I started writing this document on 23.6.2011. I have fiddled with it over the years, but always struggled to get it to a point where I was happy with it. Often, just revisiting the experiences spun me into a distracting reverie – including doubt whether my recollection is real.
Here I give an account of the many non-ordinary experiences I have had. They are not recounted in order to impress the reader. Indeed, many are not exactly remarkable relative to the many accounts to be found. Individually or cumulatively these experiences have spurred my desire to understand what was happening to me. They have variously inspired, delighted, bewildered, disturbed, and scared me.
My childhood was filled with what now seem to be strange experiences, but I will recount only those that I encountered after my 14th birthday in any detail. I’ll describe four phases. The first went up to age 18 and the second covered an intense and disturbing period from age 18 to 25. The third phase went through to the late 1980s into the early 1990s, to about age 39. The fourth phase lasted from 1991 to around 2008 when I contracted GBS. I suppose I could say I am in a fifth phase now, but nothing particularly remarkable has happened, just lots of small things that are now pretty usual.
The first phase concerns experiences that were almost exclusively associated with the natural world. With two friends I was in the bush looking for rocks or off trying to poach trout from local water reservoirs. I had taken up rock collecting with a passion when I was 11 or 12. Later I went bushwalking whenever I could, which was most weekends.
The second phase experiences were confined almost exclusively to urban living experiences, with one notable exception. I had relocated from Hobart to Melbourne, then on to Sydney, back to Melbourne, to Adelaide and then back to Tasmania before going back to Melbourne. I was young and footloose and had embraced the Hippy path. This was for me the most intense and dangerous phase. I came close to losing the plot several times. What I was experiencing was so intense I sought admission to a psychiatric facility in Melbourne. I was deeply afraid I was going mad. I wanted help to figure out what the hell was happening to me. Psychiatrists are not very useful for this purpose.
The third phase experiences were directly linked to training in and practice of ritual magic. I had become increasingly involved in the study of ceremonial magic from 1978, and for the next few years I lived and breathed the craft. I was expelled from two groups, formal magical orders, along with my partner. These[LS1] were heady days, and we were demanding and impatient. We read voraciously and talked endlessly. Strange things started to happen and these[LS2] were not part of other people’s rules or game plans. Magic is a passionately political business at times. We moved from Sydney to the Far North Coast of New South Wales and set up our own group. After that ceased to operate, we became accidentally involved in Wicca and equally accidentally ended up running a coven for a time.
The fourth phase concerned what was really a transitional phase in my life. My marriage had fallen apart. I quit all association with magic or Wicca. I relocated to western New South Wales, then to Sydney, back out west, back to Sydney and then to England. One thing simply led to another, and I was going along with the flow. Things settled down in 1998 when I found myself drawn back to the Far North Coast of New South Wales and back in contact with my ex-wife. It was a cycle that had taken five years.
I have taken great care over the years to reject popular labels. I will say that my experiences are ‘psychic’ simply in order to briefly characterise them, but it’s not a term I ever use if I have the opportunity to talk at length about them. I simply refer to them as ‘non ordinary[LS3] ’ experiences. Sometimes they are very strange, but not always. The danger of labels that are not as innocuous as ‘non ordinary[LS4] ’ is that they lead to language that is meaningless or incomprehensible by way of explanation. We name things we don’t understand and after a time we have a whole discourse of the named but not understood. Then ‘experts’ arise. They can talk endlessly and learnedly about the named but incomprehensible. For example, naming an experience as ‘psychic’ really says nothing other than denoting its non-ordinariness, but it implies nature and possibly cause.
I had this lesson forcefully delivered to me by a friend. She knew of my interests and one day said she wanted to have some kind of spiritual practice and thought in her life. After I had talked with her for some time, she confessed that she really hadn’t understood anything I had said and this disturbed her deeply because she knew that she should have understood, because it all sounded so sensible and rational. She expressed the fear that I might think her stupid. We talked more and I endeavoured to explain to her what I meant. After a time, I realised that the problem lay not with her but with me. Beneath the layer of language, of jargon, I didn’t actually know what I was talking about. My learning had been lateral, not perpendicular. I had impressive breadth but no depth.
Hitherto I had explanations for my many experiences, but I found they were really just words, just comforting stories that I told myself and others. Within the comfortable and familiar embrace of like-minded souls all was well and good. We had a narrative that served our needs, and that was good. But it was a club, a clique of jargon users. What we knew was internally coherent but blather beyond.
The idea of non-ordinariness is important because it suggests no ideology. Something happens and we can say it is not an ordinary experience. It is extra-ordinary in effect. Sometimes the utility is clear. Other times it is not. Sometimes meaningfulness is apparent. Other times I would shake my head and wonder what the blazes that was supposed to mean. The presumption that something “can be explained” and hence meaning is affixed or fixed betrays something important about us as humans. We think we can control reality by labelling it and assigning it places in our model of thought. So long as we inhabit that thought model and reality obliges by not trampling all over it, we can be comfortable in our happy delusion.
My former partner writes powerfully of what she calls ontological shock. She wrestled with her own radical non-ordinary experiences; way more radical than mine. The mind accustomed to the normal and orthodox story about what is real becomes distressed when events disrupt the habituated zone of experience. As a therapist she has used magical techniques to precipitate cures for intractable conditions, physical and psychical. Some of her clients ‘get’ the non-ordinariness of their recovery and things make sense, as never before. Others comprehend they have recovered but deny any non-ordinary element has happened. Being better fits their worldview, but how they got there does not.
We have had shared experiences. Sometimes we have agreed on what has happened. Other times we did not. We have experienced the same event from differing positions. Mostly non-ordinary experiences are solitary businesses. Nobody else is there, or if they are they are not part of what is going on. I have been fortunate in having a number of experiences involving others, as unwitting and unwilling co-participants. They are long gone as individuals in my life. Sometimes they’ve wanted nothing more to do with me. So, I can’t call them as witnesses. But I know we shared the experience and the aftermath, and that has had a profound impact on me. Just knowing that somebody else was there and was part of what happened is important. It grounds the experience. In two cases I recount this was even stranger, in that my companions had experiences I did not, and they knew what they had experienced concerned me. In both cases they were distressed, felt intruded upon.
By comparison my former partner and I often have experiences about the other person. We have had powerful shared, and deeply, non-ordinary experiences. Because we both have a natural rational sceptical bent, we interrogated those experiences ruthlessly. We both[LS5] care critically whether we are deluded or wrong. There are times when we could not determine whether what happened was nonsense or real. Sometimes one of us would be filled with doubt and the other adamant. The dynamic is useful and instructive.
Scepticism is vital. But it must be matched with an intelligent and informed critique. The issue is not a reluctance to believe, but an understanding that if the experience is to impart and convey anything useful it must be encountered with the best integrity of moral and intellectual endeavour that can be summoned. Cheating and deception are pointless. The gift of powerful non-ordinary experience must not be squandered upon careless, self-serving, or deceptive interpretation. Fear and hubris can entice us into delusion. People will lie to deny or exaggerate a non-ordinary experience, and so waste it, debase it. They’ll do that to protect their interests or further them.
Non-ordinary experiences sometimes seem to happen in a purposive manner. But unless there is an intelligent agency making these things happen that cannot be. The proposition that there can be a correlation between one random event and another without an organising principle takes some pushing. This has been the driving challenge for me – the nature of that apparent intelligent agency.
My mother prompted my memory by talking about often finding me in the morning with my pyjamas on inside out and back to front. She was puzzled how and why I managed to do that. What I didn’t tell her was that I also frequently found myself the wrong way round in bed – feet on my pillow and head at the foot of my bed. I would wake in a panic, gasping for air and struggling to get out. My mother had some nursing training in her youth, and she made beds that were ferociously tight. Getting into them didn’t quite require being oiled, but it may have helped. My bed was still tightly made in the morning, so getting out when I was inverted wasn’t easy. Hence how I came to be inserted head first was a complete mystery that I kept to myself.
Similar experiences have been described by people who claim they were abducted by ET. I have no memories of night-time adventures, just waking up under improbable circumstances.
When I was around 5-6 going to sleep was hellish. I had sensations of falling down a well, which triggered a panic reaction. I became afraid of being sent to bed. I stole a box of matches and a candle stub and was sprung with a light in my bed. My effort at staying awake and safe got me a hiding for nearly burning the house down.
I grew up afraid of the dark. It was intensely populated to me. There were always presences. One turned out to be a possum’s tail poking out of a hole in the wall [[LS6] We weren’t well-off and couldn’t afford houses without flaws]. That incident ruined my credibility – not that I was believed when I attempted to tell anyone about what I saw. My parents came running when I screamed and this time the possum hadn’t moved.
I have a cluster of fragmented memories of being a bit weird. My mother hauled me off the local GP to express her concern about my behaviour. We were living in a small town [Casterton] in western Victoria. There was only one doctor and I used to visit his home because his son was a school friend. Those visits stopped. I ceased to be welcome.
Phase One Experiences
The Big Cigar
This experience marks the beginning of my post age-14 experiences. It was a good hour or so before sun-up on a Saturday morning. I was waiting on the top of the hill behind my home for two friends with whom I was going fishing for trout in local reservoirs. This was not an activity approved or tolerated by authorities. Secrecy and stealth were important, at least we thought so at that tender age when such ideas gave us a thrill. To the west stood the great bulk of Mount Wellington. As I waited, I suddenly became aware of a massive, glowing, cigar-shaped object in the sky between me and the mountain. I watched for a few moments, filled with awe and fascination. Then I made a mad dash down the hill, scrambled over the back fence, and rushed inside to find the family telescope. I ran back up the hill with now-breathless urgency. But the cigar–shaped thing had gone.
When my friend arrived I quizzed them. They had seen nothng.
In those days I knew nothing of UFOs. I had simply seen something astonishing, something singular.
Look Beneath Your Feet O Man.
Sometime after the big cigar I was with the same two friends on a regular excursion to a quarry where we searched among the recently blasted rock for prized specimens of calcite and pyrite crystals and less spectacular fossil shells. Two of us were becoming more and more serious students of geology. The other just enjoyed the thrill of rock hunting.
As usual we walked toward the mouth of the quarry from which we usually broke into a happy run, hoping to be first to find a prize. But on this day, I was drawn aside from the run by a powerful compulsion to head toward the left-hand side of the quarry mouth. This was old stuff we’d never really looked at. The fresh exposures during the week always offered something we craved more.
As I stood gazing at the old, dull rock, somewhat confused by the impulse that had held me back and drawn me off to this boring place, I heard a distinct and powerful male voice saying, “Look beneath your feet O Man!”. I was startled but complied and beneath my right foot I found a strange stone. It was partly covered with clay, but I knew enough to know that the close parallel lines I saw were nothing I knew. I washed the stone in a nearby puddle and revealed the parallel lines on four sides of the squarish cross section, each side a little over an inch long.
I certainly had something novel in my hand. I showed the rock to my friends who acknowledged the uniqueness. No one had seen anything like it. I took it to the museum in Hobart, to the geologist, who did not know what it was. He asked if he might borrow it and take it to the university. After waiting a month, I was told I’d found a very rare Permian fossil of shell that was an elongated pyramid. The university had specimens, but nothing like mine, which had all 4 sides. I was asked to surrender the specimen to the university but declined.
I never had another experience of a voice like this. I had experiences of being drawn to a place, to a spot where I found an entirely worthy specimen. Other times I had a powerful sense that there was something to find before I might leave.
I had always been good at finding things, often getting a ‘flash’ image or impression of the location of a lost thing.
A Vision of Water
I was on my first overnight walk with a walking club, aged 16. It was Easter. We had spent a day near the western coast of Tasmania trekking through scrub and forest in the pouring rain. We were not on any track and were making our own way up a ridge. As daylight started to fade, we decided to set up camp in the forest.
There was no immediate water source and after getting tents up some of us set out to find water. Not far away from the campsite I paused and rested against a tree. I had a sudden image of a fallen tree with a pool of water where the roots had come out of the ground. Without a second’s thought I called out that I had found water and headed off in the direction I thought I’d find the water.
Maybe thirty meters away, through the forest and beyond my immediate vision, there was indeed a tree that had fallen over and with a pool of water, exactly as visioned.
On subsequent walks with the club, I often found myself unable to sit where others rested for a break or for lunch. I often could not sit still and if I tried, I simply had to get up and walked around, restless.
On a return walk from Mount Anne, we had stopped for lunch by a creek that ran through a tree-filled gully on a button grass plain. The group settled down to make a fire and boil a billy by the creek, but I was utterly unable to stay with them and had to leave the creek and find a spot up on the button grass plain.
This caused me problems because I could not explain to anybody why I did not want to share a break with them. This was long before I had read on spirit presences in wilderness.
During the same period with the club, I was on a walk to the Freycinet Peninsula on Tasmania’s east coast. It was a region of red granite. We were on a weekend walk and that evening we camped near a cluster of very substantial boulders. The group pitched tents close to the boulders, seeking shelter from westerly winds. I wasn’t able to do that. I moved away maybe 40 meters and set up my tent in a dried-up water pool. There were firm words of condemnation for my antisocial conduct and my stupidity in pitching tent in a place that would get very wet if it rained. It didn’t rain and I slept soundly and comfortably.
In the morning the rest of the group reported sleeplessness and nightmares. None had slept well, some not at all.
I went with friends to a party at an isolated house just to the south-west of Hobart. There was a decision to use a Ouija board. I didn’t want to participate and so sat back to watch. Almost immediately the ‘spirits’ demanded I quit the room before they would cooperate, and I was obliged to leave the room, despite my protests. I had heard of Ouija boards before, but this was my first encounter with one.
Sometime after the session had ended, one of the participants started to behave strangely – as if she was entering a trance. Everyone became concerned about her and started to freak out.
For reasons I still cannot explain, I took over and did something to bring her back to normal. I had absolutely no conscious knowledge of what I did, but it worked, and she was fine, if somewhat shaken by her experience.
Wrapping up Phase One
I selected the most memorable experiences for me. Apart from the last experience, they represented only the highlights of what was a steady flow of mild ‘sensitivity’ experiences. I also developed a reputation for being a bit of an instinctive direction finder. I am reluctant to assert any ‘strange’ direction [LS7] finding powers because my early interest in geology gave me unusual benefits. I had grown up with a passion for atlases and, like a lot of kids, I spent hours poring over maps of strange countries. So, when I took to geology, and I had no access to geological maps other than in the library, I developed an ability to memorise maps and visual contours and geological formations. With this skill I could go into the bush and pretty well know where I was on a map.
This ability was assisted by the development of a habit of stopping and looking round regularly. I often went off rock [LS8] hunting in the bush solo, so this is self-protective. I always picked out some feature I could refer to, so as to maintain my sense of orientation. Oddly, this wasn’t what a lot of my fellow walkers did.
The genuine ‘strange’ things were handy, and I mostly benefited from them, but when I came to powerful compulsions to not comply with group choices that caused me a lot of grief. People I liked thought I was strange, and I had no ability to explain why I did what I did. In fact, all I understood was that I had a compelling motivation to act as I did, and I could not ignore it.
My phase two experiences began after a rather radical choice to leave Tasmania. I had been working in the Australian Tax Office, earning enough money to satisfy my two passions – bushwalking and photography. One very pleasant Monday morning in summer I was walking to work, perfectly happy, when I was struck by a sudden thought. I’d quit my job and go to Melbourne. I did that.
So, I arrived in Melbourne without a clue about the place or what I would do. I did not know that I was about to enter the most frightening and bewildering stage of my life, and that I’d come out the other end very damaged.
After a short time, I fell in with a group of people who were a kind of informal mystical group with a strong interests in UFOs. On a trip to a friend of the group member’s property in rural Victoria one member of the group fell ill with strong abdominal pains. We drove back to Melbourne with me in the back seat holding her to give comfort. I placed a hand on her abdomen, and she told, after some time, that she felt the pain leaving her through my hand. By the time we got to Melbourne she was feeling much better. She was taken to visit a man who had a reputation as a ‘psychic healer’.
He told me that I did apparently possess the same power and that he would help me develop my ability. That didn’t happen. After later experimenting with others, I satisfied myself that it was something I could do. I did use that ability from time to time, but had no strong motivation to develop it.
Burning a Name
We were hanging around a cafe in North Melbourne, with many people coming and going. Two young women were distressed because a male was sexually harassing them and making where they lived dangerous and unpleasant. On an impulse I asked them to write his name on a piece of paper, which I then burned after some focused visualisation. The male came down with a fever that day and remained quite ill for some days. The young women came to me and pleaded with me to undo what I had done. They had told the male why he was ill, and he had become alarmed and remorseful.
I had no idea what to do and did some hocus pocus nonsense and said he would now get better. He did, apparently. This experience shocked me for several reasons. First, I had no experience in doing things like this, so when I did what I did I surmised that I was merely responding to the distress expressed by the young women. Secondly, I was astonished that what I did appeared to work. I’ve only twice since done such things.
On a cold winter’s day in Melbourne, a young woman and I were on our way to a party, but she wanted to go by her place to change clothes and get something to eat. Her flat was bitterly cold [Melbourne winters can be cruel] and she had no heating save an ineffectual single bar radiator. On impulse I took my coat off, sat in the middle of her lounge room and ‘radiated’ heat. After about 5 minutes she felt warm enough to leave her jacket off.
I am notoriously hot. I suffer in summer and love winter. I’ve had difficulty sharing beds with another person because I overheat or overheat them. But I’d never done anything like this before that particular evening, and have only done it a few times afterwards.
The group I became involved with relocated to Sydney, and I went along, for the lack of any alternative plan. I wasn’t convinced by their mysticism, but I was intrigued enough to want to learn more. In Sydney I started having very bizarre experiences. One late afternoon we were all sitting in the kitchen in the house of one of the group members, talking. I do not recall the conversation, but it was fascinating. I was sitting on a stool at a breakfast bar beside a woman. For some minutes I had been fiercely resisting an almost overpowering urge to go outside. I wanted to stay and remain part of the conversation. Quite suddenly I was hoisted off the stool and frogmarched through the back door and down the steps and deposited on the back lawn – all done by a completely invisible agency. I stayed there awhile. Nothing happened. Finally, I gave up and went back inside. I had no idea how long I’d been away, but the conversation was still going on and I resumed my stool. After some time, the woman beside me asked me what I was doing. I was surprised and said I was doing nothing, just sitting there. She then drew my attention to my left hand. It had picked up a pen and was making strange marks over a newspaper. I was completely unaware and totally perplexed.
The group was excited by what was happening now the woman had drawn their attention to my hand. I was made to sit down on a lounge and given sheets of paper, all of which I filled with the marks at a frantic pace. Finally, I was exhausted and let the pen fall. What I had scrawled did appear to be some kind of script, but it was incomprehensible to me. A few in the group claimed to be able to clairvoyantly interpret what I had written but they offered ideas I thought completely ludicrous.
The ability to write in this script remained with me for some time. I would feel a daily urge to write and bought myself a robust notebook to keep the writing together in the hope one day I could make sense of it. I also used the notebook as a kind of journal. As it happened the writing was to cause me some grief.
I left Sydney after deciding that the group was not for me and headed back to Melbourne. From Melbourne I travelled to Adelaide where I made contact with a local chapter of the Theosophical Society. Among other things I wanted to get some informed understanding of the writing. In a conversation with a person who represented himself as an authority within the society I agreed to hand over my notebook for detailed examination by experts in Melbourne. There was speculation that the script might be ancient Korean. I had also written some speculative ideas out, in an effort to make some sense of it all. A year later (I had left Adelaide and was back in Melbourne) I was still waiting for the notebook’s return and demanded it be given back. Only after becoming convincingly irate, I was informed that the book had been destroyed because it contained “dangerous information”.
What a load of rubbish! I do not know what the script was. It did appear to have a coherence such that I did think I was actually writing in a genuine script. But I did not then and do not now accept that anybody ‘translated’ it.
The UFO Incident
Back in Sydney – very late one night, actually closer to 2.00 am I was walking back from visiting friends, and my route took me past Randwick Racecourse. Back then I walked everywhere. As I walked past the racecourse, I noticed what appeared to me to be a UFO on the ground and some people around it. I stopped long enough to take a good look and confirm that this was your standard ‘flying saucer’, and then, feeling rather vulnerable, decided to walk very quickly away.
Apart from feeling vulnerable I don’t think I was overly excited. Maybe I was tired. I was content I wasn’t hallucinating. But I was probably pretty much over any kind of excitement at that stage. I didn’t tell anyone about it when I got back. I was in a house with people who thought that UFOs were hovering over the house, and saying I had actually seen one would have been impolitic.
Being in Two Places at Once
Several members of the group decided to travel to Tamworth. When they returned, they were irate that I had followed them. I denied going anywhere. I had not left the suburb in their absence. But they were adamant that they had seen me in Tamworth and when they approached me to reproach me for following them, I walked into a newsagency, and then disappeared.
This is not the first time I’ve been ‘accused’ of being where I was not. At least I know that the me that I know wasn’t where I was said to be.
By now it was the middle of 1972. I had left Sydney, feeling thoroughly discouraged by the internal politics of the group and what I thought were increasingly delusional explanations for very strange things that were happening to me. One evening I was sitting outside on the back lawn and glanced up at the moon. I saw a distinct and thick golden light emerge from the left side, traverse the surface of the full moon and disappear around the right side. I have no idea what that was about.
For a time, in Melbourne I was living in a house occupied by students from the University of Melbourne. I was the only non-student. I had become friendly with ML, who had the front upstairs bedroom, and we spent many hours in conversation when she should have been attending to her studies. On a particular evening she retreated to her room early to meet a looming deadline. The next morning, I encountered her in the kitchen. She did not look well rested, and my immediate assumption was that she had stayed up late at her studies. The instant she saw me she launched into verbal attack. “I had been ignoring my friends.” “Why should they have to wake me up at two in the morning to ask me to get you to talk to them?” Words to this effect sprinkled liberally with expletives left me stunned. I had no idea what she was talking about. What few friends I had left in Melbourne I had seen recently and regularly. She was plainly distressed and when she calmed down enough, I asked her to explain her conduct. This is what she told me.
She had studied until close on midnight and had then gone to bed and fallen asleep quickly. About two o’clock she was woken up by three people, two men and a woman, in her room. She was initially alarmed, thinking it might have been a police raid searching for drugs, but they quickly assured her that they were on a different mission. For some time, she thought perhaps about twenty minutes, she sat up in bed while they sat on chairs they had moved and placed closer to the bed. The gist of their conversation, at least the only part she conveyed to me, was that they had been trying to talk to me and I had been ignoring them. Would she kindly speak to me and ask me to be more responsive to them? They then left and she went back to sleep more or less convinced that the incident had been a dream.
When she woke, she was startled to notice that the chairs had been left as she presumed she had dreamed them to be. ML is a tidy person. She had placed the chairs against the wall and had neatly placed clothing on several of them. It was then that she became alarmed. Who were these people? How had they entered her room through a locked door? And why in hell did they not simply talk to me, who was asleep downstairs? She was also annoyed that they had not returned the chairs to their position.
I listened to ML’s story in utter astonishment. What she did not know and could not know was that for the past near eighteen months three invisible presences, two men and a woman, who were trying to engage me in conversation, had bedevilled me. My experience of them was one of intrusive thoughts accompanied by mental images that were not sharply defined, but clear enough to get the impression of three people aged maybe in their late thirties or early forties. I was sufficiently concerned to have sought psychiatric care, fearing I was going mad. I had told ML none of this, but now I had to confess, to offer some kind of explanation for her bizarre encounter. Our relationship rapidly deteriorated thereafter. She felt violated by the extreme and frightening nature of the event and did not want to be exposed to any repeat. I left the house soon after.
ML’s bewildered and outraged report conveyed her sense of violation; not that being asked to pass on a message was offensive, but that the manner and nature of the intrusive participants in the experience constituted a shattering of her sense of the normal. She could have dismissed the encounter as a very strange dream, but she was confronted with the evidence of disarranged chairs. Not only was her ontological domain invaded, but also her personal space of material order had been offended against. Tidiness was a valued personal discipline and the ontological invaders had also been poor guests.
I compounded ML’s distress by telling her something that forcibly altered the options she had open to her. Denial that it was real was suddenly not an option. But she could contain the damage by rejection. If she stopped interacting with me, she could minimise the risk of repetition and recover some sense of order, some return to safety. I never met ML again after I left the house, so I have no idea if or how she subsequently thought about what had happened.
A few years later I had a conversation with an ‘inner plane’ teacher. The following I have copied from the last words in my thesis: “On 11 March 1979 I had asked about the voices that had precipitated my drama. These were the three entities ML had encountered in her bedroom. This is what I recorded (in my journal) in response to my question:
A: These (are) discarnate entities with whom you have profound psychological links.
Me: Ah, could you explain.
A Desperate Act
These voices had already created grief for me. I had tried denial and rejection of the voices to no avail. And rather than being left in the unfortunate limbo between the prospect of madness and the discomfort of unwanted intrusion into consciousness the source of the voices had upped the ante by staging a dramatic demonstration that they were not delusions or misperceptions. So, what were they? Where did they come from? And why were they intruding into my consciousness? This ‘why’ question had its own urgency to it, but I could not construct an answer at the time. I desperately wanted to know “Why is this happening to me?” But I also knew I needed to answer the ‘what’ and ‘where’ questions before the ‘why’ would make sense.
By now I was emotionally exhausted. I had strange things still happening to me. I felt vulnerable and fragile. In desperation I sought admission to a psychiatric facility. I needed refuge and respite and I also naively hoped for help in figuring out what was going on. But I got given a pair of pyjamas and led off to a locked facility full of bewildered and confused people. I was not in good company I thought. But then I met a depressed Jewish gentleman with whom I had long conversations about spirituality and faith, and a ‘housewife’ who was in there because she had a vision. As she described her vision I was filled with astonishment. It was a strange assemblage of Australiana that had been described to me by another person many months before. I told her what I had been told. I later saw the same image in a cartoon.
The saving grace for me came in the form of an art therapist with whom I had developed a good rapport. She asked me what I was in for. I told her and she said to me that what I was experiencing were ‘psychic’ episodes. I needed to hear that. In my time in the facility, I met a number of people who were plainly not mad. They were distressed and exhausted like me. There was a strange under-culture of defiance and resistance that deeply disrespected the staff and the philosophy of care. I left after a few weeks feeling sufficiently restored in one respect and fully aware that I had to make sense of what was happening to me on my own.
I travelled to Adelaide and lived in Norwood for about six months. Strange things continued to happen. I was drawing one day with one of the women in the house and suddenly the image I had drawn began to glow. The woman reacted strongly to the glowing image and fled the room in alarm. Things like that were not supposed to happen.
The house seemed to be haunted. We all regularly heard footsteps down the hallway and the back door would shut with a loud noise. At first, we suspected an errant child was sneaking in, so we set up a system to catch him. The moment a sound was heard a call would go up and everybody would spring out from their rooms into the hall. I was downstairs and I had to rush out and around to the back. Despite numerous sounds and alarms, we found nobody. Downstairs I would hear footsteps outside my window and sometimes there shadows as if somebody had passed the ground level window, but without a sound.
Late one evening, I was sitting on my bed about to go to sleep when I felt surrounded by a dense and malign atmosphere that seemed to close in on me. I feared harm if it succeeded, and I held it at bay by force of will. Then, I knew none of the various means of self-defence or mantras to keep the mind safely focussed. I spent the night, until first light, repeating the only thing I knew, the Lord’s Prayer. Even so there were times when my mind went blank, and I could do no more than repeat “Our Father…” over and over until recall returned. Sometimes I struggled to say “Our” and other times I could not even remember the first word. Eventually the sense of malignant presence dissipated as the sun came up. I was emotionally drained and tired, and I was able to sleep only once full daylight had been restored.
The first time I made contact with the Theosophical Society I went along to an advertised talk by an international expert on psychic phenomena. This was what I wanted to know about. I was sitting in the middle of a row of fairly cramped seats. Toward the end of the presentation, I was getting desperate to get to the toilet and to have a cup of tea, but I felt hemmed in and unable to get out because the seats were so cramped. A woman, who turned out to be the host of the guest speaker, was asking what I thought were pointless questions and I could see the speaker had no enthusiasm for the endless unhelpful questions. I was getting irritated and wished fervently she’d shut up. She did, finally, and I was able at last to make a merciful dash for the toilet. When I then made my way to get a much-desired cup of tea I was suddenly pulled aside by three somewhat angry people who demanded to know what in the hell I thought I was doing. Getting a cup of tea? I was bewildered. They then proceeded to tell me something astonishing.
They had been sitting behind me and had become aware that I was causing potentially serious psychic harm to the irritating questioning woman, and they had worked hard to intervene to stop me. I confessed my misdeed and, seeing that here were people who might actually know something, I told them my story. They were surprised and alarmed by what I told them and gave me some very helpful advice. Sadly, to me, they were also involved in UFO things, something for which I had no real sympathy, mainly because everyone I’d come across with a passion for UFO struck me as being somewhat delusional. Even when two of them said their companion had disappeared, I was not motivated to believe them, just get away from them.
It was at this time I met the head of the Adelaide Theosophical Society and handed over my journal to have the automatic writing deciphered.
The WM Incident
After about six months in Adelaide, I was feeling emotionally and intellectually exhausted again. I had been writing to a school friend and bush walking companion who was nursing at the Royal Derwent Hospital, a psychiatric facility, in New Norfolk, Tasmania. WM was an avowed sceptic and atheist and was, then, scathingly intolerant of any discussion on any matter that was not rational. I now craved his company, hoping that escaping all reference to the non-ordinary would be a balm. We agreed to spend a few weeks camping and walking. I had told him nothing of what I had been experiencing.
Our plan was to head up the east coast of Tasmania to camp, walk and fish, and on the first day we drove to the Freycinet Peninsula, to a bay [Sleepy Bay] not far from Coles Bay, but on the ocean side. This was a rugged place with high granite hills to the immediate south and right on the relentless ocean, whose energy surged against the precipitous granite inclines. We camped on a flat sandy area with a few trees and a shallow creek that flowed into the ocean not far from our tent. The easiest place to get water was a short distance inland where the creek flowed around a large granite boulder and over a stone lip, beneath which was a small pool deep enough to accommodate a billy.
Close on dusk I went to get water for the evening meal. As I neared the pool, I could feel an intense sense of presence but tried to dismiss it as mere indulgence in the eeriness of the place that was emphasised by the deepening shadows of dusk. I had been to the pool several times before with no adverse response. Nevertheless, I had to force myself not to run on return. By the time we had eaten it was dark and it was WM’s turn to fetch water to wash up and make tea. When he came back, he seemed to be rattled and agitated, but he said nothing.
As we sat around the campfire drinking tea and chatting, both of us became aware that something was moving around us. For me it was a sense of movement just beyond the range of the campfire’s light. It seemed like a fast-moving shadow of indeterminate size and shape, almost lost in the growing dark, yet somehow perceptible. There was no noise. We agreed it must be a dog and several times, on signal, we sprang up with our flashlights in an effort to catch sight of it, but to no avail. It was distracting and we decided to turn in, because the conversation was becoming strained by our unwelcome and uneasy pre-occupation with whatever it was.
Inside the tent we both saw movement around the tent and between the tent and fire, silent. It was a dark form and definitely far larger than a dog, but still with no discernible form, even so close. Unexpectedly, and with one accord we lost our nerve, hastily bundled up the tent and its contents and scrambled up the embankment to the car. We fled to the camping ground at Coles Bay leaving a good deal of our gear behind. In the morning early we returned to collect what had been left behind and then decided to head further north. During it all WM said nothing, though he was plainly disturbed by what had happened. I remained true to my undertaking and made no effort to engage him in discussion. I knew WM well enough. If he wanted to talk about it, he would.
What had we experienced? Was it, as we had first thought, a dog, maybe hungry but too untrusting to come close to our camp? Later, in the tent, what had we seen move between the tent and the fire, casting the shapeless shadow? WM and I were both experienced bushwalkers and we had walked together several times in the southwest wilderness. We were not easily spooked by strange things in the night. That night, though, what we saw might have subsequently surrendered its mystery to rational explanation, but we both did something uncharacteristic. We fled in the middle of the night in undignified haste and disarray into the safety of a camping ground. We did so with almost wordless accord. The believer and the sceptic both apprehended, at some shared visceral level, a sense of threat beyond willing tolerance.
There is a disturbing, and more telling, sequel to this adventure. We left Coles Bay the next day, eager to be away from the place that had so disrupted our plans for a relaxing time. We had not travelled far north when the car alarmingly and suddenly swerved off the road and came, mercifully, to a halt on a flat under some trees. We had hit nothing save some small deadwood. WM confessed that he had blacked out momentarily and this greatly distressed him. He then said he had intrusive thoughts that something or someone was out to ‘get me’ and he wanted no part of it. He drove in silence back to Hobart and ejected me from the car with the warning to stay away from him. I was left standing bewildered by the roadside.
I had no sense of threat, no sense of anything ‘out to get me’. I knew WM well enough to know that he took great pride in his rationality. He was also a courageous companion in whose company I had always felt safe, knowing he would not ‘bottle out’ when things got tough. That was always how it had been before. What had happened? I did not know whether WM suffered from any physical ailment that might cause him to black out without warning, but I supposed that might be possible. Would he have told me? I did not know. How could I account for his bizarre claim to have perceived that something was ‘out to get me’? Coming from my deeply sceptical friend this was unsettling. Did he, in saying it, fear he was going mad? Did he believe it? Was it symptomatic of the same thing that caused the black out? I left Tasmania and returned to Melbourne.
WM’s sober sceptical demeanour was severely challenged by what he had experienced. He chose not to engage with what had happened. I met him in Queensland some 15 years later. It was a brief meeting. When I told him of my interest in the occult, he asserted his disinterest. He was clearly uncomfortable with me, and we parted, with mutual disappointment. WM’s unwillingness to engage with or explore what had happened reflected the degree to which the subject matter generated reaction among those who saw themselves [LS9] ‘rational’. He had been there. It was a shared experience. He had put up a barrier, dissolving a friendship and firmly drawing a line between what may or may not inhabit his ontological construction. After 15 years I was less reactive against such rejection, but the confirmation of the death of what had been a close friendship nevertheless underlined the degree to which my experiences had been, and continued to be, estranging.
Reflecting on Phase Two
This was a period of relentlessy non-ordinary experience that were extreme. I found myself among people too ready with ‘explanations’, including group politics that drove me away because I was accused of intent I did not have.
I felt my sanity was under assault and sought desperate refuge in psychiatric care. I came to understand that getting a handle on what was happening was going to be pretty much my own responsibility. This was a very dangerous time.
With WM’s rejection I left Tasmania in despair. I had had enough and pleaded with the powers that be to leave me alone. Actually, I raged in a despairing fury. That seemed to work. Most of the major stuff stopped happening. I was left with a helpful set of intuitions that trickled along. But the damage had been done. I was obsessed with what had happened to me and for the next four years lived pretty close to the edge of sanity. I realised how much at risk I had been only when I reread the journals that I had carried around unread for years.
I was hitching up to Sydney with a girlfriend [later my first wife] and I had a strong vision of the car we were in running off the road and down an embankment. But I also sensed it would not happen while we were in the car. We were let out and the car turned left off the Hume Highway, onto a gravel road, turned right and skidded out of control and over the bank.
Later in Sydney I often rode on the back of a motorcycle ridden by a friend. We were at our café in Kings Cross, and he asked if I wanted to go for a ride. Normally I’d have said yes but I felt a twinge in my right knee, a sudden sense of fear, and declined. The guy who took my place clipped his knee on a car which came too close to the bike – or the bike had come too close to the car.
Intimations of Death
A couple of years later I was living in Strahan in a disastrous marriage. We had adopted a blue heeler and named him Merlin. We had left him in Strahan and were driving down to Hobart. On the way there was a sudden gust of wind and leaves blew over the car. I said, “Merlin’s just been killed.” He had been. He’d been shot chasing chickens at the time I had the impression. My then wife became angry, and the rest of the trip to Hobart was a very frosty business.
She was adamantly materialistic and was disturbed by the phenomena I seemed to generate – a lot of small stuff mostly. I don’t have good recall, and nothing I recorded in my journals involved her, beyond the Merlin incident. She later told me that she was afraid of that side of me when we met briefly around 13 years later.
However we did often argue about interpretations of events. That I do recall. I saw ‘magical’ meaning where she saw only the mundane – and then something would happen to make my interpretation more likely – in my eyes at least.
Substantially nothing memorable happened for the next 18 months on the strangeness front, but life was nevertheless fraught and disruptive. When I reviewed my journals in 2009 I was surpised to discover how much on the edge I was. My marriage understandably collapsed and I left Tasmania for Sydney. For a time, I settled down to a contented self-indulgent routine of reading voraciously on astrology and tarot. In 1977 my life wasn’t too bad, but it was going nowhere, and I knew there had to be a major change. I dimly thought of travelling to Western Australia.
On the 10th of February 1977 there was a federal election. I was living in Glebe at the time and a housemate, RG, said he had news of a good election eve party in Balmain. Did I want to go? I did, so very much more than was usual. My experience of parties is that they never deliver what they promise, so I tended to go with modest hope. This time was going to be very different. I just knew it. RG and I and two others caught a cab from Glebe to Balmain. As we arrived in Balmain RG announced he had forgotten the address, written on a piece of paper, and left in his bedroom. He cheerily proposed going to the pub, where he was sure we’d pick up word of a party. We were mad keen pool players, and this normally would have been a perfectly decent proposal. But not this night. I was gripped with an extraordinary panic. I had to be at that party if it meant knocking on every door in the suburb. I prevailed upon my companions to return to Balmain so RG could get the address.
We arrived at the party and were ushered to an upstairs room with about a dozen people, none of whom we knew. We four sat together and after a time I was getting bored and restless and decided I’d leave, and go to the pub. The others now decided they’d stay. But when I started to descend the stairs, I felt as if I had encountered an invisible barrier that would not let me pass. I strove against it for a short time and then quit, deciding there must be a reason to stay.
Now I need to explain that I was then a deeply shy person who would not comfortably approach total strangers at parties, so what happened next was shocking to me as I did it, but I seemed to have no control over my behaviour. I looked around the room and decided I did not want to re-join my companions. One woman looked interesting, so I walked over, sat down, and started talking to her. She was talking to a male beside her and ignored me. I then inserted myself between the two of them and turned my back on him. As I write this I am still astonished by my conduct. The woman and I talked for a time. Apparently, I mentioned psychic things and she was interested that topic, so she didn’t get rid of me. Later we went downstairs. She wanted to get a glass of water. I went to look out a window. I recall calling her to the window to see something. I thought I did so in a normal voice, but she later said I spoke to her in a commanding and booming voice. That’s just not me. Thus, I met my second wife, PJ.
Out of the Body
I was living for a time in a flat behind PJ’s house that had a large mulberry tree right out the door. One night I woke up and felt very thirsty, so I got out of bed and headed into the kitchen. On the way I stopped by a window to admire the effect of the moon shining through the mulberry trees. I wished I could take a photo, but my only camera at the time was a Kodak Instamatic, and it would not do. In the kitchen I sleepily reached for a glass sitting upturned on the draining board, but I was having a hard time picking it up. It seemed to me that my hand was going straight through it. So, figuring I was just half asleep, and not wanting to wake myself up I decided to just drink from the tap. But my hand went straight through the tap! Then it dawned on me. I must be out of my body. At that instant I found myself jerking bolt upright in bed.
I immediately jumped out of bed and dashed to the widow. Yes! The moon was where it should have been. I checked in the kitchen. The glass was where it should have been.
This experience was only a few weeks after reading Robert Monroe’s Journeys Out of the Body. PJ had put me onto the book. She had had a series of deeply worrying out of body experience which made sense when she read the book. She wanted me to understand what she had been through.
This was my first and last conscious out of body experience.
The Shared Dream
Sometime after becoming a firm couple, PJ woke me one night to tell me of an astonishing experience. She had been out of her body and floating up near the ceiling. She was alarmed and I spoke to her calmly, telling her to return gently to the bed. I listened in amazement. I now had possibly a more extraordinary thing to recount to her. She had woken me from an intense dream. I was standing on a plain somewhere and there was a multi-storey building made entirely of scaffolding. On top of the building was a crane. I was standing on the ground guiding the crane to lower a body in a fragile condition, and in a stretcher, onto one of two semi-trailer trucks parked very closely side by side. I recalled quite clearly pausing to remark to myself upon the very unusual soft suspension for trucks before continuing to guide the crane operator. When the body was down the scene switched. Now PJ lay on the ground, with her daughter close by. Another presence, whom I knew to be a spiritual teacher, was there as well. He told me to go away just as I was woken up.
The parallel between PJ’s OOBE and my dream was immediately apparent but what clinched the connection was the realisation that the strange trucks in the dream were the two single beds with soft rubber mattresses pushed together, making up our bed.
Ritual Fallout and Powerful Encounters
We joined several magical orders and learned the ways of ritual magic. Some rituals we performed at home and for others we travelled to a set up temple in the case of one group and to other people’s homes in the case of the other group.
One very important part of any kind of ritual work is ensuring that at the end of a working everything is properly closed down. There are particular closing ceremonial actions to bring about an effective ending, but they are not always undertaken in a competent manner. Among beginners it is necessary to check and redo a closing at times. Magical groups are also a hotbed for powerful politics and sometimes there is enough disturbance such that even an experienced practitioner can mess up a closing.
We often came home from a working during certain fraught times with strange presences following us. Until we developed enough knowledge and experience, we didn’t know what was going on. The fallout included jangled and fraught emotions, sleeplessness, and disturbed and disturbing presences.
Both groups had access to what are known as inner plane teachers – non-physical entities who guide the work of the group members. These are not things about which any public comment should be made. My experience was compelling in both cases. I was and am deeply sceptical of channelled communication. Most of it is junk. But in these instances I was convinced of the authenticity of the experience.
I had two other encounters with discarnate entities that left me in no doubt soever that I was in the presence of a very real entity. In both cases there were significant sensations.
I am limited in what I can say about rituals and the presences associated with the groups. The whole of my involvement with the groups and ceremonial workings left me thoroughly convinced that there is real effect and there are real non-physical agencies involved. The risk to personal wellbeing is also significant. Competently done ceremonial magic is uplifting and transformational. But done unwisely it can lead to deep disturbances and actual harm to practitioners and those close to them.
I will say that one of these encounters was with an inner plane teacher over several years. The teacher came through another person, and I asked the questions. I also kept records, including transcripts of taped sessions.
Reflection on Phase Three
Looking back, the Phase Three experiences began in crisis as the aftermath of Phase Two played out. Experiences were less intense but my psychological health was on a knife edge. I had to work hard at staying on an even keel.
The introduction to ritual magic was powerful and disappointing. The people I mixed with lacked intellectual curiosity and rigour. Encountering inner plane teachers was challenging. Their presence and influence was compelling. But there was something missing in how I understood them in the context of the groups they were involved with.
In the early 1990s my second marriage disintegrated. I left all involvement with ceremonial magic – at that stage it was Wicca. My departure was not just due to the fact that our marriage breakdown made shared involvement in the group impractical, but because I had also been coming steadily to the conclusion that I needed to get an education. I had been reading almost exclusively in esoteric matters for 15 years and I was discovering that I was very ignorant about the world in general. So, for four years I managed to resist the temptation to read anything esoteric, despite the fact that weird things were continuing to happen.
What triggered this was getting a job with the Commonwealth Employment Service [CES] in 1986. We had moved to the Far North Coast of NSW 4 years earlier and I had been unemployed the whole time. I was a client of the CES and it didn’t take me long as an employee to discover how hopeless the service was. I vowed never to subject anybody to the same level of ineptitude and set out to get myself an education on local and regional economics, industry trends, employment demands, skill requirements and the psychological impact of unemployment.
By the end of my time with the CES I was writing regional labour demand analyses and I was a co-founder of a community org set up to engage in regional enterprise development.
A New Job
I had been working in the CES in Casino for close on 2 years. It wasn’t a good experience and I was keeping an eye out for an alternative role. I was offered the chance of applying for a short-term role by an associate who was working with the NSW Department of Community Services. This opportunity arose in late January of 1990. But the role was withdrawn, and I was shattered. I had prepared hard for the interview.
That weekend I took myself off to see a clairvoyant on the Gold Coast in southern Queensland. She told me that I had been too combative at work. This was true. I was a union delegate and was giving regional management a hard time. She said I should become more peaceful and stay away from contention, and if I did, I would have a new job by the end of Easter.
So, on the Monday I quit my union role. Then towards the end of the week I accepted a role of running a client satisfaction survey by phone. That put me in a back room for almost a month on the phone. I went very quiet. On the morning of the Thursday before Good Friday I got a call from my associate who said the role had become available for 6 months. Did I want it? At that very moment the acting Regional Manager walked into the office. I asked him if I could have 6 months leave without pay immediately. He said yes, probably with relief. On the Tuesday next I started my new role with a $9,000 a year increase in salary. Back then that was better than a 25% increase.
I converted the role to permanent at the end of the 6 months, and never went back to the CES. The fateful session with the clairvoyant maybe wouldn’t have happened without the original opportunity being withdrawn.
I was going through a time of pretty intense intuition that was keeping me safe on the roads, not only avoiding a couple of accidents that would have certainly killed me, but alerting me to police, so I wasn’t caught speeding. At the time I was working in a job where nearly all the people who had regional roles had lost most of their point on their licences from speeding offences.
There was one spectacular act of good fortune that prevented me from being certainly sprung over the speed limit. I was driving west to Moree and caught a glimpse of blue flashing lights in my rear vision mirror. I cursed and slowed down, expecting the police car to come up behind me and pull me over. But there wasn’t one there. However, ahead of me, and round a bend and out of sight, was a police car with an officer pointing a radar gun at me as I came round the corner, now well under the speed limit.
I was driving from Grafton to Armidale and as I came to the crest of a hill my body was suddenly filled with energy and I went into a hyper-alert state. As I hit the crest, I saw a heavy truck lumbering up the hill on the other side. But on my side of the road was a fool in a car attempting to overtake. Somehow, I managed to flick left onto a mercifully relatively clear verge, miss the car, and get back on the road. My body and mind were a riot of sensations and emotions. I recall struggling between a desire to pull over and freak out and keeping on going. I chose to continue because I knew if I stopped, I’d be mess. I drove for around an hour and a half before I dared stop. I had a coffee and several cigarettes and offered profound prayers of gratitude.
Poker Machine Compulsion
One pay day, not long after my marriage had collapsed, I had found a flat, and I’d bought a brand-new CD player. One payday I paid a $20 deposit on a selection of CDs that cost me $120 in total. The store was right beside my office building. I expected to pay the balance over the next three or four pays. That afternoon I developed a powerful compulsion to go downstairs to a bar. Now I do not drink during the day generally and never during working hours, so that was not an idea I was about to go along with. However, my mind became invaded by the idea to the point where I could not think about my work. Finally, I packed up some papers and headed down to the bar, bought a small lemon squash and settled down to work. Not a problem. After half an hour I decided to have another lemon squash.
The bar had two new poker machines. These were actual poker machines that played poker. You put 20 cents in the slot, got a hand, selected cards to keep, discarded and got replacement cards. I’d never played one before, but I had 20 cents change and dropped a coin in. First up I got a royal flush. That paid $100. Very nice. I went immediately to the shop next door to the office building and paid off my CDs.
I thought nothing of the incident but thanked my lucky stars. I idly dropped a coin into the machine now and then in the intervening months but never got another royal flush. I never had a repeat of that compulsion. That is until about 18 months later after I had relocated to Dubbo in western New South Wales. One Friday evening I had gone to the video store and got a good selection of movies. I’d bought some wine and a roast chicken. I was planning an indulgent night in all alone. I was about to settle down in front of the telly when I was overwhelmed by a compulsion to go out to a pub. My feet started tapping and I felt bouncy and utterly unable to focus on the movie. At 6pm in Dubbo on a Friday night it’s not a good time to go to a pub, because nobody is there. There was no social logic in going to the pub. I had wine and I wanted my own company. I didn’t crave a beer. Had I such a craving I would have bought beer instead of wine. Once again resistance was futile, so I decided to get rid of the impulse by giving in to it. I drove into the town centre and went into the first pub. It was near empty as I knew it would be. I bought a small light beer, drank it, and decided to leave. On the way out there was a poker machine to my left and I had 40 cents change. On my second go I get a royal flush and win $100. On the way home I remember this has happened before, only this time I am not grateful. I didn’t need the money.
There is no repeat in Dubbo. Some months later I am in Sydney for a couple of nights, and I get the impulse. Now I get it. No mucking around, just straight to the nearest pub, buy a beer and stick a coin in the poker machine, get a royal flush, win $100. Not a problem. About 6 months later I have relocated to Sydney temporarily and I am working in Oxford Street on the fringe of the city proper. One Friday afternoon about 4 pm the urge comes upon me. I sign off for the day and head off to the pub. I’ll have after work drinks with colleagues who will be coming down shortly. I buy a beer, put 20 cents in the poker machine, get a royal flush, win $100. About another 6 months later I have my last experience of the urge. It is Saturday. I am in Bondi Junction en route to visit friends. I walk past a pub, and I get the urge. I go in, I don’t bother to buy a beer, I pay 10 cents into machine, get a royal flush, win $100, and leave. Only after I have gone do I recall it was a 10 cent machine, not a 20 cent one. Maybe it should have been $50? Too late.
A few points of explanation are needed here. Yes, I have played the machines in between times, but only every idly with loose change, never with any sense of an urge or compulsion. There were only those five times the urge to play was overwhelming. The first two urges I fought, because I did not want to go to the pub – and didn’t know what was going on. The last three I just went with the flow.
What was it all about? I haven’t the foggiest idea even now. In the 15 years after the last experience I have never had anything remotely similar, and I’ve not been able to make sense of it either.
The Book Compulsion
After I had finished up in Sydney I headed to Bathurst. I had persuaded my management that working out of the Bathurst office made more sense than being based in Dubbo. One day I went to a psychic fair that was being advertised on large banners. I have never had the motive to do so before. There I discover there was a woman giving a talk about alien abduction, and I wanted to hear what she had to say.
Just a fortnight before I had one of my book-buying compulsions. These overtake me now and then, and under the influence I will go into a bookshop and go straight to a book. A short time before I had been reading a new age magazine in which a woman described what she asserted was an ‘abduction experience’. She was taken into a craft and laid out on a metal slab and vile things were done to her. I read the article with a shock of recollection. Many years ago, back in about 1971/2 I taken some rather nice Orange Barrel LSD, fresh off the plane from England. It was very clean and very nice. When I was coming down, I was resting happily on a lounge enjoying the images in my head.
I particularly enjoyed a long slow tour of a museum that displayed extraordinary artefacts in long rows. Intruding into this pleasant scene came the powerful impression of being in an industrial style room. I was lying on a slab, surrounded by large headed creatures. It was not a good place to be, so I pulled myself out and sat up, feeling a little alarmed. After a few moments I lay down again and closed my eyes, hoping to recover the pleasant museum scene. But I found myself back on the slab. This time I completely freaked out. It was time to get up and go for a walk.
I’d forgotten that incident in the intervening years and now reading this article brought recollection flooding back. I was not surprised, then, when I found myself being drawn into a bookshop. I picked up a copy of John Mack’s Abduction and walked out in a kind of daze. It actually took me sitting down in a café to be fully conscious of what I had bought.
I read it in a hurry. It was the first book of its kind [woo] I had read in a few years, and the first book related to either UFOs or asserted abductions. I had some fundamental problems with the spacemen as abductors theory. I didn’t believe it. My own ‘experience’ was a particular problem for me. The memory triggered was vivid and intense. Could it be real and not just an acid induced hallucination? What would have triggered that image? So, I was interested in the woman at the psychic fair had to say. I decided, after the talk, that I wanted to do some hypnotic regression with her.
That turned out to be a very bad decision. We made an appointment, and I would drive to Sydney early one Saturday morning to arrive in time for a hypnotic regression session session around 10:00 am. A lot of very strange things immediately started happening, culminating with my hitherto thoroughly reliable car developing a short-term fault that kept it immobile until well after the time available to travel to my appointment. Then it went back to normal. In fact it was the only time that car failed to start for me.
I attempted to reschedule the appointment, but communication just went completely haywire. I had a strong sense of threat, like being warned off this idea. I gathered that this was not a line of inquiry that was in my best interests and dropped any plans for a regression.
Getting Told Where to Go
My well-laid plans to have my job relocated from Dubbo to Bathurst came to naught after a change of government saw the end of my job. I moved on, back to Sydney after 6 months in Bathurst.
In early 1996 I was staying with friends JM and WM, in Rushcutters Bay. On a Saturday WM and I walked over to Balmain. We walked into the city and took a ferry. We met up with JM at a café and afterwards he and WM headed off on a pre-arranged activity. I decided to walk back down Darling Street to the ferry. I was walking on the left side and spied an esoteric bookshop on the other side and decided to ignore it. I was very short on money and had no need of any more books. But my feet had other ideas and I found myself walking across the road and into the shop as if I was but a mere passenger in my own body. Inside the shop I walked around and found nothing of compelling interest, so I decided to leave. But I was unable to make myself exit the shop. Deciding there must be something I must find I spent some time looking and finally settled on a pentagram pendant.
As I was paying for it, I chatted with the saleswoman who was the sole other person present. In the course of the conversation, I revealed it was my birthday on Monday and she said I should have a chat with the astrologer whose birthday was tomorrow [Sunday]. He had emerged, unnoticed, from behind a curtain. We got chatting. I had studied some astrology and he suggested that he do a progressed reading for me. I agreed and paid the additional money. Afterwards he pulled out some tarot cards and offered to give me a free reading. I accepted. Among other things he told me I would live in England for some time, in Dover.
At that time, I had no thoughts of going to England to live anywhere but I had been casually thinking that my long service leave was due in Feb, and I’d like to go to the UK and Ireland. The next day JM and WM asked me to move out as JM had family coming over from the UK. This was on Sunday. On Monday I was offered a voluntary redundancy. This was very unexpected, and I was sufficiently fed up with what I was doing and accepted. Less than a month later I was flying to England, and within a week of arriving, I had a flat in Dover. My plan was to settle permanently in the UK.
Before I left Australia I hankered after a Japanese teapot. A friend had one that I admired intensely and before I left, I had scoured many antique and collectable shops to no avail. I found a few, but none that I like enough to pay the high prices being asked. In England I took a double-decker bus from Dover to Hastings as a day trip. I was pretty broke so one rule I had set myself was to stay out of shops. I had developed a passion for cod and chips and indulged it, sitting on the Hastings ‘beach’. Then I had a beer in a pub with ceiling so low I stooped.
I was walking along a street that was lined with alluring traders, and I stoically, resolutely, kept eyes front. But then I came by a shop I literally could not go past. The compulsion to go in was overwhelming. Inside I looked around and found nothing that was so compelling I would have been drawn in. Like my experience before I left Sydney, I tried to leave empty handed, but without success. So, I stayed and scoured the shop in desperation to find what it was that had lured me in. Finally, after what seemed ages, I found at the very back of the shop at the very back of a cupboard in a corner three Japanese tea kettles. Two did nothing for me, but the third, made of iron, I fell in love with. The price was £120, which was better than a quarter of what I saw for not as good pieces for sale in Sydney. It was a price I was happy to pay, and so offered a deposit, which was accepted.
Visiting the Witch Queen of Kent
I had a hankering to get back into occult practice and so made contact with a woman who operated a coven. She invited me to meet her mother, the Witch Queen of Kent. I was happy to do so, and we set a time and place. I was to be picked up at a station just before Canterbury late on a Saturday morning.
On Friday night I played darts at my local [next door] pub. That evening we were playing down the street and around the corner at another pub. Cash was tight, so I took enough money for a couple of pints only. I needed to preserve funds for the train fare. As it was, I was sure I had enough money to get there but coming back was problematic. I was at the bar to order my second beer when I saw a man doing the rounds with football cards. These were cards with names of football teams. You picked a team and paid a pound. When all 20 teams had been picked a scratch panel was revealed with the winning team’s name. The winner got £10, and a charity got the other £10. I had money only for a beer. I had not planned to play the football card, but I suddenly got a remarkably clear vision of Leicester City in blue on a yellow background. The image was electric and shimmering. So, I asked whether the card had Leicester City on it. It had. Had it been picked yet? It had not. I paid my pound and picked the team.
I won, collected my winnings, and had an extra beer to celebrate. I had more than the fare for a return trip, which was memorable in a strange way. I was picked up by a faded golden Rolls Royce by the Queen and her consort. They confessed the cost of petrol and their modest means meant they could afford only short journeys. I was honoured. In the end we failed to agree on important things, so my thought of reviving practice went nowhere.
After I had been in Dover just on a year I was filled with discontent. I had been walking to work past a shop displaying a computer that I had been hankering after. I had been deflected from buying and had instead bought a word processing typewriter. I was writing a lot and the limitations of the device were getting to me.
One day the computer had been severely marked down and I decided I was definitely going to buy it. I headed down to the bank to withdraw the necessary funds, but I was utterly unable to make the transaction. This was very frustrating. I wondered why. I went home thinking that clearly the money was needed for some other purpose. I was thinking about buying a car maybe or relocating. I sensed it was time to move on but had no idea where to. I listed a range of options that appealed me, but none resonated strongly. I decided I needed to just brainstorm and list every place I could think of. Going back to Australia hadn’t entered my head at all, but when I wrote down Australia I was suddenly overcome with a powerful sense of happiness and relief. I would go home!
But I needed to go to Ireland first. I was born in Belfast and wanted to visit there. I stayed with one of my mother’s cousins in Newtownards, and one evening I went out for a walk up a road that left the town and headed toward Belfast – Tullyganardy Road. There, beside the road, surrounded by farmland, I sat on a pile of rocks and reflected on being there, near my birthplace. I sent my imagination into the earth below me. This was something I often did. It was a visualisation technique to help me get a sense of the place I was in. This time I had a surprising vision of a cavern deep down in which three dragons slept. One roused and told me to, “Go home. There is nothing for you here.” It was an unexpected thing and it helped resolve the deep ambivalence I had felt since I had arrived in Ireland a week before. I didn’t like the place at all. I had arrived thinking I was Irish, something I happily confessed to in Australia. Now I knew I wasn’t. I was Australian to my core. I may have been born in this place but nothing of my body was now Irish and nothing of my psyche was either. This was a profound discovery, for which I was intensely grateful.
The adventure to the UK had cost me a lot of money, but the benefits I accrued were invaluable. As well as finding my identity I learned about community and history in ways that fundamentally changed my thinking.
The return to Australia was littered with small instances of impedimenta being removed and the return, from the moment I prepared to give up my flat in Dover, was smooth and easy. In fact I described my return home at the time as like being attached to a rubber band which pulled me back.
Becoming a Writer
Before I left it is worth mentioning a bit of a weird experience. I bought the word processing typewriter after an utterly unexpected experience on a return ferry from Calais. I made regular non-lander ferry trips out of Dover to Calais to buy duty free cigarettes and booze. One day I was having a pint in a lounge and reading when I was struck by a sudden overwhelming thought. I would become a writer!
I went home and went to bed and bawled uncontrollably for the next 24 hours. I have no idea why. The next day I bought the typewriter.
The Return Journey Continued
Shortly after arriving back in Australia, I flew to Hobart and then I was able to make sense of a dream I [LS10] had many months before. In the dream my mother told me she was dying. My mother was soon to learn she had terminal bowel cancer. On the day I arrived she was in hospital suffering from an unknown bowel obstruction. She died the day before my birthday, then some 9 months hence.
I knew I had to stay in Tasmania. I had seen little of my mother in the past 20 years. I made a quick trip back to Melbourne to pick up some luggage. On return I sat outside at my parent’s place and had a glass of wine and a smoke. I was down to my last $100. I needed to find work fast, and one job excited me. The moment I posted my application, I lost all motive to look for other jobs. The same thing happened in England, when I got a comfy part-time job.
I worked with the Tasman Council as a Community Recovery Coordinator following the dreadful shootings at Port Arthur the previous year. It was a fraught job and, eventually, how it should be done could not be agreed upon. Nevertheless, for the nearly 7 months I was in it, it was profoundly challenging and rewarding. It was a privilege to have been given that opportunity.
I loved living in Tasmania and wanted to stay. After my mother’s death I resumed job-seeking in earnest. I had been for a couple of interviews and both I blew by making a statement that came out of my mouth before my brain had a chance to work. I seemed to be sabotaging myself and despaired. One evening I called my friend OJ in Coffs Harbour and the first thing she said was, “When are you moving up here?” She had a spare bedroom. I told her I’d be up in a week. At that time, I couldn’t afford the airfare. But two things happened the next day. I sold a large gong I had been carrying with me for ages and as I was walking through Hobart’s CBD, I saw an ad in a travel agent’s window. From the procedes of the gong sale I could get a return ticket to Sydney for significantly less than a normal one-way fare. I had sold the gong for less than I wanted, but it covered the airfare. There was a real estate agents’ conference in Hobart and the Jumbo that flew them down had cheap seats for the return trip.
Suddenly I could afford to head north. I was in Coffs a few months and having a good time when OJ’s daughter and granddaughter needed a place to stay. The room I was in was the obvious solution. PJ [my second wife] and I had split up back in 1992. She had remained in Lismore, and I went up to visit. She had split up with her partner and had bought a house capable of accommodating her and her mother, but her mother decided not to move in. She was studying part-time at the University of New England. She offered me free accommodation in return for helping out around the house. The offer came a week or so before the drama with OJ’s daughter. I initially said I’d be prepared to come to stay for a week or so to help, but not as a live-in deal. That changed and I moved in late in 1997.
We remained friends sharing a house with separate lives and friends. Toward the latter part of 2001 we explored the idea of living together and I said I needed to move on, away from Lismore. PJ wanted to be closer to her daughter who decided she wanted to have a child.
Though I loved the community and the place in general I loathed the climate. We both agreed that Katoomba would be a good place to go and in late September of 2001 I began to do daily meditations on getting to Katoomba. Within several weeks I applied for a job with a NSW government department that offered regional positions, subject to negotiations. I envisioned that this might mean Newcastle or Wollongong. It was related to work I’d done before. I drove to Sydney in the rain in my VW Beetle, a perilous journey in wet weather.
The interview went well, and at the end I was asked whether I’d be happy to work in the city. I said I would not; that I’d applied only because of the prospect of working in a regional position. When asked where I’d like to work, and before my mind could react, I blurted out, “Katoomba would be nice.” That was it. I was out the door and soon after astonished at my gaffe. Katoomba? I wanted to go back and retract that foolish outburst, but I felt quite fated and returned to Lismore.
When I was offered a position in Katoomba, I was astonished. I had to set up an office for myself and two staff.
Reflection on Phase Four
Phase Four was partially about being places I didn’t know I needed to be and partially about the power of influence – of inducing me to do things I didn’t think I needed to do.
I can look back now and see how being in those places profoundly altered my life in powerful and good ways, and that those relocations came about by induced choices I would not have made without the influence.
The poker machine experiences were a demonstration of power to influence. On one level I might assert that such was a violation of my will. But what do I know? On what level was my will violated? On the petty level of ego and personal conceit?
I hadn’t planned to include this in this essay. Over Easter 2002 I bought the house I am in now. For a bloke whose birthdays finally exceeded his addresses at age 46 living in one place for so long is a big thing.
I got here via the assistance of invisible powers. Of that there is no doubt. What happened since has been a blend of subtle interventions and a lot of working out my natural talents and weaknesses.
There’s not a lot I can describe that doesn’t involve complex context settings that render any story too elaborate to have value. But there’s a couple of things.
In the search to buy a house we were attracted to several. One had several levels and many stairs which, while being very attractive, filled me with a sense of dread I could not explain. There was one property I felt deeply toward, and bought. In 2008 I contracted GBS which had me off work for 18 months. I ended up with mobility and grip disabilities that would have made the other property catastrophically unsuited.
Back around 1985 I helped out a guy with his café. PJ reminded me that he had contracted GBS and she felt compelled to pay attention when he described his experience. Evidently I did not.
On the day [8 April] I collapsed on the lounge room floor as paralysis overtook me I do clearly recall her asking the paramedics who had been called whether they thought I had GBS. They said they had no idea, understandably.
Between 2001 and 2023 we are talking a substantial period. I have lived in the one place the whole period, reflecting stability not hitherto experienced. I have remained with the one employer. The large intrusions into my life have become subtle. The radical dramas have abated.
But I have been blessed by remarkable good fortune I will not detail here. In part, contracting GBS transformed my life in difficult and costly ways that have also created unique opportunities.
I have become progressively less stupid.
I’ve not included everything. What I wanted to do was to give an idea of the range of experiences I have had over the course of my life. There’s not a lot of the super-spectacular here. That’s because I’ve not had the kind of experiences that fit the category of being astonishing. The fact is that mild experiences, if drawn to our conscious awareness, are enough to engage our imagination and curiosity. A mild telepathic experience can be shrugged off as a coincidence, if it’s just one event that comes to awareness. But if there are several the chance of coincidence diminishes.
Many people have non-ordinary experiences and do not know it. A few weekends ago we were out for a drive and I was contemplating the unpopular drive up to Mount Victoria from Hartley. It’s a steep winding road frequented by trucks. I had a sense of pain that denotes to me that there was an accident, but we went for a substantial drive up to Oberon via Bathurst and I forgot about it. So, when we were going home we drove up the dreaded road. There was a traffic snarl. A guy on a scooter had come off. Police and ambulance were there as well as several tow trucks. Many times I have dismissed intuitions and later rued the decision. Several days ago I was walking past a shop with which I had an order for a coat. Usually, they call me when an order comes in so I dismissed the sense that the coat had arrived. I got the call when I got home. It was there when I was walking past. So, nothing catastrophic, just mild inconvenience. But the point is clear. If we respond to intuitions routinely, if we are accustomed to accepting them, we will benefit in both minor and major ways.
My father’s second wife was a committed Christian who had no truck with gambling or games of chance. But one day she was out with friends in Towoomba in Queensland and when they purchased lottery tickets she declined to do so. She persisted in refusing to buy one until their unusually persistent insistences wore her down. She won $88,000. She and my father were able to move to the coast and buy a home ideally suited to them with no mortgage. Such a reward would not have otherwise come their way, given their modest means.
Readers will have endless stories themselves of direct and related experiences of non-ordinary experiences that may or may not have changed people’s lives for good or ill. Often those stories included neglected or ignored warnings or assistances.
I can offer no explanation for the range of things that happened to me over many years. Nothing has been so consistent such that I might allow myself to be called ‘psychic’. There were many times when I have displayed remarkably canny perceptions, but rarely on demand. The other things that sometimes plagued me with unwanted strangeness may be explained by the possession of a peculiar and ill-disciplined sensitivity.
What I am not prepared to countenance are allegations of insanity, hallucinations or other forms of misperception. I don’t buy the mainstream mental illness story. I think it is crude and dangerously flawed. I am plainly not mad. I know hallucinations. I have taken LSD and ‘magic’ mushrooms and I’ve smoked strong hashish. I’ve taken opium once. There is a nonsensical myth that having taken drugs renders one prone to hallucinations, but this is complete nonsense. Those who have drug experiences know the difference. Unfortunately, those who come up with the theories are not experienced drug takers. In any case I’ve not actually had many experiences that could be discounted as hallucinations.
A very substantial number of strange or non-ordinary experiences have involved other people, and not just as co-participants. Sometimes the other party has been the active party and I the passive.
From quite early on I understood I had a higher propensity for non-ordinary experiences than other people I came across. When I was a teenager I had done no reading on the subject, so I had no words to explain my conduct. As I matured and read wider and deeper, I understood that the things I was experiencing were not unique, and that non-ordinary experiences were quite common, if not necessarily as widely spread as mine were. Knowing there were stories did not help completely. I wanted to actually understand what was going on.
I wanted to know why all this was not part of our Western way of knowing. Why all this stuff that filled our folklore and family stories, that could be found in books, on podcasts, in movies, was not respected or honoured as part of our culture’s knowledge. It was not only that, but that the same stories also permeated human history, found everywhere and every time.
This excision from our collective respected narrative was bizarre. Why had it happened? What did it mean? My problem was really quite simple. This stuff was now thoroughly part of my reality, part of my story about who I am. The idea that it could not, would not be honoured in our shared way of knowing is quite simply unacceptable.
I’ve come to understand that this is not an intellectual, religious, or cultural issue. It’s a political one.
It’s now 21 May 2023. I am starting to understand why it has been such a struggle to finish this project. In saying that the issue is political I meant, in 2011, the sense in which it is an influence upon how we understand the world. Since late 2018 I have been immersed in an inquiry about belief – what it is, why it is. The politics of belief are powerful and remarkable.
We experience the material world as a kind of lateral axis of experience, largely unaware that there is also a vertical axis that has its own complexity and depth. Mostly we inhabit only that immediate locality where our thoughts, desires, fears, and fantasies live.
I have been thinking in terms of physical [lateral] and metaphysical [vertical] dimensions to our experience. It’s an imperfect model, but it illustrates an important principle. The two intersect, but we are mostly unconscious of anything beyond our immediate sense and on the dominant plane of our awareness.
We are primarily attuned to the material world because we are aware of being in an organic body, and that awareness is the focus of our attention. Rightly so. We must be competent in the material world if our organic being is to survive and thrive.
But all human cultures have acknowledged the metaphysical and have accepted that awareness of it is necessary because it impinges upon them. That has become a contested space in European cultures because of the evolution of Christianity which sought to denigrate metaphysical awareness not approved of. Materialism went a step further as our sensitivity to the metaphysical was dulled by dogma and repression. It denied the metaphysical entirely.
We have become metaphysically deaf and blind because our sensitivities have not been fostered. That has led to containment of our imaginations within a ‘consensus reality’. But that ‘consensus’ isn’t arrived at by freely given consent. Rather it is accepted and agreed upon because the alternative is not known. It is not known because it is not validated. The fact it exists is not disputed – beyond hardcore materialism. But there’s a difference between knowing something exists and allowing it to be part of one’s own experience as an honoured and valued dimension of awareness and being.
Mostly we have a kind of membrane between our awareness of the material world and the metaphysical. This is necessary and desirable. Control is essential. That membrane is leaky to varying degrees. Mostly we are unaware of what leakes through. We have no conscious sense. We can, therefore, reject input from the metaphysical as invalid.
I was born with a very leaky membrane. In a different culture I may have become acknowledged as ‘gifted’ and educated and trained. In this culture I could be seen only as mad [science] or bad [religion]. There were fringe groups with whom I could have found a comfortable niche, but they lacked the sense of inquiry I craved.
I cannot say the extent to which we are collectively influenced from the metaphysical dimension. I think it’s to some degree for many of us. That’s not to say we are conscious of such influence. On the extreme ‘rational’ end of the spectrum we cannot account for what happens in our lives without allowing the role of ‘chance’. On the extreme ‘religious’ end there is a desire for an intimate personal relationship with the divine. Neither extreme is reasonable. You can’t say everything you don’t understand is chance. You can’t sensibly claim to be an intimate of God. There are a lot folk who do, and I think they are bonkers or victims of deceptions.
Here’s my sense. We can be aware of more than we are if we allow that we can and develop habits of awareness that make that possible. We are influenced by the metaphysical axis of our reality. It is part of our reality – an essential and fundamental part. But it’s not to be obsessed over and fetishized.
There are some cultures which practice what we disparagingly call ‘ancestor worship’. In fact, it’s often about placating the spirits of the dead to ensure they don’t interfere and cause trouble. Not all do. It depends on what you know of their character.
A year after my mother died, I was in Lismore. It was the day before my birthday, and I was doing my usual thing of reflecting on life in general. I had forgotten it was the anniversary of my mother’s passing. I was settling down for a writing session with my Mac Classic on the verandah. I had wine and I was planning to write well into night, which I did. I wrote a short story called The Boy and the Angry God.
I wrote that story because, as I was settling down, I had a sense of my mother arriving. She settled at the top of the steps to the verandah and leaned back to rest on the brickwork. She said, “I’ve got a birthday present for you.” She proceeded to tell me how my father, a man of great religious enthusiasm, despaired of having me obedient to his demands on his own authority. He threatened me with “God will be angry with you” if I declined to comply – which was often. I didn’t like my father, and I didn’t like his god. But still, I was haunted by the threat. I have had a deep sense of ‘wrongness’ about me all my life. I had no conscious sense of where it came from.
My mother didn’t linger. She gave me the gift and left. I wrote the short story. In the morning I woke, a little wrung out. That haunting feeling had left me. It has never returned.
I didn’t set out to write a short story that evening. I wanted to make reflective notes on what had been an intense year. But my mother’s gift was transformative. It changed my life. I was freed of a haunting doubt about my spiritual integrity.
The metaphysical dimension is important to us. It can hurt us, but it can also heal us, stimulate us, and enrich us. It is like any other dimension to our sense of the real. It is a source truth – provided we engage with modesty.
I am listening to an audiobook at the moment. The author asserts a rejection of the idea that we should ‘worship’ gods. He’s right in the sense that worship means to praise in a sychophantic manner. But that’s not what the idea meant originally. It meant an acknowledgement of worthiness. He implies that we might look upon gods as equals and not bow to them. There is a homo-centric conceit to this idea. He imagines that we humans have had no contact with other than human agents who are not of this world or dimension.
Around 1979 PJ and I were exiting her house on the way to a movie. Before we got to the front door we were engulfed in a powerful sense of radiation. It was overwhelming. It felt like being in full sun on a stinking hot summer day. This was autumn in Sydney and around 6.30pm and in doors.
PJ entered a trance like state and wrote things down in a poorly formed hand [I still have those scrawls]. She was an English teacher at the time and wrote clearly. I won’t detail what was written. From my perspective the source of the radiation was was the expression of the presence of an agency that was not human. I spent maybe 15 minutes struggling to remain focussed and alert. In fact I struggled to remain conscious. I could sense the mentality of agency in a limited way only. It was so far beyond human I could make no sense of its nature.
The author of the audiobook spoke of intelligence as if we humans were a benchmark. I get that. But we are not. Humility before other beings in our scope of reality isn’t a matter of theatrical grovelling some religious imagine is meaningful because they are into dramatic effect and seek to represent priests as surrogates for, or representatives of, divine power.. Humility before power is generally wise – even if you don’t understand it. Imagining you know what’s what, or know better is naïve folly.
Nothing of what I experience suggested any hint of a demand for reverence or subservience. Respect yes. Sometimes non-compliance wasn’t an option or an issue. That I was dealing with something of great power, intelligence and compassionate was a late realisation. I am a slow learner apparently.
Finally, I have no definitive explanations my experience. They were about teaching me, that much I can say. And I am grateful for the education.