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An Interface Between Dimensions
|Except for Bob's shamanic
training, I wouldn't have thought of the
labyrinth as an entry point for a journey into another
reality. Even so, my comprehension was
that shamanic journeys took place in the imagination, with the
idea of "journey" understood as metaphor and comparable to the
individuation process Jung called "active imagination." When I had
expressed this, Bob hadn't pressed the matter other than to point out
that from the perception of the shaman the journey was not to an imaginary but an
actual alternate (if not ordinary) reality. How difficult it is for most
of us to break out of a paradigm that divides the real and the not real
by its density of substance. However, once the breakaway is made through
an experience as real as any rock, then what before we could not have
been talked into believing, now no one could convince us otherwise.
What moved me beyond seeing the labyrinth as metaphor to understanding it as an actual opening through which another dimension of reality could be consciously entered took place in late winter, 2001. It was on this particular morning that I found myself in "Miwok heaven," nor had it ever occurred to me there was such a place, or if there was how only slightly out of sync it would be from our valley. So convincing was the experience that I finally had to concur with the shamanic understanding of a journey as being to a different level of reality. The distinction I now would make is that although another reality may be entered through an image, it is not a product of the imagination. This difference, however, may have to be experienced in order to be believed, but in fact doesn't have to be believed in order for the effect to be healing, transforming or releasing. This initial experience would be followed by several later, equally spontaneous continuations, until our nearly twenty-eight-year intercessory role on behalf of the Miwok's would reach a sense of closure.
All the same, the question that for me remains concerns consciousness itself. Is what we think of as the conscious mind the vehicle by which our awareness is extended to other dimensions? Is imagination, when this is not prefaced by "only" and is understood in connection with an archetypally-empowered image, the opening through which the universe as multidimensional is entered? And if so, are realms so entered any less real than ones experienced through the five physical senses? Perhaps the function the labyrinth is serving in its present spirit-impelled rise to prominence is as a bridge betweens levels of awareness. And maybe this function is being served whether or not we are able to explain it in terms the rational mind can accept. From mind/brain research, one thing is known: repetitive, rhythmic, recursive movements and sounds engage the left or analytical hemisphere of the brain in a way that leaves the intuitive, image-forming right hemisphere free to transcend physical limitations.
Again, "It's a Small
Before concluding the final chapter of experiences involving the spirit release of the Miwoks, several loose threads need be woven into the story.
My personal search for truth began with an "awakening" experience when I was twenty-eight. Before that I had been a designer with an avid interest in all forms of symbolism. It was therefore natural that early on in my search I would discover Jungian psychology, and that out of my interests in design and archetypal symbolism the Murray Creek Labyrinth would evolve.
When we had been in England in the spring of 1988 we had come upon Nigel Pennick’s booklet describing the making of the Ojai labyrinth, and which by happenstance involved two persons, Jill Purce and Rupert Sheldrake, whose paths ours had crossed: Jill first through her The Mystic Spiral which was among the few books I most valued, and later when we had attended her Overtone Chanting workshop, where, in an informal setting, we had learned more about the research in which her husband Rupert was engaged. We already were familiar with his theory of morphic resonance, which had resonated not only with the re-enchantment of our valley, but with other "soul healing" work in which we had been involved, including the healing of generational influences--influences none of us had had very far to look to discover--and which another Englishman, Dr Kenneth McAll, had detailed in his book, Healing of the Family Tree.
Sheldrake's “morphic-resonance” is a soundly based concept that offers an explanation for McAll's emphasis on the need to heal the past. When McAll, a psychiatrist and Anglican lay minister, had come to California in the early 90s to give a seminar at the Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church, I had flown down for it and have since written at some length about both Sheldrake's and McAll's ideas, (See Return to the Whole, Eden's Doorway into Archetypal Reality, and Mary of Agreda, Chapter IV )
The above synchronistic connections continued when I began Benedictine training in spiritual direction. This program was initially begun at the Pecos Monastery by Abbott David Geraets and the late Morton Kelsey, an Episcopal priest. One of the things that attracted me to the program was that both David and Morton were Jungians. When Abbott David subsequently moved to the Monastery of the Risen Christ in San Luis Obispo, a duplicate program had been implemented there. I was further drawn to the program because the actual training sessions were held at the Franciscan Mission in San Miguel, and I was by then (1995) in Franciscan formation (Third Order Anglican). In addition to the Jungian emphasis, the program also included sessions in generational healing. But for me, most surprising of all was the program's inclusion of the labyrinth as a tool for spiritual direction.
Beginning early in 2001, and leading up to the conclusion of my Benedictine training that summer, I would experience an unusual progression of events that involved elements of the shamanic, generational healing, and the morphogenic field of our valley as impacted by the genocide of the Miwoks. Moreover, these divergent inner events would in various ways converge and culminate around the experience of the labyrinth.
It was, as I recall, Tuesday of the second week of the Benedictine School for Spiritual Directors. A canvas labyrinth after the Chartres design had been laid out on the tennis courts of the Mission grounds. Whether by conscious design or intuition, the day for experiencing the labyrinth was followed by a day that focused on generational healing.
For some time I had been saying that the labyrinth was an interface between dimensions. When at San Miguel I had been asked to share concerning the Murray Creek Labyrinth, I had concluded my remarks with this statement. But I still had not thought through my basis of belief in the interface theory. And perhaps this was because I was still coming to an understanding about the multidimensional nature of consciousness and the circumstances under which it is sometimes possible for awareness to move back and forth between dimensions. I had been rereading Carlos Suares' The Second Coming of Reb YHSHWH, and gradually my understanding had been clarifying as to consciousness as multidimensional:
Suares further insists that it is not the physical universe that produces consciousness; it is consciousness that produces the universe, and then emphatically reiterates: In consciousness there are no insulated compartments--no partitions or dividing walls! (Chapter 6)
An Inter-dimensional Opening
Before attempting to explain how I came to actually experience Suares' continuum of worlds without walls, I must again go back to the previous winter when our friend Dan had come down from Oregon for the purpose of joining us in generational healing work. After a particularly intense session we decided to walk the labyrinth as a way of bringing finality to the work. While in the center of the labyrinth, an image of a great aunt of mine came to mind. It would be too much of a diversion to relate the rather involved family history, so I'll only preface what happened by saying that some time before she had similarly appeared on the screen of my mind, not at the labyrinth but around the altar of an informal midweek Healing Eucharist at the Episcopal Church in San Andreas. I had then sensed that her soul's journey was in some way blocked and had asked that the intent of the Communion include her, and which was a generational healing practice advocated by Dr McAll.
At the time there had been no sign or sense that the prayers offered had been conclusive, although I had received an inkling about the nature of the block. A short time later, I had asked my friend Virginia, a gifted seer, to take a look. She reported that my aunt would not accept release if it meant going on without my uncle, and that he was stuck in "a hell of his own making," and would need time "to work out his salvation." Prayers, therefore, were directed towards his receptivity to forgiveness.
Neither my aunt nor my uncle entered my thoughts again until that moment in the center of the labyrinth when she again came to mind, but this time followed immediately by a sudden whoosh of a sensation and the conviction that both souls, in that instant, had found release. The experience was indescribable, but the image was of an upward thrust of energy unlike anything I had ever experienced.
All three of us were impacted by the suddenness of the release which, in fact, felt as though the ground on which we were standing had "shifted" or had "opened," an experience that was both tangible and intangible, and was perceived simultaneously as both an inner and an out event of great import. Later I would wonder if this was what the mystics meant by their "openings,"
The Labyrinth is Vandalized
The next event involving the labyrinth seemed at the time as negative as the previously told one had been positive. A neighbor had stopped to report what he considered unusual activity around the labyrinth. An empty car had been blocking his way on the road. When he had honked several persons who he thought to be in their late teens had come running from the labyrinth, piled into the car and left. He followed them east as far as our place where he had turned in while the car had continued east. As we stood talking the car came back, now heading west out of the valley. I waved, sure they were just persons who had heard about the labyrinth and were checking it out. We dismissed the incident until later that evening when other neighbors came by to report that the labyrinth had been vandalized. The “Mother Stone," weighing somewhere around three or four hundred pounds had been rolled quite a ways out of its place. Other of the larger stones also had been displaced. Bob considered reporting the matter to the sheriff, but it all seemed a bit bizarre to explain. The vandals were definitely not nearby residents and their car was unfamiliar.
But once again the area of the labyrinth had our attention and we naturally wondered why. Could it be another case of “every fool is a tool”? In a time of contemplation the question for me became more specific: Is there something about the position of the Mother Stone that needs to be changed? I thought of this in terms of the “polarity” of the labyrinth and vaguely in connection with the "shift" or "opening" experienced when Dan had been down. If it was a matter of polarity, this would relate also to the stone that had been positioned in the very center of the labyrinth and that, since early on, had been referred to as the "Father Stone." Should the position of these two stones be switched? To do so would, at least symbolically, represent a shift of polarity. In checking these thoughts out, the consensus among friends and neighbors was "why not?" But it was also obvious the task would have to wait for the the presence of enough strong backs. As it turned out this was on Easter Sunday, and a good time as well for a ritual and rededication celebration.
But before Easter, there would be one more heartrending chapter to the Miwok story.
The Miwok Children
After the vandalizing of the labyrinth I had noticed that where the Mother Stone had been gophers had created a labyrinth of tunnels of their own. One morning following my observation and before the repositioning on Easter, I again was in contemplation when I saw myself at the labyrinth looking down into the gophers' tunnels. And then, like Alice, I sensed myself shrink and descend into an area that opened up beneath the labyrinth. I was taken by surprise to observe a number of Miwok children crouching and cowering behind stones. I recognized this non-ordinary reality in which I found myself as what the shaman calls the “lower world.” I also felt cautioned not to frighten the children by my presence. What I seemed to be seeing with them was a horrific scene from the destruction of their family and tribal way of life. The sense was that their spirits, or some fragmented aspect of their souls, had remained frozen in their fear, and trapped in this in-between world. It came to me to very casually say in their hearing that I was going to see if I could find “Miwok heaven,” and that if they would like they could come with me. I did sense them following as I found a way out of the lower world and to a place that seemed only slightly removed or out of sync from the ordinary one of our valley. I found myself, the children following, walking down a path with undergrowth and trees on either side, until we entered an area that looked much as I would imagine our valley to have been when it had been Miwok land. I thought that if this was Miwok heaven, life here seemed to be going on very much as though it had never been interrupted. It was as though the lost village of the Miwoks had been relocated--except for the children who had escaped the immediate fate of their families but had remained frozen in fear and in time.
My journey to Miwok heaven ended as I watched the children run ahead and meld back in with the life of their tribe. It seemed with this the spirit release of the Miwoks and the re-enchanting of the valley was surely complete.
July 2001, San Miguel
Returning to July 2001 and the conclusion of my Benedictine training at the San Miguel Mission, it was the morning of the Eucharist offered for the Healing of the Family Tree. The day before had been Saint Anne’s Day and throughout the day I, being an Ann, had been congratulated “on my saint’s day.”
That night we had walked the canvas labyrinth brought in especially for the school. In walking it I had sensed the company of the other Ann’s in my family tree: my grandmother Anna Christina, my mother Anna Beulah, myself, Ann Helena (but pronounced Anna Lena) and my daughter, another Anna Christina, even my granddaughter Rebecca Ann. All of these Ann’s then, and my entire feminine line, were the ones I felt moved to take to the Family Tree Healing Eucharist the next morning. Whereas before I had dealt with heavier generational issues, there was a lightness and considerable joy in my sense of continuity with all the other Ann's in my family tree; so much so that after the active part of the ritual I was free to simply enjoy my sense of connection to them. It was in this state that it occurred to me to invite "anyone" who might, through my being there, want to move further into the Christ light. And who should come dancing onto the scene of my mind but the Miwok children in a vision of unspeakable delight to which I was simply an observer as they moved up through and beyond the Communion altar and disappeared from sight.
Then during vespers that evening, and somewhat entranced by the Benedictine antiphonal-style chanting, I had one last totally unexpected visionary image of the Miwok children. This time they were gathered around and on the lap of Jesus. And this time I was the one transported through time and space to my own childhood, accompanied by an overwhelming sense of gratitude for having as a child learned about Jesus on the lap of one who herself was the personification of unconditional love. Lottie was very black and I was very white, but in the world of those early years all was well.
In my experience, when a vision or some other inner way of knowing comes with a message that “all is well,” it is to prepare for a time when this assurance will be needed.
I returned from San Miguel early in August. By the end of the month a fire was raging out of control and blackening the entire north-ridge boundary of our valley--a place of many springs and pristine beauty that had been the Miwok’s south-facing winter home. Tragic as such loss of virgin land is, fire nevertheless is also the ultimate symbol of purification, but from which Phoenix-ashes new growth--new life--is reborn.
Still choking from smoke, it was September 2001 and the 911 signal that on Planet Earth all was not well; that, in fact, the very fabric and structure of our present civilization was at risk of collapsing in on itself. When my beloved Lottie had been my caretaker from my birth until I was six, she had been the same age I am now. Remarkably, she had been born the child of a slave at around the time of the Emancipation. Thus the "official" end of the institution of slavery in America until now is the brief span of our two lives.
Are not the poor and the disenfranchised still enslaved? Who are today's masters of oppression? What culturally-sanctioned and socially-acceptable inhumane practices are still being perpetuated the world over? When will our collective blindness to our collective shadow end? When will the pot stop calling the kettle black? When will we acknowledge our past and present role in terrorizing the innocent? When will we see ourselves as possessed and driven by this same archetype?
How can the psychic infrastructure of an entire planet be healed unless enough are willing to take a stand and speak out against the "slaughter of innocents," wherever and by whomever it is being perpetuated?
"Nothing," noted Edward Edinger, "is more important than the existence of a certain number of individuals who understand what is going on."
If at Murray Creek the labyrinth has been a focal point for healing the tear made by greed in the psychic structure of this place, then what about the rift to an entire planet by corporate greed, and by blatant disregard for human life and nature?
Can we awaken in time so as to diminish the repercussions of the damage done in terms of human life and the environment? And if not, having done what we could, will our consciousness be such as to enable us to find our way to a place such as Miwok heaven where, in this multidimensional universe of alternate realities, life continues and all is well?
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Murray Creek Labyrinth