I was no more than ten, sitting on the back steps that led into the old extra room, really a storage shed, tacked onto the farmhouse at Hillshore. In there, we kept our piles of chopped wood for the ancient black cook stove, “Beulah”.
It was also the place where Rocket, our large bullmastiff, used to sleep with Patsy, the small black Labrador cross, tucked close to Rocket’s tummy for warmth. Our stolid bodyguard, a cat named Sir Pook of Quinte, would ensconce himself on Rocket’s back and in this fashion the trio would settle in for their night’s sleep.
The day came, however, when Dad tore down the old shed with its step, and we could go directly across the small gulley to the larger apple orchard. Rocket was allocated his own suite of rooms in the barn for winter, Patsy was given hers close by, and Sir Pook of Quinte had by then inveigled himself into becoming a House Cat….
But the old steps and shed were still there when I settled in that evening in the late fall after supper. It was almost dark, and a light mist had fallen over the Bay. It was quite usual for me to find an odd spot to ponder things. I was a thoughtful, only child, very interested in the deeper questions of life.
So as I sat there on the old steps, I was fascinated by the large auras of mist around the trees that lined our waterfront along the beautiful Bay of Quinte, and stood in groups in our apple orchard.
I felt myself merging with those misty apparitions, and as I gazed at them, a series of pictures began to form in my mind.
I know now that such pictures are a form Active Imagination, a kind of dreaming, during which the conscious mind and therefore the Ego both remain awake, participating in the spiritual, clairvoyant, and often psychological revelations of the Higher Self (and sometimes of one’s spirit guides). These pictures or images “come in”, one might say, like a text message.
These were the pictures that, in the future, would always be there on request when I gave professional life readings. They enter my mind spontaneously as I pore over my clients’ birth charts. These were the pictures that would light my Path in the darkest of times.
As a young child, the pictures that evening were an introduction to all of these things, but above all, they were an affirmation of immortality and the sacred meaning of life that would be my rock of faith for the rest of my life.
The pictures began with a blackboard, very much like the ones I looked at every day in the one-room country schoolhouse just a mile up the road at Mt. Carmel School – with its 8 grades and 17 students!
In the first picture, “Someone” had drawn on the board a simple tree, showing deep roots below the earth, and branches fluttering outward ending in leaves.
Many years later it came to me that I had been shown the World Tree, central to shamanism and to almost all all mythologies …but for now, this tree seemed like all the ones I loved on our small hundred-acre estate.
Then that “someone”, whom I could not see in the picture, held up an old-fashioned pointer, gesturing at the tree and using chalk to illustrate Life Cycle of the tree. First came “Birth”, as the sap running up the trunk in spring, out into the branches, the buds and leaves appearing…and then “Death”, as the fall winds blew all the leaves off. Yet, as they fell, the leaves covered protectively the roots and then provided, as they decayed, nutrients for the roots below. This was the “Rest” part of the cycle.
Then, once again, in the spring, the enriched and life-giving sap would rise again up through the trunk, and this was Rebirth. This, my invisible Teacher imparted to me, was how it was throughout all of nature. Nothing was ever lost, only changing and reappearing within a cycle which was always a dimension of Life. Above all, I sensed that everything in nature was part of everything else, serving a beautiful, simple, highly intelligent purpose within the magnificent Life Cycle.
As I watched, my invisible Teacher then drew a stick-figure of a human being in the corner of the picture, and I sensed, rather than heard, these words: “Now, why would human beings, part of God’s creation too, be an exception to this Great Life Cycle?” Using the pointer again, Teacher pointed to the parallels between the tree’s Life Cycle and those of a human being, showing how we too are born, rise up through ourselves, and out into the self-expression of our branches and – at last – our lovely leaves.
Then, in old age or whenever it is Time to prepare for a new Spring we drop those leaves, a few at time at first, and then more and more. Finally, when Death comes, the branches are bare; but the leaves are not lost. They are our life experiences, from which wisdom is distilled. As our leaves of life settle on the earth around the roots, they gradually change into the rich “soil” from which – after resting and learning – we start out again.
In our next springtime, the sap rises up through the Old Trunk. Once again the process repeats, as the tree of Self grows larger, stronger, and confident in its place in God’s plan.
As the pictures, and my Teacher, just naturally faded away, I knew for once and for all that we are part of a Great Life Cycle where “death” is just a phase in the cycle, a time of rest, another point on the circle…but most important of all, I knew that all that we do, all that we feel and learn, travels onward with us as we move through the Great Cycle. Nothing is wasted, nothing is without dignity, nothing is without meaning.
I learned then, and it has stayed with me all my life, that we are cradled by the great Laws of the Cosmos, revealed in pictures that foggy evening on the Bay of Quinte. This was my first class, my introduction, to the guides – and and My Higher Self – who accompany us always in each lifetime, and who speak to us in pictures, wrapped in wise and loving words.