Encountering Electronic Voice Phenomena in Person, Part II

“Chopin Anew” by Jan Nyka. This image is amusingly appropriate in the context of EVP, don’t you think?
http://www.jannyka.com/index.php?/commercial/people/

At the beginning of the ASCS conference, Suzanne Giesemann gave a charming, inspiring, but no-nonsense talk about her development as a medium, which included stories about striking synchronicities— and another slew of them for me. Here she outlines her journey from hard-nosed Navy commander to professional mystic: https://www.suzannegiesemann.com/about-suzanne-2/

I want to tell you about an enlightening anecdote from Suzanne. One day, during her meditations, she received a visit from an entity who called himself Odin. Ohhhkkaaayyyy, she thought. She didn’t remember much about Norse mythology, so she went off and read up about him. What she found was a whole package of synchronistic threads that connected with people close to her, having to do with lightning and runes in particular. The next time she encountered Odin, she blurted out, “Are you real?”

“I am as real as you are,” he replied.

“But you’re a myth!” Suzanne insisted.

You’re a myth!” was the answer to that.

 The idea was that all personalities, human and otherwise, bubble up from the substrate of the universal mind, and all are pretty much the same in essence, and all equally real or unreal, depending on how you look at it. That’s about as close as I can get to explaining my experiences with such eminences as Kuan Yin or Medicine Buddha.

And as close as I can get to explaining the following.

As I described last time, I was putting a lot of effort into listening during October, and something began to happen that interfered mightily with that. At first mildly, then catastrophically, I developed a case of constant high-pitched tinnitus. By the last week of the month, it had taken over my life and I could hardly think of anything else.

I suspected that the new problem might have something to do with my trip to the conference, either the work with the spirits, the flight, the drastic changes of altitude and humidity, or all of the above. I’d also had a slight virus sort of thing right after the trip. I started looking for help to sort it out. That’s when things got even weirder.

I began with a remote polarity treatment from the person who had helped me with issues like this before. My therapist encountered a crowd of beings around me who seemed to all be trying to talk to me at once, and she thought that was creating the ringing in my ears. She came up with a strategy for communicating with them one at a time in a controlled way that would limit any trouble. Sigh… I’ve had all too many issues over the years with entities knocking hard on my doors… but I guess it’s an occupational hazard.  And it has led in fruitful directions at times.

For a while after that session, the sound in my ears died down a bit. The theory about these critters being the main cause of the tinnitus doesn’t seem to have panned out in the time since then, but they were most definitely present and they needed to be dealt with. I cautiously set about making their acquaintance, just a few of them. They were very accessible, and seemed enthusiastic and positive about communicating with me. One gave me a warm hug. Another— I’m grateful for this— reached into my head and tweaked my eyes so that colors became dramatically brighter and for quite a while the usual dryness was gone. Perhaps more ominously, another asked why I was bothered by the ringing, since they were “tuning me” and I ought to be happy about it.

I didn’t detect anything untoward, but I wasn’t comfortable with having anyone trying to control me or use me for their own agenda, especially without my conscious understanding and consent. I made an appointment with my psychic mentor, Mendy Lou Blackburn, who is always the person I turn to when matters like this get beyond my abilities. When I went to bed, I asked Fryderyk what he thought was going on, and he had something to say about it, but in the morning I couldn’t remember what it had been.

Mendy Lou and I looked extensively at the whole situation and tried to figure out how these entities fit in. They didn’t seem connected with the Big Circle, the group Vicki and friends work with. Mendy could see them clearly, as a sort of vortex containing multiple small lights. They appeared to her to be a mix of beings of different levels of development. When she used the term elementals, I remembered that Fryderyk had said the same thing the night before.

At one point I looked around for my link to the Big Circle, for comparison, and instantly Braden popped into the room in a burst of light, so Mendy Lou got to meet him and get a sense of his fun-loving personality. It was comforting to have him show up. Fryderyk also made himself known, but he stayed in the background.

So there I was with an unwanted “fan club” and still an intolerable level of constant noise. I went to the office and put my questions aside for the time being. By the next day, with the ringing still driving me nuts, I felt I couldn’t stretch my stressed and irritated self far enough to deal with the mysterious entities anymore. Apologizing, in case they were sincerely there for my good, I wrapped them up in a sort of package and pushed them out of my field. I just didn’t know what else to do at that point. Since then I haven’t heard anything further from them.

I told Vicki about all this, and she confirmed that Braden and company were not involved and didn’t know who these beings were either. The Big Circle folk told her to let me know that I was “climbing Jacob’s ladder” and all was well. All the sources seemed to agree that I was somehow being changed to be able to perceive more, and that I should be patient with the process. I felt a little bit better.

The process of clearing attachments and emotional junk continued with a remote treatment from James Rolwing, and Thought Field Therapy (the original version of tapping on acupressure points) with Diana Ristenpart. After that, the tinnitus changed, in quality though not volume, and became a less obnoxious type of sound so that it was more tolerable. A range of pure sine wave frequencies disappeared and I was left with an array of tiny chimes combined with cicadas. Strange how that is less bothersome!

After a lot of phone calls, I was able to get in with an audiologist and a nurse practitioner at an ENT office, and they found inflammation in my Eustachian tubes— a potential physical cause for the sound. Mercifully, my hearing tested as mostly intact, except for a small deficit at very high frequencies. I’d been terrified of having a significant hearing loss, which is often associated with tinnitus. Since I’ve always hated noise and have carefully protected my ears, this whole thing has seemed awfully unfair!

With the onset of the ringing, everything in my environment became oddly loud, subjectively, and my impression was that the effect was different from the hyperacusis that can occur with hearing loss. Sound is much more three-dimensional and multilayered, richer and more colorful, and I pay attention to it differently. Once Fryderyk told me that music is an environment in which one can move about, and I think I know vividly what he meant now.

So is a process of “tuning” still going on? Am I going to be able to hear more of what nonphysical sources want to tell me? Or am I taking a long time to get over a viral infection and a great deal of stress? All of these? I don’t know if I’ve had enough brain-space lately to be able to tell. No dramatic new openings appear to have occurred in my psychic development to match my increased awareness of physical sound. Meanwhile, treating for inflammation and taking Chinese herbs for the pattern I’m showing has helped, as far as I can tell.

I did have an unusually extensive conversation with my composer friend, though, and I’d like to think that I was showing a little more ability to hear what he wanted me to know. This happened on 11/17:
Fryderyk showed up when I was about to go to sleep, as he so often does. I reported that my tinnitus had lessened, and told him that I hoped to be able to hear him better through whatever process was going on with the changes in my ears.

I asked about his efforts to speak through direct voice, wondering why it seemed worthwhile to take so much trouble to make physical sounds rather than just talk to someone inside their head or through channeling. He replied that it is important for him to speak in actual words, not just thoughts, because words have a physical effect on the material world.

“In the beginning was the word?” I asked. His answer was something to the effect that in the beginning was a thought, then a word that shaped reality.

“How does music compare to words?” Up to that point he had been more or less directly dropping concepts into my head, despite the subject being the primacy of words, but this came out as a clear verbal message: “Music is a scaffolding on which we can build reality.” That was a striking idea that I wanted to be sure not to forget, so although I wanted to get to sleep, I dutifully grabbed my notebook and pen. Which, as it has done many times, broke the connection.

After settling back down, I was able to get back in touch with him, and we continued along the same lines. A direct-voice medium is like a radio, he told me; you tune the medium, tune yourself in, your own station. There were images of communicating with me, in contrast, being something like wandering through a cave with twists and obstructions.

I asked if things might be easier if I were a trance medium. He doesn’t like to work with them, he replied, because they can’t really give consent. Even though they’ve consented to the overall procedure, they can’t filter or respond to any of the communication. He prefers the relationship, the dialogue involved in working with someone who is aware of what’s going on.

(Regarding “Music is a scaffolding on which we can build reality,” a musician friend expressed something strikingly similar to this just a couple of days ago, even saying, “In the beginning was the word.”  She said she is trying to affect the world from the inside through music and meditation lately, rather than continuing to work with political organizing and that kind of thing, as she used to.  I expect that other musicians have expressed similar thoughts.)

Vicki mentioned that Braden had warned her against thinking she is communicating with any Famous Dead People, because they are likely to be impostors– although he himself had brought Fryderyk to meet his mother.  For example, he said, if someone shows up who purports to be Elvis, you should run. I mentioned this to Mendy Lou, who recounted the time she not only met Elvis, but had a lengthy conversation with him, many years ago when she was working in Las Vegas. I also mentioned it to a patient who has a strong interest in these matters, and she replied that I shouldn’t be surprised if I did run into Elvis sometime, because he’s her cousin, albeit a distant one. Six degrees of separation and all that.

So when I showed up at Vicki’s presentation, and she saw a momentary flash of her friend “Fred,” she pushed the thought aside.  Why in the world would someone associated with him walk into her workshop?  Her boggle threshold had to be raised a bit, along with mine.  The pattern that began with meeting my Famous Dead Person so many years ago seems to be building up more coherence over time, but I’m still not always certain what is being asked of me.  Now I’ve been brought into the Big Circle project in some way, and telling you about it must be part of that.  Otherwise, I’m awaiting further developments.

 

Mendy Lou Blackburn:  http://mendylou.com/
James Rolwing:  https://www.facebook.com/pg/PatternReleaseEnergetics/about/?ref=page_internal
Lunasol Polarity Therapy:  https://daynaurora.wixsite.com/lunasol-polarity?fbclid=IwAR06LGeVHFtlqrv8ALvx0qJevC3_DcmpCGHqOxl9wVyndUDZ64cFtBcf2bU

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Encountering Electronic Voice Phenomena in Person, Part I

In the past couple of months, my boggle threshold* has been raised a few more notches. I’m getting more and more “whatever” as time goes on.

The annual conference of the Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies was held October 4-7 in Raleigh, NC. I had belonged to the organization for about a decade, but had never been to any of their events. This time I felt that I needed to be there, and the second day in, the reason became clear.

While waiting to register at the beginning of the conference, I found myself sitting next to and chatting with Terri Segal, who told me she was there to present about Electronic Voice Phenomena. This was the first synchronicity of a series. The next afternoon, I went to see what she and her cohort Vicki Talbott had going on. It turned out that they were giving not just a talk but a workshop in which we were able to actually try out the process.  Here’s a description of the session: http://ascsiconference.com/team/vicki-talbott-and-terri-segal/

Electronic Voice Phenomena are a subset of Instrumental TransCommunication, a range of methods of recording images or sounds produced by discarnate beings by means of electronic devices. For those who hadn’t heard of EVP, it might be helpful to stop here and read these:
https://atransc.org/recording-evp/
https://atransc.org/about-aaevp/

The conference had two tracks of presentations at the same time throughout, so it was sometimes hard to choose between them. Only a very few people attended the EVP session, which surprised me as well as the presenters, because this is usually such a popular subject. (Later, a number of people said they hadn’t been aware it was happening, although it was clearly indicated in the program— I had the feeling they might have been steered away!) I was fairly familiar with the idea of recording discarnate voices, but hadn’t heard many examples, and didn’t know a lot of details or much about the technology involved.

As we started the workshop, I became aware of Fryderyk being vividly present at my side.  He seemed to be practically jumping up and down with excitement. It was the only time he was around during the conference, in fact the only time he had contacted me during a period of a few weeks. I had no way of knowing that he had already made the acquaintance of this group!  We got brief recordings of him during the workshop, but there isn’t anything earthshaking– except, of course, the existence of the recordings in themselves.

The recording process went like this: Vicki had each of the attendees in turn ask a question of one of the discarnates, then let the recorder run for ten seconds so that they had time to answer. The equipment used was very simple, a small, rather old-fashioned hand-held Panasonic recorder. At the time, nothing at all out of the ordinary appeared to be happening. We spoke our questions, and then there was no sound but the slight whir of the instrument.

The fun began when the recording was played back, and voices that had not been present before showed up. I witnessed this in real time.  Even though I was already familiar with the concept, actually experiencing it was positively freaky.  I’m including links to a couple of clips so that you can share my freaked-outedness.

My question for Fryderyk was quite simple. I told the group that I was in touch with someone who very much wanted to speak, someone who I knew had a lot of experience with direct voice and other methods of spirit communication. “I know you’ve been wanting to say something. What would you like to say?” His reply is unclear, to my ears; the only part I can pick up for sure is “it’s helpful” at the end of the message, but that part is definite. The fact that there was any audible reply at all was enough to leave me pretty stunned. https://app.box.com/s/t9j5uactcum3evvcvdzf368gqj1ms7ho

In addition to Fryderyk, we called upon Vicki’s son, Braden, and someone close to one of the attendees, unknown to the rest of us, who was not named. All three replied immediately. I didn’t get to really hear what was said by that third person, only that a voice had come through, and since it was none of my business, I didn’t ask further.

I wanted to ask Braden something, and as I did so, I got to wondering if I could perceive him somewhere in the room.  I looked around, and my eyes stuck to a patch of air near the ceiling, about two feet wide, that looked somehow different from the rest.  As I was realizing that the odd patch was Braden, he suddenly reached out toward me with a considerable amount of energy, so that the effect was that he bopped me between the eyes!  It didn’t hurt, but I was knocked back a little in my chair, and everyone saw that.  I explained to the group what had happened.

Later, Vicki found that the discarnates were talking about Braden bopping me, just before I told her about it.  You can hear “he’s tapped her” near the beginning of the clip, and “I’m quite amused”; the rest is fuzzy to me.  https://app.box.com/s/0w9achce66o378g022t6x998mojh4xq6

Although Vicki is addressing Braden in this clip, I am reasonably certain that the voice saying “Very good. It’s me here” belongs to Fryderyk. That message is 100% audible and definite. https://app.box.com/s/seb9mfix0585y4zq1dvbultwey80r37f

Let’s stop a minute and contemplate this. After 25 1/2 years of contact with Fryderyk, struggling to get verbal messages, his voice, physical vibrations of sound, captured in a form that I can not only store and listen to myself, but can send to you. His voice, so similar to the one I had heard in the Leslie Flint recordings, where I had never been absolutely, entirely sure it was him.

When I was next in touch with him after the workshop, the first thing he conveyed to me was immense relief at the ease of communicating directly instead of through layers of cumbersome instrumentation. It struck me, though, that the brief messages that come through by EVP are not so different from the almost aphoristic verbal messages I receive from him, when I can get any definite words at all. It seems to me that when he is able to convey words directly to me, he’s put thought into boiling the concept down into a short, pithy phrase. It must take a lot of energy to get even such small transmissions through my thick skull.

There is a significant difference, though, between getting advice from him inside my head, especially controversial advice— say, being told that it’s fine to experiment with styles of trills and have fun with them— and hearing it objectively in an .mp3 file. The physical recordings have a unique value.

You will notice, if you listen to even a few examples of EVP, that sometimes the voices sound pretty ordinary, sometimes they sound electronic or robotic, and sometimes there’s a lot of fuzz, rather like a phone call with a really bad connection. Sometimes individuals are easily recognizable, sometimes not. Researchers use a witness panel to rate the clarity of the messages and to make sure there really are words in the first place. Some “scientific” folk say that there is only noise and listeners convince themselves that they’re hearing words because they want to so much, but I think you can already tell, if you’ve listened to even the few clips I’ve linked here, that this is simply not the case. The phenomenon is quite real, and one must deal with it. Nonphysical beings can manipulate physical sounds to create verbal messages. We are way past arguing whether this is actually happening. Now we need to understand how it can be possible, what the physics of it is.

You’d think I would be over the moon with joy at receiving even a few electronic words from my old friend. Instead, I found myself near weeping and in a kind of shock. It was strangely hard to deal with this new evidence of his existence. Suddenly, despite all the overwhelmingly intense moments I’d experienced with him over the years, he was somehow more real than I could handle. And although I knew very well that he’d worked closely with other groups and had multiple intellectual and emotional connections, walking into this room and finding him engaged in a major project with people who were complete strangers to me was also a little more than I could take in at first.

(It was not the first time I’d observed Fryderyk messing with electronics; that had occurred back in 2009. You may recall the anomalous behavior of my printer when it spat out three portraits of Chopin, which were not on the document I was attempting to print. https://elenedom.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/fryc-in-print/ That constituted a form of ITC, I would think. The EVP was just another order of magnitude weirder for some reason.)

There is also the frustration of trying to understand the meaning of the messages. Sometimes the words sound perfectly obvious, yet the message is still obscure. One of the later clips of Fryderyk that Vicki sent me sounds to me for all the world like “I’ve made a cologne for her.” Here it is:  https://app.box.com/s/izaal6l0fhwyqqbgo37ixq08gwapn8ob  Can you make any better sense out of it than I can? And if I am hearing it right, exactly how am I supposed to obtain this otherworldly cologne? (I haven’t experienced any anomalous scents lately!) My husband jokingly suggested that he’d made me a clone— that would be great, I could get so much more done!

After the conference, Vicki and I began a correspondence, and I was interested to find that her impressions of Fryderyk, who she knew little about as a historical figure, were identical to mine— including his dry sense of humor. And I was amused at the idea of him joining forces with Braden, who is also a composer, but in what seems like a diametrically opposite genre, hip-hop. So Chopin is collaborating with a rap artist these days….

Like Fryderyk, Braden— as you might have guessed from the bopping incident— is a comedian as well as a musician. I mentioned to Vicki that Chopin used to do a Victor Borge-like act at the piano, something she hadn’t been aware of. She replied, bemusedly, “So that’s why they wanted me to watch that Victor Borge video on YouTube….” (Both of them left the planet before the existence of YouTube, but it seems that is irrelevant.)

*The boggle threshold is the level of weirdness at which one’s brain freezes up and can’t process what it perceives any more. Thanks to Michael Tymn for the concept.

https://www.transcommunication.org/index.php
https://atransc.org/big-circle-recording-sessions/

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What Is This Qi Stuff, Anyway?

(Written for my colleagues on Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day, 10/24/18, and posted on the website of the New Mexico Society for Acupuncture and Asian Medicine.)

The field is the sole governing agency of the particle. — Einstein


There is a school of thought that seems to be gaining currency in our profession lately, which says that the concept of Qi is nothing more than a quaint misunderstanding of what the ancient sages were really writing about, and that our medicine is really all about the nervous system and other purely physical aspects of the body.

This is simply not true.  In an apparent effort to align their work with biomedical science, these authors are actually ignoring a great deal of that same science, not to mention the experiences of myriad practitioners and patients. 

Let me start with typical human perceptions of the energetic field surrounding the body, the manifestation of Qi we think of most often.  While Qi can be complicated to pin down in terms of exactly what types of energy and what frequency ranges are involved, close to the body it’s very simple to perceive and to demonstrate. 

When I am scanning for active points or disturbances in patients’ bodies, the person on the table often says, with surprise, “I can feel exactly where your hand is!”  Of course they can, as this is a normal human ability.  When patients ask me what Qi is, or what is meant by Qi Gong, I have them try a very simple exercise: Hold your palms near each other, about a half inch apart.  Notice what you feel. A kind of pressure, a bit like the feeling of trying to bring two magnets together with the same poles facing?  Warmth?  Tingling?

Nearly everyone can perceive this immediately.  I’ve tried this exercise with hundreds of people when I’ve given presentations to groups, and only a couple have ever said that they didn’t feel anything. 

When I used to teach Reiki, I introduced the concept of the human biofield with another simple exercise.  One person would stand facing a wall, eyes closed.  Another person would walk up to them from the back.  The first person would raise her hand when she felt the presence of the other one.  This would happen consistently when the two were about four feet apart.

But although those effects are consistent and reliable, science likes objective, numerical measurements with instruments.  There are plenty of those to be had as well, and many of them have been done by researchers right here in the US.  That’s been going on for decades.

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to meet the biophysicist Beverly Rubik, who has spent 40 years studying the human biofield, and was part of the group that coined that term.  Her current work is largely in the area of biophotons, the weak but important light emitted from the body in the ultraviolet range.  Among other things, she has studied the changes in biophoton emissions involved with healers and healees, showing that more light is emitted from the hands of healers when they are doing their work.  One instrument she uses to detect biophotons is the Bio-Well gas discharge visualization camera, which is available commercially and has clinical applications that could be useful in an acupuncture office.

She stated at the conference that as a child she could feel energy, but that “it was educated out of her.”  The biofield, she said, is proposed to be “a high-speed wireless communication system, a bridge between the mind and body.”

I had already encountered Dr. Rubik’s work in a 2016 online course, “The Science of Energy Medicine,” given by the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology.  Here are some quotes from her presentation there:

‘… I see the biofield as a complex dynamic standing wave within and around the body. Let me tell you more. You’re already familiar with the concept of standing waves from musical instruments, for example a wood instrument, a clarinet. There’s a standing wave when it’s being sounded, or the plucking of a string in a violin or a guitar. Once again, a standing wave is vibrating and rendering sound. Not only sound standing waves are possible. There are also electromagnetic standing waves, too.’

‘There was one main prediction from the biofield hypothesis, and that is that if we can shift the biofield, we can change the physiology and chemistry and move the body, the body mind, to a new steady state….’

Experiments have consistently shown that intention is of great importance in causing measurable energetic effects: ‘I come back to that old principle of Oriental medicine. Where mind goes, chi, or energy, flows, and the blood and flesh follow.  This is the bottom line when it comes to how we can heal ourselves. We must change our minds. Then there are shifts in the biofield, and then the flesh and blood is the slowest to change overall.’

You might wonder why, after four decades of work like this, the science of the biofield is not more familiar, even to those of us who deal with it every day. Dr. Rubik gave some reasons why it is not: ‘We have certain challenges in biofield science. We are dealing with complex dynamical fields that are actually very low-level that become difficult to measure and we have to use a variety of tools. There is no one singular tool that you can grab off the shelf that’s ready-made to look at the biofield, but rather a collection of different tools to understand and probe the biofield through different windows.

‘There’s also very little funding and no concerted effort. Unfortunately, the NIH has dropped the ball and it is not a lead agency. We have no leading organization that’s making a concerted effort to forward biofield science or its understanding in the frontiers of medicine, and I’ve long been an advocate of something I call a Human Energy Project [along the lines of the Human Genome Project].’

Here is an article in which Dr. Rubik gives a lucid overview of methods of measuring the biofield:
https://www.faim.org/measurement-of-the-human-biofield-and-other-energetic-instruments

Another researcher who started measuring the biofield, even earlier, was Valerie Hunt, who began as a scientist with no knowledge of or interest in esoteric or energetic matters.  She eventually developed new instrumentation that could detect immensely higher frequencies than had been measured around the body previously, in the range of hundreds of thousands of cycles per second.

‘My academic background is as a neurophysiologist, and I was also a registered physical therapist. I was working in electromyography and electrocardiography, and I was interested in the patterns of electromyographic energy in the body that were related to emotions. Eventually, I established a pattern of emotions connected with neurological energy. In the process, I was the first researcher to have a telemetry, electromyography instrument. This was when the first astronauts went into space. They had to have monitors of their basic health — the heart rate, the blood pressure, and the galvanic skin response — sent from space. They did this using telemetry, which is a radio frequency instrument system. It would send a signal on an FM frequency down to the earth, where NASA would record the FM frequencies and know what was happening to the astronauts.

‘When I heard about this, I got in touch with NASA and the young scientist who had first made that telemetry instrumentation, and I had him build for me the first telemetry electromyography instrument. This meant I could test a person using an FM frequency, a radio frequency, process the data through my instrumentation and record it. And when I did this I found the electromagnetic energy field.

‘This was in early 60’s, and I thought, “Oh my God, what have I got here?” So I brought in researchers from the university’s chemistry, physics, and engineering departments. I said, “What have I got, an artifact?” And they kept saying I didn’t, that my equipment was working fine. They tested everything, and finally I realized I was dealing with a new kind of energy in the body.’

https://healthontheedge.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/the-human-energy-field-an-interview-with-valerie-v-hunt-ph-d/

Dr. Hunt famously worked with the healer Rosalyn Bruyere, and was able to correlate her perceptions of the human aura with the readings made by her instruments.  In addition to making measurements of the biofield, she was able to create practical applications for healing.  She was still going strong on a number of projects when she died in 2014.

All of these electromagnetic emanations from the body are relatively weak.  How do we explain the much more extreme effects that can be produced by well-trained Qi Gong masters and some others?  That’s not at all clear, but the effects are incontrovertibly there.  For example, a fascinating series of trials by Mikio Yamamoto in Japan was reported by Lynn McTaggart in her seminal book The Intention Experiment, involving a master doing tohate, in which the master could push another person back several yards through sheer force of will and Qi, while the other was trying to resist.  The master was isolated in an electromagnetically shielded room on the fourth floor of a building, while his student was placed in a similar room on the first floor.  Neither the distance nor the shielding prevented the effect; in nearly a third of 49 trials, the master was able to knock the student back.  (p. 53)

A nonexistent energy could not visibly, objectively move a body. 

Probably quite a few of us have felt a more mundane version of this kind of effect, being pushed back from the treatment table when a blockage in a patient suddenly released, maybe even feeling that we were “knocked across the room” by a considerable force.  How can the biofield, which seems so feeble when measured, create a force like that?  I don’t know of anyone who has answered that question in terms of biophysics, and it is urgently begging for an answer.  There has to be something more to Qi than the types of electromagnetism we have detected in and around the body so far.

At the conference where I met Dr. Rubik, I had an unusually dramatic experience of being strongly tapped between the eyes by someone who was not physically present.  It didn’t hurt, but it knocked me back a little, and everyone in the room saw that.  Some years ago, such a person pushed my whole body a few inches sideways on my chair.  You can’t help but be impressed when an invisible force moves you against (or at least without) your will.

The other issue with explaining Qi solely as a matter of electromagnetic fields is that electromagnetic effects rapidly diminish with distance, but Qi has no trouble at all being transmitted across any given amount of space.  The tohate experiments are a particularly vivid example of that, but many of us do remote treatments that are effective in a quieter way.  What, precisely, is being transmitted?  Or is that the wrong question?

Here, from the ACEP course, is Gary Schwartz attempting to deal with this issue:
‘Now, how do we explain effects that are taking place across 3000 miles or in London, which is what, 6000 miles from Tucson [where he is based]? Or Sydney, Australia, which is even further. Electromagnetic field effects are insufficient to explain that kind of data because the intensity of electromagnetic fields decreases with the square of the distance, and they are modified by all kinds of objects in the environment. That’s one reason why you need to consider higher level or more sophisticated theories of physics to be able to explain this.’

‘To say that a quantum field is involved in distance, which it may very well be, for example, does not mean that the electromagnetics are not involved in proximal things. You can have multiple layers of mechanism being operative at the same time. That’s why I use a staircase for the explanations so people can see this. The problem with skeptics and probably most of us is that we don’t look at the whole picture.’

So at this point, we are very clear about many aspects of the human biofield— which we can call a manifestation of Qi— but there are large and crucial holes in our understanding.

To be continued….

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Filed under health and healing, nature, physics and cosmology, the unexplained

Dead Sexy

 

I finished this back in 2009, but it never seemed like the right time to publish it.  A couple of days ago, at the Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies “Aspects of Consciousness” conference, I heard Miles Edward Allen give a presentation on sex in the afterlife (to the extent that we know anything about that).  His attitude is that we need to stop stopping ourselves from talking about sex.  I can’t argue with that.  I guess now it’s time.  Everyone quoted or mentioned here gave consent for me to write about them publicly, so I’ll give myself permission too:

“It happened in the late 1970s. At the time I had the flu and was running a fever. I was in bed for about three days. And one night I just woke up realizing that I was orgasming. My boyfriend was asleep next to me and wasn’t touching me, but I felt like a person was on top of me, like I could feel the weight of a person, even though there was no one there. I thought I had been having a dream about making love, but when I woke up it was continuing and it wasn’t a dream.”

Catherine’s story reminds us that contacts with the unseen worlds can take on a vividly, even disconcertingly, physical quality. It’s not particularly unusual for frankly sexual events to occur, and often they are indefinable and unclear in nature. For example, one woman told me about being slowly kissed all the way down her spine, one vertebra at a time, by someone unknown and invisible. We may not know who we are with, or why.

Catherine’s account also illustrates the slippery way that spirit experiences can intertwine with apparent past-life memories, raising questions, or maybe providing answers, about our own identities:
“I had the sense that it was a man, and that I wasn’t exactly myself. I felt that my name was Frieda. I don’t know if the other person or being had a name, I don’t remember. It seemed like we were Nordic somehow; it’s pretty vague. It happened more than once. I thought it was mildly interesting, but I didn’t have any interest in encouraging it. I told my boyfriend about it, and other people that I was living with, but we didn’t really dwell on it.

“We had just moved into a very, very old log cabin out in the country, that had been hand-built a very long time ago. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it.

“I was in a mask-making phase from about 1995 through 1997, and one of the masks I made I named Frieda. I’m only now making the connection—I didn’t think about this at the time. I would make a plaster of Paris mask by having a friend lay the strips of gauze on my face, and then I would go into a meditative space and ‘let the mask paint itself,’ so that I never knew what the finished project would be. Sometimes I would glue things on the mask. Each mask was a healing experience, would heal some part of my life or some episode; sometimes I wasn’t sure just what it was, but it felt healing. One of my favorites, if not my very favorite, was the one I called Frieda. It was a very strong, protective female spirit. I told my husband, ‘This is Frieda. She’s the guardian of children and small animals.’ It just came out of my mouth. Whether I just made that up because it seemed to fit the mask or not, I have no idea.

“I was so moved by the Frieda mask that I made a cast of my torso to go with it, sort of like a shield. I wanted to make it more of a person, sort of fill it in.”

 

A Reiki student of mine, now someone I respect as a colleague in healing, reported a clear encounter with her deceased boyfriend. She described this to me after a Reiki class with another teacher, who had told her that she had a ghost on her left shoulder. The student, Patrice, took exception to this. She told me that not only did she not believe there was anything around her left shoulder, she was perfectly capable of perceiving such things for herself, and had done so many times before.

“In fact,” she said, in a conspiratorial tone, “I knew when my ex-boyfriend was dead because he showed up in my room and was trying to have sex with me.”

“Well, that’s not necessarily such a bad thing….” I replied, hesitantly.

“But he was DEAD!” she cried, sounding truly horrified. She explained that she had reacted by immediately and firmly telling him to hit the road. She didn’t have any trouble getting rid of him.

Oh, well, he was her ex. She wouldn’t have wanted him around if he had shown up in the flesh, either. But I was amused to hear that the fact that he was dead made such a difference. I guess I’m used to thinking of “dead” as not necessarily one of a person’s more socially important characteristics.

 

And I have a much more positive feeling about my own deceased ex.

One night in February 1993, as I was lying in bed, ready to go to sleep, I had an impression of a hand stretching toward me out of the darkness, and I reached out to take it. I didn’t know what I was inviting. The experience began with an intense, electric tingling at the base of my spine, and, well, it went on from there. It was as completely pleasurable as anything I’ve done with a physical person, and I welcomed the pleasure at first without reservation. But when I came back to my senses a bit—to find my invisible companion still at work—fear took over. (It didn’t help that my husband was sleeping no more than two inches away.) “Please,” I thought, “I’m not ready for this, please stop!” But it didn’t stop, not for quite a while. Eventually I slept.

I woke up with a case of the willies, thinking about demonic possession, incubi, and so forth. I felt vaguely violated, even though I had, at least at first, invited the experience. I knew that I had been perfectly lucid and had not been dreaming or hallucinating, that in fact I hadn’t even been sleepy when it began. It had been so real. I felt that I had been unfaithful to my husband!

Or had I? I wondered if Bob might have been dreaming about me or something, but he said he didn’t think so. “Well,” I whispered darkly, “something touched me last night.” I decided not to go into any more detail than that! Bob reacted with a total lack of surprise, as if he had known all about it. “You weren’t hurt in any way, so why worry?” was all he said. I felt a little better after mentioning it to him, though it seemed odd that he was so nonchalant.

Still, I was distinctly uneasy. I called my Reiki teacher; I thought she might either have had such an experience or known someone who did. I gave her a short summary of what had been going on with my spirit contacts. I had a lot of trouble getting around to telling Elizabeth about the racier aspects of my experience, but she understood where I was heading and was able to get it out of me. “Well, you know,” she said, “it is creative energy.”

I’ve already told you that soon after Fryderyk first came to me, he began to approach me in a clearly erotic manner. It’s so hard to decide what, how much, I should say about this. I want to tell the truth. I think it’s important to tell this in some detail, because I am trying to get at the clearest possible picture of what spirits (we, I mean) are capable of. However, while prudishness is not a habit of mine, I don’t want to be any more indelicate than absolutely necessary. In saying this, I have in mind my lover’s very private and reticent nature during his Earth life; surely, I think, he would prefer not to have his most intimate secrets and activities broadcast—although, during that life, come to think of it, they were.

I also want to avoid unnecessary disrespect toward my husband, who has already put up with more than I think should be expected of him. No matter how I present it, this puts Bob in an unavoidably awkward position. He knows everything, and he accepts it all. But if I had a “real,” completely physical, male human lover, I expect that he would not show the same degree of tolerance. (And is there really a difference?) Above all, I would never want my husband, that noble being, to be seen as laughable or ridiculous.

On top of all that, I find that I’m rather nervous to write about this because out of all the crazy-sounding things I am describing to you, this may be the craziest. But it’s time to take the bull by the horns, or some other part of its anatomy.

I keep asking why a ghost, or whatever we want to call him, has any interest in sex whatsoever. His interest seems most enthusiastic, and it doesn’t necessarily correspond with the timing of my own. Sometimes he comes to me at the most inconvenient moments imaginable, when I can’t go along with what he suggests. Some other times I long for him but can’t find him no matter how hard I try, or if he is with me, nothing erotic occurs despite my suggestions or even pleadings. I get the impression that it is only at special times that the worlds are aligned in such a way that he can get this kind of connection with me. At some of those times, he seems almost to materialize.

Naturally, a lot is missing from this experience, but the part you are probably thinking of does not seem to be missing. I can’t easily kiss him, hold him in my arms, do anything to any specific area of his (non)body, because I usually can’t see him and don’t quite know where his body is, except in a very general way. But when I feel distinct thrusting, as often happens, I at least know where that one part of him seems to be.

Sometimes I only feel tingling and buzzing around my root chakra; sometimes, very rarely, there is clearly and incontrovertibly a man in my bed, impossible to ignore. There can be any degree of physicality or solidity from a feathery breath to a weight that presses decidedly on my bed and on my flesh, though it is a light weight indeed. On occasion I feel him sit down next to me, seeming to depress the mattress ever so slightly, then stretch out and lie close beside me or just above me. At such a time I’m likely to feel that slight weight settle onto my hips, and I know that he is about to enter my body.

I have proven to myself that I cannot produce these effects on my own, through imagination or any other means. If I could, I surely would, because I enjoy the experience so very much.

But again, why would he want this? Why should someone without a body desire this most physical of acts? It’s clear that libido is extremely variable, that it can change dramatically with shifts in hormone levels and other vagaries of the body. I remember, for example, that for a while during my pregnancy I had no interest at all, and then, when I started lactating, that interest came roaring back despite the fact that I had a huge incision in my belly and a newborn to keep me occupied. None of those changes had anything to do with my relationship with my husband or any other “real” factors in my life; they were no more than shifts in my internal weather, of no ultimate importance. And now, in my journey through perimenopause, I notice wild ups and downs as well. All these things are purely, totally of the body.

I wonder sometimes if he does it only for my sake, because he wants to please me. Or perhaps it’s because this is one of the few ways he can communicate with me. Maybe it’s even just to show that he can. It’s probably quite a technical feat. Some biographers have made snide comments about his ability as a lover—something they could have no real knowledge of—and it may amuse him to prove them wrong. But I think the most likely explanation is that he feels this need because during his Earth life he was largely deprived of sexual expression. At times I have come into contact with aspects of him that feel profoundly painful to me, connected to his sexuality and the frustration and difficulty he experienced.

I don’t know what, if anything, Mme Potocka may have contributed to that frustration. I find it hard to imagine her refusing him, given her own overheated nature. I do know that the first time he came to me in that way, the night I described above, there was an edge of anger, as if he was looking for some sort of revenge. It was a feeling of, “Aha! Now I’ve got you!” I’ve never been sure what to make of it. I was uncomfortable about it for a long time, for years in fact. It’s not that there was any violence or anything remotely like it. He was perfectly, wondrously gentle—but utterly relentless. I didn’t understand what was going on, and I didn’t even know for sure who was with me or why. I was thoroughly enjoying the experience anyway, but after a while I started to get nervous. I asked him to stop, and he wouldn’t stop. In fact, he kept going for so long that I eventually drifted off to sleep for a little while. It’s very odd to remember that now. It seems like I should have been more frightened than I was, if anything. I guess I was pretty sure who he was, and somehow it seemed natural to relate to him that way, though I had no clue why that should be the case. But I still thought that he should stop when I insisted on it. It’s possible that he didn’t understand, but based on the rest of our communications, that seems unlikely.

There have only been two instances when this kind of experience went on for any substantial length of time, and I’ve just described the first. The second time, years later, I lay there on my stomach, utterly blissed out, for so long that I pushed my jaw out of place and needed to see the chiropractor the next day. That is the only harm I have ever suffered, to the best of my knowledge.

Most of the time, in the first few years, the feeling was somewhere between making love and being struck by lightning. There was great intensity, but it was over within a few seconds. (Some of you ladies are no doubt thinking that this sounds like your normal, everyday experience….) It could be tremendously satisfying on every level, or it could leave me high and dry, having just started to get interested. I had no control over any of that.

As I said, the timing was often quite inconvenient, as well. Most often he would come to me when I was settling down to sleep, and that was fine, but he also showed up at random times when I was not at all available. It took me years to realize that I could say no. This is truly strange, because I’m an assertive person, and I don’t take well to being coerced in any way. I suppose I didn’t want to refuse him because these episodes were rare and I didn’t know when there might be another opportunity. And he wasn’t causing me any serious problem, usually quite the contrary. I was a little bugged, though, and I thought that it would be nicer if he could approach me a bit more gradually and slowly and give me some warning. Eventually I got smart enough to simply tell him that. Ever since, he has asked first. There is a sort of little tap on my aura, and I either tell him to go ahead or let him know that I’m in the middle of something and can’t be with him right then.

Months can go by between these escapades, even as much as a year. Then there are stretches of a few days at a time where he approaches me over and over. During March 1998, the month in which he was almost constantly with me, so much as almost to make a pain of himself, I started to get used to the idea of having a second, steady lover. I started to think, why not? He was around so often that I began to rely on him and expect him to please me, which turned out to be a mistake. (I suppose that would also be a mistake with a “real” lover.) I think I gave the poor creature a case of performance anxiety, and I myself started to feel disappointed sometimes instead of elated and full of love. It was not fair or realistic to expect him to fulfill that role for me.

And again, there was the guilt. It has waxed and waned over the years. At the times when he and I have achieved a more nearly physical connection, I have tended to feel worse about it, more like I was truly cheating on my husband. I have often felt more comfortable with receiving only a little tingle or two, just enough that I know he’s there and still interested. I’ve tried to discuss this with him, but I’m not clear about his point of view. More recently I’ve decided that I just don’t care, it’s not worth feeling guilty about this, and I want everything that I can get, or everything he wants to give me.

Although I do worry, my extracurricular activities have had mostly positive effects on my marriage. My body has become more responsive, and my heart infinitely more open. I have become more appreciative of men as a species, and I have come to see my husband, with his solidly molecular but transient, fragile human body, as more and more precious. I take nothing for granted. I understand that we can never be truly lost to each other, but I also see more clearly the vastness in which we travel and can appear to be separated.

Technically, it’s been good for us too. When I observe Fryderyk doing something interesting, I figure I can learn to do it too (well, except for that pianist-composer business). I’ve experimented and tried to understand how he gets the effects that he does, and sometimes I’ve come up with surprising new tricks. When this all started, Bob and I were not new to the idea of relating to each other on a purely energetic basis, but seeing that more was possible, we expanded our perceptions and our skills. Our interactions gained a depth and profundity that we would perhaps not have developed otherwise.

Knowing how I can create a particular effect myself doesn’t mean that I am sure how Fryderyk is doing it, though. When I feel that slight weight against my body, I’m reasonably sure that he is “lying” there with me, but at other times, from his point of view, he might be standing somewhere across the room or not even in the same world with me. I don’t know. Although there have been a few times when I had a vague visual impression of him, and once, just once so far, I saw his face, most of the time I perceive him only as a mass of Qi, an area of warmth, where the air is “thicker.”

Once I asked him how he sees me, that is, does he perceive me as a solid human being, seeing my body more or less as I do, or does he perceive only a mass of energy, more or less as I usually perceive him? He was able to give one of the clearest and cleverest answers I have ever received from him. First he lit up the entire surface of my body—yes, he does see me as a human form. Then he lit up my aura all over, out to a few inches from the surface—yes, he sees me as a glowing energy field too.

There was one time, only once, that he really seemed to pay attention to my body in and of itself, not just my energetic structure. It was late at night. I had just gotten out of the bathtub, and I did something I don’t normally do. I felt too tired even to look for my nightgown, and I flopped down on my back, quite uncovered, on my bed, to rest a little before making that supreme effort. Immediately he was there with me. Most often it happens that when he comes to me in the mood for this sort of thing, it’s bedtime, and I am settled down cozily wrapped in nightgown and blankets, feeling warm and safe. I felt weirdly vulnerable being naked with him—how odd! But perhaps that made things a little easier for him. That one and only time, some pleasant attention was paid to specific spots on my skin.

And once, something incredible happened to my lips. It was like being kissed by an aurora; beautiful lights in blues, purples, and greens, with an electric glow, played about my mouth. The pleasure was exquisite, delicate, and yet so powerful, as is true of so much that he does. This was many years ago, and nothing like it has ever happened again. But kissing has never been the same for me since. My lips seemed to wake up and perceive everything differently, to blossom into intense sensitivity. Another wonderful gift—and one I can share with my husband, too.

I have done my best to find out what Fryderyk gets out of all this, but there is little I can report. During one of the rare moments that I’ve been able to have a verbal exchange with him, I told him that I wanted very much to give him pleasure, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it because, among other things, I couldn’t perceive the structure of his “body.” “It doesn’t matter,” was the reply. “I feel pleasure with my whole being.”

Some of my psychic friends have expressed doubts about whether it is all right for an erotic relationship to go on between the worlds. Early on, they were concerned that Fryderyk was some sort of lower spirit that was taking advantage of me. Like an incubus—whatever that really is. Having gotten to know him well, Mendy Lou has concluded that everything is fine. However, despite her own experiences, the woman I referred to as Catherine still believes that something is terribly wrong, that Fryderyk must be evil or twisted. I think, or at least would like to think, that her discomfort is mainly an expression of our society’s overall attitude toward sexuality. Sex is seen as low and distasteful, whereas spirits are supposed to be more advanced and high-minded, so in that view the two cannot possibly go together. I see lovemaking as one of the highest functions of human beings, so to me there is no such conflict.

Or I am making excuses for my lover and for myself.

This issue comes up in Rosemary Brown’s writings. Liszt expresses the opinion that once the body has fallen away, its physical needs do as well, and that includes sexuality. I can only say that he appears to be incorrect. He must be telling it as it is in his experience, though. Oh, well, Liszt got plenty of lovin’ while he was on the planet, and perhaps it’s just that he himself no longer feels the need for more, not that this is true of everyone. And after all, he did become a priest in the latter part of his life.

Despite my comments about hormones, I myself no longer see sexuality as primarily physical, and haven’t for years. Perhaps as I get older this will be even more the case. And as I get older, if my erotic connection with Fryderyk should persist, I suppose we will look sillier and sillier together—that is, if anyone who can actually see both of us happens to look. He appears to be perennially somewhere in his late twenties, and here I am, already old enough to have a son that age. Despite the fact that we must both be well into our hundreds, or even thousands, this thought gives me a little distress!

And then there is the inescapable thought that perhaps he doesn’t want to be with me at all, he wants to be with Delfina, and I’m no more than the closest available substitute. I’ve tried to remind him that I’m not her, can’t be her, can’t substitute for the one he knew and loved then. This issue comes into the brightest focus when he puts himself in the role of lover. But perhaps the totality of our relationship is far beyond the temporary forms of either Delfina or me—or him—and it’s not even meaningful to worry about this.

 

In the case of my interactions with Fryderyk, I’m completely certain that there is an independent, actual living being visiting me. However, it’s entirely possible that sometimes we are projecting the apparent entities ourselves, even in frankly sexual situations. Here, Patrick tells of an encounter that is not quite like anything else I’ve heard of. He also offers some potential insights into the reasons why such experiences may occur:
“The first experience happened while I was in college for my second degree, about 11 years ago. At the time I was exploring various forms of inner work. I practiced Daoist yoga techniques of sexual energy transmutation, in effect learning how to take the energy that would go into ejaculation and reverse it, direct it up your spine and disperse it through the energy field. I was also exploring techniques for out-of-body experiences, including how to form a double of yourself out of your own essence. At the same time, I was doing Toltec recapitulation and emotional clearing techniques. So I was doing various things to shake up the status quo of my interior language.

“I had resolved as much as possible not to have intimate relationships during school, because it was such an intense program and there just wasn’t time for that. So I was cultivating this sexual energy practice while not having any intimate relationships, and I thought I should have some kind of context, some way to relate to a female presence. And in one of the books on astral projection it said how you could have an astral relationship with someone else who is also astrally projecting.

“This was the most intense experience. I wasn’t trying to bring it about; it just occurred as a result of doing all these things. I was sitting on my bed one night, I think I was meditating or maybe just sitting quietly, and one by one I was visited by four different female presences. It was interesting, first, because there were four of them—I mean, one’s enough! They were from different cultures, which also was an interesting effect, because if I fantasize it’s generally about white women. [Patrick is white.] So that was something of a confirmation that this at least wasn’t being formulated by my conscious mind. One by one they sat in my lap, and we basically had energetic sex, and I felt like I do when I hold my ejaculation and have an energetic orgasm. I didn’t know them from anywhere. They were just beautiful women. I could see them in a ‘mind’s eye’ kind of way.

“I never had another experience quite like that one, that had that quality of spontaneity and that sort of unfamiliarity with what appeared. I didn’t intentionally try to make anything like that happen again; for one thing, it didn’t have anything to do with intention in the first place.

“It was a very positive experience, a very whole-making experience, rather than, ‘Oh no, I’d better watch out.’ I didn’t have to be on my guard or anything. One way among many of thinking of it is that I was doing so much work—I mean when you’re doing all that sexual energy work without a partner it can get real intense. I wasn’t real good at dispersing the energy so that it didn’t become a source of rage or a headache or something like that. It wasn’t till I started doing Cheyenne’s work [Cheyenne Maloney’s work with the Assemblage Point] that I was able to really disperse sexual energy in a way that was seamless for me. So here’s all this intense sexual energy rising with no female energy to interact with. Perhaps that whole experience was magnetized by the fact that that there was all this polarized male sexual energy without a feminine, balancing aspect.

“I would say that my relationship to my sexuality, shame, and guilt has changed enormously in the last five years. It’s the kind of thing where you think that something is behind you and you’ve had some kind of resolution, but you’ve just taken the lid off of something that has an even deeper layer under it. It’s an ongoing process. About five years ago, I finally realized the energetic experience of what guilt and shame is—I could finally feel the vibration of it and not just the emotional ramifications. Once I was able to feel that vibration, I was able to consciously modify my responses to guilt and shame in sexuality. For example, I would sit down with a pornographic movie and watch that energetic start to occur, the shame of watching pornography, and I would catch it and bring it into my heart, so it wasn’t something separate for me anymore. Which is my perception of what guilt and shame does, that it slices the experience in half, so that I’m over here and the experience is over there and we’re not one. So that I can’t have the experience without having the accompanying ‘I’m a bad person’ thing.

“My perception is that the shadow side of our culture’s sexuality is vast. The way our culture makes a pretense of being open-minded and at the same time clamps down with oppressive beliefs and institutions—that perceived open-mindedness is just a sham. I had to start to see how my own relationship to sexuality was a reflection of my culture as well.

“Recently, there was one thing that was recurrent and very powerful. As I started allowing more fluidity between what I previously thought was spiritual work and what I thought was profane or purely for physical gratification, as I started to allow those to overlap in my meditation, I started having this recurring fantasy of having sex with a Catholic nun. I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through high school, and there was one particular nun who was my music teacher. She was the only nun I can ever remember thinking was an attractive woman. So I would sit down to meditate and without consciously trying to, I would find myself in this fantasy. It literally had a life of its own. It would just surface in the meditation. And once more it became a source of channeling sexual energy during the meditation. So my meditations became, and still pretty much are, about cultivating and dispersing sexual energy through the energy field. But the fact that this fantasy kept recurring was kind of like someone knocking on the door and saying, ‘Will you open the fucking door?’ I knew I had to act this out in my life, and I did (not with a real nun!), and I haven’t had this enter my meditation again.

“At the risk of trying to interpret the experience, I’ll say this: I believe that there are aspects of oneself that are repressed, and when allowed to rise into consciousness, some need to be experienced viscerally, others can be experienced in fantasy or just as a mental concept, intellectualized. This one was not going to leave me alone until I experienced it physically, that was clear.

“It had a fantasy type of context, and yet it felt like it had its own agenda. Again, it felt like an aspect of me doing its darndest to make me recognize it. Once this started to surface in the meditation, I would just go with it, because I felt that not doing that would be just another way of keeping separate. What would be the point of that, especially in meditation? It seemed like another way for the self to become whole, and so I just feel that it was a natural surfacing of material that came out of letting go of shame and guilt. I mean, I probably would have tried mightily to suppress it if I had still been in that state of ‘oh my God this is bad.’ I would have used a great deal of energy to keep it out of the meditation.

“I haven’t had an experience yet that I thought was something other than an aspect of me or the ‘greater me.’ So whether these beings had their own objective existence, I don’t know. That is a total mystery to me, because the more I am, I hope, waking up a little bit, the more I see that we are these incredibly vast presences. And what we can hold and create— I mean, even just the tip of the iceberg is vast.”

But shame and guilt certainly do tend to show up in this context. Here is an anecdote from Rob, a married man who is crazy about his wife: “I was—I believe—astroplaning (which I am not good at and maybe have experienced what I think is less than a handful of times)—and met what I would consider a more feminine spirit. Sex WAS the issue.  I then recall saying to the entity, ‘But I am married.’  The session abruptly ended and I awakened very EXCITED and yet quite upset with myself—since I could have had a ‘good time’ without all the baggage of an affair.  Never had that experience again. Told my wife about the experience— she was smiling.  I told her that I am even faithful in an area where I don’t need to be!”

It’s not necessary to give up your physical body, or your partner’s, to experience an ecstatic energetic blending. We are quite capable of this in our present forms. In fact, I think this is one of the most accessible ways to experience ourselves as the unlimited spiritual beings we truly are. Two people who love each other can merge energetically to any degree they wish, either erotically or not, and I highly recommend it! You are sure to deepen your relationship and appreciate each other all the more.

So many changes, including menopause, have gone through since I wrote that, and my perspective is somewhat different.  But the eternal is still the eternal– and that includes us, no matter how much transformation we experience.

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Filed under channeling, past lives, psychology, sexuality, spirit communication, spirituality

Taking the Hill for Human Rights

At their immature levels, religions can be obsessed with the differences that make them better or more right than others. Pope Francis insists that mercy is at the very top of the Christian hierarchy of great truths*, and everything falls apart whenever mercy is displaced by anything else or anything less. —Fr Richard Rohr

 

Pastor John Pavlovitz wrote in a recent post: “Whatever hill is worth dying on for you in this life, take it now.”
https://johnpavlovitz.com/2018/07/03/pick-a-hill-worth-dying-on-america/

I realized right away that I knew which “hill” that was for me. Despite the progress of the past decade, the ability of LGBTQ+ people to work, to buy ordinary products and services, to adopt children, to live in a particular building or neighborhood, even just to live at all has been under heavy attack of late.

A couple of weeks ago I watched Hannah Gadsby’s high-impact one-woman show Nanette, which you absolutely should check out. In her native Tasmania, homosexuality was illegal until 1997!!!! I was 37 then, for freak’s sake! That was a sobering reminder of how fragile our situation is. In my relatively open community, it’s easy to forget how difficult things can be in so many parts of the world.

And of course that includes much of the US. The vice-president, may he soon be enlightened, is trying to establish a “religious liberty” office to make sure that anyone whose religion tells them to discriminate against those who are different in their sexual or gender identity can do so with complete freedom, the Constitution and legal precedent be damned. As Cornel West has said, “The fundamentalist Christians want to be fundamental about everything except Love Thy Neighbor!”

I often find myself imagining something like this:

Incredibly, because Americans insist on continuing to use the death penalty and it seemed to be under threat, last fall the US voted AGAINST a UN “resolution condemning the use of the death penalty as punishment for consensual gay relations.” The resolution passed anyway, but the US had sided with a group of countries known for human-rights abuses and against all of Europe and almost all of the rest of the Americas. We could have abstained. We did not.
https://www.cnn.com/2017/10/05/opinions/un-death-penalty-resolution-usa-lgbt-ghitis-opinion/index.html

This feels more and more like a crisis, one building inexorably, one that can’t be ignored. “If you aren’t finding your voice right now, don’t bother worrying about it again,” Pavlovitz wrote. “You won’t have one much longer.” So I am continuing to make whatever sounds I can.

The event that got me started thinking about writing this post was the death of Jeremy Reynalds, who founded the local help for the homeless organization Joy Junction. Friends commented about something I had forgotten: that Reynalds not only forbade LGBTQ+ folk from staying at his shelter, but even refused to take donations from such people. Wow. I wasn’t good enough for him to help me if I needed it, and even my money wasn’t good enough for him. I had a seriously hard time with this. It bugged me for days. It even contributed to some physical symptoms.

But later, I read that Reynalds had changed, which is a great relief and source of hope.  ‘“I’m much less judgmental than I used to be, and that’s made me a much happier person,” Reynalds said in 2016. “My mantra for the last eight or nine years is ‘Let God do the judging, and I will do the loving.’”
https://www.abqjournal.com/1197802/reynalds-leaves-legacy-of-helping-the-less-fortunate.html

Understanding why certain religious people are so set in their anti-LGBTQ stance runs one directly down the infinitely dark rabbit hole of biblical literalism. In researching background for this post, I came across the word “bibliolatry,” which refers to worshiping the written word above all else including real, living people and even the living traditions of one’s faith– not to mention the living Christ in whom one supposedly believes. To that, another kind of Christian might reply:

I understand that we all cherry-pick whatever agrees with our preconceived notions. However— something that has been said so many times, but it bears repeating since they Just Don’t Seem to Get It— if these people are going to insist that same-sex relationships are sinful because of their interpretation of a few words in Leviticus, why is it that they feel free to eat shellfish and wear polyester/cotton clothing and trim their beards?

I haven’t had any recent opportunities to ask this directly of an evangelical. Typical answers might be that this was written a very long time ago and that society has changed a great deal, and/or that Jesus superseded the Old Testament laws with the greater law of “Love one another.” One article, in explaining why we no longer execute disobedient children, simply stated, “The Old Testament Law is not in force today.”** Well, that was easy, wasn’t it.  Except that they’re saying it is.

In addition to this convenient inconsistency, they seem to have decided that the way God constructed nature and humanity is not OK, because they insist that biology is something quite different from what it really is. It probably won’t help to tell a person who believes the Earth is only 6000 years old to objectively observe the natural world, but even a cursory survey would quickly show that sexuality and gender are not binary, but exist along continua. Now, for religious people to question nature and find it lacking is to question and criticize the workings of the mind of God. Isn’t that blasphemy? How can that be acceptable to them?

Well, that’s why it’s so crucial for them to believe that sexual orientation is a choice. If homosexuality does NOT inherently exist in nature, but rather is invented by depraved or confused human minds, then there is no conflict with their chosen biblical interpretation. Likewise, if there is no such thing as an intersex or transgender child and the kids are only imagining it all, there is no need to revise rigidly prescribed gender roles. There are powerful incentives for them to wish reality away.

Somehow I have felt compelled to follow the rabbit downward and better understand the origins of this way of thinking. I hadn’t realized how recent a phenomenon biblical literalism is. Fundamentalists might like to think of themselves as part of an ancient tradition, part of the bedrock of Christianity, as the name implies, but this is not the case. Certainly it is not how most of us brought up in mainstream forms of Christianity were taught to think about the bible. We were taught in Catholic school that biblical stories such as the Adam and Eve myth were to be understood as allegories, and there is nothing at all modern or “liberal” about such an attitude. Very early authorities such as Philo of Alexandria and Origen*** wrote about just that way of understanding scripture, and their teaching was accepted for most of the past two millennia.

Dr. Kevin Lewis went so far as to describe literalism as heresy: ’The heresy of literalism as such is a modern, post-scientific phenomenon. Its beginnings can be traced in seventeenth-century Protestant orthodoxy, but it bloomed with twentieth-century Fundamentalism, when the modern world fully embraced the dynamic power of natural science. Scientific method crucially altered the Western mind. After Descartes we became principled skeptics, doubting in order to find out the truth. The notion stole into the religious mind that biblical narratives make proposals that only appear to compete with testable scientific findings (to test our faith) while ultimately, if miraculously, conforming to scientific truth.’

‘So rose up in history a reactionary Christian mind, panicked and defensive, straining to assert scientific proof (thereby establishing absolute certainty) for its Scripture and the articles of belief it wished to communicate. Thus did literalism teach the “letter” to drive out the “spirit” of the biblical writings, effectively misusing the text in order to promote a corrupted theological agenda. The effect is a rigid constriction of the inspiring Word.’
http://people.cas.sc.edu/lewiske/heresy.html

I have often said that if someone wishes to take scripture literally, they had better be able to read and write the ancient languages involved, fluently, and understand exactly how the words were used at the time those passages were written. Only then can they expect to have any idea what it is that they are taking literally. Some scholars try to do that.

A rather arcane article, “The Secret History of Leviticus” by Idan Dershowitz, showed up in the New York Times, interestingly enough. Dershowitz analyzed the text in detail to elucidate likely changes over the long period of time that probably elapsed as the book was rewritten into its present form. He points out that there were generally no known prohibitions against sex between men in earlier times, and that the prohibitions appear to have been absent in the earliest version of Leviticus as well, and to have been added later in the book’s history. 
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/21/opinion/sunday/bible-prohibit-gay-sex.html?action=click&module=Trending&pgtype=Article&region=Footer&contentCollection=Trending

An interesting case is a website written by Rick Brentlinger, who identifies himself as a gay Christian and an independent Baptist preacher. (I’m a little sorry to identify him by name, since I am about to harshly criticize him.)  I found it while looking for the meaning of the passages about homosexuality in the original languages. He has a rather different take on Leviticus, and on Paul, asserting that in both cases the prohibition is really against temple prostitution rather than same-sex relations in general. I can’t say whether or not he is accurate in his analysis, but it is an interesting perspective. One statement of his with which I wholeheartedly agree: ”Scripture cannot mean NOW/ What it did not mean THEN.”

Unfortunately, Brentlinger goes on to toe the literalist line, even stating in so many words that Adam was a real man and the first human. He rails against common practices like contemplative prayer and meditation, saying that only reading or hearing scripture is acceptable prayer. (It amazes me— how is one supposed to listen to God with all those words chattering in one’s mind all the time?) Yet he even slams Lectio Divina, in which one reads scripture in a mystical manner, intending to let its meaning manifest in a nonverbal awareness. Even the way other people read the Bible is not good enough for him! It seems to me that he is playing along with the game plan of the very people who oppress him and his. I can empathize a little, though. Otherwise he would have to separate entirely from his faith community and his home culture, I suppose, and that might be too much to contemplate. It seems that he is finding a way to be part of the groupthink and be himself at the same time.

At any rate, there is nothing at all that literalists can quote from Jesus’ preaching on homosexuality or other matters of sexual orientation or gender identity, because nothing is there, neither prohibitions nor permissions. There is that one story that can be interpreted as being tolerant of same-sex relationships, the one about the centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant/companion and shows absolute faith that he can do it. Brentlinger does interpret it that way.

I wonder what the literalists think about the apocryphal books such as the Gospel of Thomas, and how they deal with the idea that some gospels were written through divine inspiration and some weren’t, when it is clear that ordinary humans chose which books to include in the canon. Some of those books were of inferior quality, but others were discarded because they didn’t fit the political power needs of the men who were in charge. And they were all men, of course. In the early days of Christianity, many individuals were preaching and transmitting their own revelations and insights, and some of the most famous were women. The powers that were felt the need to squelch all that, making us all poorer in the process. Some of the early writings have come to light in the past century, of course, and now we have a broader perspective that makes biblical literalism appear all the more ludicrous.

It was decided by some of those august Church Fathers, trying to hold their young organization together, that revelation had stopped at the death of the last apostle, and no one else was going to hear anything worthwhile from God! This connects with the suspicious attitude toward contemplative prayer and meditation— one must simply accept what has already been written, and heaven forbid that one might connect with the divine on one’s own. (Everything there is authoritarian at its core. And that, dear reader, has a lot to do with the love of fundamentalists for our current administration.)

I’ll end by bringing you back to John Pavlovitz, who had to broaden his thinking when he was exposed to people who were different from those he’d been brought up with— and then his brother came out as gay. ‘”It was a gradual deconstruction of my faith,” he says. “You look at one isolated area of the Bible, for example, then realize, Well, if that doesn’t mean what I was taught it meant, what other areas of my spiritual journey was I taking for granted? So you start digging into it, and you find yourself exploring all areas of your belief system.”’

And he claims some of that personal revelation, which doesn’t go over well with the kind of church he moved away from:
‘Some simply know in their gut, he says, that a religion of in-groups and out-groups isn’t what Jesus was preaching.’
https://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/how-raleighs-john-pavlovitz-went-from-fired-megachurch-pastor-to-rising-star-of-the-religious-left/Content?oid=9664688

You know, if you’ve been reading my stuff, where I stand with regard to personal revelation. And so here I am, on my hill, where I intend to stay until it’s no longer necessary.

 

*Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), 36-37.
http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html

**https://www.gotquestions.org/stone-rebellious-children.html

*** https://www.newdawnmagazine.com/articles/rescuing-the-bible-from-literalism

This article also takes up archeological questions about the origin of the people of Israel, the supposed conquest of Canaan, and the exodus from Egypt. These are fascinating matters which also feed into our current political situation, but I’ll take them up at another time.

 

 

 

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Filed under history, human rights, politics, spirituality

New Beatitudes for a Hurting World

Sometimes social media, for all the trouble it causes and all the time it sucks, can bring real inspiration and even be a transmitter of grace. I am grateful to have encountered Nadia Bolz-Weber, an extraordinary Lutheran minister and founding pastor of the House for All Sinners and Saints church, in a video on Facebook. I hope it’s OK with her that I transcribed her stunning distillation of Christianity:

Blessed are the agnostics.
Blessed are they who doubt,
those who aren’t sure,
those who can still be surprised.
Blessed are those who have nothing to offer.
Blessed are they for whom death is not an abstraction.
Blessed are they who have buried their loved ones,
for whom tears could fill an ocean.
Blessed are they who have loved enough
to know what loss feels like.
Blessed are they who don’t have the luxury
of taking things for granted anymore.
Blessed are they who can’t fall apart,
because they have to keep it together for everyone else.
Blessed are those who still aren’t over it yet.
Blessed are those who mourn.
Blessed are those who no one else notices,
the kids who sit alone at middle school lunch tables,
the laundry guys at the hospital, the sex workers,
and the night-shift street sweepers.
Blessed are the forgotten,
blessed are the closeted,
blessed are the unemployed,
the unimpressive,
the underrepresented.
Blessed are the wrongly accused,
the ones who never catch a break,
the ones for whom life is hard,
for Jesus chose to surround himself
with people like them.
Blessed are those without documentation.
Blessed are the ones without lobbyists.
Blessed are those who make terrible business decisions
for the sake of people.
Blessed are the burned-out social workers
and the overworked teachers
and the pro-bono case takers.
Blessed are the kind-hearted NFL players
and the fundraising trophy wives.
And blessed are the kids who step
between the bullies and the weak.
Blessed is everyone who has ever forgiven me
when I didn’t deserve it.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they totally get it.
You are of heaven, and Jesus blesses you.

(Line breaks and punctuation are my best guesses.)

After the tears ran their course and I could see again, I looked at the comments on her presentation. (You know what a bad idea that usually is.) And yes, there were those who had to let everyone know how much more theological knowledge and biblical scholarship they had at their disposal than this trained and ordained minister, who they instantly labeled as a heretic. There was even a heated argument about some translations of the Bible being valid and others being heretical. Way to totally miss the point, folks.

What I found particularly shocking— even though I rather expected it to come up— was the view that God will not forgive everyone, only some who deserve it. I’ve seen it before, but I’ve never gotten used to it. A God who withholds love is a very weird God for a religion whose adherents like to say “God is love.”

Some even said that it’s incorrect to say that we are not supposed to judge others, that indeed we should and it’s biblical to do so. But one doesn’t need to have a great deal of scriptural knowledge to remember “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

It surprises me to realize that the rather stodgy and ordinary Catholic parish I belonged to as a child somehow didn’t infect me with the controlling, judgmental spirit exhibited by so many folks who claim to be Christians. I might have expected Catholicism to be far to the more rigid side of the spectrum of denominations, but it often seems to be relatively open. Not always, but often. At any rate, I don’t think it’s only in recent years that I got the idea that Jesus’ teaching is more like Pastrix (her term) Nadia’s words and less like judgment and shaming and inflexible rules that no one can really follow.

The Jesus that Nadia allies herself with seems like the one I’ve met, the one you heard about here if you were around to read this a year ago: https://elenedom.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/you-know-my-heart/
Maybe that’s the Jesus you know too. The one who championed the poor and marginalized while criticizing the rich and self-satisfied. How can inclusion and forgiveness be heretical for Christians?

I wrote in that post: “Perhaps the people I am complaining about have tapped into a pervasive field of fear and judgment, just as I connected with a field of love and acceptance. I would suppose that it is absolutely real to them. I know where I would rather live, and I know which is more likely to generate a world that is better for all of us.”

And now I have to go and work on tolerance myself:

Blessed are those who sincerely read their holy books
even when they ignore the parts they don’t like,
for they are trying to make sense of a crazy world.
Blessed are all of us with our preconceived notions.
Blessed are those who hurt so much inside,
believing themselves to be flawed,
that they must constantly point out the flaws of others.
Blessed are the judgmental,
who find themselves to be unworthy.
Blessed are the spiritually immature,
who rely on being told what to think,
for they will grow up eventually.
Blessed are they who see evil everywhere,
because in their way they are trying to be good.

And blessed are all those who love anyway,
no matter what, without question, without ceasing.

 

The Sarcastic Lutheran blog: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nadiabolzweber/
http://www.nadiabolzweber.com/
She writes books, too. I just preordered her next one, Shameless: A Sexual Reformation.

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Filed under health and healing, human rights, spirituality

“Captain, I’m afraid I don’t know where we are.”

If your threat ganglia pop out, there’s usually a good reason.

That line keeps repeating in my head.

As all good science-fiction should do, Star Trek: Discovery used fantastical but relatable metaphors to comment on our situation here and now.  The conceit of the Mirror Universe, the place Saru didn’t recognize when he made the statement above, was as good as any to explore the deep and pervasive sense of disorientation so many of us continue to feel.  (For those who missed it, the Mirror Universe– the one where, you might remember, Spock had a beard– was populated by the same beings as our own but was a twisted place where humans ran a cruel, xenophobic, racist empire based on war.)

Much of the first season of Discovery was deeply dark and very 2017-18.  It appeared that even Starfleet captains had renounced virtue in favor of expediency.  Of course it turned out that the brilliant but ruthless Captain Lorca was really a denizen of the evil universe’s Terran Empire, and had never been meant to represent Federation values at all.  But then, in desperation to survive against the Klingon onslaught, which was threatening the existence of Earth itself, Starfleet came to the brink of committing genocide, leading to this exchange:

Admiral Cornwell: “We do not have the luxury of principles!”
Michael Burnham: “That is all we have, Admiral!”*

In the face of destruction of our entire planet– a situation we DO face in real life– and against threats not only to any chance of democracy but to truth itself, is this valid?  Do we have any room to maneuver at all?  Can we survive without compromising our values?

The wide-eyed optimism of Star Trek, which has never died, says that there is always a better way.  To choose compassion over fear.  To choose the Federation values of peace, fairness, inclusiveness, and respect for those who are different. When trapped between unacceptable alternatives, to find a third path.

In Gene Roddenberry’s cosmology, things got a whole lot worse before they got better.  I remember some adults talking that way when I was a kid, around the time of Classic Trek, explicitly expecting that there would be an era of horrendous upheavals and destruction to live through, somewhere about now.  I don’t know what made them think that way, but they seem to have been correct.  One can hope that the calm really will come through after the storm, and that somehow it will all make sense.  Personally, my threat ganglia are still out and waving.

**************************************************************

About a week ago I wrote this, in response to people asking me for my thoughts about the current primary season.  Non-New Mexicans probably won’t care:

I’ve been wanting to write something about my choice of candidates for the gubernatorial and congressional primaries, in part to explain my thinking to myself. I am helping two campaigns, to the small extent that I have energy to do so. People I’ve spoken with are expressing a lot of confusion, because we have the blessing or curse of multiple decent human beings running. So let’s think a few aspects of the races through. I’m interested in the thoughts of others who may have come to a different set of conclusions.

I was a little bit concerned that I might be basing my choices on emotional reactions to my favorite candidates, so I have spent time thinking through the matter as dispassionately as possible.  [My Vulcan ancestry at work again.]  Yet, I have to say that my two candidates are nice, pleasant people to be around, and that is a big part of my support for them. At the same time, they’re tough and they don’t knuckle under. I think they’ve got the right combination of the two.

There’s no confusion with the governor’s race for me. I’ve been a fan of Michelle Lujan Grisham for years, and every time I have the opportunity to speak with her in person, I like her all the better. The last time I saw her was at the annual meeting of the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign on April 28. I had the good fortune to be getting out of my car at the same time she was getting out of hers, and we had a bit of a walk to get into the building, around two sides of a block, so I had her to myself for a few minutes. We discussed health insurers and some maddening issues for health care providers like me. Michelle has the health care wonk thing going on, having run the state health department, and that’s important for me. I know from previous discussions that she would try to get the superintendent of insurance to work more for the people and less for the insurers, and that she has some specific ideas about that.

The fact that she showed up for our meeting at all was big, of course. But this was bigger: When I asked her how an ordinary person could go about contacting her on a specific issue like the one we were talking about, she replied, “I work for you. Call me.” OK, that might not really happen very easily in practice. But the sentiment seemed real. I do believe that Michelle acts out of a spirit of service and that she does not put herself above her constituents.

One of the first things our representative did when she got to Congress was to try living on a food budget equal to that of a food stamp recipient, to see how real people can manage it. She reported on how difficult it was. This was when I first took real notice of her, and I immediately developed respect for her. In the past she’s done hands-on investigations like going undercover at a nursing home to expose abuse. She doesn’t take the easiest paths and sometimes she upsets those who are in charge. She is exceedingly tenacious, maybe to the point where she annoys some people; that’s a big reason why we finally got the cleanup of the Kirtland jet fuel spill going after so much dithering around. She knows how to build a coalition; that’s how a bipartisan group of female lawmakers broke the logjam on VAWA.

Jeff Apodaca did not show up at the Health Security meeting himself, but he did send two representatives, his wife and former candidate Peter DiBenedittis, who now works for him. Apodaca stated forcefully in the debate televised today that he would put a single-payer system in place in the state. That’s quite commendable, but he seemed to think he could do that all by himself, making me wonder if he really has much of an idea how state government works.

Apodaca has expressed a number of ideas that strike me as interesting, fresh, and utterly unrealistic. Yes, it would be totally great if we could pipe water from areas that often have flooding to those that have drought. (He suggested that if water were piped to Texas, the Texans wouldn’t need to take water from NM!) Maybe someday that could even be done. Is it a real-world, near-term solution for our desiccated state? Um, no. My impression is that he may not even realize that what he’s saying comes off more like science fiction than policy. Perhaps I’m being a stick in the mud (the long-dried mud, that is), and I should be more welcoming toward way-out-of-the-box possibilities, but I’d rather we would start with something we could actually get done, and soon.

There is something that disturbs me more about Apodaca, though, and that’s what I perceive as negativity and anger. His speech at the Progressive Summit in January struck me as one of the nastiest and most venomous presentations I’d ever heard from a candidate. I can’t remember the specifics of what he talked about, but he belittled others rather than lifting everyone up. He lost any chance at my vote there and then. That unpleasantness was on display in today’s debate, as well.

Joe Cervantes is more of a conundrum for the progressive Democrat trying to choose a governor. His TV ads include endorsements from people I really respect, Jerry Ortiz y Pino and my own beloved state senator, Mimi Stewart. He comported himself quite well in the debate this evening, and the fact that he represents Sunland Park, right on the southern border, makes his perspective especially useful in the present climate. I still have to go with Michelle, though, because of my personal experience with her and more importantly her broad experience in both state and federal government.

What we can’t lose perspective on: The candidate we pick will go up against Steve Pearce in the fall. If you’re bothering to read this, you probably realize how dangerous Pearce would be as governor— a man who, among all his other alarming qualities, believes that his wife should obey him because that’s biblical!

In 2014, we ended up with an incredibly weak Democratic candidate, Gary King, and Susana Martinez wiped the floor with him. Those who had any idea what was going on repudiated King at the party convention, but he was able to gather enough extra signatures to get on the ballot anyway. Name-recognition and fondness for his dad put him on top in the primary, but there wasn’t enough enthusiasm to take him through the general election. We can’t let this happen again. King is universally hailed as a nice guy, but niceness isn’t necessarily a great thing when it’s wishy-washy.

I can’t help remembering how it was in 2010, when then-lieutenant governor Diane Denish wrote out pages and pages of specific and actionable policy ideas while running for governor. She had plans up the wazoo. Her opponent, Susana, said practically nothing and appeared to have little idea what she was getting herself into. But she represented law and order, and Denish was tainted by the corruption into which Bill Richardson had sunk the governor’s office. We all know how that worked out.

Now we have to pull ourselves out of a different sort of morass. I agree with Mayor Tim Keller, who made the point many times during his own campaign that we have to do our own lifting and can’t rely on help to swoop in from somewhere else. But there are better and worse mechanisms we can use to get it done, and more and less knowledgeable and energetic people to lead as we do it.

****************************************************************

Rep. Lujan Grisham, when asked why she was giving up her seat in Congress to run for governor, said that with Washington so dysfunctional, the state and local levels are where things can get done. (Mayor Keller said something similar when he left his job as state auditor.) Yet, we still have to have someone warming those seats at the Capitol and at least attempting to do something positive. My choice for NM CD1 is Deb Haaland.

I’m not being a great help to any campaign, but I did get out and knock on doors in the past couple of days to get out the vote for Deb, my first experience of canvassing. Most people weren’t home, or at least didn’t answer— no surprise there. I had the privilege of walking a really lovely neighborhood, and even got to see one of the “spaceship” houses close up and talk with its very friendly owner. (If you’re a local, you know the two houses I mean.) The most heartening interaction today was with a guy who told me, “Oh, I’m a Republican. My wife’s the Democrat. But we still live with each other.”

Of course I had to explain why I was bothering to walk around with a Deb yard sign and why I had picked her out of the crowded primary field. Everyone knows by now that she’d be the first Native American woman elected to Congress. That is a major matter, since Indians have practically no representation in DC at all, and women are still quite underrepresented. Especially in this time of environmental peril, I do think it’s well worthwhile, even crucial, to include a Native point of view, and we need far more than this one individual to express it. But people want to know what else there is about Deb.

I could go on about renewable energy being a critical necessity for the state’s economy and the world, and her championing of it, or her support for universal health coverage. I could add that she’s had a broad range of experiences, rather than, for example, being a lawyer for her entire adult life. She’s known for working hard for progressive causes and candidates over the years, for always showing up. She showed up at Standing Rock with the water protectors, too. Growing up in a military family, although she did not go into an armed service herself, will give her perspective when the present administration pushes for war. 

But what originally attracted me to Deb was something very simple, a small gesture that made a lasting impression. I was at a gathering hosted by Equality New Mexico a couple of years ago, where I met her and also Santa Fe’s new mayor, Alan Webber. The room was crowded, and I was trying unsuccessfully to slip between bodies and furniture to get a glass of water. Deb saw this, filled a glass and brought it to me. She was the chair of the state Democratic party at the time, but she so didn’t make a big deal of herself. She was real and down to earth. She saw a need and literally filled it. That graciousness and warmth has characterized every interaction I’ve had with her.

In addition, Deb is my age and has been a small-business owner, so I see her as a woman like me. As a single mother of one daughter, she is like my own mother. Her daughter is an LGBTQ person (a different one of the letters from me) and I know Deb will always do whatever she can to protect us from discrimination and worse.

Having said all that, I’d be happy if we could hire all the primary candidates as a team (with one possible exception), because they all have considerable strengths.

It’s a little bit painful not to be able to support my city councilor, Pat Davis, in this primary. I have great respect for Pat and his work with Progress Now, and as with Deb and Michelle, he is always a delight to meet in person. He can articulate his position on issues with great clarity, and I’d say he won the debate that was televised a few days ago, though other viewers might disagree. However, whichever Democrat we elect in the primary has got to be able to win the general election in November, and I’m afraid Pat is too polarizing a figure to manage that. The unopposed Republican, Janice Arnold-Jones, is non-loony and also very articulate, and it’s possible that she could come off looking like the voice of reason, a comfortable and non-threatening choice.

It’s a burning question for all the Democratic candidates this year, at least the leftier ones— should we push as hard as we can for our progressive values, or try to be palatable to a broader swath of the electorate? I honestly don’t know. It’s looking, from elections that have already taken place, like strong progressives are doing quite well. Pat Davis decided to go for it with his “Fuck the NRA” ad, which was, shall we say, a bit surprising to the viewing audience. A former cop who has been shot himself, he concluded that being nice and polite was getting us nowhere, and I can’t fault him for trying to push the gun conversation in a more useful direction. He did get national attention. However, it’s possible that he committed suicide as a candidate, and that the audacious ad caused some people to stop listening to his usual far more measured and reasonable arguments. We’ll see more as this continues to play out.

I was very unhappy with Davis when he voted for the ART project, although he said he had come around to it reluctantly, and he did fight to get a stop put in my neighborhood, which was going to be left out. Worse, every day when I drive to my office, I curse his decision to make Zuni one lane. He pushed for the re-striping of the road in order to stop pedestrians from getting killed, and no one could argue with that as a reason, but with traffic getting backed up for blocks, cars using the bike lane for turns, and still no clear places for pedestrians to cross, I question whether Zuni really is safer for anyone. Early on, one of my patients was involved in a car accident, when another driver hit her while failing to merge where the road goes from two lanes to one at San Mateo, a poorly-designed area if you ask me. And this redesign was done while the ART construction was at its height and Central was virtually unusable. Zuni was never meant to be a major artery to begin with, as my former councilor Rey Garduno once told me— yet the ART proponents blithely assumed it could take on the extra traffic Central, while reduced to one lane. Yeah, right. Pat Davis stands by his decision, since it was meant to save lives, but it seems to me that the Zuni situation is an example of not quite thinking things through. (End of Zuni rant.)

Damon Martinez’s enthusiasm about the ATF sting that was supposed to get the “worst of the worst” of local criminals and instead netted low-level guys, most of them black, entrapping and victimizing at least one harmless person and costing millions in the process, was enough to lose any chance at my vote.

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez is probably a fine choice for this office, and she is supported by a lot of people I respect. My husband and I think that Deb’s range of experiences will be more useful.

I don’t know much about Damian Lara. As an immigration lawyer, no doubt he does excellent work. He too may seem relatively extreme to the general electorate— though again, maybe that could be a good thing.

Paul Moya speaks well and seems to have good ideas, but he’s very young and could use more experience for this national-level job.
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I had a terrible time deciding about the lieutenant governor and land commissioner candidates. Both Rick Miera and Howie Morales would likely make fantastic lieutenant governors. I voted for Miera on the basis of his support for us Doctors of Oriental Medicine and our patients, as well as for the Health Security Act.  All the land commissioner hopefuls have useful experience and excellent ideas, though Garrett VeneKlasen gives the most detail about his plans.

So we have a wealth of strong, qualified, apparently sincere and decent candidates, but it’s a little hard to feel confident about the future of US government in general this year. I can only hope that we’re accomplishing something more than rearranging the Titanic’s furniture.

In any case, GO VOTE!

 

* The fates of the Klingons and the Federation are decided largely by a quartet of seriously badass women.  We have strong women on both sides in NM as well.  May the Burnhams among us prevail!

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