Fools rush in where angels fear to tread

Rand_holding_light     I’ve worked as a psychic in Santa Fe and nationwide for many years. Around 20 years ago I was invited to attend a local skeptics conference. I was interested because I had long thought intuition and reason are both crucial to a balanced understanding of psychophysical phenomena, and I had been yearning to find a group that honestly and without bias investigated paranormal claims, experiences, and practices. To me a “skeptic” was an honest seeker of truth, in contrast to a “debunker,” an ideologue whose mind had already been made up, and whose purpose was to reveal as fake or erroneous a practitioner and his or her practices.
     When I arrived at the conference I sat with my host in the audience. The leader of the conference, a distinguished looking academic type, called the meeting to order and introduced me as the guest speaker. I politely informed him that I had not been told I was the guest speaker; I thought I had been invited as just another attender and observer. I noticed that he had on his table a compilation of fliers and other literature I had posted on bulletin boards around town to advertise my workshops and services; there had clearly been planning involved in the event.
     The conference leader acted confused and surprised that I had not been told I was to be the guest speaker. I glanced at the man who had invited me—the husband of a client—and the grin on his face made it clear that he was enjoying the situation. (I later realized that he resented the work I had been doing with his then-wife and that this was a form of retaliation meant to lower me in his wife’s estimation.)
     They invited me to give a demonstration of my trancework. I explained to them, essentially, that I was an agnostic spiritualist—that I did not know anything for sure about the existence of the paranormal—and I informed the group that I told my clients that I did not speak from any spiritual “authority.” A woman politely asked me if she could take my pulse as I did my trance; I told her I did not like being touched when I was in trance. Another woman asked me if my psychic abilities were proven to be imaginary, would I be willing to give up my career as a psychic? My honest answer was, “I hope I would have the courage to do so.”
     I attempted a demonstration, and it was a complete disaster. I felt surrounded by a 6 foot high, 6 foot thick, impenetrable wall. Absolutely no impressions of any kind reached me until the very end of the session, when I picked up a few mini-“hits” about two of the men in the audience. One set of impressions I received spontaneously, about a man’s popularity with his young students; the other set of impressions came as a response to a question that later proved to be a complete fabrication. At one point I saw an elderly man at the back of the audience staring at me, and the look on his face was pure unmitigated contempt. When I was done, I saw the delighted looks on the faces of a number of the audience members, and it was clear that I was not in a skeptics group, but in a debunkers group, and that they had gotten the experience they desired.
     After the meeting I was ignored by everyone in the group, and left quietly. A week or so later one of the audience members interviewed me privately, and although he was very polite, it was clear from the questions he asked, and the details he dropped about himself, that he was a conservative Catholic who believed that spiritual guides were Satanic deceivers promoting humanism above the revealed doctrines of the Church. Later he wrote a letter to the local paper claiming “Rand Lee may be the only honest psychic in Santa Fe,” a reference I believe to my hope that I would have the courage to quit my profession if proven a fake–and though some might take this as damning with faint praise, it did console me a trifle that at least one person at the conference did not believe I was a charlatan, just self-deluded.
     It took me many years to regain my confidence in my abilities. But I learned from this experience that (1) when I am in an altered psycho-receptive state my critical analytical faculties are offline, and I am unable to detect when I am being conned or lied to; (2) that I cannot read through my own fears—I must feel safe in order to relax and get objective impressions of my audiences; (3) that I cannot read people who do not wish to be read; and (4) that I have the right to say “No” to any situation aimed at humiliating me. I see now that I should have refused to give a demonstration at that meeting, and called out the man who invited me for his act of passive aggression. Not to have done so was, I fear, foolish. I regret that decision to this day.
—October 2, 2017
I’ve recently come across a very enlightening website that addresses the issue of honest skepticism vs. the current fashion in verbally abusive online pseudoskepticism. The site is http://www.skepticalaboutskeptics.org.

On Seeking Safe Haven

stained_glass_spiral

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. •

A Message From “The Family”: On The Beloved Dead

Victorian_seance[On January 27, 1988, I walked into my love Stuart’s bedroom and found him dead on the bed. He and I had been lovers for only 2 years. We worked as psychics together in Key West, Florida and Santa Fe, New Mexico; we met originally when he came to me seeking Louise Hay-type guided meditations for boosting his immune system. One day, during such a meditation (which he claimed did indeed make him feel better), Stuart manifested a feminine information source he called “Alexandra” whose calm, understated manner was a stark contrast to his Aries exuberance.

[About a month before he died, Stuart—who was suffering from AIDS symptoms at a time before the current, longevity promoting, AIDS “cocktail” of meds had been developed— told me that he had dreamed he was in a coma in hospital, and that I was sitting beside his bed. He said that in the dream, I understood that it was so beautiful where he went when he was in deep trance, that someday he would not come back from there, and that I was OK with it. When I found his body that morning in 1988, I realized then that his account of his “dream” had been his way of letting me know he was planning to kill himself with a heavy injection of painkiller that he had been hoarding since his job as a med tech at Key West Island Hospital.

[The following channeling discusses my experiences regarding Stuart since his passing. -RL]

When Mister Rand first walked into the room where he found his lover’s body, he had no sooner set eyes upon Stuart’s prone form than he felt, floating somewhere near the ceiling on the lefthand side of the bedroom, two energies or consciousnesses. One of the consciousnesses was in fact that of Stuart, Rand’s lover; the other, that of the so-called “channeled entity” that 2 years previously had, at its first appearance, announced its name as “Alexandra”.

Now “Alexandra” was the feminine persona of the channeler, Stuart. In a sense, Mister Rand feels she is still present in his life; at other times she seems a very distant memory. Stuart himself feels to Mister Rand even more distant. Mister Rand’s younger brother, Jeffrey Robert Lee, died in 1990 from AIDS; his consciousness, by contrast with Stuart’s, seems much more present in Mister Rand’s life, particularly when Mister Rand is channeling or doing psychic readings for clients.

Why do some dead feel more present to us than others? The answers in part depend upon our ultimate view of reality. An atheist-materialist-ethicist [might] say that the memories of the dead, not the dead themselves, are present with us in direct proportion to how willing we have been to release those relationships and move on to new ones in physical reality—in other words, the more emotionally attached you are to the memory of your dead friend or relative, the more present they will seem to be. By contrast, a spiritualist might say that some dead feel more present to us than others because some of our dead have been willing to “move on”—detach from identification with their former self, former life, and former acquaintances (us)—and others of our dead have not.

We see the situation as possessing elements of both explanations. Let us say that Mister Yiffniff dies. At first, depending upon his spiritual practises in the life just ended, Yiffniff [may be] a bit disoriented; he may even feel that his death is a mistake, that he has so much “unfinished business” to attend to before he is ready to depart fully. Other, less conflicted individuals, may be ready to “move on” immediately—may be even glad that they have died, for now, if they wish, they can take on a new physical form in a new place or position in spacetime. Still other beloved dead may select to remain focused in our physical plane in order to keep watch over the physically living—to act, in a sense, as spirit guides to those whom they have loved and still do love. Mister Jeffrey, Mister Rand’s baby brother, is just such a one—committed,  as it were, to stay by Mister Rand’s side until it is time for them to become balls of joyous light together. Each case is different, however, and must be evaluated as objectively as possible by the psychic researcher. •

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 Pets

Rand.UrdwillMister Rand is today facing the possibility that his pet feline, Urdwill, may have more cancerous tumors growing upon his body. They may be malignant or they may be nonmalignant, but in any event Mister Rand’s cat is not eating, although he is drinking water. Mister Rand is remembering all the pets, and all the humans, he has lost to death over the decades, and has been showing great signs of anxiety, guilt, and shame, because part of himself feels (1) that males should not feel such feelings, (2) that he ought to have “saved” his transformed loved ones from death; and (3) that his future spiritual belongingness–whether “God” accepts him after death or not–depends upon his being perfect in all his thoughts, words, and deeds. He even believes that we may be fictions, or worse still, Satanic messengers sent to draw him and those who read his blogs away from the One True God. Mister Rand does not believe any of these things consciously. But all selves exist within the Self, including younger versions of the self, and all their voices sometimes sound within Mister Rand’s heart at once, contradicting the quieter voices of his reason and spiritual insight.

Mister Rand has vowed, when ever it is Urdwill the cat’s true time of leave taking the body, never to have another pet, because he says he “cannot bear” the thought of watching another pet die, or worse still, causing their death by having them euthenased by injection at a vet’s office. Mister Rand says that his grief is too great to bear, since (as he is aware) his grief over losing a pet is also grief over his losses of all the animals and humans in his life (and other lives as well, though he may not know this consciously). There are times when he even feels guilty over having a pet at all, both because of the impact pet-rearing can have on the environment and because he wonders whether it is good for an animal to be shoehorned into a human’s life rather than be permitted to live out its lifespan in a natural environment. Yet even in these things he knows the truth: that there are no natural environments, for your world has been made and remade by Humans repeatedly over the millennia; that in the “wild,” animals live a much shorter time than in “captivity;” and that humans can bring enormous comfort and fun into a domesticated animal’s life.

Mr. Urdwill has lived a reasonably long life for a cat of his size and genetic makeup: 14 years by Mister Rand’s present count. For all but 8 months of those years, Mister Urdwill has roamed free within his territory, Mister Rand’s backyard. He has enjoyed much fresh air, sleeping under datura leaves, chasing toads, terrorizing Mister Rand’s dogs (<-this is a joke>).

[Broken off because of need to take Urdwill to vet; resumed early next morning]

The purpose of the communion between “pets” and humans varies from pet to pet and human to human. Why did Mr. Urdwill choose Mr. Rand as his human companion that day at the pound in 2002, when Mister Rand, following an image of a black cat that had persisted in coming to him, visited the pound and experienced the black Abyssinian mix cat open the door of its cage, walk out, and sit upon Mister Rand’s foot? Mr. Urdwill wished freedom from enclosure. And freedom from enclosure is what Mister Rand gave him, for most of the years of their time together. Both cat and human also wished love, for all beings wish love, even rodents, which humans frequently despise because they closely resemble humans in some of their habits; and lizards, which being “cold blooded” are thought to have no need for love, only sex and food. It is just that Love takes different forms amongst different beings.

What Mister Rand really wants to know is, did he love Urdwill and his family and friends who have passed, truly love them “enough” for God to forgive him for not having been perfect? For having resented and quarreled with his beloved younger brother who died of AIDS in 1990? For having hated his abusive-seductive mother, who nonetheless had loved him in her way and he had loved her in his? For having heeded his lover Alex’s psychic command not to enter Alex’s room the evening of Alex’s suicide, when Mister Rand had returned from a gig the both of them had been scheduled to lead? We say, Yes, you have loved truly. Yes, you have expressed this love at times imperfectly. That is because one purpose for incarnation, the great task of incarnating in physical reality, is to learn to integrate the Divine Love at one’s core with one’s physical self and circumstances. And all students perform imperfectly—they are learning.

Mister Urdwill’s life is drawing to a close due to cancer and complications therefrom. Grief is difficult for many humans to express and bear, for it makes them feel weak and vulnerable and foolish in the eyes of other adults. We ask for all who experience grief over the loss of a companion animal or human relative or friend that you pray for Divine Love to help you forgive yourselves for being students of Love rather than masters thereof. And we thank you for sharing. •

— Channeled April 14-15, 2015, Santa Fe, New Mexico