Do You Believe In Fairies? Clap Your Hands

Spoiler Alert: Last night, on Netflix, I watched a British film called “Hippopotamus”. The main character and narrator is a  late middle aged British critic whose sardonic skepticism is equaled only by his sense of personal failure and self-loathing. In the film, he is called to an aristocratic country home to investigate rumors that a younger son there—the critic’s godson—has developed supernatural healing abilities. A man, a horse, and several women have been reported as cured of life-threatening illnesses when the boy laid hands upon them.

“Hippopotamus” is well scripted and well acted. The main character’s acerbic wit both appeals and appalls. But the ending is predictable. The critic—a former poet plagued with writer’s block for decades—unmasks the “healings” as a con on the part of the boy: one of the women dies, and the others’ symptoms return, except for the horse’s, who turns out to have been suffering from nothing worse than a hangover brought on by lapping up an alcoholic beverage accidentally dumped into its water bucket by the critic.

There is a happy ending of sorts: the boy admits to the con; is reconciled with his father, whom the con had been designed to impress; the critic’s writer’s block dissolves; and he starts making poems again. But the underlying assumptions of the film are what I’ve come to expect from modern secular media: there is no God; “miracles” are simply chance occurrences explicable by natural law; and anyone who believes in God, the supernatural, faith, or life after death is a self-deluded lamebrain.

True confession time: The movie depressed me. Against all experience and true expectation, I had deep down hoped that the main character would at least have been left with some doubts about the certitude of his materialism. When the hope was dashed, my ancient doubts concerning the true nature of my own mystical and psychic experiences rose up chattering. This is nothing new—my mind has always been a house divided, rationalist on one side, mystic on the other—and when such dark moods descend on me, I feel like a charlatan who has wasted his life living in a dream world.

Oddly enough, when I go into trance, or throw the cards for a client, or am in the presence of others who have had mystical experiences, my doubts recede, and the quiet joy of knowing that Divine Love is real, and that we are all,  ultimately, safe, returns.  But when I am alone in my flat, at night, it is more difficult to recapture that startling sense of peace I experience in the day.

This dualism is in part inherited: My father was an agnostic and purported rationalist; my mother, a high church Episcopalian who taught me from an early age “If I should die before I wake, I pray my Lord my soul to take.” I always felt torn between them, to the point where, as a child, I taught myself to sleep on my back rather than on my left or right side, because Daddy slept on the left side of the bed he shared with Mommy, and Mommy slept on the right side, and I felt if I chose right or left I would be siding with one parent against the other.

Tonight, as I lay in bed suffocating beneath the dread that the materialists are right, and that my mystic experiences are nothing more than brain farts, I could understand how some people believe in demon oppression or soulsucking negative thoughtform attacks—because I felt attacked, not by demons, but by the overwhelmingly pessimistic materialism of modern secular intellectual culture. And the thought came to me: You don’t have to give in to these doubts. You have a choice, based upon your experience, to believe in spirit guides, nature spirits, ghosts, reincarnation, soul travel, ESP, Tarot, channeling, and other manifestations of nonlinear consciousness, or not to believe in them. Which choice makes your life run more smoothly while not violating either your reason or your intuition? Choose now.

My lifelong difficulty reconciling my father’s agnosticism with my mother’s emotional religiosity was predicted, many years ago, when I was a sophomore at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. I developed a crush on a bisexual upperclassman who dabbled in the occult, inspired by the characters in John Fowles’ The Magus. One day, while in a pot-fueled trance, he predicted that I would spend my life standing on the crossroads showing the way for others to follow, while never taking that path myself.

Tonight I say: I choose to believe that life is more than a molecular dance, wondrous though that dance may be. Tonight I choose to believe that Spirit is real, and that my experiences of It are glimpses of a truth underlying, upholding, and surrounding the truths of physical reality. To put it another way, words deliberately chosen to irritate the the sophisticated atheist who lives inside me: tonight I choose to believe in fairies. And if you choose to believe in them, too? Why, do what Peter Pan invited us to do when Tinker Bell lay at death’s door. If you believe in fairies, clap your hands. •

 

On Hope in the midst of despair

 

Divine Love has not abandoned us.

Despite Trump’s win, despite the triumph of the Shadow, we can survive this together.

Krishna_Embracing_the_Gopis_LACMA_M.77.19.23We can band together on a local level, work on a local level, to help one another, whatever happens next.

There are small miracles on the way. Look for them. Expect them. Invite Spirit to work through your voice, your hands, your heart, your goodness, your intelligence, your kindness, your many, many talents to bring hope to your corner of the world.

Miracles can happen still. They are happening even as you read this. They are happening in you and around you: miracles of love, of compassion, of kindness, of goodness.

Divine Love has not abandoned you.

You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

On Seeking Safe Haven

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I’ve spent most of my sixty-five years of life looking for a person, doctrine,  or organization that I could build my life around. I started out looking to my parents to fulfill this role. I found early on that I could depend upon my father to provide us with shelter, clothing, food, and the luxuries of upper middle class Anglo life, but that he was largely unavailable emotionally and could not protect me from my abusive older brother. My mother I found I could depend upon to provide me with delicious meals, delightful books, affection, and consolation, except when her alcoholism and borderline personality disorder symptoms turned her manipulative, vindictive, and sexually abusive.

For years I felt torn between the two of them, and my ambivalence took an odd turn.

Mother put pressure on me to choose her over my father, which—let’s be frank—it wasn’t hard to do, given his loud, gritted-teeth complaints, self-isolation, and demands for absolute obedience. But I liked the fact that he was a writer, and I think I sensed his self-loathing, and I identified with him more than I liked to admit at the time. Now in the bedroom they shared, my father slept on the left side of the bed, my mother on the right. So at night I felt torn. If I slept on the left side of my bed, would I be symbolically choosing my father over my mother? If I slept on the right side of my bed, would I be symbolically choosing my mother over my father? So I compromised: I taught myself to sleep flat on my back, a habit I tend to follow to this day.

Once I entered adolescence, I more or less gave up trying to find refuge in my parents’ world and I sought refuge in my private dream world of comic books, science fiction, fantasy, mythology, and chaste fantasies of joining Robin Hood’s band of Merry Men, or being adopted as innocent school mascot by my brother Anthony’s Air Force Academy classmates. When I became aware of my homosexuality, I began fantasizing about finding a Mister Right, the perfect man who, in exchange for my exclusive devotion and access to my body, would console, protect, and give shape and direction to the rest of my life.

The problem was that, owing to incest trauma, I felt sex was dirty—not just homosexuality, but all sex. I got this feeling from my mother. So I decided that I did not want to be sexual at all. After my father’s sudden death in early 1971, I sought out the sexuality-free surrogate family I’d always fantasized about: I became a celibate Fundamentalist Christian for seven years.

The people with whom I worshiped were good people, genuinely trying to live by Jesus’s teachings of love and forgiveness. Although my self-betrayal ate away at me, the love and acceptance they showed me had a healing effect on me. They gave me a refuge from the storm of my life. But in the end I left the church, and Fundamentalism, in large part because I felt I had been putting on an act. Though I was indeed celibate for most of the seven years I was with them, I now know the difference between celibacy, born of lifestyle conviction, and sexual anorexia born of abuse trauma. And I was not the only one who left. Several years ago I discovered that the pastor of the last church I attended had been gay, and had committed suicide because he had not been able to reconcile his faith with his physicality.

All this took place many decades ago. Today, at 65 years old, five feet seven inches tall, and 290 pounds, I am far from healed; I like to joke that I have more issues than National Geographic. But I have a renewed faith in Divine Love, from Whose womb I was born and to Whose womb I shall return, and for Whom my homosexuality is a natural species variation, not a monstrosity or a curse worthy of damnation. And I have been fortunate in meeting numerous fellow travelers, straight, gay, in between, and undecided, whose kindness has consistently reached out to me in dark times.

So if you are tempted to give up who you are to get love, don’t give in to that temptation. Start asking for help, and keep on asking until you start getting it. It can and does get better, but only if you refuse to let your abusers win. •

On Curses and Their Cures

bloodyogreI was recently asked, “Is psychic ability like a muscle that can be exercised and strengthened over time? And can a good psychic lift a curse placed upon his or her client by a third party?”

I am a spiritualist, not a materialist, so in my experience spontaneous psychic insights occur in direct proportion to how alert I am to subtle signals or hunches, and to how willing I am for Spirit/HigherPower/God/Invisible Sky Friend/Goddess/Great Mystery/Divine Love to use me to help people I encounter during my day. Last year I was standing in line at a grocery store when I noticed a young man serving as bagger next to the checkout station. Immediately I saw and felt an image of a plane around him, a plane that he was piloting. There was nothing about his clothing or demeanor that would have suggested piloting experience. So I casually asked him, “Do you have any interest in flying airplanes?” He gave me a look of surprise and said, “It’s been my dream for a long while to be an airplane pilot.”

David J. Hand, a professional statistician, says in his book, The Improbability Principle,that the underlying nature of physical reality mandates frequent appearance of seemingly miraculous coincidences. He does not believe in psychic ability or a spiritual reality; he would say my experience with the young would-be flier was an intrinsically meaningless coincidence. I disagree. I believe that the young man and I showed up at the precise moment in time and space for a purpose; that I was meant to plant a seed of encouragement in that young man’s imagination in order to nudge him a bit closer to his heart’s desires.

When I read Tarot cards or do trance for a client in my psychic business, they come to me with a question or questions, and I use the tool of the Tarot to seek patterns in their probable futures that might be useful for them to know about. So I guess this is a kind of “exercising my psychic ability as a muscle.” But even with Tarot readings, alertness, relaxation, and openness to the experience is necessary for any insights to occur; and I can screw up a reading big time if I try to control how the reading turns out.

Can psychic “muscle” defeat and lift a curse? To answer this question it’s vital to understand that there is no evil power in curses. Their only power is psychological. Curses are only effective if the person cursed believes in them, because when I believe something very bad is going to happen to me, my fear often gets so great it muddles my thinking, and I can bring about the very thing I’m afraid will happen.

Having said this, if you can’t get the notion of the curse out of your head, there is a ritual some of my clients have said works for them. (Rituals are useful psychological tools that work even if you don’t believe in them.) When you are about to go to bed at night, put a bowl or cup of water in each corner of your bedroom. Put one drop of an essential oil you like into the cup, such as sage oil (rescue), lavender oil (cleansing), rosemary oil (Divine Mother), or oil of jasmine or ylang-ylang (consoles and melts away fear). You can buy oils like these, or any other that appeals to you, at most health food stores. Then go to bed. Lying in bed, pray a prayer like this one: “Lion father, protect me; wolf mother, watch over me; Mother of Love, melt away my fear and keep all shadow from my door.” The next morning, pour the water out of the bowls onto the ground outside or down the toilet.

Repeat this ritual every night for a month, and by the end of the month (and sometimes long before) my clients tell me their fear has left them.

But remember: there is no curse that has any power over you except the one you give it. •

A Message From “The Family”: On Eating Disorders

Mister Rand has long suffered from what is termed an “eating disorder,” in his case the compulsion to eat more than his body requires especially of carbohydrates, sugars, and fat-laden proteins. As a result, he has developed a deformity of the torso that weighs him down and  prevents him, he thinks, from finding love and acceptance from others whose opinions he cherishes.

Eating disorders are, as we see it, at core, disorders of the heart chakra, and they can come in many forms, such as compulsive overeating and vomiting; compulsive undereating and self-starvation; and compulsive exercising and dieting. To bring these disorders into balance, it is necessary for the sufferer to identify the core need, which is love; and to develop strategies for opening the heart both to Divine Love and to human love as well.

In the Twelve Step group “Overeaters Anonymous,” there is a series of contemplative exercises designed to accomplish just the sort of heart opening to which we refer. At root, they involve:

(1) admission of powerlessness over the addictive urge when it strikes;

(2) acknowledging that Divine Love exists and is eager to relieve any and all self-harm compulsions if that is what the sufferer truly wishes;

(3) a commitment by the sufferer to placing one’s will and life into the loving care of the Divine Healer on a daily basis;

(4) listing all the ways  one’s pain and loneliness have manifested in waking life;

(5) breaking silence by sharing this list with another human being;

(6) agreeing, one day at a time, to permitting the Divine Healer complete access to one’s innermost core being, for the purpose of adjusting one’s attitudes and actions so that they reflect our beauty rather than our pain;

(7) performing a ritual in which one formally invites Divine Healer access to one’s core;

(8) making a list of any persons we have harmed, and becoming willing to make amends to them all;

(9) making amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others;

(10) working daily to keep one’s heart open to the Divine Healer’s correction when one acts towards others out of a consciousness level of force, threat, and blame rather than the consciousness levels of  acceptance with intent to learn, understanding, giving, loving, and knowing that one is intrinsically whole;

(11) communing consciously with the Divine Healer on a daily basis, so that we may receive the daily power and blessings that Divine Love wishes to pour upon us; and

(12) offering oneself as a channel of Divine Love to other sufferers on a daily basis as opportunities arise.

It is vital to recognize that the process of recovering from eating disorders cannot take place in isolation: one must become so sick of being sick that one is willing to ask for help, despite one’s shame and inner accusers. This is why Mister Rand attends a Twelve Step meeting designed for compulsive overeaters; he has found, over time, his fear of being seen and harmed by others has diminished considerably owing to the consistent, nonintrusive love shown him by other members of the group.

Furthermore, any healing of the heart results in increased awareness of feelings, inevitably including feelings one does not wish to feel, such as shame, fear, resentment, anger, and other responses to the illusion that one is starving emotionally. A daily choice must be made to allow these feelings to come to consciousness, and to use various tools, such as writing and sharing verbally with others one can trust, for the purpose of acknowledging these feelings and releasing them on a daily basis into the love of the Divine Healer. For it is the Divine Healer alone Who can repair the damaged heart chakra; bring peace, love, and resilience to the emotional body; and silence the voice of the inner accuser who calls Mister Rand a failure and a troll.

And we thank you for sharing.•

For further information about Twelve Step programs for compulsive eaters, check out the website http://www.oa.org.

 

 

My Landlord’s Dog

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My landlord’s dog is a white female American bulldog named Julie. She is 8 years old, and exudes sweetness and love to such an extent that nearly everyone who meets her tells my landlord, whom I’ll call Jim, “If you ever decide to give her up, I’ll take her.” I rent a room in Jim’s house, and when my cat Urdwill was alive, Julie accepted him as one of the pack; if anything, he, not she, was the more aggressive and territorial of the two.

For the past few days I have been caring for Julie. About 4 days ago, Jim was taken to the hospital, where he has been ever since, with a cracked pelvis from a fall, a deep upper leg infection, and urinary difficulties. Jim is a very large man, and it took a four-man team of paramedics and firefighters to transport him from the upper tier of the bunk bed where he sleeps down to the gurney they had waiting for him. When I spoke to him on the telephone yesterday, he sounded disoriented and frightened. In his deep bass voice he said, “I’ve never felt so helpless before.”

I can believe it. Jim is 74, with a lifetime of international sales, business ownership, and professional rugby behind him. When I met him, about 2 years ago, he had been reduced to spending most of his time in a chair in front of his large screen TV, watching sports programs. I learned that some years back he developed a brain embolism that impaired his hearing, eyesight, balance, short term memory, and completely erased his sense of smell, which in turn has reduced considerably his ability to taste anything. A Type Two diabetic, and a heavy nighttime vodka-and-cranberry-juice-cocktail drinker, he is also a hoarder. Nearly every square inch of his house is filled with sports equipment, boxes of books, clothing, heaps of old bills and letters, tools, memorabilia, and trash, and the yards around his house sport several huge, inoperative vehicles, including a chartreuse van and two trucks, one of which has a mobile hot tub attached to it. (In the Seventies, Jim used to drive this rig around Santa Fe, renting it out to partying hippies.)

Despite his brain damage and short term memory loss, Jim notices at once if anything new appears in his vicinity, or if anything is thrown away or moved from one spot to another. “Is that your towel on the washing machine?” he asks. “Did you move that [tiny scarlet] tag from the desk to the side table?” Severely depressed, he goes to bed around midnight and gets up around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. “It just doesn’t seem worth it most days to get out of bed,” he told me.

Jim is on Medicare, and has had a string of caseworkers who come by now and again, disappear, and are replaced by new caseworkers. This is not because Jim is a difficult client to deal with; he is remarkably sweet tempered for a man with his background and in his condition. It’s because New Mexico, one of the poorest states of the Union, does not allocate much money to social services, and typically caseworkers are paid little, overworked, and overscrutinized by middle management longtermers anxious not to lose their jobs. Still, it’s a good thing Jim has Medicare, as he tells me he will be in hospital for at least another week, and in the meantime I am more or less in charge of taking care of Julie. “She misses you a lot, Jim,” I told him. “I miss her a lot, too,” he said, and his voice broke.

I find myself grieving, for Jim’s pain, certainly, but also for my own. My father, pictured above, was a big man, too, with a bass voice, and like Jim had little liking or talent for asking for help. Tonight I miss my father keenly. I was scared of him, much of the time, and angry with him, much of the time, and yearned for his approval and acceptance all of the time. He filled the house I grew up in with his presence just as Bill fills this house with his, and after my father died, of the last in a string of heart attacks back in 1971, the house loomed vast and empty without him in it.

I have no reason to believe that Jim will die, not this time, anyhow, though the events of the past week are clearly a wakeup call for him: change your ways of handling your pain, or make a humiliating, and possibly protracted, exit, stage right. But however long he is in hospital or rehab, and however many changes must take place in his house for it to accommodate his new fragilities, for now, I am here with his dog Julie; and our hearts, both hers and mine, are aching. •

 

 

 

 

A Message From “The Family”: On Prayer

praying_handsMister Rand has asked us to speak to him and you concerning the matter of prayer; i.e., asking Higher Power, or God, or Goddess, or the Universe, or the Greater Self, or the Buddha, or Invisible Sky Friend, to intervene in physical reality in order to bring the one who prays a desired outcome. The issue is more complicated than perhaps it first appears, not because prayer is complicated, but because the reality that permits prayer to be answered takes some explaining.

We can assert with confidence, based upon the experience of our incarnated selves and the selves of others, that when certain inner and outer circumstances are met, requests for divine intervention inhuman affairs are frequently answered. And the answers, as certain 12th Step Program literature reminds us, can be (1) yes; (2) no; or (3) not yet. Of course, the latter two answers are not the ones desirous to he or she who prays unless he or she who prays has the confidence that their Higher Power is unconditionally loving and supremely wise. Then “not yet” or “no” can be perceived as what they are, which is to say blessings in disguise.

How often has Mister Rand wished sincerely for something and that something has not materialized no matter how hard he has worked for it? Critics often jump to the conclusion, “You have not had your prayer answered because you do not have enough faith;” or, “You have not had your prayer answered because you are not praying to the correct deity;” or, “You have not had your prayer answered because you have not put in the necessary effort to do your part;” or, “You have not had your prayer answered because you have sinned in this life or a past life and your suffering is the result of that sin.” And although in some cases, perhaps, these objections might have some small merit, in most cases we observe that the reasons sincere prayers are not answered immediately is a combination  of factors, chief of which very often is, “The time is not yet right for the experience you are praying for to download from the Dream State into physical reality.”

What, Mister Rand asks, are the optimal conditions for a desired experience to manifest as the result of sincere prayers? We see them as sevenfold:

(1) There must be room in your life for the experience you are requesting. That is, you must be entirely ready to enjoy this path you have chosen. This sounds obvious, but the human heart has many chambers, and in some of those chambers, fear and shame rule. For Mister Rand, it is fear that if something good happens to him, something bad will happen as a way of God punishing him or physical reality exerting itself to bring his good fortune back to a state of nonrealization. For everything is connected. There is also shame: Mister Rand is frequently ashamed that he enjoys so much prosperity compared to the nations of the world. So adding more prosperity to that which he has already seems to him unjust.

(2) There must be sufficient time allotted for the experience to manifest. Another factor that can clutter the space to be occupied by the desired experience is the factor of time. Physical reality is to all intents and purposes linear, that is, it progresses slowly and methodically from one choice to another to ‘final’ outcome. At 64 Mister Rand might wish to be a millionaire stage actor, but most persons do not become millionaires overnight, and success in theater often takes years to develop. In other words, Mister Rand’s wish to be a millionaire stage actor might have been appropriate to pray for when he was in his 30s rather than now, when he is in his 60s.

(3) There must be trust in a Power greater than oneself, and a willingness to turn the results of one’s prayer over to that benevolent Power. It is often said in Mister Rand’s twelve-step group that God answers prayers one of three ways: “yes,” “no, I have something better in mind for you,” or “not yet.” Many individuals assume, when their prayers are not answered, that God is angry with them, or that God does not exist. These conclusions do not take into account the limitations of human understanding of the vast intricate network of potentialities that makes up the web of coincidence and meaning humans call spacetime or physical reality. If one desires the assistance of one’s God—whether one sees that God as a master, parent, consoler-protector, transcendent consciousness, or mythic symbol of the internal creative power of the person praying—then one must be willing to relinquish control of the prayer’s outcome to that God, confident that in time understanding of the desired manifestation or nonmanifestation will come if one is patient. And one of the major things one must trust is that if one’s God says, “No, I have something better in mind for you,” that it is the truth. For often Mister Rand wants something that he thinks will give him a certain experience, but his Higher Power knows that it will not. If Rand trusts that Higher Power, he can ask, “If something else will give me the experience I desire, please show me.”

(4) One must pray for what one truly wants, not what one thinks one deserves or can get. And one must be willing to face, listen to, and soften around any intrusive fears, shame, anger, envy, and catastrophic thinking that may come up when one asks for what one truly wants. As Mister Rand has learned to say, one does not have to be better or worse than anyone else in order to deserve the same amount of care, kindness, health, love, and safety as anyone else.

(5) One must persist in one’s prayers. Mister Rand informs his clients that in the Greek of the New Testament, the quote attributed to Jesus that in English begins, “Ask and ye shall receive” is more literally translated “Ask and keep on asking and ye shall receive.”

(6) One must take responsibility for being a co-creator with God of the experience one desires. In other words, one will enjoy faster and truer and surer results if one prays, “Higher Power, please show me today what step today to take, the step that will get me one step closer to my goal.” Some may say, “This is blasphemy, to treat God as an equal.” We say, God does not have low self-esteem. God does not need praise. God does not need worship. God does not need sacrifices. These are all human needs projected onto God. God is Love in all parts of God’s self, and thinks nothing of God’s self, but only of God’s creation, and how God can wean it back into God’s loving embrace.

(7) Consider this truth: that only in spacetime can there be the illusion that one is imperfect, incomplete, vulnerable to diminishment, and able to suffer loss. In the great Light reaches, where the core of each entity dwells (including you), there is full awareness that one is completely filled to the brim with Love, and that Love cannot be diminished or removed by enemy, plague, misfortune, or time. When Mister Rand had his vision of the Plane of Superimplicate Order in fall of 2013, he experienced it as a calm, quiet, still place of pure consciousness that felt entirely familiar. And that is because he had briefly awakened from the dream of spacetime to reconnect with the wonderful fact that in the end, no matter what happens to the body or waking mind, one is and will always be safe. •