June 19. Medjugorje is known for its simplicity and beauty. It is a rural village located in the remote inland mountains. The Virgin Mary appears to six young teenagers daily, and her message continues to encourage prayer and peace in the world. She says these will be her last apparitions on earth, and if we do not heed her messages, terrible destruction will come to us.
We visited the many places where the Virgin Mary appeared to the children. These sights emanated such peace that it took you right into prayer and meditation. I don't know if that was because Mary appeared there or if it was because of the thousands of people who have prayed at these places with such fervor. Actually it is the same thing bringing in the Infinite.
The most compelling event for me was the apparition of Mary at the Church. At that moment, we instantaneously fell to our knees and went deeply within. I will never really know if it was Mary that caused this experience or if we were caught up in the power of the collective. I imagine it was both. Later we were able to go into the small room where Mary actually presents herself to the children. The energy was so thick in there, you could cut it with a knife—really!
June 20.The next afternoon we experienced another apparition of Mary. Two people on the pilgrimage actually saw Mary in the sky holding baby Jesus. They were in ecstasy, to say the least. I felt absolutely no envy, and even during the apparitions, I kept my eyes closed. I didn't need to see her, because I felt her deeply within my heart. That was enough.
June 21.We were very fortunate to be able to interview Vickna Ivankovic, one of the visionaries. She was such a lovely girl and totally unpretentious. I asked, “Does Mary want people like myself to convert to Catholicism?” I was having a lot of confusion about this issue. Vickna replies, “Mary says there is only one religion and mankind is the one that divides it.” I then asked her about saying the rosary. She answered, “Mary wants us to pray in a form that is most comfortable to the individual and that God knows what is in our hearts.” I must say I felt relieved and knew this was truth.
As I said earlier it took me many years to fully understand why I was called to Mary. When I began learning some of the mysteries and archetypes of the human psyche, it became clear to me that I was being called to awaken and acknowledge the Feminine. At that time, I, like so many women and men, felt the feminine was something to be looked down upon. I considered the feminine weak, submissive, and just plain distasteful. Like most people caught up in patriarchal values, I had rejected the body and lived basically in my head.
The Virgin Mary represents to me the eternal feminine--the receptive principle that applies to men as well. I am appalled at the interpretation the patriarchy has given her: Mary accepting the incarnation of Christ was seen as feminine submissiveness. I know in my heart that this was not “feminine submissiveness,” but her willingness to be empty of personal ego, so she could be impregnated with God. This is the goal of the spiritual seeker--to be a pure vessel for the Divine. I don't see her as being a Virgin literally, but symbolically in the sense of being whole, intact within herself. Mary ascended to heaven with her body. Her body was not seen as sinful but as sacred. All women’s bodies are sacred. What is more sacred than having a body that gives birth to life--a divine miracle. Mary is the symbol of fertility, not only in the physical sense, but spiritual sense as well. We all have the ability to birth the Divine child within us.
The Virgin Mary in her dark form represents the power of the feminine and the sacredness of sexuality the full expression of woman. She is known as The Black Madonna and is so depicted in many of the statues worshiped in Montserrat, Chartres, Rocamadour, Loreto, to name a few. Mary brings heaven down to earth thus balancing the male and female principles.
The patriarchy has reached the precipice, which is reflected in our environment and crime statistics. If we don't bring in Mary or the feminine principle to balance these masculine forces, we are, as she has said, doomed for destruction.
I’d like to add this note: Eleven years later, I found myself creeping back into my head and forgetting the profundity of my experience with Mary. I was at a women’s gathering to celebrate the feminine Goddess’s. I was surprised how quickly I fell into a deep meditation. Mary came to me with all her beauty and gentleness, but I found myself pushing her away. I had some old tapes saying, “You’re a Jewish woman. You shouldn’t believe inMary.” But my heart was saying something else. My head and heart were in a mini war. Mary was so patient as she calmly waited for me to allow her in. Actually, I had no choice; she wouldn’t leave! Tears flowed as I opened to her once again and felt her love and compassion. I have learned to not get seduced by my intellect, but to follow the graciousness of my heart. I thank you my dear, beautiful Mary.
Meeting My Teacher
When the pupil is ready,
The teacher will come.
--Ancient Chinese saying
April 1990 It always amazes me how a series of events can lead one toward a destiny that is not expected. My friend, Cindy just moved into her new home in Los Gatos, California. She didn't realize she had an orphaned family living in the backyard under a pile of wood shingles--three adorable kittens.
Cindy asked, "Would you be interested in taking one."
Mm, I thought. I've always been a dog person, but I had been thinking about getting a cat. But…I just wasn't quite sure. I asked her half-joking, "Would you mind if I take one on consignment?"
She said, "No problem. I'll bring the kittens to my office tomorrow morning, so you can come by and see them."
The next morning I went to her office in Palo Alto and there were two tiny precious kittens. The third kitty she had already found a home for. Looking frightened, the two kittens sat bunched up against one another. One was a black and white long hair, a scruffy looking character; and the other, a charcoal gray ball of fur with a white mask on his face and a patch of gray under his nose that made him look like he had a mustache. Consignment was over. I fell in love with the gray one immediately. Cindy was surprised. She thought for sure that my heart would go out to the homely black and white kitten.
As everyone knows, kittens can be rambunctious and Deva was no exception. I named him Deva, which means the Divine One in Sanskrit. One day as we were playing rough, he scratched my neck. A few days later, my neck became swollen. A week later, I was feeling ill. I didn't have a physician at the time, so I called a body worker (human bodies) whom I was acquainted with. He recommended a general practitioner named Kirby Stewart. I called for an appointment that afternoon, and fortunately, he just had a 1:30 cancellation.
I was still in my green terry cloth bathrobe, so I threw on my favorite faded navy blue sweats. Even though I looked like "Ms Scum Bag," I wanted to be comfortable, because I was feeling so rotten. I got into my black Supra, Toyota, turned the heater on, and placed a New Age tape called Fairy Ring into the tape deck and I was off to Dr. Kirby Stewart's office in Los Altos. Little did I know when I was waiting to see Dr. Kirby that this would be the prelude to the most exciting adventure of my life.
At precisely 1:30 p.m. which is amazing in itself, since physicians are notorious for being late out comes this gorgeous young doctor with huge penetrating blue eyes and thick brown hair slightly covering his large ears that stuck way out, but only added to his striking image. I thought to myself, “It's bad enough to have to go to a doctor, but to have to go to such a good looking one when you're feeling and looking like the scum of theearth is another matter.” But I must say he put me at ease and diagnosed my illness as "cat scratch fever."
It was nothing serious. Keflex, an antibiotic would cure the infection. He asked, "Do you have any other physical problems?
With much hesitation, I told him about the wear and tear on my body caused by agoraphobia. I've always been ashamed of having this phobia and all the physical problems associated with it. The stress from having to confront this phobia day in and day out seemed to have taken parts of my body bit by bit and put them in disorder. I told him about the muscle damage in my neck from carrying so much tension there. I told him how I had to eat every two hours, otherwise I start shaking and become disoriented, but if I eat just a morsel too much, I become very sick to my stomach. I went on to tell him about chronic bowel problems and my long bouts of insomnia. I spoke to him about my body actually being hot and cold at the same time, and it went on and on. I was basically very uncomfortable living in my body. Since childhood I've always been very independent and felt I had control over my life, so all this stress related business was embarrassing and humiliating for me.
Kirby asked, "Have you heard of Brugh Joy?"
I answered, "I've read his book Joy's Way, but that is all I know of him."
He went on about Brugh's incredible, life changing workshops. I told him, "With my phobia of crowds, I just can't. Absolutely no!" I also remember thinking that I wasn't enlightened enough, or something to that affect, to work within a circle of people that study with Brugh. I really have no idea why I felt that way. He suggested that we run some diagnostic tests right away to rule out anything serious and that he could do some energetic work on me. I agreed and made an appointment for the following week.
Wednesday rolled around, and I woke up to a crisp spring morning and to a very frisky kitten. I was on guard for those nails. The swelling on my neck was almost completely down when I returned Kirby’s office. To my surprise, he was on time again. He took me into a small inviting room where we sat on a stuffed feathered pink and white printed couch.
He said, "The tests came back and showed no physical impairment." I wish I could have felt happy over this news, but this only compounded my humiliation. He went on to say, "Polarity therapy (energy balancing work) might be able to help regulate your body."
I told him, "I am certainly willing to give it a try."
I layed down on a gray mat that he placed on the floor. He then took one of the pink pillows off the couch and placed it under my head. He knelt down beside me, centered himself, and began channeling energy. I felt the warm heat from his hands begin to penetrate my body. It was very painful for me, not because of the energy, but because the phobia was kicking in very badly. It always happens when I'm in a situation in which I feel trapped, and for some unknown reason that's how I was feeling. He started exhaling loudly and it disturbed me. Even though he's so good looking, I thought he looked and sounded like an idiot. He obviously picked up on that, and said, "Too much?"
"Yes." I realized at a later time why this bothered me so much. It was because of my inability to let go and the fear of making a fool of myself.
I had several more sessions with Kirby, but I wasn't feeling any better. And each time he would say, "You have to work with Brugh." And each time, I would say, "No." Then finally Nancy, his wife at the time who was also his receptionist, called me at home and said, "Kirby wanted me to tell you that Brugh is lecturing for a weekend in Monterey."
Since Monterey wasn't far from where I lived, I said, "Thanks for letting me know. I'll think about it."
On my next visit to Kirby, he brought up Brugh's up coming visit to Monterey. I said, "OK, I'll go, but only for one day."
He said, "I have to work on Saturday, so I can only go for one day as well--on Sunday."
I asked, "Can I drive up there with you?"
With a slight hesitation, he said, "Sure, I'll call you at the end of the week to make the arrangements."
I arose early Sunday morning around 5:30 a.m. It was dark, but I could already hear the blue jays screeching. I took a quick shower and washed my hair, ate a few whole wheat crackers, and sat down to meditate for a half hour before I would prepare to get ready to meet the one who would become my future spiritual teacher. After meditation, I put a few hot rollers in my hair, put on make up, and decided to dress simply in a pair of taupe printed trousers and a fitted off white, short sleeved T shirt. I wanted to be comfortable. I put on my black flats and walked to the kitchen to make some hot oat bran for breakfast. It was around 6:30 a.m. and Kirby was coming at 7:00 a.m. I heard a car and when I looked out my window, Kirby was getting out of car. Kirby was early. I hurriedly took out the hot rollers and brushed my hair quickly, and then walked downstairs to greet him.
I said, "Good Morning."
Kirby said with a smile, "I apologize for being so early, but I wasn't sure how long it would take me to get to your house." I invited him upstairs. He admired the stonework that aligned the walls as you come up the stairs to the main part of the house. He stopped and looked through my sliding glass doors at my redwood deck overlooking the beauty of the Eucalyptus and Redwood trees.
I said, "You should see the beautiful deer and the adorable cotton tails that I see every morning." Since we had time I asked him if he would like some oat bran.
He replied, "Sure."
I re heated the cereal and took it out on the deck. We ate our breakfast and enjoyed the fresh morning air. We decided to take my Supra, because it would be more comfortable than his land rover. He loved my car and years later would tease me about this very sexy and powerful car that was my shadow. I will be taking you on my journey into the shadow later on in my story.
I asked Kirby to drive, so I would be able to relax before confronting a crowd of people. It was such a beautiful day that we decided to take the coastal route along Highway 1. About 9:30 a.m. we arrived in Monterey. I could smell seaweed from Monterey bay and tasted the salt air. From afar I could see gray and white seagulls flying over the ocean. The lecture was taking place at the Church of Religious Science in the downtown area of Monterey. We arrived at a large gray building landscaped with purple, green, and red impatiens. As soon as we entered the door of the church, six women approached us; they were also patients of Kirby's. The women were exuberant and in a gracious and friendly manner introduced themselves to me. I liked them immediately and later in time, we all became friends. They took a row of seats in the front and I sat in back by myself. This is the only way I could handle being with a group of people and even that wasn’t easy. My body was holding on, to what, I do not know. I had to laugh when I watched Kirby sitting with all those women, and peaking behind to see if I was okay. One would think we were his harem, but really he was more like a mother hen and we were his flock.
The church filled up and I watched Brugh walk confidently on stage. Here was a man standing about 5'10" with an unusual albino white face that matched the color of his hair. He looked to me like an alien from another planet. He began his talk on the "multiplicity of being." He said we are more than one personality and spoke about the many different parts of our psyche. My eyes widened, and I thought to myself, “My god. I am not crazy. Someone understands this. This is real!” I was, however, confused that Kirby didn't tell me this, because at our last session I was telling him, "Kirby, I sometimes don't know who I am. Sometimes I am this person who really is grounded in herself; the next moment I am this person who is totally scattered; another time I feel great love for humanity; and the next moment I have disdain for all people"--and it went on and on.
Brugh invited a woman to come up on stage that he picked at random and interpreted a dream that she had recently. I was awestruck as he explained to us what all the symbols in her dream meant, and how the dream portrayed disowned parts of herself, which he termed "the shadow." I observed the woman sway back and forth from child to adult, from acceptance to resistance, and I saw myself in each word she uttered. I was enthralled and I knew I had found my teacher.
As soon as I returned home to Woodside, I made a phone call to Moonfire Lodge in Paulden, Arizona and signed up for a two week intensive conference called, "The Initiation Conference--Heart Center Awakening." I knew it would be difficult because of my problem with crowds, but I thought if there was any chance that he could help me rid myself of the phobia, I had to go for it.
The Initiation Conference:
Awakening The Heart Center
If metal can be polished
to a mirror-like finish—
what polishing does the mirror
of the heart require? --Rumi
"United Flight 2901 now ready to board passengers for Phoenix, Arizona." My heart was pounding and my neck was so tight that I couldn't control the shaking of my head. As usual I just had to grin and bear it. Nothing was going to stop me from going to Moonfire Lodge.
I was able to get a seat way in the back on the right hand side by the window. It gave me the feeling that there were less people around me, so I felt less trapped. I buckled my seat belt and watched the flight attendant give the oxygen demonstration: "In the unlikely event the cabin becomes depressurized, an oxygen mask will fall out from the unit above your head...." I was saying those very same words eighteen years previously, a time when I was anything but phobic. I was remembering my first flight to New York City as a flight attendant. I was in awe of the high buildings and the mobs of people rushing here and there. I would go alone to a crowded theater to see a Broadway play and walk the streets at 2:00 in the morning with absolutely no fear or apprehension. That was a long time ago, and I cringed to think how long I’d been suffering with this phobia. “How have I gone on so long with this pain and humiliation?” I said to myself. Always around the corner, I thought there would be a miracle.
At 10:05 a.m. the wheels landed at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. I had three hours before Mesa Flight 5104 would take off for Prescott, Arizona. I walked slowly though the terminal stopping at the various shops, until I approached the small terminal serving Mesa Airlines. I became excited when I saw Brugh talking on one of the pay phones. I stood there waiting for him to finish in anticipation. When he finished his conversation, he came over to me and asked, "Are you attending the Initiation Conference?
With nervousness and excitement, I replied, "Yes, how did you know?" (I assumed it was his omnipresent psychic ability. I was already projecting the deified father onto him).
He answered, "I assumed so because you were standing there waiting for me to get off the phone."
"Oh," I said feeling a little embarrassed.
I walked with him to a bookstore where he purchased the magazine, Scientific American. He said in a very impersonal way, "I'm going over to the restaurant to read and to get something to drink. You can join me if you like."
Knowing how phobic I was in restaurants, I said, "No, that's okay. I'm just going to walk around a bit."
I picked up my carry on bag and my harmonium and found a little corner of seats where there was no one around. I sat down and ate three Health Valley Amaranth cookies. Time past more quickly than I expected, and I would have missed my flight if Brugh hadn't come by to get me. He walked me to the counter and said all carry ons need to be checked in, because the plane is only a nine seat Cessna. He assured me that my harmonium would be fine and said, "I check in my lap top computer all the time with no problem."
We climbed the stairs onto the plane. I walked ahead of Brugh and grabbed a seat in the back. Brugh looked around and sat up in front. I was really hurt that he didn't want to sit next to me. It was only when we landed that I realized the whole plane was filled with people going to the conference. Here my little mind thought that I was the only person on the plane he knew.
At 3:00 p.m. we arrived at Love Field Airport in Prescott. It was warm and raining lightly. Smiling attendants were standing next to two white vans waiting to drive us to Moonfire Lodge. We took highway 89 on route to Paulden, which was about a twenty-five mile drive.
My breath was taken away at the exquisite vastness of open space in this dry desert. I was also feeling quite vulnerable and ill at ease, because I had never done a workshop of this kind. I was in strange territory and with people I had never met before a great recipe for an agoraphobic.
Upon arriving at the lodge, we drove up a windy, rocky road that made it very mysterious and dramatic. The lodge was completely secluded in a valley surrounded by desert forest.
In the van we were given our room assignments. I was in the main lodge. The nervousness was now turning into excitement. I loved this place. The lodge was modern and beautifully decorated in pastels and fine sculpture. There were bookcases full of psychospiritual books and magazines my element. The kitchen was spotless with all the amenities. On the counters were jars of Oreo cookies and a basket full of apples, oranges, and bananas. I was surprised to see the Oreo cookies and found out later they were for our "inner" children. Besides Brugh's incredible intellect, he's got a wonderful sense of humor.
When I entered my elegantly decorated room, adorned in soft pink and ivory, my roommate was tucked in her bed reading Autobiography of a Yogi. I was thrilled and thought, “We have something in common.” It turned out she was just exploring spirituality and her religion, Catholicism. I wasn't disappointed, however, and was very happy to meet her. Karen was forty-one years of age, medium height, with short slightly permed blond hair, and wore large black-framed prescription eyeglasses. She had just completed a conference with another teacher at Moonfire Lodge, so she was resting from an intensive experience and trying to renew herself for the Initiation Conference. For many years she had been a successful real estate agent, but was forced to quit her job due to colon cancer. This was her impetus for self discovery, because this disease could take her life.
At 6:30 p.m. we gathered in the dining room for dinner. The dining room had large bay windows that captured the exquisite vastness of the area. Miles and miles of massive red rock embedded in desert space, and when the sun set it took your breath away. There were gorgeous paintings of Goddesses on the walls. Each painting depicted a statue of a Goddess, and next to her was a beautiful naked woman. They were all in various poses and were deeply moving. They were painted by a very talented woman name Gloria Joy, who is Brugh's sister-in-law.
The first thing we did was line up to choose a billiard ball that was placed in a large basket on a table in the back of the room. Each ball corresponded to a seat number where we were to sit for dinner. I picked the number 9 ball and looked at the long table and found my seat. I found out later that this in itself was a very powerful process, because we always seemed to sit next to someone we had something to learn from.
Hamad, a large man around thirty years of age from Iran sat across from me. I disliked him immediately. I felt he was arrogant and ugly. I prayed to God, “I hate feeling this way about someone. I don't even know him. This is a heart initiation conference. Helpme to open my heart to him.” It wasn't easy since he would continue going on about his "all knowingness," as I was trying to digest my turkey dinner.
After a couple of days into the conference, Brugh went over the basics of reading a Tarot card. The most important thing he said was to get centered by concentrating on the "heart center" and then allowing the intuitional part of our psyche to come forth. He divided the thirty of us into pairs and instructed us to do a Tarot reading on each other. I was paired up with Hamad! We found a quiet little corner next to a huge statue of Buddha. I was to do his reading first. I took both of his hands into mine and allowed my heart to connect with his. Immediately all of my repulsion for him vanished. I could only see the sweetness in him, and I felt great love and compassion for his soul. I saw behind his "know-it-all" facade that was also a mirror to my own. This experience was a gift of blessing.
Hammad has been HIV positive for over ten years, but his “T” cell count has continued to remain high. His physicians can’t believe it, but Hamad knows why: It is because he is confronting and integrating his inner demons. Like my phobia has been instrumental in the healing of my soul, so has Hamad’s anxiety over having the HIV virus been a healing factor for his soul.
I learned another big lesson shortly thereafter. The next morning we all gathered in the temple for study. The temple is circular with large bay windows and has the same breathtaking view as the restaurant. There is always a mandala imprinted by a vacuum cleaner on the pink carpet. The mandala--like so many of the exquisite sacred objects Brugh had in the temple--was a reminder for the conscious and unconscious mind of wholeness. We were in our usual circle, sitting on pillows and leaning back on the navy blue backrests. We began with an attunement that is basically a way of becoming attuned with the other members of the group. We all held hands and sent energy from our right hand to the group, through the person on our right and received energy with our left hand from the group through the person on the left. This was quieting and centering as the group came together. The evening before Brugh told us if we wanted a dream interpreted in the morning session, we were to write our name on a piece of paper and place it in the basket next to his seat.
Brugh closed his eyes and unfolded a tiny piece of yellow paper and chose Karen, my roommate. As she relayed her dream, some very dark material about her sexuality and history of drug abuse came forth. Karen wore the façade of an innocent, wholesome, and religious Catholic girl, and I was hooked in her line. Brugh wasn't buying it though and started to twist the knife (metaphorically) into her psyche. Right away I jumped into rescue her. I was really concerned for her, because I thought she was just too vulnerable and could mentally breakdown. Every time Brugh would come in with the knife, I would stop him. This went on and on until finally he shouted, "Shut up!"
That did it. I closed my mouth, but I was on alert. It turned out that I was so wrong. Not only did I learn that she was far from innocent drugs, sexual orgies, and so forth but to my amazement, she became much stronger after Brugh worked with her. I was stunned and in awe of Brugh's intuition and wisdom and felt badly that I had caused him so much trouble. I apologized to him after the session. With unconditional love, he hugged me with understanding.
Brugh spoke a lot about the "shadow." He said, “Just as we have a light and dark side to our personality, so does God.” One afternoon I was alone in my room and was in a very quiet state of reflection. I was vacillating in confusion about the light and dark side of God. It was a sunny summer day, and then out of no where an ominous storm came in. In my journal, I wrote: This storm is really something. I feel nature--a reflection of the infinite--is showing us ourselves: our tears and sadness, our anger, our darkness, and our fear. What a mirror this storm is. Of course, it also shows us our true side: excitement, joy, contentment, peace,and love. I have to laugh as I read this now. What I wrote is true, except for the "true side." There is no true side; we're all of it. I continued in my journal saying, It really gives me a deep feeling of being united. What a wonderful teacher nature is. We need to accept what is and not resist it; go through it. The sun will come out again.
In the days that followed I was given two more extremely powerful teachings. They were mystical experiences showing me both sides of God. I was in the temple listening to Brugh interpret a man's dream when all of a sudden this energy of unconditional love came pouring through me. It was overwhelming--too much love--that I cried and cried for hours. I know how trite this may sound, but I knew at that time, we are unbelievably loved by our creator--much too much love for me to hold on to.
Another time in the temple I experienced God's dark side. This surge of energy came through me, but it was the feeling of extreme darkness that carried enormous destruction. My energy field filled the entire room, while I was the holder of this darkness. My body was shaking so badly, that I found it extremely difficult to talk. I feel that these numinous experiences were God showing me both aspects of him, and of course, showing me the light and dark that I have in myself as well. I was beginning to have a deeper understanding about the deities in India--the different aspects of the Godhead.
During this conference I learned how disconnected I was from my body--my feminine nature. It turned out that I wasn't alone. Out of twenty-six women, twenty-four of us were identified with the masculine principle. Even though we looked quite ladylike and dressed impeccably, we were caught up in patriarchal values. Most of us were businesswomen stuck in our heads--in "Logos," and cut off from the deeper mysteries of sexuality and sensuality--the "Eros" part of our being. When we came to this realization, we were determined to reclaim "Woman."
At that time I was still affiliated with Ananda, and for four years I was meditating from the third eye, so I was really cut off from my dark, feminine nature the one who is grounded in the earth. That night I had the following dream: There was a black woman who was homeless. I just so happened to have a refrigerator with me that was loaded with fruits and vegetables. I offered her some food and it felt good that I was able to feed her. This dream told me that my feminine did not have a home with me, although I was beginning to give her sustenance.
I was able to give my inner black woman more nourishment in a free movement ritual dance. I have never liked dancing very much, because I could never let go, but I allowed the black woman to take over. With her grace, she showed me my soul. For the first time in my life, I was deeply in my body. I kept my eyes closed and allowed my body to do what it wanted to do. As my body slowly moved to the music, it brought me more and more into the sensate level, and I had my first experience knowing Spirit in the flesh. In fact a woman came up to me later and asked me if I was orgasmic when I was dancing. I wasn’t orgasmic, but was thoroughly enjoying my inner black woman's sensuality and feeling Spirit dancing through me.
A few days later the women in the group wanted to do an "initiation into the feminine" ritual. I was the only one who did not participate, because I felt I just wasn't ready to fully engage this mystery. I was in process, and I was to learn that my process is not one of "doing" but "allowing" it to be done to me. I wasn't being moved at that time, and in truth allowing and being open is really the feminine nature.
On one of the afternoons that we had off I hiked up to a mountain called "Hump Hump," because it looks like two humps on a camel’s back. I climbed, huffing and puffing, because I wasn't used to the ten thousand-foot elevation. It was also eighty-five degrees out. When I reached the top I sat down, caught my breath, and gulped down some water. "Wow," I said out loud. My breath was taken away again, but this time for the incredible beauty and vastness of this place. I felt like I was sitting on top the world. The desert forest seemed to go on forever and ever.
There was a glow in the air, and then all of a sudden the trees and rocks were shimmering like gold. I felt them talking to me and I experienced a tremendous amount of love from one boulder in particular. I began filling up with immense joy. My love in turn was flowing toward it. We had this wonderful flow and connection, and I realized I was grounded and remained in my body while I experienced this. Tears of joy streamed down my face as I remembered my experience at Ananda when nature was trying to communicate to me, but I couldn't receive it; when I felt the oneness of nature, but I wasn’t a part of it. Now I could and the oneness I felt was the experience of God.
The days went by quickly. Because Brugh gave so much of himself, we learned more and more about ourselves. He always knew just what the group needed to further explore our inner dynamics, whether it was more dream interpretation, ritual work, dance, or just plain talking, coupled with a lot of laughter. If he never said one word, I feel we would still have made personal gains. His presence alone has the ability to induct one into higher ranges of consciousness.
The morning we were to leave for home, I heard an inner voice upon awakening. It was soft but as clear as if someone outside myself were talking to me. I was wondering why I sometimes feel that I'm other people, actually feeling like I’m in their bodies and finding myself talking like them. The voice said, "It is because you don't love yourself enough."
Brugh had written, “Embrace yourself and you have embraced the world,” in The Book of Ruins that he had given me at the conference. Throughout the years I have found his words speak truth.
When I returned home I knew I was not the same person who first entered Brugh's circle, and this new "I" could not embrace the path of Ananda. I needed to heal the split in my psyche and bring more of the black woman into my life.
The Dark Side Conference:
Death, Demons, and Difficult Dreams
The body is the shadow insofar as it contains the tragic history of how the spontaneous surging of life energy is murdered and rejected.--John P. Conger
Three months later I had an inner calling to return to Moonfire Lodge and continue my study with Brugh. This conference was for twelve days, and the focus was on discovering our dark side.
For many years I had a persona of being a very spiritual woman, only wanting "love and light" in the world and didn't think I had a mean bone in my body. I had a surprise in store for me when I had my first conscious encounter with my shadow. One afternoon in the temple Brugh played "high intensity" music and instructed us to allow whatever wanted to come up from the unconscious. This was an experience I would certainly not forget. I felt this immense darkness take over my body. It then transformed into a ferocious black Panther that engulfed my entire being. As the music progressed she wanted to destroy and fight. I had to do everything in my power to stay seated. She wasn't afraid of anything, but the "ego," was terrified. I couldn't believe how unconscious I had been and that I could carry such a destructive force. Then a tremendous amount of sexual energy released throughout my body, almost to the point of a full body orgasm. Then suddenly a shift of consciousness took place, and I accepted her. I must say I liked this "fearless" energy. As usual, I was feeling very phobic with the group, until she came in. I realized that all of my fear had dissipated. I feel when I can fully integrate this part of me that I thought was so evil, it will turn out to be a gift of gold. As I look at this experience now, I can see that the panther was also playing out the mythological figure Hades--initiating Persephone, the innocent, virginal part of my psyche into the underworld.
I had another profound experience using the medium of high intensity music. Brugh played a marvelous piece by Tangerine Dream. I was lying down listening to the music when my arms suddenly went over my head in a submission stance. I experienced being a sacrifice for a clan of African native men who were dressed in feathers dancing around me. I knew what my destiny was--death. I accepted my destiny and found it highly erotic. I felt this parting of the veil was truly a gift, because I was able to see into the ancient sacrificial mysteries and experience the truth of such acts. I was definitely not a victim. It was simply my destiny, my pattern in life, which I chose and wanted to fulfill. If we only look at such matters in a superficial way, we lose the mana in the experience. I feel this applies to all aspects of life. No matter how horrific it may appear, we need to step back from it, and try to look at the deeper mysteries--beyond our little egos. I also had to look at this as my present dynamic--that I am surrendering to the dark mysteries. This pattern becomes clearer to me when I meet the panther again, which I will be discussing further on in my story.
At one point in the conference we participated in a three day fasting and silence period. This commenced after breakfast. Brugh said, "Let the forces take you. You'll know when it's time to begin your silence and seclusion."
After breakfast I went back to my cabin to play the harmonium that I purchased in India. I was chanting to God with all my heart and devotion. My housemate Robin, a forceful woman around fifty years of age, large boned, with graying hair comes in and very sternly says, "You can't play that!" And I got it right away, in a way she wasn't even aware of. I knew that chanting was an escape to Spirit for me--an infantile process. This time I had to face my darkness.
I was still in an outward state of consciousness, so I went for a short walk and laid down on a white chaise lounge. Something seemed to possess me and I found myself "feeling," and I mean really feeling, feeling into the rocks, the weeds, the trees, the plastic chaise lounge, everything--and then I started to feel a place deep inside myself, which triggered intense sobbing. I was in a different state of consciousness, and it was taking me. I've always had this problem of feeling other people's pain and actually taking it on. Now I learned it was a mirror of my own pain that I couldn't handle and didn't want to see. I also thought I was above it in some way, which I can now see was a defense mechanism. For the first time, I felt what it was to be "human." For me this was an illuminating experience.
This time at Moonfire I was not drawn to go back to Hump Hump, but found myself hiking in a dry creek bed. It was very quiet except for an occasional buzzing from a large black wasp. I enjoyed balancing myself over the dry rocks and various black, red, and white stones. I felt I was walking through the unconscious, going deeper into the feminine, and exploring new parts of myself or rather parts of myself I had not acknowledged. I walked for a few miles, until I came to a place where it was difficult to pass because of over growth. I considered taking another way, but then saw it as a blockage in my unconscious, so I decided to go through it push through it like it was a journey through the deepest layers of my psyche. I continued finding more blocks on the path, and I continued pushing through them like a bull.
I was thinking a lot about John, a man who was also participating in the conference. This was the first time I was physically attracted to a man in a long time. He was also younger than I, which was a definite first. John was very masculine with a beautifully tanned sculpted body, like a dancer would have. The women at the conference found him quite sexy and mysterious. We connected immediately. To be honest I don't know if it was anything other then sexual, but I knew he would be the one that would initiate me back into "woman." I couldn't help fantasizing making love to him on the bare earth.
I found it interesting how I was so drawn to going down in the dry creek bed rather than high onto Hump Hump. I was opening and allowing the earth to teach me about the body, and this planet that I've wanted to escape from for so many years. I could see that my previous attraction to Hump Hump was because of the expanded feeling of consciousness "Logos," Spirit in the masculine form. Now I was exploring "Eros," Spirit in the feminine form. It also was no coincidence that I was in a room called Earth. I would also find out it was no coincidence that quite unexpectedly, I had my own room and that the dry creek bed would be filled--meaning that my inner and outer feminine would be filled.
That evening I had a nightmare and felt a presence in my room. I can't recall what I dreamt about, but I screamed so loudly that the clock in our cabin stopped working at 3:50 a.m., the exact time of my scream. Brugh mentioned the next day that nightmares usually proceed the changing of a pattern. That, indeed, what was happening to me.
Betsy, my other housemate was a wonderful redheaded bombshell from the south. She told me that she had seen John flirting with other women. I felt jealousy--something I always said I didn't have (talk about shadow material) and felt disillusioned. I lost my "specialness." I decided to go to the temple to meditate. During meditation I realized I've been living in a child like romantic fairy tale, and it was now time to become a woman. I felt John indeed initiated me even though we had not made love. I realized I had been looking outside myself, when the power was all within. I thought, “How wonderful this conference has been for me. Not only have I been initiated fully into womanhood but also into humanity.”
Betsy with her wonderful sense of humor said to me, "You need to fulfill your fantasy of making love to a priest." We were having one of our sex talks, when I let her in on this juicy secret of mine--the forbidden fruit. After our discussion, I took a long hot bath and started laughing hysterically--crying I was laughing so hard, because I remembered that John was planning to dress up as a priest the next evening for Halloween. Well, I have to tell you my initiation ended up being in the physical as well, and my naughty fantasy fulfilled.
On the last morning of the conference I didn't go to morning meditation, because I didn't feel complete with a personal ritual I had performed earlier in the week. I needed to be with Mother Earth and thank her. It was 5:30 a.m. when I removed my clothes and wrapped myself up in an army blanket to keep warm. I sat on the earth looking at the full moon above me, as my menstrual blood flowed into the earth. My blood was a gift to Mother Earth acknowledging her and Woman. It was a powerful moment for me a marriage to her and the Feminine.
That evening I had a dream: I am a jet pilot, going to fly my friends to some destination, but I forget how to fly the plane. That’s okay, though, and I feel good about the situation because I am home. I interpret the dream as telling me that I’m happy to be home, grounded in my body.
The Shadow If a way to the better there be, it lies in
taking a full look at the worst.--Thomas Hardy
I’d like to take this time to explain in more depth about the shadow, because it is so important to one’s growth and the collective at large. It’s imperative at this time of increasing corporate white-collar crime, child molestation, brutal terrorist attacks, and many other horrific abuses, that we contact the shadow.
According to Jungian psychology the shadow is the part of our psyche that is either partially conscious or completely unconscious--the latter most likely. This is the part of ourselves that we feel is unacceptable--so degrading and humiliating we wouldn't want anyone to know about. It can also be a part of us that we feel we're not good enough to behold; this is the projection of the hero scenario, which I will go into later. In order to become a whole person, we must take the inward journey and contact the shadow.
Jungian analyst, Dr. Hal Stone says we have the misconception that we have less of a need for our instinctual drives, because we've become civilized as a culture. But when these ordinary instinctual energies are ignored and buried in our unconscious, they can have a devastating effect on us that some would call demonic. These once natural energies, for example: sexuality, aggression, selfishness, and anger if repressed grow in power, become negative, and will turn against us.1
We all carry a persona, an expression of our being, which is how we want the world to see us. This may indeed be a part of us, but it is not our entire personality. If we over-identify with only the "good" part, our "devil" will inevitably come forth. In exaggerated cases, when the power of our dark side becomes so strong, it takes over. It may become like the men we are unfortunately hearing so much about in the news: This once “extremely nice” guy goes on a random shooting spree and then shoots himself. This is the shadow in action, and in one way or another will destroy itself in the process. This is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde scenario. Other examples of men who have identified with the great good are the priests who have committed pedophile, and the case of Reverend Jimmy Swaggert who had a liaison with a prostitute. We also hear about nuns who have physically and emotionally abused their students.
The majority of us who don't "totally" identify with the so-called good project our shadow outside ourselves. When we have strong emotions and overreact to another person, we are projecting the disowned part of our psyche. We can be sure if there is something we absolutely detest about another person, that aspect is in ourselves as well and resides in the shadow. Remember my situation with Hamad.
According to Stone, nothing in this universe can be disposed of. Everything in this universe is energy, including our shadows. If this energy is not transformed it must go somewhere, consequently, someone else will have the burden of carrying this for you. It could be your spouse, roommate, but most likely it will be your children.2 The worst damage parents can do is putting their shadow onto their children. This not only causes a split in the child's psyche, but they will also have a tendency to put it on to their children as well.3 It is our responsibility to break this vicious cycle. You can observe this phenomenon in the 1995 docudrama The Family. Jimmy, the youngest brother is the sacrifice and carries the shadow for the entire family. He carries the rage and vengeance of his family who have experienced injustices due to their Mexican-American heritage.
We also project as a collective entity. The fall of Richard Nixon is a prime example. According to Brugh Joy, Nixon was the scapegoat, the sacrifice that carried our "...individual and collective capacities to deceive, to lie, and to cover up."4
Dr. C. G. Jung says until one has integrated their shadow, he or she is extremely vulnerable to the collective shadow. He states, "[T]he crowd is like a great mindless animal, easily roused by collective emotions to perform acts of which no single member would ever be guilty."5 Germany projecting their inferiority on the Jews, and the prison abuses by Americans in Iraq, where the anger and inferiority of the collective shadow erupted, are prime examples.
In order for us to experience wholeness, we must be able to see good and evil as just opposites of a polarity. We all have good and evil within us, but we should not succumb to either one, because this will automatically bring in the opposite polarity and from being repressed, will come in even stronger and could be called “demonic.”
Two thousand years ago Jesus said, "If thou knowest what thou doest, thou art blessed," and its fearful correlate, "If thou knowest not, thou art accursed."6 If we want to live in peace we have to know these words, not at a superficial level like we have done in the past, but from the depths of our being. Jung says, "one of the toughest roots of all evil is unconsciousness..."7 If we want to be truly moral beings, we have to know our own true nature and motives, and that begins with shadow work.
I can now see how superficial the "New Age" movement is and how they may even be compounding evil by not acknowledging their darkness. The New Age is advocating goodness and this is dangerous, because they should be advocating wholeness. If we want the answer to evil in this world, we must look within ourselves. We must, with integrity, look within and see how much good we can do and how much harm we can do. This takes great courage to see them both as real--not one as reality and the other an illusion. It is imperative to realize both elements are within our nature.
Brugh states, "... despite assertions by most partisans of the New Age that they are promoting such virtues as selfless service to the world, New Age beliefs in the specialness and innocence of the New Age...[are] regressive...toward the infantile, if not fetal. Such ideation tends to be self centered...concentrating, for example, on images that ignore the contribution of the destruction."8
We are now considered to be in the Aquarian Age, which is believed to be a time of harmonious expression of our inner being. There are many collectives awakening to their spirituality and want this harmony to become a reality. All they want to discuss is "love and light," but I feel we can only find this "love and light" or Spirit, if we become conscious of own true nature. And by living in a balanced and integrated way, the by-product will be harmony. The New Agers talk about their proposed higher consciousness, but the only way to become conscious is by conflicts. According to Dr. Eleanor Bertine, philosopher Henri Bergson says, “Consciousness arises at the point of conflict: that is, somewhere the other world makes a negative impact upon the unconscious organism, arousing it from slumber; and thus awakened, it is faced immediately with conflict."9
We need to grow up and come out of this immature mentality and realize that without the dark we wouldn't be able to comprehend the light. Out of destruction comes new growth, new possibilities, and new opportunities. Would we really appreciate any aspect of life if we didn't know its opposite? Would we have any impetus to grow? Would we even be aware of peace, love, and happiness if we didn't have anything to compare it with?
According to David Stendly-Rast, Christianity has mistakenly taken the message of Jesus "‘Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect:’ This is not the perfection of suppressing the darkness, but the perfection of integrated wholeness."11
Hero-worshiping is another aspect of the shadow at play. We are perpetually projecting our unlived side of ourselves on to others. Celebrities are examples of whom we project our Gods and Goddesses onto; O.J. Simpson and Marilyn Monroe come to mind. With this type of projection we are obviously not grounded in reality and feel, because of their great perfection, they can do no wrong. Then when something does alter this illusion it becomes absolutely devastating. We are completely beside ourselves. It's one hundred times worse than if it happened to just some "mortal."
Sometimes we project this God/Goddess image onto a person we are falling in love with. We become intoxicated with that person and our world becomes magical. If we remain in this fantasy we cannot see the person for who he or she really is. This can be quite painful for the recipient to try and live up to this unrealistic expectation. I can always tell when someone doesn't see me for who I am; there is this strange glaze in their eyes and obviously they're not at all grounded in reality. Even when I wasn't aware of the term "projecting," I knew they weren't seeing "me" and I would feel angry and quite insulted. This is what happened with Max, the man who introduced me to Scientology.
When we are in this projection mode, not only are we giving our power away to others, but we also have a divine expectation that the person transform our life. This can lead to spousal abuse, marital breakups, and many other serious relationship problems.
Jungian analyst, Dr. Robert Johnson says: "Two things go wrong if we project our shadow: First, we do damage to another by burdening him with our darkness--or light, for it is as heavy a burden to make someone play hero for us. Second, we sterilize ourselves by casting off our shadow. We then lose a chance to change and miss the fulcrum point, the ecstatic dimensions of our own lives.”12
Johnson points out that the "light side" can become someone’s shadow who, for example, was raised in a criminal environment and has identified with the gang element. He or she may have set a value upon aggressiveness and brutality. The shadow would thus be gentle and loving. This road is a lot more difficult to wholeness, Johnson points out, because some type of morality needs to be there for integration. "If people are over identified with their cheating, violent side, and have no guilt or self-reflection, wholeness cannot emerge."13 A good example of one who has identified with his shadow is Charles Manson.
Johnson states, "The psyche is unaware of the difference between an outer act and an interior one."14 Brugh questions, "Are the films of horror, violence, and sex stimulating the expression of such behavior in people (as is commonly believed) or is the deep psyche seeing them as a substitution sacrifice and thereby being satisfied and brought into a more harmonious balance as masses of people are exposed to the disowned aspects being depicted."15 In some cases this may be true, because I have found by doing various creative processes that express the shadow, it appears to satisfy this part of the psyche. However, I do feel that shadow-inducing material can cause some individuals to act out if they have weak egos or struggle with psychosis. Also, I’m inclined to think that substitution sacrifice is not helping the collective, because it is still projecting onto another. Films help us develop if we watch them with consciousness and are able to discern our shadow.
The following are some of the ways that can help you identify your shadow:
1. Projection: Who or what type of person do you find repulsive or just plain irritating? Who do you feel can do no wrong and who you place on a pedestal? This can be someone you know or a character in a film.
2. Unconscious forgetting: This may be someone you really don't care for, but feel obligated to be with. However, you always seem to forget your date.
3. Freudian slips: Once when I was talking to a medical sales rep about an antibiotic, I meant to say organism, but orgasm came out of my mouth instead--oops!
4. Fantasies: Sex, violence, power, and money.
5. Dreams: I was absolutely astounded when I had a dream about Saddam Hussein—the dark part of me that is non-relating and desires power. I've also had many dreams about animals that represented denied instinctual energies. On the other side, I've had many dreams of positive and powerful figures that I could not own, such as Oprah Winfry and Barbra Streisand.
6. Creative expression: Painting, sculpture, writing, and collage. I was on a three-day seclusion and my thoughts were only on God--at least on a conscious level. My shadow had its own thoughts, as I was to see in a collage I was creating. I was so detached from my body that my unconscious mind was balancing this one-sidedness by expressing itself in a provocative collage of women dressed in red and black lace!
7. Improvisational dance and movement: Remember my sensual dance at the initiation conference?
8. Receiving bodywork, because repressed energy can be locked deeply in the tissues.
9. Be aware of what people say about you.
10. High intensity music (classical music works best): Lie down on the floor and allow the unconscious to deliver its message to you.
At another one of Brugh’s conferences our “consciousness” work was to go to a nearby town and to allow whatever wanted to come forth psychologically. For me, it was going deeper into my dark side. I had a lot of overreaction towards guns and killing, so I proceeded to the local gun shop. I was able to handle the guns and actually shoot one. At that time I understood! It was intoxicating; it was power. This does not at all mean that I condone killing, but I am no longer righteous nor do I hold such a puritanical position. To truly be a moral person, we have to recognize our shadow side. This recognition not only helps us live a fuller and richer life, but helps the collective as well. We also develop more compassion and become less judgmental of others.
When we become conscious of our shadow, it becomes our ally. For example: Anger that some of us store deeply within our psyche's can be our friend. Jungian analyst James Hillman once said, “[Anger is] a healthy reaction to an intolerable situation.”16 “An example of this healthy anger would be Jesus driving out the money changers in the Temple," says John Sanford, an Episcopal priest and Jungian analyst.17 Another example Sanford gives us is the importance of being in touch with the “inner thief.” By knowing the thief in ourselves, we will be able to see it in another, which may prevent us from getting conned or taken advantage of.
Shadow work is a daily process. Each time we integrate a part of our shadow by taking back a projection, we are reclaiming precious power. So you can see--no matter how painful the process may be--each time we claim another piece of our shadow, we are empowering ourselves and becoming closer to wholeness.
By contacting my shadow I've developed an understanding of human nature that has allowed me to see the beauty that had been obscured by my projections for so many years. Although, integrating the shadow is a life-long process, the rewards are truly golden treasures.
A New Name
Names can be profoundly useful in calling forth aspects of ourselves out of the realmof spirit and mystery.--Brooke Medicine Eagle
June 1993 As you have seen throughout my spiritual journey synchronistic events have happened to me incessantly. It may be because I am so open to Spirit and have such an intense yearning for consciousness and transformation. F. David Peat writes in his fascinating book Synchronicity: The Bridge Between Matter and Mind that synchronicities do seem to coincide with one who is going through a profound transformation.1 It could be equated with childbirth where it takes an enormous amount of energy to birth new life. I also feel it is because Spirit really wants me to get it! It’s like a repetitive dream that will continue until you really get the meaning it’s trying to convey. They all have been gifts, but not always what I thought they should be. For instance, I really felt that I was supposed to live at Ananda, but obviously the Divine had other things in mind for me. There were things I needed to learn at Ananda to help me understand others and myself more fully. I am sure throughout my lifetime I am going to find other things in life that my lessons at Ananda will have applied, even if the lesson is simply compassion.
Peat also talks about names probably being one of the first distinctions in the material world. He says names are not only to be seen as symbolic, but according to mythology and early religions, names carry a certain vibration. These vibrations need to be harmonious with the body, mind, and the universe.2 This has proven to be true in my life.
Many years ago the name Cassandra came to me in meditation. I felt it was my spiritual name and was to be used only in meditation and contemplation.
Some years later I thought it would be interesting to see what the name meant, so on my weekly jaunt to the library, I planned to look it up, but I forgot to (on a conscious level anyway). I came home with a stack of books on psychospirituality and the first book I opened was Stroking the Python: Women’sPsychic Lives written by Diane Stein. To my surprise she spoke about Cassandra from the Legend of Troy. Stein says that Cassandra gained her gift of prophecy “when she stroked the Pythons of Gaea's temple and accepted the meaning and responsibility of being a psychic, clairvoyant and priestess.”3 This had a profound affect on me, because for many years my spiritual teachers told me that I have not been using my intuition and healing gifts.
A few months later I had a dream in which a python bit me on the third eye--the intuitional center. I then stroked the python's head and befriended him. Understanding the symbology of the dream, I knew this was an initiation into the spiritual eye, and by befriending the python, I was accepting the responsibility of receiving the gift of intuition. Immediately upon awakening I intuitively knew I was to take on this name…but I wasn't quite ready yet.
About one year later I was at a New Years Eve party having a discussion with Leo, a handsome real estate attorney. He said, "You should change your name for the new you in 1993." Jokingly, I said, "To what?" He said, "Cassandra." This man was not psychic per se and was not even involved in metaphysics. I was awestruck and speechless, because I told absolutely no one about this…but I still wasn't ready to change my name.
Another year went by and I was talking on the phone to a friend who wanted to change her name. I told her about the synchronistic events regarding the name Cassandra but said, "I like the name Laura and I have no desire to change it." Not more than five minutes after hanging up from her, something came through me that I cannot articulate, but I knew it was time to change my name…not only my first name, but my last name as well.
The impulse to change my last name was because of the "inner marriage" that I felt unfolding in my psyche with my animus--the male component that every woman carries within her. I had a spontaneous vision at that time that expresses the coming together of opposites well: A bouquet of flowers came up from the earth, and the flowers had human heads inside of them. The entire background was the moon in all her glory. The flowers coming up from the ground represent fertility--Eros, the female principle, and the heads represent the mind--Logos, the male principle.
After I legalized the name change, I decided to read more about Cassandra and the Legend of Troy. Of all the books written about this legend, I unknowingly chose the one in which the story is viewed from Cassandra's perspective. It was entitled Firebrand writtenby Marion Zimmer Bradley.4 My mouth hung open as I read this story, because everything about this woman was like seeing myself--her personality, her attitude towards men, her way of looking at life, everything down to the mundane like problems with sleeping. Throughout the book the characters comment on her unusual amber/yellow eyes. My entire life people have commented on my amber/yellow eyes. The ending of this version of the Legend of Troy differs from the original. Cassandra doesn't die at the end but goes on a mission to establish a society where men and women can live together equally and be at peace with each other. This is what I am doing in psychological terms--helping men and women integrate their feminine and masculine aspects within themselves. When they can do this it will manifest in their outer lives as well, and men and women will be able to live together in a more egalitarian way.
Shortly, thereafter, I had an astrological reading. The astrologer said the priestess really wants to come in. That evening I consulted the Tarot and queried whether there was anything I should be aware of at this time. I picked the priestess!
I had another synchronistic event that culminates this whole experience. I feel it was God helping me to get rid of any doubts or fears that I had about this name change. Six months after I changed my name I contacted a writer regarding a workshop that she was giving. When I told her that my name was Cassandra, she said, "I am presently writing a book and the protagonist's name is Cassandra. Originally her name was Laura, but six months ago I decided to change it." I was absolutely astounded, as you can imagine.
Another interesting phenomena happened regarding a statement made by Marea Claasen, a Jungian Analyst who possesses great wisdom. She said, “Your destiny is the inner world. I feel you will be a ‘seer’.” That evening I was drawn to work with the Voyager Tarot deck. In fact it was as if I was being physically pushed toward the cards. I asked, “What is my life’s purpose?” I knew I would pick up a card relating to this, but I gasped and cried when I did. I am still so much in awe of this great mystery. I chose Woman of Wands: Sensor. It states:
…[Y]ou are endowed with clairvoyance (seeing the truth clairaudience (hearing the truth) and clairsentience (feeling the truth)….You can see the obscure and hidden, the good and bad. Far from tempering your razor-sharp perception, you offer your observations honestly.5
I found what this card says is true about myself (if I am not in the self-doubting mode), and taking on the name Cassandra is more in line of who I am. That evening I had the following dream:
I am lying on a white mat suspended in air, like a cloud. I am looking down at a tiny dog that is running as fast as he can. A squirrel is in the middle of the road. I’m wondering if the dog will attack it, but he continues to run. The squirrel isn’t frightened and just sits there. I’m thinking that maybe the dog is running home. A flock of birds fly all around me. A small white bird lands on my face and gently kisses me on the mouth. There are so many beautiful white birds flying around me. I know this is a sign from God. I am a little nervous that I might fall off the mat, but I know that the birds will flock together like a blanket and save me. All of a sudden a black panther appears on my mat and begins to devour the white birds. The birds turn into a woman. The panther is going to engulf her. The panther and the woman look lovingly at each other and embrace. They both know what they have to do--he is the destroyer; she is the sacrifice. To my right there is an ATM.
At the time I was not feeling grounded, because I could not find a quiet and peaceful place to live. This has been a life-long pattern since childhood. That is why I was not grounded and why I feel the dog was running to find his home. The squirrel represents the gatherer--home. The birds represent my deep psyche and they are supporting me. The kiss of the white bird was awakening the feminine, like in the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. I was being awakened into the deeper mysteries of my psyche. This time my experience with the panther is different than it was at Brugh’s conference. The panther now represents Dionysus. Hades was the one who captures Percephone (the uninitiated part of our psyche) and forces her into the underworld. Dionysus is the mythical god who only takes the initiated woman into the underworld. She follows Dionysus with her own free will. The black panther (who represents my dark masculine) and my spiritual woman know their destiny. With acceptance, I am being sacrificed for the dark, but I am awake and conscious. The ATM shows me that is where I will get my resources.
The name change symbolized the death of my old self. I have, indeed, been initiated into the underworld and now have the capacity to take others into the underworld safely, so they will find their own resources and will be able to return transformed. I left a seventeen-year career as a medical sales representative, and at the age of forty-six returned to school and completed my undergraduate and graduate studies in transpersonal psychology. I became a psychotherapist, which at one time would be called a priestess.