by Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D.
Back in the olden days, 25 years ago, when I was young and exceedingly naive concerning the invisible worlds, I was a practicing Unitarian and a technical writer. Evidently, some higher being thought that made me good fodder. First, one of my friends told me that the things that suddenly started happening were not "just my imagination." Those colored balls zipping around the room were real. There were no coincidences in the universe. Next, I fell in love with a man who worked by day as an engineer. He also did automatic writing, and his "control" had convinced him that he had a Great Mission To Accomplish In This Life. He believed it. I came to believe it, too.
Then someone advised me to visit a metaphysical church of good repute (which I'll call the Loving Light Center) and study with Rev. Debbee. God spoke directly to Rev. Debbee! While she was in the bathroom. "Well, that's the only time I have any privacy," she would explain. She was, she went on, pursued simply all the timeby her students. "They call me for advice at all hours of the day and night. They depend on me for every little thing." Why, Rev. Debbee was so wise that she already knew she wouldn't have to reincarnate again after this life. That's why she was teaching so many classes, so that her knowledge would not be lost to us forever. Like I said, I was exceedingly naive. I started taking her classes. I tithed to her.
Rev. Debbee taught that everyone living on Earth has Eight Spirit Guides who surround and protect them at all times. Members of this invisible crowd that sit on our shoulders, whisper in our ears, and fling Significant Signs And Signals in our paths are (1) an American Indian Warrior to teach us to be strong, (2) a Naturopathic Doctor to heal our physical ills, (3) a Space Brother to help us explore the cosmos, (4) a Saint to lead us to God, (5) a Teacher or Scientist from Atlantis to bring the lost knowledge back into the world, (6) a Knight in Shining Armor to keep us safe from evil influences like demons, (7) an Ascended Master from the Far East to teach us Upper Chakra Wisdom, and (8) our own Soul Mate to Love And Protect Us. Rev. Debbee assured us that these Eight Spirit Guides led us every day along the Right-Hand Path to the White Light of God "How cool is that," I said to myself. "How can I get in touch with these spirit guides?"
Being the studious type, I started with books. I read the mainstream metaphysical literature, the books on the European Occult Revival, and the various psychic sciences, books on ceremonial magic and the Qabala and theosophy and the Universal White Brotherhood. I read Blavatsky, Leadbeater, Besant, Dion Fortune, Horace Quimby, Manly P. Hall well, the list goes on and on. Although I learned enough to be a walking footnote to this day, I didn't learn anything helpful about that mob of spirit guides that was supposed to be running my life. Next, I did Tarot readings for myself. Every reading predicted fame and fortune. I did numerological readings for myself, got astrologers to interpret my natal chart, and got my palms and irises read. No spirit guides revealed themselves. "Hey," I said to myself, "That's not fair. How come everyone I know gets to talk to their spirit guides, but all I get is one lousy Kirlian photograph with eyes in it?"
Under my boyfriend's tutelage, I tried automatic writing. All I got was a stiff hand. I visited The Psychics To The Stars. All I got was a lot of debits in my check register.
I turned to Rev. Debbee. "I really want to meet my spirit guides," I told her. "I need to know what's coming in my life."
"Well," she said after a minute of deep thought. "Come to our next psychic fair. Let Kenny draw a spirit picture for you. That will be one of your Spirit Guides." So I went to the next Loving Light Psychic Fair, and Kenny sat me down, got out his conte crayons, and drew an Indian that he said he saw standing behind me. "Wow," I said. "Is this one of my Spirit Guides?" "I'm sure he is," Kenny said modestly. "He says his name is Sun In Sky."
Breathless with enthusiasm, I took my drawing home. I propped it up against a stack of books on the table and sat there, gazing into its eyes. I just knew this drawing was going to help me. I was going to be taught or protected or healed or led. "Here I am!" I said aloud, "Let's get on with it already," I thought. "Hey, I'm waiting! What do I need to know? What should I do? Why am I on Earth this time? What is my Purpose In Life?"
Nothing happened. I went to work every day and wrote about copper mining in Peru, about building a harbor in Saudi Arabia, about propping up the Alaskan Oil Pipeline. I edited proposals and engineers' resumes. In my mind, I talked to Sun In Sky. "Hey! Why don't you answer me," I thought.
Desperate for cosmic communication, I went back to Rev. Debbee. After two minutes of deep thought, she said, "Well, have you tried the pendulum?" Although I didn't realize it, that was the beginning of the end of my enchantment, but it took me more than a year to get through the learning process.
What Rev. Debbee told me to do was get a piece of typing paper and print the letters of the alphabet on it in an arc, like a Ouija Board, plus the numbers from 1 to 10. She showed me how to hold a pendulum above the paper. Soon it began to swing from letter to letter, spelling out words. "Just write down the words," she said. "This always works. You'll be hearing from your Spirit Guides now!" "Good for you," my boyfriend said, "but just to make sure you don't get under the influences of any evil entities, say the Lord's Prayer before you begin. And give yourself an hour or so every night."
Reader, do you know the meaning of "compulsive?" Have you ever seen obsessiveness in action? I should mention here that my son, Charles, was about nine years old at the time. He has always been very bright, very skeptical, and very resourceful. I suppose I could safely say that my adventures with the Invisibles helped him become more resourceful, and more self-sufficient. Within a week or two, my nightly hour with the pendulum doubled. We moved the TV into Charles's bedroom. My doubled hour doubled again. I sat on the couch, not watching TV, not listening to music, not talking to friends on the phone, not reading mysteries, not petting the cat or meditating. I sat there with a mini-Ouija Board and a pendulum and talked to spirits. As I told my son, I was watching the "wizards drive the pendulum," and they were teaching me everything I'd ever need to know.
I don't remember the names of all the Invisibles who came through my pendulum. Sun In Sky called me his "precious child" (something my physical father had never done) and told me I'd been a Lakota Princess in 1800 before the white men arrived in Nebraska. He told me that my boyfriend and I were destined to marry and create a dynasty.
Oh, yes, did I mention that my boyfriend was not only self-absorbed, but that he was also married? Another spirit, Mr. Kahlil, told him via automatic writing that we were to go to Egypt and/or Saudi Arabia together to save the world. From what was never specified. Mr. Kahlil started talking to me, too, about eternal love. My boyfriend and I were advised to wait until his wife died, then we'd be together again forever. I am forever ashamed that I believed that story. Mr. Kahlil soon said he would assume a human body and visit the construction company where we worked. He'd bring a major construction project to which we'd be assigned, and off we'd go. I believed him.
I went back to Kenny for another spirit drawing. This time he drew an Incan prince named Kuti. And, sure enough, Kuti started talking through my pendulum. I learned about this past life and that one, about how famous I'd been, about my royal heritage, about my sacred destiny. "Wow," I thought, "now I know why I'm on Earth. I know what My Purpose In Life is." I spent four hours every night after work with the pendulum, spelling out a sentence and writing it down, spelling out another sentence and writing it down, watching the wizards steer the pendulum round and round and round.
Someone who said she was Isis came and talked to me. She said she'd been my mother in a past life. Another Invisible said that my boyfriend had been David and I'd been Bathsheba. Another one said I'd been Cleopatra and he'd been Caesar and another boyfriend had been Marc Antony. Another one said my boyfriend and I had been the King and Queen of Atlantis.
"How cool is this," I said to myself, "I am royalty!" Charles wanted to know what's for supper and could I give him his lunch money and would I buy the "Frogger" game for him and hook it up to the TV, and could he visit his friends for the weekend? My boss in the tech pubs department wanted to know why my work was so slow. My friends wondered why I never phoned them, why we never went to movies anymore, why I didn't know what was going on in any of our favorite sitcoms. "I am royalty," I replied in my imagination, "I am above such mundane matters. I have a Major Task To Perform." All these Spirit Guides were running my life, and I was happy to let them do it.
By this time, my boyfriend, who had been writing automatically for four or five years, had a whole stack of notebooks filled with different kinds of messages in different handwritings, none of them his own. My stack of pendulum papers was about ream-high. We were waiting for Mr. Kahlil to come and take us away from mundane construction. We were waiting to assume our rightful places in the sacred hierarchy of the world.
One Friday night, as soon as supper was over and my son was in his bedroom listening to Talking Heads records, I picked up my pendulum, assumed the position, and waited for wisdom. The pendulum began to swing. "We want you as our Earth slave." "What?" I asked. Oh, yes. I'd forgotten to pray. "Our Father, Who art in Heaven." "We want you to be our Earth slave." Who's there? Who are you? Where is Sun In Sky?" "Hallowed be thy name... and deliver us from evil." "We want you to be our Earth slave."
Rev. Debbee wasn't home. Her message machine said she was delivering a lecture at a metaphysical congress. Kenny was with her. I certainly couldn't call my boyfriend. "We want you to be our Earth slave." I put the pendulum away. I went into Charles's bedroom and watched TV with him.
But I was addicted. First thing Saturday morning, back to the pendulum. I got the same message: "We want you to be our Earth slave." I prayed over the paper. I cupped the pendulum in my hands and prayed again. I visualized white light on the paper, around the pendulum, around my hands, around my pen and notebook, around my whole body, filling my living room. White light everywhere. I called upon angels to protect me. I implored my Eight Spirit Guides to come to me and do their jobs.
"We want you to be our Earth slave." Now I had figured out by this time that I could influence what the pendulum said. I could make it spell out what I wanted it to say. Well, not this time."We want you to be our Earth slave."
It was noon. I tore up the paper and burned the pieces in an abalone shell on sacred sand. Then I buried the ashes in my back yard. I took the expensive crystal pendulum outside. I also took a ball-peen hammer. I smashed that crystal point, burned the black thread, and buried it all.
But I was addicted. Sunday morning, I found another crystal point and tied it to another piece of black thread. "What's going on here? " I asked, then held the new pendulum over the new paper and waited. "Who are you?" "My name is Walter Troll." I nearly dropped the pendulum. "Who are you? Why are you scaring me?" "That's not really my name. But you may know me as Walter Troll. It's my job to scare you." I responded, "Well, you're doing a really good job of it." "Glad to hear that. Have you looked at your life lately?"
No. All I'd been looking at was that pendulum. "Well, I've been learning things from my Eight Spirit Guides. And Isis, She's a famous Goddess, you know, and She talks to me all the time. And my Indian father. They say I have a mission on Earth." "Do you expect me to believe that?" Walter asked. "I believe it," I responded. "Do you really believe what a pendulum is telling you?" "Yes! Of course I do. Why wouldn't I?" It was, Walter Troll told me, time for a reality check. "What is the quality of your life?"
The quality of my life was lousy. "Good girl. Now pay attention. The way to live your life is to get out there and live it. That's trite, yes, but it's quite true. You're so smart? Examine your life. What are you actually learning that is of any use to you, your son, or anyone in the world? Has anything Mr. Kahlil promised come to pass? Has anything any of these entities told you come to pass? What are you learning that is true and useful?"
Reality check indeed. I put the pendulum down and picked up a pencil and wrote in my journal. I went for a walk. I took Charles out for lunch and we had a genuine conversation. I phoned a friend, who said she'd been wondering if I was still alive. Monday morning, I went to work and edited a proposal to build a cement plant in northern Idaho. I wrote a report on a construction project in Florida. After work, I came home and watched a little TV with Charles, then took him out for supper. We came home, watched some more TV, and after he went to bed, I picked up a paperback mystery. I had to start at the beginning because I'd completely forgotten the plot.
"Atta girl," Walter Troll told me Tuesday night. "If you spend all your time waiting for instructions from eight spirit guides, what else do you have time for? You want a task on Earth? How your son is growing up? How do you think your boyfriend's wife feels? Would he be any more faithful to you than he is to her? When's the last time you spent time with your friends?"
"Walter," I replied, "are you my friend? Really? Who are you?" "Yes, my dear, I am your friend. Who do you think I am?" "I wish I knew! Why are you here? Why did you tell me you want me to be your Earth slave?" Walter said, "Do you still believe you're the queen of the Earth?" "Well No. That just doesn't make sense." "Do you need this pendulum?" I replied, "Okay. Yeah. I'm looking at it with clearer eyes. But why did you scare me? Who are you?"
Walter Troll never answered my questions. Like the Little Prince, he was much better at asking questions than answering them. But, you know, he made me face myself. To this day, I don't know who he was. And all the other Invisibles who talked to me through that pendulum, were they real or did my needy self make them all up? Were my Invisibles extrinsic to me or intrinsic? I'd read quite a lot and, when I reread their dictation, I saw that none of them had said anything I hadn't already read.
Who was Walter Troll? I have never heard from him again. He spent a week in my head, a week driving my pendulum. What he taught me was to be skeptical of "messages from beyond" and of people who think they don't have to reincarnate anymore. He taught me to look closely at power and magic and claims of power and magic. He taught me that the invisible world may exist only between our ears and beneath the canopy of our skull. The invisible world may also be all around us. It can be hard to tell the difference. And he taught me not to be afraid of knowledge, whether it comes from worlds visible or invisible. He taught me to face Gods, Goddesses and invisible trolls.
Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D.
Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. is the author of "Goddess Meditations" and "Practicing the Presence of the Goddess." She has two books scheduled for publication in 2003. "Finding New Goddesses" is a book of parody, puns, and humor. "Quicksilver Moon" is a novel about a vampire, a coven of Witches, and a far-right fundamentalist preacher. She is also working on a book called "Let There Be Beauty." She lives in Long Beach, California, with her cats, Schroedinger and Heisenberg, plus her collections of Witches, Goddesses, and books.