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The Visitation


After the death spiral, the apprentices fashioned images out of wood of one of their fears. The fear was to be minor, one that they could let go of in the night’s exercise. Darkness came around 9:00 o’clock when I lit the fire to begin the experiential exercise. Everyone sat on the ground in a semi-circle with the fire in the center of them and the direction of the west open so that each apprentice could approach the fire from the west. Symbolically, this is the black direction of fear, but also the direction of re-birth.

One after another, each apprentice approached the fire and laid their symbolic image of their fear before them. When they were ready, they fought their fear with the wooden sword and then tossed the remains into the fire. Whether it was tiredness or the effects of the death spiral, the apprentices only half-heartedly fought their fear.  

When all were finished I looked around the semi-circle and each apprentice’s head was hanging low staring into the fire. It was evident that they knew they had listlessly and with little heart had fought their fear. And a few were accomplished martial artists. How was I going to tell them that they blew it? They had squandered an awesome opportunity to release one of their fears. With these thoughts going through my mind, I decided to stand and talk more philosophically about releasing fear rather than giving them a searing commentary on—‘you blew it.’

I stood and began a more nurturing synopsis of the exercise, only stating a few things before… before I felt my neck twitching—I recognized the feeling. It is the one that I always get when there are otherworldly energies around. But this time, it was different, much more intense and strange. I turned my head to look behind me into the woods. Everyone else was still seated on the ground staring into the fire. No one else was looking up.

This was the night of the new moon and the only light in the clearing was cast by the small fire. The night before I had stood in this same spot observing the dark woods, while the apprentices were out sitting alone in the woods on their vision quest; I was listening and making sure that everyone was all right. When I had turned off my flashlight, in the blackness of the night, I couldn’t see more than a foot or so in front of me.

“What… no.” These two short thoughts coursed through my mind as I turned my head back around to see if there was some other light source coming from my front other than the small fire. And when I observed nothing that could explain what I just saw, I turned my head back around again in dis-belief—making sure I saw what I saw…. This all took less than a minute’s time.

“Please stand and be quiet, we have visitors,” I said as calmly as possible, all the while not knowing what I had seen.

As Sherry stood up next to me, looking at the ‘lights,’ I leaned over and whispered into her ear, “What is that?”

Without any hesitation she said, “Why, they’re Angels!”

And then I remembered my prayer for a sign of who I had been. It all made sense, but I never expected a sign like this.

“A shooting star…,” someone said as we all looked up as it blazed across the night sky.

“Three crosses,” said another.

“A white dove…,” an apprentice exclaimed as it flew over our heads.

“Look at the stones of the death spiral…,” another said. The stones had at least doubled and tripled in size; some were now the size of boulders. But the most unusual thing was the greenish otherworldly glow that surrounded each.[i]

After this no further words were spoken. Time seemed to be suspended as Sherry and I and our twelve apprentices witnessed in awe a massive column of light a few feet off of the ground at least five feet wide and four or five times as tall. This light was in the north by the entrance to the death spiral. It was a light that was whitish and not of this world. Suspended higher up by it were two other columns of light not quite as bright or as large. The legends have always told that an archangel is always assisted by two helping angels. And many traditions believe that the north direction is symbolically the direction of heavenly beings such as angels. After an unknown amount of time had passed….

“We need to leave and go to bed now,” Sherry whispered to me. “There are only a few hours left until we have to get up and go bathing.”

“You’re right,” I replied.

I then turned and said to the others in a quiet voice, “It’s only a few hours until we put you in the stream and baptize each of you. We all need to get some sleep, so please return to your tents; be respectful as you leave and give prayers, blessings and a thank you for this experience.”

Sherry and I were the last to leave and return to the shelter where they were staying. Sherry slept soundly the few hours that we had, while I stayed awake. My mind was focused on the visitation and trying to figure out the identity of the archangel. The last little doubt of who I was had left my mind; I again gave blessings for answering my prayer of giving a sign of my past incarnation. And right before I was going to wake my wife up to go bathing, I thought, “Will they figure it out… who I was, who I am and who I will be? And will they figure out about Sherry?”

[i] Proof of being in the presence of the heavenly/divine power of the three pillars of light is reflected in the growth of the stones from ones that you could hold in one or two hands that increased in size to boulders. Indigenous cultures believe in the spiritual power of stones. The Japanese believe that sacred power is often manifested within a sealed vessel that may grow. The vessels that contain this sacred power are known as utsubo. The stone is an utsubo vessel. It contains a sacred force which may grow under the right circumstances. Even the Japanese National Anthem contains the words addressed to the Emperor: “May your reign last for thousands of years until pebbles have become moss-covered rocks.”