Chapter 2: The Secret Garden

As promised, below please find an excerpt from Chapter 2 of my work in progress, Confluence. Feel free to leave me feedback in the comments. In love and light, I share an early spiritual experience with you:

Chapter 2: The Secret Garden

When I first entered the realm of spiritual work, I found myself overwhelmed with fear. Heart-pounding, paranoia-inducing, all-encompassing fear. I knew my anxiety issues were not helping matters, but at the core of this fear was deep-rooted misinformation I had picked up from the media throughout my life. Television, films, the Internet, even my beloved books, had all taught me that “opening doorways” into the spiritual world would only result in terrifying events. If anyone had asked me when I first began spiritual work whether I would be open to becoming a medium, an individual who channels messages from Spirit, including the souls of those who have passed over, my answer would have been a resounding “No.” At that time, I wanted no part of such things that could lead me into the kinds of trouble I had seen and read about in the media. I did, however, want a closer connection to the Divine, and that is what I set out to find when I began meditation work. I simply assumed at that time that I would go ahead and leave the channeling work to the practiced psychics. Over time, however, channeling chose me and I accepted the messages and passed them on with love and light.

As a young woman, I had experienced a few prophetic dreams. I always knew that I had a deep capacity for compassion and empathy. I have an easy time seeing both sides of an issue and understanding others’ unique perspectives. Other than these early indicators, though, nothing told me in my early life that I would eventually become a medium. My talents lay dormant for most of my life—and I believe that most people have the innate ability to access mediumship, they just need the right perspective to see that they have been likely communicating with Spirit all their lives.

I started my spiritual journey by seeking change in my life, and like many people, I sought answers via what I saw as mysterious avenues. My quest, at its core, though, was so simple–I was looking for hope. I was looking for proof that I should hang in there, that this all was worthwhile. Insert any amount of trite witticisms here–seek and ye shall find, throw the rock and hear the splash–in flooded hope where before had loomed a seemingly endless darkness. My first memorable experience with meditation gave me a glimpse into the infinite power vested in each one of our spirits. I attended a psychic fair in central New York out of sheer curiosity and the promise of learning more about the spiritual world. I was an avid reader of spiritual books and even at that time prayed daily with Jesus and believed in the existence of a soul beyond the physical form. I had a 5-year plan and I resonated with the idea of making a plan for your life and systematically praying and working to make that plan happen.

I signed up for a psychic reading that day in which the reader told me I would have a strong connection with spiritual guides in the distant future—she mentioned several types of beings I was unfamiliar with at the time, and it jogged my curiosity. I decided to attend the lectures at the fair that day because I was out and about on my own and it felt like a fun thing to do—and in this attendance, I learned a valuable tool virtually for free—the Secret Garden meditation.

A clairvoyant running a table at the fair led the lecture hall in a basic meditation that I now know is common amongst beginning meditation groups. The Secret Garden meditation offers a comfortable space for us to become familiar with our own soulscapes—whatever you imagine in the Secret Garden can become a part of your spirit. As I walked down the brick path of my soulscape and looked around me, I realized there was an entire world available to me beyond my 5 traditional senses that I had never explored.

Your soulscape, or “Secret Garden,” is both where your spirit resides and it is your spirit itself. As I looked around my secret garden, I watched animals walk up to me and alongside me. Majestic trees lined the path and flowers of every variety and hue bloomed for as far as I could see. The lion by my side was tame, and he led me to the stone-walled area the meditation leader spoke about. I met with, or imagined a meeting with, Archangel Michael, because he makes me feel safe and even at that time I knew he would be an appropriate energy to help me begin my quest.

I took this meditation tool home with me and began to practice. I used it while taking baths, which, unbeknownst to me, heightened my spiritual encounters because of the presence of the Epsom salts mixed with the water. The clairvoyant performing the demonstration indicated that the meditation could be used to meet our spirit guides when we were ready. Because I was experiencing so much fear at the prospect of developing spiritually, I first wanted to reach out to find out who my spirit guides were at that time.

This led to the first authentically miraculous spiritual encounter of my adult life.

That night I ran my bath and measured the Epsom salts and baking soda into it. I lit a sage candle for protection, because I was still too nervous to burn actual sage, and I prayed for God to protect me as I embarked on this journey. Then, I imagined myself climbing stairs up to a wrought-iron gate and opening the gate. Inside that gate was the same brick pathway I had seen during the first meditation, and surrounding it were lush trees and flowers of every variety. I felt the soles of my bare feet on the cool brick and the swish of my long gown at my ankles as I moved down the path. There was a breeze in my hair and honeysuckle on the air, and everything felt perfect. However, as I moved down the path, I was still filled with fear at what I might find at the end of it. I know our spirits are powerful manifestation tools, and my fear was that I was in uncharted land without a guide.

So I decided to change that fact. At that moment, I was overcome with the most obvious solution. If I am such a powerful manifester that I believe I can manifest evil, then why do I not simply manifest what makes me feel safest instead, and take it from there? In a word filled with the binary, with cold and hot, light and dark, charged and neutral, how could I not see that if you believe in evil, then you must, without a doubt, believe in its opposite: good. I began to imagine who would best make me feel safe in this realm, who I could trust to guide me through it, and around the next bend, there she was.

The wild overgrowth on either side of the path became a gorgeously landscaped garden as I turned the corner. In the midst of it was an older woman wearing a gardening belt full of tools. She was clipping plants and wearing canvas pants, and I immediately felt safe with her. This, at long last, was my spirit guide. She looked up and smiled and we embraced. I knew upon meeting her that she helped me stay safe in my Secret Garden, and that she, along with the lion, the angels and all the other mystical creatures, allow it to be a fortress for my soul. I awoke from the meditation with tears on my face and gratitude in my heart that I could experience this being while I am on Earth.

While this was an incredible, remarkable, ethereal moment, it was still taking place in my soulscape, in my third eye, in what some may call my imagination–but what happened next most definitely crossed the boundaries of space and time to cement for me the reality of this encounter.

As I drifted in the water and allowed myself to continue to be still and meditate on what had happened, I decided that what I wanted most was a sign that the encounter was “real.” At my current stage of spirituality, a part of me balks at such an idea–to require proof. But that is a myth, that Heaven requires blind faith. They WANT to show you proof. As I asked my spirit guide’s name and drifted in the water, not expecting anything, out of the air came a sound, real, unbelievably real, whispered to me from right in front of my face, “Althea.”

I sat still in the water, convinced I had crossed some line and made a mistake. I trembled and wept in fear, then I did what any terrified beginning psychic would do in the 21st century. I googled “Althea the spirit guide.” As Spirit knew I would, I hit a result obscure enough that I never would have seen it before, but specific enough to tell me the encounter was real. The blog post I hit told of Althea, a nature spirit, who guided the writer for a number of years. The writer identified Althea as an advanced spirit guide who was tough, but kind.

I found my Althea gardening and chose her as a guide because I saw a woman who was tough, armed with gardening shears and kind. She knew her land and protected it fiercely. If ever I could conjure the image of what a “nature spirit guide” would look like, it would be the woman I saw in my secret garden. Unbeknownst to me at the time, althea is also the name of a plant known to have healing properties, and the word itself is a derivative of a Greek verbmeaning “to heal.” Knowing Althea is present when I need her, tending my spirit, lifted a weight from me. I credit this experience in part for my recovery from anxiety and depression.

After meeting Althea, I was hooked on learning more about spirit guides. I was also endlessly curious about the power of dreams and how I could use my dreams to receive message from Spirit. Safety, however, was and is my paramount concern—I wanted to grow my spiritual understanding, but to do it safely, while always staying connected to the Divine. I began to work daily with a Doreen Virtue archangel card deck as an application on my smartphone—the deck is simply titled “Archangel Oracle Cards” and to this day it is a reliable, comfortable oracle. As I worked with the deck, I began to learn how the angels fit into my daily life and how each card represents certain themes and reoccurs during particular patterns in my life. I learned who the archangels are as presented by Doreen Virtue, along with each angel’s “specialty,” or what makes each one suited for the particular situations that arise in a human lifetime.

Before going to sleep each night, I have found it useful to pull an angel card from the deck and ask Spirit to guide me in my dreams toward my goals and to let me be aware of that guidance. One night I dreamed I was out at a bar with a band of people I had never met before, all of whom felt like my best friends. I remember walking into the place and seeing a well-oiled, sturdy-looking, beautiful old bar at the center of the room. Around it were a collection of welcoming faces, all instantly familiar, yet not people from my life to whom I could put a name.

I was introduced to the crowd in the bar, taken to each person and greeted lovingly. One man in particular was a dark-haired, fatherly and portly figure in a gray sweatshirt, who gave me the most intense feeling of belonging and safety. Right now, as I write this and think of this figure, the song “Halo” came on my random music player. Synchronicity is common when you connect with Spirit intentionally:

Standing in the light of your halo

I got my angel now.

Everywhere I’m looking now

I’m surrounded by your embrace.

I do not remember much else, except for how the night ended. As the night wound down, I was escorted down a long hallway and back to my “room” in the dream. I entered a master bedroom and walked into the master bath, now alone. I found myself suddenly in tears and overwhelmed. I felt intensely like I had lost my mother and that I was in her room without her, as I could smell her perfume everywhere and felt utterly alone.

The angel who walked me down that hallway was Haniel. She is the powerful archangel of feminine power, joy and beauty, and if any angel were to leave the feeling of one’s mother in her wake, it would be Haniel. This was the trace that convinced me there was something about this dream that went beyond a typical brain refresh. Upon waking, with tears on my cheeks, I called my mother to make sure she was fine, but I knew that the intense emotions and weeping stemmed from parting with an endless love that feels like forever, feels like home when you encounter it. My sadness was from being placed firmly back on the other side of the veil and feeling a greater separation from the Divine energy I had been steeping in all night.

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