Stumbling Part Three ~ Messages from Spirit and The Healing Power of Ceremony.
One of the most interesting and mind-shifting episodes in my journey towards connecting with the spiritual realm was when my mother’s ghost turned up bothering a friend of mine, just after I’d had an almost hysterical experience getting messages from “The Beings” while saying affirmations, which led to a journey in which Otter, my power animal, told me, point by point, what I needed to do to relieve my friend of Mom’s spirit and ultimately make me feel better about myself. Whew! Sounds crazy huh? It sure felt like it at the time!
This is a long story. Make yourself some tea.
In my last writing I made reference to Otter, my power animal (actually one of several I have since encountered). I have received great wisdom through him in circles where someone has drummed (usually my husband) for a small group of us to journey.
During my first couple of years with Edward it was like I was exploding into discovery of the spiritual resources at hand, with journeying being most profound for me. But I was also working on exercising my intuitive abilities, playing with things like oracle cards, automatic writing, and pendulums, to divine answers to my many questions about the direction of my life and the challenges I was experiencing.
One of the fun things we did was take introductory and advanced classes in “Mediumship and Psychic Development,” to work on tapping into our intuitive skills. The mediumship was more of a secondary interest, but really opened my eyes and heart to the idea that there is another plane of existence (perhaps many).
There was a point around this time that I was going through some personal difficulties and was feeling extremely down on myself, judging myself harshly for some poor decisions I’d made in the past, and feeling great regret. No one can punish me like I can punish myself. So I decided to try working with affirmations to see if it would shift my mindset about how I felt about myself and what I felt was possible for me.
One of my affirmations was about loving and accepting myself unconditionally. I read them aloud several times one day. The next day I decided to take it a step further, and as Louise Hay suggests, say them to myself looking in a mirror. These were about loving myself “just as I am”, that I was “worthy of love”, and similar statements. When self-esteem is low it can be challenging to say this aloud to oneself and believe it. It started to bring a few tears to my eyes, and I thought, well, I guess this is the stuff I have a hard time believing if it’s making me so tearful.
The next day I tried again, thinking I would keep repeating these to myself until I lost the emotional charge and really started to accept this. I had added in words like, “You are a divine being and have a right to be here.” But rather than losing the emotional charge, it became greater. My throat constricted, and I became very physically uncomfortable. So I asked…Spirit, The Beings, whomever was out there, I asked, “So what is it now?? What am I so upset about, what do I need to know??”
I kept talking aloud and asking what this strange feeling meant. And then I kind of lost a grip… started crying, then giggling, felt a little like I was going crazy, having some kind of breakdown. So I asked aloud, “Am I going crazy??” But I really didn’t think I was, and the answer that came to me as if from “The Beings” was, “No, you’re not going crazy, you’re just scared because this is new and unfamiliar to you, but it will pass over time.”
I actually felt what I think some might call hysteria. It was like I had broken open, but I knew on some level I wasn’t losing touch, I was actually getting in touch, with Divine Consciousness. I started to get messages about what I was here for, what my role in this world was. And I asked again, “Am I going crazy?” And they said, “No, you are just remembering who you are — a divine creation.”
A number of other messages were given to me, that I was finding hard to accept, positive messages about what I would do with my life, what my purpose was, messages I have kept closing the books on and “forgetting” about because it all seemed so foreign to what my upbringing led me to expect in my life. It was the strangest, scary/exhilarating experience having this “conversation” and feeling so agitated, and yet, on a deeper level, knowing it was all okay.
As I kept speaking aloud, the grip I had felt on my throat gradually released. I guess I must’ve been in the middle of a photography project at the time because I then asked, “So should I go do some printing in the darkroom now?” and they said, “Yes, you need a distraction, and you need to create.”
After this I felt really cold and I decided to go into the kitchen, just around the corner from where I’d been doing the mirror work, and I started to make myself a snack. Two of the three cats were outside and Sophie cat was sitting across the living room looking out the door to the verandah. As I was in the kitchen I suddenly heard a loud “thunk!” as if someone had dropped a large book on the floor, in the area of the mirror where I had been a few minutes before. My cat Sophie heard it too as she suddenly turned around to look in that direction.
I went to see what could’ve fallen over. Nothing on the floor, nothing on the staircases, nor in the adjacent bathroom, nor in the hall closet.
I thought maybe the mirror was calling me back so I looked at it and said, “You hooo… are you there? Do you have something else to say?” I really didn’t get anything except a thought popped into my head that “my mother was fine ‘over there'”, and that the “ghosts of her past” she’d alluded to (noted in some of her old day calendars I’d found) were not any traumas in her past, but rather the voices of the Divine trying to get her attention, to “remind her of who she really was… she had totally forgotten”. But she couldn’t believe them, the voices that is. And as she had no one she could share such thoughts with, she though she was going crazy…. at about the same age as I was at this moment.
Of course I second-guessed and asked, “How do I know this is your voice and not just my head, my mind or imagination?” And they said, “It will come more quickly than you can normally think, and in ways which you might not normally speak.” The answers had certainly come quickly.
That was all that came to me that day. I think one has to keep talking to keep the flow going, because once you stop it gives space for the left brain to interfere and question it all.
I wasn’t really sure why my mother came into the picture at this time, about 13 years after her death, but what happened next became more and more intriguing.
Two days later, Leap Day, February 29 of 2008, we were hosting a drumming and journey circle, with Edward, myself, and three friends. When we all drum together before the actual journey part where we lie down, occasionally people will take little journeys in their minds while drumming. When my friend Jeannine shared her journey after the drumming, she was actually having a mediumship experience. Jeannine had also been in the class we took on mediumship and psychic development. (Note: I do have her permission to share this story since it came as part of her journey).
She told us that she saw this woman with dirty blond-to-brown, curly hair, wearing a pink nightgown. She said she was told to give a message and the person for whom it was intended would know. The message from the woman was that “she was okay”, and that the person receiving the message was “on her path and not to worry”. She said the woman looked very loving and nurturing and that the little girl of 11 or 12 was just looking up at her trying to get what she could from her. Jeannine had thought that the message was for someone else in our circle but I immediately knew it was for me, as tears welled up in recognition. I just knew. And I had not previously told Jeannine of my weird experience two days before. But the message was the same…that she, my mom, was fine or okay.
As I write this now, going through my journal notes I had recorded at the time, I notice the part about the 11 or 12 year old girl…me…looking at my mom. I was about 11 or 12 when my mother wrote those day-book entries that alluded to her “ghosts” and where she had seemed to be feeling really low about her life. I guess that’s the stuff she wanted me to know that she was now okay about.
Later in my own journey that night I asked Otter if he had any other messages from my mom. He said, “No, that’s enough.” I said, “What about her ‘ghosts’?” He said, “You don’t need to know. It doesn’t matter.”
So I said, “Oh… hmmm, what else do I need to know today?” He answered, “That you are loved beyond measure.”
I said, “Wow… by Edward?” He said, “Could be, but it doesn’t matter if Edward’s around or anyone… if no one is here… know that you are loved beyond measure.”
I said, “Anything else?”
“You have nothing to fear.”
I said, “Wow, I am loved beyond measure and have nothing to fear. That’s pretty good news!” And Otter replied, “Yes, it’s pretty good news. And it’s the only news you’ll ever need.”
There was another brief message after that but this exchange really felt amazing. It seemed the message about love and nothing to fear was really universal… like it was meant for more than just me.
But back to my mother…. Two days later Jeannine called. She said she couldn’t wait any longer to tell me… my mother had visited her in her car while she was driving alone to the city the previous day, the day after our journeys. Jeannine said Mom was very insistent on coming through even though she tried to push her away. Then Jeannine got a big pain at the base of her neck and as the day progressed she became hunched over with back pain and stiffness. She felt it was coming from my mom. She was getting a message of “not to fear or not to resist….not to fear moving ahead”. It was not clear to us what it was really all about, so Jeannine called our psychic development teacher George for advice. They both picked up on some sadness.
In the few journal entries from my mother’s old day calendars there were indications of some real sadness and frustration, but it was cryptic and poetic. Nothing clear about what was actually going on at that time. I had been, as I said, about 11 or 12 when those were written, just a few odd notes between pages of records about the weather, social engagements, which of my older brothers were coming home for a visit, and what she’d made for dinner that night.
Our mediumship teacher George thought that because he and Jeannine sensed her sadness, perhaps my mother had not fully “crossed over” into the light. I wondered, my mother being quite a pious and faithful woman, if she for some reason felt unworthy. My mother was a beautiful, gentle, and kind woman, a philosophical searcher I think, like I am, looking for meaning in her life, although her faith was directed toward more traditional religious beliefs. Although raised an Anglican, she had actually loved being taught by the Catholic nuns in a convent school she’d been sent to as a girl from her small outport village. She was devoted and had a real faith in God. I wondered if for some reason she didn’t feel good enough to go “into the light”, whatever that might have meant to her, in spirit. I believed she’d had some suppressed anger and resentment when she died, after many painful and difficult years with cancer, and perhaps from some other life challenges, and may have felt that being angry made her not good enough in the eyes of God.
On George’s advice, Jeannine bargained with the spirit and refused to pass on any more messages unless she released her back from the pain. It started to ease a little as Jeannine spoke to me on the phone.
The next morning, she called again and asked to meet at a café to discuss this further, as she still felt the presence and was quite at loose ends experiencing this. This time I took some old photos of my mom to show her, ones where mom had curlier hair, one in the ’60’s and one from the time she was undergoing cancer treatments and her hair grew in curly. Jeannine connected with the one of her in the 1960’s, where she looked more glamorous. No messages came through however, and I went home, feeling overwhelmed and uncomfortable with all of this, wondering why it was happening.
Seeing my anxiousness to know how to solve this situation and relieve my friend from the apparent grip of this spirit, Edward offered to drum for me so I could take a journey and ask my power animal for advice. We did so that evening.
I connected with Otter immediately. My left hand started twitching, which it often does when I am deep in trance in a journey, aware that I am twitching but still fully in the experience too. Usually just my middle finger jumps but this time my whole hand started lifting right off my chest.
Otter let me have it. For some reason I never journalled his instructions, but they are as clear to me now as on that night eight years ago. “You know what your problem is?” he started, “You have been remembering your mother in exactly the wrong way! You have been holding onto all the bad things about her life rather than all the good things!”
He proceeded to give me a list of what I must do to fix it. I had to have a ceremony and invite a couple of my friends from the previous journey circle. I invited them and they were able to arrange to come the very next night.
First I had to create an altar in Mom’s honour, representing only good, happy times in her life. So I dug through boxes of old letters of hers that she had written to her own parents during her boarding school and nursing school days, and selected ones that told cheerful stories. I knew that those times in her life held very fond memories for her and she’d built life-long friendships during both.
I found photographs of her smiling and having fun, mostly in her youth and long before she got breast cancer, and when my siblings and I were much younger. I laid some of these out on a table and added some pieces of her favourite gold jewelry, some antique chains and watch fobs that she’d collected. I added some of her scrap-booked recipe collections since she was known for her great meals. I added a copy of a funny joke sent to her by her favourite uncle, her confirmation photo, and a small framed image of Mother Mary that she had kept on her dressing table.
I also laid-out a couple of her beautiful old dresses from the ’60’s that I had kept, ones that spoke of her more elegant and playful times. I had always thought she was as attractive and sophisticated as Lauren Bacall in those days. I also made a fast run to the city to buy some crystals, both for the altar and to give to my friends who were coming to help me create ceremony. I bought rose quartz and tiger’s eye, to represent the message Otter had given me, “You are loved beyond measure (rose quartz for love) and have nothing to fear (tiger’s eye for courage and confidence).
The next step as per Otter’s instructions was to write out all the things I had felt sad about for mom’s life, the places where I felt, rightly or wrongly, in my own perception, that she was unfulfilled, where she was disappointed, and also the things that I wished had been different about her, that I thought would’ve made her life better, happier, and more confident. These included the things about her that I did not want to emulate.
Third step was to write out all the gifts she brought to me and the world that I was grateful for… her affectionate nature, her humour, her worldly intelligence, and artistic ability and interest, her philosophical inquiry, her great hostessing and culinary skills, her sensitivity to and appreciation for people.
Evening came. I had the fire on in the wood stove and had lit candles around the room. The altar spread across a coffee table and the sofa that had the dresses on it. We brought out our drums. My friends Christine and Jeannine arrived together. They and Edward said the air felt “thick.” I was so focused on getting everything in place for this ceremony I had not noticed.
After showing them the significance of all the items on the altar, we sat down, me in front of the fire, my friends on either side of me. I knew I wanted feminine energy to support me in this. Edward opened the circle by calling the directions, then I asked them to drum for me while I read all the items on the “sad” list. It was an emotional moment. Then, as per Otter’s instructions, I rolled up that list into a scroll, lit the end with a match, and said words about releasing all that sadness and disappointment, asking for Mother Earth to transmute the energies of the ashes into healing. When I could no longer hold the burning paper I threw it into the fire.
After releasing the “negative” aspects I’d been holding onto about my mother, I lit the candle on the altar and placed the rose quartz heart and tiger’s eye crystals there too. I then read the papers upon which I had written about all the good things, the gifts my mother brought to my life for which I was and am grateful. Lots of tears were shed. It was good. I rolled up that scroll, tied it with a ribbon, and placed it on the altar to keep.
Jeannine had brought a dozen long-stemmed pink and fragrant roses which she’d held onto until that moment, when she said they were for me from my mom. She told me Mom was there with us and was happy and pleased with what I had done. It wasn’t quite clear whether Mom was complete with her messages or not, although Jeannine was going away for a while shortly afterward and I don’t think anything else came through to her.
Once we ended the ceremony everyone commented that the air felt completely different. I noticed it seemed a lot cooler, fresher. I gave my friends each a copy of my teacher Denise Linn’s book, “Four Acts of Personal Power” which is about healing family legacies using ceremony and meditations. I thought perhaps that was part of the gift in receiving these messages, that we needn’t carry around the sadness or hurts of previous generations and wear them as our own. We could let go.
Then we all enjoyed some food and tea and talked around the table for quite some time afterwards. The energy was really very buoyant then, just lovely.
After the evening I put the scroll of “good things”, the photographs, letters, and a dried rose, in a keepsake box.
It was such a gift to have all this guidance, from “The Beings”, from Otter, from Mom via Jeannine, and the support of intuitive, understanding, and open-minded friends, as well as a husband willing to support me in creating this healing ritual. The result has been freedom from a weight of seemingly inexplicable sadness I realized I had been carrying around like someone else’s backpack for many years, likely even from before her death from cancer. It really dissolved that very night and has not been back.
That is not to say I haven’t had bouts of sadness or even depression, as I think I experienced this past winter for a little while. But I can distinguish that from the earlier feelings, and I know that I had been carrying a sadness that did not belong to me… it was either her sadness, or perhaps my projections of what I thought she felt… a sadness that I held onto as a way to stay connected to my mother who left too soon… Too soon for me to know her really as I grew into my fully adult self… Too soon for us to have deep and heart-felt conversations about the meaning of life and our respective takes on spirituality. Too soon for her to see me as a middle-aged woman who now expresses so many of my mother’s attributes like creativity and gardening and a love of hosting people, for which I am truly grateful.
It’s a lot lighter and happier to feel connected to her through focusing on what was really good about her life and what gifts she brought into the world.
(My mother died 21 years ago last week.)
(In my work as a coach I love to help people connect with their own well of inner knowing and guidance from Spirit in whatever way they can conceive of that, through conversational soul journeys as well as teaching them how to journey with their power animal and facilitating that for them with drumming and ceremony. And I am happy to help people create their own healing rituals as I did to move forward in their lives.)