Category Archives: psychology

The Blue Lady and Marian Apparitions

Photo of the sky over Conyers, GA in 1990, attributed to someone named Ferdinando. My Blue Lady looked a lot like this.

Last time, I told you about my vision of an entity I thought of as the Blue Lady. While looking for images that might convey something of what I saw, I came across this:

http://www.zeitun-eg.org/zeitoun1.htm

“For more than a year, starting on the eve of Tuesday, April 2, 1968, the Blessed Holy Virgin Saint Mary, Mother of God, appeared in different forms over the domes of the Coptic Orthodox Church named after Her at Zeitoun, Cairo, Egypt.”

That is, for more than a year, something or someone appeared over St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church. The something was a glowing form resembling a woman in long robes, with rays of light around her head. This apparition was often accompanied by others, including forms like white doves that came and went suddenly and flew without visibly flapping their wings. Sometimes the strange sights went on for over two hours. A great many people saw them, and quite a few striking photos and even movies exist. No matter how skeptical we may be or how uncomfortable religious imagery may be for a lot of us, this evidence is there to confront us.

Please take a moment to boggle at the pictures at the link above.  Here is an example.


And here are some more: http://jesusphotos.altervista.org/Apparition_at_Zeitoun.htm

Even for those of us who are accustomed to Seeing Things and knowing that others see even more, this is a freaky event to contemplate, especially since it involved so many observers at once. Blessed Mother sightings are not uncommon, though, and have been well documented over many decades.

I am curious as to whether the Blue Lady I saw had anything to do with this phenomenon. I’m also wondering whether the apparitions are related to the being described by Clark Strand in his book Waking Up to the Dark: Ancient Wisdom for a Sleepless Age, which I reported on here: https://elenedom.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/review-waking-up-to-the-dark/

Recounting Strand’s experiences, I wrote: “As he progressed with his exploration of the depths of night, at some point the darkness itself, the Yin principle one might say, began to visit him in the form of a beautiful young woman, three-dimensional, visible, audible, and solid to the touch. When he first saw her, her lips were sealed by a creepily evocative X of black electrical tape, which she wordlessly pleaded with him to remove. Sometimes her appearance would change. He recognized her as Mary, Isis, Sophia, Diana, the Shekinah, the Queen of Heaven, and especially the Black Madonna. In all cases, She is the personification of Earth and Nature, the Mother we all come from and who we ignore at our peril, the feminine essence that so many human societies have suppressed with desperate force.”

I would like to know whether people in completely different cultures, not exposed to the Mary mythos, have similar visions. Certainly Mary has become conflated and entwined with the goddesses of other cultures, as we see in Our Lady of Guadalupe:

“Following the Conquest in 1519–21, the Spanish destroyed a temple of the mother goddess Tonantzin at Tepeyac outside Mexico City, and built a chapel dedicated to the Virgin on the same site. Tonantzin (the beloved mother of the gods) was celebrated around each winter solstice which occurred on different dates, the winter solstice of 1531 occurred on December 12, 1531 according to the UNAM. Even many of the newly converted to Catholicism natives then continued to come from afar to worship there, often addressing the renamed native image, as if she were the Virgin Mary, which they had known as their Tonantzin.” [December 12, 1531 was the climactic day of the visions seen by the peasant Juan Diego.]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Guadalupe

It would be no surprise if various peoples saw the image of the Mother in a guise familiar to them. As one of the Zeitoun website pages put it, “She sometimes made Her apparition with the Babe Jesus Christ in Her arms. It is not strange to see the Child Jesus Christ in an apparition; heavenly apparitions may take forms known to us, so that we can understand them.” The image of a powerful, all-loving, nurturing Mother is as fundamental to the human psyche as anything can possibly be, and She is real in at least a psychological and emotional sense. Perhaps seeing Her in so many times and places is to be expected.

That’s about as much as I can say about the visions themselves at this point. Your thoughts are welcome. I would especially like to know if you have experienced anything along these lines yourself.

I do want to add something about Her names. Often these apparitions are referred to by the acronym “BVM”— Blessed Virgin Mary. I have always been bugged by the Blessed Virgin concept. Virgin and Mother are incompatible archetypes! The story of the mother of Jesus being a virgin was added well after his death, and is based in Greek and Roman, not Jewish, mythology. The reason it bugs me so much is not only because it’s just plain not historically true, but because it seems to me to insult and repudiate women, and all of nature along with us. It is a perfect expression of a patriarchal culture that could not deal well with sexuality or human bodies. It’s as if God built the world a certain way, then decided that he had messed it up when He invented mammals and their means of reproduction.

Adyashanti’s interpretation made me feel a little better about this. He said the story means that the divine principle came directly into the world without requiring the duality of male and female, remaining one purely divine reality. Whatever. I prefer to contemplate the ancient image of the Mother without painting the unnecessary Virgin layer over her.

It would be wonderful to believe that Someone is watching over us with loving attention, and like any mom, will comfort us when we inevitably fall and get bruised. But perhaps, like any mom, she will set limits on our nonsense, and apply consequences. If only she could make us stop fighting with our brothers and sisters….


Still more photos of apparitions or purported apparitions:

Apparitions at another place in Egypt in 2009, still photos and video
http://jesusphotos.altervista.org/Apparition_at_Warraq.htm

“Photographs of the Virgin Mary in the clouds”
http://jesusphotos.altervista.org/Virgin%20Mary%20in%20the%20clouds.htm

 

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Filed under history, mythology and metaphor, psychology, spirit communication, spirituality, the unexplained

Be Still: Riding the Waves of the Sea of Fear

Back in September, our house was burglarized. That was the beginning of the feeling of being under siege. Within a few weeks I developed the high-pitched tinnitus I’ve told you about, which is like having an alarm going off 24/7. On Election Day, I took a bad fall on concrete, which caused injuries I’m still dealing with and for a while made me nervous even of walking.

In early January, I saw a new primary care physician for the first time, and it was pretty much the worst experience I’ve had with a medical appointment in my entire life, truly traumatizing. It had nothing to do with “care,” and little to do with “physician,” as the woman was strangely refusing to practice medicine. But it was clear, both from what she said and from her body language, that she had been badly mistreated herself. I had never seen a doctor in such a stressed, terrified state. She was literally trembling, and I don’t mean in the sense of having a neurological condition.

I felt very concerned for this woman*, but outraged that she would think it was remotely OK to treat a patient, or any human being, the way she treated me. More critically, I was being put in danger by her refusal to take my health issue seriously. I sank into a state of complete terror myself.

Just a few days later, our house was broken into and robbed again, this time with a lot of damage. They didn’t get much of any monetary value, but they took the few shreds of a sense of safety we had left.

As soon as I could pull out from the shock and anxiety, I took a look at the big picture as best I could. Perhaps my being mired in fear had helped to attract the burglar? I scanned around my body and the perimeter of the house and found a lot of energetic holes. Big ones. I patched everything up and worked at shifting my attitude and expectations.

If the abusive doctor had been put in my path for a reason, I thought, it was so that I could perceive, yet again, that fear is the fundamental problem.

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

One of the things I’ve been doing to keep myself on an even keel is to listen to recordings of Adyashanti, the American Buddhist teacher, which I find both soothing and inspiring. I’m in the midst of an audio course called Resurrecting Jesus: Embodying the Spirit of a Revolutionary Mystic. The course invites a deeper engagement with the story of Jesus’ life by digging into the metaphorical and mythological aspects of the Gospels, treating the story as story with all its psychological connections, not worrying about whether a given event happened in the physical world exactly as described. This is a bit of a departure for me, since I have spent a lot of time studying the history of early Christianity and trying to understand what did literally happen and what was invented later. I’ve been more involved with the facts, to the extent that they can be known. But I am completely fine with the concept that a story can be true without being something that actually happened.

At times Adyashanti seems a little off the mark to me in this course, but for the most part his interpretations make tremendous sense. He even came up with a way of thinking about the myth of the virgin birth that makes it no longer offensive to me. (More on that in the next post, in case you’re curious.) He emphasizes over and over that Jesus was pointing toward the Divine Nature within all of us. I wish we had all been taught this way to begin with. I don’t think we would fight ourselves or each other as much as we do.

The story that’s most relevant to my theme today is the one where Jesus and his friends are out on the Sea of Galilee in a boat when a terrible storm comes up, one that terrifies even the experienced fishermen among them. The disciples panic, sure they are all going to die, but Jesus is peacefully sleeping in the back of the boat. He knows the storm is nothing to be concerned about. They wake him up, shouting, “Master, we’re going to drown!” Jesus simply says to the storm, “Quiet! Be still!” and everything immediately becomes calm. “Where is your faith?” he asks the men.

Adyashanti riffs on the metaphorical meaning of water, which among other things can symbolize the unconscious. The storm-tossed sea is the myriad unsettled and unsettling things roiling around in the darkness inside all of us. Adyashanti takes this even further, with an idea I wouldn’t have thought of: previously, Jesus had cast the demons who called themselves Legion out of a man and into a herd of pigs, which then threw themselves off a cliff and drowned in a lake. Wait, was that really supposed to be the same body of water which later was the scene of the storm? For now, for the sake of a good parable, let’s just go along with Adyashanti’s device.

The demons are now in the water, lots of them, all loose and ready to make trouble. Think of any demons you can identify in your present moment. Threats to the climate. Yemen, Syria, Venezuela. The Brexit fiasco. MAGA hats. Intolerance. Xenophobia. Burglaries. Murders. Interior demons like self-hatred. [Your issue here.] There are infinite numbers of “demons” that might fill that stormy sea.

But Jesus, as an advanced spiritual master, is not bothered by any of them, because he knows what is truly real and what is delusion. When he says, “Be still,” he speaks with absolute authority, and they instantly obey. The disciples, still in thrall to what appears to be reality, cannot understand this. Can we? Can we bring ourselves to be still?

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The look on your face when your boggle threshold is exceeded.

Meanwhile, Star Trek: Discovery continues its aspirations to create modern mythology. As you may remember, Discovery’s first officer, Saru the Kelpien, is a creature who, being a prey animal, is ruled by fear. Or at least, he was until…

*SPOILER ALERT!!!* If you haven’t yet seen the fourth episode of season 2, and you plan to, stop right here and come back later.

… he has a near-death experience that transforms all of that.

Kelpiens are fast, capable of running around 80 kph. They’re super-smart, or at least Saru is— he has learned 94 languages, and in his youth he was able to figure out technological devices without any training. The main reason the Kelpiens have allowed themselves to be kept as livestock is that they believe that the “Great Balance” demands it. They don’t resist. They don’t even consider the possibility of resistance.

At some point in a Kelpien’s life, he or she undergoes a process called the vahar’ai, which is supposed to signal impending death. At this time, the Kelpien is expected to submit to being taken and slaughtered for food by the Ba’ul. The vahar’ai is extremely painful, so the affected Kelpien presumably looks forward to the end. All this is accepted calmly as the just the way things are; one should not think of trying to change it or having any other kind of life. The village priests reinforce this belief system.

In the recent episode “An Obol for Charon,” the vahar’ai is triggered in Saru by the death throes of a mysterious planet-like entity. Seeing no alternative to death, and in great pain, Saru begs Michael Burnham to cut off his threat ganglia (the sensory organs that warn Kelpiens of danger), which will kill him quickly and end his suffering. Weeping, Michael raises the knife to fulfill his request, but before she can begin to cut, the threat ganglia fall off of their own accord.

And Saru is not only still alive, he is suddenly free of fear, transformed in a way no Kelpien ever realized was possible. He has died to one version of reality and been born to another. He says that he feels his own power.

Which, in reality, he has always had.

How’s that for a metaphor?

Earlier in the day that this episode premiered, I had been contending again with the intersections of love and fear, hope and despair. As had happened when I was introduced to the mycelial network concept, I was given a perfect parable to fit the moment.

(It turns out, two episodes later, that things with the Kelpiens are even more complex, and their power more far-reaching, but I’ll let you watch and find out about that.)

Discovery has brought up yet another image that resonates for me, the “Red Angel.” We don’t know yet what this being really is, or whether it is good, evil, or something less definable. We know that a threat to all life in the galaxy is on the way, and the Red Angel may be connected to it, but so far we have only seen the mysterious entity acting to save people, a lot of them, including Michael Burnham. (*Extra spoiler*: As of the sixth episode of the season, we have evidence that the Angel is a humanoid using advanced technology, not a spiritual being.)

The neon-like pictures of the Red Angel reminded me of something or someone I saw years ago, when my mother-in-law was in the hospital after her stroke. While I was doing energy work for her, a vision of a glowing blue being, like a neon outline of a woman in flowing robes, appeared before my eyes. It was unusual in its vividness, and because it seemed as if I saw it floating in the room, rather than only in my mind’s eye. The vision went on for a few seconds. The Blue Lady, as I called her, didn’t do anything in particular, but she had a comforting effect.

I’ve wondered if I might have seen the entity or phenomenon that is responsible for the many “BVM” (Blessed Virgin Mary) sightings that have been recorded around the world. Whether or not that is so, I am completely agnostic about the nature or meaning of the Blue Lady. At the time I felt that she was there to help. I would like to think that she is still out there, still available, whatever and whoever she is.

The Red Angel may or may not be meant to convey a similar sense of security, comfort and hope. Fans are speculating intensively. We should get some clarification in a matter of weeks. Meanwhile, I will hold to the hope— I should say faith, but I have so much trouble with that word— that Someone has our backs as we navigate the murky waters of this dark and confusing time.

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

Not long ago we had an alarm system installed in our home. We’re still getting used to it. I understand that, although it is called a “security system,” it cannot really create security or safety. It can’t stop anyone from entering our home; it can only make them extremely uncomfortable and discourage them from staying. True security can’t be found that way. It has to be gained from understanding what is real and what is not.

I’m working on it.

 

 

*Something is even more horribly wrong with our broken system than I had realized. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do to help support our MDs so that they can better support patients, and I have a few ideas, but haven’t found the path to put them into practice yet. Your thoughts on this matter are welcome.

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Filed under mythology and metaphor, psychology, spirituality

EVP and the FDP

I’ve written before about the challenges of discernment when working with the worlds of discarnate beings.  (See “When Is an Entity Not an Entity?” among other posts.)  The following is a somewhat condensed version of a December email conversation with Vicki Talbott, who you met in my recent post on Electronic Voice Phenomena and other technologically-mediated methods of communication.  It begins with more on the potential confusions of dealing with Famous Dead People and those who only pretend to be such.  Vicki’s comments are used with permission and appear in bold.  I have added comments that were not part of the original exchange, in brackets.

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

Vicki: Well and truthfully, as mediums we do not normally go around having convos with FDP right and left. Our spirit guides, guardian angels, whatever we have and however we refer to them, are not normally famous. A medium can go a lifetime without coming into contact with many world famous FDP. As above, so below. So it seems strange to me that some organizations and ITC practitioners are promoting this end of EVP communication, the FDP connection. As if that validates their work in a way that your average Joe coming through doesn’t.  [Gary Schwartz’s group working on the “Soul Phone” has apparently been attempting to contact only the Famous Dead.  I find this mystifying.]

The question is why would we believe what we hear from spirit more than we believe what we sense or intuit? Because it’s physical confirmation of communication, which is quite powerful, but still it is NOT confirmation of a famous person coming through. Yes, we know it happens, but no, it is not common. As well, many if not most enlightened FDP do not like to give their names, saying that self-identification injects ego into the mix, not a good idea. So nowadays you see all these folks giddily saying they’re communicating with the likes of Einstein and Tesla. They might very well be. Then again, given the nature of most high-level discarnate FDP who shy away from earthly distinction and name dropping, they might very well not be. It’s just a caution is all, to be very careful about whom you think you are speaking to and whom you tell about it….

I’ve watched critiques of a few of the wayward who 1. use their mental instead of physical mediumship skills to ‘tune in’ to the deceased, and thus 2. allow for tricksters to, accidentally or no, make us think we’re hearing the voices of people we aren’t. In these cases it’s sometimes NOT an FDP. What is unfortunate is that some very good people are hurt this way, often without realizing it, as everyone, including the best of mediums, has lessons to learn. 

Braden* has concerns about some mediums thinking they are talking to anyone at all, when actually they are at times resourcing their own higher self and/or the mind of the client, as well as entertaining imposters. 

Elene: Indeed, this can be very complicated.  I’m much more a clairvoyant and empath than a medium (and not very ept as a telepath), but as you know, I do have some mediumistic ability, so I see both sides of this. I do a lot of work with my patients that involves reading what’s stored in their bodies and minds, but also often reading their family members or other close associates.  I don’t advertise about this, but it’s often crucial to healing, and sometimes patients ask me specifically for that kind of work and trust me to be able to do something meaningful.  One thing that helps keep me out of trouble is that even then, I’m not really under pressure to come up with anything– nothing to prove.  If I can’t get any useful impressions, we can still do other energy work or just do acupuncture.  But usually I do get something.

I find that there is typically a representation of the patient’s mom, husband, or whoever in a region of the field around their body, and I can interact with that.  On occasion it has appeared that I actually ended up in contact with that person in real time, but usually it’s more like a recording or template of the person.  It’s not critical to know which is which for doing this kind of healing, as the patient and I can clear whatever needs clearing one way or the other, but I think generally I can tell if I’m in direct contact with a third entity.

(This kind of experience can be quite wearing on me, but is also among the most worthwhile types of work I ever do.)

V: This concern is not a huge one for Braden as he thinks the deluded and the shysters will be discovered and fall by the wayside, but it’s interesting to note, and it’s been helpful to me in determining whether I’m talking to an FDP or my own higher self for example….

The Technician, one of The Seven (high level beings associated with ITC), has stated that with mental mediumship, 1/5 of what is heard is directly from spirit, while up to 4/5 is filtered through the consciousnesses involved, hence some well-meaning yet mistaken psychic mediums out there spouting their own and their clients feelings on matters, peppered with info read from the deceased to bolster the information. Here’s a scenario. The medium says the client has a black dog, a red car, and a bad relationship with a relative, all correct, and anything that comes after that, like a serenade from Frank Sinatra, is taken as gospel truth. 

[Vicki had suggested that I give her questions for our mutual friend Chopin, and I had requested that she ask about Rose Creet, the sitter in the Leslie Flint group with whom he claimed a centuries-long close relationship.  As I told Vicki, I was desperately curious about Rose, but had never been able to get a word out of Fryderyk about her, so I wasn’t expecting much.  Vicki did get an extremely intriguing recording, though, which contains an exotic, difficult-to-understand voice, and then someone who sounds much like Rose as she did in life.  As with some of the other clips, her words are distinct but I don’t understand the meaning of the message.  See if you can do any better than I:

https://app.box.com/s/iikj6re96kfgefouv3zvdrnkcp29ngec ]

E: The very metallic, inhuman-sounding voice that you heard as saying, “Rose, stand up”— would that have been one of The Seven?  Or just a very distorted deceased-person voice?  Can you tell me anything about The Seven?

V: It could have been but I don’t really know. That voice, that entity, has come through on Big Circle recordings for all of us for years. But we work with a high level group of entities who work with even higher entities and on it goes, who don’t think hanging one’s FDP shingle is a good idea….

In a nutshell, some mediums try to read the deceased rather than link with the deceased and thus much of what they say is muddied with earthly human consciousness. When one tries to read rather than link, inaccuracies accumulate, especially regarding feelings and emotions. ITC, on the other hand, by virtue of its method and means, ‘forces’ the physical medium into a direct link, with the deceased being the primary communicator (4/5) and not the other way around. 

E: I’ve had a great deal of practice at distinguishing my own thoughts and feelings, including [apparent] past-life thoughts and feelings of “another me,” from the input coming from discarnates or from my patients and their own associated beings, but there is always plenty of room for error.

Once I asked Fryderyk whether, in direct voice communication, the mind of the medium is involved, since the voices don’t seem to be coming directly from the medium.  (I was particularly concerned with that since in the Leslie Flint opus there are turns of phrase that to me are quite unusual and even incorrect, but occur over and over.)  He replied, “The medium cannot turn off his brain just because he is a medium.”

V: Yes as I said this is not such a huge concern for the likes of you according to Braden. But apparently there are many mediums who aren’t really communicating with whom they think they are. Perhaps it’s a matter of skill and experience, not sure. The medium can never turn off the brain, but with ITC, the human influence on the communication is far less pronounced than with mental mediumship, according to afterlife sources. Which means these guys can say they are someone they aren’t and get away with it more easily perhaps? Especially since we can all hear the EVP for example. Still wondering. 

…That 4/5 packs a powerful ITC punch, so imagine this coming from a prankster, hence the strong caution from the Big Circle.

E: I don’t think I’ve told you anything about my [apparent] encounters with the ultimate FDP, Jesus, as yet, though you may have seen something about that on my blog.  That brings up one aspect that can help with knowing a communication is authentic: when it is not at all what we are expecting or wanting.

My first experience with him, channeled by my now-deceased friend H., was much as one might expect him to be— a very large, loving, compassionate being of great power and yet infinite kindness and gentleness.  When he came to my office with H., a couple of years or so later, I didn’t recognize him at all.  All I knew was that there was a man sitting at my elbow while I worked with H., who was lying on my table.  He seemed quite ordinary, and chatted on and on with messages for her.  She kept asking me if I knew who he was, and I kept replying, “I don’t know, it’s some guy.”  H. was beside herself with amusement at this, and eventually let me in on the secret.

I was astonished, and commented that he seemed so small compared to the way I had seen him before. “Yes, he does that,” she replied— he could present himself in a form that we could deal with more comfortably.

The dissertation he gave through me was completely clear, words and images, and profound.  Something H. would benefit by hearing but didn’t want to hear.  I asked her if it sounded meaningful to her.  “Yes, it’s what he tells me all the time,” she said.  Perhaps he thought that if she heard it through someone else she would finally accept it?

It seemed to me that it was best that I didn’t know I was in communication with this extremely Famous Dead Person.  Since to me he was Just Some Guy, I didn’t get intimidated or freeze up, and I was able to transmit his message smoothly.  It was a wonderful afternoon.  I still profit from the message he gave that day.

V: You hit the nail on the head with your Jesus encounter.  This is exactly what Braden has been saying about it. He once said I’d be too intimidated to know who some of these entities were, and he’s right. Of course, others may react differently and hobnob with The Christ for lunch. Not me.
[Anecdote about someone who was in a clearly fraudulent séance but received a message that was useful and comforting to her.]

E: Which is another important point– often it doesn’t matter so much if we know the exact source of the material, as long as the message itself is valuable.

V: This is also true.

 

*Vicki’s deceased son, a strong and humorous communicator.  See previous posts on EVP.

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Filed under channeling, psychology, spirit communication, spirituality

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

The Authoritarian Personality and the National Divide

‘In talking to right-wing authoritarians (RWAs) — in any situation — the first and greatest challenge is to reduce the level of fear and increase the level of trust. They cannot hear or see you at all until this happens.’ — Sara Robinson

I think it’s fair to say that a majority of Americans are completely boggled that so many of our fellow citizens are willing to believe so much crazy crap that is so utterly disconnected from reality. Just saying that they’re nuts is not helpful. Strangely enough, there is actual research to help explain why and how they are able to continue living in their alternative reality and steadfastly fend off any facts that might attempt to intrude. And it’s been around since before the last period of far-right fantasy hegemony.

I came across a very useful set of posts by Sara Robinson, who was raised fundamentalist and closed-minded but was able to transcend her upbringing, and who has a lot of understanding about how to communicate with those who are still inside the “Wall” of insulated post-factual unreality. So much became clearer for me. (Scroll down for links.)

Robinson was summarizing the work of John Dean— yes, that John Dean, from Watergate— who wrote Conservatives Without Conscience, which is based on the work of social psychologist Robert Altemeyer.  Although Robinson’s posts pertain to right-wing Americans, certain evangelical Christians in particular, the dynamics of authoritarianism are the same across cultures and religions.

“Research into ‘authoritarian personalities’ began in the aftermath of WWII, as scientists tried to figure out how otherwise civilized people succumbed to the charisma of Hitler and Mussolini and allowed themselves to be willingly led into committing notorious atrocities. The inquiry continued through Milgram’s famous experiments at Stanford in the early 60s; later, some of it became subsumed in the work of The Fundamentalism Project convened by Martin Marty at the University of Chicago in the 1980s and early 90s. Long story short: there is now over 50 years of good data on these people coming from every corner of the social sciences; but since almost none of this has been common knowledge outside the academy, nobody on the progressive side has really been putting it to use.”

The bully leads

The description of authoritarians who are on the leader side of the equation sounds eerily familiar in our present environment:
“High-SDO [social dominance orientation] people are characterized by four core traits: they are dominating, opposed to equality, committed to expanding their own personal power, and amoral. These are usually accompanied by other unsavory traits, many of which render them patently unsuitable for leadership roles in a democracy:
“Typically men
Intimidating and bullying
Faintly hedonistic
Vengeful
Pitiless
Exploitative
Manipulative
Dishonest
Cheat to win
Highly prejudiced (racist, sexist, homophobic)
Mean-spirited
Militant
Nationalistic
Tells others what they want to hear
Takes advantage of ‘suckers’
Specializes in creating false images to sell self
May or may not be religious
Usually politically and economically conservative/Republican”

“Dean notes: ‘Although these collations of characteristics…are not attractive portraits, they are nonetheless traits that authoritarians themselves acknowledge.’ In other words, these guys know what they are, and are often quite unabashedly proud of it.”

But these leaders wouldn’t get very far unless there were legions of authoritarian personalities on the follower side, and unfortunately there are. It seems that there are all too many people who want to be told what to think and what to do.  Robinson postulates that while the bullying leader types may be beyond the possibility of redemption, a lot of followers may have some openness to communicating across the divide.

I can easily sympathize with the desire to be given simple answers and clear directions. The world is so overwhelmingly complex nowadays, and our path forward seems so uncertain. Sadly, I expect that fundamentalism and authoritarianism will continue their ascent in the near future as climate change and population growth create even more conflict and pressures for water and other resources. They may even provide some sort of genuine protection against chaos, at least temporarily and in limited areas. However, this kind of mindset works against the innovative drive and mental agility that is needed most under fast-changing and stressful conditions.

Dedicated to the cause


“RWAs are sadly accustomed to subordinating their own needs to those of their superiors; in fact, one of the struggles we often see in recovering fundies is a complete inability to even acknowledge that they have needs of their own, let alone identify them, let alone act to meet them. They simply don’t know where to begin. Also, because their own authorities use guilt and shame to control them, they’ve seldom been allowed to see themselves as truly good and moral people.
“Giving an RWA permission to recognize, give voice to, and take action to satisfy his or her own needs is a powerful act. In affirming that they are not just allowed, but entitled (in the name of fairness) to feel their own emotions, own their own goodness, indulge a few harmless appetites, enjoy themselves, assert their boundaries, or stand up and say ‘no’ to overweening authority, you are being an enlightened witness to their true self — something many of them have seldom if ever had. In the process, you are also giving them a direct view over the wall. Often, it’s a view that they never forget, and will keep coming back to until they’re persuaded to go over it for good.”

Red Family, Blue Family

“The best writing on this I’ve seen comes from Unitarian writer Doug Muder, who has taken George Lakoff’s model of ‘strict father’ versus ‘nurturant parent’ politics one step further, and uses it to explain precisely how the right wing came to believe this preposterous notion…. Muder asserts that, while Lakoff’s right that family models are the right frame, the real dialectic is between families of ‘inherited obligation’ versus those based on ‘negotiated commitment.’ Go read the article, then come on back. We’ll be here.”

Here’s the article: “Red Family, Blue Family” https://www.gurus.org/dougdeb/politics/209.html
I strongly recommend that you read this. In fact, I implore you to read it. Lights will go on for you. For example:
 “The Inherited Obligation model, on the other hand, is ambivalent about the social safety net. On the one hand, it is good that people don’t just die when they have no one to take care of them. But on the other hand, the safety net weakens the network of familial obligations. A young adult who moves to the big city to seek his fortune doesn’t come home when he fails, he draws unemployment. Social Security and Medicare may provide an excuse not to take care of aging parents.
“…The Inherited Obligation model is likewise ambivalent about freedom. Freedom to fulfill your obligations according to your best judgment is a good thing. But the kind of freedom that releases people from their obligations is not. In the Negotiated Commitment model, a life without commitments is empty, and there can be no commitment without freedom.”
“Their demonic liberal is a person with no moral depth or seriousness. Convenience is his only true value. Words that we revere, such as freedom and choice, rebound against us: We like these words because we want to be free of our obligations and choose the easy way out.
“Just as married people sometimes imagine the single life as far more licentious and libidinous than it ever actually is, so people born into life-defining obligations imagine a life free from such obligations. The truth about liberals – that we more often than not choose to commit ourselves to marriage, children, church, and most of the other things conservatives feel obligated to, and that we stick by those commitments every bit as faithfully, if not more so – easily gets lost.”

Sometimes those on the left are accused of attempting to control and tyrannize others in the same way that the right does. That isn’t really characteristic of liberals, with their tendency toward fluidity and emphasis on choice:
  “As a final point: Dean’s book puts to rest once and for all the right-wing shibboleth of ‘liberal fundamentalists’ and ‘liberal authoritarians.’ Altemeyer and his colleagues have found, through decades of research, that authoritarians almost universally skew toward the far reactionary right on the political scale. This very much includes Stalinists and other ‘left-wing’ totalitarians: though these men used socialist rhetoric to create ‘Communist’ political orders, they’re classic examples of high-SDO leaders taking control by whatever means they had at hand, and using them to create archetypal far-right authoritarian states. Dean and Altemeyer make it clear that authoritarianism is, by long-accepted definition, overwhelmingly a right-wing personality trait.
“Dean is also emphatic that authoritarianism, in all its forms, is completely antithetical to both classical conservatism (he still considers himself a Goldwater conservative), and to the founding ideals of America. We must be clear: when right-wingers threaten liberals, they are directly threatening the seminal political impulse that created our nation. An operative democracy depends on having a populace that is open to new ideas, able to think for itself, confident in its abilities, willing to take risks, and capable of mutual trust. America was founded as the world’s first radically liberal state. History has shown us that the nation’s best moments, past and future, are created by people with a strong liberal orientation.”

(Note that standing up strongly for principles, such as equality of opportunity in jobs and housing, does not constitute tyranny.)

“Alt” authoritarians

Then there are those who reject established authority but believe in “alt” authorities without question. It’s easy and seductive to see oneself as part of a persecuted minority, a group that’s in the know and smarter than all those “sheeple.” Robinson’s “A Short Detour” section is about them:
“I’ve known way more than my share of these guys, since Silicon Valley is one of their primary native habitats. And my take is that they’re at least as driven by their burning desire to fit in as any other RWA. In fact, their feelings of victimization may be rooted in the belief that they were promised an acceptance in liberal intellectual circles that they intensely wanted but never really found. The most extreme ones were frighteningly bright and well-read, and usually also from very religious family backgrounds. Those two qualities alone guaranteed that it was going to be hard to find a niche among the better-rounded, more secular big city liberals. So they decided that, if they were going to be outcasts anyway, they could at least claim moral superiority. I may be a nerd, but I am RIGHT — the possessor of Ultimate Truth! — and that’s what really matters in the end.”

Why so many of them?

I’ve wondered why the authoritarian-follower trait has been so persistent in the human population, being that it involves so much unwillingness to face facts and thus to deal with real and immediate threats. There must be some advantage, or it wouldn’t exist. Authoritarians do know how to organize and come to agreement, for good or ill, and perhaps that confers an ability to respond more quickly to danger than a dithering, contentious group could, despite their propensity to live inside their imaginary constructions. (Even more than the rest of us, I mean.) Black and white thinking is faster and easier than taking all the grey into account. Perhaps group cohesion has been historically favored over innovation under adverse circumstances?

(Since to be a Christian is to see everyone as your neighbor, and to love your neighbor as yourself, it’s particularly perplexing to me to see that right-wing fundamentalists are so invested in being part of an in-group and demonizing everyone else.)

The most depressing thing about all of this is that Robinson wrote it back in 2006, so hopefully, but nothing seems to have changed, except to get worse. At least, that’s how it looks. I would love to see evidence to the contrary. Please tell me if you’ve got some.

 

Sara Robinson’s posts:

Cracks In The Wall, Part I: Defining the Authoritarian Personality
http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2006/08/cracks-in-wall-part-i-defining.html

Cracks In The Wall, Part II: Listening to the Leavers
http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2006/08/cracks-in-wall-part-ii-listening-to.html

Cracks in the Wall, Part III: Escape Ladders
http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2006/08/cracks-in-wall-part-iii-escape-ladders.html

Tunnels and Bridges, Part I: Divide and Conquer
http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2006/08/tunnels-and-bridges-part-i-divide-and.html

Tunnels and Bridges, Part II: Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself
http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2006/08/tunnels-and-bridges-part-ii-nothing-to.html

Tunnels and Bridges, Part III: A Bigger World
http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2006/08/tunnels-and-bridges-part-iii-bigger.html

Tunnels and Bridges, Part IV: Landing Zones
http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2006/09/tunnels-and-bridges-part-iv-landing.html

Tunnels and Bridges: A Short Detour
http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2006/09/tunnels-and-bridges-short-detour.html

 

 

 

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