click here to go to my style blog - sometimes people end up here by accident. if so, i hope it's a pleasant detour......steph

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Empire of the Wheel III: Roses and Wheels

Well, i read EOW: Friends From Sonora and enjoyed it so much that yesterday i ordered Empire of the Wheel III: The Nameless Ones. It downloaded to my android's Kindle App within seconds, i opened her up and started reading.

At the time i was seated at the dining room table, my base of operations here at the's where i eat, use my computer, and do all my sewing. (I'm sitting there right now!!!  ;)  The first section of EOW3 deals with a de facto shrine to Heckate found in the center of Riverside, CA. A rose garden in the center of town looks up towards a statue of three female figures on top of the courthouse. The central, standing figure is identified as Heckate by the presence of a six-spoked wheel at her feet. According to the author, roses are associated with Heckate.

image courtesy

What activity did i interrupt to order EOW3? What was i continuing to do whilst jumping in and reading my new book?  I was hand stitching around some roses i stenciled on this linen which i've cut out to make a Riding Peplum, after the Party Dress i made from April Rhodes' pattern turned out so nicely.

Let's take a closer look at this ring, which i've worn daily for almost ten years now. Mr. E bought it for me at the Renaissance Faire from Benitez Jewelers. I can't recommend Benitez highly enough, they make gorgeous, well crafted, durable pieces which are absolutely unique. My ring features one of Benitez's trademark roses as well as a star sapphire. I took this picture to highlight the six point asterism, radiating like the spokes of a wheel.....asterisms are quite evocative and mysterious, as you can only see them in certain lights, when you know for what to look.

Kind of like a shrine to the ancient goddess of chaos and the underworld hiding in a bit of municipal mundanity. Once one's eyes open to the hidden, you'll find magic and meaning in the most quotidian of events.  I know that Walter Bosley, author of the EOW series along with his collaborator Richard Spence, has encountered numerous synchronicities while researching and writing these books. I am certain that i'm not the only reader who has encountered major synchronicities around these books as well, and i would love to hear about these from fellow EOW fans. But, as Mr. Bosley has sworn off discussing these topics in public (for understandable reasons), i don't anticipate that happening.

But it's certainly drawn my attention, and added immensely to the entertainment value of this series for me!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Friends From Madera: Empire of the Wheel

Hello Walter and Greg!  You two were having such a good conversation that i lost my nerve to give you a call last Sunday, while you were discussing Walter's latest book "Friends from Sonora" on Radio Misterioso. So i'm taking this time to write up the many obsessions, locations, traces (?) which link my life, interests and ancestry to the same covered in Walter's book.  It's enchanting to me - it's as if someone took a look at me, my obsessive interests, family, where i've spent my life, and decided to write a book just for me.

To begin with, i was born in Fresno, CA to two Fresno-born parents. My lineage goes back in the area quite a ways on both sides - on my dad's, his father grew up on his father's ranch in O'Neal's in Madera County (on the way to North Fork where my Great Uncle Bob - my paternal grandfather's brother - ran a gas station for years); while mom's line goes back to the Chukchansi tribe, whose traditional lands were in the foothills of the Sierras south of Yosemite, centered in the town of Coarsegold.  While i grew up in the SF Bay Area (Castro Valley), all my grandparents lived in Fresno so we went there a few times a year. My parents loved taking us three kids camping all over California, but especially in the area of the foothills south of Yosemite (our favorite campground was on Chiquito Creek, where mom used to camp with her parents as a little girl). We took many many trips driving up and down Highway 49 in this region, so while North Fork and Chiquito Creek are south of Sonora, we were 'just down the road' and in the same type of eco-system as the area covered in your book.

While the location captivates me, as this is some of the most beautiful country in the world and i love it deeply, some of my family traits also find echoes in your book. First, both of my grandfathers, my two great uncles, my dad and my brother are all incredibly mechanically inclined or obsessed.  They love their cars and boy do they love their planes.

I'll go on to give you an idea of the depth of their obsession, but Walter there was one thing that you mentioned really floored me on Sunday nite - when you talked about the Germans living in the area around Sonora involved in this anti-gravity flight project. My mother's father was incredibly smart, mechanically inclined, and crazy macho. That's a picture of him at the top of this post. He made a name for himself as an uphill motorcycle racer in the 1930's, taking home the national championship (back when they used to race the clock). He worked as a mechanic in Fresno for decades, and was part of a support crew for an Indianapolis 500 racing team (i remember keeping an eye on Grandpa Boliver's car when we'd watch the races growing up). While his team never won the race, his team did develop the piston jack which lifts up the whole car, allowing all tires to be changed at once - which revolutionized the race.

But the startling part for me is this - Grandpa Boliver had a very hard childhood, as he'd been abandoned by his mother and was raised by an aunt and uncle in the area around Fresno and the Sierran foothills. As a result, we don't know much at all about his ancestry - except that part of the mix is German. Your comment made me wonder about the roots of his mechanical talent and obsession!

A Ranching Family in the Sierran Foothills

Next up, my paternal Grandpa George and his brothers. My Grandpa had another hard childhood, but with more fun involved. He grew up on his father's ranch (yep, a ranch in the Sierra Foothills - the exact timing and location are wrong to be involved in your project, but pretty great if someone was writing a little story just for me) and we heard many stories about his self-sufficiency. He delivered his mother of his brother Bob (who owned the gas station) by himself while George was in his early teens; Bob was early and so tiny they kept him in a shoebox on top of the wood burning stove to keep him warm. Grandpa George slept in a small room upstairs with a window, but no glass. He'd wake up with snow on the blanket in winter; in summer the pallid bats which roosted above him would hunt scorpions and bring them home to eat, in the morning Grandpa would find the scorpion claws scattered on his quilt. He really loved the mountains and marveled at the various creatures who lived there.

My grandpa George became a mechanic, i never saw his hands look clean until he'd been retired a month. He and his two younger brothers, Bill and Bob, all loved cars and especially planes. Bill and Bob were of the age to fight in WW2, both flew dozens of bombing sorties over Germany. Bob came home and bought a gas station in North Fork, and lived a bachelor life there with his sister until he died. This reminded me a bit of Frank Rosasco, holing up with the ladies, though Uncle Bob was very healthy and was captain of the local volunteer Fire Department for years. I heard some really touching stories at his funeral about his helpfulness and consideration from many old and young people in the town. He had a huge collection of flight-related magazines which he wanted to donate to the local aviation museum at his death, but i don't know if that happened.

Uncle Bill fits the 'saw something and never recovered' storyline fairly well (though not as well as his father). George spent any number of weekends driving out to various known relaxation spots in and around the greater Fresno Metropolitan Area to pick Bill up and take him back home in time to sleep it off in time for work. Bill made money in a number of unconventional ways, one of which was to collect venomous snakes to meet the ritual needs of local religious groups. He was good at it, but even the best can lose track of a snake now and then. Once he asked my Grandma Gladyce if she'd found a rattler in her car (which she'd been using the last week to drive her kids around to school and etc.), it seems the last time he'd borrowed it a rattler had gone AWOL.

I think both Grandma and Grandpa were somewhat relieved when Bill moved out to Thermal in Death Valley, worked as a border agent, and accumulated a huge collection of classic cars numbering around 100. A mysterious fire destroyed them all in the 1970's.  But Bill continued his fascination with cars and planes. He had a photographic memory as well as quite the knack for drawing, almost savant like in flavor. You could ask him, "Hey Bill, what about that Model A we saw up Old Tollhouse Road in 1958?", and Bill would draw it from memory. He also decorated his house exclusively in purple, walls, towels, and etc. He was quite commiteed to this scheme, in fact he was engaged to be married at one point but his intended bride could not abide so much purple. The marriage got called off.

I grew up hearing all these tales of derring-do about my forebears, but somehow i never questioned why exactly my Grandpa George was running around barefoot in the mountains and delivering his brothers while only in his early teens. About a decade ago, i found out the reason - my great grandfather had been in and out of insane asylums, leaving his wife and young son to hold the ranch together as best they could. I don't know much about my great grandfather's particular symptoms, but i'm guessing it could be a bipolar type disorder. It sounds as if he'd have times when he was fine, then 'episodes' of bad trouble. How bad must it have been for a pregnant woman to prefer to stay alone on an isolated ranch with just her young son to help her in her confinement.....

....and we come to another man who experienced something from which he never recovered - my great grandfather, my father's father's father. In this case, we have a good idea of what happened . When my great grandfather was around 17, he was working in the back of his father's store when his father was robbed and stabbed to death in the store. Horrible. I don't know any details, but the bare bones are enough. Ironically, shop-keeping was the only thing my great grandfather could do that actually made money, through this means he made enough to buy the ranch at O'Neal's, though he only managed to keep it around a decade. So here we have the "murder involving a child" connection, however this one appears to be mundane in it's motives.

Etta Place by John Fluevog - sadly no longer in production

My father continues the mechanically inclined bug. In his late teens and early twenties he and his friends built various vehicles and raced around town (just like in the movie American Graffiti - and in the same spots); he raced stock cars as a member of The Poor Four for a few years and participated in one demolition derby (he said he's never felt so beat up as he did the next day!). When i was born he gave up racing and smoking and i am happy to report he's still going strong, though he mostly plays golf. He retired from Western Union in the 1980's when the company went through a big restructure, his first job had been delivering telegrams for them on bike as a teenager. There we have the telegraph connection. He worked as a tech for most of his working life, on telex systems and then computer networks.

My brother was obsessed with flight as we grew up, he loved birds (watching and drawing them) and put together a number of model airplanes. He and my dad made and flew radio controlled airplanes up in the Oakland hills near Cal State Hayward. Brother joined the Air Force shortly out of high school and retired after twenty years. Greg, i always figure you and Walter would never give me another look after learning about my brother - he worked on those big rivet joint planes with the mile long antennae doing surveillance. He went to Defense Language Institute twice, and the military gave him all types of survival and 'what to do if you're captured by the commies' training. A couple of weeks after this happened, he was second in command on the same type of plane in the same area when they noticed they had "company". Fortunately, the flight ended without incident; at his retirement ceremony years later he received many kudos for the way he handled himself and the crew at that time (though he told me he discussed his nerves with his mates at the time. Nothing like the glamorous thrill of spycraft!) He still likes to fly RC planes but flying in actual planes ain't so fun after all those years and sinus trouble ;)

I can't overemphasize the obsession with mechanics and flight among these men of my family. A typical Thanksgiving day entertainment would be listening to an LP of various racing cars attempting to break the sound barrier out on the salt flats. Yes, an audio recording - not even any visuals. Nothing beats going out to the old road by the airport and laying back to watch the planes take off on a Saturday night, or impressing people by identifying various planes by ear.  I've done my best to avoid retaining any of this information.

still loving the Gold Country - in Nevada City

As for me - well, i'm a known conspiracy theorist/paranoiac and have been since a tender age. At nine i was nicknamed 'Fred' after the uber-paranoid character in Dan O'Neill's alternative comic strip Odd Bodkins, which ran in the daily paper.  I've been driving friends and family nuts with my interests for decades, though after 9/11 i got a lot more serious questions as people saw frightening events unfold. I've also been interested in the strange, the paranormal, and 'flying saucers' from before i can remember, though i never experienced much myself until i had a near death experience at age 20 during a medical procedure.  Since the i've had a taste of just about everything, except unknown objects in flight. As a result of information imparted to me during my NDE thirty plus years ago, i've been a long time practitioner of meditation, in addition to yoga which i learned during high school P.E. (interests shared by Mr. Crowley).

Which brings us to paranormal events in the Gold Country. Years ago, when my husband and i had been married only a couple of years, we were driving around the county of Madera. We decided to drive into North Fork by way of Old Tollhouse Road. This area is pretty rugged and roads are scant, with not a lot of 'short cuts'. At the beginning of Tollhouse Road, Tony and i saw a guy standing by the side of the road and facing in our direction - not actively hitchhiking, but he looked like he'd take a ride if you were offering. He looked to be Indian of the area, very dark with prominent cheekbones, with a strange 'grin'. He'd pulled his lips wide open, showing lots of teeth, but i saw no trace of mirth or happiness. In fact, it felt confrontational. He was hard to miss, but there wasn't much to say about him except i hoped he had a ride set up somehow because we could see no cars around and he was damn isolated.

We drove the road, it was beautiful and historic and mysterious. I especially enjoyed the drive as it's a famous road in the area but i'd never driven it before. Traffic was very very light, we saw another car or two but were certainly not overtaken by anyone driving our direction, into town. Still, as we drove into North Fork, who do we see standing by the side of the road, again facing in our direction, with that strange unfun smile but the same damn grinning man. The only way he could've got to that place in that amount of time would be by the same road we had just taken with, again, no other car passing us. Even my skeptically-inclined husband had to admit this was strange, and wonder if we'd been pranked by a pair of twins with an arcane sense of humor.

Later, as we recounted this tale to my dad, he had a correction for me. I had, it turns out, been on that road before - when my mom and dad had been married only a short while and my mom was pregnant with me. 

There's more, bits and mother has lived in the city of Napa since her retirement, right under the flight path of the many hot air balloons tourists love to ride; one of my dearest, oldest friends is something of an outsider artist himself; i was in elementary school in the East Bay during the zodiac killer scare, when he threatened to disable a school bus and 'pick off the little kiddies' as they exited the bus....

But this'll do for now. Walter, i hope you enjoy this. I doubt it has any 'real connection' to your research, but at the same time i find it fascinating how certain areas seem to attract or emit recurring patterns. Best wishes in your ongoing research and writing, and sincere thanks to anyone who has read to the end!  Yours in 'entertainment purposes only', steph

Friday, January 31, 2014

Valle Compares Religious Experience with Close Encounters

in honor of Adam Gorightly
Jacques Vallee's book Dimensions, part of his Contact Trilogy, explores the 'human' aspect of the ufo phenomenon. This includes everything from sociology through psychology to spirituality and religion. In Chapter Seven: "The Spiritual Component: A Morphology of Miracles" Vallee discusses the events at Fatima and Lourdes as well as Joseph Smith's early visions in comparison to the events associated with modern day contact with 'flying saucers' and their occupants.

Vallee concludes Chapter Seven with this chart, by perusing it you can get a fair idea of his argument.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Castles In The Air

When Marcy Tilton opened another of her fun and generous contests, of course i wanted to enter! And as anyone who knows me would predict, i came up with about a million ideas. Not least because the rules require you to come up with ideas for using Japanese cottons and Italian linen - two of my most coveted fabrics on principle. They're both also uber-practical in the hot summers here which conspire to squelch my style. I got so worked up that i had to use pictures to get my ideas across, and i don't know how to do that on Facebook. Thus this post.

Kiru cotton - click here for details
So, my entry. First, i would love to make up this (vintage? definitely out of print) Issey Miyake for Vogue blouse design in a fabric as fabulous as the pattern itself. I've never cared much for this fabric, but the blouse design is so flattering, avant-garde, and timeless that it's starting to show wear. Imagine the various lines and shapes of the Kiru cotton interacting with the pleats and tucks and gathers.....there's a white blouse i could get into!

Cami top very loosely based on La Fred's Europa blouse. Thank you Fred.

This Butterick 4985 pattern is out of print
Rina cotton - click here for details
I wear these little cami-tops to death in the summer, here i show a couple versions. Sleeveless, lite colored, with various romantic trimmings and references, they take a skirt or capris someplace far away from the frozen yogurt and malls of suburban life, and closer to my style icon Ms. Karen Blixen. I'd like to make one up in this out of print Butterick pattern using the Rina cotton with black crochet trim. I love to hand embroider these cami-tops, on this version it would be so fun to pick out the feathery shapes with a cobwebby grey or dark dark inky blue (especially as i'm a birdwatcher). I can see enlarging one of those feathery shapes and embroidering it over top of the allover pattern in an asymmetrical position - or two.

You can see another cami top under this very faithful jean jacket.
Katherine Tilton's new design is so much fresher than my decrepit, but loyal, old piece! click here for details

Greengage Dot Linen - click for details
For lo these many summers, I've depended on this old Royal Robbins faded khaki jean jacket for sun protection without added warmth, and a place to put keys, credit cards etc. on walks and errands. As this jacket's loyal service reaches an end, or possibly exceeds it, i've been on the lookout for a stylish replacement.  When sister Katherine's new Butterick designs came out a few days ago i immediately saw the potential in B5891 - make it up in a linen, shorten the sleeves to elbow or 3/4 length and my needs are realized quite stylishly.  The Greengage Dot Linen would add the playfulness of dots, and the opportunity of using both sides will add that dash of panache i sorely need when trying to look pulled together when red and 'glowing'.

See how gorgeous!!!  Green Mansions Linen
I know it's not technically included in the contest. But i've been mesmerized by that Green Mansions digitally printed linen since it appeared on your site. It's a gorgeous rendition of one of my most completely joyful colorways, which is very rare to find and rarer still done so sumptuously. How glorious to have a couple yards to make into a jacket or overblouse! I have a dress in this colorway, i love to wear it and it always gets me compliments.

Thank you for reading! I always love daydreaming about fabrics, but this entering this contest has also given me a look at how i can fill some wardrobe holes in fresh, new ways. I'm already ahead!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Spiritual Perspective on Paratopian Unhappiness

no reason - i just love this picture of my grandpa

on edit: How mortifiying! i neglected to credit "Brownie" for pointing me to Mr. Ratcliff's blogpost in the first place. Many thanks, Brownie - i would not have known about Mr. Ratcliff's post without you!

I am inspired to write a few thoughts after reading John Ratcliff's recent post regarding the goings-ons at the Paratopia podcast and forum. To begin, i like all the people involved. All of the main characters are very talented, creative, articulate, funny.....and i just tend to like people anyway. Mr. Ratcliff has written a comprehensive and sensible post pointing out some glaring inconsistencies in the recent actions of the two Paratopia hosts, Jeremy Vaeni and Jeff Ritzmann. Mr. Ratcliff reasons from the scientific worldview and perspective. I agree with the great bulk of what he points out, with a quibble here and there. I completed college-level courses in scientific theory, history, and practice at UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkely, so i have some basis by which to judge his arguments in his post.

But i do not spend much time in the scientific paradigm. At the age of 22 i had a near death experience during a medical procedure, and since that time i have had numerous medium to high strange experiences (spontaneous as well as meditation induced). I have also pursued study of the paranormal and esoteric through books and participation in groups, even living in a Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Centre for a year or two. I have some thoughts about the recent hullabaloo from the spiritual/esoteric perspective.

Firstly, the Shroudman's revelation about the nature of the universe is not new. Connecting it to fractals may or may not be a new metaphor for this concept (it's not my place to make the argument), but the idea is not. I was shown a very similar concept of worlds within worlds during my NDE in the mid-1980's.  The tiniest of particles of a cosmos spontaneously forming into cosmoii of their own is how it is described in Dion Fortune's book The Cosmic Doctrine, a work written via inspiration in 1949. (As an aside, neither i nor Ms. Firth have ever claimed that this information pertains to the physical nature of the universe which is amenable to scientific study.)

This is simply one example of the ignorance of the basic reading material available on these topics which runs through the show. I remember listening to the show on the Rendlesham incident, where Mr. Vaeni and Mr. Ritzmann were shocked, shocked, to find evidence that maybe there was a little bit of hoaxing or funny business involved. Jenny Randles, a researcher with journalistic training and credentials who was on the scene within a week (if i recall correctly), has published extensively on this incident. I first heard of Rendlesham in her book UFO Conspiracy, published in 1987. Let's just say i was not surprised to hear of funny business on Paratopia's podcast. A little poking around on Wikipedia, of all places, would have reaped major benefits as a prep for that podcast.

Mr. Ritzmann also often wonders whether other people would see the same things he sees (referring to his numerous high strange incidents). To begin with, other people have been with him during these incidents and purport to have seen what he has, which seems to settle the matter. Additionally, i bring up the work of Paul Devereux and Jenny Randles on earthlights and Mind Monsters, respectively. Ms. Randles has done excellent work finding cases where, for example, three friends are walking in a deserted area at night and suddenly two see a classic Big Hairy Monster and run away screaming. The third friend is left staring perplexedly at a strange, red glowing orb.......Mr. Ritzmann is also interesting that he always claims to be stone cold sober during these strange events, contrary to the huge bulk of percipients who notice mild to drastic changes in consciousness associated with these events (Ms. Randle's Oz Factor).  If he truly is the rare and luckly individual who can keep his head during these events, it makes his continued inability to collect or doggedly pursue any type of physical evidence all the more perplexing.Keeping surveillance cameras running and recording 24/7 is not the complicated, expensive process it was even 10 years ago.

I'll leave that for now, anyone with a library card or internet access can research for themselves (the library card will be more helpful). More disturbing to me, since i do feel that Mr. Vaeni, Mr. Ritzmann, and Mr. Ratcliff are all sincere searchers for the truth about our world, is the rampant violation of the most basic of spiritual principles. This principle is The Golden Rule - in a word, kindness.  This seems obvious enough, though in practice it often is the most difficult principle to live up to. It seems straightforward, 'It's nice to be nice' and so on. But the esoteric truth is that you do more damage to yourself by treating other people harshly than you do to the other person. There is no excuse for yelling at people or putting them down in a public forum where they have no way to respond. It doesn't make it okay because they take a different viewpoint on certain matters in a discussion.

Speaking to the point of people who claim spiritual knowledge, all traditions are explicit. The level of realization is reflected in how that individual treats other people. If they do not consistently put other people's interests before their own over a number of years they are not the teacher for you or anyone else. Many like to bring up the idea of Crazy Wisdom teachers as an excuse or exception - i would only follow one of this method if you truly know that their teaching is worth paying insanity or death as your price.

Additionally, many traditions emphasize that focusing too much on various psychic manifestations is a distraction from the quest for enlightenment. In recent decades, P.M.H. Atwater has done much study of people who experience mystical breakthroughs as part of near death experiences. Interestingly, she finds that it takes decades for an individual to integrate the experience enough to become at all effective at conveying the truths they saw to others, or to help other people with spiritual growth. There are no shortcuts.

Again, this knowledge is quite widespread and easily available. The hard part is putting it into practice in real life. My hope is that my post will provide some reassurance to people who have been caught in the grinder of these events, and that it will provoke some to think for themselves about how we want to go forward as a community trying to grapple with these events and their meaning. No one has all the answers. It is impossible to judge the truthfulness of another's testimony. It is quite likely that bickering, nastiness and infighting provide the energy for our friend Coyote to live and dance another day.....

...whilst we continue in confusion.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Energy Predation and Emotional Manipulation at a Tibetan Meditation Centre

This post outlines some experiences i had while living at a Tibetan Buddhist MEditation Centre in the mid 1990's, and my hypotheses on what was going on 'behind the scenes' in terms of people's motivations and some of teh psychic techniques employed. In short, while individual psychic attacks can generate emotional energy to feed an 'energy vampire', i also believe that the aftereffects of these attacks can prevent normal, fulfilling human relationships in the victim's life. This frustration of normal outlets generates 'excess' or 'unused' emotions to which the energy predator can help itself. I believe that this is a major part of certain energy predator's strategy and the underlying motivation to their actions. I'm also of the opinion that these energy predators can be human or non-human.

Any comments, insights, similar personal experiences, or literary references are very welcome and deeply appreciated.

In my early thirties (in the mid 1990's) i moved out of my fiancee's grandmother's house and into a Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Center in the SF Bay Area. The centre, 'MC', was located in an old, rambling house in a well to do suburban area. The resident Rinpoche, 'LP', was in his late sixties. His father had been a highup functionary in the Dalai Lama's government in Tibet and Rinpoche was recognized as a reincarnated teacher as a very young child. He was separated from his family and raised by monks in a monastery of the Sakya tradition (but with many visits home to his family, with whom he remained close). 'LP' escaped Tibet in the early 1960's and came to the United States, bringing the surviving members of his family over as he was able.

'MC', the meditation centre, comprised 'LP', who led Chenrezi meditation service every Sunday nite, and a number of rooms that various practitioners rented. Sunday nite meditations usually had 12-20 attendees, and at most five people were living in the house at any time. A few times a year various Tibetan teachers would come and stay for a day or a couple of weeks, leading various initiations into various practices. During these times a hundred people or more would attend the activities. The mailing list had at most 250 names on it. Rinpoche was also invited to other organizations to lead his own talks, meditations, initiations, and at these times i was often left alone in the approximately 15 room house. It wasn't a very active meditation centre for the year and a half that i lived there.

The main activity at the centre was Sunday nite Chenrezi meditation. Chenrezi meditation is a beautiful practice, focused on reducing suffering in all sentient beings. You can do it yourself and without any special initiation. But you can also do it in a group with an experienced teacher leading the meditation. As it was explained to me, the leader has a very particular purpose in these meditations. At a certain point, the 'energy/emotion/intention' of all the practitioners, accumulated through meditation and mantra, is released into the universe to do it's work of reducing suffering. The leader's purpose is to direct and focus this subtle energy (generated by other people) in order to make sure that it reaches those most in need. You can imagine the moral and ethical rectitude needed in this type of service. Once you are able to direct and or manipulate others' excess energies (generated either consciously or unconsciously), there has got to be the temptation to 'take a little' for yourself. Thus, the traditional emphasis on compassion and moral/ethical training in Tibetan Buddhist practice. At any rate, i was told that this 'subtle energy direction' is specifically part of the training involved at the higher levels of this form of spiritual practice.

The Rinpoche, 'LP', was a monk and so supposedly led a celibate life. But it was pretty obvious early on he had a long-term girlfriend living in the house (plus a considerate fellow practitioner thought i looked like 'fresh meat' - so he took pity on me and filled me in on all the history). This woman, 'Tara', was kind, thoughtful, sincere, very knowledgeable about Tibetan Buddhist practice and theory, gracious, and a welcoming hostess to every visitor.  I found out later that she had been a student of 'LP's when he began to put the moves on her. She didn't really feel comfortable with the relationship, but he was her teacher so she felt pressure there. Plus, 'Tara' truly cared for 'LP' and wanted to help him in his spiritual duties - 'Tara' saw this as an opportunity to help more people with their spiritual lives. Later, she discussed her situation with 'LP's higher ups (well, he's pretty high up so he only really has two or three people above him in the hierarchy), and they encouraged her to stay with him and help him as part of her spiritual practice. But 'Tara' could never expect any public, formal recognition of her long relationship with 'LP' and the many ways in which she helped him and the meditation centre. 'Tara' was put in a really nasty position - give this other person all this spiritual, material, and emotional support in all of their very public duties -but you will never be acknowledged for it publicly yourself.

Really, my respect for the people pulling this stunt on 'Tara' sank like a stone the more i saw what was going on. But the question remains - why not just let 'LP' modify his vows and marry? Other Tibetan Buddhist teachers marry and have families, such as His Holiness The Sakya Trizin. It's hard to believe that the US public (the great bulk of 'LP's students) is all that fascinated with celibacy - in fact, anyone who visits any Tibetan style Buddhist school will be subject to any number of ribald jokes and stories about randy monks. However, the longer i lived at the meditation centre and took in what was going on, i developed a 'hypothesis' about one way to look at this relationship.  If you have a woman who is being tantalized with the lure of a fulfilling romantic, emotional, spiritual, or marital relationship but who is constantly frustrated from actually attaining that relationship - chances are that that person will be giving off a large amount of emotional energy with no focus. Anyone with the training or inclination will be able to take that energy for themselves. And a person with lots of spiritual training, an exalted position, followers, etc. may very well feel that they will make better use of this energy than the frustrated person would. Besides, it's excess steam to the frustrated party, right?

When i'd lived at the centre for getting towards a year, 'Tara' moved out and started her three-year meditation retreat (the foundation of a serious Tibetan Buddhist practice, which her support of 'LP' had prevented her from performing for over a decade). When i moved in, 'LP' had made some romantic type overtures towards me - getting me a birthday cake with 'Happy Birthday XXXXX' written in Tibetan on it, for example. (Luckily it was carrot cake, which i don't care for - if it was chocolate, i'd have been in trouble!) Fortunately, i'd learned of his reputation with women and his relationship with Tara, who i really loved and respected. Also, i've been 'popular' with a number of people since i was pretty young, so i have a lot of experience in being very nice while blowing off romantic moves. So i was able to avoid any scenes.

A turning point in my relationship with 'LP' came in the strangest way. I'd heard vague stories from different students about 'LP' showing up in 'non-material' ways. A couple of women talked about 'LP' appearing in their dreams, offering some sort of 'deal' to them, but they didn't get specific about this and i didn't pry. But one night, i don't remember when but a few months into my living at the centre, i had a dream. I was dreaming and i was in a room, just a boring room with a door. The door opened, and 'LP' walked in. I woke myself with a start, and sat straight up in bed. I heard a 'click', like the sound of a door lock (these clicks are also associated with sudden changes of consciousness). The room reverberated somehow, as after the end of a very loud symphony which suddenly ceases. I knew i'd had my first 'shaman's battle', that i'd saved my skin in really the only way i could. 'LP' obviously had much more experience than i in 'astral battles', if i had to face him down in the dreamworld i'd be seriously disadvantaged. But if he couldn't get me to stay there....There was a sense of fear, but also a sense that i was a different person than i had been before that dream. I don't know how to explain the effect this experience had on me, but it was very profound.

After my outwardly incredibly boring dream, 'LP's attitude towards me changed. It was like, 'Okay, i won't try to pull that b.s. on you anymore...but maybe you can help out with some of this stuff...' 'LP's public persona had always been very charming, kind of happy and ding-y (my mom and my step-mom both thought he had some type of mental disability). Always smiling and laughing and easygoing, never involved in any heavy mental lifting. Afterwards, he seemed much more  -  normal is the only word. He had ups and downs and some things were kind of a pain but had to get done for mundane purposes. He came across as a lot smarter and more observant. He also started to show me a lot more respect, and would ask me to help in making ceremonial objects for use in initiations, for example, when six or so more senior students were there in the room just itching to help.

His change in attitude towards me re-inforced my initial conviction that my behaviour in that dream had been very important. My sense was that he'd wanted to get me on the astral with him so he could co-opt me in some way; but how i didn't know. I did realize that he had a helluva lot more experience in astral battles and deals than i did, plus he had some pretty powerful spiritual allies, so my only recourse was to stay in the mundane. As Dion Fortune puts it in Psychic Self Defense, psychic attacks take a lot of energy and if the attacker can't keep your attention, they'll just run out of energy. Writing in the early part of the twentieth century, she points out that if you're busting your gut at Charlie Chaplin's antics in the local theatre, your attacker doesn't have a chance at keeping your attention involved in dreamworld battles and relationships. But when it came down to the specifics of 'the deal' 'LP' had in mind, i had no clue.

As it happened, however, just before i moved out i found out exactly what he had in mind. As i said earlier, 'LP' traveled all over the US giving teachings. He had a couple in the southeast who were well to do and very committed spiritual seekers, especially the wife 'M'. 'M' and her husband decided to sell their house and move into the meditation centre with 'LP' and get the centre going great guns. As i didn't show up to the Sunday nite meditaions and other events (for reasons i hope are obvious by now), 'M' decided that i was just mooching off 'LP' and taking advantage. 'M' saw that i wasn't in line with her plans for the centre, and put pressure on me to get out - which was fine by me, i felt i'd learned about all i was going to at that point. I was more than happy to let her go to town whipping the centre into shape, and i left.

However, this took a month or two to play out. Before it did, a couple of weeks after 'M' and her husband moved into the centre, 'M' and i went clothes shopping together. It turned out that 'M' had had a dream involving 'LP' the night before and she wanted to ask me about it because she didn't know what it meant. 'M' said, "'LP' came to me in my dream and he said that if i had sex with him, i would have all this spiritual advancement and powers and i would have a lot of public acclaim and status in the meditation community but i had to have sex with him and keep it secret. I just don't know what this dream means.' Dear reader, i have never been more flummoxed by humanity's unlimited ability for willfull ignorance than during this conversation. However, i simply replied, 'Well, it sounds like 'LP' is saying that if you have sex with him you'll get power, spiritual advancement, and so on, as long as you keep it secret. It seems pretty straightforward to me.' 'M' continued her position of being unable to understand the meaning of this dream (though she always accepted that 'LP' had actually been present in her dream, she never took the position that this had all been a projection of her own mind). I did ask her what she had responded to this proposal, and she said she hadn't said either yes or no. 'M' was also flummoxed about the fact that she was married and 'LP' very obviously knew about this. The conversation on this subject kind of petered out, as she just couldn't wrap her mind around what she herself said had happened.

Shortly afterward my relations with 'M' went downhill, i moved out, and i didn't keep up with anyone from the centre. ('Tara' was on retreat, and she was the only person i was interested in keeping up with.) So i have no idea how things turned out with 'M', her husband, and 'LP'. But i had found out enough to get a good idea of 'LP's game with women. Find a woman who you can manipulate into giving some kind of sub-rosa consent to a frustrating type of romantic/sexual relationship, then use that relationship to keep the woman frustrated and continually 'worked-up' (for want of a better term), and drink up all that 'excess energy' at your convenience.  But why the consent? I'm thinking that getting consent makes the woman more likely to continue the relationship and less likely to complain about it (to 'LP' or to others), since the woman had 'agreed'. And i wonder if consent may make subtle energy more (or more easily) available to the 'vampire' or 'energy predator'? Also, does this consent give the energy predator a 'clean conscience'? And why get consent in a dream rather than in the mundane plane? I'm guessing that someone with experience on the astral plane will have the upper hand over a 'novice', thus making consent more likely. Plus, as i saw with 'M', the whole scenario sounds so outrageous and unbelievable to the average Western mind that the woman won't even believe that it happened herself, much less be likely to tell anyone else about this or complain. Sounds like an effective way to knock over the traces. But these are just my own opinions, i don't have any knowledge about this and would be very interested to hear anyone else's own experiences or stories or readings on this matter.

To sum up, in my evaluation, this situation involved a human acting as an energy predator, using mundane and esoteric means to manipulate women into sexually/emotionally/socially frustrating relationships as a way to set up consistent, long-term sources of subtle energy for predation/consumption.  While sex plays a big role in 'LP's strategy for 'farming' victims, i can imagine a scenario where a person's lust for political power, greed or their desire for powerful influence in the business world could be similarly manipulated in order to generate 'ongoing excess subtle energy' for an energy vampire. But i have never seen it done myself, or even read about it.  So it could be that emotions surrounding sex and romantic relations are particularly 'tasty' to predators, or easy to access/provoke. I don't know.

I also am of the opinion that this strategy is not limited to humans in living bodies. I don't see why non-human entities couldn't learn and use these same techniques in order to 'farm subtle energy'. I don't have any personal experience with this, but any number of 'alien' or 'demonic encounters' could be viewed from this perspective. At the same time, attacks attributed to 'aliens' or 'demons' could be perpetrated by out of body humans, consciously or nonconsciously. Again, Dion Fortunes' Psychic Self Defense outlines a sensible, comprehensive plan for investigating these experiences and providing relief to the victim.