The face of the Dutch girl glared back at her with dark eyes and a mouth twisted in a cruel grimace. From the hall came a sinister laugh.
After a family trip to Amsterdam, 14-year-old Lydia finds herself closer to the past than she could have imagined. During her stay, a bizarre series of events that seem to defy all logic is set in motion. When Lydia’s life is threatened, she is forced to solve a centuries’ old mystery and uncover the truth about Annika, the angry ghost of a little Dutch girl, her story, and how their past and present connect them. Lydia finds herself closer to the past than she has ever been. But what can Lydia possibly do to help someone who died over 400 years ago?
The premier episode of The Mystical Minute. Join Ellis for brief videos on all things mystical or spiritual. The first up is a look at what we know about NDEs (near death experiences) from the book After by Bruce Greyson.
Greyson is a psychiatrist who has been studying near death experiences (NDEs) for decades. He brings his research and a plethora of stories together in this book as he walks the reader through his process of discovery. The stories are fascinating (especially the ones where someone learns about someone’s death during an NDE only to return to life and find out that person has died). If you are familiar with NDEs, he will plow well-known ground for much of the book. You must remember that Greyson took up his work when scientists didn’t even agree on what the term NDE even meant. How far we’ve come!
The book suffers (for me) because he refused to date any of his material apparently thinking that it would make the cases sound old and trivial, but it makes it difficult to get a sense of the whole timeline. There is also a grating repeat of his insistence of his scientific perspective throughout. I get it! You’re an MD and want to be accepted by peers. (You told me that! Move on.) It’s hard not to draw a sharp contrast to the mettle of an Ian Stevenson and the constant lack of confidence Greyson reveals. Enough of my personal pet peeves though. Does the book hold value? Of course, it does.
Greyson tackles some difficult and little covered areas. Most NDE stories are positive with positive outcomes. But there are people who have negative NDEs. There are also the lesser-known downsides to NDEs. These effects and stories are covered in the chapter aptly named, Hard Landings. Grayson would also like to shift the focus of the NDE discussion away from what happens after we die to how NDEs can help people live better, more fulfilling lives. Research suggests just learning about NDEs can help people make meaningful changes in how they live. All good points.
I think this is the kind of book where the take-away message is really going to depend on who YOU are. Are you questioning the reality of NDEs? Then the linear approach of Greyson’s scientific method will appeal and do much to answer your questions. Are you already convinced of the legitimacy of the NDEs? Then, maybe, the stories and the way people are forever changed by these events will speak to you. For me, it’s always been more about what NDEs say about our understanding of reality that makes the phenomena not only intriguing- but important. Lessons from NDE research supports the idea that consciousness does not spring from the brain, but rather that the brain acts as a receiver that filters information. Science has a lot of work to do to figure out how the mind and the brain function to explain all the intricacies experienced in NDEs. These understandings will have far reaching consequences on the whole way we structure our paradigm.
Some points to ponder:
*5% (approx..) of the population has experienced an NDE. (They are COMMON!) 1in 20 Americans have had one- means you probably know someone who has.
*NDEs happen to all genders, ages, religions, ethnic groups.
*Most experiencers are convinced some part of us continues after death.
*Studies of the brain, reveal that memories of NDEs look like memories of real events (NOT like how the brain remembers fantasies or imagined events).
* NDEs REDUCE the fear of death (overwhelmingly!!) regardless, if the NDE was positive or negative. It also reduces the fear of living allowing more risk taking and enjoyment of life.
*Experiencers who see those who have died when no one knew they had died, may suggest a form of continued consciousness after death. THE BIG QUESTION!!!
*NDEs point out flaws in the current brain-based model of consciousness.
“The AWARE study (AWAreness during REsuscitation) is a multi-hospital clinical study of the brain and consciousness during cardiac arrest, including testing the validity of perceptions during the out-of-body part of near-death experiences (NDEs). Dr. Sam Parnia is the principal investigator. The initial results, from the first four years of the study, were published last December in the medical journal Resuscitation (PDF).
Of the 2,060 cardiac arrests during the study, 140 patients survived and could be interviewed for the study. Of these, 101 patients had detailed interviews, which identified 9 patients who had an NDE. Of the 9 NDErs, two had detailed memories with awareness of the physical environment. One NDEr’s experience was verified as accurate;…”
I actually put this book on hold before it was released thinking it was a fictional tale, so I was a bit surprised when it arrived. This is the true story of a Hungarian ghost hunter researching phenomena in England prior to WWII. Nador Fodor worked for the International Institute for Psychical Research, when in 1938, he encountered Alma Fielding, an average, middle-class housewife. Alma’s life had been turned upside down by poltergeist activity including objects flying through the air and various sorts of items appearing as apports. The case became famous in England as multiple papers vied for the story. Fodor had his own suspicions and worked diligently to discover how Alma might be producing some of the happenings. He does catch her doing some things, but others remain completely inexplicable.
This was the era of Freudian psychology, and the UK was gripped by fears of a second, paralyzing war, no one wanted. The author does a wonderful job centering Alma’s case in its historical setting. Fodor takes up the trail of Alma’s deeper, hidden consciousness. What was hidden behind her everyday appearance? A lot as it turns out. How does a person’s unprocessed trauma, grief, and unacknowledged loss mix in the psyche and materialize in daily life? And what does that mean for all of us?
Kate Summerscale worked with Fodor’s original case notes and interviewed some who knew Alma. The case is fascinating but what is even more so, is the impact the case had- although not many realize it…
Eventually, Nador Fordor sought out and received a letter from Sigmund Freud supporting the likelihood of his conclusions about Alma’s case. Fodor went on to practice psychoanalysis in New York. In 1951, he coined the phrase, “poltergeist psychosis”- where a mental shock can release a poltergeist personality. Fodor felt that the objects leaping into life were caused by Alma’s feelings where the poltergeist acted as her agent. (Hey folks- this is mind over matter…) Fodor’s account of Alma’s case was published in On the Trail of the Poltergeist (1958). Fodor acknowledged that from a clinical point of view, BOTH Alma’s hoaxes and authentic poltergeist activity pointed to a real human who was suffering.
This new understanding of poltergeist phenomena would emerge in the culture through books and movies. Fodor served as a consultant on the movie for Shirley Jackson’s book, The Haunting of Hill House (1959). Jackson was familiar with Fodor’s theories and used them in her portrayal of Eleanor Vance. Eleanor was portrayed as sane, experiencing weird things around her. Modern portrayals of hauntings from Carrie to The Babadook, allow for many interpretations- often combining real and imagined, psychological and supernatural.
Decades after Fodor’s work, his ideas on trauma have become commonplace. Central to Alma’s story, was the idea that a horrific trauma could be wiped from her consciousness. Today, the recovery of traumatic memory remains problematic, but acknowledged. The book provides an interesting window into the power of the subconscious and the time period Alma’s story emerges.
I remember walking the trails last summer and seeing all kinds of painted rocks. Some were obviously done by kids and others were quite refined and artistic. All were uplifting in a time of isolation and confusion of the Covid crisis. This year my husband and I (as part of a greater project with the TS), painted some of our own. It was a fun project and I think as our little treasures disappear, we’ll be creating some more and placing them on nearby trails. Stories have emerged that communities all over the US have shared this painted rock craze. So where did it all start?
Several years ago, Megan Murphy, walked the beaches of Cape Cod looking for signs from her deceased parents. If she spied a heart-shaped rock, she felt connected to her father and a piece of sea glass became associated with her mother. Finding these items on her walks helped her cope with life. She noticed other people looking for things on their walks as well. So one day, she choose five rocks and wrote messages for others to find. She was astonished when a friend texted later in the day with a photo of one of the rocks saying she had found it and it was exactly what she needed. This moment of what I call synchronicity, launched the Kindness Rocks Project (https://bit.ly/35P3I83).
The movement took off and spread across communities. Most people have no idea how the rock painting got started. And like all good ideas, it has a power all its own. So simple, so utterly Aquarian! Individuals rely on personal creativity, put in service to humanity, done anonymously. Perfect. Grab your brush!
Spring sprung propelling us into a new phase of the Covid journey. By May, many of us were vaccinated, communities began to withdraw mask requirements, and most of us got giddy with the relief of it all. A strong desire exists to launch forth, to get back to life, return to normal (even if normal will never be normal again). I feel it, too!
But part of me knows we’re missing the sacred lessons, not wanting to look back. Examining 2020 is difficult. Many of us had good things happen last year. My gratitude jar is bursting (mostly because I learned to look for the profound, little miracles that escape our perception when times are good). Did you catch those? Even so, our year dealing with the Covid crisis was tough.
One way to process what we went through and understand the time has inspired me to put together a written record to leave behind. Initially, I thought about doing a few pages with personal insights and photos to be tucked into a family photo album so that unlike the 1918 pandemic, Covid won’t be as easily forgotten. The project has grown and I’m not sure what the final product will look like. But for the purpose of this blog, I want to take you back to just the FIRST month of life under the pandemic. To give a glimpse of what was happening here, more or less— day by day. I chose to frame this as a Colorado experience and am indebted to my husband who was journaling consistently during this early period. This was our experience but it’s also your experience, because we all faced the fear, the challenges, and the sacrifices of Covid. Perhaps, you’ll be inspired to put together your own reflections and tuck them away for later generations to find.
(Reading below you will see references to “Laura.” I write under the pen name/spiritual name, “Ellis”- but we are the same person.)
THE COVID19 EXPERIENCE 2020
Overall Emerging Crisis:
Issued by the Executive Office of the President (Trump) Mar. 13, 2020: Proclamation 9994
“In December 2019, a novel (new) coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 (“the virus”) was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, People’s Republic of China, causing outbreaks of the coronavirus disease COVID-19 that has now spread globally. The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared a public health emergency on January 31, 2020, under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 247d), in response to COVID-19. I have taken sweeping action to control the spread of the virus in the United States, including by suspending entry of foreign nationals seeking entry who had been physically present within the prior 14 days in certain jurisdictions where COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred, including the People’s Republic of China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Schengen Area of Europe. The Federal Government, along with State and local governments, has taken preventive and proactive measures to slow the spread of the virus and treat those affected, including by instituting Federal quarantines for individuals evacuated from foreign nations, issuing a declaration pursuant to section 319F-3 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 247d-6d), and releasing policies to accelerate the acquisition of personal protective equipment and streamline bringing new diagnostic capabilities to laboratories.”
Last week of Feb: Ken visits his mother in Orlando, Fl. There is national news coverage of the emerging crisis. Ken, busy with family, remains oblivious. Laura is very concerned at home in CO. Laura’s early attempts to calculate death figures indicate .5M- 2M.
March 5, 2020: first reported Covid cases in Colorado. One of the cases was in Douglas County in a woman recently returned from a cruise. Most of the early cases occurred in the mountain resort towns of Crested Butte, Aspen, and Vail apparently brought in by international ski tourists.
From Ken Nelson’s Journal entries:
5 Mar: Returned from Florida after visiting my mother (in Orlando). My son, Mike, met me after work and we ate before he drove me home. This was my last dinner out. The first CO case reported.
6 Mar: Laura and I did some Covid shopping even though the stockpiling had already begun. No toilet paper or cold medicines. We were already reasonably stocked given our normal patterns, but it was something to see shelves empty without there being bad weather. Second CO case is a Middle School Student (at Mike’s old school, just around the corner from us.
7 Mar: Found some toilet paper at Home Depot, 400 US cases – 17 deaths.
8 Mar: 500 US cases – 22 deaths.
9 Mar: 600 US cases – White House briefing –way behind in communications. More about economics than health given the DOW fell 2000 points. At home, we had contractors over to bid on a home renovation project that will involve the removal of a wall (aren’t sure we will be able to proceed should lock-downs occur. Also, went through the what-ifs for long term shutdown (what do we need personally?) Get the car running OK so, set up MIDAS appt for 12th.
On March 10, 2020: Gov. Jared Polis declares a state of emergency in CO. Polis also announced 17 total presumptive positive cases in the state. A drive-up testing facility for patients with a doctor’s note is being set up.
March 11, 2020: The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the COVID-19 outbreak can be characterized as a pandemic. Rates of infection continue to rise in many locations around the world and in the US. Some events in CO are cancelled (Conference on World Affairs at CU Boulder, Nederland’s Frozen Dead Guy Days) but others continue (Post Malone concert at Denver’s Pepsi Center proceeds, drawing a sellout-crowd of 20,000, likely the largest enclosed gathering in the U.S. before widespread lock-downs).
March 12, 2020: Many major school districts in the Denver metro announce closures lasting at least two weeks. Due to the strain on medical facilities in mountain communities the Governor discouraged mountain travel for the elderly.
Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:
12 Mar: US – 1663 cases. Testing the big issue – want it to be made in USA even though Germany had a functioning test early on. TV has long lines for those that have permission for the test.
March 13, 2020: First Covid death in CO, an 80-year-old woman in El Paso County. National State of Emergency declared. Proclamation 9994 of March 13, 2020:
“The spread of COVID-19 within our Nation’s communities threatens to strain our Nation’s healthcare systems. As of March 12, 2020, 1,645 people from 47 States have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. It is incumbent on hospitals and medical facilities throughout the country to assess their preparedness posture and be prepared to surge capacity and capability. Additional measures, however, are needed to successfully contain and combat the virus in the United States.”
Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:
13 Mar: National Emergency declared -allows $50B in FEMA aid. Closures after closures.US cases 2247 (per WorldoMeter) with 50 deaths. First CO death. CO has 70 cases.Undercounting at 7 cases/million. Italy has 300 cases per million. 8 states close schools.CO counties looking to extend spring break. Italy overwhelmed and selecting who gets aventilator (choosing who lives and who dies) .
Laura goes to doctor appt – couldn’t write a better skit. Something like this—Patient Stacey has symptoms but can’t connect via telemedicine. No! They don’t want herto come in the office!!!60+ year old woman there but, doesn’t want to be.Freaks out a bit when man enters looking like death, dressed in black wearing a face mask. (added: This is before any one is wearing a face mask.)
We are not ready…. Laura’s early concern valid. This is fast! I thought this stuff maybe by 31 Mar– NOT 13 Mar.
Mom’s place (in Orlando) allows no visitors – I was there 8 days ago.
March 14, 2020: Gov. Polis orders ski areas closed temporarily.
Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:
15 Mar (Sunday): St. Patrick’s Day breakfast held at house. US cases: 3680. Starting tolook at stats. 33% daily growth common in the world.
March 16, 2020: Denver mayor ordered all bars and restaurants closed on March 17 (except for food delivery and pickup) and banned gatherings of more than 50 people. Governor Polis expanded closures ordering a state-wide lock-down of dine-in services, gyms, casinos, and theaters.
Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:
16 Mar: US Cases:4663 Talk of a stimulus package.
17 Mar: We are now taking turns to grocery shop to avoid both of us being sick. Laura’sturn to shop this week. No meats, no cleaners. We have enough but, restocking is questionable. Laura reports how eerie it is to see shelves stripped bare. (Is this the US orRussia?) US cases: 6509
March 18, 2020: Governor closes schools until April 17 and banned gatherings of more than 10 people for the following 30 days. Polis also ordered ski resorts to remain closed until April 6. The governor advocates social distancing and announces the creation of a fund to aid those affected by COVID-19. San Miguel County became the first county in the nation to plan to test all of its residents. It also orders residents to “shelter-in-place.” Gun sales skyrocket, along with toilet paper, and hand sanitizer.
Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:
18 Mar: US cases: 9257. There will be months of this (not days…)
March 19, 2020: Gov. extends the closure of bars, restaurants, theaters, gymnasiums and casinos until April 30 and suspended all nonessential medical procedures. The governor also orders the closure of “nonessential” businesses until April 30, which includes nail salons, spas, and tattoo parlors.Two days later, Rocky Mountain National Park closes due to fears over visitors bringing in the virus.
Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:
19 Mar: CO allowing no non-essential travel or business. Started taking Elderberry. Theosophy meeting cancelled.
20 Mar: White House Briefing is nothing but self-congratulatory comments with no real facts or leadership.” I have a feeling…??? All will be well.” Dr. Fauci’s body language says something VERY different. I would have kicked the team out if it were my briefing.
21 Mar: US 24,207 cases. NYC and 5 states shut down – 11 days of PPE (personalprotective equipment including masks & gowns). I run to the grocery store. Nochicken, some meat, eggs OK but will run out within a couple of hours. Yogurt/cheeseOK. No beans or pasta, no canned goods or baking goods. Empty shelves, looselystocked everywhere.
22 Mar: US 33,567/419, CO: 591/6 Governors pleading for PPE. FEMA can’t say what they have shipped.
March 23, 2020: Denver Mayor Hannock announces a “stay at home” order for Denver County.
Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:
23 Mar: US 43,734/553, CO: 720/7 Trump hints young should go back to work. The
CURE can’t be worse than the disease is his thought economically. $500B slush fund with Relief package. Mom sends an e-mail entitled “Prison”. We drove around to seestore closures, etc. A few national retailers closed including Michaels, Bed, Bath and Beyond. others open – Target, Home Depot, Walmart and groceries stores. Generallystores that have the necessities of life (like food & medicine are allowed to remain open).Restaurants open for delivery only. Not as draconian as expected.
March 24, 2020: Already, thirteen Colorado counties and multiple cities have announced some form of the stay-at-home order.
Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:
24 Mar: US 58823/778, CO 912/11 Gov Polis updates and Gov Cuomo updates – real figures it seems.
March 25, 2020: Amira Haven Nelson born. Baby delivered in a birthing center with a midwife, not at a hospital. There was concern by pregnant women to go to hospitals during the crisis. Although this was a choice made prior to Covid, we were very happy given the unfolding situation. Governor Polis put the state in complete lock-down, with a stay-at-home order scheduled to last through April 11. Mesa Verde National Park closed. All CO parks and wildlife areas under state control closed the next day.
Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:
25 Mar: US 68,472/1032, CO 1086/19 Amira (granddaughter) is born. I had just finished store run and was 30th in line at 8:01. Long lines with one out-one in. No chicken, low on meats. Johnsonville sausages available to provide sufficient stocking. What a relief that Amira was born before the hospitals get overwhelmed – have some time before that but, it was good to not be in harm’s way. CO announces STAY AT HOME starting tomorrow. Traffic is quiet.
26 Mar: US 85,439/1295, CO 1430/19. Ordered online from Home Depot for first time.
Not as fun as wandering through the store. Ordered shoes in case of months-long issues, especially concerned for goods coming from China and abroad. Facebook is showing empty ports. Chinese goods (?) might not be getting through due to world crisis.
March 27, 2020: Governor working to add 5,000 ICU beds to Colorado’s capacity by the end of the summer and is in conversations to acquire more ventilators. The 8pm Denver Howl is started by folks in a neighborhood near the Denver Botanic Garden and Denver Zoo. This is to show support for hospital workers.
Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:
27 Mar: (two weeks of Emergency) US 104,126/1695 CO: 1734/31 Today is the day that it dawned on me that this was the emergency that we were always prepping for (ever since swine flu). All of the extra canned goods, TP, supplies etc. Good news is thatCOVID is not as deadly nor as airborne as other possible diseases.
March 28, 2020: White House approves request to declare a major disaster for Colorado. The status means the state is eligible to receive additional federal resources and funding to help address the pandemic. The New York Post named Gunnison County at 454.20 per 100,000 people and Eagle County at 331.74 per 100,000 as being two of the top four counties leading the nation in confirmed cases outside of New York and Louisiana.
Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:
28 Mar: US 123,518/2221, CO: 2061/44 Governor CUOMO is on top of it. We start relying on his daily briefing to get accurate information and admire his leadership in the absence of it from the federal level.
29 Mar: US 143491/2583, CO 2307/47 rate of spread is slowing but a lack of testingmay be hiding the growth rate.
30 Mar: US 163,844/3156, CO: 2627/51
31 Mar: US 188,530/3889, CO: 2966/269 Last time I volunteered at Food Bank (I think).3 tons of food received from restaurant distributors since they aren’t open. Onions,potatoes, etc. Repackaging required.
End on March– Colorado doctors encouraging telemedicine, to keep people out of the hospitals or ERs to avoid infection. Many health insurance companies approve the same rate for a virtual visit as in-person. The demand for guns in Colorado continues to rise. Gun shops are considered essential businesses under the state’s stay-at-home order and are classified as “critical retail,” along with grocery stores, gas stations, marijuana dispensaries, liquor stores, and several other businesses. The Budweiser Events Center is identified as a possible temporary hospital as Colorado prepares for the coronavirus surge.
Looking back on this time, I was struck by just how fast things were moving and how rapidly we were adjusting to changes. I was also aware of how the hard recording of facts fails to convey the uncertainty and fear that held us. How adrift we felt without strong leadership to guide us. How alone we felt without answers. How uncertain we were about what the next day would bring. If you’ve found your own way to share or commemorate these events, please feel free to comment below. What memories has this stirred?
I’ve been intrigued by the notion of sin-eaters since I saw a movie concerning the topic years ago (The Last Sin Eater, 2007). Recently, I spotted this YA historical fiction work on the theme. It’s an intriguing book with a nice murder mystery at its heart.
But what is a sin-eater? Sin-eaters are designated individuals within a community who consume ritual foods thereby taking on the sins of a deceased person. The foods symbolize (or absorb, depending on your perspective) the sins and through ingestion, the sin-eater acquires the sin thereby absolving the deceased, and paving the way for entry into heaven. Historically, the practice is associated with Wales and the English counties bordering Wales.
In the book, The Sin Eater, 14-year-old, May, is made a sin-eater after stealing a loaf of bread during the reign of Elizabeth I. Marked as a sin-eater and shunned by society, May eventually seeks out an older woman in the same situation. This woman mentors May in this hard life through example because verbal communication is forbidden. Sin-eaters are well fed and outcasts who are redeemed only upon death, having faithfully served their purpose—or so May is led to believe. Things are turned upside down when the older sin-eater refuses to consume a deer heart for a royal governess who’s died. Refusing to do so costs her life. May loses her teacher and ends up center stage in a mystery of death and intrigue involving the royal bloodline.
I enjoyed the book because it is an imaginative tale about something very little is known about. And yet, it did exist culturally, and the legacy carried on to some extent in areas including western England, Wales, Bavaria, and 17th century Dutch America. Campisi’s novel is now available in paperback.
(This was recorded several months ago and posted recently for anyone who has an interest.)
Here’s the PowerPoint presentation on the life of Alan Leo, “the father of modern astrology.” Discover how this Victorian theosophist revitalized the occult science of astrology introducing the concepts of reincarnation and karma. Learn how sun sign astrology became part of his legacy and how it continues to influence our culture.
Wed, Feb 10, 2021, 7:00-8:30 pm MT (via Zoom), free
My husband and I will be presenting an online program during February’s meeting of the Denver Theosophical Society.
ALAN LEO- Astrologer & Theosophist
Join us for an examination of the life of Alan Leo, “the father of modern astrology.” Discover how this Victorian theosophist revitalized the occult science of astrology introducing the concepts of reincarnation and karma. Learn how sun sign astrology became part of his legacy and how it continues to influence our culture.
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org for the access link for entry into the Zoom meeting.