reader has said ‘Either this is true or Lorna Byrne has one of the most extraordinary imaginations I’ve ever come across.’ What do you think?

4. The author speaks of the difficulty she has in describing angels, do you think she succeeds?

5. ‘People could see that I was different and just couldn’t understand it.’ Why is it that difference from the norm is marginalised in our society? Why do you think people are frightened of things that they don’t understand?

6. What do you think of the following statement: ‘Sometimes, things only seem like tragedies… Sometimes tough things have to happen in order for people to change, and for things to change in their lives.’ Can you think of a time when this may have happened to you or someone you know?

7. How has reading the book changed your view of life after death?

8. Lorna describes the passing away of people she has known and the people in her life in great detail. How does her experience of it make you feel about death?

9. The author has said that this book has a unique message for each person who reads it – what message does it hold for you?


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