The Rachel Casson Story
In this episode Trevor Baldwin talks to ex-British Water Ski Champion Rachel Casson. Rachel shares the story of the major life-threatening 170kph fall in the 1991 World Championships and we discover how her spiritual life gave her the strength to battle through the mental nightmares that followed. A truly inspiring and moving story.
The Spirited Talk Podcasts are weekly episode with experienced and knowledgeable guests sharing their personal journey of psychic and spiritual discovery. Guests reveal how they became aware of the spirit world through their own psychic and spiritual awareness. Completing their stories with answers to questions, information, advice and where the listener can find out more about them.
Former World Class Water Ski Sportswoman during the 1990's Rachel now works part of her time as a Sports, Massage Therapist but is also committed to following her passion which is Spiritual Mediumship and Healing.
Her own personal road to recovery lead her along a painful but ultimately enlightening, healing path following her devastating injuries at the 1991 world championships in Darwin, Australia.
For Rachel, embracing the Religion of Spiritualism, which is also a Science and a Philosophy has enabled her to transform, evolve and develop into who she is now, which has brought about a deeper understanding of herself, her philosophy and about others.
The Seven Principles of Spiritualism have given Rachel a foundation upon which to work out her own philosophy.
Rachel's extraordinary perspective enables her to consider and acknowledge the mind, body and soul when administering therapy and when working with spirit. She believes that we are all aspects of a great creative force, power and its that 'power' that connects us all and brings to ourselves 'life.'
Rachel has recently passed her CSNU (Certificate of The Spiritualist National Union) in speaking and demonstrating and her CSNU and is currently pursuing further SNU qualifications.
"We are all more than just our physical self, the mind, given healing and nourishment is capable of outstanding feats of recovery". The spiritual aspect of self, being acknowledged and nurtured can bring about a clearer awareness of who we are and our connection to all things within creation.
I am also involved with The Spiritualists' National Union and the FOSH Fellowship
Rachel Casson was a world-class water ski champion - until an accident changed her life forever.
Written by EMMA HIGGINBOTHAM
When she was 5 years old, Rachel Casson heard a noise that petrified her.
It was one of her favourite toys, a wooden dog that made a ‘clonkety-clonk’ sound when you moved it. But she wasn’t moving it. She was lying in bed - and the dog was on top of her wardrobe.
“I remember waking up, and I could hear this ‘clonkety-clonk, clonkety-clonk’,” says Rachel, in her soft Birmingham accent. “My heart starts pounding, and then this dog just comes to the edge of the wardrobe, lifts off and lands on my bed.
Curled up on the sofa of her Cottenham home, the 43-year-old explains that this wasn’t the first time she’d seen something deeply unusual. From as far back as she can remember, Rachel says she’s felt the presence of spirits, either sensing their energy “or seeing them as clear as I’m seeing you. Sometimes I was aware of children playing, and I’d sometimes wake up and see faces.
“For me that was just my normality. But when I told my mum, or especially my dad, they’d say ‘Don’t tell lies’. So as a child it was quite hard to express how I was, because people thought I was away with the fairies.”
As she grew up, Rachel learned to hide her secret, but it came to a head when her mother tragically developed ovarian cancer. “Two weeks before she died, my granddad, who passed away when I was 4, came and sat on my bed and said ‘Rach, we need to take your mum away, she’s very poorly.’ And I knew the day she was going to die. I told my dad and my nan, but they wouldn’t let me go and see her in the hospital; they were trying to protect me.
“I went to bed, and this feeling of peace come over me at about 12 o’clock. And then my dad knocked on the bedroom door, and I sat up and said ‘I know she’s gone’.”
Eaten up by grief and anger at not being able to help her mum, Rachel, then 15, poured all of her energy into her sport: “My world had been torn apart, and the only way I’m still alive is because I had my water ski racing.”
Born into a water sports-loving family, Rachel first took to the skis at 10, “and I was in my element,” she says. “Oh, it was my absolute passion. I loved the freedom and the speed. It’s an awesome feeling; it gets your pulse going, it makes you feel alive, and for me it gave me a point of focus.”
As a speed skier, Rachel would complete four-mile laps against other competitors, exceeding speeds of a dizzying 100mph. She was talented, too, becoming British Champion then European Champion by the age of 19: “the best I got to be was fifth in the world. It was good,” she grins, “but I always wanted to be World Champion.”
Aged 20, it looked as though that dream would come true. Rachel was competing in the World Championships in Darwin, Australia, and all was in her favour. “It’s the best and the worst race I ever had in my life,” she shrugs. “I was so focused; I was overtaking people like they were going backwards, and I was a minute and 24 seconds ahead of the whole field.”
But just 200 meters from the finish line, disaster struck. As she lapped a competitor, her driver didn’t realise they were way ahead and, to make the boat go faster, released a two-tonne ballast tank of water. A YouTube clip shows Rachel thrown from her ski and, at 105mph, smashing through waves as hard as concrete.
“It was like being in a washing machine,” she recalls. “Everything was in slow motion, and it felt like I was being punched. I didn’t know what was up or what was down.” She was hauled into the boat, “and I remember being in agony, spitting blood and disorientated. I didn’t realise, but I’d broken three ribs, my shoulder, my knee, and one of the vertebrae in my back.”
Yet incredibly, Rachel got back on her ski and finished the race. “I had all this adrenaline in my body,” she explains. “It took me three attempts to get up, and I probably got last in the race, but I did finish. And when I finished I passed out,” she adds with a smile. “I came round, and had a fit because they were going to cut my lucky wetsuit off me. The ambulance man said ‘It’s not very lucky now is it?’!”
Rachel was out of action for two-and-half years as she underwent countless operations, “and it totally changed my life. It was almost like when my mum died: it was like I switched off. Skiing helped me to deal with my emotions; it gave me a physical outlet to put my aggression into. So when I stopped it was very difficult, and I did everything I could to get back.”
Her first competition was a European Championship in France: “But I wasn’t ready, physically or mentally. I didn’t do well; I think I got 11th. I came back a year too early.”
Over the next five years, Rachel gradually built herself back up. As well as training in sports massage and relocating from Birmingham to Cottenham, she was once again crowned British Champion, won the European Cup and was second in Europe overall: “So I did very well, but mentally I could never let go again. Whereas before my crash I had no fear, there was this seed of doubt planted in my mind. It never was the same after that.”
At 28 Rachel had another accident, again in the World Championships, again in Australia. “This time it wasn’t such a dramatic crash: It was quite a rough race and I fell, and my arm got jammed up my back.” It transpired she’d badly damaged her shoulder, but again skied on – which later earned her a strict telling-off from her surgeon. “He said ‘What are you doing? You don’t earn any money from this sport, and what would you have done if you’d withered your arm? You wouldn’t be able to work!’
“And that’s when it hit me. I had to stop. It was one of the most painful things I’ve ever done, but I knew I had to. And that’s when my life took a different turn.”
In her years of competitive skiing, Rachel’s sensitivity to spirits had, she says, “quietened down: I was aware, but it wasn’t that strong. But after my last crash, that’s when all the spiritual stuff started to come back.
“I had people walking through my bedroom in the middle of the night; I could see faces in the carpet, the curtains; I could see colours, I would wake up and hear conversations between two people; I’d be aware of how people were feeling. All these sensitivities were turned on, but I wasn’t in control. It was like being in a car with its headlights blazing, but I couldn’t drive the car.
“I thought I was actually going mad, because I would feel the energy around me all the time, I would feel my head tingling, and think ‘Oh my gosh that’s it, you’re losing the plot’.”
Rachel had her epiphany while reading a book about spiritual healing: “I put it on my chest to reflect on it, and all of a sudden this golden energy was in the room and I could feel this presence and this love. It was the most awesome feeling I’ve ever had. My heart was racing, but in a good way, and my whole body was bathed in this warmth. That was my sign.
“What the skiing enabled me to do was to run from the anger and pain inside me. And once I felt the love, I couldn’t be angry any more. I had to deal with it.”
Rachel decided to join the Cambridge Spiritualist Church and, in 2005, completed a mediumistic course at Arthur Findlay College of Psychic Science in Stansted: “They call it Spooks Hall!” she chuckles. “I walked into the sanctuary there, and said ‘Finally, I’m home’. I knew that there was a place where I could go and be me, where I wouldn’t be judged as nutty.”
She describes spiritualism as “a religion, a philosophy and a science, but what makes spiritualism different to any other religion is that we believe in the progression of the spirit after death. I wouldn’t push it on anybody, but it’s what’s right for me. It’s given me a philosophy for my life, and it’s made me look at how I behave with others.”
Today, Rachel divides her time between her sports therapy business and working as medium and healer, “and sometimes when people come in for a sports therapy session, they get a reading as well. I don’t charge them for it, but if their granny or aunty has been good enough to come through, and they’re so insistent that they’re going to stand by me and I’m going to get a message, I’m going to give it to them.”
Does it freak people out? “Sometimes! It has done in the past but it’s more in control now. When I’m working as a spiritual healer I’m working; when I’m not, I’m switched off.”
She also demonstrates mediumship in spiritualist churches around the country, as well as leading workshops both in the UK and Germany, “but for me it isn’t about being a showman, it’s about touching people with words of love and healing. That’s my passion.”
Do people say she’s a charlatan? “Yes, unfortunately the world is full of people that think you’re out to seduce people and take people’s money. It really makes me feel upset, because if I can help somebody to know that their mum’s OK, and in a better place, and still loves them, then I will do that! I get people who are very vulnerable coming and sitting in front of me, and I think it is a huge responsibility, but I do my mediumistic work in total humility and with total respect for others.”
But, says Rachel, she no longer worries what others think about her. “People have thought I was nutty since I was a child, and I never really fitted in. But I’m myself now, and I don’t care whether I fit in or not. All I’m trying to do is share my spirituality with those who are interested.
“I’m not asking people to turn to spiritualism, but maybe just look at it with an open mind - because it’s helped me so much in my life.”
To learn more about spiritualism, visit snu.org.uk