“For the highest good, in the name of The Creator, I ask that…”
I held in my hands an abalone shell full of smoldering white sage and cedar. Nearby lay a braid of sweetgrass I would burn afterward. I was participating in a Native American “smudging” ritual, spiritually cleansing myself and my environment of any negative energies that had accumulated since my last ceremony. As a child I had seen this being done in my family on many different occasions for many different reasons. Perhaps someone was ill and the “bad medicine” was being removed from them. Someone may have received an Indian name, been visited by an evil spirit, or was taking part in a vision quest, sundance or powwow. I was very familiar with the smell of burning sage, having been christened Mato Cante ( Oglala Sioux for Bear Heart ) in 1991, and sweetgrass was my most favorite scent on earth. There have been occasions in the evening where I have walked or driven through inexplicable clouds of sweetgrass when I had departed loved ones or spirit guides on my mind, and I’d like to think that meant they were there with me, too.
Waving the smoke about with an eagle feather, the one handed down to me in 1991 from a long line of powerful, proud males, I thought of a holy place, untouched and untainted by evil, a sacred place I might call out to, whose residents I might call upon. I often thought of Shamballa, Shangri La, the supposed mythical land in Tibet which is said to vibrate at a higher frequency so as to remain unseen by those at lower energies. This paradise could only be entered once one was cleansed and enlightened, devoid of any lower-vibrational emotions, thoughts or intent. I would visualize the purest and holiest place I could think of, and it often led me back to Shangri La, where I could imagine monasteries nestled within misty mountain peaks where holy men sought enlightenment and trained themselves to do any number of things, from levitation to astral projection to complete invisibility. For hundreds of years in the snowy mountains of Tibet startled sherpas had been reporting a mysterious race of warrior guardians who could disappear at will and were believed to be protecting the entrances to Shamballa. I thought of the monks in this realm, the modern-day Jedi who meditated daily and helped the world stay in balance from their secret domain. I could imagine them lighting candles or Nag Champa about their temples just as I had, so whenever I first lit a white candle to begin my smudging session I thought of that pure light coming from that enchanted realm. I would also ring a bell, sonically dispersing and shattering any negative energy and to inform Spirit that I was ready to receive assistance.
“…anything I have taken on willingly or unwillingly, which does not belong to me, which is not for my highest good, which is not healing or loving…”
I closed my eyes, aligning my soul with my interpretation of the Divine, tapping into how it felt, how I remembered it the many times it had graced my reality with love and concern. I thought of the source, the place which I had sent many prayers, queries and thanks. It was a place I was in frequent communion with for it was from this place that my dreams were generated, preminatory or not, the ones I furiously typed into my phone as soon as I woke from them, so as not to forget them, no matter how tired I was.
“…be released from my spirit, body and mind, and cast into the light.”
The other night, for instance, I had dreamt of an old, abandoned, decrepit and decaying amusement park under a highway overpass. Forgotten and overgrown with weeds, it sat in the dark, in the shadows of highway bridges, beside, of all things, a rice processing plant. When I was first introduced to the empty industrial plant in this dream, with its enormous mounds of rice and quiet conveyor belts, it was like being shown a commercial. There was a haunting montage, beautifully-shot clips which faded into one another of several two-story high rice mounds, with an American flag waving in the wind, conveyor belts reaching toward the heavens and surreal industrial yellow plant lights turning the rice gold in the evening hues.
The processing center was restricted, and there were several No Trespassing signs about the park. To get into this area, one had to have someone drop them off at a particular spot on the highway, as there was no room to pull over. They then had to hop over a guard rail and slip down a steep embankment. No one worked in the plant at night and there was no security. The amusement park lied just beyond, black and uninviting, it’s former parking lot reduced to broken, jagged concrete slabs, a puzzle too old to be put back together once more.
“I ask to be filled up with light, for truth, clarity and healing, surrounded and enfolded by the golden universal healing white light…”
As police patrolled this area frequently, a visit to this area would have to be done with speed and stealth. I can’t remember who I had asked to drop me off, and if the person hopping the railing with me was my old best friend or not, but it felt like her. Many times in dreams the person I started out with morphed into someone else, as would the environment I was in. Bedrooms became shops in malls, where I’d have to throw the bed covers over my naked body while people browsed about. Private bathrooms could become beverage stands, transforming just as I was in the middle of urinating, so that suddenly everyone in the mall could see me. Most times these strange people just milled about like background videogame characters, pretending to breathe, to browse, to gesture, not showing the slightest bit of surprise that a man was openly using the restroom while they waited for their espressos and smoothies.
“I release any negative, unhealing and unloving energies, vibrations, thoughtforms, entities, spirits, parasites…”
I ran with all my might past the enchanting, mysterious rice processing plant toward the abandoned amusement park before any police cruisers overhead might spot me. As I ran I kicked up clouds of dirt and dust behind me, my dark brown hair blowing jet black in the night, dark as the crumbling asphalt ribbons I ran upon which led to an Oz after the apocalypse. I was aware of myself and my destination. I was aware of my purpose. I knew I led a paranormal investigative unit called The SpiritChasers and I was investigating a local legend, an urban myth concerning a large cache of gold hidden beneath the bowels of the amusement park and the ghosts who protected it. Did I know of such a place in the world beyond my dream?
“I call upon my spirit guides, my allies in spirit, who are of the light and there to assist me for the highest good. I call upon my ancestors, my guardian angels, my friends, my Maker…”
A rusted metal ramp led into the park’s entrance. Many of its bolts had rusted out and the sides of the ramp, which had once gleamed in the sun, were now warped and crooked, resembling a mechanical, ulcerated tongue spitting out decay where it had once accepted happy visitors. I vaguely recalled what kind of a person that made me, not a happy visitor but an uneasy detective, creeping up into the mouth of the unknown and intimidating, in the middle of the night so as not to be caught, in a possibly unfruitful mission to uncover secrets.
“I cast out any dark energies, anything or anyone who would willingly or unwillingly cause me pain or harm. I call upon the energies of protection, of goodwill, of peace, love, healing, luck, blessings and guidance. I surround myself and my environment with light, enfolding and surrounding all who dwell within my home.”
I tugged at one of the ramp’s sides, and it gave way with a sharp crack. Gold coins spilled from inside, but I knew there was much more to be found here. Just as I was about to cross the park entrance, I heard a distant rumbling. There was a blinged-out car approaching carrying three men from a local gang, all of whom had also heard the legend and wanted to find the gold for themselves. But suddenly, behind them, emerged a police cruiser. I ran back toward the rice plant, staying in the shadows, ducking behind one of the massive concrete pillars which held up the overpass overhead. The three gang members were arrested, and in moments the police car was gone, as was my friend, leaving only me to observe the quiet scene under the dim yellow factory lights of the plant.
“If there are any in need, and if I have any light to spare, I send my love and healing energies to the ill, the lost, the lonely, the hurting, the defeated.”
As I stood there, preparing to scamper back up the steep hill to the highway, I paused a moment and pondered turning back and going to the amusement park alone. Could I really go back myself, in the pitch-black, unarmed, with no map of the labyrinthian tunnels beneath the broken concrete in search of a treasure no one had ever found? As scary as such a proposition seemed, none one of my feelings about it replied in the negative. I could do it, I could imagine myself there, moving about in a suffocating blackness, deep below ground, deep into the unknown, and from that imagination sprung the realization that such a question should have never entered my mind. Why would my first and most immediate reaction be one of doubt when I trusted myself, my intent, my vision?
“I send forth my gratitude, my thanks, for my home and the people who dwell within it, for the visitors who have come and gone, for the assistance I have received from Spirit, for the life I have been given and the role of Spirit within it.”
I found myself back in the park, with a man who I believed was my father, or a father figure. We entered the amusement park together and explored the first of the many broken-down attractions, which were the bumper cars. The man with me brought my attention to the rafters overhead, asking, “who’s sitting up there?” There, in the shadows, I could make out the eerie silhouette of a man crouched low, hiding in the dark. I knew it was not a man, but the ghost of one, and my adrenaline rocketed throughout my dream body. I went around to the far side and slowly proceeded up a rusted ladder, peering over the ceiling of the bumper cars to get a look at the spirit who sat there. I found it tremendously unsettling to find him in such a position, as if he was ready to pounce on one of us. Why was he hiding? Shouldn’t we be more afraid of him? Or was he behaving in such a manner to instill fear and confusion? Perhaps to blend in, perhaps to frighten off anyone or anything that could be, I began to moan like a ghost, as low, deep, haunting, primal and terrifying as I could muster. The next thing I remembered was being shaken, violently pulled from that world to another, as my fellow spiritchasing partner James shook me back into “reality”.
“For the highest good, in the name of The Creator, I thank you, thank you, thank you. Amen.”
I realized I was in my bed, in Manitou, in America, in the “real” world. James was still shouting assurances at me as my moans faded away and the lights of the rice plant went out. “Chris, it’s OK, you’re having a bad dream, wake up, it’s OK!” I could barely see him, his concerned face a pale Na’vi blue in the moonlight. I had nearly scared myself awake but as was the case with my reoccurring sleep paralysis I needed James to physically rescue me from that other plane. My eyes half open, I tried reasoning with the world I had just left. Many times the locations in my dreams are cobbled together from various intersections where meaningful things happened. I might be visiting my first apartment, but instead of the nearby highway I remembered there might instead be another street, one in which a big black dog would chase me home from school.
I thought of the odd overpass situated above the strange rice processing plant. Was there even such a thing? I recognized the highway bridges and knew where they were situated in reality, but why rice, of all things? Could they really be there? I had before dreamt of places I had never visited which I discovered in my waking life. Regardless, I was too tired to break down the symbology, but I typed the entire dream into my smart phone’s notepad for later decryption. I remembered the ghost sitting up in the rafters and I could still feel the sensation of fear like a thick blanket around me. For Native Americans, to dream of an evil spirit is the same thing as actually having been visited by one. Dreaming of an ancestor who has crossed into the afterlife means you have actually been visited by them. They cross through the astral plane and our dreamtime dramas as easily as entering a room, to send their greetings or to test your spirit, as it was said that the Underworld and the Astral World were very close together. Was this a test?
The first memory that emerged was that of me standing beneath the pillar, wondering if I could go back and explore the dark amusement park alone. I wanted to say I could, I wanted to believe that I could, and some part of my dream encouraged me to think so. Do dreams continue even after we have left them, in the same way a waterfall roars when no one is there to hear it? I thought of myself leaving my hiding place by the pillar, reentering that dark park to claim the reward for my bravery and belief in myself, moaning down dark corridors, bellowing a warning , searching for a treasure that glowed the same gold as rice under industrial yellow lights.
The following day I would smudge my home, just in case a bad spirit brought some bad medicine into my home while I was sleeping and vulnerable. It may have simply been something generated by me, as I had just finished working on Halloween playlists for my MP3 player. One was titled “SHIVERS”, and was a collection of instrumental music from horror movies and video games, from POLTERGEIST to DEAD ISLAND. I would often fall asleep to music, in order to see how the melodies might affect my dreaming mind. In the same way I had visited the nightmarish township of Silent Hill during my dreamtime after playing the videogame for 2 weeks straight in an attempt to explore my own boundaries of fear, I had created “SHIVERS”, just to see where I might be led.
I would later discover that dreaming of mounds of rice was very positive, as it signified good fortune. I thought of those great mounds, faintly glowing gold under those factory lights. I don’t always pay too close attention to someone else’s interpretation of something. I always act on intuition and synchronicity, especially when dealing with matters of the paranormal, where one is attempting to comprehend and define the unseen, working with various types of energies. Still, symbolically, I could see how the golden rice could imply a great fortune, were I brave enough to face my fears.
A day or so afterward, a psychic I crossed paths with spontaneously began speaking with me about limitation. She worked in a crisis counseling center and gave me examples of how people get stuck in these negative frames of mind and generate more negativity, drama, fear, anger. She was telling me about our first impulses and how we can restructure the mind to think differently, as we often thought in very limited terms and often assumed we could not accomplish even the most simple tasks in a short amount of time – say, some sort of workload, or getting through our inbox by the end of our shift. Our obligations begin to pile up in enormous mounds we help exaggerate, and we lose confidence in ourselves and feel betrayed by time. I had told her nothing of my dream or my concerns, we were simply speaking about the floods I was experiencing living in Manitou Springs.
Still, she looked me directly in the eye, and told me that a great many people were in training but they didn’t know it. There were big things happening in the cosmos, on our Earth, in the sun, and that we had passed through a photon belt and were beginning to vibrate at a higher frequency, which would greatly affect our thoughtforms. She said it would make it possible for us to do more, to advance both technologically and spiritually, but we would have to do both together, to keep the world in balance. I asked her what kinds of things we could do, and what we might be training for and she just winked at me.
When I went back to work, just as I entered my office, there was a commercial playing for a new Star Wars game on my PC monitor. I entered just in time to see a Jedi using the Force to move a vehicle aside to block an evil Sith opponent. I thought of my potential, mystical lands, and startled sherpas I might encounter one day…
“For the highest good, in the name of The Creator, I ask that…”