A Closer Look at Berthoud’s Most Unusual Business
You’ve seen the shop on Mountain Avenue, right in the heart of downtown Berthoud. Windows are filled with lush plants and crystals glisten in the front window. It’s like no other business in town.
And unless you’ve spent some time here — sipping tea, relaxing to the sound of a gong, browsing Berthoud’s most diverse library — there’s a pretty good chance you may not realize what Panther’s Gate Metaphysical Center is truly about. This business offers martial arts and yoga on one side and runs an apothecary, ministry and metaphysical school and store on the other. But it’s so much more.
The owner is equally as surprising.
Dr. Rev. Jeannette Kasemir is known in Berthoud as a psychic and martial artist, but what many people don’t realize is she is also a disabled military veteran who worked as a combat nurse starting at just age 17.
She survived a near-death experience while in military service, and she then worked as a paralegal, truck driver, construction worker and in restaurants and nursing homes.
She also was working toward getting her juris doctorate in law and a PhD in philosophy and political science at Cornell University when she decided to abandon the university path to transform her hobby — martial arts — into her full-time career. She ended up leading multiple martial artist studios from zero to success, including Berthoud’s very own.
“I’ve seen industry. I’ve seen high society. I’ve seen the bottom of the barrel. And I can see why there’s a lot of injustice, cruelty, prejudice and entitlement,” Kasemir says. “It’s really everybody just trying to validate what they’ve been through in their past and search for hope and gratitude in their future, and everybody does it their own way.”
Kasemir’s story is as unique as her shop, down to why she moved to Colorado: after having a vivid dream.
We were curious to learn more about this mysterious female business leader in downtown Berthoud, so we sat down with her one snowy afternoon to get to know her better. Here’s how it went down:
Tell us a little about your background and childhood.
My mom was a single mom with five kids. We did have stepfathers but not anybody who was significant as a father figure, so it was a very much female-run household.
Some people have a sheltered life. I had the opposite of that. I got to run the street, see downtown Reno, Nevada. I saw crime, prostitution, gambling, the ugly. I thought, “There has to be a better world out there.”
This all led me to the military: to see what more was out there, to expand my worldview so I was not limited to just the knowledge and experience I had growing up.
What impact did the military have on you?
I got to work with people at their last stages of living and got to see the cruelty of abandonment and the lack of care for the elderly and disabled, the forgotten. It was a different type of front line.
It shifted me from being angry at the world for its violence and took me to being angry at the world for its lack of compassion. When you get angry at people for having a lack of compassion, the only way you can validate that is by taking accountability and developing compassion of your own — even for the people who anger you.
What led to you leaving the military?
Leaving with an honorable discharge after 8.5 years of service, I was considered a disabled veteran due to a near-death experience two years into service, a roll-over. My driver fell asleep on the road on the way to the base.
This was my first experience of being out of body and seeing three different perspectives of the accident. In spirit emotionally, I saw the overarching situation, looking down on top of the vehicles and people; in spirit astrally, I was sitting there next to the paramedics as they were having a conversation with me lying on the ground; and I was in my body mentally, in shock. I can still see and hear from those perspectives, even though at 42, I am now still suffering the damages from it physically.
What do you think sets your martial arts schools apart from others?
Within two years of starting my first school from scratch, I had one of the top five schools out of more than 200 schools. My bills were paid ahead of time and my students were cared for, and it was because I took everybody, believing all had a right to learn how to defend themselves. I didn’t discriminate.
I didn’t care if they were naturally talented, disabled, gay, black, Indian, had autism. My school was diverse, and none of my students trained to look like me. They worked hard and like other schools won trophies, did tournaments, and achieved ranking, but unlike the other schools, they had more stories of how they defended themselves on the streets, cared less about ranks and more about community and supporting each other, and they were more happy about their achievements than they were bragging about mine. We are family.
How does this inclusive mentality extend to Panther’s Gate in Berthoud?
On Sundays, I give an esoteric faith service. Whether you’re Christian, Buddhist, Taoist, spiritual or atheist, it’s an open sermon and an open discussion. The retail store is a place to provide tools for all faiths. We have books, archangel incense, crosses and holy water for Christians; incense and mala beads for Buddhists; candles and smudge kits for shamans; books and magical tools for practicing branches of paganism; and even self-help books for people who are not spiritual at all.
It’s a metaphysical shop, being that it provides tools to study or practice with the things above the physical world, whether that be angels, spirits, ancestors, guardians or nature’s energy — the things that are abstract and invisible.
What are some misconceptions people have about you and Panther’s Gate?
Some people think we are witches or teaching people how to turn against god. The truth is, both my parents and my husband’s parents are Catholic and Baptist, my brother is a Buddhist, my sister is an atheist and I am just an all-denominational spiritual minister. As a child, I went to church on my own; I chose to go to church. I stopped going because I had other questions that I needed to answer, but I did not turn away from god.
As a minister and medicine woman, I would say I am one of the strongest believers in a higher power. My brother was abducted when I was a young girl, and I was the only person who believed he would come back. I prayed to god, and my brother was returned. There have been a lot of tests of my faith in my life, and my faith remains strong.
Some people think Panther’s Gate is converting people toward the dark side, but we are just a metaphysical center that bridges spirit and science together to help people find their own answers.
How can Panther’s Gate be of service to the community during these trying times?
We also offer parapsychology and counseling, which goes deeper than typical psychology that deals with behavior and cognition; we want to also deal with the spiritual side.
We offer theocentric psychology, or god-centered psychology. For example, if a person believes in the father, son and holy spirit, we can talk about their faith in that form; they’re more apt to believe an angel visited them. Whereas if you’ve got some types of pagans, you might be looking at the trinity through the goddess aspect (the mother, maiden and crone), and they’ll want information based more on nature, their ancestors and the spirits within the nature around them.
In a world with Covid, people are afraid and angry, they are grieving. They are alone. We provide more holistic counseling that is centered around their worldview faith practice and gives them the tools they need in order to not just survive the world and what’s happening, but to also prepare them for the changes that are inevitable.
We can help them understand that fear is not a problem. It’s an instinct, when listened to correctly. Anger is not emotional mismanagement; it’s actually the understanding of expectations not being fulfilled. Grief is not just a loss, but it can be a process to find gratitude for the things in the world that actually matter.