Category Archives: the unexplained

Three Conversations

The war against misinformation continues. I’ve been trying to frame it as something other than a war. But I don’t feel able to leave the field. How do I do my job of health education effectively and without being a jerk? How do any of us talk with folks who have become untethered from reality? Should we even try, since we aren’t likely to get through to them?

I’m trying to cut down on reacting, but at times it feels necessary. A couple of weeks ago I wrote comments to a blog belonging to a person I used to respect greatly, an MD who has really gone off the deep end. I hated to jeopardize the connection I have with him, but what he had written was so egregious and harmful that I felt I had to say “no farther.” I cringed a bit while awaiting the result. He replied that he was interested in hearing from people with completely different worldviews, and while he didn’t think I was right in the least, he listened amicably. It was not horrible.

Later, I received a message from someone I didn’t know, thanking me for standing up that way. Was it worth jumping in? She thought so.

Sometimes skirmishes show up unexpectedly. Sometimes they lead to some fascinating meetings of minds. Other times there seems to be no possible good outcome. Maybe writing this won’t bring any better outcomes, either, but I guess I need to think on the page for a bit. I would be very interested in hearing about your own experiences along these lines.

Conversation One

I volunteered with Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller’s reelection campaign. On Election Day, I arrived at the polling place, a middle school, to wave a sign around and present a friendly face to voters. I got there late in the day and found the earlier volunteer still walking up and down the sidewalk with her own sign. We got to talking, and it turned out that she was a nurse doing some interesting community work.

A forty-something man approached us. I expected that he would have some normal sort of voter question. Instead, he started one of the most abnormal conversations I have ever been a part of. He wanted to tell us why he was not voting for Mayor Keller, even though he liked him and was generally in favor of his policies, except for one crucial issue. For some reason I never came to understand, he felt it was important to explain and justify his decision to us.

He told us that he had been away from Albuquerque for quite a while and hadn’t heard much of anything about the candidates. There was just one thing he had heard from GOP candidate Eddy Aragon, and that was that if a vaccine mandate were imposed, he wouldn’t enforce it. So our voter planned to give his vote to Aragon.

Aragon had shown himself to be way out there in debates, one of those far-right defenders of “freedom” who refused not only vaccines but masks and public health restrictions of all kinds— even supporting a restaurant that was refusing regular health inspections as well as the mask requirement. He was in every way the antithesis of Tim Keller (except that they had both played football at St. Pius High!). I told our voter that if he liked Keller’s policies overall, he really wouldn’t like Aragon’s, and he might want to find out more and give some more thought to his decision. He insisted that the vaccine issue outweighed everything else. I reminded him that the city didn’t even have a vaccine mandate. He was unmoved.

That was when things started to get very unusual. This was already getting to be a fairly long conversation, but the voter showed no signs of moving on into the building. He continued to explain his point of view, seeming to be looking for validation. I warned him, just so that he wouldn’t waste his time, that we were both health care professionals and were disposed toward wanting people to be vaccinated. He was undeterred.

He told us that he follows the Shinto religion and that this includes intensive purification practices. Now, he isn’t Japanese, and I’ve never heard of the kind of extreme practices he described being part of Shinto, but maybe there is some sect that’s like this. No alcohol ever, he said (though Shinto uses sake for ritual purposes). No medications of any kind. When he broke his leg, he said, UNM Hospital wouldn’t treat him without an X-ray, and he wouldn’t allow radiation to be applied to his pristine body, so he went home and recovered on his own. I have no idea how he managed that, and I can’t see how any religion would require it, but that’s what he said.

He also reported that he had been through a case of COVID and therefore had less need of a vaccine. He was masking and being sensible otherwise. He appeared totally sincere.

If all that is true, his health strategy was inadvisable at best, but a person whose belief is strong enough to cause him to refuse a cast for a broken leg has a serious case for a religious exemption. And he said he was trying to get one, because he was working for UNM as an engineer, and they were requiring all employees to be vaccinated.

“Not only am I losing my job, they’re losing a good engineer,” he added. He then told us about his sister, who left a high-paying job with an airline that required vaccination, threw away her retirement, sold her house, and moved to Georgia.

I find this to be a strange hill to die on, but they have staked it out as theirs. I doubt there are very many people with this particular religious point of view, not enough of the population to have much effect on the pandemic. If we give religious exemptions to anyone, it seems to me that these purportedly Shinto folk deserve them. I would suppose that their horror of impurity would keep them vigilant against contagion, for whatever that’s worth.

Eventually the man finished saying his piece and moved on to cast his vote. For Eddy Aragon, I assume. Who had no chance of winning.

The nurse said, “Wow, you confronted him. I would never have done that.” I didn’t, exactly; I just quietly stated some facts, and I didn’t argue with him about his health— or point out that an engineer should be able to understand X-rays more clearly. Keeping a conversation going allowed me to find out about his unique point of view. And even though we volunteers had no special influence on city policies, I wanted to convey the sense that the campaign and the mayor himself valued him and were willing to listen. I’ve seen Mayor Tim treat people exactly that way. It didn’t occur to me till after the nurse’s comment that he could have done something dangerous. He didn’t seem like a person who wanted to cause trouble. He just seemed to want to be heard— and in a way, to apologize.

Conversation Two

A month later, we had an unusually mild day, and I took advantage of it to swim at Midtown Sports and Wellness, where they have only an outdoor pool but they keep it nice and warm. I had a blissful time with the pool and then the hot tub all to myself for a little while. Who would have expected a fun outdoor swim in early December? It was a real treat.

Then an older Hispanic man showed up to use the hot tub. We got to chatting about the just-passed Thanksgiving holiday, during which he’d gone to visit his daughter in San Diego. I commented that it was great to be able to do things like that again, unlike last year. Somehow in the process, vaccines came up.

The conversation remained cordial, but included such pronouncements as “[dismissive snort] Fauci doesn’t know anything.” (OK, only 40 years of experience heading a major medical organization… no opportunities to learn… whatever.) I knew playing the “I’m a health care provider and I know things” card wasn’t going to get me anywhere, so I kept that to a minimum.

He went on with typical right-wing talking points, including the classic “I did my own research.” None of it was surprising, though it was dismaying.

We were having a somewhat useful exchange when a friend of his came along. As he lowered himself into the bubbles, the friend said, “The way to solve all of this is to invite Jesus Christ into your heart.”

I did not try to tell him that I have a personal relationship with Jesus. I did mention that I had been raised Catholic, which was relevant to some point in the conversation that I don’t remember.

The first guy told me something that shed a little light on the attitude of evangelicals toward authorities and establishments. His mother, he said, had been Catholic, and she was brought up to do whatever the priest said and never think for herself nor read the Bible on her own. She had rejected this. I told him that the Catholicism I’d experienced had been much groovier and more open-minded, but that I’d heard about the kind of stifling situation his mother had grown up with and wouldn’t like it one bit.

I can easily understand why someone would want to leave that behind. It’s just that so many trade the conformity of the Catholic church for the same thing in an evangelical sect that is at least as rigid and paternalistic, if not more so.

This gentleman was toeing the party line in every way, but he did seem to have put thought into his point of view. Like so many Americans, he insisted that he was against mandates, not necessarily against vaccines. I keep wanting to tell them, “If more people would do what they’re supposed to, there wouldn’t be any need for mandates.” I can totally understand their discomfort with being told what to do, or possibly coerced, but I also think coercion could easily have been avoided.

To find his way through the conflicting advice, he was trying to use intuition.  “You know in your heart what’s true.”  This struck me as important and a sticky point.  I can’t really argue with it, as I feel my way along intuitively as well.   However, when facts staring me in the face don’t match my intuition, I’m going to look further.  The Q and militant-antivax people say similar things to justify themselves– trust yourself to know what’s best for yourself and your kids.  It’s also a very evangelical point of view, to lead with the heart instead of the head. I’d rather listen to both.

Along these lines, he started to tell me that there was an awakening going on among many groups of people. “Even the Moslems [sic],” he added. I didn’t get to hear any more of what he thought about that, and would have been curious to know what he meant. It may have been the typical Q sort of balderdash, but he seemed like a serious sort of person and he may have had something more profound in mind.

A young man came in and settled into the tub. After a few minutes of listening to the ongoing discussion, he asked us very politely to shut up. He just wanted to relax, he said, and we were making that impossible. I didn’t blame him for breaking in. The two evangelicals kept talking, and the unwilling listener cupped his hands over his heart to block out the discord. I tried to wrap up the conversation, acknowledging that a person who wanted to relax in a quiet space should be allowed to do so, and pointing out that we were causing him to feel a need to shield himself. I got up, saying, “I’ll leave, and that will end the controversy.” I hope they left the young guy alone after that. I apologized to him on the way out.

It was… exotic.

Conversation Three

Last week, I became that guy, the one asking someone to STFU in the tub. Interesting how that showed up. It was a different, indoor facility, and a different kind of discussion. Unlike the polite and affable evangelicals, this problem person was loud and vehement, went on nonstop, lectured instead of discussing, and was literally in someone’s face.

The someone was a young mother with a toddler boy playing next to her and an infant girl in a carrier nearby. I had already interacted with her a little earlier by sharing my lane in the pool with her and her son, and I felt a little connected with her.

There were a couple of other people in the tub as well, individual and silent. The rushing sound of the jets muffled conversation, but gradually I noticed that this 70-ish guy was going on and on with great intensity, and words like “variant” and “omicron” wafted through to me, in a strong German accent. He appeared to be expounding a mostly toxic mix of misinformation with a few actual facts sprinkled in.

Then I heard him make a pronouncement to the mom that she should definitely not get the current vaccine, but should wait for one that worked against omicron.

So. This was not my conversation and not my fight. I tried to size things up. The young mother appeared to be backed up against the side of the tub and quite uncomfortable, while the man was almost shouting at her from maybe a foot away. She wasn’t trying to counter what he was saying or get out of there, though. Was she engaging with him on purpose and OK with the whole thing, or was she too polite or too timid to tell him to leave her alone? It looked to me like the latter. And it looked like a kind of assault.

I would be wrong in some way whether I spoke up or not. I decided to go ahead and intervene, damn the torpedoes. “That’s bad advice, I’d say, speaking as a health care professional.”

Immediately the torpedoes were aimed at me. I replied, as nonconfrontationally as I could, that I was there to relax in the tub, as were the other people present, and didn’t want to argue with him, but that it would be nice if he would let us have some quiet. He said I didn’t have to listen— but in that environment, of course we were all forced to listen. He pulled out a collection of tired and debunked talking points, even insisting that over 18,000 people have been killed by the vaccines. I just kept repeating, “That’s not true.”

He shouted, “You believe all the bullshit!” and stormed out in a huff. The hot tub returned to tranquillity. Of course I didn’t feel particularly tranquil, and wondered if I had done a bad thing.

On the way out, the mom and I had another friendly exchange. At least she wasn’t upset with me.

It only occurred to me later that the German guy was masklessly spewing his possibly viral breath at the two unvaccinated little ones as well as their mom. So, so very not OK. Masks aren’t practical in the water, but most people are sensible enough not to yell in someone’s face without one (or at all). I thought, at least I helped limit their exposure. The area was well-ventilated, but such close-up and intense interactions don’t seem like a good idea.

And yet, chances are, he saw himself as a good and helpful person trying to save the mom and/or her kids from some terrible health consequence. The vehemence likely came from sincere, if misguided, care for others.

Glad I wasn’t part of this one….

The owners of another membership-based business where my husband and I are regulars reported an odd, rather disturbing situation. A woman inquired about becoming a member, and stated that she was not vaccinated and would absolutely not wear a mask in the building. She was told that she could not come in without a mask, because the business follows state health requirements. That’s pretty simple, isn’t it? The would-be customer started a lengthy argument— and one of the owners took the bait and let himself be drawn into it. This was a time when it was absolutely not worth engaging, but it can be hard to stop.

It turned out that this was the same woman who, not long before, had walked into the business and wandered around without a mask, so that she had to be told to leave.

My question is, what did she get out of this behavior? Is this sort of thing, which has become sadly common, simply a bid for attention? A need to feel important or significant? Is it some kind of crusade, battled one store or flight or meeting at a time? Does it come from the same corner of the psyche as the “Karen” behaviors? Is it a need to take out her overwhelming frustrations on someone? A symptom of a diagnosable mental illness?

I can come up with understandable motives for each of the people I described in the conversations above. To some extent I can put myself in their shoes. This one I just don’t get.  If you do, please comment.


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Filed under health and healing, politics, psychology, science, the unexplained

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:

“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:

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:

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.]

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

“Photographs of the Virgin Mary in the clouds”



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

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:

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.’

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 Lynne 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 push 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

It Couldn’t Have Happened

When I was a kid I had what appeared to be a persistent memory of something that happened when I was very small. A meteorite fell in my Aunt Betty’s back yard and met its fiery doom one evening while we were having a cookout or something. I can still see the image of a large sphere, at least a foot or so across, burning in patches and dark elsewhere, with a crater around it, not too much bigger than the sphere itself. The image is vivid.

But that could never have happened. A fraction of a second’s thought will tell you that meteorites just don’t work that way. And if a substantial one had fallen anywhere in Girard, Ohio in the early 1960’s, and pieces had reached the ground still being 12” or more in diameter, the destruction would have been epic and everyone would have known about it.

At some point while I was still a kid, I happened to mention to my mother, “that time the meteorite fell in Aunt Betty’s back yard.” Of course she told me that no meteorite had ever fallen there during my lifetime. I was shocked to realize that my memory wasn’t real. I’ve never been able to explain what the image means or what could have happened to leave a memory trace like that.

So many impossible things have been happening lately, and I’ve wondered about this one again. What can it mean? I wonder if perhaps there was a typical, far smaller stone that did fall from the sky in front of my eyes, and my little brain turned the memory into something more dramatic. But surely my mother would have remembered even that. Did I see it in a movie? Did I dream it? Being so young, was I unable to distinguish dream from reality? Something happened, even if only in my mind, something significant enough that it is still with me. What did it mean?

A week ago something else happened to me that seemed like it couldn’t have happened, something that was even more improbable than the burning rock in the grass and that strangely feels less real in my memory. The only person who can corroborate it is the one who caused it, and perhaps that person experienced something completely different from what I did. A couple of friends who were also in the building could tell you that I described it to them right afterward and that I was visibly shaken, but they didn’t see the actual event. Did I misinterpret it? Did my mind turn it into a more devastating missile from the heavens than it really was? All week I have asked, What does it mean?

And meanwhile, and before, other unthinkable occurrences took place. Entire cities burned to the ground, houses disintegrating in literally seconds. Far away, we destroyed another city “to save it.” People there who were just going about their business were obliterated by explosions from the sky, and their homes turned to dust as fine as the typical meteor. Others, here, were going about their business when an unprecedented rain of death poured down on them from high in a hotel window. Many are still struggling to find even the most basic necessities for survival after having their homes drowned or pummeled flat by the storms weeks ago.

More and more, every morning I turn to some source of news with dread in my heart, bracing for whatever new horror has taken place while I slept. Maybe you are this way too, waiting for the next shockwave, the next stone to fall. I know that whatever I complain of personally has no comparison to the immensity of tragedy that has befallen myriad human beings during this incredibly difficult year. I know, just as surely, that I am affected by all of it and so is each one of us, and the whole of us.

And I know that my perspective right now is skewed, especially since I’m recovering from a procedure during which the doctor did his best to terrify me about my future health— another unexpected blast from above. I haven’t yet been able to dig out from under the rubble. Yet, what feels like such dark, heavy boulders may be no more substantial than the meteorite of my childhood.


This is what it wasn’t:

I searched for the origin of the photo used at the top of this post, but could not find anything clear, so cannot give credit for the image.

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The Face in the Shroud

I intended to put this out on Easter, but as with so many things during this overwhelmed period of my life, I’m way behind. I did spend a good deal of Sunday reviewing research on this subject, finding that there was a lot more available than there had been the last time I looked.

Among the surprisingly many religious articles in my mother’s room, I found one that I’d given her myself. I bought it at the gift shop of the Santuario de Chimayó in northern New Mexico. It’s a small card with the kind of double picture that changes when you hold it at different angles. One view is the familiar face found in the negative shot of the Shroud of Turin:

And the other is a reconstruction of the living face as imagined by an artist, whose name is not given:

I was so struck by the beauty and power of the artist’s conception portrait that I wanted a copy to bring home.

There is not much I can say about the Shroud of Turin that hasn’t been said already. I’m writing about it here because it is a source of continual fascination for me, as for so many others. It is one of the anomalous objects in the world that reminds us that reality is not at all what we’ve been told it is, and that we have far less understanding of what is “really” going on than we might like. No matter how one interprets the phenomenon, there is an irreducible amount of mystery. Something beyond the ordinary happened here. What exactly was it?

Here is a summary of the facts and questions about the Shroud, as my small knowledge of them permits:

We don’t know, no one can say for sure, who the Man in the Shroud really was. We can be sure of the meaning of some aspects of his image, though. What we see is a gruesome record, in literally excruciating detail, of the torture and murder of a man by the Roman state, in a way that myriad others were also tortured and murdered. This is what holds my attention above all. The terrifying injuries— the thorns piercing the scalp, the hundreds of tears made by the lash, the abrasions and bruises, the slash of the lance, and all that beyond the horror of the nails themselves— bear witness to the cruelty of human beings to their fellows. It would be difficult to believe if we did not see it right in front of us, right down to the still-obvious blood and body fluid stains. When I was a child, the nuns told us that Jesus being nailed to the cross was unusual, that most of those who were crucified were only tied to the wood. That was not true. What happened to this one whose sufferings we see so clearly in the Shroud happened to thousands.

We do know that the blood is type AB. It turns out that the Sudarium of Oviedo, the cloth said to have been used to wrap the face of Jesus when he was prepared for burial, is saturated with the same type of blood. Records of the Sudarium’s whereabouts over time go back about seven centuries further than those of the Shroud, lending weight to the contention that the Shroud is at least that old as well. Similarities in the placement of the stains as well as the blood itself point to the same origin as the Shroud. The shapes and contents of the stains indicate that the person whose head it covered died in an upright position, consistent with crucifixion. It must be the most historically important dirty rag on the planet.

We don’t know the age of the Shroud through testing of the cloth itself. Carbon dating done decades ago placed it in the medieval period, meaning that it had to be a fake, but since the cloth was much handled over the centuries, in addition to surviving fire and water damage, there is now agreement that it was too contaminated for carbon dating to be accurate. There is also a question about the part of the cloth that was tested, which appears to be a repair added later.

We know that pollen grains found in the cloth of the Shroud place its origin in the area of Jerusalem, and are consistent with the species of plants that would be used with a burial.

We know that the color forming the image is not paint or dye. There are simply no molecules of such things present. If the image was faked during medieval or any other times, it is very challenging to give an explanation of how the faking could have been accomplished. The contention that the Shroud is simply a fake just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. The situation is more complex than that.

One theory is that a Maillard reaction, similar to the browning of bread in the oven, could have formed the brownish-yellowish image. This does not explain the holographic and X-ray like properties of the image, in which some structures that would have been behind others can be seen.

Similarly, the theory that the Shroud is an example of a medieval photograph is intriguing and more or less plausible, but it does not explain how details other than those on the surface of the body can be seen. (Although all the materials needed for photography were indeed available in the 14th century, there is no evidence that photographs were actually made anywhere at that time.) It also fails to explain the details of the wounds and patterns of bodily secretions. Neither a live body nor the corpse of a person who had died other than through this specific series of tortures would display these particular details when photographed.

So what do I think happened? I am agnostic. The most likely explanation, it appears to me, is one that raises still more questions. Some form of radiation emanated from this body and caused changes in the surface of the cloth, by a mechanism we don’t understand but may at some point be able to reproduce. I mentioned, when I described the events around my mother’s death, that a huge amount of heat was present around her body before she left it. Could a much more powerful burst of energy of some kind be released from a human body under certain circumstances? Could this perhaps have happened many times, but to bodies that were left peacefully in their graves so that we never saw the evidence? Have images like this one been imprinted upon many other burial cloths but crumbled away unnoticed in the earth?

And in this case, what happened to the body? Why was the Shroud not left in place with it? Was the body simply disinterred and moved— the obvious hypothesis— then wrapped in a fresh length of linen and buried elsewhere, with the original cloth kept as an object of veneration? Did it reanimate and walk away, as the stories say? Did it go poof and disappear in a burst of light, which formed the image?

It seems that there have been recorded cases of people who survived crucifixion, unlikely as that sounds. Could the Man in the Shroud have been one of these, and if he was Jesus, could that explain his apparent resurrection? The evidence in the cloth is against this, as the patterns of bleeding and fluid leakage look like what would be expected to occur postmortem. As far as anyone can tell, the man was dead when he was wound in the Shroud.

Is the Shroud a supernatural phenomenon, a miracle? To me, “supernatural” only means something that is natural but not yet understood. There has got to be a way of expanding our scientific understanding to encompass this phenomenon. Even if that might mean understanding how a physical body could suddenly transform into pure energy, which is one conceivable interpretation of the evidence. The physically-measurable electromagnetic signals in and around a human body, photons included, are fairly small. It’s hard to imagine how there could be enough light or other energy emitted to produce an image on a physical surface, but equally odd things have happened, and I don’t want to rule it out.

The one thing we know for sure, from studying the Shroud, is that we are creatures who have a gigantic ability to torment other members of our species. The only comfort I can find about this is that nowadays we at least give lip service to the idea that doing this is wrong, even as we keep doing it every day, all around the world.

But what I hope we’ve learned from this strange artifact is that we are also far less limited beings than we believe, and that possibilities exist that we’ve barely begun to grasp.

Article on the mysteries of the Shroud

A website giving an overview of what is known about the Shroud
The Sudarium

A reply to Nicholas Allen’s “medieval photograph” theory

The evidence of plants wrapped with the shroud, through pollen samples and images

Holographic studies of the image
‘While photography has the advantage of fixing an image in time and of concentrating it so that whichever angle you look at it from, it will remain the same, with the Shroud that is not the case. Moving around that table (lighting under an angle from one side only!), from a certain angle I saw this image so faded as if to practically disappear, while from others it seemed as if the figure WAS ALMOST OUTSIDE THE SHEET: it was, I repeat, an incredible emotion. At that moment I knew that this image was unique. I approached the face placing my camera at a distance of about 20-30 cm, aimed the camera at the face and saw…………………nothing in my viewfinder.” “And yet,” I said “I know it by heart.” I had to beg my friend to point to the position of the eye, because from a distance of 30 cm I could not see it. I could only see it as I moved away from it.’


Filed under history, mythology and metaphor, physics and cosmology, spirituality, the unexplained

Here Be Dragons

Told ya there were dragons in my office.

James’ eyes were wide. “It was all around you!” he told me, in an awed tone. He’d just finished doing a set of adjustments for me, and I was unnerved to think he might have discovered some unsavory entity around me– as you know, I’ve had my share of those.

What was all around me?”

“It was so beautiful,” he continued, explaining that “it” was wrapped around my entire body in a spiral, protecting me– a large, gold with red, Chinese-style Dragon. The exact image of the wonderful Dragon friend I already knew and loved, but had never once mentioned to James. He had seen it in a way I never had.

If more than one person sees the same thing independently, without preconceived notions, I tend to think that what they see is real. But what kind of “real” is this Dragon? Does it have its own existence in some other plane of All That Is, as individual and self-aware as any other creature? Does it reside within the collective human unconscious, as an archetype? Is it a denizen of my own psyche, that somehow I can project outward so that it can be seen by others? Does it perhaps have aspects of all these possibilities?

When my first mentor in shamanic studies introduced me to the concept of power animals, I remember telling her, quite sincerely, that mine was probably a Dragon. She looked dubious, and seemed to consider telling me what a silly idea that was, but she was kind enough to keep her mouth shut. Later I was embarrassed to realize how ridiculous I had sounded. No one had mythological beasts for power animals; according to the teachers of shamanic arts, they were supposed to be the spirit representations of our normal Earth-based species, perhaps even the collective unconsciousnesses of those species. But then later still I discovered that I was in fact associated with a Dragon after all, so there!

My Dragon was as vivid as anything I’d ever experienced in the spiritual world, and he certainly functioned as a power animal on my behalf, but I always thought that was odd, since dragons are not real animals on our planet. That is what I told Christine one day in July of 2006.

“Dragons are real,” she replied, with conviction. She explained that she sees them all the time, but that they seem to exist in a different plane or dimension from ours, so that we aren’t usually aware of them. She had toured the stone circles and sacred spots of England not long before, and Stonehenge, she reported, was particularly filled with dragons.

We were at the end of the time available for visiting that day, and I didn’t get a chance to ask for the rest of this tantalizing story. At the next opportunity, I asked how exactly she perceives the dragons. She said that she sees vague outlines, enough to recognize them, but she doesn’t see them in detail. She couldn’t tell me, for example, whether they looked like Chinese dragons or Western ones. Sometimes there is just a “knowing,” she said, nothing visual. She said that other mythological beasts appear to have the same frequency and to exist in the same dimension; I took that to mean that they have the same sort of feel to her.  Her idea is that humans have a subconscious awareness of all these beings, which is why they show up in our art, literature, and religion.

Soon after, I had the opportunity to find out directly what Christine was talking about. She came to my office to check out the place and explore whether she would like to move in with me there. Looking into the treatment room that could become hers, she told me that there was a dragon right there and then. I couldn’t see a thing. She suggested that perhaps she could “put me on her frequency,” and then I might be able to see what she saw.

I had no idea how this could be accomplished. Christine explained that she does treatments mainly by putting herself on the appropriate frequency to interface with the patient’s distressed body parts, and that she can switch frequencies with no trouble at all. She put her hand on my shoulder and led me toward the room.

I still didn’t exactly see anything. I scanned the room from right to left, and as my eyes swept across the center of the room, toward the far wall, suddenly they seemed to “stick.” My gaze was drawn to a particular area about two feet across and four feet tall, directly in front of me. The air seemed thicker there. I kept looking away and scanning again, and each time my eyes were pulled toward the same spot. This, of course, was where Christine was seeing the dragon. It was almost as if something reached out and grabbed my vision, as if I were required to look right there whether I cared to or not. I had a definite sense that the creature was purple, definite enough that I could show you the exact shade.  A purple, living something, hovering in the center of the room.

We went back into the waiting room and continued to chat. Every so often I looked back at the treatment room and tried to tell if the beast was still there. For a long time it was. Eventually my eyes no longer felt that pull or the sensation of density in the atmosphere of the room. I assumed the dragon was gone.

The spot where the something was is now the location of my treatment table. I’ve never run into any unexpected beings there, though as I’ve told you in other posts, sometimes patients do bring guests of various sorts into the room. Last Christmas, Christine gave me a papier-maché ornament in the shape of a small, winsome purple dragon, to commemorate our sighting.


When my daughter was a child, she had a great deal of trouble with her health. At one point, desperate to help her, I journeyed to ask for a power animal to come to her aid. I encountered a noble but unsurprising beast, a Bison cow, motherly and comforting. I told Lenore about this animal and suggested that she could ask her for support whenever she felt she needed it. Lenore soon reported back to me that she had tried to get in touch, but that the Bison had refused to speak with her. Instead, she had been put in contact with a completely different creature, something that seemed much like a snake, but with some sort of long feathers or other streaming appendages.

I was nonplussed by the Bison’s lack of response, and went to see if I could find out anything about the snakelike being. I had a strong impression of it, but like Lenore, couldn’t get a really thorough view of it, only bits and pieces. When we compared notes, it seemed that we were talking about the same creature, whatever it was. Long and sinuous, sailing through the air, streaming feathers or something similar, and mainly lime green in color. It had a certain resemblance to a Chinese dragon, but only in its overall shape; it was distinctly different from any dragon images we knew of. We unceremoniously dubbed it The Snaky Thing– no disrespect intended, only description.

Long and snaky, feathered, and flying. That’s Quetzalcoatl, right? Or Kukulkan if you prefer. One early type of representation of this deity depicts him as twining in a spiral about the body of some noble personage as a Vision Serpent– not so different from what James saw when he was treating me. It’s unclear from the descriptions I’ve found whether the Flying Serpent is supposed to have actual wings or not; most representations don’t seem to include them. I don’t think I had an impression of wings with our Snaky Thing, but I couldn’t see it clearly enough to be sure. Perhaps I can get in touch with it again and find out more.

“The Snaky Thing”?
Quetzalcoatl by Dan Staten
(Thanks to ImageShack)


Dragon-like creatures seem to abound in the human psyche around the world, sometimes as sources of wisdom and power, sometimes threatening or even standing in for pure evil, as when they are used to symbolize Satan. I wonder at times if there may be some kind of ancient mammal memory of flying reptiles– and at least some dinosaurs are known to have had feathers. The huge model of a pterosaur hanging in the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, in fact, is meant to be a Quetzalcoatlus. Go figure. This flying creature, though, is mostly wings, with a long narrow beak, and looks nothing like Lenore’s friend, nor like a Mayan stone relief. But perhaps it did have its own colorful and impressive feathers.


Filed under spirit communication, spirituality, the unexplained

Land, Sea, and Air: Power Animals in Healing

Butterfly Pavilion, Albuquerque Biopark, 2008

A couple of examples of using the cooperation of power animals in healing.  The first comes from a patient, Patrice, and was written after a treatment she had with me.  The second is a description of a shamanic practice, a body part retrieval, done by Pam Harris on my behalf.  Thanks to both Patrice and Pam for permission to use these stories.

Patrice and her friends, in her words:

I don’t remember where or when this occurred but I think it was in NYC. I also realize from what you described it was a pseudo-Michael Harner type process and not as he actually outlined but I had a shamanic journey to find my power animal. My power animal was a butterfly. I was so disappointed. I’d wanted a bear, eagle, wolf etc. It wasn’t until years later that I picked up Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams and read about what the butterfly signified—transformation—that I really appreciated the power animal that had come to me. I read more, loved and appreciated the butterfly more and at times my wings are flitting off to all sorts of new adventures that make me a better person. I’m not a big collector so I don’t have a room of butterfly stuff but I do have a butterfly pin and key chain, and I recently saw a pair of pants (in my size and my favorite color) with butterflies on them, so I wear and use these things a lot to honor my power animal.

I’d just broken up with someone I thought I truly cared for (he was a lie of his own creation) and was truly heartbroken.  I asked the universe for a power animal to help me through this and if it would come to me in my dreams.

I had a dream about snakes coiled up on the jewelry cases in a jewelry store I had friends in and used to visit quite often.  I didn’t remember I had dreamt it (several times) until my last dream.  I was in the jewelry store, but this time one of the snakes started to slither off of the jewelry case and chase me and it bit me on my big toe hard enough to wake me up.  I realized this was what I’d asked for, and recalled my other dreams and apologized to the snake for forgetting my previous dreams and thanked it for coming.  I looked up the meaning for snake, and in short it refers to death, rebirth, resurrection, initiation and wisdom.  Not too long after this I found a book on Aztec healing and in a chapter for “Acupuncture for the Back” it said:

Come Now
Green Snake
Yellow Snake
White Snake

Soon will come
the White Eagle puncturer

She will be everywhere—
inside the rocks
inside the trees

Whatever she finds
she will eat
she will destroy

So I put my snake in my spine where I really needed it. When you were telling me there was still stagnation in my stomach I got an image of my snake all curled up in my stomach. My mouth had a totally different thing to say. (Which shocked me more than you.) But, on my way home I realized I needed to find out why the snake was there and I came up with snakes don’t eat often and when they do, they take forever to digest what they’ve eaten. In one way that would be a good thing for me but I’m human, too and need to eat more often than a snake. I had a talk with my snake about this and we’ve come to an agreement and the snake did all sorts of happy snake dances in my stomach.

At the same time I’d asked for a power animal and was given the snake I had a dream about bats a few nights later. I was dreaming about bats flying a little above my head—not low enough to get caught in my hair—and I was enjoying the experience and one bat crawled under my hair on my back enough to wake my up to remember the dream (must have had a talk with snake). It didn’t hurt but was enough of a stimulus to make me aware the bat was there and enough to wake me up. My reaction was, “Cool.” Well, the bat’s wisdom includes death and rebirth, transition, initiation, reviewing past lives, understanding grief, and pollination of new ideas.

I got very sick soon after these dreams and found out I had fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. I found a natural way to get well and did after 4 months. I also moved, then moved to Albuquerque, became a Buddhist, and for the first time in my life actually wanted to be alive and see what the future brings. I want to be fully me and be a contribution and heal things that my brother didn’t get to heal before he died. (We are the same soul.)

On the table [during the treatment] I got to understand a past life I’d only had a glimpse of and I got in touch with the grief of it. So, the bat is still with me, still working with me 3 years after the dream. So is my snake and butterfly and I’m glad I got a chance to write this out and appreciate them even more. Today we all get to celebrate, really I’m going to have a party with my power animals.

P.S. I asked my snake what his name was and he said “Herman.” I said that was a silly name for a snake. Herman said that his name was very highly regarded in the snake kingdom. Her-man!! I get it!! She-he wo-man etc.

Body Part Retrieval 6/10/05 (mine), mediated by Pamela Harris:
I had a revelation that my chronic problems with my right foot symbolized a feeling that part of my body had been torn away with the loss of an important relationship.  I asked my friend Pam Harris, an experienced shamanic practitioner, to try a body part retrieval for me.  I had never experienced that procedure, nor had I ever attempted it myself

In preparation, Pam did a journey for diagnostic purposes.  She found that there was a large intrusion in my foot, knee, hip, throat, and stomach area.  It looked to her like a conglomeration of dark, spiderlike beings.  She knew she would have to remove those and fill the area back up with light before she could go after the foot itself

Pam began by drumming for a while in my room.  She had me lie down on the floor, and she shook a rattle over my whole body.  Then she lay down next to me, touching at the shoulder, hip, and ankle, and turned on a drum tape.

I felt something tubelike projecting out the top of my head and searching the space around my body. It seemed like I was doing that myself. Then I felt something similar in the opposite direction, diving in through the top of my head and searching through the inside of my body. From what she said later, that part was Pam. I wasn’t sure if I should be trying to assist in any way or to observe what she was doing, and I had neglected to ask for her opinion about that. I decided to remain as neutral and quiet as possible.

I’ve heard of clients following along with such journeys and experiencing everything the practitioner experiences.  Not me, I’m afraid. I had only a few physical sensations while Pam did her work, and those only in relation to the extraction of the “spiders.”  I couldn’t have told you anything about what was going on with the journeys themselves, and I certainly didn’t perceive any of the power animals that got involved.

After a while, Pam got up and started pulling at the field around various parts of me, starting at my throat.  It took quite a while; she seemed to be struggling a bit.  She spent a lot of time around my knee and foot, and a fair amount around my abdomen and hip as well, but I felt the pulling most strongly at my throat.  Pam lay down and communed with her power animal again for a while, then continued the extraction.  When she felt that she had cleared everything, she began to pour light into the areas she had worked on.  I could feel quite a bit of energy.

Pam took a break and described what she had seen.  She had found the spider things rather frightening; they seemed to be threatening to bite her.  Her (unspecified) power animal came through, though, and batted them away with its paws, then carried them off and released them into the light.  She said the biggest one, the “mother,” was hard to dislodge, but then the others came along with it.  She found tendrils of these creatures all through my right leg, foot, and hip, as well as in my throat.  My feeling was that the spiders were not actual beings, separate from me, but more just manifestations of my own junk.  As I explained to Pam, I had had a small entity attached to that foot before, and the experience had been quite different then.  That entity, which appeared to me rather like a starfish, seemed to be simply an animal of some kind that had found a food source, not a malevolent being.

As if we didn’t have enough entities involved, Fryderyk stuck his nose in.  I guess I should not have been surprised at that, since we were calling upon helpful spirits.  However, I had been trying and trying to find him for a couple of weeks at that point, almost entirely without success, and then there he was, unbidden, at a time and place where he wasn’t needed and wasn’t really wanted either.  I was a tiny bit miffed, though for no good reason.

Oh, well.  Pam lay down on my right side again, which was a bit strange since Fryderyk was occupying the same space.  I suggested to him that he should move, because perceiving both of them at once was just too weird for me.  He obligingly moved around to my left side, where he appeared to sit down on the floor a few inches away from me.  It felt like he took my hand and held it gently and steadily.  I had to admit that his presence was comforting.  I tried to explain what Pam was attempting to accomplish, and told him that I was just lying there quietly and trying not to interfere, and that he probably shouldn’t interfere either.  I don’t know what he may have perceived of the procedure, or whether he had anything in mind to accomplish himself, but as far as I could tell he did nothing but sit there with his hand on mine.

The actual body part retrieval was brief by comparison to the extraction, but much more enjoyable for Pam.  She told me afterward that Horse, Seal, and Condor had appeared to help.  Very convenient, since they could search by land, sea, and air!  At first Pam rode the Condor and Seal the Horse, but Pam didn’t feel comfortable that way and they switched.  I was amused by the thought of the seal wrapping its flippers around the huge bird, trying to hold on, as they all flew through the air together.  This part was a lot of fun from Pam’s point of view.  She described covering a great distance over mountains and all sorts of terrain, only to find that their quarry had been close by all along.  The whole trip seemed almost instantaneous.

Pam said that it wasn’t usual to talk to a body part under these circumstances; usually one just grabs it and brings it back.  In this case, however, she felt that the foot was reluctant to return, and so she reassured it that I would take good care of it.  She said that it let her know it would like lots of attention, including chanting, stroking, and being flooded with light as much as possible.  Apparently the foot felt all right about its future at that point, and Pam was able to bring it along.

Seal took the foot into the ocean to cleanse it, and then it was ready to be reattached to the rest of me.  Pam blew it back into my physical foot.  I didn’t feel anything especially dramatic, although I did have a sense of greater solidity in that area.

Fryderyk stuck around throughout our post-journey discussion.  I wondered aloud what a 19th-century Parisian gentleman would make of shamanic practice—though he had been exposed to such things before, of course.  Pam looked toward him and said he seemed to be amused.  After a while he faded out.

I had some hope of a definite physical improvement after this procedure, but unfortunately I can’t say that my symptoms really changed.  I did have a change in my attitude toward my foot, though.  I was able to accept and nurture it rather than being angry at it and simply wanting it to go away.  So I felt that the procedure had been a success overall.

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Filed under health and healing, spirit communication, spirituality, the unexplained

How I Met Fryderyk

Clésinger's marble bust of Chopin, after the death mask

Written in 2005, planned as Chapter 1 of that book I haven’t written yet, but have been giving you bits and pieces of here:

During my freshman year of high school, I had a peculiar experience.  It made me pretty peculiar, too, I think.  It’s a little embarrassing to remember now, but I suppose one has the right to be a bit silly at the age of 14.

We had an innovative interdisciplinary course of study that linked developments in history, art, music, and literature.  Somewhere in the middle of the year we got up to the early 19th century, and there was an emphasis on nationalism and Romanticism.  Our music teacher showed us a 1945 movie about Chopin, A Song to Remember, starring Cornel Wilde and Merle Oberon.  (This movie gave Liberace the idea for his candelabra thing; I wasn’t the only one affected!)  It was rather frightful in its WW II era way, but my reaction to it had little to do with the actual quality of the movie itself.  I was absolutely incensed by it.  I was sure that everything in the story was wrong, and that was what I told everybody, including the music teacher, who did not take kindly to this.

I was so bothered that I started reading everything I could find about Chopin, his friends, and his time.  While I didn’t find specific facts about him surfacing as I read, I did feel that a lot of it was more like remembering than like learning something for the first time.  And yes, it turned out that I was right; that movie was inaccurate at best.

I became obsessive about this subject, and I suppose people thought I was a little tetched or something.  It was good timing, though, because this was the mid-1970s, and there was a spike of interest in George Sand as part of the women’s movement.  In fact, PBS’s Masterpiece Theater put yet another film production in front of me, a Sand biography called Notorious Woman (if I remember correctly).  It covered Mme Sand’s life overall, not just her time with Chopin.  Rosemary Harris made an excellent Sand, and George Chakiris a delicately beautiful Chopin, though with the wrong coloring.  There was a lot more truth to that film.  At any rate, my friends, who unsurprisingly were writers and musicians, also developed some interest in the people and events that were holding my attention, and Mme Sand became a sort of spiritual grandmother for some of us young female literary types.  So I felt that I was just a little bit less strange.

I have to make it clear that until I saw that first movie, I had absolutely no interest in Chopin and almost no awareness of his existence, despite the fact that I had been studying piano for a year or so.  My mother had a fairly extensive collection of classical recordings, but Chopin was conspicuously absent, which is hard to explain since she loves his work.  I was listening largely to Mozart at the time.  If anyone had asked me what Chopin had written, I couldn’t have thought of anything other than the so-called “Minute” Waltz.

There was one little piece of hard evidence, or at least a physical object, tying me with Chopin and his time.  I took a lot of art classes in high school, and the people associated with him were recurring subjects in my work.  I tried to draw them as they would have appeared going about their daily activities, in whole scenes.  That seems now like an odd thing for a teenage girl to be doing; I suppose I was trying to clarify my memories, or whatever they were.  One painting, which I never finished, was intended to be a scene at Nohant, George Sand’s estate, although I didn’t know what her home had actually looked like.  Later I found a photo of her salon, and a piece of furniture I had painted was right there in the picture.  It was the piano stool, and it was sufficiently unusual in design that I felt my painting it could not be a coincidence.  In fact, it looked like my painting, but even more like the image I had had in my mind; I had seen a mauve paisley fabric, which showed clearly in the photo, but in the painting I had represented the paisley pattern with simple little crescent lines.  I have no idea whether this stool was in the house during the time that Chopin lived there—and it was not there when I visited Nohant in 2002—but I felt that I must have made a real connection of some kind.

There was little else to go on.  Sometimes I felt that a revelation was just beyond my grasp, and I would do my best to reach for it.  I even sat in the dark at times with my hands on the piano keyboard, feeling that something ought to come through, but unsurprisingly, nothing ever did.  I sometimes stared at pictures and willed myself to remember.  I gave up, went on to other things, figured that if I was meant to understand, the knowledge would eventually come to me.

I was a classical guitar major in music school, and although I did keep up playing the piano to some extent, Chopin faded somewhat into the background of my life.  I concentrated on early music, Renaissance lute repertoire in particular, and disdained Romanticism, as was the fashion in that field.

Nevertheless, I found myself mostly teaching piano, not guitar, for a living (not much of a living, I’m afraid).  Through the years I often felt that I must have once been a much better pianist than I was able to be in this life.  It seemed like I was blocking myself from playing as well as my training and experience should have allowed.  I remember a breakthrough at a lesson in 1989, which seemed to confirm this theory.  The week before, I had been playing one of the mazurkas, or rather totally failing to play it.  My teacher, Jane, agreed with me that there was nothing in this piece that I couldn’t handle, that I must be stopping myself for some reason from playing the way we both knew I could.  To my great surprise, I found myself pouring out the story about the movie and the piano stool and all.  Jane, God love her, took me seriously, and I felt much better.  At my next lesson, I sat down at her Steinway and became a different person, just for a few minutes.  For the first time in my life I knew what it actually felt like to be a pianist.  Where I had stumbled, I flew.  Jane and I stared at each other and asked, “What happened?”  It was obviously something big.  “Maybe I was one of his students,” I joked—a reasonable guess, as it turned out.  Unfortunately, those magical few minutes were not to be repeated.

I thought that might be a good thing, in a way.  If I were to let myself loose at the piano, I thought, I wouldn’t have much interest in anything else, and I wouldn’t do whatever it was that I was supposed to accomplish in my present life.  If I had been a keyboard player before, well, I had been there and done that.  Still, the suggestion that I could become something far greater as a musician rather haunted me.

I should point out that, despite my strong interest in Chopin, I never felt that I loved him during those years.  I didn’t see him as a great human being.  I bought into the view of him as an eternal victim, not really able or willing to take care of himself or make his own decisions.  I wasn’t crazy about the conservatism and social prejudices that were attributed to him (which I now know were not so true).  I did have a certain fondness for him, and identified somewhat with him because of our mutual hypersensitivity, tendency to work in small forms, concern with detail, that sort of thing.  I saw him as a sort of cousin or uncle, related to me but a bit distant, whereas it was George Sand for whom I felt actual love.

In February 1993, everything changed.  Everything.

It happened quite suddenly and in a most unexpected way.  I hate to say this, but it was triggered by another movie.  Our local PBS station ran the 1991 film Impromptu, which concerned Chopin, George Sand, Liszt, and various of their friends and lovers, concentrating on Sand’s courtship of Chopin.  I hadn’t really planned to watch it.  I’d been on very much a left-brain sort of path the past couple of years, and I wasn’t particularly interested in neurotic artists anymore.  I felt I was above that sort of thing.  However, one of my guitar students, who had gone through a Sand phase in college (and even married a pianist), strongly recommended the movie, and curiosity got the better of me.  I taped it and watched it late at night by myself.

The movie was silly—intentionally so – and not at all factual, but true of those people in much the way that Amadeus might be said to be true of Mozart (yes, I know that is arguable).  So I was sitting there chuckling at the movie, when all of a sudden I found myself curled in a ball on the couch, screaming uncontrollably (or rather, quite controllably, because I managed to be extremely quiet—I just couldn’t stop).

The thing that set off the screaming was George saying to Fryderyk, “Who has taught you to be afraid?  No wonder you’re choking to death!  Someone’s got to show you how to breathe!”

This actually made a certain kind of sense, but I’ll have to back up a bit to show why that’s so.  The short version of the story, though, is that the next day I was able to play the piano at a completely different level from the day before.  This continued, and there were a number of other more or less bizarre effects.  I wasn’t playing really well, but I seemed no longer to stop myself from using what ability I had.  And suddenly I was having a lot more fun.

While the movie apparently acted as a trigger, it seems that I had been leading up to this change without realizing it.  For one thing, I was quite literally trying to stop choking and learn to breathe.  I was doing that as a project for my anatomy and physiology class.  I conducted a little study of the effect of playing a wind instrument on respiratory health, knowing that music lessons are often prescribed for people with asthma.  Partly I took this up because the teacher required a project, partly to try to clear up the case of bronchitis I had developed over Christmas break and couldn’t seem to shake off.  I had been coughing for weeks, and knew from experience that playing the flute would help me to clear out the goo that was still clogging my chest.

As I practiced each day on the flute, I found that I had to consciously force myself to open my chest and really breathe deeply.  There seemed to be a tremendous amount of anxiety and fear clutching at the muscles of my chest wall, and I had to constantly fight myself to push my way through it.  It soon became easier, though, and through the month of my study I cleared out a lot of phlegm and much of the emotional blockage.  My lung capacity increased by almost 50% (as measured in the school lab), and I felt more energetic and relaxed.  My teacher loved the project, too, and gave me an A.  It was near the beginning of this period of flute practice that, as I said, everything changed, and breathing was a major theme at the time.

Meanwhile, I was working with physical therapy and yoga to loosen up my body, while stretching and contorting my brain with the science classes.  I was practicing Reiki and opening up my perceptions.

Back to the main thread of the story.  After my episode of screaming, I felt a bit shell-shocked, but finally was able to go to sleep.  The next day, when I went to the piano, there were little flashes, just a few seconds at a time, of a level of playing far beyond what I could normally produce.  If I held a certain sort of concentration, it would come through more easily, but I couldn’t sustain it.  At the same time, I felt like I was picking up little suggestions, rather like getting a lesson from an attentive and caring teacher.  And I felt like he was around, just out of reach.  It was an intriguing sensation.  Nothing very definite, just a sense of presence.

I buzzed with this for a day or two.  My thoughts ran to physics, which had been part of my recent studies.  Bell’s theorem in particular, the one that shows in a mathematically rigorous way that reality must be non-local, in other words, that everything affects everything and that action at a distance is not only possible, but is necessary to any coherent model of the universe.  “If he can affect me,” I mused, “can I affect him?”  After all, for the past 19 or so years I had felt some connection there, gotten some tantalizing little bits of information now and then, and always hoped that something would someday break through, but I had never had any power to make that happen.  I came to the conclusion that, reality being non-local and time being non-linear, I had to be able to reach him.  And I was determined to try.

Although I had never had the slightest success with experiments in astral projection, and had shown little talent for telepathy, I had some hope of accomplishing my goal.  I had a new tool to work with, the Reiki technique for treatment at a distance, which allows one to reach across both space and time.  I had a hard time even believing this could be done, even though I had received such a treatment myself a couple of months earlier, and it had worked beautifully.  I began with the thought that it couldn’t hurt to try, and with the intention simply to communicate in whatever way might be possible.  I aimed mentally for Paris, 1838, and went through the prescribed procedure.  I was planning to look for him in his Earth life; it didn’t occur to me to try to find him in present time.  The image in my mind was of walking up to him, putting my hands on the back of his head.

The first thing I noticed was a strong pull on my left palm, whereas I was used to feeling the right hand working harder during a distance treatment.  Then it seemed that the Qi was flowing three or four inches out from my hands and disappearing suddenly, as if into a black hole.  That was new.  I suddenly thought that I ought to be trying to say something, but I had no idea what.  We didn’t even have a language in common, as far as I knew—did it matter?  Feeling a bit awkward, I tried to convey general pleasantries like, “We appreciate you, we love your work, we’re so glad you exist.  Take heart, because your efforts will not go to waste.”  Silly me, I was thinking in terms of treating him, helping him, maybe somehow saving him, as if he needed saving and needed me to do it for him.

I remember a sense of him bounding toward me, delighted, bowling me over like a huge puppy.  I assumed that he was pleased and relieved that I had finally figured out how to get in touch after so many years.

I drifted off to sleep without breaking the contact.  The next morning, I awoke feeling absolutely wonderful—and realized that, as far as I could remember, I had never felt that way before.  “Well,” I said to myself, “I may not have done anything for him, but I sure did something for me.”  The only thing that felt other than perfect was a sense that my body just wasn’t right somehow; I felt like I should be taller and much thinner, and my pelvic bones felt all wrong.

I spent the next few days in a kind of Zen flow state.  Everything to which I turned my hand came out exactly as intended, without effort.  The bright moments in my piano practice lasted longer.  My daughter, age five, hung around in the doorway and applauded, or went off to dance while I played.

I coughed horrendously for about two days, cleared out a lot of gunk, and then seemed to be finished with that.

I suddenly felt that my wardrobe was all wrong and went shopping for pastel florals.

I noticed that I was showing all the classic symptoms of being in love.

It was tough to study for that week’s anatomy and physiology exam; I was mooning about like a sixteen-year-old, listening to music, reading poetry, drifting toward Paris.  I had a strong sense of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Sometimes it was a peculiar sort of stretched feeling, as if one arm were reaching into some other dimension, with the rest of me here.  It was not especially uncomfortable, but it certainly was distracting.  It was the week before Valentine’s Day, and I was feeling hearts-and-flowery as never before.  Probably everyone appreciated the extra affection.  They just wondered why I was so cheery all of a sudden.  People started to tell me things like, “I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something so different about you.”

Things took a negative turn on the night of February 13.  One way to reach a person who is far away is to concentrate on a photograph, and I decided to look up a copy of the only extant photo of Chopin, the one taken not long before his death.  I had no thought of actually trying to contact him right then; in fact, I was in medical mode, wondering exactly what had caused the severe facial edema and trying to remember details about right-sided heart failure.  I wondered what he was feeling like at the time.  Suddenly, without warning, I fell headlong into the picture—at least that is the best way I can describe it.  There was no time to get my shields up.  It was like drowning.  I could hardly get a breath past the crushing pain in my chest.  My stomach twisted with nausea.  The worst, though, was a feeling of absolute, unending despair, and I sank to the floor of my music studio, sobbing, under the weight of it.

I remember offering to give any healing that might be available, but that part is vague.  Mostly I remember trying to break the contact and failing repeatedly.  None of the ways I had learned to protect myself worked.  I ended up beating my hands into the carpet as hard as I could, and gradually the sensations faded away.

I felt ill through the next day and was in an altered state in which everything seemed dark and sinister.  Nothing like this has ever happened again, thank God, and I still have no explanation for it.  It was not a communication from Chopin or anyone else, just a species of direct experience.  I learned one thing with certainty: never ask a question unless you are ready to accept the answer.

It was an interesting time, those first few weeks, trying to stay in balance through all the changes.  Most of the time I felt a warmth at my sacrum, sometimes running up my spine; that, along with the extra energy and general good spirits, made me feel wildly sexual.  My husband was nonplussed but didn’t seem to mind.  What neither of us knew till months later was that I was developing cervical cancer.  My assumption now is that all that energy pouring into my root chakra was meant at least in part to help with that situation.  However, there was definitely an erotic aspect to it as well.

In the midst of one of these warm, pleasant experiences, I thought with all the force I could muster, “I wish I could see your face.”  I never did get a visual image, but my own face suddenly seemed to be changing.  It felt as if someone were molding my bones like clay.  This scared me too much, and I broke away.  But that effect began to stay with me most of the time, a feeling of having someone else’s face, but only on the right side.  It was just as if a perfectly straight line had been drawn smack down the center of my face, and completely different things would happen on each side.  If a particularly strong contact was taking place, this was even visible.  The muscles realigned themselves so that the shape of my face actually changed subtly on the right side and I wore two different expressions.  There was a certain amount of discomfort at first, because that shape didn’t fit my bone structure too well.  For example, my jaw thrust forward too much and started to ache. My nose sometimes felt twisted under the opposing forces—in addition to feeling overly large.  It was amazing.  I could touch my face with my fingers and convince myself that the structure was exactly what it had always been, but my internal perception was totally at odds with what my fingers told me.

This was severely weird but very useful.  It provided me with a means of communication, because the affected side of my face could change expression without my having anything to do with it.  I particularly remember one time that I asked him a question about something that upset him terribly, and the right side of my face twisted in a grimace of absolute agony, while the left side remained absolutely relaxed.   There was no way I could have done that on purpose, no matter how hard I tried.  Most of the time (fortunately) it was much less dramatic, like a smile with only half of my mouth.  Eventually I concluded that this form of communication was not good for me, and I was able to put a stop to it.

So what was it like, this face that I lived with but never saw with my eyes?  A broad, high, rather flat forehead; flat cheekbones; very prominent, narrow, aquiline nose, with a tight, “nose in the air” feeling; pointed chin with the jaw pushed forward.  A tense face overall, pulled back strongly at the temples, with a tightness around the pursed mouth that verged on a constant expression of disapproval.  Yet a face that smiled easily.  A face that was entirely consistent with that of my favorite Romantic-period composer.

I made no official statements at that time, or in fact for years after, putting a name to that face.  Although my family and friends understood that I was in contact with someone who appeared to be Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin, I did not speak of him that way.  I referred to him coyly as “my invisible friend,” “my guy,” “my spirit guide,” that sort of thing.  I had no proof and was not ready to commit to being quite that crazy.

(Of course, with a five-year-old in the house, there was nothing especially odd about invisible friends.  We were inundated with assorted little girls, bears, puppies, kittens, parrots, other animals that I couldn’t keep track of, even a Vulcan.  You couldn’t walk through our house without tripping over “somebody.”  My daughter didn’t notice my own somebody, which was fine with me.)

I might have expected that this masculine influence would bring out my own masculine side, but just the opposite happened.  I started feeling hyper-feminine, and went in for floral prints, flowing skirts, and hair bows.  It was as if I had become another person.  It was only much later that I found out who it might be.

While I did not find myself suddenly writing in fluent Polish or playing amazing new original melodies, there were some events that lent weight to the idea that I was indeed hearing from Chopin.  Early on, there was the Mozart episode.  My husband made his debut as a symphonic percussionist with the largely-amateur Albuquerque Philharmonic, which needed an extra pair of hands for Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Capriccio Espagnol.”  The concert began with the overture to Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, a piece which (I admit sheepishly) was entirely unfamiliar to me at that time.  The strings were frightfully out of tune, and I wasn’t a great fan of Mozart then anyway, so I was wincing at the first few measures and wishing I could go home early.  But at the same time, there were shivers of pleasure going up my spine, as if someone was awfully happy to hear that piece.  “Oh, come on,” I thought, “it’s so out of tune!”  “Yes, but it’s Mozart!” seemed to be the reply.  It felt as if he were actually jumping up and down with joy and excitement.  “Oh, yeah, you love Mozart.  Okay, so tell me what’s so good about it.”  There was a rush of sensations in my chest, like a computer file downloaded too fast to be read.

It was the first time that I was absolutely sure someone else’s thoughts were in my head, someone with entirely different opinions and reactions.  Later I read that Chopin considered Don Giovanni to be the pinnacle of musical achievement.  Frankly, I still disagree, but my opinion cannot carry nearly so much weight as his; he was a rabid opera fan and immersed in Mozart’s work throughout his life.  I have taken every opportunity to attend performances of Mozart operas, though, in an attempt to fill in this gap in my education and to get a better understanding of something that was (and is) so important to Fryderyk.

The identity of my friend was less important to me than the relationship itself—though I often thought that if I were to find out that I was wrong about him, I would feel unutterably stupid and wouldn’t know how to go on.  Something absolutely central to my life, a support I relied upon, would have been pulled out from under me if had I found out I was being deceived.  Now, as I write about this 15 years later, I can say with confidence that I have never been deceived, and I have gained more and more evidence that my friend is who and what he appears to be.

Near the beginning of these experiences, Jane told me, “What you are really trying to find out with all this is who you are.”

Around the same time, I heard from my friend Maggie in Ohio.  “There’s a lot that I’m not sure of,” she wrote.  Amen to that, I thought.  Maggie had been in and out of the local mental hospital a number of times in the past couple of years.  She was living in her own reality, like the rest of us, but her reality was a bit farther removed from the average than most people’s.  There was a certain celebrity she had been in love with for much of her life, and from time to time she became convinced that he was actually with her and even that they were married.  She had all sorts of strategies to make her delusions fit in with the inescapable facts of her daily life.  “David isn’t here because he’s filming in L.A.,” she might say.  So was there a provable difference between Maggie and me, I wondered?  Sure there was.  I hadn’t landed in a hospital.

I couldn’t entirely blame Maggie for attempting to make something better out of her genuinely dismal life.  I think what made her escape so much further into fantasy at that time was the fact of her biological clock inexorably running down, with no hope of getting what she wanted most, a husband and children.  But her maladaptive behavior made the things she wanted that much more remote.  Seeing her situation, I tried to analyze my own needs and motives to see if I might be inventing some sort of similar wish-fulfillment for myself.  When I first encountered Fryderyk, I was coming off a severe blow to my self-esteem and my plans for the future.  However, I had already made other plans.  Certainly I felt a need to be loved and cared for, a need to be needed, a need to feel that I was special to someone.  But my marriage was in excellent condition, my daughter was doing well, I had close friends, and I was finding opportunities to serve others.  I didn’t think that these experiences found me at a point of unusual weakness or vulnerability.  I remained open to the idea that I might possibly be delusional, but I was pretty sure that it was all for real, and I longed for clearer understanding.


Filed under spirit communication, the unexplained

The Music of Rosemary Brown from a Pianist’s Perspective

(Revised 7/19/16; originally posted May 15, 2011)
This is a blast from the past, an article I wrote in 2007 for the journal of the Society for Spirituality and Paranormal Studies.  It was reprinted in the online magazine
The Ground of Faith, and occasionally someone contacts me because they found it there.  I thought I had already posted it here, but it seems I’d let it slip past me.  That’s just as well, though, because Franz Liszt was the instigator and central figure of the Brown project, and now, in the midst of his bicentennial year, it’s the perfect time to bring attention to his efforts.  (That other guy who had his 200th birthday last year was his main assistant.)

I had thought that all Rosemary Brown recordings and sheet music were out of print, at the time I originally posted this back in 2011 I certainly could not find any available except as a few pieces being passed from person to person.   It turns out that Arends Musikverlage, a small German company, has been publishing it, in their Keturi line.  When I hunted for Mrs. Brown’s works they never showed up in search results, but recently Sonja Arends contacted me and now I have the ordering information.  There are a number of pieces I had never had an opportunity to see before.  Some samples of recordings can be found here:  There is a short biography of Mrs. Brown and a link to a page where you can order sheet music, all in English.

Some samples of the sheet music, provided by the publisher, are included in the following links.  You will need  to click on the name, then do the same on the page that comes up next, to view the PDFs.

Bagatelle E-Dur Keturi Musikverlag

Consolation Keturi Musikverlag

Fragment Keturi Musikverlag

Impromptu Keturi Musikverlag

Reve en Bateau Keturi Musikverlag

The Rosemary Brown Piano Album appears to still be available from Novello, as well:

My own recording of Liszt’s “Grubelei,” created with engineering help from Guilherme Tavares, can be found here:


I’m posting the article just as it appeared originally:

The Music of Rosemary Brown from a Pianist’s Perspective

by Elene Gusch, B. Mus., DOM

“Distinguished musicians could again be called upon to commend the work of Rosemary Brown.  I would rather take this opportunity to do it myself, for a music publisher supports a venture in the most convincing way possible.  He risks his own money….

“I have undertaken publication of the music because I believe in its validity, and because it is necessary if widespread performance is to take place.  How else can the efforts of these composers and Mrs Brown be rewarded?…

“From the first manifestation of Mrs Brown’s gifts as an intermediary in the mid-sixties, cynics have attacked the weaknesses in the music, whilst enthusiasts have counter-attacked with the many splendid passages.  Both extremes leap to the eye without difficulty.  The real difficulty lies in looking at the phenomenon as a whole and comprehending the boundaries that have been crossed in its making.  Inconsistencies will remain in the quality of the music until communication gets easier (assuming that it can).  But the triumph of contact at this level is so overwhelming that no musician should ignore the results.”   –Basil Ramsey, publisher, in the introduction to An album of music for children of all ages

A great deal of ink has already been spread about on the subject of Rosemary Brown, one of the most publicized mediums of the late 20th century.  Much of that, unfortunately, has consisted of misquotes, inaccuracies, and thoughtless derision, rather than intelligent consideration of the facts of her life and work.  Mrs. Brown herself (possibly with a ghostwriter, no pun intended) wrote four books, though only two, Unfinished Symphonies and Immortals at my Elbow, have been available in recent years.  Another book, an analysis of Mrs. Brown’s musical output by Ian Parrott, has been out of print for some time, and I have not been able to get hold of a copy.  Some recordings were made, but to the best of my knowledge they are out of print too, along with all of the sheet music.  It so often happens that events which seem unexplainable to mainstream thought make a splash at first, and for a while everyone talks about them, but then they are forgotten.  Rosemary Brown’s music has shared that fate.

Although there have been many examples of musical mediums, Mrs. Brown’s activities were extraordinary in that her work has been transmitted to us in written form.  The story is that, beginning in the early 1960s, she took dictation from a team of well-known deceased composers, writing down hundreds of pieces of varying length and complexity, mostly for piano solo.  Some musical authorities of the time, including Leonard Bernstein, found the works to be convincingly like those of the composers who were supposed to have created them, but unsurprisingly, many other people have scoffed and insisted that Mrs. Brown was a charlatan, or that the composers were only “imaginary friends” of hers.  Yet, it has to be admitted, even by the most skeptical and materialistic minds, that something highly unusual was going on.  The sheer number of pieces is impressive, even ignoring the fact that they comprise so many disparate musical styles.  It would have been difficult for even a very able and well-trained composer to come up with them all, especially to produce them at the speed with which they came through, and it is a documented and indisputable fact that Rosemary Brown had only the most minimal education in music.  (She lived in the same house most of her earthly existence, and there would have been no opportunity for her to get extensive training out of the sight of her friends and neighbors.)  If we are going to postulate that this woman produced such a huge and varied opus purely out of her own unconscious mind, having no idea what she was doing, we still have to explain how a thing like that could be possible.  We are stuck, one way or another, with a realization that human potential must be much greater than we thought.  It is impossible to believe that this music was produced by purely “normal,” everyday means.  Simply saying that it is fake, as someone told me just the other day, does not begin to explain the observed phenomena.

Of course, there are people among us today who can produce music that is convincingly similar to the work of well-known composers.  One of them is Bruce Adolphe, who produces “Piano Puzzlers” for American Public Media’s program Performance Today.  He recasts a familiar tune in the style of some recognizable composer, and a contestant is supposed to guess both the name of the tune and that of the composer.  It’s generally not hard to figure out, because the composers’ styles are so distinctive.  Bruce Adolphe is amazing, and it’s not entirely beyond belief that Rosemary Brown could have been doing something similar, but for the reasons mentioned above it seems unlikely indeed.

The Brown project, we are told, was the brainchild of Franz Liszt, who believed that if people on Earth could receive musical compositions from the other side that could not possibly be produced by ordinary means, they would have to believe that there is more to life than our physical existence.   In Liszt’s own words, given in an introduction to Robert Schumann’s “Twelve Cameos,” “We in spirit hope to help people to realise that they are evolving souls destined to pass into the realms of non-matter where they will continue to evolve.  This realisation should give them a whole new dimension of thinking, and raise their self-image above its earthbound limits.”

Liszt was aided and abetted by Fryderyk Chopin, who acted as second-in-command, and a number of other heavy hitters, including Ludwig van Beethoven, Sergei Rachmaninov, Franz Schubert, Edvard Grieg, Johannes Brahms, Robert and Clara Schumann, Claude Debussy, Hector Berlioz, and even J. S. Bach.  Still other composers made occasional appearances.

Anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with classical music knows that each of these composers possessed a unique and distinctive style, which one might expect to be recognizable in any new works they produce.  In fact, having them write in recognizable styles was crucial to the success of the project.  Liszt explained, “The music transmitted is not put forth with the object of surpassing previous musical achievements.  The aim is to pour through a sufficient measure in terms of musical expression to give clear demonstrations of the personal idiom of each composer concerned.  Therefore, each composer endeavours to filter through the essence of his own spirit rather than to attempt gigantic works of technical virtuosity.”

Although the composers all have individual styles, a number of them lived during the same time period, influenced each other, and were influenced by the same historical forces, so there are certain resemblances even among their “real” works.  Late Chopin, for example, sounds to me somewhat like Brahms.  Some of the composers—Liszt, Chopin, and Berlioz—were friends during their material existence.  Brahms loved Clara Schumann, and was an important part of her life.  The lifespans of Beethoven and Schubert overlapped those of the Romantic-period composers.  Even among those who were not contemporaries, there are connections; Chopin worshipped and closely studied Bach, Debussy was inspired by Chopin, Liszt was a great exponent of Beethoven, and so forth.  It’s not surprising to find this group of artists working together.

I have lived with this body of work for the better part of a decade, and although proof of Mrs. Brown’s claims is not possible, I cannot avoid believing in her sincerity and veracity.  I would like to describe what the music is like from the point of view of a pianist.  I am not going to attempt a rigorous musicological analysis; I am only hoping to give a subjective sense of what playing and hearing the music is like, since the reader has probably not had the opportunity to come into contact with it.  I am going to discuss only the pieces for which I have sheet music.

I first heard of Rosemary Brown in 1998, five years into my own contacts with the spirit world.  I didn’t have much trouble accepting the premise that the music had been channeled, and because I had done some very limited channeling at the piano myself, I was vitally interested.  It took me about a year to get hold of any of the printed or recorded music, though.  I was fortunate enough to meet Jane Ellen, a composer based here in Albuquerque, who happened to have a copy of one recording, as well as a number of the books of sheet music.  Since all the sheet music is out of print, what I have is in the “Xerox edition,” and I have been unable to acquire any more.

Holding that music in my hands, and actually playing it, was strangely disturbing at first, even for someone with my background.  The sheer weight of it, the concreteness, was stunning.  Instead of being a vague, it-might-be nice concept, the vitality of the composers, their inarguable aliveness, lay in my hands as a physical fact.  And yet I still balked at believing one hundred percent, and despite all the evidence, part of me continues to doubt a little.  So I do understand, just a bit, why this work has been swept under the very large rug that covers so many signs of survival after death.

One might expect that, since the method of transmission was so arduous, the pieces in this collection would be quite simple.  That is not the case.  While they are not “gigantic works of technical virtuosity,” many require fairly advanced pianistic skills.  One finds successions of four and even five-note chords in each hand, as well as passages using crossed hands.  Considerable speed is often called for.  Some of the pieces are surprisingly lengthy;  Liszt’s “Woodland Waters,” for example, runs 14 pages.  The majority of the pieces are only a few pages long, and they are relatively accessible to the amateur pianist.  Still, there are a number of pieces that I cannot play up to tempo at this point.  Since recordings are not available for most of these works, I have not been able to hear them the way they should sound, and I can’t give you a complete evaluation of them.

Earlier pieces are coyly marked “Inspired by…,” but in the later publications one finds “From… as dictated to Rosemary Brown.”  The pieces were largely received without marks of expression, tempo, etc., but there are notable exceptions, particularly with Liszt and Schumann, both of whom used elaborate, untranslated verbal directions that sent me running for my dictionaries.  The editors needed to fix a number of quirks in the notation that were caused by Mrs. Brown’s lack of musical expertise, such as E’s being written instead of F-flats.  Some oddities of notation remain, and some notes may simply be mistakes.  Mrs. Brown made no pretense of being absolutely accurate.  In Immortals at my Elbow, she wrote, “To get anything as elaborate as a piece of music across clearly without any mistakes in transmission, is an almost impossible feat.”  It is common to find errors and discrepancies in the notation of earth-plane composers as well, so this is not surprising.

Many of the pieces with programmatic titles cited in this article are from An album of music for children of all ages.  Apparently there had been many requests from the public for easier music that could be enjoyed by a wider audience, and this book was the result.  It’s a good place to start if one has access to the printed music.

By far the greatest number of pieces came from Franz Liszt, and they are also the longest.  Even a cursory look at the pages gives a strong impression of his style.  As always, Liszt favored heavy religious and philosophical themes, like the arpeggiated, undulating “Jesus walking on the water in the midst of the storm.”  His Italian fluency is on display in marks of expression such as “strepitoso” (noisy) and “sordamente” (muffled).

I have an extremely unscientific but reliable method of recognizing Liszt’s work: when I hear it I tend to giggle uncontrollably.  The more seriously he is taking himself, the less seriously I can take him.  I find this effect in Mrs. Brown’s Liszt pieces as well.  Even the quiet and simple “A Rainy Day,” from the album for children, has a certain pomposity.  I do like it very much, though.

Liszt’s “Grübelei” (Meditation), in my opinion, stands head and shoulders above most of the pieces in the Brown repertoire.  As you can probably tell, I am not much of a Liszt fan, but this piece is wonderful.  It is daunting at first—mostly because the right hand is in 5/4 and the left hand is in 3/2— but it greatly rewards the player who sticks with it.  I have returned to it again and again, and I always find something more in it, which I think is the sign of great music.  Even if Mrs. Brown had produced nothing else, one would have to say that something interesting was going on.

The genesis of “Grübelei” is an amusing story.  Liszt began it during a taping by the BBC in 1969.  The producers wanted to film the process of receiving the music right as it was happening.  Mrs. Brown was nervous at being tested in this way, and made sure that the BBC people understood that they might end up with nothing at all, since a medium cannot count on getting a message at any specific time.  “Be sure you give me something spectacular!” she said to Liszt.  When the taping began, Liszt appeared immediately and set to work, but the piece made no sense to Mrs. Brown, having those two time signatures juxtaposed, as well as constant changes of key and accidentals thrown about everywhere.  She attempted to play some of it, but found herself unable to cope with the difficulty, and had grave misgivings about the whole thing.  She asked Liszt if perhaps it might be better to do another Hungarian rhapsody or something of that nature, but he assured her that “Grübelei” was going to impress the listeners far more.  A member of the BBC team then asked to try playing the piece, which he was able to do without much trouble.  His comment was, “Mrs. Brown, I think you’ve got something here.”  The piece was later taken to Humphrey Searle, who was a Liszt expert.  Mr. Searle was also impressed with it, and noted a spot which resembled a cadenza in one of the Liebestraums; Mrs. Brown believed that Liszt had intended that measure to be a clue to his authorship.  (Unfinished Symphonies, pp. 88-93)

Most of my time at the piano is spent with works of Chopin, and I know his style intimately.  When I first played through the Brown pieces of his that were available to me (a prelude, a nocturne, a waltz, and six mazurkas), I felt a little uncomfortable with them.  The mazurkas, in particular, struck me as odd, more angular and less flowing than the familiar mazurkas from his lifetime, and seemed far from his best work.  However, it was hard to imagine anyone else having written them.   More recently, as I have played them again and again, they have grown on me, and I hear parts of them as quite delightful, but I still see them as a relatively weak link in the Brown repertoire.

While working on this article, I found myself embroiled in an online discussion of the Nocturne in A-flat, transmitted in 1966.  The opinion of the other writers was that this piece didn’t sound like a nocturne, certainly didn’t sound like Chopin, and was “banal.”  I find their position strange.  Since the piece has a slow, lyrical, flowing melody above a wide-spread, arpeggiated accompaniment, it is in fact very much in the mold of an archetypal nocturne.  As to whether it sounds like Chopin, there is one section in which I hear his voice so clearly that it brings me to tears, but I suppose that is a matter of opinion.

I tried running this nocturne past my husband, a professional woodwind player, without telling him what it was or who was supposed to have written it.  His first comment was that it made him think of a certain “warhorse” piece—one that is played frequently, maybe almost to death—and the warhorse turned out to be Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat, Op. 9 No. 2, which has the same type of accompaniment and begins with the same gesture of a rising major sixth.  My husband also noted the vocal quality of the melody and its resemblance to Italian opera, which had a huge influence on Chopin.  The Brown nocturne, to me, is also reminiscent of the Cantabile in B-flat, KK IVb/6. The Chopin prelude is interesting, stylistic, and not problematic, but it has to go extremely fast to sound right, and so I have not yet heard it properly.

The mazurkas, angular and 20th-century-like as they are, do sound Polish.  They are built largely of short melodic cells that repeat either literally or in sequences, a characteristic of mazurkas often found in Chopin’s known works.  In the set I have, the keys of the six pieces descend by half steps, and they are unified in style and general mood.  They are simple in construction but not particularly easy.

Looking at “The Waltzing Doll,” from the album for children, gives a Chopinologist like me something of a turn, since Chopin abhorred programmatic titles and never gave anything but generic names to his works.  However, this piece was meant to fit into a collection in which everything has a cute title, and it is intended to appeal to children, so I suppose he had to conform.  It is pleasant, straightforward waltz with a sinuous melody, and darn if it doesn’t sound exactly like a waltzing doll.  It also sounds like it was written by the same person who wrote the mazurkas.

Only two of the Rachmaninov compositions are in my possession.  One is a chromatic, étude-like prelude, and the other is a charming piece from the album for children, “Sleigh Ride.”  When I play “Sleigh Ride,” it’s as if I can feel snow falling all around me; the tessitura is high throughout, and its steady, tinkly eighth notes give it a crystalline quality.  My only complaint about this fun piece is that the introduction is a little bit hokey.

The Beethoven scherzo and bagatelle fit right in with his shorter and easier known pieces, and their forward-rushing energy and expansiveness feel like him to me.  They are fast, and while they are not truly difficult, they are on the tricky side.  There is also a much easier piece in the album for children, “A Little Carol.”  It reminds me of the sprightly middle movement of the “Moonlight” Sonata.

Johannes Brahms contributed two intermezzi and a waltz.  They contain large chords and dramatic melodies, and they cover a wide swath of the keyboard, as Brahms is wont to do.

I’m not an expert on Schubert, but I’m sure I hear characteristic gestures of his in the two pieces labeled “Moment Musical,” as well as the tuneful, singable melodies one expects of him.  I’ve also noticed that Schubert seems to be inordinately fond of C-flats, and plenty of them do occur in his Brown project pieces.

I have listed Clara Schumann among the composers, and indeed she was a composer in her own right, but in the Brown project she acted only to bring works of her husband to the earth plane, often appearing with their friend Johannes Brahms.  Robert Schumann apparently could not manage the kind of focus necessary to transmit the pieces himself.  Liszt tells us, however, that Schumann is in much better mental health these days than he was during his life.  In the introduction to “Twelve Cameos,” he says, “The pieces illustrate some enchanting facets of the multi-sided genius of Robert Schumann.  He lost his way on earth because the mirrors of his mind reflected false images to him.  Now, of course, his mind is clear, and he shares in the delight of an unclouded vision of the beauty of Creation and its Creator.”

The “Twelve Cameos” form an organized whole, with the keys of the pieces rising chromatically from D-flat to C.  Each piece is very brief, and is named for an emotion or psychological state, such as “Uberraschung” (Surprise) or “Nachdenklichkeit” (Thoughtfulness).  All the titles and markings are in German, and for me, complex enough to make a dictionary imperative.  The only thing that strikes me as being different from what I would expect of Schumann is that the two hands do not overlap or intertwine in the way his work often requires.

There is also a more extended Schumann piece, “Longing,” which is not part of the Cameos, despite the similar title.  It is a sweet and not at all difficult piece, one of the most enjoyable and accessible in the group.

I have two rather atmospheric and decidedly impressionistic pieces attributed to Debussy, both concerning avian subjects.  In the midst of writing this, I played “Le Pâon” (The Peacock) in the presence of my husband, who couldn’t see what I was supposed to be playing and had not heard the piece before.  I asked, “Who wrote that?” and without hesitation, he replied, “Debussy.”

Grieg is represented in my collection only by “A Song of Childhood,” which is gentle, lyrical, and easy to play.  It has a sparse accompaniment and the feel of a folk song.

I also have only one piece attributed to Bach.  It is a prelude in the typical Bach mode of a repeating pattern that relentlessly continues throughout the piece.  I’m afraid it is not especially interesting, though I cannot say that there is anything specifically wrong with it, or anything that is absolutely not Bach-like.

Mrs. Brown found Bach rather intimidating, not someone to chat casually with like Liszt or Chopin.  She said that in the beginning he gave her a few pieces that followed his known style, to establish his identity, and then he moved on to new material that we might not recognize as his.  This brings up an important point: there is no reason to expect a composer, or anyone else, to be exactly the way they were many years ago or to produce exactly the same kind of work.  It is daunting to imagine how one might reproduce a style one used at a much younger age and under very different circumstances.  Yet, for the most part, the composers of the Rosemary Brown project have done just that, and we clearly hear their living voices.


Brown, R. Immortals at My Elbow (in the US, Immortals by My Side), Bachman & Turner, London, 1974

Brown, R. Unfinished Symphonies, William Morrow and Co., Inc., New York, 1971

Books of sheet music:

Music from Beyond, Basil Ramsey, 1977

An album of piano pieces for children of all ages, Basil Ramsey, 1979

The Rosemary Brown Piano Album, Novello & Co. Ltd.

Six Mazurkas for piano solo from Frédéric Chopin, Basil Ramsey, 1981

Twelve Cameos for piano solo from Robert Schumann, Basil Ramsey, 1980

Individual pieces:

Intermezzo in A flat, inspired by Johannes Brahms, 1978

“Le Pâon,” inspired by Claude Debussy, 1978

“Woodland Waters,” inspired by Franz Liszt, 1977

Elene Gusch has been working as a Doctor of Oriental Medicine since 1996, but her bachelor’s degree is in classical guitar performance.  She has performed extensively on Renaissance lute as well as guitar, and over a period of three decades taught private music lessons on a number of instruments, most often piano.  Her main musical interest is the work of Fryderyk Chopin.  She has gotten the Piano Puzzlers right just about every time.



Filed under channeling, music, spirit communication, the unexplained

How I Know the Material World Isn’t

The following was previously published in The Searchlight, the newsletter of the Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies.

Physics tells us that matter consists mostly of empty space between particles.  We also know that if we examine those particles more and more closely, breaking them down into smaller and smaller parts, soon there are no parts left, no matter at all, only a vibrating “quantumstuff” of which we have little understanding.  The seeming solidity of matter is pure illusion, a convenience created for us by our senses.

Perhaps this begins to explain the phenomena I am about to describe.

Rubbery Iron

Qi Gong masters are known for being able to affect material objects by emitting Qi from their hands, even blowing out candles by simply holding their hands near the flame.  I have seen ordinary, untrained people doing something far more astonishing—bending pieces of iron rebar using nothing more than the power of their minds and their own bodies’ energy fields.

In the late 1990s I gave treatments and workshops at Desert High, a summer health-promotion program for school employees.  Participants were intended to learn healthier behaviors during the week of the program and then return to their school communities and teach others.  There was always some sort of team-building, motivational activity involving the entire group, a couple of hundred people.  One year the activity was bending rebar.

How do you get a team of six or eight humans with no special equipment to bend a thick iron rod?  Do you have some of them step on one end, perhaps, while others pull as hard as they can on the other?  Can it be done at all?  Well, it did get done, by the following unlikely method.

Two people were chosen from each team to do the bending, while the others lined up behind them to add support and cheer them on.  Here’s the tricky part.  With the two “benders” facing each other, the ends of the rebar were placed at the bases of their throats, resting just above the sternum.  Any physical pressure would have resulted in pain and perhaps even severe injury.  It was impossible to bend the rebar by physically pushing.  Likewise, any physical pressure from the other team members would have been useless and probably dangerous.

So how did the rebar get bent?  Everyone in the group had to concentrate their mental focus and their energy in the same direction, in total coordination and harmony.  A number of  teams managed this.  The bars could be seen to suddenly collapse in the middle and sag like rubber, as if they had bent on their own.  Once bent, they stayed that way.  Successful teams were given ribbons to tie onto their pieces of iron, which they displayed triumphantly.

Uri Geller had nothing on our group.

I saw this with my own eyes, but unfortunately my team wasn’t able to manage it.  For a while I was a “bender,” so I did get a sense of what the process felt like.  At one point I felt that the rebar got wobbly in the center, jellylike, and I thought it was finally going to bend, but nothing more happened.  Still, I had seen, and I knew what was possible.

The next day I gave my workshop session, which was an introduction to Qi and energy healing.  Normally, for such presentations I had to make the case that the human body is not really a solid object and that it can change for the better instantaneously.  That year, all I had to do was to remind everyone of what we had seen, that even iron isn’t solid.

Which brings up a bit of difficulty.  Iron rebar is meant to reinforce buildings.  It has to be solid; that is its purpose.  What if a whole lot of pieces of rebar, or other materials in a building, suddenly decided to change shape?  We would be in an incredible amount of trouble.  We are fortunate that the parts of the material world generally stay put and do their jobs the way they are meant to.  Exactly why they can be shifted with relative ease under some conditions, while remaining stable otherwise, is a challenge to understand, and I’m not at all sure that I can explain it.  I can only say that it must have to do with intention and the degree of focus of the human mind involved.

Moving Bones Over the Phone

If the human mind can affect inanimate objects this way, how much more can we do with living systems, which can adapt in response to influences in their environments, and which have built-in self-correcting mechanisms?  Energy healing, including treatment at a distance, is commonplace, and uses the body’s own ability to heal itself.  It is relatively non-mysterious.  However, I have encountered three healers, all of whom began as chiropractors, who can actually move the bones and other structures of the body without physically touching them.  Like iron turning to Jell-o, this phenomenon challenges us to come up with a new way of looking at our reality.

On October 4, 2006, I was in a minor car accident.  I already had a phone appointment scheduled for the next day with Kam Yuen, DC, the originator of the Yuen Method of healing; I had read about him, and was curious.  I had hoped to work on some chronic problems, but the appointment had to be given over to helping my jammed ankle, neck and shoulders.  Dr. Yuen, three states west in California, took a remote look at me and found those traumatized joints without me telling him where I was hurting.  Then he proceeded to get the kinks out of them and relieve the pain.  I could feel the bones and connective tissue being pushed back where they belonged.  The treatment took place entirely in Dr. Yuen’s mind— not even in my own— but nothing more than the mind was needed.

This would have seemed totally unbelievable to me if I had not been working similarly with my own chiropractor, James Rolwing, at home in Albuquerque.  Dr. Rolwing was originally a “normal” chiropractor, who primarily used an activator, a spring-loaded tool that gives a relatively gentle push to bones, making high-force techniques unnecessary.  In more recent times he’s gone from low-force to often using no force at all.  This development began with his attempts to improve his diagnostic intuition by using a plastic skeleton as a proxy, scanning over it with his hands, trying to get a hit on what was going on with the next patient before the person came in.  He didn’t expect this to turn into a mode of treatment, but soon he found that if he pushed on parts of the skeleton, the corresponding parts of the patient would move, as if by sympathetic magic.  He has done this to me many times, and it’s been a huge help to me because it avoids having to apply a physical blow to areas where I have damaged and hypersensitive nerves.  While the treatment is so non-physical, the results are very much apparent in the material world.  The bone is in one place, then it’s in another.  The change can be measured with nothing more sophisticated than a ruler.

I don’t have this skill myself— yet.  I did give it a shot one day at Dr. Rolwing’s office, while he was busy answering the phone.  We weren’t finished with my adjustment, and I could feel that a vertebra in the middle of my back was not quite right.  I went over to the skeleton and scanned its spine, moving my hand up and down until it “stuck” to one of the plastic vertebrae.  It was then a simple matter to tweak the plastic slightly, and I felt the response in my own spine.  That was the only time, so far, that I’ve been able to do this “voodoo chiropractic.”  Perhaps being in that environment, working with a tool that is used this way all the time, made it easier for me to put my mental focus in the right place, to be open to the shift in my reality.  But I know that a fake skeleton isn’t necessary to get such an effect, nor is any other material-world tool.  In fact, Dr. Rolwing sometimes does his adjustments in the air, so to speak, without using any object to represent the patient.

Having seen all that, I was ready to meet Richard Bartlett, DC, ND, the originator of a form of healing called Matrix Energetics.  At a Matrix workshop in May 2008, I saw Dr. Bartlett make structural changes, as well as energetic ones, by simply waving his hand at the patient.  (I don’t suppose even the hand-waving was necessary.)  Matrix work is all about seeing reality as it is at the quantum level, where everything is probability; we can choose the manifestation we want out of everything that is possible.  If the current reality contains pain and suffering, you pick a different one.  Your material structure obligingly goes along.  At least some of the time.

Dr. Bartlett makes frequent references to physics in explaining his methods, but I don’t think that physics has yet made room for all these phenomena, even though we experience them in the macroscopic, Newtonian world.  Still, I believe that metaphysics is only physics that we haven’t learned to understand, and I’m sure that physics will eventually expand to include everything that we observe and experience, in all our realities.


Herbert, Nick, Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics, Anchor Books, 1985

Bartlett, Richard, Matrix Energetics: The Science and Art of Transformation, Beyond Words Publishing Co., 2007

Since writing this in 2008, I have actually begun to be able to do what Dr. Rolwing does, a little bit.  It’s not that I can claim to have real psychokinetic abilities, I hasten to add.  My experience, and what I’ve been told, seem to indicate that affecting a living system is different from, easier than, trying to move inanimate matter.

At the moment I’m listening to an audio course called “Consciousness and Its Implications,” which discusses the question of whether physics includes all phenomena, including those we call mental, or mind is something outside of the purview of physics.  I would still prefer to believe, as I stated above, that everything is physics, and that our understanding of that science can potentially expand to take in everything that there is.  But I’m keeping an open mind.

I always chuckle when I hear references to “the new physics,” as in the title of Dr. Herbert’s book.  That “new” physics is a century old.  It’s just that we still haven’t wrapped our brains around it.  Let’s get with the program, folks!

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Filed under the unexplained