I’ve known Peggy Payne for years, now, and I’m thrilled to have her on my blog. A brilliant writer and fabulous editor, she shares with us today the moment she realized “It’s all true,” and offers a giveaway of her ebook, ‘At Sea With My Writing’, to those who opt into her mailing list. Comment here with your email to subscribe.
Summers during college I worked as a reporter for my local newspaper. Not long after I finished school, I was thrilled to get an assignment to write an article on extra-sensory perception for a teen girls’ magazine.
I was conveniently located for that job because I live close to what was probably the major research center for parapsychology in the country. Dr. J.B. Rhine, who had headed a department on the subject at Duke, had left the university and with his wife Louisa established what was called the Foundation for the Research into the Nature of Man.
I’d just been to this center in a big old house on a deeply shaded street, met the Rhines, pored over case studies of psychic experiences. And then I was driving home when a burst of something like emotion flooded me.
With that feeling came the resounding thought: “It’s all true.” I stopped the car, too exhilarated and joyous to drive.
The thoughts that then rushed in around that three-word announcement were these: the ESP is real, the Methodist God I grew up with is real, the God/Goddess/ gods of every religion are real, the realms we rarely catch a glimpse of are real.
I’d always had an idea that all this was so. And in the more than forty years since, I’ve carried with me varying degrees of skepticism as well.
Nevertheless, that moment has shaped my life. My three novels are all about spiritual awakening — in people who are also wide awake to sex, ambition, to-do lists, fear, routine duties and every kind of passion.
I never meant to write novels or even books; I’d always intended to write articles. I’d never meant to write about spirituality, though ESP and the paranormal did interest me.
It was years later when my first novel started to emerge. I was reading a novel set in Israel about a couple getting a divorce. Israel made me think of Sunday school. Next thought: what if a liberal intellectual worldly preacher hears the voice of God and it isn’t at all what he expected? Instead, the experience disrupts his career, threatens his marriage, etc. That became Revelation.
The next was about an American girl in a terrible situation at home who runs away to India to a Hindu holy city. What could be safer and more serene than a holy city, right? That story became Sister India.
And then came Cobalt Blue, about an artist living in a small conservative town suddenly overwhelmed by an emotional and physical experience that feels both erotic and tinged with the divine: a tale of kundalini rising.
Right now, I’m working on a novel about a 15 year-old girl who conjures a boy from another realm, a wild and mysterious creature who is completely naive about our ways of life. Working title: “Darcy of the Astral Light.”
That long-ago moment riding back from the interview didn’t seem at the time like the most dramatic event. No visions, no thunderous voices, or levitation, or miracle powers. Not only that, the magazine that gave me the assignment folded just about the time I finished the ESP article. And yet…turns out it was a very big deal in my life.
I’m so glad that Kelley Harrell has written her Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism, a guide to ecstatic spiritual experience for people like the one I was back then and still am.
Available worldwide, Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism.