A few years ago, walking on the beach in the early spring sunshine, watching the waves tumble onto the sand, I suddenly found myself taken into an inner dimension of light, surrounded by beings of light. They conveyed to me that they were confused, troubled. They did not understand what was happening. This was supposed to be a time when the worlds came together, when humanity and the inner worlds were in communion, in a conscious connection. And yet it seemed that instead humanity had turned away from the inner worlds, was not making the connection.
Then I found my feet back on the sand, hearing once again the sound of the waves, wondering about what I had been shown and told.
I was brought up in a single dimensional world until I met my teacher and other doors began to open. Now, in the final years of my life I live surrounded by these other worlds, not fully understanding why our culture had to cut off all the unseen worlds from our consciousness, why we have to live in such a bleak environment in which even our dreams are censored. And what does it mean to this present liminal time when we no longer have angels to guide us, nature spirits to help bring us back into balance with the natural world and its patterns of biodiversity? When so much is uncertain and our understanding so limited, when we rely only on the rational consciousness that has caused this ecological devastation—why did we have to walk down this grey path?
So I will tell some stories of the inner worlds and how they have sung to me—how the angels became my friends and companions, and the nature spirits in the garden are always present—and try to convey what it means to live in a multidimensional world.
In these, my later years, angels, beings of light, are my most frequent companions. Angels belong to the world of light. They are made of light rather than matter and have beautiful bodies of radiant color, and they are friendly to humans, wanting to help us in different ways. I find that they are most easily connected with through prayer, when we turn to the inner light within the heart, but there are many ways to reach out to them.
There are healing angels to whom we can pray, a heartfelt prayer for a sick friend or family member. One only has to mention silently, inwardly, the first name of the person who needs healing, because it is the personal feeling that makes the connection within the heart and soul, that guides the angels. Over the last fifty years since I first sat with my teacher, I have seen so many simple miracles of unexplained healing happen—friends given extra years to their life, or what doctors called miracles. The ways of light are so different to our physical world—there time and space do not exist as we know them, love and light bring healing in hidden ways.
Then there are the angels who stand guard over sacred spaces, who are present where spiritual work happens so that darkness does not interfere. These are different angels, more solemn, maybe similar to the protector deities of Tibet though not so fierce. They have the power to dispel the darkness, to help the heart and the soul sing their divine nature. Over the years when I have held spiritual gatherings, they were always present, protecting a sacred space for the work of the soul. I bow to them in the inner world, grateful for their presence. There are so many forces present in the inner worlds and not all of them are friendly. Without their protective presence a certain work could not take place.
There are also greater angels that belong to whole countries, even the Earth herself, protecting and guiding, bringing light where it is needed. They are both beautiful and powerful, vast beings whose colors and light can be seen from afar. In the Christian tradition there are hierarchies of angels, archangels, the highest being Cherubim and Seraphim. Gabriel is an archangel in the Abrahamic traditions, with the power to announce the will of God, while the Seraphim surround the throne of God, constantly in praise.
I know nothing of hierarchies, but know the presence of different angels—from great and powerful beings to the guardian angels that help individuals, like spirit guides, and which children can often see, or feel their presence, before their inner eyes become closed and they forget. We all live in a culture of forgetfulness, where our eyes have been blinkered, mostly unaware of these beings of light which surround us, helping us in unseen ways. In the Bible there is the beautiful image of Jacob’s ladder, a dream of a ladder stretching from Earth to heaven, with angels ascending and descending. This images a constant exchange between the seen and unseen worlds which is no longer part of our collective consciousness.
When I was on the beach and the beings of light spoke to me, I understood that the doors between the worlds were more open than we realize, and it was time for humanity to reconnect with the light and love that surrounds us, the divine intelligence and wisdom that belongs to the angelic world. And that we need this guidance to help us to make the next step in our evolution. The coming age belongs to the principle of oneness, which does not just mean an awareness of the physical world’s interconnected, interdependent nature, but also includes the unseen worlds that surround us, in particular the angelic world of light.
But humanity seems to have taken a denser, darker path, imagining science and technology can help it heal our damaged world, create a future of sustainability. We have isolated ourselves more than we realize, caught in the constrictions of our rational minds, without awareness of the unfolding patterns of the future which the angelic world sees so clearly. Why we chose this path when so much help is around us, guidance waiting to be given, is such a mystery. Maybe it is part of our collective hubris, that human beings are superior, or simply that reason and science have damaged our awareness, making us blind. All I know is that in these, my final years, angels speak and sing to me, their light and beauty, power and presence help me in a world I understand less and less. I do recognize that for most people the angelic world is hidden, a spiritual idea rather than a living reality. Even when help is given unexpectedly it is often unnoticed, unrecognized, though for a moment—when for example an accident is suddenly averted, a crisis overcome—there may be a glimpse of these beings of light, a gentle touch on the shoulder, before the mind dismisses it.
In the Islamic tradition, while angels are made of light, jinns are made of fire, and unlike angels which always bow down before God and enact the divine will, jinns have free will and can choose between doing good or evil. Jinns are spirits which belong to the subtle world and belong to a parallel line of evolution to human beings or angels. Personally, I have not had much experience of the jinn world, though they were present in my teacher’s garden in India, because sometimes they came to a spiritual teacher to be trained. They can take on the form of a human being and always wear white, but the eyes are different. Irina Tweedie tells a story of a jinn who came to her teacher:
Many of us were sitting with Bhai Sahib that day, but one chair to my left stood empty. Much talk was going on and people kept coming and going. Then I noticed that a young man sat in the empty chair. He was poorly dressed in white dhoti and kurta, and I thought that he might be a villager or someone from the province. He sat awkwardly on the corner of the chair. I thought that he must be a newcomer, but what struck me was his eyes. They were wide, very dark, and had a strange expression. Perhaps he is not quite normal or a little unbalanced . . . I got this impression—some unbalanced people have this non-human expression in their eyes. Women came to have their children blessed. Jagan Nathji was talking to me, and when I happened to look at the chair, it was empty. There was nothing unusual about it; many people came and went; one could not notice everything. I think it must have been two days later that I saw the same young man seated in the same place. This time I was a little puzzled, because I was looking in this direction a moment ago and there was nobody there. And nobody came through the gate; at least I saw no one. The young man spoke to nobody and kept looking at Bhai Sahib. Bhai Sahib was talking, explaining something. Strange, I thought. He is so polite to every newcomer; this young man is a stranger, but Bhai Sahib took no notice of him, neither the first time when he was here, nor this time. It was unusual. I began to wonder if I should speak to him, to show some friendliness, was reflecting if he understands English. I looked at him, his strange wide dark eyes, then I looked at Bhai Sahib; shall I speak to him? I thought. Bhai Sahib looked directly at me and there was a warning in his eyes. I lowered mine and the next moment I saw the poet coming through the gate. Bhai Sahib began to talk to him. I turned my head and the chair was empty.
I told this story to the assembled disciples, asking if that could have been a jinn. “Most certainly yes,” said the disciple who was explaining about the jinns a moment ago. “The whole appearance which you describe is typical of a jinn who came to get something from Bhai Sahib. That’s why his warning look to you not to talk to him.”
Jinns are mental elementals, and my sense is that because our Western world is so dense on the mental plane, so many thought-forms, they are less present here. Though sometimes they have helped me to clean a space of negative psychic energy. Once I saw them like white lights cleaning the corners of a room where I had to sleep. The room had been full of psychic debris from a workshop that had taken place there, and it was too disturbing for me to rest. There is a Sufi tradition that one is trained to work in the jinn world.
Closer to the earth are the nature spirits or devas, which are the spiritual intelligence within nature. I feel them most closely in the garden where I welcome their presence, or in the wild places where I walk, though there they are often more hidden, unrecognized. Sitting beneath an old tree I can feel its spirit, reaching from deep within the earth where its roots spread, to the canopy high in the sky. But all the flowers in the garden are alive with their own spirit nature, happy to be acknowledged. Any spiritual practice like meditation gives them sustenance that is sadly lacking in our utilitarian world, allowing their colors to shine more brightly, their presence to radiate.
Each plant species, like each animal, has its own deva, its core spiritual nature. I remember when a friend of mine was staying in a room here overlooking a pond where there were many frogs. They croaked so loudly in the night that she couldn’t sleep. So she got out of bed and went to the pond and said “Oh grandmother frog, mother of all frogs, I too am part of great created nature and need to sleep. So please, please, croak less loudly.” Immediately the sound lessened and she was able to sleep.
I firmly believe that evolution is not just “natural selection,” which in my mind is too simplistic and mechanical to include the fully animate world in which we belong. Rather the way plants and animals have changed and adapted over the millennia embodies the intelligence within nature. All of nature has its own spirit intelligence that adapts to the changing patterns of creation, forming the interdependent patterns that we are now beginning to recognize—how, for example, a fungus deep within the jungle communicates to ants what leaves from specific trees it needs to nourish it. The natural world is alive with its own intelligence, which Indigenous People always recognized and could understand and listen, speak its language. Today we have so many words but so few ways to communicate with the world around us. And if we are to find our way out of the present ecological devastation, we need more than ever to communicate with nature so we can work together towards a living future. So that once again we can rejoin the Great Conversation, of which the elemental natural world is our true partner. Sadly, in most present environmental discussions we are still only talking to ourselves.
The angelic world and the nature spirits in the garden have been my most constant companions in these recent years, reminding me how it was in the early days of our human journey, when the colors sang in the air. When there was no division between spirit and matter, and natural magic was fully present. Today my garden speaks to me, reassuring me when my soul seems darkened by what is happening in our world.
On my journey between the worlds over the last half century I have also encountered many other inhabitants of the unseen worlds. There are the elemental trickster figures, like Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, that “merry wanderer of the night” who made people fall in love with the wrong person, and showed us to be an ass. Sometimes you can hear their laughter when an email goes astray with unintended consequences…. There are also darker elemental beings who feed off our negative emotions, anger or sadness, and often inhabit the dark corners of pubs and bars, as alcohol lowers our self-protection along with our inhibitions. That is why cleaning is so important, as in the old Celtic ritual when after a wedding the couple walk to the celebration preceded by a young boy and girl with brooms, who sweep away the evil spirits so that the couple have a happy marriage.
And then there are the spirit beings who are tasked with helping people make the transition from this world, helping them over the threshold, particularly when they have not been prepared to die, for example have been in an accident or fire. Then the spirit being will gently explain to them that they are dead, that their partner or children can no longer see or hear them, so they can make the transition rather than becoming ghosts caught between the worlds. We are helped in so many mysterious ways about which our present culture knows nothing.
But rather than listing all the inhabitants of the unseen worlds—for example all the different elemental beings shamans were taught to work with or to avoid—I would rather remind us that we are living amidst many interpenetrating worlds, each with their own ways of being. Just as we do not recognize the help that is being offered, nor do we understand the darkness that is seeping into our world and collective consciousness. Is this self-destructive death spiral we are following just the result of our ignorance or greed? Can we halt it with reason or science? As I mentioned previously, the medicine man Black Elk saw the destiny of his people, how the circle was broken. But today we see so little, are walking blindly into the coming days.
I do not know what will awaken us. When the beings of light spoke to me on the beach they were puzzled, confused because they had understood that doors which had been closed were being opened, and that it was a time to welcome what was unseen, to work together to help the world turn. But through these openings it seems that only a greater darkness has entered—forces that do not want the world to change, that are helping to create this collective dystopia, sometimes attaching themselves to a person, group, or organization to help enact their darkness. Maybe this is what happens at the end of an era when the light darkens, when confusion comes. I do know that the angels still stand guard over places of power and that there is a future far deeper than our present destiny. But mostly I wonder why it had to be like this, why so much light was lost, why we do not welcome what is unseen. So I retire into my garden, weeding and mulching, preparing the beds for Spring planting. Then sitting beneath the old redwood, feeling its silent presence. Soon the baby fawns will be born and come and eat the grass, their mother watching nearby.