Have You Heard an Inner Voice Lately?

Throughout human history, mystics and gifted teachers have emerged in every culture, expanding our understanding of what it means to be human. We are not simply physical bodies brought to life by an accident of evolution. There is a deeper experience of being human than just thought and emotion that includes our capacity to an expanded awareness of non-physical realities.

It is notable that today in our world, non-physical elements are being talked about more openly - what we in Lorian are calling subtle worlds and subtle beings. They are not new. The subtle worlds have been around and making themselves known throughout time. Ancient books tell stories of encounters with angelic beings. Inspiration and direction from inner sources have always been freely spoken of by religious and spiritual leaders. And I have heard many stories from individuals who have had experiences at one time or other of being nudged from within to do something or go somewhere. We call these perceptions subtle for a reason. We cannot see any particular cause for the feeling, so we may tend to dismiss it as being unreal. But it is my contention that everyone has these subtle experiences, whether or not they pay attention or give them credence.

In my own experience, I have several times heard an inner voice telling me something I needed to know. The first time was when I was a teenager listening to some family members who were discussing spiritual things. I wondered why I wasn't joining in, since I felt drawn to the subject, when I heard a voice telling me that it wasn't time. I knew this voice was right, with a kind of inner knowing that was familiar and peaceful and sure, and I knew also that I would know when and where the time was right - and I did, when I turned 20. A strong inner nudge launched me off to Findhorn, a spiritual community in Northern Scotland, to begin my spiritual education. How did I know it was time? Well, it is subtle! I felt like a door opened that hadn't been there before.

These inner voices may inspire disbelief in us. Are we really hearing someone? Am I imagining this? It can be hard to determine sometimes. We are not usually trained to trust our inner nudges. Some years ago David and I happened to drop in on our friends Fritz and Vivienne Hull just as they were finishing up a week long meditation retreat at the Chinook Learning Center on Whidbey Island. Fritz grabbed us and said, "Come here, I have to show you something!" as he took us across the meadow to where some of the participants had camped during the week. As we walked, he told us an extraordinary story. One of the women in the group had awakened in the night feeling uneasy. She felt like she had to get up and move.

As she lay in her tent in the dark trying to decide if she wanted to leave her warm sleeping bag and go out into the cold night, she heard a loud voice say with compelling urgency, "Get out and run left!" She immediately scrambled out of her tent and went left just as a tree in the forest near where she was camped cracked. The top third of this tall tree speared through her tent and right through her sleeping bag! Just as Fritz finished his story we turned in to the camping meadow and saw what he was describing. It looked like a huge sharpened spear was standing upright in the ground pierced right through the heart of this tent. It must have been about 15 feet tall! The remainder of the splintered tree, about 25 more feet, stood on the edge of the forest nearby. This was a breathtaking and disturbing sight!

But what was this voice she heard? What was the voice I heard in my teens? Is it part of ourselves that perceives beyond the range of our usual senses? Or is it another presence that is giving us aid? Many people have these extraordinary experiences and cannot deny that there are unseen presences which can communicate with us unexpectedly. So how about intentionally? Can we communicate with subtle realms at will?

Some can. My friend, and co founder of Findhorn, Dorothy Maclean did. She did not hear voices as some do, but could connect during her meditations with bright, angelic, radiant intelligences which she called Devas (the term Angel had too many religious connotations for her comfort!) from which she received impressions that she would put into her own words. What she learned through these communications was always new to her, things she would not herself have thought. I saw evidence of this when I was traveling with her once. We had stopped in a California Redwood grove off of Highway 101 which according to the plaque near the grove was being preserved for posterity. We could see that the trees in the grove were dying. Dorothy felt overcome with grief over the toll that human development was taking on the Redwood forests. She took some time while we were there to meditate and communicate with the Deva of the Redwoods. She found herself apologizing for the damage that humans were doing to the trees. The response she got was a surprise to her. She wrote this message down:

Small mortal and great being, we greet you. Come with us, up high above the traffic noise... to where everlasting peace is. Let the 'evil' be as dust on your feet, to be shaken off and returned to itself, while the peace of God remains, the creative peace which cloaks a planet and many forms of life.

What if the trees come toppling down? Their vibrations are forever part of life here and we are glad to have contributed as much as we have. Rejoice, for life moves on, whatever form it takes--and it is one life, as we well know. We are part of you, you are part of us, and so it will always be.

To the Deva consciousness everything is an expression of spirit, and if it was time for the form of the Redwood to pass out of the world there would be another form for its essence to take - the shape of the form did not matter. For Dorothy, this was a reminder that the perspective of the Devic realm was not human in any way but always offered a bigger picture. For me, it was a reminder that collaboration with inner beings can offer us a shift in perspective, a broadening and deepening of how we see our world.

There is a deeper experience of being human that includes our capacity to connect with the unseen part of the world. It is a natural part of who we are, though, as I have said, often a discounted one. It is too easy to dismiss those delicate whispers of intuition that get submerged in the everyday din of our ordinary reality. If we take time to give attention to these inner nudges, to give them a little more weight and recognition, we might find ourselves beginning to come more easily into connection with the subtle worlds. And if those inner nudges become a loud shout, we might want to move on it!


David's Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however, the material is ©2019 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters, please let us know at info@Lorian.org.

I have recently been acquainting myself with Julian of Norwich.  I’ve known of her, of course--she is one of the greatest of the Medieval Christian mystics, living in England in the Fourteenth Century—but I’d never delved into her history or her writings before.  As a young man, I was partial to Meister Eckart, a German philosopher and mystic who lived nearly a hundred years before Julian, to Brother Lawrence, the author of The Practice of the Presence of God, and to the Sufi mystics Rumi and Ibn’Arabi, though it’s now been forty years or so since I’ve read any of them.

In 1373, at the age of thirty, Julian became so deathly ill that a local curate administered the last rites to her as she lay in bed.  As he did so, a young boy acting as his acolyte raised up before her a cross on which Jesus hung, crucified. She began to lose her vision, but then Jesus came alive and spoke to her in a vision, the most immediate effect of which was that she was spontaneously cured of her disease. Over the next forty-eight hours, she subsequently had fifteen more visions in which she and Christ conversed.

Eventually she described her visions and their contents in a book, Revelations of Divine Love, which is considered the first book ever written in English by a woman. It has been a classic of mystical literature ever since. It is from her writings that the phrase “all will be well” comes; at one point, when she is speaking to Christ about the terrible things happening in the world, He replies, “All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.”

I’ve encountered this phrase many times over the years without realizing it came from Julian’s visions and writings. It’s often used in superficial ways, like saying, “Don’t worry, things will turn out OK” as a way of helping someone feel better. In Julian’s writings, though, this optimistic phrase is grounded in the absolute, unconditional love of God for all creation and in the realization that goodness exists as a seed state, a potential, within all things. It is not meant to reassure us as much as it is to awaken us to our true state and the true state of the universe, for it is this that ensures that “all will be well.”

This same sentiment is often expressed by my own non-physical or “subtle” colleagues.  I know for a fact that when one of them says to me, “It’s going to be all right,” he or she is speaking from a perception of the Light within all things, a Light that constantly exerts a pressure to unfold and manifest, even if temporarily this means causing some buried darkness to surface ahead of it. They have no doubt about the continuous activity of Light and love within the world, even if these qualities don’t always immediately appear on the surface of things.

“All will be well” was a daring thing for Julian to affirm to her contemporaries as well. Within her lifetime, the Hundred Years War between France and England was raging; there was the English Peasant Revolt; and there was war between two different Popes, one in Avignon, one in Rome, each claiming to be the rightful heir to the Throne of Peter. But most horrific of all, this was the time when the Black Death, the Plague, ravaged across the world from China to England, killing an estimated one third of the population. Depending on which plague bacillus invaded you, you could be dead in seven days, three days, or within a single day— healthy in the morning, dead by evening. If ever there were an apocalyptic century, this was it.

In the midst of this and in spite of this, Julian, recounting her visions and encounters with Christ, said clearly and strongly that God is love, we are loved, and all will be well.

It is certainly true that in the Fourteenth Century, faith was strong, perhaps much stronger—or at least differently experienced—than is true today, another time when many feel helpless in the face of large destructive, corrupt, and oppressive forces in the world. Yet, certainly according to my own inner contacts, the “All is well” affirmation is as true today as it was then for Julian and those who came to her for spiritual teaching and direction.

As I write this, the news is filled with the bombings of churches and hotels on Easter Sunday and the deaths of three hundred or more people with hundreds more injured. It is an immense tragedy, and it takes its place in a parade of news stories about killings, violence, terrorism, corruption, extreme weather, natural disasters, and on and on. It’s hard to see and hear all this and feel that “all is well, and all is well, and all manner of things are well.” If this phrase is to be a seed of strength and transformation, however, and not just a feel-good spiritual bypass, I believe we have to understand two things about it.

The first is that this idea that all is well is not a panacea for worry but an affirmation of identity and the strength that can flow from that. The reason that “all is well” is because we are loved by the Sacred. We don’t have to prove ourselves worthy of that love; being loved is our natural state. Once this sinks in, a whole new experience of self and of being in the world unfolds.

The second point comes out of this. All is well because we each have the power to be and to bring that wellness into our lives and into our world. That is, we can act from an inner reality of loving and being loved. All is well because in the sacred core of our being, we are well, and that wellness can emerge and will emerge, whatever it takes, however long it takes.  What is key here is that through what we choose and what we do, we help determine the “however long.”  We can turn “All is well” from a promise into a reality.

Julian’s voice is as pertinent and valuable today as it was six hundred plus years ago.  I’m glad to be discovering her, even if I am a late-comer to her party!

Angel of My Hearth

Essay and Photo by Karen Johannsen

Sometime in the late 90’s, a few years after my divorce, I began to feel the urge to get out of my house. I wanted to start fresh, in a new environment. I loved my home and fought hard to remain there after separating from my husband, but it began to feel oppressive and somehow not supportive of my energy anymore. So I put it on the market.

As beautiful and affordable as my house was, it didn’t sell. I began to feel like maybe the Universe was trying to tell me something. So I enlisted the services of a Feng Shui consultant and friend and here’s what she told me:

“Just because the energy in your home doesn’t feel right to you doesn’t mean you need to sell the house. All you need to do is shift the energy.”

Wow, that was an intriguing thought. I’d pretty much always known that I could sense subtle energies, but the thought of being able to consciously invoke the qualities that I wanted to be surrounded with was mind blowing!

picture of angel of my hearth.JPG

My friend suggested that I first list how I wanted to feel in my home. Immediately I knew that what I wanted was a home that radiated peace, tranquility, harmony and joy…qualities that my life had been sadly lacking for many years. She also told me to engage with the “Angel of my Hearth.” That was a new idea. There was actually a being that inhabited my home that I could connect with and work with? I began a practice of sitting in meditation each week, invoking her presence, and asking her to help with creating the atmosphere I wanted in my home. One day I looked up at the piece of art I had hanging above my fireplace and realized, there was a perfect representation of my angel. I began standing in front of this image and talking to her, reinforcing the desire for more harmonious energies to fill my home.

After just a few weeks I noticed a palpable shift. I began invoking her before every full moon ceremony so that people who walked in the door would feel welcomed and safe. Many people began commenting that they felt they were walking into a sanctuary, a sacred place. I was amazed and had to agree that things had definitely shifted.

I stayed with this commitment of weekly joining forces with my angel for several months. Then I let it lapse, feeling like we had accomplished what we set out to do. The energy in my house remained harmonious and lovely.

It wasn’t until reading David Spangler's work on subtle energies that I realized I wanted to re-establish this relationship as a daily practice. I began connecting each day with the “Angel of my Hearth”, the overlighting deva of the land that my home sits on, and acknowledging the nature spirits and techno-elementals that were also present. I wrote in a previous blog about how this practice has shifted the way I walked through my days. Seeing everything as connected and sacred. It felt expansive and inspiring. To recognize I was not alone, that I had all this help and that I could receive and radiate this new found connection. I could impact my environment in a conscious way and in return be supported by this field of energy. I began to see myself as a radiatory energy field as I walked to the grocery store, the gym, the gas station.

In a recent issue of Views from the Borderland, David discusses how many of us feel overwhelmed by the environment of chaos and disruption that is our world today. How it is so easy to feel like nothing we do can make a difference. He then quotes one of his inner colleagues.

“Of course you make a difference! Each person does. You are each a thought of God made manifest. How can this ever be inconsequential?”

I began to try to take that in. “I am a thought of God, made manifest.” How would I walk through my days if I really believed that? I began to feel empowered and strengthened in a deeper way. I started watching my thoughts and actions more carefully. Sort of like that old saying, “What would Jesus do?”, I began to think to myself: “How would a thought of God behave? Does my thinking reflect the being that I am, the thought of God that I am? It felt like owning my sacredness.

It’s easy for me, when I have a deepening awareness of something to immediately make it a job. “Ok, now I have to be very vigilant about watching my thoughts, my behavior, my attitudes.” In an effort to somehow be better, be more spiritual, be more aligned, more...whatever. Another of David's inner colleagues came to my aid when he said:

“Humans try too hard to be spiritual. You draw too much on your own inner nature and forget that you have help around you if you will access it. Relax and allow the Light to bear you up and unfold the qualities you seek.” He then went on to use the image of a seed. “The seed’s job is to know what it is. The soil’s job is to enable that identity to unfold and flourish. The seed does not struggle to bring forth its nature. It opens to what the soil and its environment bring to it to nourish its growth and allows its nature to unfold.”

I love this image because it reinforces the idea that we don’t have to always be trying to be better, to be more, to do more. We can just relax and be the sacred seed that we are, and we can connect with the soil around us, the subtle worlds, to assist us in our unfolding, to nurture our unfolding. We naturally and organically unfold into our potential when we are aligned with our sacredness, but we can be supported in our journey by connecting to the help that is available to us via the subtle realms, the angels, devas, nature spirits and elementals.

So the new awareness for me was that these subtle energies that we live in, especially in our homes, can be our soil. We can let go of trying so hard and just allow the energies to assist us.

Whew, can you feel the release in that?

May we always remember the sacred beings that we are.

May we be at peace with just “being.”

May we remember that we are loved just because we are.

And may this awareness create an opening that will allow the subtle energies to fully support our journey.

Opening To An Ever-Expanding Universe

By Julie Spangler

A few years ago my daughter came home fuming with anger. Smoke was coming out of her ears! Her psychology teacher at the local community college had told the class two things that enraged her:

  1. There is no new knowledge in the world yet to discover.   

  2. There is no such thing as ESP or psychic perception.

According to him, humanity had discovered all there was to know and there was nothing more in the universe to learn. Yet the fact that we humans are always learning and revealing new insights about this world and beyond is evident to anyone with the eyes to see.  

Recently, I found an old book in a box of my husband's family treasures. It was a history/geography primer written in 1850, that had belonged to David's great grandfather, Rufus.This was published before the civil war and reveals much about the way people thought of the world and history at the time.

Rufus was taught that there are two continents in the world, the eastern continent and the western. (Australia was considered the largest island.) In those days, a continent was defined as a contiguous landmass completely surrounded by ocean. Today, continents, which we count as seven, are defined by modern knowledge of the dynamics of the geological processes within the earth's crust.

This small primer also espoused that there are five races in the world which were defined as Malayan, African, Caucasian, American Indian, and Mongolian. Since then, anthropological definitions of the differences between people, which were called race, have morphed several times - in 1890 they considered three races - Caucasian, Mongolian and Negroid, and by 1962 Australoid was added - but today, our understanding of the human genome has progressed to the point that we now know that nearly all the variation in the human species can be found within the remotest tribe of humans in the world, and 99.9% of our genetic material is the same in all people.

Looking at this book written 170 years ago from the perspective of our time, we can see how much the world has changed; and each time new information was brought forth, it changed how people saw the world. David's great grandparents were farmers in Ohio. Imagine the world that Great Grandfather Rufus inhabited during his life. Born in the 1850s, he lived in a horse and buggy world where communication was through slow mail, and the telegraph was in its infancy. The transcontinental railroad was only just conceived but not yet built.  He was confined to a local community and change was slow.

The world we inhabit now is vastly different than the one Rufus lived in. It is even vastly different from the world I knew as a child. Every person alive right now over 30  years old spent their formative years in a world without cell phones and internet. Information flow is instant in most parts of the world, and change is so fast that it is hard for our minds to keep up with it! And yet... there is no new knowledge to discover?

I confess to feeling some disbelief that there could be a college teacher in this day and age who could believe we have reached the limit of all there is to know!  

But what about his second point - There is no such thing as ESP or psychic ability? There are way too many incidents of  "other perception" - intuitive warnings, synchronistic happenings, telepathic communications, predictive experiences - to deny that something of a psychic nature exists.

One night when I was about seven years old, I remember my mother suddenly getting anxious and upset. She felt an urgent need to see her beloved 92 year old Aunt Grace. Though it was evening, and there were four of us young children who couldn't be left alone, my father, bless him, recognized that something unusual was going on. He bundled all of us kids and mom into the car and drove 2 hours to the large retirement home where Auntie Grace and Uncle Harry lived.  

We found Auntie Grace sitting in their room crying inconsolably. She said they had taken Uncle Harry away and would not let her see him. Mom, my siblings and I all stayed with Auntie Grace while Dad did the warrior/hero thing and stormed the fortress to track down Uncle Harry.

Dad found Uncle Harry in the hospital wing of the facility, dying.  He came back, got Aunt Grace and escorted her to her husband’s side, pushing past the various nursing officials trying to stop them and asserting that Grace needed to see her husband and they had no right to deny her. Harry and Grace got to say goodbye before he passed over later than night.  

I was always deeply touched by the seemingly magical events that took us on a long drive through the dark to help Auntie Grace. And I have no doubt these kinds of incidents are more frequent than we know. Is this ESP? In my world it is. Is it psychic perception? Maybe that also. It is certainly an intuitive, unseen and subtle world connection between hearts that love.

As of now we can't easily measure subtle worlds or subtle perceptions. We know our perception of the world is changing because we can experience it, but we can't record the changes in spiritual consciousness around us. We often take this for granted. But in every culture, knowledge of subtle worlds and subtle beings has existed. We can't prove their existence, only anecdotal evidence attests to their reality, such as my story about Auntie Grace. But in my household, contact with subtle worlds is a normal part of ordinary life.   

We always have to determine for ourselves what we are open to. Maryn's teacher kept his mind very tightly structured. I understand the inclination. It is challenging to stay open to things that might shake up our reality. But in a world that changes as quickly as ours, it behooves us to keep our minds flexible, open to possibility and ready to welcome our own corroborating experience. Then when we have our own subtle perceptions, to accept them and prove their inherent value for ourselves.


David's Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however, the material is ©2019 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters, please let us know at info@Lorian.org.

In many stories, attics are the places where lost or hidden treasures are found. We don’t have an attic, but our garage fills the same role as place where boxes are stored and items go to be lost. While clearing out some of these boxes this past month, my wife Julia came across something neither of us knew that we had, a treasure worthy of any attic. It was a book carefully wrapped in a plastic bag, its cover broken, its pages faded with age. With it came a glimpse into family history and into a world long vanished.

The book, Mitchell’s Primary Geography, is a textbook intended “for the instruction of children in schools and families.”  It was published in 1856, four years before the start of the American Civil War. The name of the owner of this book is on the inside front cover: Rufus Spangler, my great-grandfather. On the next page, originally blank, he has written his name again, followed by the date when he was using the book: 1860.

The book had been found in a box from my Dad’s house, brought back here after he died some years ago. My Dad saved everything, but even so, the fact that this old textbook from his grandfather had survived relatively intact through four generations and a number of moves seems like a miracle to me. While I know a lot about my grandfather, Rufus’s son, I know next to nothing about Rufus himself. It’s been fun imagining him sitting in a one-room schoolhouse in eastern Ohio studying this book as an eight or nine year old boy.

What has been truly fascinating, though, has been reading the book itself. It comes from an optimistic time in American history. It describes Americans as “among the most intelligent, industrious, and enterprising people in the world.” The country has thirty-one States. The “Western States” are those we would now call the Midwest, from Ohio to Missouri, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Everything else further west are various Territories which will eventually be carved into new States, the exception being California. Eight years before this primer was published, the United States had defeated Mexico in war, gaining possession of California; it became the 31st State two years later in 1850.

West Virginia didn’t exist when Rufus was studying this geography. It wasn’t formed until the Civil War broke out and part of the State of Virginia refused to leave the Union.

The book covers more than just America. It is a world geography, describing the countries and peoples that existed then. Queen Victoria was on the throne in Great Britain. The Ottoman Empire still existed. The Tsar was on the throne of Russia. Perusing this book, I think of my great-grandfather Rufus. In 1860, when he wrote his name in this primer, his was a world without electricity. The transcontinental railroad linking the East and West coasts of the United States didn’t exist. Much of the western interior of the continent was still “Indian country.” There had been no “winning of the West” yet. I think of what it would be like for him to time-travel to my world today with its satellites, its jet travel, its computers and smartphones, the Internet and social media. The Tsar is long gone, as is the Ottoman Empire. Great Britain no longer rules much of the world. The United States is a superpower with nineteen more States than when he studied this book of geography and history. He might feel as if he had been dropped on another planet.

Mitchell’s Primary Geography exudes confidence that it knows the world as it is. It states clearly and with no hesitation, for instance, that the planet is only 6000 years old, as revealed by Scripture. In the way this was presented, this was not a religious statement but a scientific one. The split between science and religion had yet to take on the proportions that it has in our day. Darwin’s seminal book on evolution, The Origin of the Species, had only just been published in 1859. The whole perspective of creatures, including human beings, evolving over millions of years of time had yet to become widespread or accepted as fact.

Thinking of Rufus and his world got me thinking about us in our time and the world we know. We are as confident in our modern scientific and materialistic worldview as the writers of my great-grandfather’s geography primer were in theirs, and yet, who knows what my great-grandchildren will think looking back upon my time now. Will the world we know be as strange and exotic—and misinformed—to them as Rufus’s world is to me?

If nothing else, it reminds me to be humble in my certainties about the world I know.


Now a personal note.  With this David’s Desk, I’m starting my thirteenth year of writing these monthly essays. I had no idea when I started that it would last this long! Thank you for your continuing interest and support, without which I would have stopped before this.  I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts with you and look forward to continuing to do so.

First, Get Real

By Mary Reddy

Once upon a time—or rather for a number of years earlier in my life—fear was my demon.
Fear of falling. I would vividly see myself tumbling to my death when I’d watch my brothers skip across the wobbly tree trunk that had fallen over the creek, me standing at the edge mesmerized by the drop to the swirling water; or while being careful not to step too close, I’d watch the others boldly move to the best vantage point of a high cliff; or when shaking with a clash of fear and longing, I’d place one ice-skated foot onto the ice, wobbly yet frozen to the spot, while others glided past like fish in water.


Fear of bears. In grade school, I read a news report about a woman who remained still as earth while a great grizzly ate her arms to the elbows then wandered away. Eventually, she managed to contact her companions and thus lived to tell. Ever after, every story of the rare bear attacking a tent of sleepers, or the bear who stood its ground  when hikers came upon it, would burn into my memory and surface hotly each time I entered a beautiful wild place.

Fear of ghosts. For most of my life, the first night or two spent in a new place saw me wakeful and alert in bed, dreading what might be in the corners or walking down the silent hall. I sensed rather than saw them when awake. But they came into my dreams and told their stories. They seeped into my feelings and gave me theirs instead. Once, one of them touched my cheek briefly. I felt/did not feel it. After that, I slept with a sheet or blanket pulled up over my cheeks, no matter how close or stuffy the night.

One night when I was six, I lay awake gazing through my window at a glorious full moon, awed by the mystery of the night. Later, a crowd of spirits entered the room as flickering lights. Like lightning in my room, they flashed up in the corner by the ceiling, then again near the closet door or over by the dresser. Impossibly, I could even see flares of light behind my head. I hoped I was dreaming, but I felt that awful wakefulness of unbearable dread, of time dragging. Who were they? What did they want from me?

Once when I was fourteen and babysitting for a neighbor’s child, I was frightened by a loud drumming sound, like a hail of rocks raining violently down on the roof of the house. I froze and waited to see if it would ever end. It lasted about 10 minutes. I could not bring myself to open the door to the dark night to investigate. Hours later, when the child’s father took me home, I scanned the area around the house. No rocks, no hail, nothing to explain the event.

Once, in my adult years, I stopped at a hotel in downtown Peoria that had seen better days. Soon after I fell asleep on the lumpy mattress, a ghost man angrily punched his hairy arm into my dream. I saw the fine black hairs on his forearm, his clenched fist. My dream self shouted, “who are you?”—waking me suddenly. 

One apartment I lived in was so filled with ghosts, it was like Grand Central Station for the disembodied. During the day, I saw them in my peripheral vision as flickers of light or pulsing but invisible exclamation points. They came to me at night, one by one, with requests. Could you contact my sister? Would you tell my husband he has to make up for what happened? Could you please get someone to retrieve my bones from Vietnam? There are gifted mediums who know how to help these post-mortem visitors. But importantly, they also know when to say no. I had not yet learned that was something I could do.

I could relate many experiences about ghosts and trickster spirits. Some people may long for such otherworldly experiences, but I was desperate to escape them. Realizing that I needed to understand their world and my relationship to it, I spent years studying shamanism. The practice of psychopomp in particular gave me  parameters within which to interact with the dead. But it wasn’t until I studied IS that it dawned on me: I could only relate well with post-mortem beings if I knew how to relate with integrity to living human beings. Healthy relationships with subtle beings required that I first work on living in the ‘real’ world.

I needed to redefine the pattern ingrained in me as a child, that loved ones would either invade me or demand I merge with them. Just as the apple seed grows into an apple, I trusted my inner longing to grow into the self that no one could force me to lose. I began to understand and strengthen my sense of sovereignty. My fear of subtle beings dissipated. 

It did not happen overnight! I took the first steps toward healing even before I knew about IS. As I grew into a more whole self, I began to meet beings who did not want something from me. One night I stayed in a rural Wisconsin inn surrounded by birch trees. A river ran nearby and, just outside my window, a field of baby apple trees stretched to the woods. I fell asleep to the gentle sounds of nature, but a ghostly couple stirred me from my dreams.

Old as Methuselah they were. They hunched over my bed, peering curiously at me. The woman’s face was like a dried apple carving, deeply scored with wrinkles. The old man stood tall and skinny and stoic. Suddenly, the woman realized I was looking back at her and she jumped back, startled. And then they both disappeared.

Fully awake, I felt no fear, only wonderment. I did not think they were post-mortem visitors. It seemed to me they vanished in what felt like an overabundance of courtesy, so as not to frighten me, but also out of the sheer surprise that a human could see them. To this day, I can’t place them but I wonder if they were guardians of the woods. For they looked like they had walked out of a fairy tale.

These days I don’t relate that much to the earth-bound dead. On occasion I might help someone who is stuck cross over. I feel more pulled to develop relationships with those beings who are not needy, who look to partner with me and other humans in supporting Gaia’s emergence. Now, I hold my boundaries lightly but securely. I gratefuly draw on the support and community of my land. And I know that my first allegiance is to my embodied self, to my own self love which is the cauldron for my ability to relate to everyone else in all the realms.

Learning To Be "All In" With Life

By Freya Secrest

My new granddaughter, Kaileia, is three months old and beginning to explore her muscle control and coordination. She lives in a world of the moment, actively engaging with all that comes her way. I had the gift of being a partner in her world of discovery recently and the ripples of that experience live in me as an extraordinary example of presence and communication.

That afternoon, she had been playing on her own, thoughtfully, slowly, experimentally, moving her arms to connect with a hanging mobile. Sometimes she touched and grabbed it, sometimes not. Her full attention seemed to be concentrated on that toy but she held no specific idea to do anything with it or to it. Instead it seemed Kaileia was exploring the space around it, feeling into a broader field of engagement.  She was using every physical and somatic sense she could access for her learning.

I picked Kaileia up from the floor and held her in my arms in a position that allowed us to see each other. I was the focus of her attention now and with her eyes, her interest, her body, she directed herself toward our interaction. We started a conversation.  

As I talked to her and entered more fully into the field defined by our eye contact and physical touch, my speech slowed and I focused on key words and sounds rather than long sentences. Her attention sharpened; she was a partner ready to engage. Watching Kaileia respond, I slowed down even further and settled even more into my body and subtle senses.  I noticed her mouth movements as she tasted the air of our communication and began to mimic them, trying to taste it too. Shaping my mouth slowly into an O, I put more breath into it and it became a note of sound; she lit up. I began singing more slow notes and she began to mimic my mouth very specifically. Her eyes were glued to my face as she worked to move her own mouth and make the sounds I was making. And she did it!  And, of course I, and the others around, gave delighted praise. It was a doorway moment for her and for me that recognized our connection.

What followed was several minutes of call and response and deep belly laughs from both of us as we lived into the delight of this moment of conscious communication.  Kaileia was almost ecstatic to feel her participation in the exchange. The world opened up to her; she made a difference. I was in awe of the wonder in the moment, of what was possible within the gift of becoming present. Everyone in the room was transformed with her joy.

What I take away from that exchange, besides my grandmotherly pride in a brilliant grandchild, is an experience of being “all in”, and the value of being somatically alert and responsive to my world. This deeper sense of presence resonates and moves through me as simple, direct, honest, with a fullness of joy that links body, mind, emotion and spirit. Kaileia brings all of herself to her work as a young incarnating soul in the world; she has a task to connect and establish and grow a life. I feel that same responsibility and am appreciating the reminder to bring myself humbly and expectantly to the task.

This state of wonder and magic seems particularly appropriate in my work with subtle energies and a Living Universe. I am inspired to taste the air of my attunements, to let my arms ‘wave’ and reach out to physically give shape to my experiences. Kaileia is my poster child for “all in”. I look up from my computer screen and see my neighbor’s tall pine. My back straightens and head lifts, and I move into a felt sense of height that perhaps is more akin to the tree’s experience. Like my granddaughter, I try to shape myself to imitate its song. In this brief exchange I feel joy coursing through my uprightness. Perhaps this is a moment of tree-speak.

This somatic languaging is a rich addition to my subtle world communication. It has been part of our teaching in Incarnational Spirituality but this experience calls me to further recognize and harness its power. I find a more tangible and accessible sense of where to meet and engage with fellow Gaian beings – both those in physical form and those in subtler embodiment. Slowing down enough to focus with interest on what is in front of me, I stand in present moment. Welcoming the light of multiple perspectives, the present flows with greater clarity and connectedness. Delighting in our connection, we are communicating and the fabric of life is enhanced.

This experience with Kaileia has illustrated a new fullness and aliveness in my life. I have no nouns to describe it firmly yet. But while it is still a mystery to me, the somatic doorway that she modeled is woven more strongly into the fabric of my awareness.

Piercing the Veil

By Drena Griffith

Growing up in the subtropical Coastal South, sun and sea filled my childhood with warmth and reflection. Curious and introspective, I spent many sunny afternoons after school sky-gazing. Though I wouldn’t have been able to describe it easily then, there was something magical about the elements and celestial bodies coming together - sky and sun and endless miles of water connecting, flowing, swirling around great, unseen edges.

This playground of my childhood inspired my first explorations of the inner planes.

One afternoon when I was ten years old, I decided rather spontaneously to go sky-gazing to find God’s “house.” But I wasn’t looking for the Jesus of the Gospels recited at Mass and discussed in Sunday School.  What appealed to me more was the Old Testament story of God’s creation of the world. Even then, I had a love of ritual and structure - and God was certainly thorough and ceremonial as He painstakingly separated darkness from light, air from sea and earth from heaven, then breathed life into animals and human beings.

But where was God before the six days? Was He alone in a vast void of nothingness?! Surely, He was still out there, up there - back there - waiting to be found before going through all the trouble to make the world, and I was going to uncover his hideout!

Slowly, painstakingly, I peeled back the days of creation, layer by layer, looking for the place where God lived before he formed Universe.

Clearly, time was a slippery concept for me to grasp because the idea of God waiting in dark pre-Creation silence seemed quite tangible in my mind's eye. Even so, though I’d like to say that I discovered the Source inspiring such sincere devotion, most days I returned empty-handed, with throbbing temples. But that rarely slowed me down! For many years I played a game of hide and seek with the Infinite.

In my early thirties, after one too many life disappointments and on the edge of leaving Christianity, I wrote the following poem about that early experience:

"As a child I believed in the orderliness of God more so than in his Goodness; I watched as the sky twisted itself from light to dark, from shape to void; that’s where God lives, I told myself, before he formed universe.

My child’s mind never thought to look for God inside my young life; he existed beyond the repugnancy of dawn and sunsets; outside of storm and insomniac dreams. Outside of time, where matter had not yet been forced into cruel shapes, it didn’t matter what love was and where it could not be found no matter how hard I concentrated my focus.

With my childhood sky I had an Infinity that had not yet taken on names. With my childhood faith I had God unstaged.

Now, more than three decades after my childhood vigil, and extensive exposure to a number of diverse spiritual approaches, including Incarnational Spirituality, I see those childhood efforts in a brighter light. They were my first attempt at piercing the veil, peering into the unseen realms that Lorian and others refer to as the subtle worlds. Now, it’s hard for me to not feel appreciation and respect towards an early recognition of what to so many people still remains mysterious and invisible.

But of course now I also know we can do more than gaze longingly across the chasm. Surely we can visit those realms and interact within them as easily as we can our neighborhoods, communities, and childhood playgrounds. In fact, more and more scientific research, including a recent experiment in creating and measuring “objective reality”, lends credence to the possibility that what we consider the known, visible world may actually depend upon the vision of the beholder - something that mystics and children have known for eons.  

As I have progressed on my own spiritual journey, my connection with the subtle worlds remains curiously similar to my early voyages. Though I no longer see God living in a house outside of time, or see myself as separate from Divinity, it’s still enjoyable to gaze lovingly into the subtle skies from time to time, hoping to discover a fresh sighting of an old Friend.


Exploring and interacting within the subtle worlds is integral to understanding Incarnational Spirituality. In fact, David Spangler has written a number of books on the topic, but inevitably questions arise:

“What does it actually mean to interact in the subtle worlds?”
“How do I know if what I’m sensing is real?"
“What kind of relationships can humans have with subtle beings?”
“Why do the subtle worlds matter?”

For the next several months, the Lorian blog will explore these and other thoughtful questions in an Incarnational attempt to demystify the inner realms. Topics include: basic principles of engagement in the subtle realms, developing subtle world awareness, adventures on the inner planes, and even marriages to subtle beings. If you have questions you’d like us to consider responding to, feel free to email info@lorian.org.

From the Archives: The Ultimate Harmony of All Things

Excerpt by David Spangler, Introduction by Drena Griffith

Over the decades David Spangler has written numerous articles, books and instructional material for classes. Many of these books can be purchased online but what of the wealth of resources no longer in print or readily available? "From the Archives" features excerpts from some of these lost treasures--gleaning past insights from David's vast experience as spiritual leader, teacher and scientist of the subtle realms. Some of these teachings pertain to specific past events, yet are still relevant today. The more the world changes, the more it seems we need to be reminded of core truths. So, in that sense, David's words are timeless.

The excerpt below is from the out of print book Conversations with John, a dialogue with one of David's inner contacts. This book specifically views the socio-political and economic issues of the 1980s through a spiritual lens. But the words also hold an immediate relevance and connection to the world as it is now. If you would like to learn more about David’s relationship with “John”, you might enjoy reading Apprenticed to Spirit. —Drena Griffith

The universe works with you and for you. It is not your enemy. Center yourself in the goodness of the universe, and you will meet the challenges of the future. You do not need a spiritual force to tell you of the challenges that you can see. Of course there are dangers of war evident in your world. Of course there are forces that would diminish your freedom, that would seek to manipulate your consciousnesses and your bodies towards their ends. You do not need a spiritual force to point out that these things exist. All you need is the spiritual discernment of your own wisdom and enlightened perception.

What, then, are you going to do about these dangers? You do not need a spiritual force to tell you to seek peace, to nourish freedom, to embody these qualities, and to offer them as gifts to others. You do not need a spiritual force to tell you that many of the values of your society deal with elements of life which really have no value, which do not serve the overall well-being of the world in any way. You do not need a spiritual force to tell you to abandon these elements, or at least put them into a different perspective.

You do not need a spiritual force to tell you that you should seek out different, more holistic and nourishing values. You do not need a spiritual force to tell you you should live in harmony with the land, for if you don't, it is obvious you will suffer the consequences. You do not need a spiritual force to tell you that you should live in harmony with each other, for if you don't, it is obvious your communities will be torn apart.

What we do offer you is an energy and a vision. We see you as being caught in currents of hopelessness and being mesmerized by danger. We would not lessen your perception of or alertness to what you must do to better your world. We would increase your perception of your inner security, protection, and wholeness. We would increase hopefulness, for unless you can overcome your inertia and fear, you have no hope. Unless you can find the inner strength and joy, the stamina and boundless energy to challenge and go beyond your perceived limits, then you risk your worst dreams coming to pass.

The decade that is ahead will challenge you as human beings on all fronts of your lives: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, economically, socially, politicially. Yet, in the midst of all this, there will be an increasing number of people who will be essentially untouched, who will be sources of protection, security, and new vision, whose energy will go into exploring and creating alternatives. These people will be those who are vessels of our spirit, and of their own high spirit, saying that there is hope and that the future can be recreated in the image of the divine.

The responsibility and challenge which disciples of light face is how to be aligned with this creative effort, how to communicate it, extend it, share it, and demonstrate it. It is your responsibility as human beings to work out for yourselves how to do this. The new age is the age of your spiritual maturity when you do not need us to point out the obvious nor to direct you in living up to your highest; it is an age when we can each offer each other the best of our perspectives and energies and we can co-create together.

In moving through the times ahead, becoming emotionally overwrought at the sins and ills of the world, becoming sympathetic or guilt-ridden about the damage that humans do to each other and to the world will not help you. These are responses of glamor usually born of your attempts to avoid your own pain and transformative energies by focusing on lesser emotions. What is needed is precise, appropriate, skillful, wise, loving, and serene action, thought, and attunement, filled with power and open to the true pain of your time and to the potentials of healing that pain.

That universal spirit, which I call the Christ, pours its limitless spirit upon all peoples, upon the land, and upon your world as a whole. It is up to you to carry that spirit outward into action, thought, and relationship to the best of your abilities. If in so doing you find yourself entering into conflict or confrontation with people, institutions, or forces outside yourself, then do so without conflict in your own heart and mind. Do so without seeing these people as being less than brothers and sisters, but part of your wholeness. Do so without losing your vision of the ultimate harmony of all things.


David's Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however, the material is ©2019 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters, please let us know at info@Lorian.org.

For a while at my local cinema, each movie would be preceded by an advertisement for the theater itself. Obviously responding to the competition of watching movies on television at home, this ad proclaimed the advantages of the big screen and ended by saying, “Go Big...or Go Home!” It was obvious which was the smart and preferred option.

Sometimes, I think this is the option that runs much of our lives. The problems that exist in our world—climate change, terrorism, war, political corruption, economic inequality, threats to democracy—all seem so large, so planetary, that we can feel disempowered and helpless before them. They seem so BIG, and unless we can go BIG in our response, we might as well just go home and let someone else, someone BIGGER than us, deal with them.

The adulation of bigness in our society is nothing new. However, though valuing bigness seems a logical route to power, it can actually be disempowering. After all, how many people bother to buy lottery tickets if the jackpot is just a measly few thousand dollars, or even a million? These days, what attracts people to stand in long lines to dip into their wallets is a Bigger than Big, Mega-Jackpot of hundreds of millions. Anything less can seem a waste of time and energy.

Where this comes up for me is when someone asks how they can make a difference in the world. Most of the time, this is a rhetorical question, at least when asked of me! What they are really doing is giving voice to a feeling of frustration and helplessness at the size of the problems in the world. I know, because they often say that they are feeling too small to make a difference. The challenges seem so big that only a big solution seems fitting. The problem is that they don’t feel capable of that kind of bigness. They feel disempowered by scale.

But this is an illusion. The world is built from small things; whether they’re atoms or cells, structures or societies, there is no “big” without the small - and their activities and relationships. A microscopic virus can kill me as surely as a building collapsing on my head. “Small” is not a synonym for “powerless.”

If someone asks me how they might make a difference, my first response is to say, “Acknowledge and accept yourself as someone who can make a difference.” From my perspective, each individual is already making a difference through his or her choices, actions, and connections in life. Many of these differences may, in fact, change very little in the world, but you never know. The ripples and consequences of what we do can spread wide and effect changes that would surprise us, even BIG changes.

However, it is one thing to acknowledge that yes, of course, our actions are going to have consequences and sometimes those consequences can make a big difference, and something else again to actually envision oneself as having the power to make a difference. The latter not only is empowering but it changes our evaluation of scale. Yes, there is a need for big solutions and actions, but this doesn’t mean that small actions are less important or influential.

Years ago, I heard a radio commercial that neatly summed this up. It was advertising a garage chain and said, “We don’t want to change the world; we just want to change your oil!” After all, the proper lubrication of my car’s engine is vitally important to it running well and providing me the transportation I need.

Small acts of kindness, generosity, acknowledgement, and appreciation offered to the people we meet daily may not seem like much, but they are the oil that lubricates our social interactions and enables communities to mesh and work well. Yes, it would be nice if I could come up with a solution to climate change, but what about tending to and if necessary changing the emotional or mental climate in my family or in my workplace?

It’s wonderful to feel a desire to change the world in positive, constructive ways. The more people in the world feeling that way and acting on it, the better we will be. But we need to recognize the power and value of paying attention to the small world right where we are and changing what we can right there. Then we stand in our power; then we make a difference. That is miles better than slumping in helplessness and despair.

Paradoxically, we may have the greatest influence if we Go Home in order to Go Big.

One Winter Morning

Pastel Essay and Text by Claire Blatchford

I wake to darkness.

It’s freezing outside, I can feel the cold like a skin around the house but the warmth inside holds close and steady. I get into my warmest robe, socks and slippers, and walk from window to window upstairs, then downstairs.


In the east, whiteness of snow outlines the black of the woods.
I wait and watch as a pale blue sky emerges.

Then orange, then yellow, then pulsating gold…
Then—suddenly—among dark tree trunks and branches, the orange, red, yellow, gold blossom of the day bursts into view.


The colors are dispersing rapidly—so rapidly I hurry to a southern window to see what’s there, and find exquisite frost feathers spiraling over the panes.


From yet another window facing south, the rise and fall of snow waves in the yard below, shaped by the wind playing through, around, and over the snow fence, come into view.


Looking next to the west, it’s easy to make out the elegant, steady presence of our evergreen friends. For a minute I wonder if I am looking out or they are looking in!

They make me stand straighter.
I salute them.


Then I return to the east, to the window that looks into the spruce by our back door.

And there—looking as though it might have been left in the nook of a branch by the rising sun—is a scoop of deep red!


The dog hears my exclamation and begs to go out to see what I see.

The darkness has flowed into brightness, colors, surprises…
I open the door.

The day has begun.


A Lorian Priest Explores Geomancy

I learned to dowse nearly forty years ago from a dowser named Herb, whom my father hired to locate where to drill a well. Herb’s dowsing rod was a modern version of the traditional forked stick - two white nylon rods duct-taped together at one end. He told the well driller exactly where to drill, how deep the water source was, and how many gallons per minute they’d find, and he was right.

In addition to finding underground water for wells, Herb also dowsed for something he called geopathic stress, places where energies in the landscape have a negative effect on human health. He was particularly interested in places where two or more underground streams intersected. As he explained it, spending a lot of time over such spots, like sleeping or working at a desk, could cause all kinds of problems – sleep disturbances, weakened immunity, arthritis, cancer, and more. Fortunately, he said, this kind of problem could be addressed in surprisingly simple ways, and he told me stories of people he’d helped.

As far as I was concerned, Herb was a magician. I was utterly enchanted, so he handed me a rod and showed me how to dowse. It turned out I had a knack for it. I was hooked, not only on dowsing, but on the very real and practical benefits of working with subtle energies in the landscape. A whole new world opened up to me, beyond what could be apprehended by the physical senses.

Although I didn’t realize it until years later, this encounter was my introduction to geomancy, a form of earth healing with variants in traditional cultures around the world. Geomancy takes into account that there is more to the world than we can perceive with our five senses. Just as with mind/body medicine, geomancy addresses not only the physical causes of distress or imbalance in a home or a landscape, but the energetic ones, as well.

The physical environment is interlaced with and supported by a sort of energetic scaffolding of currents, grids and vortices, like the meridians and chakras within our own bodies. These lines and grids can be distorted by psychic and noetic residues that accumulate in the landscape. Activities in the physical world leave an imprint in the subtle world. Historical events, especially traumatic or strongly emotional ones, can have a big impact and create static place memory that can keep a place energetically stuck in the past, endlessly recirculating patterns that inhibit health and evolution. And, of course, there are ghosts and other non-physical beings, human and otherwise, whose presence can have all kinds of effects, for good or ill.

A few years ago I began apprenticing with a master geomancer, Patrick, a third-generation practitioner of spiritual and psychic healing. For the past 25 years, he has traveled the world tending to unbalanced and traumatized places. What Patrick accomplishes through his practice of geomancy is magical—crop yields increasing manyfold, dry springs and sandy creek beds suddenly flowing with water, debt-ridden businesses starting to thrive, long-standing illnesses and conflicts resolving. Using various tools, including dowsing, in collaboration with spiritual, angelic and other non-physical partners, he works miracles that defy science and logic.

A geomancer is part wizard, part custodian, part mediator, and part Greenpeace activist, practicing in the in-between places where the material, subtle and spiritual worlds meet and mingle with the light of consciousness. Geomancy, essentially, is about clearing, blessing and enhancing the energy in our homes and landscapes to bring about greater harmony and wholeness. Even more, it is about cultivating a conscious, loving relationship with the collective intelligence of the living Earth. To me, geomancy is applied Incarnational Spirituality.

Our relationship with place – home and community – is one of our most important and primary relationships. In these scary times, facing the horrors of climate change, mass extinctions, and endemic pollution, it’s hard not to feel as if our relationship with Earth is irreparably broken. Unfortunately, a lot of environmental activism is fueled by fear and anger. Scientific predictions are grim, suggesting that much of the damage is irreversible, which adds a layer of hopelessness to the anxiety and shame many of us already struggle with. The irony is that such emotions are toxins in the subtle worlds, where they can create even more imbalance. Many people believe Earth would be better off without humans at all. How can we have come to a point of such estrangement from the world that gave birth to us? How do we deal with the overwhelming consequences?

That’s where the real magic of geomancy comes in. We do not have to deal with this alone. In fact, no matter what knowledge and skills we may bring to the task, far greater transformation is possible when we join forces with helpers in the unseen realms. In truth, a geomancer is mostly just a general contractor, the boots on the ground for the non-physical members of the team, sizing up what might be needed, and then calling in the right healers or contractors, so to speak, especially for the heavy lifting.

Traditional and contemporary cultures around the world have held great reverence and love for the spirit of place. The Romans called Spirit of Place the Genius Loci, Loci being the place or location, and Genius referring to the spirit that governed or tended to it. While today we think of genius as meaning intelligence or talent, originally it meant a protective spirit, the guardian angel of a person or an area. Any one of us can call upon the Genius Loci of our own places—our homes, our neighborhood, the woods and lakes and landscapes around us, and ask them for help.

While I get anxious about my abilities as a geomancer, and often am drained by the challenge of mediating between such different energies, I am awed, humbled and uplifted by this work. I am constantly learning to expand my sense of what is possible, to trust and believe more and more in the reality of this partnership and the help that is there for the asking.

This is not easy in the world we live in. In the face of hard science and front page headlines, it’s hard to trust that there is more hope for healing the world than we are led to believe. Even those of us who read blogs like this, who are members of organizations like Lorian, often have quiet doubts, if not about the reality of numinous helpers, then with our worthiness to take our place alongside them and accomplish necessary miracles. It takes courage to defy the disenchantment of our world. I keep stumbling upon all the limits I’ve placed on what seems possible, and discovering just how bereft of magic I feel.

But geomancy gives me evidence of what I long for most. It re-enchants the world. It opens my heart to wonder. It gives me healing tools that seem just this side of magic. Mostly, it gives me glimpses of the luminous presence of Love in all its emanations and incarnations, waiting under the heavy layers of despair to help us heal the Earth.

Sing the Song in Your Heart

Essay and Sketch by Mary Reddy

In fifth grade, the nuns taught us to read music. They counted music as an essential member of the family whose siblings were reading, writing, and mathematics. After a year of studying the treble clef; whole, half, and quarter notes; rhythms and key signatures; we each had to pass a final sight-reading exam. When it was my turn, I stood up and sang to my classmates from a piece of sheet music that I’d never seen before. I had the curious sensation of being terrified that people were looking at me mingled with the surety that I could do this! It was not my anxious mind that succeeded, it was my voice and my eyes in sync, acting together to vocalize the visual and spatial relationships I saw on the page before me. I passed the exam.

In grade school, I sang alto in the church choir. It often meant learning counterintuitive melodies that underlined or counterpointed the primary melody. I loved these sounds that felt all the more powerful because they sat back behind the song, underpinning it, providing a shadow to its light so that the whole was more clearly etched in the listener’s heart.

But for much of my life, music was the lover that got away. I enjoyed brief periods with the piano as a child and later in young adulthood with the guitar followed by years of simply listening to others play. But when alone listening to recorded music, I have always sung along. If I love a song I cannot NOT participate, raising my voice to sound the notes. And now I am seeking out that love once more, not to abandon it again.

For that love is a sacred communion. Over the centuries, people instinctively sensed the spiritual power of song—as hymns, psalms, and chants woven into rituals, augmented by drums or musical instruments. One of my aunts wrote liturgical music on the piano but was adamant that the human voice itself was the best instrument to praise God. I regret that I never asked her why she thought that. But in musing about the sacredness of sound, it occurred to me that the human voice is a unique incarnational instrument.

First, consider the impact of music on the body. In recent studies, neuroscientists have discovered that multiple parts of the brain light up when listening to music. The musicians themselves show even more intense brain activity especially in the areas governing auditory, visual, and motor functions. Though fewer studies have been done on the effects of singing on the brain, they reveal a similar increased activity across multiple areas of the brain.

Outside the brain, singing engages over a hundred muscles around the vocal cords, the larynx, the trachea, and the lungs, creating vibrations fueled by breath, changing pitch by speeding up or slowing down the vibratory frequency, adjusting volume by working the breath through the resonating passages of the throat, mouth, and nose. The listening ears are also involved to sense the quality of the sound and the accuracy of the pitch as it’s produced. And think of how that sound is heard by the singer both externally and internally as it resonates within the singer’s skull.

The vagus nerve, the “wanderer,” is the longest cranial nerve linking the brain to the rest of the body. It connects to the vocal cords, the muscles in the back of the throat, as well as to the diaphragm which works the bellows of the lungs. It’s no surprise that studies suggest singing, humming, and chanting improve the tone of the vagus nerve, helping us to access the “rest and recover” mode when needed. The vagus nerve regulates things below the level of consciousness—another hint as to the sacred power of song, for it engages much more of us than just our conscious mental process.

Thus singing is healing for us as it calls forth a great deal of energy and interaction within the body. But how are we to define its sacred qualities? Songs have the power to open our hearts to a range of deep emotions—intensifying our human experience. And music of any kind creates sounding boards in the environment. Things resonate in kind. I was fascinated by this twin effect, both on the person singing and on the singer’s environment. But I still wondered about the sacredness of song. What happens in the subtle realms when a person sings.

One day while working with the Sidhe cards, I asked to understand how singing evokes the sacred. I found myself creating the stone circle within me, inside my body. I became aware of the Grail that I am, that we each are. I (somewhat impatiently) thought, “Yes, the Grail, but how does this relate to song?” Then I saw the vibratory tones of song resonating within this Grail then flowing out to the world. It seems, in singing, we partake in the circulatory system of the world on both ordinary and subtle levels. I later learned my friend Anne Gambling had synchronistically put into words what I saw in this attunement: singing is “the means to ‘dig the trench’ for liquid light to flow, further wider deeper each time.”

Singing knits our spirits and bodies together in a coherent resonance but doesn’t stop there, as the song moves out of our bodies into the air, sending out waves in increasing circles to engage with everything in the vicinity. I sensed that singing can be an alchemical act, translating the music of the spheres through flesh and blood then flowing out to the surrounding environment.

We may envision our grail selves as containers, holding the Sacred. But David Spangler emphasizes that this is not a passive function. And he chose a musical analogy to explain that the Grail is an active presence, a sacred doing. “Think of it as analogous to a ‘violin self’ a consciousness within you that loves to play the violin … as you practice, you will be able to ‘hold’ and play ever more complex pieces of music. … so we have in the grail a sacramental instrument, one that delivers and shares sacredness in a communion of being.” Perhaps the sacredness of song resides in this process of both holding and sharing.

In David’s Conversations with the Sidhe, his Sidhe colleague Mariel says we carry within us “the memory of the telluric technology of node, connection, and flow, shaped by song and dance and ritual.” Raising our own voices in song activates the flow from node to node, enhancing the harmony and coherence of our world. And the Singing Hare (from The Sidhe Oracle of the Fleeting Hare, by John Matthews and Will Kinghan) exhorts us, “Wake then, listen, hear again the song of life and the song of being amidst the fields of your daily life. Will you join in the sing? … Stand under the dome of heaven if you dare and let the song well up within you, silent or loud.”


By David Spangler

David's Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however, the material is ©2019 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters, please let us know at info@Lorian.org.

The daughter of a close friend of mine spent several days in Antarctica filming a program for NOVA, the educational TV show. She shared with her mother, who in turn shared with me, her notes of what she was experiencing. Along with descriptions of her work and of the Antarctic landscape, her most frequent comments were about her need to be attentive. It was drilled into her by her trainers, the men and women who lived there in the science stations she was visiting, that the smallest mistake while out on the ice in temperatures way below freezing could be fatal. She had to cultivate mindful awareness at all times of what she was doing and how she was doing it Her life depended on it.

Reading the account of her experiences upon the ice got me thinking about the role of mindfulness in my own life. Happily, I do not live in Antarctica nor do I live under conditions where a lapse in attention or a small mistake could endanger or kill me. This is likely true for most of us. Yet, attentiveness is still an important quality to cultivate. Mindful awareness can certainly be a positive force in my life and in my relationships with my world.

Mindfulness is a hot topic these days. Schools are offering classes in it. Books about it proliferate. This is all to the good. I am grateful for anything that contributes to us being more aware and present in our lives, especially in this era of ubiquitous screens to divert and capture our attention from the real world around us.

At the same time, I admit to feeling that part of the current discussion about mindfulness comes up short, like teaching a golfer to keep her eye on the ball but never actually teaching her how to swing the club. For me, there’s a follow-through that often seems missing. Mindfulness, to me, is not simply being aware of what is happening in the immediate environment. Knowing where I am and what’s going on around me is only half the picture, though an important half, to be sure. The other half is discerning how to act towards what’s around me in positive ways, ways that bring benefit to whoever or whatever is in the field of my awareness.

To go back to my friend’s daughter, she didn’t have to be told to be aware that she was on the ice. That knowledge was in her face, so to speak. There wasn’t anything else but ice and snow. What she had to be mindful of was what she did on the ice, how she behaved, the actions she took. It was her relationship to the ice around her that was important, not simply the existence of the ice itself.

Similarly for us, the mindfulness of what we are doing in relationship to our environment in the moment is what is important. Yes, we want and need to be aware of what’s in this environment, the people, the creatures, the plants, the land, the human artifacts and technology, and so forth. But these things are always present in one way or another. They are our ice. What matters is how we relate to them. What matters is what we bring forth from within ourselves to add to or interact with whatever is in our environment.

This is important to me because, to use my friend’s daughter’s experience as a metaphor, we really are all surrounded by and walking on ICE: the Inter-Connectedness of Everything. The results of my actions are not necessarily limited in time and space to what takes place in my immediate environment. The kind act I do for a stranger, even something as simple as a smile or friendly greeting, can create ripples into the world that may make an important difference beyond what I can see. Conversely, the thoughtless act, the moment of indifference, negativity, even meanness, can cause the ICE to fracture. This is when we can fall through into a brokenness that affects us as much as it may affect another.

We all stand on a land we create and maintain together. To be aware of this deeper land of interconnectedness is important. But it’s not sufficient. We need also to be aware of what we do on it, how we interact with and affect each other. It is not simply a mindfulness of being present but of how we are being present to others and to the world. It is an awareness of whether our actions are thoughtful or thoughtless, for both have consequences. Our lives may not be at stake as it was for my friend’s daughter in the environment of Antarctica. But our mindfulness can make a difference as to whether we create and live in a world of wholeness or brokenness.

It is mindfulness of living on ICE.

"Resolutions!? We Don't Need No Resolutions!"

By Karen Johannsen

A few years ago I ran across an article by the goddess guru, Danielle LaPorte, who made the rebellious statement to NOT WRITE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS!!

What? I had been doing that, not very successfully, for years. Danielle went on to say that it was more important to consider how we wanted to feel in the new year. What kind of energy did we want to bring to this new beginning? The suggestion was made that we consider the feelings we most wanted to embody.  She then asked the question, “What do you need to do to feel this way more often?”

Go and do that this year.

My list was fairly simple: I wanted to feel calm, joyful, energetic and enthusiastic. My “doing” list contained the traditional things...meditate to feel calmer, dance more and spend time with my grandchildren to feel joyful, exercise and try to get good sleep to feel more energetic, and surrender my fears so I could touch into my natural state of curiosity and excitement.

In the midst of compiling this list, a most profound insight came from an unexpected source. Reading an article by David Spangler, he told the story of his first car. How he loved that car, and every time he drove it he felt such love and gratitude that it was his. And the car never broke down. It drove like a charm for him. His father, who gave him the car, really didn’t like it, but bought it because it was a good deal. Well, every time his father happened to drive the car something went wrong. David’s 16-year-old mind concurred that the car must respond to whatever energy was directed toward it.

This is not a new revelation. David, especially, has written books about this subtle energy and how we interact with it. But this time I could feel there was something there for me to pay attention to. I began thinking about it in terms of my insomnia and how I went to bed sort of dreading the night. My poor bed! Having to take in all that negative energy!!! So, I began sending it loving thoughts, grateful that I had a bed and that it supported me so well. It didn’t cure my insomnia, but I went to bed feeling lighter, with a sense of appreciation and gratitude rather than apprehension.

Then a few months later another piece by David, from his Borderlands pamphlet, explored in more detail the cooperative energy that we can establish with our own environments. Connecting with his inner allies, David was told:

“It’s important to heighten awareness of the life that surrounds you, not just in nature where you expect it but in the environment you have built and the things you have produced. Connecting with this life in blessing and partnership is increasingly important.

After reading this, I realized that I could expand the concept of loving attention to my home and even the land upon which it stands. I began actively invoking a connection with my living room, my kitchen, all the energies that make up my entire home. As I did this, I could feel the shift in my heart. It opened in a new way. I don’t see beings, like David does, but I began to imagine that I could. I tried to visualize these energies as alive and responsive to my invitation.

It began to resonate with me that everything in my home was sacred and alive, in a certain sense. In a way I felt a sense of deepening responsibility. Now I had to consider that all my feelings, thoughts, words, were having an impact. And what kind of an impact did I want to transmit? What kind of energy did I want to surround myself with?

As I’ve practiced this more and more, I feel the connection more strongly. I walk through my home differently, taking care to acknowledge the beings that I sense are there and appreciating how we uphold and support one another. It is a partnership after all and I feel the blessing in that.

I’ve made a decision that I want to stay in this home as long as it is possible for me. Living in a place that feels filled with love and connection is not a bad way to spend my remaining years.

And my New Year’s non-resolutions? The sense of calm and joy that comes over me when I attune to this energy is with me every day. It gives me energy and helps me surrender to a deeper knowing that I am always held, always supported and never alone.