(I'm not a musician.) I was taught as a child that I must not 'blow my own trumpet' as in talking about myself – especially not to say anything good about myself. I was also taught that much of what I could say about myself was nonsense and I needn't expect anyone to believe it. If I myself believed it, I must be insane. If not, I was obviously a liar. Telling my story, therefore, became a very confronting task. I am now in my late seventies, as I begin this blog, and it is only a preparation – things I write on the way to writing the memoir. Nevertheless, everything posted here is copyright and must not be reproduced without written permission from the author (usually me).

Monday, 10 October 2016

A Call to Adventure

The wheel turns, the seasons change, the student becomes the teacher till it's time to learn again. – Sussy Moore Mickle

Magical Journey. Prologue

In my life there have been many callings, and I have answered them. Always, they lead to adventures. I enjoy adventures of the mind – for instance the long journeys into poetry, healing and magic – and there are also physical adventures, such as upping stakes and moving to a new home and new lifestyle in my mid-fifties, with a new husband (Andrew) who was already at retirement age.

Why do I say that was a call, more than a happenstance or even a decision? Because it was forecast by various psychics and seers, over several years before it happened, beginning when I was still married to my previous husband, Bill, and had no expectation of ever being married to anyone else. 

In fact some people 'saw' Bill in the picture, or thought they did. I suppose that was because my second and third husbands were somewhat similar in height, breadth and colouring – not if you saw them side by side, but in a general way, so that a quick, vague image of me with Andrew could be mistaken for one of me with Bill, particularly if the person had always known me with Bill and had never seen or heard of Andrew (as I myself had not, then). 

They all assured me the change of residence they foresaw would be for my good. And so it has been. 

'I see you driving alongside the ocean,' said one. 'You turn and face inland, and see a strange-shaped mountain. You will live on a road between two mountains, a place of power.'

'You don't belong here,' said another (meaning Melbourne, where I was living at that time). 'You need to go north-east. That's your home. I see a lot of big black birds flying past the moon. You belong with them.'

Even the I Ching told me I should avoid the south and the west, and go to the north and east. That was a pretty vague location, though.

Our friend Doug, a well-known spiritual healer and clairvoyant from whom Bill and I both had regular treatments, started asking me – was our home on stilts; did we have a big room, like a classroom, or perhaps a dormitory; was our house situated between high hills or mountains?  If not, he thought we should get such a place. At that time we lived in a hamlet called Three Bridges, near Yarra Junction in country Victoria. I told him we did have a house at the bottom of one big hill, looking across to another. It did have a very big room, and it was off the ground on short stilts. 

Doug seemed unsure if that was what he had seen, but anyway he advised that we should be running some kind of spiritual classes, perhaps residential. He had seen what appeared to be a teaching situation in a big classroom, but then he had seen the students on what seemed to be a row of beds, as in a dormitory. In both views, there was a big window behind them. He questioned Bill in particular as to whether that kind of thing was on his agenda. Bill was open to it, he said, though he and everyone else seemed to think it would be more my kind of thing.

Our big room did have big windows, and eventually we started hosting Reiki classes for my friend Ann, who had recently completed her Master (teacher) training. That involved Reiki tables, similar to massage tables, with sheets and pillows, so students could practise what they were learning. Depending where in the room you were standing, the window could be behind them. So I was of course convinced that Doug was describing that house.

A little later, he and his wife Rita had an earnest, private conversation with me, telling me that sometimes, on one's spiritual journey, it was necessary to lose things one already had in order to go further. Doug told me that he himself had lost his relationship with his first wife and their child, along with fame and a high paying career (he'd been a successful Australian pop star).  

He must have been foreseeing that Bill and I would go bankrupt and then divorce, and was trying to prepare me. When that did happen, it was reassuring to remember this conversation, which gave me the context of a spiritual necessity. Or rather, confirmed it for me, as it came down to a choice between continuing in my marriage or continuing my studies to become a Reiki Master – an ultimatum which Bill gave me, not long after I started my training.

This was the man who had initially declared emphatically, 'I support you 100% in your decision to be a Reiki Master!' Only two months later, the volte-face: 'Either you stop your Reiki Master training or the marriage is over.' I was shocked and devastated.

Stunned as I was, I didn't give him an immediate answer. I told him I wanted time to think about it. I guess that should have told both of us how important the Master training was to me.

I phoned my training Master, Ann. I was booked to spend a long weekend in Sydney with Phyllis Lei Furumoto, then the Grand Master of the Reiki Alliance, on her first visit to Australia. She had called for Master candidates to meet and study with her for those three days. It was about to happen. Ann said, 'Defer your decision until after you've done the weekend.'

I arrived at the venue in Sydney and walked into a room of Reiki Master candidates of different genders and ages. I walked into peace, and a collective energy that matched my own. I experienced a beautiful freedom and relief. Here were my sisters and brothers; I was home. In that instant my decision was made. Or rather, there was no decision to make.

I have thought since that perhaps Bill was bluffing, though at the time that didn’t occur to me. If it was so, then I called his bluff without even realising it. I told him I was not prepared to give up my Master training. 

'There have been so many compromises,' I thought but didn't say (because I didn't trust him to even understand). 'So much of me has been gradually whittled away. I'm not giving in on this one.’ And so we parted, painfully. 

To my surprise, quite soon I met Andrew, and we quickly became a couple. (Thank you, Bill!) A little over a year later, I was divorced and re-married. A year after that, soon after Andrew and I left Melbourne, Bill died of a heart attack. But we didn't know or expect that then.

First I had to create a new life, back in Melbourne on my own. I had been there a long time before the move to Three Bridges, but that was with Bill, and when our sons still lived at home. Bill and I had been in a weekly meditation group with some good friends for several years. It was in Melbourne, and we continued to attend after we moved. It wasn't just about relaxation, but had the purpose of contacting 'higher intelligences' for personal and planetary healing. We did contact them, and we learned extraordinary things in that group. After Bill and I split, I stopped going. I thought it would be too hard on all concerned if we both continued to attend. I had my Reiki Master training then, to fulfil my spiritual needs, so I left the meditation group to him.

Soon after moving back to Melbourne I was led to a new meditation group which connected with various guides, and also to the Nature Spirits and the Devic kingdom – for personal and planetary healing! I became one of three core members of that group. After a time (when I was already with Andrew) we three were directed to visit Murwillumbah to do some energy work at Mt Warning.  Some of Judi's family members had a holiday home nearby, where she was able to stay; Raeline was about to take a new job in that part of the world; and I had a friend who had recently moved up there, so I arranged to stay with her.

I thought I might give some psychic readings and/or Reiki treatments while there, to help pay for the trip. I sent some brochures to my friend ahead of time. She phoned me: 'While I've been putting your brochures around town, I keep seeing this ad for a house to rent, and it sounds like you.' She read out the description, and I said, 'Yes, it does sound like me. But Andrew wouldn't want to leave his new job and his new grandson.'

I told him over dinner that night just as a matter of interest, not as a serious plan. But he said, 'It sounds wonderful. At that rent I'd be able to stop work and go on the pension. Ring her back and tell her we're interested.'

Next day my friend phoned again. 'I spoke to the lady, and she said her phone's been running hot – but as soon as she heard you were a Reiki Master, she said she'd hold it for you.'

When I arrived in Murwillumbah and my friend met the bus, she told me, 'Your prospective landlady is your first client for a Tarot reading. I'm taking you there tomorrow morning. She just lives around the corner from me.'

She dropped me off next morning, I walked up the driveway, a woman I'd never met opened the door, we took one look at each other and spontaneously fell into each other's arms. This was not customary behaviour for either of us! I guess we both had a flash of intuitive knowing. I realised later she was the woman my late friend Ridge, magician and clairvoyant, had described to me 10 years previously as someone who would be important in my life. He not only described her physical appearance and approximate age accurately, but also a distinctive piece of jewellery she was wearing. And yes, she has been a dear friend ever since. Of course, she was also important in bringing us to this part of the world.

The reading I gave her made it clear she should not let her property to us for very long. She had bought it impulsively while visiting the area, only a few days previously. She thought of using it as a holiday rental most of the year, and a holiday house for herself and her children occasionally. Instead she decided to wind up her affairs in Sydney and return in 12 weeks to permanently occupy her new home.  I phoned Andrew.

'The property's wonderful, but we can only have it for 12 weeks after all.'

'That's OK, it gives us time to find somewhere else.'

'Er – it's very hot here. I'm not sure how you'd cope.'

'That's OK,' (cheerfully) 'I'll sit in the bath all day!'

He wouldn't be put off. (And I didn't really want him to be.) And so the deal was done. I went back home after finishing the energy assignment with Judi and Raeline, and Andrew and I made arrangements to move.

We drove north from Melbourne to Murwillumbah, taking two days for the journey. On the second day we took a wrong turning, so we ended up coming through Moree in north-west New South Wales and Beaudesert in southern Queensland, and having to then drive back south, alongside the ocean. As we drew nearer and turned to face inland, we saw the towering shape of Mt Warning, aka Wollumbin, with its three distinctive, uneven peaks. 

Our 12 weeks on that first property were a beautiful hiatus, a magical interlude. We had no TV or radio, no internet at that time, and were a little way out of town in beautiful countryside and beautiful weather. However, it wasn't isolated. Our landlady had asked various neighbours to make us welcome, and we were invited to a number of parties just in the first week or so. Also there was my old friend just around the corner. And although we were out of town, we were quite near a little village.

Our landlady was what I would call a shaman, though she didn't label herself. She had created a stone circle near her house, for meditation and ceremony. She asked me to look after the spirit of the land, not only the practical matters. I used the stone circle myself, for ritual and meditation. One night three indigenous elders appeared to me there, in spirit. They seemed to be from an ancient time. They questioned me, and I them. (It was a very profound conversation, and I'll keep the details private.) Eventually they gave their blessing to my custodianship during our landlady's absence.

Knowing we would only be at that place 12 weeks, we had arranged to spend the next three months in nearby Mullumbimby, looking after a market garden whose owners were going overseas for three months. Mutual friends in Melbourne had put us in touch; it seemed like perfect synchronicity. We visited them soon after our arrival, and everything seemed good.

But after only a few weeks, we knew – we had fallen in love with Murwillumbah and its people, and didn't want to go anywhere else. We phoned the couple in Mullumbimby and apologised; then we had to find somewhere else to live. We did the rounds of the estate agents and found nothing suitable, so we put a notice in the village store, saying we wanted somewhere in the surrounding hills.

Meanwhile we had conducted a Reiki I class, using my old friend's house as a venue. (The one where we were living was a bit small for such an event.) To my astonishment, not only locals enrolled but also people came from Sydney and Brisbane! Most of them enrolled in the follow-up Reiki II class a few weeks later. At lunch time on the second day of Reiki II – nicely timed! – there was a phone call: 'I believe you're looking for somewhere to rent.' 

And so it transpired that for the next four years we lived on Pinnacle Road, between Mt Warning and a peak called The Pinnacle. It was a place of power indeed, and very good to us. 

At the end of our road lived two families of Hare Krishna devotees, part of a big Hare Krishna community in this area. They had been looking for a resident Reiki Master to come to Murwillumbah – so when I turned up, they figured I was the answer to their prayers. No doubt I was. For my first two years here, 90% of my Reiki students were devotees. I was designated 'a friend of the devotees', and I am on affectionate terms with many of those students to this day.

The house we rented on Pinnacle Road was on a steeply sloping block. It was placed backwards on the block to take advantage of the spectacular view of the Border Ranges. The entrance, which was really designed as the back door but doing duty as front door, was at ground level. For the rest of the house to remain level, it was propped up on rows of long stilts, lengthening as they descended the slope. When Andrew and I walked in to enquire about renting it, I couldn't conceal my grin as I saw the great big lounge-room with a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. ‘Reiki classes!’ I thought at once. And yes, we did hold many there, which did involve several Reiki tables being set up in a row at certain times, with people lying on sheets and pillows, as if in a dormitory, with those huge windows and stunning view behind them. It became obvious that this was what Doug had foreseen.

Eventually we moved from that house – but not before we had so successfully brought Reiki to Murwillumbah, and to the devotees in particular, that some of my students went on to train as Masters themselves. The time inevitably came when the devotees no longer needed me to teach them, preferring to learn from Masters in their own community. I in turn went on to teach more widely, and although the demand and the class sizes have dwindled over the two decades since then, and by now I have more or less retired, I am still sometimes asked to teach. When I am asked to, I do.

In this area I also came into my own as a psychic reader, working the Sunday markets for many years and making a name for myself locally. Andrew used to work with me in the markets, giving people quick Reiki treatments and Indian Head Massage. This high profile led to my working some years on the psychic lines (phone-lines) mainly for the late Simon Turnbull and his wife Hiromi – good people who ran a very ethical line. Now I am finally retired from both markets and psychic lines, but word of mouth still pertains and people sometimes seek me out for private readings. When they do, I oblige. 

We arrived in November 1994. Andrew died in September 2012. In those years he wrote and published a beautiful children’s book; we started writers’ groups and meditation groups; I taught Creative Writing for local adult education colleges; he did a University course in Professional Writing (with a number of subjects credited because of his previous experience as both a journalist and a film editor); in 1998 we went around the world; I was a guest of the Austin International Poetry Festival, Texas, in 2006; we embraced the internet; we made many new friends here, and kept in contact with the old ones elsewhere too. Even without Andrew, this is a good home for me, a great place to fulfil my goals and dreams.

I love small town living. This is like the Launceston (Tasmania) I grew up in until I was 15, only without the cold climate. I have mountains and river, forests and ocean. I can't go shopping without being greeted by several people I know – usually with hugs. The shop assistants know me by name, too. I'm very glad I didn't stay in Melbourne! I go back now and then to visit family and old friends, which is a joy, but I am always glad to escape the traffic and pollution again.

And what were those black birds flying past the moon? It’s open to interpretation. At night, at certain times of year, the fruit bats fly out in great numbers to raid the trees. They are big and black. I belong with them? Perhaps that was just a way of saying I belong here, where they too live.

But if you think of pictures of black silhouettes flying past the moon, what else comes to mind? How about witches? It was here that I finally understood and accepted that I had always been a witch, from earliest childhood. It was here that, in time, I met a number of others and even ran a coven for a few years. Andrew soon joined me in that spiritual path. It seems obvious, now, that we were both always Pagan; we just didn’t have the label. Yes, witches exist in other places too, but it was something about being here which made it easy to understand it in ourselves and then to find the like-minded, with whom I do indeed belong.

Yet I didn't always answer every call, not immediately – and particularly not the call to magic (including the recognition of my psychic self). There was a long inner journey prior to this fateful move interstate, which I'll tell you in forthcoming posts.