Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dreams Of Three

All my life (at least up until now) I have heard an old bit of folk wisdom or superstition that if you dream the same dream three times, that dream will come true. Sometimes it is suggested the dream must recur on successive nights, but the former is the more popular theory, at least as I've heard of it.
I'm a big dreamer and have always felt that dreams have meaning. At least I can attest that mine do. The only thing that prevents me from keeping a dream journal beside my bed is that, light sleeper that I am, if I were to try to record my dreams before returning to my slumbers, why, I would never return to my slumbers. But many of dreams remain with me after I have awakened for the day. Many have stayed with me for years.  
I have had premonitory dreams. Much valuable self insight has been gleaned from my dreams when the filter is off and my whole mind gets involved in my thought process rather than just my conscious mind. Because that filter is off during my sleep, my dreams have also given me valuable insights about people I know and who are a part of my life. I've written songs in my dreams. And of course I've had more than my share of Freudian "wish fulfillment" in my dreams.
Recently I have twice dreamed of a fire in my home. Well, not really a fire, but rather smoke that indicated to me that there was a fire or about to be a fire. Actual flames were never seen in my dreams, only copious amounts of smoke.
The first of these dreams occurred several weeks ago when I dreamed my clock radio began smoking. Now that clock radio has been malfunctioning for a while. The radio occasionally comes on without warning and there is no way to turn the radio off. The control is no longer fail-safe. The clock radio has great sentimental value to me, having been a gift from my high school sweetheart ex-wife, and is over thirty years old. Many have been the nights my sleep was interrupted by the radio suddenly coming on during the night. Often when I am home it comes on suddenly and usually plays a song that has personal meaning for me. That wasn't so bad, but the night interruptions were getting old quick.
I had been thinking of throwing the radio away but found I just couldn't bear to part with. It was as I was debating tossing it that my first dream occurred. I was in my bed sleeping and - in my dream, mind you - turned over to check the digital time read out (something I often do during the night) and noticed smoke arising from it. The dream seemed so real that it woke me and then it took me a couple of minutes before I could convince myself it was a dream. 
Well, finally I just thought to turn the tuner to a "dead spot" were no radio station was located and that has solved my problem.
Then came my second smoke dream. It happened just the other night when I dreamed the indoor portion of my heating and air-conditioning unit began smoking during the night. Again the dream was so realistic it disturbed me greatly.
That dream probably isn't mysterious as twice this past week I had to call a repairman to replace a faulty thermostat which was making for a cold house. The first replacement went bad after two days and had to be replaced. Perhaps faulty machines just have a way of going up in smoke in my dreams.
Those aren't exactly the same dream but rather the same kind of dream. So now I await a third smoke-filled dream to see what, if anything, happens. You see, I've always had this fear rattling around in the back of my mind - not a great one, but certainly a persistent one - of my home catching fire while I am asleep. That almost happened once when I was a teenager and an ironing board that had been propped up along a wall somehow managed to fall onto a floor furnace. My mother woke up in the night because she smelled smoke (we didn't have smoke detectors in my childhood home}. Strangely there were no flames involved in this incident either, only smoke. I was asleep on the couch and was awakened by the noise my mom made dragging the smoldering ironing board off the furnace.
Well, I'm not superstitious, but I am profoundly curious.
Just for fun I'm attaching a story about dreams of three taken from the April 30, 1855, edition of the New York Times:
Fatal Accident at West Avon - Prophetic Dreams
On Tuesday, the 24th inst., as Orson Woodford, of West Avon, was sawing wood with a horse-power saw, the saw caught in a crooked stick and was torn with the shaft from its fastenings. It came in contact with Mr. W.'s right arm, which was torn nearly off at the elbow. He survived the injury but twelve hours. Mr. W. leaves a wife and two children.

A singular circumstance connected with this sad occurrence is mentioned by a correspondent, who sends us the above statement. Mr. Woodford dreamed; for three successive nights, of being hurt with that saw; and on the morning of his death he remarked to his wife, on arising, "I had that same ugly dream last night."

Thursday, November 28, 2013


In my many years of being around Christians (not to mention having been reared as a Christian) I have heard my share of "miraculous" stories of answered prayer. In fact, I have a few of those to tell myself.
As one might imagine, these tales can tend to be confirmatory of the truth of one's religious belief system. A "Look, it worked for me" type of thing. Not a hard thing to imagine.
As I became older and more questioning about religious faith in general I happened to notice that people of other religious traditions had their share of stories of astounding answers to prayers.
So much for the confirmation of truth (at least of a single truth).
Unless, of course, there might be some underlying principle at work that encompasses all the thousands of flavors of spiritual outlooks, some mystical cosmic principle that is applicable to these many different outlooks.  
Some folks have no patience for that type of thing. I understand.
But just for fun, humor me. Pretend there is some principle that works in a spiritual dimension beyond the mere ordinary and which is described by our best efforts only in a metaphorical way. 
The older I get the more convinced I become that religious language has to be metaphorical. Different cultures have different metaphors, sometimes totally unique ways of viewing things. The rejection of this idea leads us to the confusing, contradictory, and sometimes downright unreasonable world of anthropomorphic religious thinking.  
Perhaps that principle, while divisive when understood with a stone literalness, can be uniting when understood and expressed metaphorically. Perhaps not, you might say. But think of how much religions and different forms of spirituality have in common as opposed to their differences.
Perhaps you're thinking: "You're grasping Doug, trying to hold on to childish wishes long after you should have outgrown the need of such."
But it seems that most people don't outgrow this need. Some of those who claim they have will still in their more candid moments admit it would be comforting if they could still believe.
Perhaps the spiritual picture would be better painted with loose form and broad strokes. (Yes, I am aware of how many perhapses there are in this post.)
Those of us who follow a metaphorical spirituality don't fly planes into buildings or blow ourselves up, destroying precious human life, in order to make our point. We don't engage in crusades or inquisitions. We don't build walls and burn down bridges. We seek reconciliation with our fellow travelers, those who have been led astray by misguided efforts to express the ineffable.
But I started out talking about prayer. If I could riff a little from an old Disney song, a prayer is a wish that the heart makes (A Dream Is A Wish That The Heart Makes, from Cinderella), I would say that true prayer is the human heart's desire to be fully engaged with the Cosmos and one's fellow travelers therein.
Perhaps (there it is yet again!) hoping and wishing are the major activities that mark us as a higher animal life form. And we are the only truly religious animal.

I'm still seeking confirmation of my quaint little notions. No hurry; I don't plan on going anywhere any time soon.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Death Of A Psychic

Because I have posted so many times about psychics and seers, I feel I should mention the passing of one of the best known of these folks, Sylvia Browne. She died last week at the age of 77. That's interesting because she had predicted she would die at 88. Of course many of those who wrote of her death played on the "she didn't see it coming" theme. Fair enough, it seems. According to her website, which I checked when I learned of her death, she was booking reservations for an upcoming March cruise with her fans. Obviously she wasn't planning on dying any time soon, but, as she said about other of her misforecasts, for example, telling the distraught mother of Amanda Berry that her daughter was dead (when we now know she wasn't) "only God is right all the time."
It is hard for me to understand how she was able to amass such a following, especially in view of her constant miscues. She managed to get herself banned from the Coast To Coast AM radio program - something that would seem hard to do in view of the many bizarre subjects they discuss. (She had predicted on air that some trapped miners in the Sago Mine would be found alive and rescued. They were not (except for a lone survivor), and that was discovered, again, while they were on air.)
She was friend of Montel Williams and a frequent guest on his talk show. Her sheer audacity bluffed many, I suppose. A friend of mine, quite gullible but extremely sweet, made the comment to me as we were discussing the psychic's latest appearance there, "she must really have a gift from God." I told her that I didn't think so. And I don't.
She wrote a host of books as a supposed authority on spirituality and such, many touted as bestsellers, with interesting titles such as.Contacting Your Spirit Guide, Life on the Other Side: A Psychic's Guide to the Afterlife, All Pets Go To Heaven: The Spiritual Live of the Animals We Love, Past Lives of the Rich and Famous, Phenomenon: Everything You Need To Know About The Paranormal, Sylvia Browne's Book of Angels, to name just a handful.   
Is there any reason to think her ideas presented in those books are any more accurate than her predictions? I think not. Truly it can be said that if there is anything at all on the "other side," Ms. Browne is in a much better position now to know than she was when she penned her many books.
My opinion is that Browne was just an audacious fraud who preyed on the vulnerable and gullible. I can't find myself charitable enough to cut her slack as being a sincere but deluded believer. She knew her track record. She knew she wasn't able to predict the future. Yet she raked in tons of money giving private readings to folks who should have known better.

It isn't that I take pleasure in her death. At the same time I can't feel sorrow that her activities as a "psychic" have now ended.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Kennedy-Lincoln Connection

Chains of more-than-coincidence occur so often in my life that, if I am
forbidden to call them supernatural hauntings, let me call them a habit. Not
that I like the word 'supernatural'; I find these happenings natural enough,
though superlatively unscientific. - Robert Graves
Tomorrow marks the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Roughly one hundred years previous to that another beloved US president was removed from this earth by an assassin's bullet. Followers of the strange and uncanny have long noted the many coincidences that link these two presidents, the first lists appearing shortly after Kennedy's death.
As a student of Synchronicity myself I am more than fascinated by the seeming connection between Kennedy and Lincoln, although I have no theories as to why the similarities exist.
Both President Lincoln and President Kennedy were removed from their office by an assassin's bullet.
Both were shot on Friday.
Both were shot in the back of the head.
Both were shot in the back of the head while seated beside their wives.
President Lincoln was shot in Ford's Theater, Kennedy in a Ford automobile.
Both were succeeded by their Vice President Johnson (Andrew Johnson for Lincoln, Lyndon Johnson for Kennedy).
Besides bearing the same surname and, I think, more than a passing resemblance in appearance (note especially their noses), Lyndon Johnson was born one hundred years after Andrew Johnson (1908 versus 1808). They both are also thought of as somewhat crude characters. 

The assassins of both Lincoln and Kennedy were killed before they were brought to trial.
President Kennedy's secretary was named Lincoln (Evelyn Lincoln).
The widowed Mrs. Kennedy modeled her slain husbands funeral on that of Abraham Lincoln.
I've often wondered but have yet found the time to investigate what influence President Lincoln's legacy might have had on President Kennedy. Maybe someday I will get around to looking in to this.
Now there are many more similarities than I have listed above. Some lists are quite extensive, containing both the most trivial of details and sometimes even wrong information. But the above is enough to get one to thinking.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

When "Prayers" Are Answered

My life has been quite complicated lately, necessitating some time away from my blog. I've missed blogging and interacting with my cyber friends, but sometimes life takes some twists and turns.
I've just had another one of those uncanny thing happen to me. Back in my Christian days I would have called it an answer to my prayers. Maybe I still think of it that way in a sense. I've rethought the whole prayer matter and can't take seriously the idea of attempting to cajole the Almighty into acting in a certain way. Yet I find some meaning in prayer as an expression of the deepest longings of the heart. (My ideas about the Almighty have undergone an even more radical reappraisal in recent years and are not at all orthodox or even ordinary.)
For the second time in this year my life has been touched by a surprising good fortune that I have longed for but had little reason to think would actually come about. As I've looked back over the years of my life I recall lots of little ways that things have seemingly "fallen into place." Some weren't little ways, but were rather stunning. Most people I've talked with have experienced the same thing. 
No wonder so many of us think of higher powers, guiding forces, Karma, destiny, fate, or any number of ways to make sense of it all. And for those who don't believe in nuthin' there is always that old standby, coincidence. But sometimes it seems the "mere" coincidences can pile up in such a way as to make it a less than fully satisfying solution. Or maybe not. As I observed before, worldviews can be extremely personal. 
Life fascinates me. My own and the lives of others. It seems that with a little digging anyone's life can be found full of little (and big!) synchronicities (or "mere" coincidences) that not only add flavor but a real sense of wonder.
If my life ended today it still would have been a life that seemed meaningful, perhaps even guided. I have always sensed a WAY that, when deviated from, always complicated things for me. I've interpreted that WAY variously down through the years, and of course at first within the culture I was reared in (but the inquiring mind always looks ever further). Becoming rich or famous were never priorities of mine. I always wanted just to find my niche, and then be the best Doug I could be.

I have yet one more unfulfilled wish that I would like to see come to pass. It's very personal and I won't mention it just now. If that comes about my life will have come full circle and I will finally be at peace (at least as much at peace as one can be in this tumultuous world of ours). And deep down I feel that "prayer" will be answered one day. That feeling is so intense I'm tempted to say I know it will come to pass in due time. In the meantime I wait and anxiously long for the desire of my heart. It remains to be seen how the order I seek will arise from the present disorder of life. My former religion had a phrase I always found interesting: "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Seer Of Millerville, Alabama

Seers and soothsayers of various sorts have always fascinated me. I won't say they impress me, because usually they don't. Here in the southern United States we have always had our share of these types. Quite often they are religious in the traditional sense and see no conflict whatsoever between their "gift" and the Christian religion.
In the middle portion of the state of Alabama there is a small hole-in-the wall place known as Millerville. That tiny community was home to Amanda Vanzandt “Rena” Teel (1894-1964), or "the seer of Millerville," as she has come to be known. 
Legend has it that she was born with a a caul covering her face - a sure sign of possession of the gift of psychic insight. Of course it is often hard to pry truth from legend with these folk. Old timers have stories to tell - no doubt often much embellished - and so these stories often remain alive for many years.
Rena Teel, a Baptist, was known for her ability to find lost objects. She allegedly would read coffee grounds. But she supposedly had psychic insight that allegedly went back to her childhood.
However that may be, perhaps her most famous case was in assisting to find a lost child, two-year-old Ricky Tankersley after wondering off into the woods with his pa's hunting dogs one cold February morning in 1949.
According to newspaper reports contemporary with that event Ricky's father, L.C. Tankersley credited Mrs. Teel with helping him find his son. He went to her hoping she could assist him. She told him where to go to find his son. He went there without finding young Ricky, so he returned to the seer. She told Mr. Tankersley he "hadn't gone far enough." Upon returning to the targeted location he heard the dogs barking. They were protecting young Ricky and had slept on top of him to keep him warm - which probably saved his life.
Well, anyway, that's the way Mr. Tankersley told it.
When Rena Teel died she was buried in Clay County Alabama's Big Springs Baptist Church Cemetery. Gone, but far from forgotten by folks who remember her and have stories of how she touched their lives.
Now I just mentioned one story of the many that make up The Legend of Rena Teel. Click that link for a rather lengthy account of some of her other exploits from someone who did have some first hand knowledge of the seer of Millerville.  
Like the author of the article I linked above, I wonder how to account for things such as these. I grew up around this sort of thing. I was raised in a Pentecostal church, where "the gift of prophecy" was supposedly in practice. I have witnessed some rather uncanny predictions come true, including some by my parents. In fact, I have had my own share of premonitions and insights.  

I'm not a dogmatic type of person. I think that isn't a very sensible thing to be. There is so much to learn, to ponder, to experience. And time is so limited!

Monday, November 4, 2013

World Alive!

(Photo Credit:

I have always suspected that animals know more than they are able to tell us. That they have something like a sixth sense that allows them to stay attuned to nature. For example, my little cat - the only one I have left now - Blackie, is very good at keeping time. He is almost always on the deck awaiting my arrival home from work, and usually he is there when I get up in the morning. (Well, Sunday he was a bit off - but we did move the time back!)
This morning I read this interesting little story that was picked up by the Associated Press writer Doug Esser. It seems a pod of orcas (estimated at nearly three dozen) "escorted" a boatload of artifacts belonging to the Suquamish tribe to the new Suquamish museum in Seattle, which city is named for the famous Chief Sealth.
Leonard Forsman, Squamish Tribal Chairman. suggested:
We believe they were welcoming the artifacts home as they made their way back from Seattle, back to the reservation....We believe the orcas took a little break from their fishing to swim by the ferry, to basically put a blessing on what we were on that day. They are fishermen like we are.
Orca Network at Freeland's Howard Garrett found the orca's behavior suggestive:
I can't rule out somehow they could pick up on the mental energy that there is something special there. Or it could be a coincidence.
No, surely not; not "mental energy." Surely there must be a more natural explanation. But what is nature? When I contemplate the Cosmos and how majestic it is, a "mental energy" that permeates the whole is to my mind the best explanation.