THE STAR FAMILY by Theresa Crater


 An Interview with Theresa Crater

Theresa and I are both members of the Visionary Fiction Alliance and that’s where I became aware of her work. A short blurb introducing her novel, called The Star Family, convinced me I had to read her book. Who could resist this?

A secret spiritual group. A recurring dream. A 400-year-old ritual that must be completed before it is too late. Jane Frey inherits a Gothic mansion filled with unexpected treasures. A prophecy claims it hides an important artifact – the key to an energy grid laid down by the Founding Fathers themselves. Whoever controls this grid controls the very centers of world power. Except Jane has no idea what they’re looking for.

I couldn’t resist. Immediately, I was drawn into the mystery. Jane Frey was raised in the Moravian tradition, one of the oldest Protestant denominations dating back to the 15th Century. But she knows precious little about their history or esoteric beliefs. I welcomed the opportunity to learn about this group right along with Jane. We also encountered Masons, sacred geometry, Tantric sex, and an exploration of Prague (medieval headquarters to all things alchemical). Yum! Theresa’s novel is original and fast moving. Join me as I delight in talking with her about her novel.

Welcome Theresa! Thanks for spending some time today talking about your book.


Can you talk a little about what inspired you to write this book? I know you have Moravian roots.

I was at the International New Age Trade Show with my partner Stephen Mehler, who was going to be videoed about his new book, and I saw a book called William Blake’s Sexual Path to Spiritual Vision. I love Blake and who wouldn’t pick up a title like that? On the first page it said that Blake’s mother had been a Moravian. On top of that, it said that she was a member during the 1740s when the group was teaching metaphysics and sacred sexuality. They were connected to the Rosicrucians. The Templars had a metal forge in the very alleyway they were located in. All my metaphysical sensor alarms went off. I was stunned. I was raised Moravian and had never heard of such a thing. I could just imagine my grandfather’s reaction! Why was I never told about all this? I had to research it further.

In what ways are you like your main character, Jane Frey? How are you different?

 Jane and I were both raised Moravians in Winston-Salem, NC. I used my family tree to fill out names in the book, plus famous Moravians. She’s named after my grandmother and great grandmother. We both studied music, but ended up doing different things. We were both somewhat disillusioned older women. (I was warned not to have an older protagonist, but women in their 50s and 60s buy tons of books. We deserve a face in a book.) Jane and I both have a spiritual bent.

But Jane is good at math and went into finance. I became a meditation teacher, then ran out of money and got an advanced degree in literature. I now teach English at the college level and meditation occasionally. Jane fell in love with her high school sweetheart, a romance cliché I indulged in for the novel. She also moved back home. I still live in Colorado.

There are elements of the story that involve the idea of fate. How do you view fate operating (or not operating) in our lives?

I believe we come into each life with a purpose. We’re here to learn something, do something, and most importantly, embody full consciousness—as much as we can. The universe is alive and interacts with us constantly to give us feedback and help us stay on course. That is fate, messages sent to us from Universal Mind through the world around us and inside us, too—that small, quiet voice of our intuition. But if we get off course or don’t accomplish our mission, the universe doesn’t hold it against us. God, if you will, doesn’t judge. God is besotted with us and all of creation. Since we are not really separated from Universal Mind, there is really no problem. That’s hard to remember when we experience the difficulties of this world, but this is a spiritual training ground, like the Temperance card in Tarot.

John Hus

John Hus

I found the Moravian belief system fascinating. Could you briefly outline how their ideas differed from other Protestant groups?

 The Moravians were the first Protestant group, one hundred years before Luther. We came from John Hus (1369-1415), a Catholic priest who criticized the corruption in the church of his day. He was against selling indulgences, denying the laity the ability to drink from the chalice during communion, among other things. He preached in Czech, not Latin, in Prague. After his martyrdom, a movement continued his teachings and that grew into the Moravian Church.

Comenius was a bishop of the church, and he went to college with Johann Valentin Andreae, who wrote the Rosicrucian manifestos of 1616. You can see I used Andreae’s name in the book. My master mystic is Valentin. So the Moravian Church was deeply connected to that metaphysical revival. This group tried to get the Holy Roman Emperor out of Prague and replace him with a Rosicrucian leader. This was the Frederick V from what is now Germany who married the King of England’s daughter, Elizabeth. They were going to found an ideal society, but he is called the Winter King because the Thirty Years War began immediately and he was overthrown.

Comenius also advocated for universal education—boys and girls. He didn’t think memorization was a good way to learn and thought play was important. No harsh punishments of children.

These days, Moravians are ordinary Protestants for the most part. In the 1740s, Count Zinzendorf’s teachings had a much more metaphysical bent. What I found most fascinating was his teaching that the body has been redeemed, that there is no sexual shame, and that sex was not only for procreation, but could be used as a meditation almost. These sound so ordinary today, but I think we still suffer from body shame. Zinzendorf was a visionary. I realized that I could have had a thorough metaphysical education without leaving home if the church hadn’t repressed these teachings.

One thing that I really love is our motto: “In essentials unity. In nonessentials liberty. In all things love.” We don’t believe in forcing our beliefs on people, but in dialogue. That’s why the Moravians were the most successful missionaries, not that I really approve of missionaries. We were also pacifists up until the twentieth century.

All the history in The Star Family is based on fact. I have speculated, but from solid information. All of what happens in this novel is within the realm of possibilities. Except perhaps the ending, but even that—who can say?



What was the most fascinating part of the research you must have undertaken to produce the book? Did you travel to any of the locales Jane visits in the book?

The whole thing captured my heart and mind. I discovered that a Moravian minister had written his dissertation about this time period and Zinzendorf’s teachings. He has inspired others to research it and write about it. I was so nervous writing to a minister of our church. My memories of it were the 1950s when things were quite straight-laced. Earlier, my grandfather would pinch my father if he moved around too much in church. To discover we were so cool and ahead of our times really flipped my switch, so to speak.

Then Stephen and I traveled to Prague to view the Moravian roots, and then on to Herrnhut, Germany, where the church was reestablishing on Count Zinzendorf’s estate after the Thirty Years War scattered everyone to the four winds. To go to a place I’d heard about all my life, to walk through their God’s Acre, which is the graveyard, and see names I recognized from my family tree, was marvelous.

The idea of vibration, especially in the form of music, plays a crucial role in Jane’s story. To write those scenes, I imagined you had to have some musical training and a love for music. Is that the case?

The Moravians are quite musical, so I grew up with brass bands and the choir, plus lots of singing in church. Our hymns are unusual with lots of harmonies that I think create a vibratory field that creates peace and raises consciousness. The first time I transcended was listening to Bach. I sang in the children’s and adult choir. Every Easter Sunday, the brass band played at the street corner to wake up the Moravians to come to the Easter Sunrise Service. Brass bands play at many occasions. I was a music major for one semester, but theory was my downfall, so I switched majors. But I did go to college with a person who became a prominent sound healer.

Everything is vibration. Correct and purify the vibratory frequency, and you have harmony and healing. Sound is a good way to meditation. In my meditation training, the mantra was a sound, not a word with meaning. We followed the sound until it disappeared into the Transcendent.

As a writer of visionary fiction, what do you hope readers gain through your work?

 A deeper understanding of spirituality and spiritual teachings. I hope that they see their own experience reflected on the page and they’ll go, “Yes, I know that. I’ve felt that. So it’s real.”

Moravian stars

Moravian stars

What’s you next project?

I’m working on two books right now. One continues the Power Places series and returns to Egypt. I based it on an event that happened a couple of years ago. Some people were digging for artifacts under their house that borders the Giza Plateau and their house collapsed on them. My main character is called to investigate, and of course gets into all kinds of trouble. The first book in the series was also set in Egypt—Under the Stone Paw. Anne Le Clair inherits a crystal that turns out to be one of six keys to the Hall of Records. In the second book, the same aunt has left her a house in Glastonbury that backs up to the Tor—a doorway to faeryland no less. This book is also set in Atlantis—the two story lines intertwine.

I’m also finishing a book I started long ago. This one is women’s fiction exploring three characters who face the challenges of being female and mixed-race in the South from the 1890s to the 1970s. The daughter gets exorcised because she can see spirits.

Thanks for asking me to join you. It’s been a pleasure.

Visit her at

Twitter:  @theresacrater

Facebook:  Author page

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Sir Robert Ottley, Royalist

Sir Robert Ottley, Royalist

 Continuing with JH Brennan’s, Whisperings: The Secret History of the Spirit World, I wanted to mention the research conducted by Dr. A.R. G. Owen a few years after Bacheldor’s work. A Canadian research group led by Owen wondered if they could create a ghost.

Working a lot like fictional writers, the group created “Philip” and gave him a whole history. Philip had been a Cavalier officer during the English Civil War and had resided at Diddington Hall (a real place). The story of his life was a fabrication and went like this. Although Philip was married, he had an affair with a gypsy girl which had enraged his wife. The wife managed to have the girl denounced as a witch and burned. So distraught was Philip that he threw himself off the battlements of the hall committing suicide. Poor Philip!

Diddington Hall. Photo: John Evans

Diddington Hall. Photo: John Evans

The group held séances for a year trying to contact the Cavalier with no luck. I think it’s pretty amazing they’d keep at it that long with no result. One of the group eventually read Bacheldor’s work and wondered if a lighthearted atmosphere might make a difference. Giving it the old college try, they sang and told jokes, and oddly enough, after a few more séances, things started to happen. They heard their first rap and the table slid across the floor. Success at last! Encouraged, someone asked if Philip was doing it and was answered back with a loud rap. Having contacted the entity, the group used the one knock for yes and two for no method, to go on to communicate with Philip. Phillip affirmed the basic facts of his fictional life story and went on to reveal additional details the group had not created. The séances also produced various physical phenomena. The most spectacular was recorded for a television program. A table climbed a set of steps joining the panelists being interviewed.

Battle of Marston Moor, 1644

Battle of Marston Moor, 1644

I’ll leave you to ponder the significance of the Philip research. As a fiction author, I’m already concocting plots about how the other side conspires to have a good laugh at Owen and the other sitters.


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Time to Get Your Halloween On


JH Brennan’s, Whisperers: The Secret History of the Spirit World explores the powerful undercurrents flowing just beneath the surface of the history we’re taught in school. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, spirits, or faeries, is immaterial (pun intended). The fact that various phenomena have been occurring throughout pre-history right up until today is undeniable. Brennan doesn’t set out to prove the existence of ghosts as disembodied, earth-bound entities but rather he examines the effect they may have played on history.

It’s a fascinating book with lots of little surprises. I read the last two sections first and went back to the older histories later. While I love a good ghost story (and Brennan does share two personal experiences), it was some of the research into the phenomena that caught my attention.


There have been many theories put forth to explain all manner of ghostly happenings, but none seem to fully explain everything. Indeed, although we tend to lump everything under the vast heading of the paranormal (or PSI), different phenomena may be different things entirely.

Brennan cites two studies which are fascinating. I’m going to outline the first one here and then take on the second in a follow-on piece.

In 1966, Kenneth Batcheldor (a UK psychologist) published findings in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research concerning the levitation of tables. Recall from the Victorian era, the spiritualism craze which involved spirit contact and various physical manifestations including rappings, materializations, levitation, etc.


In 1964, Batcheldor conducted a series of 200 séances with a small group of sitters. In 120 of the sessions, no phenomena were observed but in 80 of them (40%), physical phenomena was seen. While table movement early in the trials could possibly be dismissed by involuntary muscle movement, by the 11th session, Batcheldor watched as a table rose and floated in the air. At this point he couldn’t rule out fraudulent means so he worked with an engineer to tighten his experimental controls. Once the controls were in place, the phenomena stopped- but over time, the phenomena returned. This was a pattern Batcheldor saw over and over again. Introduced slowly, the sitters appeared to acclimate to the controls and the happenings would start anew. Astonishingly enough, Batcheldor observed not only table movement and levitation, but a whole range of spirit phenomena reported by Victorian spiritualists and witnesses. Amongst the phenomena observed were rapping sounds, breezes, lights, the feeling of being touched, movement of objects including the pulling back of chairs, apports, and holding the table to the floor so it couldn’t be lifted.


The experiments seem to indicate people have the ability, through unconscious means, to produce a variety of physical phenomena. While it doesn’t definitively rule out spirit action, it does point toward interesting avenues for further research. Batcheldor theorized that early movement of the table due to muscle contractions conditioned sitters to expect phenomena and opened them up to actually producing it. This is something later PSI researchers discovered when examining other kinds of phenomena in a lab setting. Belief makes a difference, and in Batcheldor’s case, seeing the phenomena may have led to its manifestation. So here we learn nothing really about spirits, but it does indicate how little we (or science) know about the mind.

The book on Amazon:


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Originally posted on ELLIS NELSON BOOKS:

It’s contest time! Leave a comment below and be entered to win a copy of the electronic version of Elephants Never Forgotten. Contest closes at noon on Wednesday. Two books will be awarded on Thursday, October 8th. As a theme, tell me something about elephants. I’ll start us off with how the idea for the book came into being.

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Counting Down the Last Day

elephants never forgotten 2

Last day to join my Thunderclap!

Oct. 2, 2015: Thanks to everyone who helped make my Thunderclap campaign a success. With your generosity our combined social outreach was over 200,000! I could never have done that on my own. Thanks again!


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With Pope Francis visiting the US, it’s time again to reflect on his namesake. This is a reblogged post, so some might remember it.

St. Francis, 13th Century

St. Francis, 13th Century

A couple of years ago I listened to one of those Great Courses lectures on St. Francis of Assisi. I patiently waited through all the talk about his early beginnings, his military experience, his illness, his rejection of society, and his eventual creation of a new order. Most of it was dry and rather matter-of-fact. Where was the meat? Where was the mystical Francis I’d heard about? Where were the stories, the hagiography, that made Francis one of the most loved and recognized saints of all time? I walked away from the lectures shaking my head in disappointment. It wasn’t until later that my reading caught up with the reality. I had been very naïve believing a history and art professor would ever broach the subject of mystical experience. It wasn’t done; even an academic degreed in comparative religion would shy away from this discussion. How sad because isn’t that what many of us hunger for?

Francis has whispered to me from time to time. A statue in someone’s garden, the visit of the Pope this fall to Assisi, a well-known spiritual teacher planning a workshop there, St. Francis hospital visible from my new house. Then recently, Pope Francis was proclaimed Time’s Man of the Year. Francis is present in ways he hasn’t been in a long time. What can a twelfth century saint have to say to the modern world? Maybe a lot.

St. Francis in Ecstasy Caravaggio, 1594

St. Francis in Ecstasy
Caravaggio, 1594

Let’s dispense with the relevant historical details (and don’t worry it won’t take twelve lectures) to seek out a deeper meaning for Francis in our time. Francis was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernadone around 1181. Born into a wealthy merchant family, he enjoyed all the advantages of his station and even went off to war fighting for Assisi. Some kind of vision compelled him to return home where he subsequently lost his zeal for the kind of life he’d been previously living and he began to reject it. He left his father’s silk business, took to serving the poor and lepers, and gained a following. Francis eventually went on to found the Order of the Friars Minor, the Order of St. Clare, and the Third Order of St. Francis.

It was in San Damiano that Francis had a powerful mystical experience which was to frame his life’s work. While praying before an icon, he had a vision of Jesus who spoke to him and said, “…go and repair My house which, as you can see is falling into ruins.”  Francis’ interpretation resulted in him raising money to repair the physical church he was in. Of course, Francis’ mission was not a literal one and called him instead, to restore the institution of the Church.

Stigmatization of St. Francis Matthias Kargen, 1664

Stigmatization of St. Francis
Matthias Kargen, 1664

Although never ordained, Francis’ calling was manifested in a simple life of poverty emulating the life of Christ. His followers were “To follow the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and walk in his footsteps.” He was devoted to his spiritual practice and at times would withdraw from life to develop it. He had guiding visions throughout his life, was seen levitating, and was the first recorded person to receive the wounds of Christ (stigmata). Francis was a mystic, but he was also a mystic who brought back what he learned and shared it.

St. Francis leads the wolf of Gubbio. HJ Ford, 1912

St. Francis leads the wolf of Gubbio.
HJ Ford, 1912

Two of the most widely known miracles told about Francis involve his ability to work with animals. In the town of Gubbio, a wolf threatened the townsfolk. Francis intervened and made a pact with the wolf. Thereafter, the wolf remained peacefully near the village and the people fed it. The other story concerns an incident where Francis was trying to preach over the noisy chatter of swallows. He asked the birds to be silent and to the amazement of the crowd, they did. That famous story is the reason why Francis statues and art depictions often have a bird. Francis is the patron saint of animals and the environment.

As we draw near to Christmas and many churches display a nativity scene (Francis is credited with creating the first nativity scene), I hope you will remember a simple saint who lived an exemplary life devoted to poverty and service. His mystical connection to the Universe (God, if you prefer) was the powerhouse of his practice.

For More:

Canticle of the Sun:

St. Francis Peace Prayer:

Book: The Life and Prayers of St. Francis




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Only 9 More Needed to Launch Thunderclap

On October 1st, please help me send a one-time message to announce my new book Elephants Never Forgotten. I need just 9 more participants or the campaign won’t launch.  I need you, every one of you. Help!







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Can You Still Be a Post-Materialist?


Some time ago I wrote about post-materialism and it sparked a lot of interest. Some things have changed. My son has graduated and is struggling like most young people today. A generation that grew up believing they could do anything, be anything, is discovering that truth my generation sold them was wildly over-blown. Maybe even a lie. And a good lot of the twenty-somethings did everything we told them to. They went to college, got their degrees, took on debt when necessary, and tumbled full force into the real world. Young people with so much potential and so much to offer are stuck in minimum wage jobs, if they can get those. Many have bounced back home. Never have we seen so many twenty and thirty-somethings living in their parents’ basements. Never!!

This situation has become a topic I return to again and again, and it’s with a very heavy heart. I look at my daughter and son, friends, family, and neighbors where no one in this generation is thriving. Some are doing better than others, but when compared to the opportunity available to my parents and my own generation, it’s obvious it’s a different world. The recession is supposedly over and unemployment low. But we have not gone back to what we were, and sadly, we probably never will.

In the current reality, I think it bears asking is post-materialism valid? Valid only for a few?

Ronald Inglehart developed the idea of post materialism in the 1970s as a sociological theory to explain an ongoing transformation of individual values within a society. He argued that as western nations achieved a level of economic prosperity and physical security, its members transformed their values seeking more autonomy and self-expression. Ah, this sounds a lot like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. As people meet their basic survival requirements, we move up the pyramid until we are striving for self-actualization. Maslow confined his theory to how individuals are transformed and Inglehart wanted to see how societies as a whole might be transformed.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, created by J. Finkelstein, 2006

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, created by J. Finkelstein, 2006

So to be a post materialist, you must first meet your basic survival needs (food, shelter, security). OK, done (for me). But not for young people who are living paycheck to paycheck without benefits.

Once your basic needs are met you move up Maslow’s hierarchy and as you do, you start to realize you’re no happier than when you were struggling. This brings to mind Daniel Gilbert’s book, Stumbling on Happiness. I believe it was in that book I first learned American happiness peaked in the 1950s. BEFORE I WAS BORN! Sixty plus years later, we have higher incomes, higher levels of education, better health care, bigger houses, more cars but we are less happy overall. Remember when we were told (and believed) that he (or she) who has the most toys wins? We played the game, we toed the line, we consumed and bought all the right stuff, we competed with the Joneses, and we became… less happy. Maybe we were even miserable because the promise of happiness slipped away as we had to go looking for a storage shed to rent for all the loot that was supposed to make us positively giddy.

Stumbling on Happiness

We looked around and saw it wasn’t working. We stopped playing the game. We got rid of the excess stuff and looked inside to see what would fill the void. We began to talk about “downsizing”. The value shift from possessing things to experiencing and self- expression took hold.

Inglehart recognized that younger people (raised in economic security) were more likely to identify with the values of post materialism. But older people who were raised with the struggle of material existence may or may not shift out of that paradigm.

So given the current environment, we’ve essentially taken an economically secure generation and thrown them into struggle. We’ve kicked the chair out from underneath them. Inglehart probably didn’t see that coming. Values, I believe can be molded in adversity. I would expect today’s younger people to begin to identify with materialistic thinking because they will struggle to obtain the basics in life. Post-materialism as mainstream probably can’t happen if the majority of younger people haven’t met their basic needs. Post-materialism may now be relegated to a minority, elitist idea. Or, perhaps the younger generation can strike a new path to balance. It remains to be seen.



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Hear the Thunder!

Originally posted on ELLIS NELSON BOOKS:


So, this book was fifteen years in the making. Seems like a long time, right? I need your help to get the word out. Thunderclap is based on the generosity of others to share one tweet, Facebook posting, or Tumblir message.

In Elephants Never Forgotten, we meet Nigella who has just inherited a herd of micro-elephants. Problem is, in this futuristic world, her elephants aren’t like anyone else’s.  Together with her best friend, Kepler, Nigella is caught up in a mystery. What was her grandfather up to before his death and what have her micros to do with the now extinct African elephant? Can Nigella uncover the truth before it’s too late?

On October 1st, please help me send a one-time message to announce this book. I need 100 participants or the campaign won’t launch. Currently, I have only 48. I need you, every one of you. Help!

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WANTED: 100 Kind-Hearted Volunteers

elephants never forgotten 2THE BOOK IS NOW AVAILABLE!

Please help me announce it to the world! Don’t just ‘like’ this posting. Sign up and help me out.

I’m looking for 100 people to help me get the word out about my new book, ELEPHANTS NEVER FORGOTTEN. On October 1 (Thursday) at 6 pm, I have set up a Thunderclap to resonate across the universe. Those who sign up will use their Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr accounts to send a one- time message announcing the release of the book. It’s easy! Sign up on my account page, and Thunderclap does the rest. Can more than 100 people sign up? You bet, but I need at least 100 people or the message doesn’t get sent. Oh- and by the way, the clock’s ticking. There are only 22 days left. Help!




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