Out of the Psychic Closet: the quest to trust my true nature
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by Toby Fesler Heathcotte
Category: Self Improvement/General Nonfiction
Description: A self-help handbook in two parts that will show the reader how to step out of the psychic closet, to rise above anxiety and distrust, and to incorporate psychic abilities into a more honest model of personal reality. The first part narrates the author's psychic experiences. The second part details scientific research, historical background, and previously unpublished anecdotes of the paranormal. The second part also includes print and web resources.
eBook Publisher: Twilight Times Books, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: October 2009
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [384 KB]
Reading time: 222-311 min.
"This marvelous combination of memoir and research gifts readers with what they need during the questing years and may shorten the journey from the known reality to the unknown reality of the seekers. Toby combines both within her own bravely exposed experiences and hundreds of research hours--an interior method and an exterior one....Thank you, Toby Fesler Heathcotte, for a magnificent book." ~ Mali Berger, Author of New Age Fiction
You picked up this book probably because you've struggled to understand some unsettling occurrence in your life, maybe one named in the table of contents.
Most of the experiences described here happened to me or to people I know and trust. We don't have any special credentials. We're ordinary people who've had uncommon experiences.
For many years mine scared me. I wish a book like this had been available for me to read then because my fear diminished my psychic abilities. However, having acknowledged my fear--with it "up front and labeled," as William Faulkner advised--I shall now set it aside, for I want to write objectively for my readers, without my fear weighing on me, skewing my words.
I don't pretend to have had all the experiences I've written about in these pages, but I've had many, enough to understand the process involved in coming to terms with them. I like to think of myself as normal, just as I'm sure you think of yourself as normal, too. That's hard to remember when people look at me like I'm crazy. Or when I think, I must be nuts!
After much research and introspection, I came to this conclusion: Normal people sometimes know things that they can't possibly know. That's when gooseflesh races along our arms and legs, alerting us that we're in touch with a mighty power.
You and I might both have the same experiences. The only difference between us is that I'm reckless enough to write about mine. In fact, it's the writing craft that gave me the idea for this book. Not long ago, I published a novel called Alison's Legacy about an innkeeper in the eighteenth century. She has a psychic friend who can see the past in a blazing fireplace and also has an uncanny flair for showing up when the heroine is in jeopardy.
To promote the novel, I arranged a book signing in the library of a neighboring town, Scottsdale. Eight people showed up. My Glendale librarian said she'd host me, but she'd have to fit me into a series on New Age topics. Could I speak about psychic events in our lives? I agreed. Eighty people showed up.
That large turnout convinced me that most people prefer to explore their own psychic potential rather than read about the abilities of some fictional character. They want a narrative that they can relate to, that they can interpret as being of relevance to themselves; they want to read about experiences that touch their own lives, experiences in which they have a personal interest, perhaps because they have been in similar situations themselves, or perhaps because something similar has happened to their friends or relatives. They want to identify. And so I have written this book about myself ... about us.
The text appears in two parts. The first tells how psychic experiences happened to me. You can compare where your story and mine intersect. The second part includes research, history, other people's stories, and comments on what's worked and what hasn't in my own search to make sense of the paranormal. Resources follow each section in the second part along with books and websites for further research in case you want to follow up in depth. You'll also find an index at the end of the book to help you shuttle around.
Out of the Psychic Closet isn't necessarily a validation of your paranormal events. We all have to look to the integrity of our own hearts and minds for that. But, when you finish reading, I hope you too will step proudly out of the psychic closet, your consternation transformed into awe and your fear into gratitude for living in the flow and sharing the interconnectedness of the universe.
Toby Fesler Heathcotte
* * * *
How it happened to mE
Psychic awareness seems to happen to us, makes an indelible imprint on our memories, and throws our worldviews into chaos. The experiences provoke reassessment of who we are, what our capabilities are, and what impact others will have on us.
With nurturing, psychic awareness can grow and help us live our lives in rewarding and insightful ways. Without nurturing, we struggle against ourselves.
* * * *
Witness to Another World
Now, I know I'm not crazy, but I spent years trying to believe what people told me was the truth and trying even harder not to believe what I knew within myself was real.
Maybe I'd started on that path by the age of three. Sleet bit my face. My bare arms felt numb in the cold air. "Wait, Daddy!" I screamed and staggered across our backyard away from our house toward my grandparents' house in Ovid, Indiana.
Daddy's jacket billowed when he turned toward me and opened the screen door. "Go back home."
Hurrying to him, I slipped and fell on frozen grass.
He let go of the door. It clattered as he dashed down the steps and engulfed me in his arms. "You can't go in there."
He bit down on his quivering lip. "Grandpa's dead."
"What dead, Daddy?" I sobbed. "What dead?"
It turned out to be something awful. "Dead" took Grandpa away; then a few weeks later it took Grandma too. Where did they go? Why did they leave us alone? I was scared.
Daddy and Mother acted sad. The next summer they sold both houses, and we moved to Pendleton, a town five miles away. I missed Grandma and Grandpa, but I felt glad that I got to see my other grandparents, Mom and Pop Crosley, a lot more.
One day Mother and Daddy took me to stay with Mom at the Crosley house. Mother looked very pretty in her blue dress with the fluffy peplum around the middle, but her face looked like she had a bellyache from eating too many green apples. Daddy held her waist. Their footsteps made hollow sounds as they walked off the porch.
Mother called back, "Don't worry. I'll be all right."
I loved to stay with Mom Crosley because she told me stories about her family and sang songs in her deep, trembling voice. Not today. She folded her arms over her starched gingham dress and paced around the dining room table. The shiny wooden floor creaked beneath her soft slippers.
I sat at the table where we ate fried chicken every Sunday and tried to fold dress tabs on paper dolls. The grandfather clock ticked loudly. "Is Mother sick?"
"We don't know. We'll just have to wait and see." Mom nibbled a mint from the cut-glass bowl. "She's got a baby inside her, and it might be sick."
After a long time Daddy brought Mother back. I thought she would bring the baby with her, but she didn't. I felt happy anyway. I didn't want her to go away anymore.
Many times, I went with Daddy to the little graveyard across the road from a country church. We never went inside. He mowed the grass while I sat on a tombstone and played with my dolls. In the fall, I picked dead blooms off the magenta peonies Daddy had planted beside the graves of Grandma and Grandpa. Nearby lay Daddy's brother who died as a baby and a sister dead at the age of ten. I tried to picture the children, lying beneath the earth in their little boxes. I felt afraid for them.
Daddy didn't cry as he told me about his family. He said we had to keep their resting places nice. That way we could show our love. Some other people's graves had high grass on them. A few had overgrown weeds, the tombstones cracked and broken. I wondered why no one loved those people.
The summer I turned six, my parents took me to a rodeo where my dad bought an all-black Shetland pony named Rocket. We took the backseat out of our 1941 Chevrolet, squeezed the pony in, and drove home with him whinnying or nibbling our hair all the way.
Ostensibly Daddy bought Rocket for me and my little sister, Trena, who was born the same summer, but he treated the pony like his own pet. He taught the pony to stand up on his hind legs and to drink grape soda from a bottle. He let us feed Rocket sugar cubes, apples, and potato peelings with salt on them. Rocket tried to bite the buttons off everyone's shirts and gulped down Daddy's Lucky Strike cigarettes. That pony had some poor nutrition habits.
My dad raised hunting dogs and fed any cat that wandered by, but Rocket was my special pet. Daddy taught me to drive a sulky in summer and a sleigh in winter. I gave the other children rides two at a time.
One of my best friends in the neighborhood was Marcia Stoner. By second grade, she and I had acquired two passions--roller skating and Brownie Scouts. Our mothers took turns giving us rides.
Just my size and very pretty, Marcia had long blond curls with a ribbon. I wore a bow in my black hair. New Year's Eve, instead of going skating as we had planned, Marcia visited relatives with her aunt and uncle. In those days before seat belts, she lay asleep in the backseat on the way home late on a snowy Indiana night.
A car driven by a drunk driver hit them. On impact Marcia flew out the back window. All her major bones broke, and her skull fractured.
Two days later, Marcia lay in a casket lined with pink rosebuds for the viewing in her family's living room. She wore the brown uniform of a beginner scout. I gazed at her, horrified, imagining all the broken bones I couldn't see. Her mother sobbed beside my mother and me. Others sat about, whispering and crying, including Marcia's two little sisters and several neighbors.
Because Marcia couldn't, I vowed that day never to go through the ceremony that conferred the right to wear the green uniform of a full-fledged Girl Scout.
At the funeral in the stone-walled Methodist church, I refused to go down to the altar to look at her again. The organist played the strains of Brahms' Lullaby, which sounded ugly to me at the time. The stench of hothouse gladiolas and roses blended with the musty smell of carpet soggy from snow boots. Nauseated, I sat on a wooden pew and cried.
In the weeks that followed, Mother encouraged me to play with other children, but I missed Marcia and kept to myself.
One sunny day, warm enough that the ground had thawed and started to green, I lay in my backyard, watching soft, white clouds move across a gray sky. The scent of first cherry blossoms carried on the air.
Suddenly Marcia appeared on a large cloud. Her curls bobbed over the side as she leaned down and grinned at me. Funny, she didn't wear a hair ribbon, but the impish voice sounded just like hers. "Hi."
I scrambled up and shouted, "Marcia, is that you?"
"Yes, this is a good place. I'm having fun here." Marcia turned away from me and disappeared into the cloud.
I went tearing into the house. "Mother, Mother?" I found her shelling peas in the kitchen. I shouted, "I saw Marcia. She's alive up in heaven, and she said she's all right!"
"Now, Toby," Mother said as she set down the colander. Her pretty face looked sad. "You know Marcia can't talk to you. You're just imagining that."
Her words didn't make sense. How could I see Marcia if she wasn't there? How could I hear her?
Mother hugged me. Her body felt skinny now and her hug warm, but I remembered before my sister's birth how Mother's hugs had felt awkward over the huge mound of her stomach.
A memory clicked in my mind, and I asked, "What happened to that other baby?"
Mother's pale green eyes clouded with some emotion I didn't understand. "There wasn't any other baby. You must be thinking of something else." Mother sighed as she straightened my hair bow. "Why don't you go find out if some of the other kids can play?"
I trudged outside and started up the gravel alley. Mom Crosley and I were wrong about the other baby. If there had been one, Mother would have told me. Now she said I had not seen Marcia, and so, obviously, I was wrong about that, too--even though Marcia on the cloud looked as clear and real to me as when she sat next to me in school. I'd believed she was there--but it seemed I had been mistaken.
If I ever saw Marcia again, I would know it was my mind playing a trick on me. I'd make her go away, and I would definitely never tell anyone. When people are dead, they are gone forever.
Later that summer, Daddy and I took peonies for Marcia to the big cemetery in Pendleton with all the graves mowed and tidy. I felt glad to know that Marcia was still loved even though she was dead. I stood silently there and didn't talk to her. What would have been the point? Marcia wouldn't hear me, anyway.
About the time I turned ten, my thirteen-year-old cousin Judy contracted Hodgkin's Disease. Everyone said we looked just alike, both with freckles, except she had red hair while I had black.
Big lumps raised on Judy's body. I felt the one on her neck. It was like she had a hot golf ball under her skin. I don't know what the doctors tried by way of medication, but eventually they gave up hope. In desperation, her parents took Judy to a man who laid his hands on people and tried to heal them. Judy screamed under his touch. She said it felt like heat going through her and cried that she didn't want to go back. So her parents didn't take her. They all feared the healer's power. He might be of the devil.
The day before Judy died, she said Jesus stood at the end of the bed. He told Judy He was waiting for her.
At her wake, relatives and friends filled Judy's living room with its hardwood floors and knickknack shelves on the walls. The mourners sat on folding chairs borrowed from the church and fanned themselves with paper palm fronds.
Daddy held my little sister on his lap while I hovered near him, scared and uncomfortable. Tears fell down his cheeks as he squeezed her arms repetitively. I was stunned. I'd never seen him cry before.
The story whispered about Jesus seemed to comfort Judy's mother but not Daddy. Or me. Actually, I knew better. Nobody came to talk to the living, not Marcia or Jesus. Judy thought she saw Jesus, but she couldn't really have done so. He probably took her, like He took Marcia. I could be next. I knew that when people died, they were dead, and that was that.
The summer of my eighth-grade year, my remaining grandfather, Pop Crosley, fell ill, and went to the hospital. Things were bad because Mother and my two uncles took turns staying with him. One afternoon I watched from the front door of our gabled house on Adams Street as they all got out of the car at the same time. I knew Pop had died or they wouldn't have left him alone.
They seemed mystified that, at the last minute, Pop had sat up in bed and yelled out, "I'm not going with you!"
My mother's brother, Uncle Sonny, called Pop, "A fighter to the end."
But Pop had fallen back on the bed, lapsed into unconsciousness, then died.
"Who was he yelling at?" I asked.
"We don't know," Uncle Noonie whispered mournfully.
Mother turned away with a fearful look. "The drugs made him crazy. He didn't know us at the end."
I wished I could have some hope of seeing Pop again, but I couldn't.
Mom Crosley stayed with us for a few nights after his death and slept with me. She didn't really sleep. She walked the floor while I lay in bed and alternately dozed and watched her. Finally, about the time of my fourteenth birthday, she announced that she needed to go home. Mother insisted that Mom should not stay in the house alone, so they talked it over and decided that someone should go with her. My parents couldn't do it, with Daddy working and Mother taking care of my little sister. So it was decided that I should go.
The plan called for me to stay in the front bedroom while Mom returned to the bed where she had slept with Pop for over forty years. Later she must have considered that a mistake because in the night she climbed in bed with me. Still she couldn't sleep and ended up telling me stories.
One fascinated me, about her father, Joseph, who saw a banshee, a dark-cloaked woman who paced back and forth in front of the house as a warning when someone was about to die. Mom said people came to him for advice about things not understood. If Mom ever tried to communicate with the dead, she never mentioned it. I didn't mention Marcia either.
Mom told me about the cedar chest at the end of the bed. The chest contained all the memorabilia of her older son and daughter and their days of singing gospel music all over Indiana, even on the radio. I had never met this aunt and uncle, Mom and Pop's two older children. The girl died pregnant with her first child at twenty-one. I hadn't even been born yet, but I felt like I knew her because Mom talked about her daughter so much. Her clothes still hung in Mom's closet. The dead daughter had worn size three shoes and size three dresses. My feet and body were already too big for them. The oldest son had had a squabble with Pop and moved to Anderson eight miles away, but he might just as well have moved to the other side of the world.
Mom hadn't finished grieving the loss of her daughter and son. Now Pop was gone, too. She told me over and over how much she loved them, how she missed them, how she had tried to get her son to come home. She had begged him to come to see his sick father or even just come home for a visit, but he wouldn't. To grieve for the living seemed worse even than to grieve for the dead.
Those gospel singers inherited their voices from their mother. While we sat up in the bed at night, the room glowed from the pinks and greens refracted through the hand-painted lamp globe. Mom sang, in a big contralto that belied her tiny body, The Letter Edged in Black and some song about a train bearing a corpse in a coffin. She sang The Battle Hymn of the Republic and The Old Rugged Cross. I felt sorry for Mom, but her songs made me afraid to go to sleep.
Eventually, I moved to the back bedroom with her. Mom's grown son, Uncle Sonny, and his wife lived next door and were expecting a new baby. One night, I awoke and saw Mom wedging a crib between the bed and the wall. She put their eighteen-month-old, Stana, into it and shook me. "Wake up, Toby. The new baby's been born, and it's dead. Sonny and I are going to the hospital. You have to take care of Stana." Mom ran out, leaving the bellowing child in the crib.
I scrambled to the end of the bed, confused, thinking at first that I heard the dead baby crying and wondering how a dead baby could cry. Then I realized it was Stana whom Mom had wanted me to watch, so I crawled out and grabbed her. I felt scared for Uncle Sonny, for his wife, and for the little baby, dead before it ever got to live. I feared for myself. Cuddling Stana, I walked for hours. Every time I put her down, she started screaming again. Finally, Mom came home again. Stana and I fell immediately into exhausted sleep.
When Uncle Sonny's wife returned from the hospital, I went next door to visit her. With my still-immature psychic eyes, I saw the dead baby lying on the bedroom floor. I never walked into that room again and never told anyone why. Like a sniper, death took people in pairs--five pairs in quick succession--first my grandparents, then Judy and another cousin, now Pop Crosley and Uncle Sonny's baby. A man down the street died; his widow survived him by only three months. Our neighbors across the street, a couple, were killed in a car wreck together. They left an only daughter, my teenage babysitter. I could end up alone like her.
Eighteen deaths touched me personally by the time I was thirteen. Except when they were my relatives, Mother sent me out to collect flower money. I hated the sorrowful looks on the neighbors' faces when I explained my mission almost as much as I hated the clink of coins in the coffee can. Even more did I loathe the familiar, mauve viewing room in the funeral home, the sickening sweetness of fresh-cut flowers banked around a coffin, and the pasty, made-up face inside.
Why, I wondered, did Jesus keep taking people away? How could He take our loved ones and leave us so sad here below? To say they were in a better place or to see death as the natural end of life meant nothing to me. Death was a horror that beset me. I feared its power to rob me of my loved ones or to take me helter-skelter.
If only Marcia had really talked to me, everything would have been all right. Then I'd have proof of the afterlife. That connection between us would have become my salvation. Without it, I felt doomed to live in fear of life as much as in fear of death.