In Sandra Shulman’s book, “The Nightmare, the World of Terrifying Dreams”, I came across Carl Jung’s earliest dream memory. At the age of 3 or 4, Jung dreamed of “entering a large, underground chamber of stone. Enthroned on a platform was a huge, upright object made of flesh, with a single eye at its head, gazing upwards. Although this fleshy pillar did not stir, the child was frozen with horror, sensing that at any moment it must creep from the golden throne towards him. Then he heard his mother’s voice somewhere outside and above, calling . . . That is the man-eater!” (pg. 106)
Oddly enough, I also recall a vivid dream from when I was around 4 years old. Although it is somewhat different to Jung’s, it also contained a single eye, as well as felt like a mythic world. In my dream, I was sitting before our black and white TV, which was turned off. Suddenly, a single eye appeared on the black screen. Frightened, I decided to run outside. Immediately, I found myself running in a field of wheat, moving in the wind. The sun was bright; but still, I felt the eye following me wherever I went.
Years later, I discovered that my astrological birth chart contains the mythic struggle of Demeter and Pluto, a struggle that has in some ways, played out in my life. That dream reminds me of this myth.
It is fascinating to me now to discover a link to Carl Jung, particularly as I am delving deeper into synchronicity. To sync with him suggests I am following the right path for myself.
In my own experiences, I find that synchroncity plays out in two interconnected but distinct ways. According to Jung, synchronicity can reveal if a person is truly growing in the individuation process or about to break apart. I find it can also literally show one the best path to take. Here is just one example from my own life.
When I was an active member of the Order of Eastern Star, I had a chance to move up the chain of leadership quickly. I was also going through some serious health issues. Although I knew I could handle the leadership role, I was concerned whether or not it was the right thing to do, considering my health. The year I was entertaining these thoughts, the emblem was the sunflower. One morning, I looked outside to find sunflowers appearing under a tree in front of our apartment. They had never grown there before; nor did they grow back later. It was then I knew it was the right decision for me to take on the leadership position. And so, I did. It turned out to be a wonderful experience for me.
By Krista Schwimmer
Ever since Michael & I moved to Los Angeles, we have felt a bond to Hollywood Boulevard. We like the feel of the Boulevard itself — the mix of old, historic buildings & the bustle of strangeness that is kin to Venice Boardwalk. It is also a nice escape for us, an easy day vacation, as we hardly know anyone in that area. In Venice, however, just a walk along the Boardwalk means we most likely will see someone we know. And now and then, it is nice to ramble amongst strangers.
On Thursday, January 8th, we made our escape. First, however, we stopped at MOCA in West Hollywood. There, we went to see “Songs for the Witch Woman,” the first museum exhibit of Marjorie Cameron’s work.
Through the brochure written by Yael Lipshutz, guest curator of the exhibit, I learned much about this fascinating woman. Cameron was an influential artist & occult practitioner in Los Angeles during the mid-1940’s. She was also Jack Parson’s “scarlet woman”, or so he believed when he met her not long after performing the magical operation he called “the Babalon Working.” They soon married; but their life together was cut short when Jack Parsons accidentally dropped a vial of mercury fulminate in his garage, killing himself in the explosion. (Some, however, his death was not accidental — either a suicide or a murder.)
I found Cameron’s work at times sexually evocative, surrealistic, & abstract. I particularly enjoyed one of a bird head walking, & one called, “Fossil of a Raven”. Although I liked her concept for “Pluto through the 12th House,” I do wish she had done more with her very abstract, lined drawings of this event.
After the exhibit, we stopped at our favorite, West Hollywood restaurant, the Fresh Corn Grill. Michael has type 2 diabetes. At this point, he can control his blood sugar through diet & exercise. So, eating out can be challenging. The Fresh Corn Grill has lots of healthy proteins & side vegetables that he can eat without a problem — all very tasty, I might add! We also enjoy both their home brewed tea infused with mint & their fresh lemonades.
After lunch, we walked the 4 miles over to Hollywood Boulevard. We are always a bit baffled why more people do not walk in Los Angeles, considering the great weather & the interesting terrain. By walking, we discover new places, interesting events, & intriguing omens.
On this particularly day, we passed a theater showing, “The Penis Chronicles”. Is this some kind of male response, I wondered, to the “Vagina Monologue?”
There were also quite a few sidewalk messages. Perhaps because I am a poet, the world talks to me through sidewalks. Or, at least I think it does! There were four messages that struck me. The first two were animals: fox and wolf. Fox is one of my animal totems, connecting me to the Above. Fox is an animal of wit, shape shifting, & sexuality. Because of the shape shifting nature of fox, I really appreciate it when fox comes in so directly!
Wolf, noticed by Michael, has a hunting relationship with raven, our business totem. Both fox & wolf are monogamous animals, with wolf being also very family oriented. Wolves send scouts into new territory, reflecting to us a need to do that for our own business. Interestingly enough, this year we plan on starting readings in that vicinity. Our friend, Heather, has repeatedly offered her home to us so that we can reconnect with some of our old, West Hollywood clients. Was the universe reminding us to start doing that soon? After all, both fox & wolf are part of the canine family. Our friend, Heather, rescues & takes care of many dogs.
The next two messages were quite sweet, like kisses & hugs from the world herself. One was, “UR Beautiful,”; another was simply our names shortened: “Kris N Mike.” The only person in my family that ever called me “Kris” was my deceased mom. There was another time I felt a dead relative talk to me through a sidewalk in Hollywood — but that’s another story, for another day.
As usual, while we walked, a raven flew over us. Almost every time we “escape to Hollywood” for a day, a raven greets us. I am not sure how it works, but it seems like if you make friends with the corvid family, a member of this spectacular group finds you, wherever you are. Sometimes, a single raven will greet you; sometimes a whole murder of crows. Michael & I feel completely accepted by these birds, as well as protected by them.
We reached Hollywood Boulevard with plenty of time for Michael to help our friend, Dennis, fix his guitar. I visited with Dennis for a bit — then did my usual roaming about, seeing what was happening on the Boulevard.
There were the usual costumed characters, ranging from Sponge Bob to two variations of Johnny Depp. No fights, however, broke amongst them that afternoon. Elvis Presley’s star had flowers on them; and people were bustling around at the Chinese Theater preparing for the premiere of “Black Hat.”
Close to the end of our visit to Hollywood, I once more saw either crows or ravens playing high in the sky. They seemed relaxed, gliding as they soared above the tall building where I watched below.
As night approached & the lights for the premiere were lit, Michael & I left the boulevard, choosing once again to walk back to the Fresh Corn Grill for a delicious, chicken caesar salad.
There, in a moment of poetry, after we ordered, the server gave us the number 40 for our food order — the exact same one we had earlier that day.
“What do you think that means?” Michael asked.
“Four — that’s your life path number. And in the Thoth tarot deck, 4 is the Emperor & 0, the Fool,” I replied. Or, maybe it was simply a nice way to end another pleasurable escape to Hollywood Boulevard!
Recently, I found out that one of the original, Bodhi Tree Readers died. Her name is Linda Hart Michaels. She died of emphysema on February 27, 2014. According to her friend, Anna, her last two days were peaceful.
I met Linda when I first approached Phil Thompson to let me and my husband, Michael, work as tarot readers at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore. It was November, 1997. We had recently arrived from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Linda told me she had been asking them to add psychic readers for years — but no luck. The two owners were still not budging when I also asked. Why they changed their minds less than a year later is another story, for another day. Today, I simply want to share a story about Linda.
One day, not long after we started up the Bodhi Tree Readings, I went to ask Linda a question. I noticed a beautiful angel card deck on her table. Now, most people who know me, know that I am not easily impressed by angel decks, largely because of their poorly conceived artwork. I had never seen this particular deck, so I asked her what it was. She told me it was called, “Angel Blessings” created by Kimberly Marooney. She then told me that she did not exactly read with them. Rather, she turned over one card and placed it on her table for each reading. She did this because she found the image comforted people. I liked that idea, for some reason. I also could see how the images could be comforting. Each one is an actual reproduction of a fine art masterpiece.
So, in memorium, today I decided to take out my own copy and pull a card for Linda. Above is the card I pulled: “Sandalphon” with the keyword”Power.” According to Marooney, Sandalphon “oversees the many powers given to the Seraphin including strength, abundance, beauty, and joy of living.” The power, however, this great Seraphin is connected with is the power of emotions. Sandalphon helps to identify ones fears and imbalances and take actions to work through them. Marooney says that by expressing ones true feelings and releasing emotional scars, ones power flows through.
I believe when we die that the journey continues. Linda, may your spirit path be one of joy, magic and illumination. Thank you for sharing in an important crossroads in my life. I will remember your laughter, your beautiful hair, and your gentle soul. Blessed be.
In January 2005, my husband and I were eating dinner at Norm’s Restaurant on Lincoln Boulevard, Santa Monica, California. For the second night in a row, I called my mother, who lived in Sonoma at the time. There was no answer. My mother did not believe in answering machines. Still, I knew she would not normally be out two nights in a row. My stomach tensed. I told my husband I was worried. He said she probably was alright; but, I could call the local police in Sonoma and they would look in on her. So, I did.
While the police went to look in on her, we finished our meal and headed home. They did not call back right away. I grew more and more anxious, and decided to do a quick, tarot reading on her. Much to my dismay, the cards looked unfavorable. I told Michael I thought she was dead. He assured me that she was most likely fine. When the police finally called, I was glad. I wanted the uncertainty to end.
I do not know who I spoke to that night. I simply remember his kindness. He gently told me that my mother was dead. The cause was still uncertain. He told me there was evidence of a fire. They were unsure if it was accidental or not, as her apartment was a mess. He made a point to say that she had died quickly and peacefully from the carbon monoxide, not from the flames of the fire. In fact, the fire hand not even touched her body. She was lying in bed asleep at the time.
Although I did not faint, I remember falling on my knees. My husband immediately came to support me. The officer made sure I was not alone. I got off the phone crying. Michael took the initiative to call my close friends and relatives to let them know.
That night, as I was falling asleep, I had the oddest sensation. I felt my mother’s life pouring through my mind — felt her memories of me and my two brothers, particularly when we were small. What I felt the most, however, was the most exquisite love, so pure that I can say I have never felt such love before or since. I knew it was my mother’s love for us — how, I do not know. I felt comforted by this love and fell to sleep, dreaming that night of a lovely, snowy landscape.
We planned a memorial quickly, so that my brother, Eric, who was coming from Honduras, could be included. We planned it simply, too, as I knew my mother would not want anything elaborate. Though she had never told me outright, I knew she would want a cremation and her ashes scattered in the ocean off Baja, California. This was the location where my brother, David, had been lost at sea right before his 18th birthday.
The trip to Sonoma turned out to be physically arduous. First, my body started bleeding heavily from fibroids that had already been troubling me. It got much worse when our old sidekick broke down in a godforsaken place. Luckily, we had our AAA card. Oddly, everyone we met that day had lost their mother. First, the fellow in the tow truck. His mother had died of cancer. He told me it had been much harder losing his mother than losing his father. Next was the wife of the mechanic who ended up fixing our car. She had lost her mother when she was a young woman.
Although I felt buoyed up by the kindness of strangers, when I went to the washroom at the mechanic’s shop, my body started bleeding and would not stop. I was terrified, standing alone in that stainless steel bathroom. I managed to call a friend of mine, a nurse, who quickly researched my symptoms. She called back and said that if the bleeding did not stop in 24 hours, I should go to the emergency room. She also told me that women who recently survived the huge tsunami were having a similar experience: bleeding profusely. I thanked her and left the bathroom feeling a bit better.
We ended up staying at a bleak motel there because of our broken down car. This is when I began to notice birds. My husband and I have rescued more than one crow; so, for us, crows are special and magical creatures. As I walked into the motel room, I noticed hundreds of crows resting on a neighboring telephone line. I felt reassured, felt somehow these crows were part of my ancestral lineage coming to give me strength and courage for the rest of the journey ahead.
We reached Sonoma without any other mishaps. The memorial service was not until another day, so we had time to stop at my mother’s apartment first. When we arrived, there was a small memorial on her steps left by her neighbors. The yellow police tape still sealed her door. We broke the tape and entered. The front room, a tiny living room, was covered in soot, as was the next room, her bedroom. The fire had started in the very back, the kitchen, where there was the most damage. The place was a mess, like it always was when I visited her. My mother hated housework.
The first trip was for my mother’s memorial. We removed some of the more valuable paintings and stored them next store with Dennis, a neighbor my mom had known for many years. We had decided to come back another time to take care of her apartment. I was too upset to do more. On top of that, we knew it would take many hours to determine what was worth saving and what was not.
We held her memorial at the local Moose Lodge where she had been a member. It was well-attended by friends and family. As we were leaving Sonoma, there were more bird portents: hawks were lined up, one by one, on the telephone wires as we drove away. There must have been at least eight different birds. I felt they were there to send my mother off, like a military dignitary. My mother had been fascinated by Napoleon.
We made a second trip to Sonoma to sort through my mother’s piles of clothes, 800 plus pulp mystery books, and collection of antiques. Many things were permanently damaged by not only the recent fire, but a flood my mother had mentioned some years ago. I was on a mission, though, to find an item I had never seen, but my mother really wanted me to have. It was a plaque. The plaque commemorated a time when Maya Angelou had stayed there. When Mom left the hotel because it was changing shape and owners, the previous owner liked my mother so much that she let her have the plaque that proved Maya Angelou had been there. I had never seen the plaque. My mother kept telling me about it, knowing how I loved Maya Angelo’s poetry when I was young. My husband, Dennis, and I looked and looked. The plaque was nowhere to be found. I was deeply disappointed.
A year passed. I started to write poetry again. I felt, however, ambivalent about whether or not to attempt publishing my poems. I knew I would always write. In the past, I had not enjoyed submitting my writing for publishing. It was often disappointing, impersonal, and took valuable time. I decided I wanted to know from the Universe, from the Creator, if publishing was truly a beneficial path for myself. So, I asked for a sign. A clear sign. I rarely asked for signs for myself, rarely even prayed for myself. I felt this was important to know. I wanted to follow a true path, not a path based on ego and accomplishment. I waited for the Universe’s response.
The response I received astounded me. Three days later, I received a letter from Dennis, my mother’s neighbor. He was writing to tell me that he had found the Maya Angelou plaque. At some point, he decided to go through Mom’s place one last time. The plaque was nailed to a simple piece of wood, a little over three feet long. What surprised me was the timing of his letter. Dennis had no idea about my request for a sign — why did he take that moment to contact me?
That day, I received not only a literal “sign”, but a sign sent through my mother’s spirit. I felt a double blessing. I had received far more than I requested. Even now, remembering that moment, I feel blessed by a greater world, a greater spirit than I alone could ever conjure up. I am thankful for the Universe at large, and the angels that come in many guises to guide me on the path of heart.
by Krista Schwimmer
While at the Western Dental on Lincoln for my husband’s temporary crown replacement, we stopped for lunch at a nearby Denny’s Restaurant. I had been craving Denny’s whole wheat, blueberry pancakes for a few months — a real treat for me these days due to a traumatic event in the past year and a half that changed both me and Michael’s life forever.
We had finished lunch and were about to leave. Michael looked over at the Toyscoop, seeing what stuffed animals were there to be grabbed with the metal claw. Now, for this story, I have to give you a bit of a back story. When Michael and I first moved to California, we dined quite a bit at Norm’s. Michael soon discovered he had an amazing knack for plunking in just a dollar or two, and grabbing up a desirable stuffed animal. In those days, the quality of the gifts was often amazing. I am not sure how many of these he managed to obtain — at least 50 — with rarely spending more than a few bucks. And, although he sometimes lost, he won more often than lost, sometimes two or three at a time.
Over the years, the quality of the prizes went down. So, we stopped this entertaining game. Until recently. As Michael looked at the prizes, he immediately noticed a decent rendition of Batman. He put in his dollar, and easily grabbed not only Batman, but another doll, from “The Living Dead” doll collection.
One of Michael’s totems is actually the bat. Using Jamie Sams’s system, it is his third totem, the West Totem. Now the direction of West can have different meanings according to different cultures and tribes. Over the years, I have come to see this particular totem as a guide to help me accomplish my dreams in life. Although all totems are available throughout ones entire life, this one seems particular dominant in the early and mid-adult years. Another way this totem can help is by teaching you how to adapt to your environment successfully, using the gifts and talents of the actual totem.
As I mentioned earlier, bat is one of Michael’s totems. One of the gifts of bat is inner hearing or clairaudience. In my husband’s case, this ability extends outwardly as well. When we first met, I soon discovered that he could clearly hear conversations across the room that I simply could not at all. He said he could always do this.
Bat also represents the shaman’s death. Remember that scene in the 2005 batman movie, “Batman Begins”, where batman falls down into a cave swarming with bats? As I recall it, this is the beginning of a very difficult and painful journey. When he defeats his demons, he emerges with the ability to control bats, among other things.
When bat appears in ones life, one is asked to descend deeply and face whatever fears are there. An inner death can occur, allowing the false self to dissolve, and the new, radiant true self to emerge.
In 2011, the event that changed both of our lives began when my husband was rushed to the hospital for a dangerously high fever and some kind of bladder or kidney infection. The ER team soon discovered he had an incredibly high blood sugar count, somewhere in the 400 range. To give you some perspective, a healthy blood sugar level is normally in the 80’s or 90’s. Even with insulin, it took the medical team more than a day to bring his sugar down. Fortunately, and amazingly, he suffered no permanent kidney damage. He did, however, come out of the hospital with the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
Initially, Michael had to take insulin injections. After 3 weeks, he had managed his diet well enough to move to glucosame tablets, a less dangerous and less expensive treatment for some type 2 diabetics. Not happy with taking any medication, he kept to a very disciplined diet and soon did not need even the glucosame tablets. Losing around 2 lbs a week, he eventually lost over 60 lbs. Today, he maintains a normal blood sugar through diet and exercise only.
So, I saw this Batman doll and the Living Dead doll together as representative of what Michael had overcome, through facing his fear of diabetic complications, and accepting that the positive changes he had made would have to be for the rest of his life. As Nancy — the wonderful, Canadian nurse and nutritionist that helped us tremendously in the hospital — said to Michael, although diabetes is not a fun disease to have, if he learned to manage his diabetes well, it was a disease that still allowed him a long and healthy life.
Totems are helpers and markers along our path. Sometimes, they appear as they really are. Other times, they come through images, symbols, and the like. That day, bat came to us through a playful, magical game that reconnected us to our past. I encourage each of you to learn your totem or totems and see how they naturally arise in your life to guide, support, and surprise you.