A World of Visions and Voices
the making of a clairvoyant
Clairvoyant counselor and spiritual teacher is not your average occupation, but it's been mine for over twenty years. Because most people aren't familiar with this vocation, I'm often asked how I got started, what my childhood was like, and questions like: "Did you always know you had healing and clairvoyant abilities?" To answer some of these questions, I've put together an account of experiences that shaped my life and led me to who I am and what I do today.
Because I was raised as a Catholic, saints and angels were always very real to me; I could see them. I didn't just imagine them, I actually saw them. It never occurred to me as a child that this was unusual. I assumed everyone saw angels as clearly as I did. In church on Sundays, when the priest talked about them, I took it for granted that everyone felt their presence in the room. I saw such beings hanging around the church ceiling. Of course I thought everyone else saw them too. I was amazed when people didn't pay attention during Mass and talked or acted up. I could never understand why they would behave that way with these sacred figures looking down on them.
I quickly learned that seeing saints and angels wasn't common for other people. Somehow, though, others seemed to recognize that I had this gift. I remember that without any soliciting on my part, other children would often come up to me and whisper in hushed tones that they had momentarily seen the Blessed Virgin. They seemed to know that I wouldn't think they were crazy. People just seemed drawn to tell me these things. I especially remember classmates telling me if they got a quick glimpse of an angel. They always shared these visions in a conspiratorial manner. They told me that they wouldn't dare tell anyone else what they'd seen. I began to realize that much of what I saw all the time most people never saw at all.
I can't say that as a child I thought my ability to see things was very important. However, when I was ten years old I saw something that made a big impression on me. As an altar boy, I was always fascinated by the idea that during Mass the bread and wine were changed into Christ's actual body and blood. I wondered whether this was really true; in fact, this transformation is the only thing I remember wondering about as a little child.
One cold, rainy morning in March when I was ten years old, I had to serve at 6 a.m. Mass. I rode my bicycle through the rain around 5:30 a.m. to get to church on time. One of our priests was older--not one of the new, "hip" priests who started showing up in the Sixties. He was an old-style Irish priest, very kind, gentle, and devout. When I served Mass with him, I always felt that I was at some sacred ritual. With other priests, I got the feeling they were just doing their job.
On this particular morning, I wasn't paying much attention to the ongoing Mass and just automatically made my responses in Latin. But when the old priest lifted up the host to say, "Take and eat this body," a distinct warmth flooded the room. I saw a great golden cloud filling the entire church. It wasn't candle glow; it was a definite, distinct energy that poured over everything. It was focused around the old priest, and I could see that a shaft of light emanating from somewhere above and beyond the church was piercing the ceiling and flowing into the host being raised into the air. The sensation that a warm, breathing human being was very near was somehow a part of this golden light.
As I watched the light shining on the host, a part of me said, "I should do this, I should become a priest and learn to do this." Yet as I had this thought a voice came out of nowhere and said, "This is not for you." As soon as the voice uttered those words, I realized that I wasn't really part of the phenomenon I was witnessing. Even though I knew I was seeing a miracle, that I was having an experience connected with what is at the core of the Catholic faith in which I then believed, I didn't feel a part of what was going on. I felt that what was happening just wasn't meant for me. This sense of being an outside observer was to become a theme in much of my spiritual life.
Looking back, I don't think other ten-year-old children thought much, if at all, about such things. But after that rainy morning, I watched all the priests at every Mass to see if the light filled the church when the host was offered. It fascinated me that sometimes I saw it and sometimes there was simply nothing there. I couldn't tell whether only some priests could make it happen or whether I could perceive the golden light only at certain times.
I spent many hours thinking about the golden light. To figure out the phenomenon, I began reading about the lives of saints to find out what kinds of visions they saw. Visions of golden light, or of a presence that manifested itself as light, seemed to occur in many of their lives. Also, because I was able to see saints and angels quite literally, I was always very interested in the novena, which is a prayer recited a certain number of times, at the same time each day, to solicit help from a particular saint. I grew up around people for whom saying novenas was a common practice. I would always find novena cards left in church after Mass. One of the novenas that most fascinated me was that of St. Francis. This prayer always intrigued me; from the moment I first heard it, it seemed almost magical. This prayer turned out to be the catalyst for my first experience of healing the seriously ill.
When I was around eleven years old, I had a parakeet that I loved very dearly. I taught him to talk and whistle, and he was my constant companion. After I'd had him for a couple of years, he became very ill, as small birds often do. I think he had some kind of respiratory ailment. At that time, taking a little bird to the veterinarian was almost unheard of. Day after day I watched my bird get sicker, and I knew he was dying. I could feel the life force slipping out of him, and I didn't know what to do.
One Sunday after we returned from church, my parakeet was lying on his side on the bottom of the cage. My grandfather looked at it and said, "The animal's dying, you might as well put it out of its misery." I ran to my room in tears. While I lay on my bed crying, the prayer to St. Francis came into my head. I began reciting the prayer, and the image of St. Francis appeared before me. When he appeared, I told him that my bird would die unless someone helped it. I remember one part of me recited the prayer over and over again while another part of me seemed to talk with the saint. I don't remember much else other than covering my bird's cage that night and feeling sad that this might be the last time I did so.
The next morning when I woke up I was afraid to look in the cage, but when I did my parakeet was sitting on his perch, eating, drinking, and healthy. I believe very strongly that it was the prayers I sent out that saved him. However, I didn't feel that what had happened was a particularly Catholic occurrence. Instead, I felt that my parakeet had been healed because of the personal connection I made with St. Francis.
As a child, I also had the ability to tell when someone was going to die. When people in my neighborhood went to the hospital, I could always tell whether they would come back. My feelings often contradicted what the doctors said or what my parents told me.
I remember that when my grandmother began going in and out of the hospital, I didn't worry until the last time she went in. The doctors told us she would be fine, but I felt that she was going to die. So the last time she was hospitalized, I told my mother that I wanted to go visit my grandmother even though we kids weren't expected to go to the hospital because visiting the sick was considered an adult thing to do. I pestered my mother until she agreed to take me. When I was finally alone with my grandmother in her hospital room, I knew intuitively that she wanted to acknowledge that her time had come. She looked at me and said, "I'm going to go home now." I knew she meant she was going to die. I remember telling my mother about this because the doctors kept saying everything would be fine. When my mother and I were alone, I told her, "You know, Mom, I think Nana's going to die this time." My mother looked at me and said, "Yeah, I think so too." It was an interesting moment because all of a sudden the facade of "everything's going to be fine" slipped away. This was one of those rare childhood moments when I felt that someone was actually willing to acknowledge to me the truth of a situation. One problem I had as a clairvoyant child was that what I perceived was often very different from what I was told. This was especially true when people told me they weren't angry. No matter what people said, if they were angry, their agitation was obvious to me because I could literally see a fiery red, intense energy encircling their heads like a storm. So while an individual vehemently denied his anger, I watched a red storm swirl around him.
As a child, this taught me that while one type of reality was "public" and had to be accepted, another "private" reality existed that was often very different. When my mother shared with me the knowledge that my grandmother was going to die, it was one of the few times I could feel the gap between the two realities disappear. In that moment, we were not separated by the illusions of the physical world. Moments like that from my childhood really stick out in my mind.
I also had the ability to do hands-on healing work. Looking back on it now makes me laugh. When my youngest sister had a headache, I would put my hands on top of her head to make it go away. We didn't think anything of it. If she had a headache, she came to me and I relieved it through the touch of my hand. I remember my mother seeing us and asking what we were doing. When I told her, she didn't believe me until my sister said it was true.
College, Graduate School, and Beyond
My freshman year of college was so difficult that I wondered if I should continue college at all. One day at the end of my freshman year, my Ukrainian grandparents, who had both passed away, appeared to me while I was writing a paper. They told me that everything was going to be all right and that I should continue with school. They also said that they would help me get through the difficult times. From then on, I no longer felt so alone or isolated at college, and my grades improved. My circle of friends began to expand as well. This was a fascinating period because every once in a while, when I was having trouble, my grandparents appeared and told me to keep pushing forward and I would succeed. Their appearances boosted my morale and left me feeling that I could work harder, which was interesting in that they both had worked very hard in their own lives. Hard work was part of their nature. Their presence during my college years seemed to transfer that ethic to me.
When it was time to apply to graduate school, most of my professors thought that Stanford or Yale would be the best fit for me. I also decided to apply to the University of California at Berkeley. I don't know why I applied there. I wasn't attracted to any of the social movements occurring on campuses in the Sixties. I ended up completing my Berkeley application at the last minute, but in only two days I managed to fill out my application, write my essay, and get letters of recommendation.
Even a professor from whom I'd been trying for three months to get a letter of recommendation contributed to my Berkeley application. It was odd because, although I could never seem to get hold of him, the day I realized I had to finish my application, I ran into him in a stairwell. I was nervous about asking for a letter because he was a big-shot professor, but he agreed to write a letter right away. In the end, I got accepted by the school I'd put the least amount of effort into getting into, even though Berkeley accepted only thirty or so students out of the four hundred who applied. The schools for which my professors thought I'd be so right both rejected me. So all of a sudden I was leaving Philadelphia and heading off to Berkeley, California. In fact, from that point onward, my life took directions I could never have anticipated.
I didn't give much thought to spirituality or healing work until my first year as a teaching assistant at Berkeley. That year I had a horrible kidney stone attack. I remember writhing in pain and being taken to the hospital. I was shot full of pain medication, but the stone wouldn't pass. The pain came back every hour for days on end. Then out of nowhere, one of the graduate English department secretaries came to see me. I didn't know her very well, but she said to me, "You might not think this is something you want to do, but I work with a group that does hands-on healing work. When I heard you were sick, I thought you might be open to this." I was in so much pain, I said, "Sure, go ahead." She placed her hands on my stomach and a warm feeling emanated from them. The golden energy I had seen as a child started to appear but then quickly disappeared. She said, "I'm sorry. I guess it didn't work." I told her that it was okay, and I really appreciated her trying. When she left the pain returned again and was horrible. What's worse, the nurse refused to give me any more pain medication because I had already been given my limit. The pain grew worse.