A Dream Awakening

My first dream I remember to this day because it was a precognitive dream of my high school friend, Spacey. I don’t recall the actual date – the recall came later after she had passed away. 

Nearly a year after her transition I experienced my  first visitation dream. That’s not to say I didn’t have any dreams before then, I just don’t recall any.  In between these two dreams I had  others including  another precognitive dream, this one about an event in my future which came to pass. I recall these dreams with clarity to this day without having to consult a journal. In my experience visitations and foretelling dreams such as precognitive and prophetic are dreams or experience’s that stayed with me. 

Since that first dream forty years ago, I continued to have dreams, some that I could recall without the aid of a journal to remind me. Although it was not precognitive or a visitation dream, I was learning to recall and remember my dreams. As soon as I recalled the dream, upon awakening or later in the day, I wrote it down on a scrap of paper. One scrap of paper with dream details on it eventually became an accumulation of pieces of notebook paper, backs of receipts or the envelope of a bill or junk mail that was within reach. I then knew it was time to get organized and buy a journal to put these into and continue writing down the details of my dreams. But the reason for writing my dreams down was that they began to increase in quantity and intensity.

I had become aware that I was having more than one dream a night. It didn’t take very long to fill up that first journal with my nightly dreams: nightmares, prophetic and precognitive, visitations, sleep paralysis and other helpful and interesting dream types. I had also filled the journal with doodles to illustrate what I could not always put into words and so that I could refer back to the dream later, especially if  I had the dream again (recurring dream). 

Recalling and journaling continued for a time. I shared my dreams with those I knew in an effort to share this new interest and to me, phenomenon. I don’t believe that I shared these dreams to start a conversation but that is exactly what happened…eventually. Some people thought it was a novelty, like when we all started to see psychics that became so popular to do in the 1990’s. Others thought dreams didn’t mean anything in particular and that maybe I was a bit odd. And then, sometime later, those same people began to share their dreams with me! 

Not very long after I started to keep a dream journal, I went to a book sale and found  Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s The Encyclopedia of Dreams: Symbols & Interpretations (Berkley edition, 1995). I needed it. The universe was telling me I was ready to start assembling the symbols and solving the message.  This book had enough of the more common symbols to get me started on interpreting and understanding my dreams. I got some help from Shyla, a spiritual teacher and I learned to intuit what I could not find a symbol for either in the aforementioned book or a couple of dream dot com sites that I found on the internet in the late 1990’s. Ultimately, I learned to gather all the symbols and my intuition and go with what resonated with me. And that I feel is the most important component of dream interpreting. A bunch of dream symbols put together are just symbols. But, how does that feel to the dreamer? Does the dream symbol or symbols resonate? The meaning of the dream should be a good fit, after all, the message is specific to the dreamer. 

The Universe has guided me through each stage of dreams: recalling, journaling and interpreting. Dreams have been one of the most enlightening lessons on my spiritual awakening path. They have become, for me, a helpful divination tool to download messages from my consciousness with the help of my guides and the universe. Being a teacher of dreams to others has been an unexpected gift. People I have helped like to have the dream interpreted for them, but I also want to teach and empower them to interpret their own dreams. And that is because the universe has a message for them. 

*all photos by Leslie Sheraden

Knowing, Hearing, Seeing, Feeling: The Clairs

Shyla shared with me that she was afraid to see a ghost, that is, an earthbound, while she was investigating a haunted house with a paranormal group. She told me she had been lying on a bed in a bedroom of this haunted house when, with her eyes closed, a female presence got on the bed with her and was talking to her. Shyla said she was afraid to open her eyes to see this ghost; she didn’t want to see her. My reaction to this was a mix of surprise and interest.

Shyla was a spiritual teacher and an intuitive medium. She had the gift of knowing, feeling, hearing and seeing, what I call the four clairs: Claircognizance, clairsentience, clairaudience and clairvoyance.

I have heard that anyone can be one or all of the clairs. I am mostly all four by admission. I have seen energy mostly in the shape of orbs and flashes. It frightens me now just as much as it has my whole life to see them. I don’t want to see a ghost or spirit or apparition. I’m not sure where this fear comes from, perhaps I learned to fear them at some point in my early childhood.

My other senses became stronger, particularly clairsentience. My inner and outer energy radar can feel energy from those living on earth as well as earthbounds. At first feeling earthbounds was frightening and I would run from the room. I still do. I learned to tell them to go away because they don’t belong here on earth and they don’t. They need to cross over first and then they can visit earth another time. Problem is, they don’t know they’re ghosts; they think they’re still flesh and blood.

Conversely, feeling a crossed over loved one is different to me. I feel love and an awareness of who it is. I feel Shyla when she’s around – she’s still teaching and inspiring me.

**All photos by Leslie Sheraden

Crossed Over Loved Ones

I believe that when our souls leave our human bodies they go to the Other Side of the veil. They go home. When I recalled  my soul leaving its body in a past life during past life regression therapy, it did not hurt. While the action of my death in that life may have been painful, I did not experience that during the past life recall.  I did not feel panic or that I wanted to leave. In fact, it felt quite natural. As I went through the blue tunnel, where departed souls travel to the  other side, I felt pure love, lightness and peace. It was not at all scary as I once believed death to be.

When Spacey passed away, the pain that I felt in my body, head and heart was impenetrable. No amount of hugs and hand holding would have lessened the pain. No one talked with me about death, except for expressing sympathy. I only knew from church sermons when I was young that when we die we go either to Heaven or Hell. I hoped she would go to Heaven.  I only knew that she was gone and I would never talk with her again. Eleven years later when Grandma Shirley passed on, I understood more about the soul; where it is after the body is no longer needed for its journey here. It did not mean that I missed her any less or that I did not mourn her.  I recalled our talks  a year or so before she left this world about reincarnation and that death was a part of the life cycle. 

As more loved ones passed, understanding grew and pain lessened. I knew that they passed from the physical world to the spirit world. They are still with us in spirit. When I was first aware that I was experiencing visitations I knew that it was communication from crossed over loved ones.

Linda was a co-worker at a media company we worked for in  New York. We both worked in accounting: she was the  accounts payable and accounts receivable bookkeeper,  I was an office clerk. I was younger than her by about twelve years; she was married with older children. I was recently married and was starting my family. She was supportive of me and I looked up to her. One morning on the radio a news report said a young man had been killed in a motorcycle accident. He was Linda’s youngest son. I was heartbroken for her.

A few years later I had a dream.  Linda and I were sitting at her desk. She was cross training me on an aspect of her job. She was sitting in front of her computer and I was sitting to her left. On my left were three beige 4 drawer lateral filing cabinets. While Linda was showing me something, I suddenly looked up at the end of the cabinets. I knew someone was there. A young man I did not know was wearing khaki pants and a waist length brown jacket, unzippered. He casually walked from behind the cabinets, looked right at me and said, “Please tell my mom I’m okay.” And kept walking. I had never met her son but I knew this was him in  my dream. Later, when Linda was training me on something I would be doing for her, we were sitting just as we were in my dream. I related this message dream to her. At first Linda did not believe that souls could connect with us in our dreams or connect with us at all. But she thanked me for telling her.

My visitations with Peggy during automatic writing, Spacey getting my attention while I followed a service truck that bore her nickname, and Grandma Shirley sitting next to me in bed talking to me and others that I knew that have visited me in different ways, have shown me that we all transform from the physical world to the spirit world. Physical death is not the end. My crossed over loved ones wanted me to know this and that they are just visiting.

*all photos by Leslie Sheraden

First Inklings

In the Beginning

As an adolescent, whenever something was bothering me or causing me anxiety, and as a teenager what didn’t, I would turn on the radio and keep it on all night, falling asleep to the music that the late night and overnight dee-jays played. It’s a coping mechanism I use to this day, although now I have a playlist on my iPhone. One particular late night or rather early morning I had suddenly woken up, restless. I did not know the source of my restlessness that spring night. Maybe it was school.  As I laid in my bed, tilting my head a little toward the window, looking up at the starry sky, a frightening thought cracked open the  darkness and illuminated the reason for my restlessness. I wondered: what happens to us when we die?

I tossed and turned all night, grateful for the radio as company. WNEW-FM in New York City was then a progressive rock radio station, adopting that format in the late 1960’s (The format changed again in the late 1990’s.) They were playing album sides of their featured record of the week, Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell, which was destined to become a classic; it was an album that had spawned a few great songs already in regular rotation on the iconic radio station. I had come to love radio because of my dad. He almost always had the radio tuned to the New York City  radio station.  I loved rock and roll music and listening to the deejays. They were intelligent, articulate and knew so much about the music they played. Listening to the radio became the inspiration for me to  want to pursue a broadcasting career and a lifelong interest in rock and roll history. But I digress…

I kept looking out of the window from my bed into darkness that seemed to go on forever.  Night time does that when I cannot get back to sleep. The night becomes elongated adding to the worrisome thoughts moving around in my head.  The reassuring voice of the overnight deejay and the music playing on the radio  redirected my thoughts on death and dying which should have been the least of my worries at such a young age. What is curious is that it should wake me up from a brief slumber and haunt me for much of that night.  How did that happen? 

What if the soul of every human being  was crammed up into the atmosphere. Where else would they go? The bodies went to heaven or hell depending on if they were good Christian people or not. Or so  my grandmother Evangeline said. My sister Angela and I learned from a very young age that if we didn’t accept Jesus  we would go to hell, although we did not understand what hell was. All of that was too abstract for small children, not to mention frightening. We both now  believe that this is not what happens. It would never have occurred to me to ask anyone else  what happens when someone dies. I didn’t think my mom and dad would have had better answers to my questions about death. But I never asked them.  

My teenage logic told me that souls somehow left the body and went up into the sky. So there must be infinite sky to accommodate the same number of souls. All the humans who have ever lived – for thousands or hundreds of thousands of years – would have a soul up in the  sky or heaven beyond the sky: cave people, Druids, Egyptians and people throughout the centuries to that night in the late 1970’s.

With the music still playing on the radio, I thought more about deep space. This first inkling about the universe generated so many questions. What else is out there besides souls floating around in the congested sky? How far up is heaven and can it be seen with the naked eye? Why do we die and not live forever? It would be about a decade before I would learn that each soul lives on after its incarnation on earth and can have more than one life here.  Other life experiences as a teenager and as a  young adult would take place before I would come to believe that. Eventually, my restlessness and endless thoughts surrendered to relaxation and I fell asleep, the stars lighting up the still night sky.  

And so began my spiritual awakening.

“When the Student is Ready, the Teacher Will Appear”

I have been writing about my experiences of my spiritual journey for a few years here and on social media. I’ve also written two books: one was a short story based on my spiritual journey and another about dreams and dream recall. Writing about my experiences has not always been easy for me (I’ll share that in a future blog) but whether I want to or not, spirit sends messages and guidance to encourage me to share my story. And so, I have been inspired to tell you about one of my first and more influential spiritual teachers.

It began in 1990, the searching for…something…something else or something more. Not knowing what that something was or where to find it I looked on the self-help shelves of a local bookstore. From past experience I knew that religion wasn’t the answer. Neither was drinking alcohol with the wrong people. I recall looking at the bookshelves hoping something would pop out or fall off one of the shelves and into my hands. Since I didn’t know specifically what it was I needed to fill the void within me I was hoping one of the books there in the bookstore would. One book did look familiar to me from recent television commercials: Dianetics . After some contemplation I decided to give it a try. I tried it for about two chapters and decided that it didn’t resonate with me. Trusting my gut was crucial. This wasn’t the book I was looking for.

Very shortly after that, I had the book in hand when I met H.B. someone who was introduced to me by my sister Angela. When he asked about the book I was holding in my hands I explained how I had been looking for something to fill a void or give my life meaning. Honestly, I didn’t really know what to call it or how to articulate what seemed to be missing or what I needed to find to fill that…something. H.B.asked me to follow him and when I did he handed me a book. Apparently, what I needed was in a book. This book was another familiar book. ‘Out On a Limb’ by Shirley Maclaine. My initial reaction was “Oh.”

I was familiar with Shirley Maclaine. Her name was synonymous with UFO’s in the early 1980’s when her book first came out. I recall feeling a little freaked out by her story then. But as I held the book H.B. had given me I didn’t feel freaked out at all. About a month or two later while I was on vacation I started to read it and couldn’t put it down. Believe it or don’t – and I knew people who wouldn’t believe it – this book resonated with me. I didn’t really get everything she spoke about but I was intrigued by the references to the Bible’s alterations and the channel, whose name was Kevin, if I recall (In the movie version of this book, the actual channel is in the movie).

The next book H.B. gave me was Edgar Cayce’s “There is a River”, the life story of the sleeping prophet. His book “Reincarnation” absolutely fascinated me and set me off on a life long passion of past lives. Apart from books, we attended seminars together and visited two psychics and talked a lot about spirituality.

If I had not selected the book that didn’t resonate with me, I would never have met H.B. and started off on the next leg of my spiritual journey and eventually find another spiritual teacher. And then another and another. Whenever I am ready to grow spiritually another teacher always appears.

Who is Coming Through?

I had been having dreams of an old friend for a while. The dreams were pleas for help and they were sad. They were of a man I knew, Mike was his name. I call him my intellectual friend. Our conversations were so interesting, his wealth of knowledge and history were fascinating to me. He was a dozen years older than me (I was in my early twenties) which was one of the reasons I did not want to pursue anything other than a friendship with him.

But now the dreams were increasing in intensity. There was yelling in at least one dream and in another he was making noises to get anyone’s attention. I knew something must have been happening. I had tried to locate him, not knowing where he lived then, but could not find him. It led me to the conclusion that he must have passed on, although these were not visitation dreams. This is actually the story of someone else I knew and how she came to me.

I first heard of automatic writing from a book I had read by Ruth Montgomery (I don’t recall the book title now). It was a spiritual practice that I had been using on occasion. This was one of those occasions. So, one afternoon I turned on a new age music channel, lit a candle and sat down with a pen and notebook. As I closed my  eyes I asked my question and waited for spirit to come through. I had wanted to know about Mike. I wanted to find out if he would come through. He did not. The message was that he was still in the physical world. I found out later that the noises and cries for attention were just that. I believe he may have been going through a difficult time. I tried to reach out to him through the internet unsuccessfully. But while I was getting the information that he was still here, I felt a presence near the left side of my body. I was aware of someone there.

With my eyes still closed I asked who it was. It felt like a female and it was. I had not seen her or spoken to her in more than 20 years. Her name was Peggy and she was a good friend from school. We were classmates from elementary school through the end of our sophomore year  in high school in Upstate New York when her family moved away. I recalled the parties at her house; not cool kid parties but nerd parties. We also shared an interest in rock music. Peggy  had albums that we played while we hung out: Elton John, Peter Frampton (Frampton Comes Alive!) and Jefferson Airplane. She brought Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody Album jacket and liner notes to school to show me the lyrics on the album sleeve. She loved the brilliance and absurdity of the words in the lyrics of the title song. When the movie Bohemian Rhapsody came out in 2018, I thought of her during the scene where the band members were recording the title song. And she could read a  600 page book in one day! (She did well on school book reports.)

Through a choppy few sentences she told me she was in a car accident; there was ice; and the year 1992.

The shock and surprise of receiving this message from her after all these years really threw me. I had not seen her since she moved away. We wrote letters to each other occasionally, and then, well life went on. I went to the internet to search her name and research whatever  else I could find out about the details she gave me. I found newspaper articles that said she had passed due to being in a car accident in 1992. There was ice on the road, which had caused the accident; she was the passenger. I really wanted to know why she contacted me after many years. But it doesn’t really matter. She was just checking in, as some crossed over loved ones do, only wanting us to know that they are around us. 

Jumping Ahead to the End

Ann was a friend of mine who liked to read the last chapter of nearly every book she ever read first. The exception was the occasional biography or non-fiction book of pre-twentieth century British Monarchy. She already knew how their lives ended, but she enjoyed the details and history of their lives. Other than wanting to know how the story ended, I never really understood why Ann did this. She would only say that she wanted to see how the story ended first. Now, I wonder if she was looking for a happy ending in her own life’s story.

Maybe I reading too much into it. For me, jumping ahead to the end first would ruin the (hopefully) happy conclusion. I like the drama of the heroine or hero who are victorious over the antagonist. The wonder and romance of boy-gets-girl or girl-gets-girl or boy-gets-boy. And, if while I’m reading a book with drama, adventure, romance or magic, I’ll ponder if it is leading up to a sequel. Oh, the anticipation.

There is one story’s ending I would like to know the outcome of. The Pandemic. Now here I would agree with Ann. When will it end? What will the new normal look like and when will it happen? And, what will my life look like post-pandemic?

The ennui of quarantine, the nail-biting moments, the sad stories, the violence and other drama of this past year, feels like a story without an end now. However, there are other moments we can enjoy like how the glass of wine tastes, the colors in nature, things my children said, shows we binge watched, and all those other nuances that fill out a story. I am doing my best to stay in the moment – it hasn’t always been easy these last twelve months. I’m trying to stay present so that I’ll have a fuller, richer story to tell one day.

It ‘s been said that the end goal – the dream job, dream partner, dream house or whatever the dream is – is not the destination. It’s all part of the journey.

Remembrance

On Sunday, September 27, 1981 I called my close high school friend , “Janie” (not her real name) to check in with her. I had not spoken with her in a couple of weeks. I had graduated high school three months earlier and while I was happy to be out of high school, I did miss seeing the friends I had left behind. They were seniors now, their last year before exiting school and entering the next phase of their lives. So, it was her uncle who, after I asked to speak with her, wanted to know who I was and what I wanted. I told him who I was and explained I was a friend of hers from school. What he said next really stunned me, paralyzed me actually. He told me she died the night before, a car accident, and the date the funeral would be held.

For the first year following her death I could not get over it. Whenever a song or group that we liked came on the radio I felt the pain physically in my gut. I always remembered her birthday and the date of her death two days later as the years went by. Eventually, she faded to the background as I started a career, entered and exited relationships, got married and started a family. It was while I was driving to work one morning in the early 2000’s, after both of my children were on the school bus, that I received a message from her. The reason she chose that moment was mysterious but effective.

Shortly after that I would begin writing what I could recall from our brief school years together. At first it was just a few memories, the obvious ones like the favorite band that brought us together. Then the little things like passing notes in school, boys, what she wore, her hair. The more I started to write down the details the more I recalled. Then the tears came and the heartbreak all over again. I could not believe some of the little and big things, nuances, her sense of humor and other memories that I had forgotten or suppressed over the years.

I turned it into a short story in 2014. ‘Sweet Dreams’ was inspired by our friendship and my own spiritual journey up to that point.

I still feel her around me sometimes. I have wondered how she would have reacted to the grunge movement in the early 1990’s that ushered in Alternative rock. She may have said it’s all rock and roll. I wondered if she would be a drummer in a band as she always dreamed of and what she would think about other women rockers. In 1981 there was Debbie Harry, Joan Jett and the Go-Go’s. Would she have been among them one day?

What I know for sure is that there is a reason for everything. The answers are not always offered up. Maybe it’s just meant to be a mystery. Whatever the reason, she is still in my heart and always will be.

Joan of Arc

Statue of Joan of Arc in New Orleans

Her mission was to restore the French Monarchy. She cut her hair short and dressed in men’s clothes as an act of rebellion. As a young woman she could not pull off this mission unless she presented herself as a man.  St. Catherine and Archangel Michael presented themselves to her at 17. They told her she would rescue the Dauphin, Charles VII, the king of France who was in English custody after England invaded France. She was a warrior in the French army triumphantly leading the charge at the battle of Orléans. January 6 is the anniversaire of Jeanne D’Arc, Saint Joan of Arc.

January 6 is also the Twelfth Day of Christmas and the Feast of the Epiphany, when the three kings or wise men arrived to see the baby Jesus. So during Joan of Arc’s journey, she was aware that she was born on the Epiphany – an epiphany she did not take lightly. She believed that there was great significance in this shared date and a definite connection with Jesus.  They were both leaders and both were captured and eventually put to death for a mission that they believed was divinely guided. However, Jesus died to save mankind’s sins. Joan died because of her perceived sins. Hearing voices of the Archangel Michael and St. Catherine, believing in what she was born to do, dressing as a man to rescue and restore France’s king to his place on the throne and refusing to give in to the Catholic church’s demands.

In 1431 Joan was handed over to the English, branded a heretic, cruelly abused in a medieval prison and finally burned alive at the stake – which was prophesied by the voices that had led her the two years since beginning her divine mission.  Only her pure heart remained unburned.

Jeanne d’Arc was declared Sainte Jeanne d’Arc in 1920.

SHYLA

From my journal entry on November 8, 2017:

‘For no apparent reason last night (11/7/17) I thought of Shyla and prayed for her.

I found a post on FB from yesterday (also 11/7/17) that she passed away. I’m so sad, but so happy that I knew her.’

Shyla was a very important spiritual teacher and mentor for me. She was an intuitive and medium and had those abilities since she was a child. She had been giving readings and teaching other spiritual practices for many years. She practiced Wiccan and was a Reiki Master. And Shyla was always generous with her time and her gifts.

 I had seen her about six months before her passing for my last reading with her. She was showing me how to interpret a tarot card. I had worked with my own tarot cards, looked at the pictures and read the interpretation in the accompanying booklet. She taught me to look at everything on the card, that there were objects and scenery – symbols – that were specific to the message. The card that she was explaining that day featured a man (King?) on a throne with Ram symbols all over the card indicating that a love interest would be an Aries – also based on the placement of the other tarot cards in the reading. There was an Aries man that I was interested in at the time too.

Over the twenty five years that I knew Shyla, I learned something new every time I saw her about tarot, psychic development, the spirit world, different realms, Reiki (I learned Reiki because of her. I am Reiki 2nd Degree), and extra terrestrials. I had called her one evening a few years ago before my son was to come back from a Boy Scout camping and hiking trip in New Mexico. I explained to Shyla about my sons ‘dreams’ about extra terrestrials. He had a couple of them where he would wake up terrified. He had had an ET ‘dream’ four days before he was scheduled to fly out with the boy scouts for this once in a lifetime trip. ET’s and New Mexico: if the trip was not already paid for I may have tried to cancel it. I was on the phone with Shyla for an hour talking about what this meant and more information than I wanted to know about extra terrestrials. I knew they were not dreams, per se.

I had met Shyla in the early 1990’s when nearly everyone in my office went to see different psychics, first Judy and then Shyla. I would continue to see Shyla once a year or twice since then, wherever she was. She moved a lot trying to find the space she was meant to be in. As a Medium, Shyla told me that although she did see and hear spirits, there was one time in a haunted house with a paranormal group where she did not want to open her eyes to see the spirit of a woman who was in a bedroom. That surprised me about her.

So today when I did automatic writing, asking for guidance from the angels, I also called in my Grandma Shirley for help, Shyla made herself known. I was not thinking of her however she offered some advice and had a message for me. When I was done I looked at my notes and thought it was odd that Shyla came to me without me asking her for help. Perhaps I needed a teacher. This time of the year is also when the veil is thinnest and our loved ones can come to us and we can hear or see them better.