Monday, 13 August 2012

Chapter 4: The Garden of Healing

Previous Chapters for those new to this blog.

 The Hundredth Monkey Camp was a meditation event in 1995, seeking to find a morphic resonance of healing for the world.

I should like to thank Roger Keenan for permission to reproduce his meditation 'The Garden of Healing' in full below and to refer to him by his real name. There are several more meditations of his to follow, each going deeper and further than the last.  Roger's teaching and great  compassion were of immense influence on me and I am most grateful to him for the experiences to which he introduced me.

Many thanks also to all others who gave permission to use their real names.  All identifiable names are used with permission, others are pseudonyms or first names only.

Waking The Monkey! is an account of events which really happened, and which changed my life.  In due course I intend to publish this as a book, but in the meantime it is more important for people to be able to read it as I complete the formatting, so without further ado...

Chapter Four

The Garden of Healing

Lunch passed quickly.  The morning session had finished at almost exactly 1 o’clock and the workshop groups were scheduled for 2pm.  As the crowd began to thin Ana stood up at the front by the counter and rang her little handbell.  Standing with her was a man who physically bore quite a resemblance to my friend Sean, but somehow had a much different air to him.

 “Can I have your attention please!”  She said in a broad West Country accent.  “I have an announcement of a daily event.  Michael here has offered to do a singing workshop in the afternoons.  Over to you, Michael.”

He stepped forward, shyly.

“Yes.  If anyone is interested I will happy to lead a workshop of Taizé chant every afternoon at 4 o’clock for an hour or so.  Some of you may know of the Taizé pilgrimage in France, the chants they have are marvellous devotional pieces and I would love to be able to share my knowledge and practice of these with the camps.  If all goes well perhaps we can do a performance of what we have learnt at the end of the week.  Meet me by the altar in the central space.  Thankyou.”

“Thankyou very much Michael.  I’ll put it on the whiteboard as a regular scheduled daily event.”

I had had some exposure to the Taizé chants in the late eighties when I had gone through my mystical Christian phase, visiting Durham and staying with a friend who had introduced me to tapes she had picked up when she had gone to the event herself.  They had a gentle and reverential feel, humble and devotional.  It felt appropriate that they should be practiced here where all spiritual traditions and teachings were honoured.  I no longer defined myself specifically as Christian, having on the one hand felt reservations about doctrines over sexuality, and other authoritarian dogma, although I had been overjoyed at the change of policy in the Church of England to begin the Ordination of women; on the other I had opened up to so many new ideas in terms of cosmic reality that conventional Church Christianity seemed unable to contain all that was.  However, I still held a deep respect for the core teachings of the Master Jesus, as he was known in the quasi-spiritualist White Eagle Lodge where I had spent some time over the intervening years and which had helped me bridge the divide that seemed to separate exoteric religion from esoteric spirituality.

“We’ll be meeting in the meditation circle in ten minutes to sort out the afternoon workshops, don’t be late!”  Ana reminded us before she left the focal point of our attention, and we all bustled to make ourselves ready.

Assembling in the Allting space I returned to where I had sat in the morning.

Palden introduced the group leaders who would share their skills with us.  There were five groups;  two devoted to channelling, one as a theatre workshop, one given to working with the Shadow, and another about different world groups, races and cultures.  All but the woman doing the cultural diversity workshop were European, she was of mixed African ancestry.  One of the channellers was a woman with short red hair perhaps in her late thirties, and the other unsurprisingly was the suntanned man with the baseball cap, Roger.  The man who was offering work on the Shadow was named John-Paul.  He was a thick set man of about forty something, balding, with dark hair and a moustache.  I recalled that in the advance literature he had been described as an honorary member of a Native American tribe who had been initiated to their Pipe of Peace.

Perhaps it was this, or my interest in the Shadow from Jungian psychology which attracted me to working in his group.  Theatre did not really interest me, and I still had reservations about channelling, although I was intrigued by it.  I found myself hoping that my pull from the hat would have John-Paul’s name on it.

The hat came round the circle and pulling out a scrap of paper I found the name ‘Roger’ on it.  This was a dilemma about which I would soon have to make a decision, but what?

Once the hat had been passed to all concerned the group leaders waited as those present got up and moved to associate themselves with whom they had chosen.  In the resulting mêlée I went to the group which was gathering around the bearded man and, doing nothing, waited to see if there was anything about him or what he might say that would be sufficient to divert me from the suggested path which the Universe had put up before me.

It was like throwing the I Ching.  How shall one interpret what has been given?  Should I slavishly follow a mere chance when I perhaps would have chosen otherwise, or was it a sign saying ‘This way to find out more’?

I dithered for a minute or two; the group around John-Paul was still coalescing, milling about before it found its form or definition.  Looking across to the opposing side of the space beyond the pole and altar I saw Roger’s group sitting down in a circle with him.  Already prospective members were assembling, engaging in conversation.

The larger bearded man’s coterie seemed to have yet to develop a focus, while the slighter moustachioed leader across the way already had the appearance of a group ready to start.  I saw my old friend Sean was sitting with them.

I felt that the Shadow group was not forming.  I had come to participate, not to hang around waiting for someone to make their move.  So I made mine.

I left the vaguely milling crowd assembled around John-Paul and stepped over to join the equally untried group settling down with Roger, simply because I liked his vibe better.

Quantum theorists tell us it may be that for every choice we make, two divergent universes are created, one for what we chose, and one for what we didn’t, but might have done.  I followed my intuition and created a reality which I had chosen on the suggestion of the Universe;  what the alternative might have resulted in I cannot say.

Roger sat in his director’s chair with eleven others about him.  His pale blue eyes shone out piercingly from his nut brown face.  His moustache was flecked with grey, as was the hair at his temples.  He was a little older than the shadow worker from whom I had resiled, perhaps in his early fifties.  There was a twinkle in his eyes and a keen attention as he leaned forward, showing his interest in a question which had been put to him.

“Yes, we all have guides which we can channel.  It is not a special gift, but it is necessary to be empowered and to focus your energies.  Before the week is out you will all have had the opportunity to work with your guides and develop your own pathways of progression.”  His voice was deep and rich with a hint of an Australian accent.  He exuded confidence.  Not in any bombastic way, but quietly from an inner place that let one feel that there was so much more to know.  He did not seek to convince or persuade about channelling, simply to inform.  I felt instantly that he would not be a leader who shirked on their role, but one who would share what he had come to bring.

The other groups had constituted themselves now.  A couple of  them had already left for the privacy of the domes littered about the site; the remaining ones were picking up the stragglers.  John-Paul’s band was the last to achieve critical mass and leave.

Roger looked around at the marquee, empty but for our circle and remarked: “We could work in here rather than a dome if people would like.  The energies from the meditations and Allting give a powerful background ambience which would assist our work if we remained here.”

There was no dissent to the idea so we remained.  We were in the southern quadrant of the circle, and Roger sat in the Eastern side of our sub-circle.

“Before we begin our work, we can introduce ourselves so we can get to know each other.  As you probably know I am Roger and I will be giving you an experience of inner work and channelling this week.”

Moving anti-clockwise around the circle the members introduced themselves.

Brenda, a demure woman with short dark hair and a dark blue cape reminiscent of my days in nursing, had the air of someone who was older than their appearance.  She bore a slight resemblance to Audrey Hepburn.  Next to her, Mary, a petite silver haired woman.  Nick, a tall dark haired man with glasses and a goatee beard showing the first touches of grey.  There was a humour in his eyes which belied his Saturnine countenance.  Rob, nearly as tall, clean shaven and strongly built.  Suzanna, an attractive younger woman with dark blonde hair.  Linda, with perfect skin and bare legs, reclining on a wooden sit-upon.  A bespectacled woman called Paula, of slender figure, long curly hair and smiling countenance.  A ginger haired Swedish woman who introduced herself as Bridgette.  She had a serious air, but a youthful and almost childlike appearance, although I could discern no sign of her age.  My friend from the past, Sean, medium build but showing the first indication of becoming a little more thick set as middle age began to encroach, sat on an aluminium framed deckchair.  I was next, in my Grateful Dead Afghan jacket, light blue leggings and Doc Marten’s boots.  A pale and shy young woman, another Swede, identified herself as Anneka.  Lastly a diminutive young Malaysian woman named Kwan sat on the grass next to Roger.  Other than Kwan we were all Caucasian.  Roger resumed his introduction.

“I was for twenty years a lecturer in Drama studies until a heart attack forced me into early retirement.  I had had M.E. but still tried to keep on working until my heart attack which took me to the brink of death before I was ready to work with the path which the Universe had put before me.

“I had been practising as a medium at a spiritualist church for a while before this, and upon my recovery I was invited to a small group in this capacity.  No-one there was more surprised than myself when a new guide burst out.  I was a little alarmed, but he simply wanted to come through, so I let him, and he introduced himself as At-Hlan, Warrior Priest of Atlantis, speaking in a powerful voice I had not experienced before.  The circle felt that they were not ready to work with these energies, but in time a group formed which did, and so we have got to know At-Hlan and what his message is for us.  A psychic artist who is in our circle has drawn a picture of him; he is about seven feet tall, with long blonde hair, and a circlet of gold about his brow set with an amethyst.

“Later in the week, when we have built the energies and the vibrations are ready, At-Hlan will channel through me for you and answer your questions.  If we are really fortunate, his friend Azgar may pay us a visit.  He is a lovely being from Sirius who is full of humour and always makes us laugh back in my home circle.  It’s rather embarrassing for me as he talks in a high pitched voice, utterly different from At-Hlan, and he’s a big fan of Zebedee from the Magic Roundabout!

“We shall also do some star-journeying if we can build enough energy by the end of the week.  Before that we shall tune ourselves up and raise our own personal vibrations by working with the energy centres and going on some inner journeys, astral travelling some call it, which we shall begin today.

“So without further ado, if everyone is prepared, let us close our eyes and focus on opening the energy centres.”

We sat, eyes closed and in silence for a few seconds as we stilled ourselves for our beginning on this new path.

Roger began to speak, his voice taking on a texture even richer than before, dark and as brown as Guinness.

“We reach out with our hearts and our minds to the Universe, to our guides and all beings of unconditional love in the network of light, that we may progress on our own paths and also assist in the development and growth of all other beings.  May we assist and become guides ourselves for others.”

He had the composure and measured pace of a practised orator.

“Let us now open the energy centres.

“At the base of the spine, Red, ruled by Mars, full of strength, opening out like the petals of a flower.

“The spleen, Orange, ruled by Jupiter, full of a generous energy.

“At the Solar Plexus, Yellow, ruled by Saturn, focused and defined.

“The Heart Centre, Green, ruled by Venus, full of harmony, balance and unconditional love.

“At the Throat Centre, Blue, ruled by Mercury, full of the energy of communication.

“At the Brow Centre, Indigo, ruled by Neptune, the Third Eye.

“At the Crown Centre, Violet, ruled by Uranus, the Cosmic Plane of Existence.

“You are on a hillside in a Northern pine forest.  The air is filled with the freshness of the scent of the trees.  In the distant valley below a river rushes.  The sunlight is bright and clear.  In a small clearing there is a log cabin.  You approach and enter.  Inside are several couches on which recline three others.  You sense that they are here to receive healing, and lie down on one of the remaining beds.  The room is sparse and clean.  Through the window you can see the Scandinavian forest before you shut your eyes and open yourself to the healing energies.

“Now you find you are in a narrow country lane, with high hedges on each side.  On the left are pink and purple foxgloves, on the right daffodils.  It is a warm sunny day.  The air is filled with birdsong and the scent of wild flowers.  You step forward on the path and shortly you see an old wall ahead of you, with a heavy wooden door set in it.  Beside this there may stand a guide, perhaps someone you know, someone you have heard of, or a stranger.  You exchange a greeting, and opening the door you step through.  Perhaps the guide will accompany you.

“Inside you find a garden, protected and hidden by the wall.  There are flowers of all the seasons, shrubs and fragrant herbs.  Insects hover and flit about the blossoms.  You follow a stone laid footpath to the centre, where there is a paved sunken circular area, in the midst of which a fountain rises from a pool with floating lily pads, and you sit on the bench which is before it.  A rainbow glows in the sparkling mist.  All is peaceful, in tranquil harmony.  You feel at one with all that is.

“Finding that perfect stillness, you could stay here forever, but recall someone you have to see, and so getting up you leave this place.  With a last glance about you pass through the door, closing the latch behind you.  Bidding farewell to your guide you return down the path on which you first came, with daffodils on your left and foxgloves on your right.

“Passing the spot where you began, shortly you arrive at a small road which crosses the lane.  On the other side, set back a little is a rustic old house or cottage.  You walk across to it, up the garden path and knock on the door or pull the chain to sound the bell.

“The door opens and you are met by a dear old friend whom you have not seen in years.  They invite you in and you sit in the parlour by a fire glowing in the grate.

“Your friend or friends bring you scones and tea, and a little gift which they place in the palm of your hand.  You feel the warm glow of their love and know that they have not forgot you.  You exchange news, time passes and you know that it is now for you to leave.

“Getting up you part from your friends with a warm hug, and they see you to the door, where they wave farewell.  You pass across the wider lane and walk up the narrow track where you began, with foxgloves to the left, and daffodils to the right.

“Now, in your own time you can return from that place of beauty to this, retaining the memory of all that you have experienced.  You have left, but you may return whenever you choose, for this place is with you, within your heart.”

These were the words he spoke, but the manner in which he spoke them was as important, perhaps even more so.  Every word, every syllable was pregnant with meaning.  The cadence of his speech drew one on, little pauses followed by careful emphasis gave added depth of meaning, and the round richness of the storyteller’s voice gave the feeling of security which a father reading a bedtime tale imparts to his children, the rhythms lapping on our ears like gentle waves on the beach.

As I traversed this pathway in my mind I had gone inwards to a place of feeling that was both familiar and yet long sought after; walking down the lane banked with hedges and flowers had been like dimly awakening, glimpsing a dream or childhood memory all but forgotten in the bustle of present cares.

In the garden this awareness had grown, widened and enriched by the visualization of a place which was so much more than simple imagination. An inner peace glowed as pain, grief and the burden of my long illness fell from me. The weight of years was lifted from my heart and doubts as to my path evaporated.  No vision of the future presented itself, no firm statement of what paths may lie ahead, only the feeling, the inner knowing of my existence, my soul as a spark of divine consciousness and energy was revealed to my mind.  It was as if most of my life I had spent in a darkened room, disbelieving the fragments of light which occasionally found their way in through the chinks in the curtains; but now those curtains had been drawn back, and the spectacle of day was delivered, fulfilling a promise long forgotten or mistrusted.

And this had not been all.  Going back down the road again to visit the old friends I had found myself greeted by a couple I had known at University in the ’70’s and who had emigrated to New Zealand about ten years before.  They had been like a family to me, welcoming and caring for me when I had been lonely and in despair.  Meeting them again in my mind and in my heart, I reached the culmination of this journey which had begun with the feeling of awakening, and progressed through the knowledge of my own soul.  Physically my heart ached, and cracking open it set free something that had lain inside for many years, a pain, a longing, a joyful feeling of release.  What had remained locked inside for so long was free to be known, and tears flowed down my cheeks.  I no longer felt alone, isolated or separated from myself or the greater spirit.

Roger looked round the group, meeting each of us in turn with his eyes, ascertaining we were fully back.  Smiling he gently spoke.

“Now if anyone would like to share their experience with the group?”

Several of our number were clearly of a mind to do so, and so he dotted around the circle, like a mechanic tightening wheelnuts in butterfly order.

Not all had experienced the deep immersion of the inner world that I had had, but there were a wealth of images and symbols which arose nonetheless.  Several reports came back of particular flowers or plants that had been encountered in the garden.

“Lavender: this represents cleansing and freshness, not only in the material sense, but psychically and spiritually also.  The essential vibration which we understand through its scent works at many different levels.  It helps us to focus on our inner being by cutting through the accretions we build up around ourselves and stimulating our core soul vibrations.

“Snowdrops: these are both humility and loyalty.  This unassuming but beautiful plant flowers in the late winter, braving the hardships of cold to bring us its companionship.  It is also hope, as it carries with it the promise of spring.”

Our guide appeared to be blending aspects of homoeopathy with techniques I was already familiar with in Art Therapy.  The guided fantasy, as I knew it, was one of my preferred methods in group workshops.  A journey or series of symbols with archetypal resonances would stimulate unique responses in each person who experienced them, depending on their own personal histories or material.

The homoeopathic element came from the spirits of flowers and plants as in Bach flower remedies.

As an Art Therapist I had not specifically worked with flower symbolism, but found it fascinating.  My own work had been mostly in mental health day centres with people who were in crisis or had long term problems.  I had always felt that encouraging them to explore symbols which came up from their own lives was important, as was their response to mythological archetypes.  Flowers, primarily the rose, had arisen from time to time, but I had always tried to avoid too fixed an interpretation of such emergent imagery.

So I found myself in an unusual and challenging position.  The meditation itself had been a depth experience previously unparalleled in my experience.  Roger had led us masterfully through this microcosm.  But it was contrary to the method of therapy I held to: due to the possibility of projection of the therapist’s own material onto the interpretation of whatever symbols arose, it was generally considered poor practice to offer interpretation to clients.  The degree to which one might attempt to lead them to one’s perceived interpretation is a moot issue, but no Jungian would I believe ever insist on imposing an interpretation in the way that a Freudian might.

But I was not leading this group.  I decided that discretion might be the better part of valour as Roger obviously had a practised skill with his technique  My own experience thus far had been positive, and he was clearly a long way from Freud, who had refused to acknowledge spirituality, a fact which had led to Jung’s rejection of his ‘fatherly’ authority and the subsequent quest for a deeper meaning in human existence.

Most of those for whom interpretations were offered accepted them with looks and noises that suggested they found the contribution helpful.  We certainly did not have the time to explore the feelings and personal responses to what each of us had gone through in turn.  Roger’s approach was somewhat upbeat in contrast to the meditation, creating a certain momentum to the proceedings.

To one of our number he offered a meaning which was not fully understood.

“You have an obstacle to overcome which you have put there yourself and which only you can remove.  Not in the sense that all obstacles have been chosen by you in your soul being for the greater path of your development; but rather in that it is an obstacle which you do not need to overcome, as it represents a lesson which you have already assimilated from past lives.”

“What do you mean?” asked the recipient of this sagacity.

“You are a greater being than you allow yourself credit for.”  I wondered if this referred to unnecessary self doubt; I myself had often held back from daring things only to find later that I had missed a genuine opportunity and that I should have had more trust in my own sense of self worth.

To this there was no reply but a quizzical look.

My own turn came.  Roger raised an eyebrow.  “Claire, is it?”

“In the garden I was especially taken with the fountain and its rainbow mist.  By the time of parting from my old friends I was overwhelmed with emotion.  It was a very powerful experience.”

“The rainbow is diversity.  You have a wide range of interests.”  He was right there.  “Do not let them draw you away from your centre, even though they are an essential part of the expression of your being.  You have followed a path on which there has been much limitation, but you are now entering a phase in which you will find greater freedom. Choice is opening up for you not only because that is the nature of the time now and of your path but also because you have chosen to be here.  You did not accept the path which the Universe offered you blindly, but you questioned it and considered the alternatives before you chose.  Because of this the benefits of your path will be that much greater.”

“Do you mean about nearly choosing the other group?”  I could see meaning here not only with the choice I had so recently made, but also a major life decision I had once made over which I had first spent years agonizing.

“It is good because you don’t need to explore the Shadow, you don’t need it, you’ve seen enough of that before.”  There was truth in there.  I was still curious about what the group on the Shadow might do but I was glad to have found my way here if these were the sort of meditations which would be done by this circle.

“I can see you’re still testing! Its good.  It means nothing if you can’t test it all.”

To close the session Roger brought us back to focus.

“Let us thank our guides and the universe for aiding us in our paths of progress as we close down our link.  We send them thoughts of unconditional love and look forward to the next time we may make our connection with them.”

He talked us back down through the energy centres, or Chakras as I realized they were.  Violet, Uranus at the crown, Indigo, Neptune at the brow, Blue, Mercury at the throat, Green, Venus at the heart, Yellow, Saturn at the Solar Plexus, Orange, Jupiter at the spleen and Red, Mars at the base of the spine.  I added a touch from my experiences meditating with the White Eagle Lodge, and sealed each chakra with an equilateral cross inside a circle, the traditional symbol for Earth.

As we closed ourselves down and felt the ground beneath our feet I felt that I was coming out of a dream like state; the talking in and out of the Chakras not only relating to what they were in our bodies, but also as some kind of hypnotic device to take us deeper into trance, like penetrating the layers of an onion, in order to better contact the vital centre of our inner world.

I sensed that we had only begun to scratch the surface of where such an adept technique might take us within ourselves.

There were smiles all round, and we stepped out slowly into the late afternoon sunshine.

©  Claire Rae Randall 2012

I apologise for the inconsistent formatting between chapters!  I have spent hours trying to make them consistent, but however much I try to control the indents and paragraph breaks, they refuse to come out as I would like!  So please forgive this and I hope it doesn't spoil your reading.  I shall try again later, but it is probably more important to put the next chapter up rather than spend too much time on re-editing this one again (and again, and again.....)

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