When I started this blog, I wasn’t writing fiction like a lunatic as I am now. I didn’t have my Grail Keeper’s Tarot coming out.
It is scheduled for December 2012 in book form. Like an art book.
My real love is storytelling, making stuff up and writing about magic and my experiences with it in fictional form. When I was asked to write a memoir, I tried, but decided to, in the end, to decline. there were lots of reasons, but one of the big ones was that I wanted to save my most supernatural experiences for my fiction. Didn’t want to use them up in one book.
Over the summer, I wrote lots of short stories and all of them found publishers. I even got paid. I wrote two screenplays and continued to edit and revise two novels, The Roses of the Moon and Rosewolf. I have excerpted both of them on my other Gothic Faery Tales. Thus has blogging languished.
Plus I have to work the day job.
I have also gone through changes. It would take many blog posts to describe these changes. Some of my new thoughts and insights would be very controversial in this niche. I consider shutting down the blog and re-publishing the posts in books form, making them more complete and available on e-reader formats.
I do have an Amazon Kindle page and three stories uploaded on there.
Go to Kindle, scroll down to Books and type in my name: Alyne de Winter.
All are priced at 99 cents.
At this point I have : Roses, Briars and Blood: A Gothic Re-telling of Grimms’ Briar Rose
Reflection of Beauty: Inspired by Beauty and the Beast and the film La Belle et la Bette by Jean Cocteauand a contemporary Paranormal Romance: Portrait of a Vampire.
There will be more. I’d love if you would go there and read them and write some great reviews! I do work hard. I would love to know if those stories are as enjoyable for you as the blog has been.
Every winter, from 1986-1990, I relived a past life so vividly, I cannot doubt that my prior existence as another version of myself was real.
The theme of these memories had played a role in my life since childhood.
I was killed in the Wounded Knee Massacre of December, 1890.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown, was published in 1970. I first saw this book on display on the front desk at the Leicester Public Library and instantly reached for it and checked it out. I was suddenly immersed in the story of Western Tribes and their terrible fate at the hands of the U.S. government. Since part of my family were Indians, it took hold of my imagination and never let go.
Time magazine reviewed the book saying: “In the last decade or so, after almost a century of saloon art and horse operas that romanticized Indian fighters and white settlers, Americans have been developing a reasonably acute sense of the injustices and humiliations suffered by the Indians. But the details of how the West was won are not really part of the American consciousness … Dee Brown, Western historian and head librarian at the University of Illinois, now attempts to balance the account. With the zeal of an IRS investigator, he audits U.S. history’s forgotten set of books. Compiled from old but rarely exploited sources plus a fresh look at dusty Government documents, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee tallies the broken promises and treaties, the provocations, massacres, discriminatory policies and condescending diplomacy.”
I began to have recurring dreams that I was a white woman with very pale blond hair. I am looking at a large rock with a dry, twisted tree growing out of it. I scream and start crying. I know that behind that rock is a dead Indian man who had just been shot. I wake up.
Of course, Westerns were all over the television when I was growing up, and a young girl’s fantasies could easily run in the direction but of this dream. But this had no element of wish fulfillment. It was tragic. And it wasn’t the end.
My Saturn Return was bearable, even though it is in the 7th House. But my 8th House Saturn Transit was from Hell. It is a Scorpio House for me and Venus, my chart ruler, is in there in Sagittarius. OUCH!
This was the most intense, darkly Scorpionic time I have lived through yet. I won’t say why, (except that it involved a man — what else?) but I was subjected to terrible, unrelenting psychic attack.
I was shocked and horrified that my one reliable defense, my powerful abilities in meditation were useless. I could not still my mind, but was surrounded with a black vortex that swirled around me and made me feel oppressed and ill. I still remember an entity putting something around my neck as if to strangle me from behind. The person who was doing this was indulging in some pretty nasty thought forms!
That obvious attempt to kill me on the astral plane woke me up to the kind of danger I was in, so I sat down and said “I am going to push this darkness away with my light.” I began to focus on the golden light in my heart, and willed it to grow and grow until all the entities, and the vortex were pushed away. Suddenly I was immersed in a sea of streaming golden light. It was as if I had gone into the sun! And in the midst of this molten light were two eyes and face like Christ, ( or Albrecht Durer lol! )
Afterwards, the attack energies were gone, and I began to have Shamanic dreams.
The recurring dream from my childhood began again. The same rock, the tree. my screams and the knowledge that an Indian man had been shot and lay behind the rock. It wasn’t because of the book this time. Maybe it was because I had Indian friends and was around them and on the reservations a lot. But the dream coming in the midst of visions and spiritual visitations, gave it it more significance for me. And the fact that I remembered it from so long ago.
One Who Was Lost Returns
In 1986, I began to work with a spiritual healer as a form of therapy. I had a terrible family life as a child and have had to periodically clear stuff away to be free of them and move on. The healing involved very deep kundalini yoga practices and I took to it like a fish to water.
It was about six months into this work, in December, that I was meditating in the living room, when a man appeared before me. He was so real, I could touch him! He was a Plains Indian man with very long, thick chestnut brown hair and big, doe eyes. Weird part was, was that the lower part of his face was sealed over with a kind of filmy bandage as if to erase his mouth. He was lanky, and brown, and wore skins — very 19th century looking. Telepathically, he sent me a message. “Stop trying to find me. I am not in a body. But I look after you.”
Words cannot convey how weird this was. What he said hit me like a club, for I knew that he was the dead Indian man behind the rock in my recurring dreams.
Four Years of Memories
After that, every December, I got one more piece of the story.
The second year told me I had been captured by the Lakota Tribe and had married this man. I had a feeling he was Cheyenne for some reason. I can’t explain that. We were very happy together. White men didn’t like captured white women being happy with Indians, so they killed him.
The third year, I found out that one of my clients had been in the cavalry unit that was at Wounded Knee and had seen me being killed. We made eye contact at that moment, and out of that we had some karma (for want of a better word.) to work out. When I told him this, he said he knew it was true. It was like something fell into place about our relationship and his perception of me.
The last year was in December, 1990.
As a person with Iroquois heritage, I was a subscriber to Akwesasne Notes, a tribal newspaper printed on the reservation in upstate New York. I came home one day and found it on my doorstep. For some reason, I didn’t want to touch it. I picked it up like a dead mouse and threw in into a corner of the kitchen counter.
Later that day, I sat meditation and had a vision of men and horses riding to the mass grave on Pine Ridge where the bodies of those slain in the Wounded Knee massacre were buried. They did a ceremony during which I saw a ghost come out of the grave and come back to me. My spirit had been trapped there, and had been returned to me.
Later on, I was able to finally able to open that edition of Akwesasne Notes. It was all about the Wounded Knee massacre with its classic photo of Big Foot dead in the snow. There was an article about several spiritual leaders from Pine Ridge riding on horseback to the mass grave of the victims to do a healing ceremony for those who were buried there. It was the one-hundred year anniversary of the Wounded Knee massacre.
I wrote to them about what had happened to me but they never responded. The next year I went to South Dakota to visit the grave and place a tobacco tie on the fence that surrounds it. I realized I had been afraid to go there before that. I still don’t really like to talk about this, but I think the information about past life memories might be of value , rather than what the memories are about.
As part of that trip, my friend and I drove to Pine Ridge to bring clothes and shoes to the people on the reservation, for winters are terrible there. I was shocked to know how much the whites hated the Indians and how much they exploited Lakota culture to make money. Hypocrisy or cynicism? Probably both.
Driving through the Dakotas caused me physical pain — psychic, physical pain, and heaviness.
In 1992, I was at meeting in support of Leonard Peltier. There was a chance him might be let of prison on parole. Of course that was sabotaged in the most horrible way. I connected with an Indian guy who so resembled the man who visited me from beyond the veil that I had to speak with him.
He was part of the Peace and Dignity Run. Native people from Alaska to Argentina to Mexico City running through Indian lands, collecting feathers on the way that were attached to long staffs, to meet for four nights of ceremonies at Tenochtihuacan ( Pyramids of the Moon) on Columbus Day. It was five hundred years since Columbus invaded the Americas looking for slaves and gold, and this was an empowering way for Native people to protest its celebration.
I was there at the Pyramids of the Moon as, under a full moon, tribal members from many lands and cultures, worked their ancient rites together in that place. It was an amazing experience to be there.
I find I still question the idea of past lives in the sense that a discreet and singular personality goes on for several lives. But I shouldn’t. I think these experiences are a good indication that Past lives are real.
It was the time of the “Worcester Renaissance”, when student poets planned to bring the old city back its former glory as home of Elizabeth Bishop, the woman who never wrote a bad poem.
I moved out of my parents house and into a large 3 bedroom apartment in a Victorian tenement behind a church. I shared space with my friend, Cathy, and my then friend, J.B. This grand old building had six apartments, stacked in threes with a shared entrance, making it a double. Because it was on Grand Street, we called it the Grand Hotel. That it was at the edge of a slum didn’t bother us in the least; it was right across the street from that hotbed of Communism, Clark University, and close to the bar that we students went to to share our poetry, creative writing, art, and politics.
This tenement had the classic back fire escapes with porches from which circular clotheslines swung out over the ally way like a floating city of spiders. Since we were on the top floor, we had a view of the rooftops and the sky. J.B. was a star gazer and we spent many autumn evenings looking through the telescope at the stars and planets, learning the constellations. We woke in the mornings to the sound of church bells, and in the winter, because our slumlord was mean, we were forced to do our homework with our feet in the oven to stay warm.
Cathy had a cat and J.B. had a large floppy English Angora rabbit with gray fur. I was allergic to cats and rabbits, so, like Mimi in La Boheme, I had asthma all the time. I loved them though so I put up with it.
J.B told me I had been the love of his life for the past year, so between being with him, and having asthma I was in bed a lot. lol!
JB made me a bracelet out Dundrum’s fur — (the rabbit’s name was Dundrum Conundrum Asylum) and I still have it. See!
Dundrum fur bracelet
Before this Cathy and I had traveled to Colorado where one of my best friends had moved. I fell in love with the Rocky Mountains with their shimmering aspen trees and waterfalls, and high, soaring peaks. We met a very handsome Indian man called Dave Shonoha who drove us all over the mountains, even up above the tree line, where a big horn sheep glared at us in the snow. He even took me to a cemetery that was at the very top of one of the mountains. I could sense spirits up there. I remember Dave looking at me with this amused grin on his face. I didn’t know how to pretend I didn’t see spirits, or think it was weird that I should want to find a cemetery. Now, when I look back, I think …HHmmmm…
Landslide was my song back then. I associate it with Colorado. There are so many great versions of this, but this video shows the time as well.
As an arty crowd, J.B., Cathy, and I had so many interesting friends, really brainy eccentrics like the frock-coated artist who brought an Victorian English cab driver’s tea set with him whenever he came to visit, or the other artist who made up his own language and decorated his apartment with grape soda cans. Those were the days. I have bits about them in my journals but right now, I can’t remember their names. I had all this big blond hair and wore vintage. You could get the good stuff back then, like 1920′s bias cut velvets with beads, and Edwardian petticoats for practically nothing. But we were paid practically nothing too.
My art was becoming more and more clairvoyant, but I didn’t know it at the time. I don’t know if hunger and asthma had anything to do with it. It is a tradition among ceremonial magicians to have asthma. I was also very effected by a sort of Hawthorne-esque melancholy. Away from my parents, the world I created around me was somber, shadowy, ghostly. I later found out that many of the drawings I did at that time were traditional images having to do with Faery, like figures coming up from under the snowy ground, or women in long cloaks walking among candles in the woods followed by wolves. I was using Gothic imagery before there were Goths. I was into mythology, folklore, and the Middle Ages, and drawing what I saw.
It was January 1978 when we just left everything behind and went to Mexico. Some of this was economic, for it was a terrible recession at that time and there were no jobs.
At the time, I was collecting unemployment — $25 a week! The apartment was $150 a month. Can you believe it?
I left Cathy my vast record collection, my vintage 1920’s gowns, and who knows what she might have done with the little cloth dolls I tucked into the nooks and crannies of the place. Dundrum got a new home as Cathy was angry at him for munching her books.
I had some stuff to sell, so me and J.B. went to Boston. Bookish types, we ended up going to a big library where I was looking for lyrics to Elizabethan folk ballads. I found, on the same page, a portrait of Anne Boleyn above the words to Twa Corbies — another song I was quite addicted to. To this day, I associate Anne Boleyn and Twa Corbies.
J.B., this guy Steven (I wonder if he’s still alive. He always said if he wasn’t a famous poet by the age of 30 he would kill himself. I don’t think he is famous, so…) and I got on the Greyhound bus for New York City. We visited the White Horse Tavern which had been a haunt of the Beat Poets and Dylan Thomas or Bob Dylan or something. — it was in Greenwich Village I think.
Long story short, we got over the border and on a first class train to Mexico City. I will never forget our approach to the city because I had never seen people living like that. It was like a giant ant hill, or a bit like Gormanghast or something. All these homeless people living by the hundreds in cardboard boxes encircled the what I remember as looking like the outer walls of the City.This was the pre-earthquake, pre NAFTA Mexico City, a maze of almost empty streets, calm and beautiful courtyards, elegant old hotels, and cafes where ex-patriot Vietnam veterans hung out. I remember terra cotta, blue and white tiles, courtyards full of green plants and fountains. The Mexicans didn’t hate us, but the women were very worried about any show of female skin.
From there we went South, intending to go to Guatemala (strange idea…wasn’t there a war going on there at the time?). We ended up in a Zapotec Indian Village called Barra de Colotepec outside of the then undiscovered Puerto Escondito. We had the Colotopec River, the beach and a lagoon almost all to ourselves. For $10 a month, we rented a cabana with a dirt floor and ragged walls owned by the la Senora of the village. We slept in hammocks and had to store our food high along the walls so the local dogs wouldn’t eat it. La Senora kept everyone in tortillas, and little girls would come in the morning with baskets to collect their share.
The veil is very thin in Mexico. My intuition was higher than I realized. One weird thing that happened was that la Senora had an neglected altar in our cabana, and one day I got the strong urge to clean it. In a couple of hours, it was shiny and I had picked some flowers and put them on it. La Senora came in and saw what I had done. She brought some candles and somehow she conveyed to me that it was Easter. I had had no idea.
I was writing lots of poetry as I was in that receptive state of mind that attracts poetic ideas. We had seen a sea turtles lay it eggs in the sand — that is a whole story in itself — and some while after I wrote a poem about it, using the imagery of the stars and the tortoises shell — I’ll have to find that poem some day. Anyway, years later, I found out that what I had written in the poem was true! When sea turtles are born their shells are imprinted with the patterns of the constellations, and when it is time for them to return to the shore where they were hatched, these patterns guide them to the right place.
I also almost drowned in a rip tide. I had been close to death before, so I just remember thinking it would be an easy way to go if that was it. I just relaxed and was carried back to the shore. That was one time when my rather alarming 20 year old passivity came in handy.
The Little Flowers of Saint Francis of Assisi
I was really into St.Francis and had this book. Inside, there are some pressed flowers from Mexico and a poem written by J.B. that I still have to this day, thirty years later.
There are so many great adventures I had in Mexico at that time that will make about twenty blog posts, so I won’t share them here. This is just a timeline. Since I have been around for a long time, there will more installments. The ones after this will talk about how I became conscious of my abilities and who I was when I came into contact with West Coast American culture.
The Poem by J.B.
J.B. wrote this poem to describe an ordeal we all went through on an, unexpectedly, all night fishing trip into the bay at Puerto Escondito. While Steven and I were freezing
in our Summer clothes, sitting in the wet bottom the row boat and hurling over the side, J.B., stoically reclined on the back bench with his hat over his face contemplating this poem, I guess. That was until he, in a Hemmingway moment, he leapt up to slay a fierce a manna ray that had gotten hooked by our hosts (who were all bundled up in their wooly sweaters.) Since the whole things was his idea, he could afford to be blase!
Anyway here is this poem that he probably doesn’t know I have. I think he might have wanted to title it something about the Southern Cross as he was really into the stars.
Untitled, Mexico, January, 1978
flails the darkness
from feverish stem
to stern, a verbal meteor
storm, nearly pentecostal.
Nets hurtle upward
into the stars, pause,
and fall hissing like warm
soft wire into the sea. Monafilament
and chopped mullet swamp the deep hull,
milling with bare feet and wicked hooks
into the mutinous melee
of Mexican fish catching. I huddle
needlessly by the port gunwale, alone
in my English.
is not the same
on the water.
the waves break backwards, aching
toward the treacherous permanence
of sand, And here I see entrails
of fish glowing with the minute
life of agitation: the uncommon
world given off in the commonest
of gestures, simply
a mullet spilled open.
our passage may be
crisp, our wake aglow,
we flow with the lightning
poetry of oak splinters.
Mantas tumble out of the sea
and belly back. A turtle struggles
away from us,
like a pregnant sow, aching with the surf
and her future.
I have come
thick tongued and thin
sated into this Pacific
village. I cannot sing
with the men, I cannot sing
with the women, nor wash. I only swim
and laugh at myself, and have no loss
And laughing is enough. I soon
surrender my landed musings
for mezcal and a gesture
towards a boat.
(it is dangerous,
this affirmation of nothing that
hauls fishermen out of their
footprints.) I check my handline:
nothing but lead and fish guts, the
barb buried in a liver.
I see Puerta Angel wherever I
look for the pole star. My skull skies
like a starborne compass, or is it the
sea. The water is lost in itself, and we.
The stone anchor cannons into my urges,
calling from beneath the waves, but the
sea takes only 20 yards of handline.
I don’t know what the last line means exactly, but J.B. was an enigma at times. He had talent, but he gave up I think.
Hope that’s not too self indulgent. Or if it is, I hope its fun at least. I don’t like to be serious all the time.
Do you have any mementos from so long ago? Its kind of strange the way memories pull you….
Do you have strange, haunting childhood memories? Or is it only my morbid love for eerie ghost stories that makes these images stick in my mind?
I am sure you have had some odd occurrences as a child? Perhaps even paranormal ones. Isn’t that one of the gifts of childhood? A time wondrous strange, when anything is possible because we haven’t learned that some things are not?
Nostalgia is heightened when I hear a child song like this from the dazzling film, The Innocents, based on Henry James’seerie Victorian ghost story, The Turn of the Screw.
Play it while you read this post, and maybe you will have a mysterious memory or two…
The Horse in the Woods on Crow Hill
My mother’s parents, Meme and Pepe Caron, lived in a rather ramshackle house in a clearing at the bottom of Crow Hill in Worcester, Massachusetts. As children my brother, Jim, and I spent many long summer days up there. I remember the slopes being covered in golden rod, young birches, and slatey rocks that shone like silver in the bright sunshine. Unlike the humid, swampy, mosquito filled woods that surrounded it, the top of Crow Hill was drier, the air fresher, weeds pricklier, and the views went on forever.
One side of my Grandparent’s yard sloped up to a narrow plateau used for parking, and from there was a straight path up the hill. To the left was a stand of trees that turned into deep woods. There were the remains of a house that once been next to the woods, but was now only a basement with a treacherous wooden floor and a fireplace with a fallen chimney. I was about nine years old, when, always the explorer, I decided that instead of climbing the hill from the obvious path, I would see if there was a way through the woods.
I walked for quite a while, always wondering if I should back, but then there was a brambly little path to follow so I wouldn’t get lost. I always loved the way pine needles layered the ground like a brown carpet, so that the little streams shone black and sparkling in their rocky beds, ferns glowed bright green, and the occasional prize of a Lady’s Slipper would appear. Eventually I arrived at wide clearing and saw a fenced enclosure with a horse inside trotting back and forth under a canopy of oak leaves. I had never seen this horse before! And even stranger, there were no buildings anywhere about, no shed, barn, or house anywhere nearby.
I have the ability to converse with horses — an Irish jockey who came to me for a Tarot reading in London told me I was Horse Whisperer — and so the beautiful bay horse and I spoke for some time; he was a gentle civilized beast who like to run around pretending he was free.
I went home and told my Grandmother. She listened as always with her mind someplace else. She didn’t seem to know about the horse and the fenced yard in the woods. I decided to go back the next morning and bring my brother along.
And indeed, I picked up the path of the day before, walked across the brown needle floor, stepped over the little streams, but could not find the fenced yard or the horse! Jim told me I was making it up! But I wasn’t. I just could not find it. I think I was still looking when we were called in for lunch. I never found it again….
White Rabbit Trick
One Easter morning, I received a very fine toy rabbit. It was white, and had a fine blue dress, and very long ears. I was so happy with this rabbit, that when we went to visit some family friends, I brought it with me.
The adults being boring, I went outside with my rabbit and wandered around in the large back yard. In those days every house had a swing set…I don’t seem to see those any more…This one was in front of a tall green hedge , probably of the ubiquitous mountain laurel.
I always loved to swing and would always try to force myself higher and higher. I had the idea that if I flew high enough, I could swing in a full circle over the top bar and come back down safely. Good thing I never accomplished that! But I was holding the rabbit, and flying so high, that I was pulling the legs of the swing set out of the ground. Suddenly the rabbit flew out of my arms, straight behind me, and into the hedge!
So what? you say. A rabbit in a hedge. Big deal! But I couldn’t find it! I looked up, and down, inside and out. I remember walking through the hedge into someone else’s yard, and still, no rabbit. I called the adults out into the yard to look for it, and they couldn’t find it either. I was distraught! I had only just gotten it after all.
I still don’t know what happened to that rabbit. At the time, I imagined it went into a Time Tunnel, those being quite popular back then. Or maybe the Easter Bunny took it back. But even now I wonder if I had swung myself into another dimension without realizing it, lost time, and simply forgot to bring back my toy rabbit?
UFO Dreaming: Speaking of Other Dimensions…
When was a child, I used to love The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. This drove my my mother crazy for some reason. She could never understand my taste for the macabre and the paranormal. But maybe the era of the 1960′s, with all the buzz about the 21st century, when everything would be robots, space ships, we would love on other planets, and automation would make life so easy that nobody would have to work any more. When I was small, TV was fairly new, and it only came in black and white.
As I have said many times, I grew up in a house in the woods in Massachusetts. (If you want to see it, you can google map it, and explore the whole neighborhood. It is still the same! Google 4 Lexington Avenue, Leicester, MA. and you will find it, including the woods.) At night there was always a light over the treetops, moving from side to side, in what appeared to be the depths of the forest. Many times we got on top of the old stone walls that ran all through the woods, intending to follow them to the other side where we were convinced we would find alien spaceships. The stone walls didn’t go straight or very far, as they were the remains of pasture boundaries from 200 years before. We never made it to the space ship, so the mystery lingered on.
It was one thing for there to be a light above the woods at the back of the houses. We were used to that! But one hot summer night, a light appeared above the trees in the direction where the sun came up, above the tiger lily stream and the grassy clearing where grasshoppers, frogs, and crickets lived. This was the bright place.
I decided that that was definitely a UFO and told the other kids that we should try to go and find it. It couldn’t be that far away. But they poo-pooed me! I guess they weren’t as into the Twilight Zone as I was.
One night, though, I had a dream that was so real I have never forgotten it. It was like a black and white B-movie scene. I was wakened by the sound of thunder and a flash of lightning! I opened my eyes, and saw that the wall where my window was had been peeled back like a piece of steel, leaving a large space through which I could see a lone tree on a low bare hill lit like something from Night of the Living Dead. Around the tree, these little gray people with large black cat eyes, and vestigial features, were gathered. Suddenly, they poured through the gap in the wall, and into my room, to stand there, just looking at me with all of these big, glassy , vacant black eyes. Then a very tall figure, wearing a floating gossamer robe surrmounted by a very large bald head, and the same pupiless black eyes, walked through the crowd of Greys and sat on the edge of my bed. To this day, I can feel the touch of its hands as it slid them around my body. I began praying to Jesus. He came did His shepherd thing, herding them all back out through the gap in the wall, out to the tree on the hill.
What was that about?
When I was in my healing practice for a few years, I attracted clients who complained of being kidnapped by ETs, taken onto space ships to be subjected to horrible scientific experiments, and implanted with monitoring devices much as the ones we use to tag wild animals for study. I took much of this with a pinch of salt, for it was all over the media in the 1990′s, and people can be highly suggestible. Still, my healing energies seek to clear the source of the trauma, the symptoms are not the defining thing.
Having remembered this dream I had as a child, I would tell it to my clients. Every single one of them told me that that was what their dream/visions were like: very real, very B movie, and very surreal.
One of these clients had an actual photograph of two spirits she saw in her hedge. They were very clearly there, looking mischievously out, but they looked like faeries to me, not ETs. It was a remarkable photo either way! There was no way it was doctored. It was an actual image of these two faces peering out of the hedge.
Do you believe in the Grey Aliens? In my childhood in the 1960′s, they didn’t have a common description; they weren’t called Grey Aliens. I didn’t even know about them. Sometimes I wonder if they were a breed of faeries. Disappointed in me when I called on Jesus, they fled.
My Hebert grandparents lived in a very spooky Victorian house with deep walk-in closets, and steep rickety stairs going down into a dark basement worthy of H.P. Lovecraft. The father of my grandfather had been very clever with his hands and made mahogany bookcases, a wonderful box incised with apple branches that I loved dearly and that my mother couldn’t wait to get rid of. It was made as box for a handmade wooden jig saw puzzle of a Guardian Angel escorting two children over a bridge in the forest. My great grandfather also made weird things such a wooden Crucified Christ inside a large bottle you would normally expect to have a ship in. He made a splendid medieval style cabinet for a Communion Chalice and the Host, or Blessed Sacrament. This cabinet could be brought up beside the bed so the priest could give Absolution to the dying.
My grandparents bedroom was wallpapered in wine colored brocade, with French windows that opened out between lace curtains, all very down at heel, the faux luxury of the French. The bed was against the north wall under a painting of the Virgin Mary, and I often slept in it. At the opposite end of the room was the walk-in closet, full of hatboxes, powdery smelling old people’s clothes, high button shoes, and my father’s childhood toys.
Among these was a wooden rocking horse. I remember one night, I was having trouble sleeping beside Meme who was snoring. Living in the country, I was used to absolute darkness, and absolute silence in the night. This house was in the city — in a back road off of a busy street, and the noise of snoring combined with passing cars bothered me so that I tossed and turned for ages. Also, the moonlight, or streetlight, was streaming in through the lace curtained window, casting a wide beam of light across the floor that touched off glints and shines on things stored in the shadows of the open walk-in closet. At the threshold of the door was the old rocking horse, white as a ghost with a pale, stiff flying mane, and tail.
Someplace between waking and sleeping, I remember opening my eyes and gazing at the rocking horse as it rocked back and forth, back and forth. There was no wind, no sounds of the house settling. The horse just rocked and rocked, creaking quietly. I fell asleep for a while, until I was disturbed by intense moonlight at the window. I opened my eyes again. The horse was standing still, but then, as if it knew I was looking, it began rocking. Intrigued, I shut my eyes, and kept them closed until the creaking stopped. As I slowly re-opened my eyes, the horse was standing still, but again, as if it knew I was watching, it began to rock back and forth back and forth all over again.
There is probably some rational explanation for this. Of course there is! But still, it was one of the spookiest things I ever experienced, and that is a big part of it, don’t you agree?
The Grave in the Woods
Last but not least, have you ever stumbled upon a lone grave in the woods? My friend, Mary, and I did. We were walking across a field, looking for wild strawberries, when we came to a stand of maple trees and a grassy clearing. Since wild strawberries grew very close to the ground, we were combing through the long grass and there it was! A grave with the name Abigail something, who died in the late 1700′s.
It was strange to find a grave all alone like that. One could not help but wonder why she had been buried far from everyone else, rather than in one of the cemeteries that had been built when Massachusetts was a colony of England. I don’t think she was very old, which for kids like us, would make it doubly shocking.
In my adult years, I have since learned that suicides would be buried far away, in unhallowed ground. The reason was fear of haunting, or that the suicide, being damned, would come back as an Undead, and Vampire…
Did a Vampire stalk the night in Leicester, Massachusetts?
If you like these type of stories I have a related post about Salem Witchcraft and my experiences with some dolls.
During my early adolescence, the call of the Otherworld intensified to such a pitch that I had a very hard time being present. Vivid dreams assailed me, astral projections, and visits from the horned Spirit of the Woods upset my sleep. Perhaps my imagination was merely fueled by the constant reading of fantasy and fairy tales, combined with my taste for the supernatural. These pastimes may have contributed a great deal to my susceptibility to the Unseen. This was the 1960’s remember. In rural Massachusetts, my experiences were way beyond the pale. Nobody understood me — or maybe very few.
I used to walk down a woodsy road that ran between two reservoirs. Open on the sides facing the road, they were bounded on the further sides by tall hedges of arbor vitae. These trees were so old and tall that I could see the tops as I approached. The subtle movements of their leaves had a powerful, trance inducing effect on me so that I felt as if I was going through a doorway into a different dimension that existed close to the real world, but was more vivid and beautiful. It was pleasant in the summer months to lie in the lush green grass beside the water and watch the birds and small animals and the arbor vitae. I was convinced that the trees spoke, that they were aware of my presence, and that their movements expressed feelings and intentions. They explained things to me about nature, and revealed certain spirits that would show themselves briefly before backing away again into the shadows.
One day I remember very clearly that I decided I was a Pagan. I knew the experiences I was having were spiritual, but no one ever spoke about things like spirits and nature in church or in catechism. Obviously, the trees were not Catholics so maybe they didn’t count. I struggled to find the word Pagan. I didn’t really know what it meant. But atheist and agnostic didn’t work. Witch was too strong a word at the time.
The Magic of Old Cemeteries
The new neighborhood we moved to when I was eleven had a few things to make up for the loss of the woods and the sawmill road. Cemeteries. They were very old. One was along Main Street and held the graves of the local blue-blood families (Protestant with Mayflower ancestry). Minute Men who had met to plan the Revolution on our village green over 200 years ago. Fallen English ‘Red Coats’ from the Revolutionary War, were also buried there.
There was another cemetery further away. I had to walk down along road that went through the woods to get there. This cemetery had many old graves. They still outnumber the new ones. I used to wander around, enjoying the sense of history, the quietness, and park-like beauty of the place. I always thought my attraction to cemeteries was because of a streak of melancholy stemming from my old French Catholic roots and the somber atmosphere of New England. Now I think I was picking up on ghosts, or sensing the ‘betwixt and between’ nature of a place that trembles between the worlds of the living and the dead. Such places are a threshold to the Otherworld.
There was another, hidden, cemetery in the woods far off the reservoir road. It had a high stone wall around it with a wrought iron gate we called Spider Gates. The graves inside were extremely old. We partied there as teenagers but did not damage anything. In those days we respected those things. I can only pray it hasn’t been seriously vandalized since then, for it is a very mysterious, Gothic place with a reputation for weird goings on including blood sacrifices on Sacrifice Rock.
Sometimes I would just find a lone grave in the woods from the 17th century or so.
I just made me aware of how old my home town was. Something about stumbling on a grave in the woods makes the person under it more real than words written in the pages of history books.
My Discovery of Tarot Cards
The circus occasionally came to town. I was privileged to see the Flying Welenda’s trapeze act. I still remember how astonished I was watching the women stand on their heads on the trapezes, their blond ponytails hanging down, and their legs in splits — all without a net!
There was an odd circus that came once and camped in a clearing in the trees along the road leading to the reservoirs. They had a row of tents pitched. I remember them vividly: cream colored canvas, with peaked roofs set against a green background of pines and arbor vitae. Though it was twilight and the show was over, it seemed as if the Circus was still open for business in their camp in the ring of trees, because when I went to check them out there were other visitors milling around. There was a kind of side show, if I recall, but I had no money so I couldn’t go into the tents. (After reading Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen, I now know what must have been going on, but back then it was way over my head.)
Circus people hanging out in midst of the trees was an odd sight. Some of them were still in costume. This image left an indelible mark in my imagination and still crops in stories I have written over the years. In the middle of the grass a skinny guy covered in tattoos (extremely unusual in those days) smoked a cigarette while he talked with an acrobat in a tutu. There was a woman sitting under a tree dressed as a Gypsy. She had some cards spread out on a table in front of her. I stood looking down at them and she began turning them over. Unlike the playing cards, or Old Maid cards, I was used to, these had pictures on them that looked like illustrations from a story book. They appealed to something very deep in me. The images were enigmatic, inducing a sense of wonder and curiosity that other artwork did not. I don’t remember much else, except that I wanted those cards.
Many years later, I was given my first deck by my boyfriend, J.B.
I used to summer for a weeks in Ogunquit, Maine with a group of other kids from my High School. This was the mid 1970’s when the beaches were wild and free, the Victorian and Edwardian hotels elegant and few. Cat Stevens had just released the evocative Moonshadow, and water beds were a novelty.
Here is Cat Stevens circa 1976. Moonshadow was a background song for one magical summer by the sea. Check out my post John Barleycorn is Dead for another magical song from this period.
During my first Ogunquit summer, I remember going along a wooden boardwalk with a small string of shops on one side, their white paint weathered to gray. My walk was stopped, at the very end, by a closed door. I was so struck by it that I still remember it after all this time. I can only figure out that it was a sign for me, so it stayed in my mind until I could understand what it stood for. The door was white and had a life sized red hand painted on it, fingers together pointing up, palm facing out. There were lines on the palm with little symbols, as a palm reader would use. There was nothing else on the door except a small sign saying Do Not Disturb.
Someone later told me that there was a man in there who read Tarot Cards, but you had to give him money. Not having that, I couldn’t go in.
But the seeds were being planted….
New England Witches
As girls, we gathered in the woods and played at witches. Sometimes I knew the magic we did was real because it overpowered me, and made me wild. The sea at twilight had a powerful effect when we called out to spirits, or sent wishes on little paper boats on the waves. I wonder if any of those girls turned out like me?
It being New England, there were always spooky rumors. Tales were told of an old lady who lived in certain very creepy Victorian house nearby. One girl told me that she and her friends went there, and the lady invited them in. Inside, the walls inside were painted black, and there was a black cat on the sofa. The old lady asked my friend to sit down next to the cat. When she reached out to the pet it, she found that the cats was stuffed! The lady gave them tea and told them she was a witch and that she came from a long line of witches who had lived in that house for generations…
This was said in all seriousness, how could I doubt? Dark Shadows was on TV. It was an era of spookiness!
I wrote my first short story when I was eight about fairies living in a fallen log in the woods behind our house. I always won prizes for stories in school, and my finished my first novel in my teens. Of course it wasn’t very good, but I was totally into it. In my first year at Worcester State College, I took a supernatural writing course and wrote an ‘evil child’ story. I can’t remember the story, but the professor, an old lady with a silvery bun and a penetrating gaze, looked at me strangely suggested I go to the library do some research in The Encyclopedia of Magic andExperimental Science. It was an unusual assignment. This encyclopedia took up a whole shelf! But started to look through them and became totally enthralled with the early volumes on Magic, discovering pages of fairy lore, folktales, hauntings and fascinating ‘superstitions.’ It was here that I read that the bite of a red haired person would drive you mad!
In retrospect, it became clear to me that this lady professor of mine was probably a witch, and saw in me a kindred spirit.
I also started writing my very witchy poetry at this time. I couldn’t even think of other subjects. My poetry professor told me about the ‘Collective Unconscious’ That led to my discovery of Jung. Jung’s ideas began to have a strong influence on the way I looked at spirituality and magical perception. Jungian Psychology became very fashionable in the 1980’s, and it was difficult to see things any other way. I had to go to Europe to break out of that box!
It was in this year I also had a powerful past life memory that I wrote about on the blog under the title Death in Art.
I was always drawing images that I felt came out of the land and the woods. They had fairy tale themes, but I wasn’t conscious of that. I drew mysterious figures in the woods, standing among candles in the snow, wearing sweeping cloaks. Even a man coming up from under a snow bank with a candle in his hand, and a ‘black man with a black book’ standing inside a circle in the woods like a figure from a story by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
When some of my art work was compared to the Pre-Raphaelites,I looked them up. I had to agree, for there was a strong romantic and mystical quality to my art. I became so smitten with the Pre-Raphaelites that I began to wear my hair long and curly and dressed in the Victorian vintage clothes you could still find back then in second hand shops.
In retrospect, I realize I was seeing spirits and that some of those drawings I made about them were psychic impressions that I mistook for imagination. I know this because I later learned who it is that lives underground, and who the ‘black man’ is, and how past lives are experienced.
When I get my pictures out of storage, I will post them on the blog.
All these things may not seem particularly magical. Maybe they are just imaginative.
But it shows a predisposition towards the mystical, and an innate attraction to the unseen that would lead me to the full blown knowledge that I carry the Witchblood.
Most of my drawings throughout my teenage years were self portraits. I didn’t know this consciously, but those wild haired women in wind swept cloaks standing under the trees at the edge of an abyss filled with stars, were alter egos of mine — signs telling me who I was and what I was born to do.
This isn’t me of course, it’s Monica Belushi. But you get the drift!
My blog mentor, Yaro Starak says we should tell our life story as is relevant to our blog topic. So here it begins. I intend to use the four seasons and then the Center to organize my Magical Timeline.
I think childhood is a magical time for most people. Most lose their sense of wonder early, others later. I never lost mine. So for what its worth here are my beginnings. I intend the progression of my spiritual path to unfold in these posts, much like the Fool’s journey in Tarot. Much like the Fool, the first magical person I ever met was a Tarot reader in a carnival.
I begin in the North because I always had a sense that my soul came to Earth from the North Pole. later on I was told by a Blackfoot medicine woman that, unlike most people who are born in the South, I was born in the North. This explains why I spent so much time out of my body went I entered the airy East at adolescence. People born in the North tend to feel that they are living their life backwards.
My Grandparents Ernest and Pearl Hebert
(If I had a scanner that worked I would have a better picture. They came from Quebec after WWI. My grandfather fought in the trenches at Normandy.)
Born in the North
I was born on January 23, 19– (LOL) in Worcester, Massachusetts. My brother, James, was born on January 22, one year later. We were like twins.
We lived in a tenement on Plantation Street for three years. I have many vivid memories from that time, including a dream.
In trying to escape from my crib, I climbed over the bar and fell down, spraining my arm. I had to go to the doctor’s and get an x-ray. My Grandmother brought me a Bride doll that had waist that turned. This was the first time I had ever seen such a thing. That night I dreamed that the doll was a woman dancing naked in the starry sky and the top of her body went to the right, while the lower half went to the left. It always makes me think of the World card in the Tarot when I remember this dream.
House in the Woods
When I was three, we moved to 4 Lexington Avenue, Leicester, Massachusetts. This house was at the bottom of a hill, one of a string of new houses built into the woods on the former farmlands of Peter Salem, a free black man who had received those acres as payment for his service in the Revolutionary War. All the streets were named after the Revolution. We lived on Lexington Ave that swept around a bend and down a little hill named Bunker Hill. At the bottom of Bunker Hill were our mailboxes as we were and RFD route in those days. Peter Salem Road swept along from Pleasant Street to the Four Corners where Henshaw Street going up to the left. I think it looped back to Pitcairn Ave which joined Bunker Hill at the top. There was a huge chestnut tree around there where we collected horse cobblers and a bridge over a stream where the ‘bad boys’ used to go to sniff glue.
Most beautifully there was a hill that used to be Peter Salem’s blueberry orchard, The bushes were large and, in summer, loaded with huge, juicy berries. On hot summer days the air was fragrant with the smell of ripe blueberries.
Being New Englanders, these little bits of history were important to us, gave us a sense of place. Behind our houses ran an old sawmill road. It wound through the stands of trees and mountain laurel, opening out to a sand pit and the ruined saw mill long gone to decay. Along with the woods, this was a fantastic playground; our home away from home. There were lots of kids in that neighborhood around the same age. I was an excellent tree climber and could even scale the pine trees with all their needles. Scratches and sappy hands were worth it because the pine smelled so good and the view at the top was superb.
There were clearings off to the side of the sawmill road where logs had been piled very long ago. They made a pleasant hang out in the summer. The woods always smelled of pine, made more resinous and fragrant by the heat. One day I was there alone wondering about a circle that had been worn into the ground, when suddenly I heard bells coming down the sawmill road, and before I knew it, a tribe of Indians in full regalia including face paint, feathers, moccasins — the whole works, were filing into the clearing. They entered the area with high ceremony, ignoring me completely, and began to dance around the circle. The dance involved throwing out bad spirits. I watched them totally mesmerized and still remember what they did and how they moved. When they finished the dance, they turned and left with the same concentration as when they came. Even though I learned later that were a group of Boy Scouts, that was a strange and magical moment for me.
We were part Indian, Iroquois. My mother used to bring me to what was left of an Indian reservation in the city of Worcester, An old lady lived there alone called Princess White Flower. She dressed in white buckskin and had long white braids. Some days she held barbecues, called Free For Alls that my other took us to.
I will skip a lot now because some of this stuff will be detailed in my blog.
Catholic Mass and Ceremonial Magic
I will mention my Roman Catholic upbringing though as I feel my initiation to ceremonial magic began in church.
My family is predominantly French Canadian and Indian. There is some Irish thrown in for good luck. My father’s side, the Heberts, Roys, LeDoux, Borrassas, etc, are very French to the point of Medievalism. When me and Jim slept over at Meme and Pepe’s house on the weekend, we were up Sunday morning saying rosary beads on our knees before going to church.
Church was Bleeding Heart of Jesus, if I recall, Sacre Couer. The whole Mass was said in Latin and French. I didn’t understand a word of it. It was an incense filled cathedral, lit by candle branches, with a huge Baroque altar from which a life sized crucifix loomed, angled so that Jesus hovered over the congregation like a giant bird. The ceiling was painted with clouds and it seems to me some of them were detached and suspended by chains. The nuns were voluminous black habits and used castanets to direct us when to sit, stand, and kneel. The Priest wore fantastic robes; the choir of monks sang like angels. For a kid like me, it was as if I had entered another dimension full of magic and mystery. I loved not understanding what they said. It increased my sense of having left the mundane world behind.
(I can’t find a picture of the Sacred Bleeding Heart of Jesus Church, but it felt something like this.)
Civil Rights Movement: We Knew Abby Hoffman
When I was ten, my mother got involved in the Civil Rights Movement. For a whole summer we went to the poor neighborhoods in Worcester so my mother could teach the black ladies how to knit. All my friends that summer were black and our playground was the street. Instead of climbing trees, we climbed stairs and railings and chain link fences. My mother worked very closely with Sheila Hoffman, Abby Hoffman’s first wife. I played with their kids Elia and Andy. Once I saw a sign in front of a house that said “Dr.Hoffman”. I asked my mother if Mr. Hoffman was a doctor? She said, “No. He’s a kook.”
Folk music was all the rage: Joan Baez, Peter Paul and Mary, The Seekers, The Kingston Trio. I was especially drawn to the English and Scottish folk ballads and the Appalachian ones that stemmed from them. They were like Grimm’s Fairy Tales put to music. It may have these influences that caused me to populate the woods with spirits, but it seemed that there was a difference between and fairies I saw in my head and the figures I saw in the woods — some of whom were Indians that were not in Grimm’s nor from the Child ballads.
It was also in my tenth year that I first read the hugely influential, The Lord of the Rings.
1966: Vatican II made my father crazy. My parents fought all the time. My sister, Susan was born. My mother went mad, and my world turned upside down.
My mother went on ‘retreat’ to a convent in Lancaster Massachusetts called the Cenacle.
She stayed there for a week or two, and we went to see her one weekend. This was the most beautiful place on earth! Not only was the Convent house a splendid mansion with shiny banisters and stained glass windows, but there wee several large gardens designed in European styles. There was a shady English garden full of green shrubberies, trees, and lush grass surrounded by a high stone wall, and an Italian garden with broad steps, classical urns filled with bright flowers, sculptures, and carved stone benches, bounded by a wall that let in the light. There was a Spanish Garden, a Topiary, and a French formal garden. I explored them all and the memories have stayed with me all this time finding their way into my novel The Golden Stair about a witch and her magical gardens.
Then at night the nuns sang the sun down, and at dawn they sang the sun up, with the most celestial voices, layering over each other like far away bells, and gongs deep under the sea.
Leaving My Sacred Land
A year later we moved “ closer to town”. “Town” was Main Street with its gas station, grocery store, convenience store, Italian restaurant, and the library. There were woods all around our house, a lake across the street that used to be a beach until the Castle Restaurant was built. A stream ran from the lake, under the road, and came out through our back yard. The stream wound through what was then bushes, and eventually pooled around a ruined mill where a big brick chimney stood on its own like a tower.
I was deeply miserable for a long time. Not just because I was separated from all of my friends, but because I was separated from the land. The trees and swamps, frogs, fireflies, birds, little stone walls running through the woods, the clearings, the sawmill road, were my friends too. I didn’t know if I would find the same magic in the new place.
When I was seven years old, I learned the poetry of winter.
In Massachusetts, winter snows are high and deep. I remember we had to pick my brother, Jim, up from some rural place that we never went before. I think it had to do with Cub Scouts. When we were on our way home, it began snowing heavily. As the snow fell, it grew increasingly dark as we wound down the narrow country road between high stands of pine and spruce. The branches were quickly covered, and weighed down, under layers of snow so that they bent to the ground and swept the sides of our car as we passed. Snowy road, snowy trees, pale, luminous, cloud buried night sky, blended together in a visions of whiteness, silent, still, and apart.
It was impossible to see where we were going. I am sure my parents were fretting, but I don’t remember that, for the sounds of their voices were muffled up by the all-pervasive, enveloping quiet of the snow. All I could see from the back seat of the car was a tunnel of darkness far ahead that was always just out of reach of the high beams that were swallowed by the white, blurry maw of the road, and reflected back in a silvery mist. The depths of the shadows, and the brightness of snow, the soft crunch of the snow treads as the car crept slowly forward, the utter stillness and silence of the night as all sound was absorbed by the snow, placed me in a trance, and I felt as if I was lost in a mysterious dimension far from our everyday life.
Suddenly, the car took a turn to the right and abruptly stopped. We had come to a dead end blocked by a high hedge of bare, snow-traced branches woven between evergreen swags all fused into a shimmering white pattern so like a gate, and with hints of such darkness beyond, that it seemed we had come to the very edge of the world.
There is where memory ends; stilled by the beauty my mind held on to.
Where there is ice, there must be fire. Can you smell the wood burning? Ahhh! Heaven.