Jo'Ann Ruhl is the co-director of Essential Wisdom with her husband, Mark. Essential Wisdom is a center offering classes, workshops and consultations in astrology, reiki, hypnotherapy, soul journeys and more. Ruhl is an astrologer, psychic, medium, reiki master and nurse. She facilitates a monthly reiki circle at Unity Church with her husband. Ruhl has also worked with Dr. Gary Schwartz at the Human Energy Systems Laboratory (at the UA) as a research medium. Essential Wisdom is located in a new retail metaphysical shop, Serenity's Way, at 2727 E. Grant Road. For more information, visit essentialwisdomhealing.com and serenitysway.com.

Your center is located in a retail store. What's the association between the two?

It's like a cooperative. It's like putting together two different perspectives. One is a metaphysical store that sells things and supports different groups. Mine is a center that supports learning and healing. Since they are both associated with the same ideas, we get to support each other that way. (Suzanne Taylor) owns the store, and I own the center. We decided to put it together in the same space to start. The idea was to start together and grow them.

Why did you start the center?

We started the center because we saw a need in Tucson for a professional-level learning center. There are lots of wellness clinics. We really didn't want to have a focus on that. Our focus was much more on empowerment and education. So for instance, I am teaching the Oracle Workshop, which teaches people how to develop their skills in mediumship, psychic ability, working with energy, channeling and other forms. Reiki is about teaching people to work with energy medicine directly. We also do programs here like astrology classes. I do basic astrology classes and also a ... medical-based astrology.

I see.

Suzanne and I have a core focus of creating a community center for spiritual people. There are not many places for them to gather. We have a big reiki circle once a month at Unity Church. (It has) became one of the only real gathering spots. We saw a need for there to be socialization. That's why we put this together. ... Both Mark and I were well-established in Tucson before we opened the center. It was almost like creating little satellite classes all over the place. We finally realized if we opened an actual center and held everything in one place, it would be better for the community, because we can create a flow here, where people come in and know what's coming up.

What else is offered here?

I do astrology, and my most consistent reading is something called Soul Journeys, which is a combination of mediumship, psychic and two forms of astrology, working with the person on the journey of their life. I do the Sixth Dimension each month--an open discussion where we talk about death and dying and the other side. We have a monthly astrology discussion group. We have hypnotherapists, guest speakers, a toning circle, meditation circle, reiki classes. We have feng shui classes coming up; astrology classes will start in May. There's a coffee bar going in, and we have people doing readings on Friday night and music on Saturday night.

What is your main focus at the center?

My main focus has always been self-empowerment. Why feed people when you can teach them to fish? That has always been at the forefront of everything that I do. Wisdom and knowledge is power, so if I can educate them on these things, they can make decisions better on their own. ... My goal for the center is to be good a listener in the community so that I continue to have the center evolve and fulfill what the community needs most.

You teach people how to develop skills in intuition and connecting with spirit guides. Can we all do that?

Everyone is wired. We all have the faculties. I always start off with people closing their eyes and visualizing a sunset and then repeating the words, "I love you" inside their head. And then I say to them, "What eyes did you see the sunset with, and what ears did you hear the words with?" We have another set of senses that are present, but a lot of our society has told us not to pay attention to those and even have used fear tactics. Religions have taught us it's bad, that we need another person as a go-between, like a priest. Since man has been walking on the Earth, there has been communication with the non-physical. There's an aspect of your consciousness that sees other things and takes the information.

What else do you hope people will learn here?

That wisdom and knowledge is power. Just don't take someone's word for it. I discourage people from reading books and saying, "This person says this." I say to them, "What do you think?" Have your own experience.