Building the A.R.E.’s Healing Garden
By Rick Spalenka
Helping to create the Harris Prayer and Meditation Garden in 1994 was much more for me than just a garden design project. Not that I hadn’t designed gardens before, that’s what I do, but this particular garden launched my interest in the power of the mind, body, and soul in relation to gardens. I was fortunate to be the designer selected by A.R.E. for the Harris Garden project and to promote this garden as one of my earliest successes. Since the completion of this garden copious evidence has verified that stress contributes significantly to disease (dis-ease) and that verdant natural gardens can reduce that stress.
I worked closely with Peggy Cline, who was then A.R.E.’s Building and Grounds manager, to create a healing garden. We wanted a place a visitor could find respite from stress, from worldly distractions, and from uncomfortable weather. Peggy saw the value of the existing bamboo grove, which, in Chinese garden tradition, represents strength and flexibility. She also felt the power of the existing mature trees as shelter from the elements and symbol of longevity. The existing garden had a water course with fish that was difficult to enjoy because it was hard to access, and it lacked the therapeutic sound of moving water. A change in elevation provided for a cascading waterfall, and the addition of a stone retaining wall and sitting area provided a serene place for contemplation, reflection, escape, and harmonious meditation.
Since many visitors may sometimes be using the garden at one time, small private areas were needed for personal use. Alcoves were located along a meandering path for solitude without hindering others from enjoying the serenity of the garden. The word “meander” comes from the Greek word maindros, after Meander River in Greece’s Phrygia. This refers to the ancient desire of “moving aimlessly and idly without fixed direction” (American Heritage Dictionary), associated with the power of the labyrinth legends. One can now walk past the bamboo grove, enjoy its symbolic strength and not be aware of the bustling traffic behind the grove or the visitors finding solitude in the nearby alcove areas. Following a path with a beginning and end can represent the path through life.
Another objective was to incorporate an Oriental element to the garden design to acknowledge that man is one with nature. We agreed that a traditional bowed Oriental-style bridge was needed to create a connection over the existing water feature and proposed connecting paths. The plants selected were to complement and emphasize the Oriental use of color, texture, and seasonal beauty, using plants comfortable in Tidewater’s climate. Jay Mears, a local garden designer and plantsman, Peggy, and I selected and planted the foliage to complete this amazing garden. Recognition must also be given to the A.R.E.’s building and grounds department for its maintenance, timely replacement, and ideal additions to the landscape palette in this wonderful garden.
Today, it is truly a mystical place filled with peace. A wooden stairway leads to the peaceful garden which has a waterfall, a pond with fish, a footbridge, stone walkways, relaxing benches, beautiful bamboo, and a lighting system. My hope is that the Harris Garden will continue to provide healing vibrations to others as it has done for me.
Rick Spalenka, ASLA, is a registered Landscape Architect in Colorado and Virginia, and is certified in therapeutic garden design through the Chicago Botanic Garden. He received his Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from the University of Wisconsin (Madison), his Masters in Urban Studies from Old Dominion University (Norfolk, VA), and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Mesa State College (Grand Junction, CO). He combines his 20-plus years of landscape design and building experience with 10-plus years of medical/surgical and psychiatric nursing experience to specialize in therapeutic and healing garden design for healthcare and residential clients. To learn more, visit his Web site RGSDesigns.com.
The A.R.E. Meditation Garden in Virginia Beach was renamed the Harris Prayer and Meditation Garden after being renovated, expanded, and beautified, thanks to a generous donation by A.R.E. member Samuel D. Harris.
Cayce and the Growth of Consciousness
by Gordon Yumibe
“In the words of the Master Himself, ‘In my Father’s house there are many mansions’(John 14:2 ), many consciousnesses, many stages of enfoldment, of unfoldment, of blessings, of sources.”
Edgar Cayce Reading 2280-1
I grew up in the raucous and sometimes tumultuous ‘60s and ‘70s, having experienced many of the highlights right along with my contemporaries. For me that was a time of music, Woodstock, the Vietnam war, Kent State, Mayor Daley and the Democratic convention, just to name a few. My hair was shoulder length at the time. Two of the things that I took away from that period were a lifelong interest in health and healing, and an interest in consciousness. Both interests have survived and taken root. Many of us realized at that time that the only way we could effectively change society was to change how we, collectively, thought of ourselves; in other words, our state of awareness or our consciousness. Many pioneers of consciousness of that time, including Alan Watts, Baba Ram Dass, and Timothy Leary, led the way. Cayce said “…to all: the ability to be conscious of a thing—mentally—is the only manner through which anyone experiences anything!” (Reading 272-4) That might apply to seeing an object or situation, but it also might mean that we need to recognize or discern different states of awareness, e.g. a drunken state of awareness vs. a higher spiritual state.
Today we see many people advocating a “shift” in our consciousness as the way to move forward. I too am learning what this means in my life. Many A.R.E. members have already done some of the required work to help this movement forward. Many of the timeless values advocated by Cayce, like compassion, kindness, and long-suffering, have become part of the real spiritual foundation that helps support this shift. That very foundation is essential to withstand many of the changes already occurring within ourselves and in the physical world. At the heart of this shift in consciousness has been our ability to reconnect with our source, which Cayce calls the Creative Forces. Some are describing this shift from a 3rd-dimensional consciousness to a 5th-dimensional consciousness. I think in essence, much of this means we are moving out of the mental sphere towards a heart-centered consciousness. We will ultimately need to master both parts of our natures, before we can be on the straight path toward the “promised land.”
Cayce has acknowledged different levels of consciousness all along. In my copy of The Edgar Cayce Companion, I have found numerous references to consciousness. Here are a few:
“…That which is known in the earth as a three-dimensional phase of existence with a five-consciousness of its existence…”
Edgar Cayce Reading 2280-1
“How many dimensions are in this solar system? Eight!”
Edgar Cayce Reading 5755-2
I know this might be pretty confusing at first, but I think as we learn to raise our level of consciousness, we will recognize some of these higher awarenesses. There are a couple of authors who have been able to put this forth in a contemporary perspective. One is Meg Blackburn Losey, who wrote The Secret History of Consciousness: Ancient Keys to Our Future Survival. Another fascinating account of this is The Alchemy of Nine Dimensions: The 2011/2012 Prophecies and Nine Dimensions of Consciousness by Barbara Clow. Both Losey and Clow help integrate the concept of light and sound energy to higher levels of consciousness and dimensions. They are helping us grasp the sometimes difficult concepts that are starting to resonate more throughout the world. We are only beginning to understand part of what this “shift” may mean. Many are getting a better sense of what it means to become deeply connected spiritual beings. Cayce seems to indicate that the 4th dimension is approached mentally. I experience part of this as our collective consciousness or unconsciousness where part of our collective past memories are stored. Barbara Clow says this might be where the akashic records are found. This energy field seems to collect and store all our thought patterns and energies from our common human history together.
The 5th dimension seems where we become re-centered in our heart. Some describe this sphere where one begins to experience the essence of Divine Love; the inter-connected whole, and true joy. No matter what one ends up believing, there is an all-encompassing desire to return to Divine Love. No matter how far out intellectually I’ve resonated with the many things I have read, including writings from these two sources, I’ve always come back to the Truth and the Light that shines in the Cayce readings.
I’d like to thank Linda Lubin who helped me understand what the “shift” means through her website: Journeytoawaken.org and the writings she has exposed me to.
Gordon Yumibe is a lifelong seeker with an interest in Jungian, Gnostic, and Edgar Cayce material. While he is a professional gardener by trade, he also has a psychology degree. In 2009, he received a Spiritual Mentoring Certificate from Atlantic University. You can find Gordon on Facebook.
A Spiritual Awakening: Who Are We, Really?
What is the meaning behind near-death experiences (NDE), out-of-body experiences (OBE), afterlife communications, spiritual awakenings, and other spiritually transformative experiences? The type of experience you may have is not important; what’s important is the aftereffect.
For me, personally, my experience changed my view of life. I did not have an NDE, but one does not have to have an NDE to experience a powerful event of consciousness. For me, it came in the form of a vivid dream, or what I now refer to as a “visit from heaven.” My husband’s friend Rich, who had died on 9/11 in the World Trade Center attacks, came to me with a message for his wife. I didn’t know it then, but I was actually having an out-of-body experience (OBE). My body was sound asleep while my soul “astral traveled” to another dimension.
I walked down this long hallway going into a door at the end which led to a room filled with windows and desks. I looked up seeing my husband’s friend Rich who said, “Josie, thank you for mentioning me in your book.” (I mentioned Rich in the Epilogue of my first book, Footprints in the Sand: A Disabled Woman’s Inspiring Journey to Happiness.)
For reasons I cannot explain, I looked at him and said, “Rich, you have to prove to me that this is really you.” With that, he picked up a flip-phone and showed me a photo of himself, his wife, and their son. He then looked at me smiling, and said, “Boston is OK.” I had no idea what this meant, but I did know that this was a message that I needed to get to his wife. The experience was so real; I knew it wasn’t just a dream.
The next thing I remember is going through a window and finding myself on the street. As I looked out, I saw a pickup truck. In the bed of this pickup truck was Rich standing behind his wife and son. He looked at me, and pushed me forward, as if to say, “Now go give her the message.” I woke up in a sitting position panting and out of breath; feeling like something had just hit me in my chest.
I was completely stunned; nothing like this had ever happened to me before. Without a doubt whatsoever, I was positive that the experience had been valid. In fact, it felt more real than my earthly existence. But how, I wondered, can anything be more real than my current reality? What did this mean? I didn’t know what to think. How could this be?
That morning, I nervously called my husband John, who was already at work, to tell him what had happened. His reaction did not surprise me. He thought I was overreacting to a dream. I persisted, however, insisting that what I had experienced was real. In fact, I was so relentless that John finally agreed to contact Rich’s sister in-law. We decided that he would send an email explaining what happened. If his sister-in-law felt it was appropriate, she would then share the email with her sister (Rich’s wife).
Two weeks later, while on vacation, my husband received a message from Rich’s sister-in-law on his BlackBerry. In short, Rich’s wife had a brother who lived in Boston and was considering moving there but she felt guilty since she had purchased her house with her husband shortly before his death. John read the email aloud not quite grasping what it meant. When he read it a second time, we both covered our mouths in total disbelief.
In the message, she skeptically questioned how I could have known about Boston. Honestly, I had no idea whatsoever that his wife had a brother in Boston or that she was considering moving there. I had never met Rich or anyone else in his family. I once spoke to Rich on the phone, and I had seen a picture of him, but that’s it! Yet, again, I had no doubt that it was Rich. We communicated clearly, telepathically. There was no need for words; it all seemed so natural at the time.
After my “visit from heaven,” everything changed. I not only saw life differently, I was different. After all, I reasoned, I had received a message from a deceased friend which was later validated. This clearly means two things: 1) There is no death; and 2) It is possible for the living to communicate with the “dead.” I put this word in quotes because if there is no death then there are clearly no dead.
I no longer believed in life after death, I knew. There’s a big difference. A knowing changes the very core of your being. You can’t go back to who you were before, even if you tried. And you also can’t forget about your experience.
I soon realized that I had been given a gift and wanted to stand on the tallest mountain and scream, “Life never ends and love never dies.” However, I did the next best thing…I wrote a book called Visits from Heaven (4th Dimension Press). Not everyone is lucky enough to be given proof like I was, but I knew there had to be others out there. I searched for afterlife communication accounts around the world that were evidential. Every account in the book is backed up by some sort of proof. I also garnered the support of well-known experts such as Dr. Melvin Morse, PMH Atwater, George Anderson, and others, who contributed chapters to the book.
My life has taken a 180 degree turn, and I try not to look back, trying always to serve a higher purpose. I know now that life is so much more than it seems. We are all here for a reason and everything we do impacts everyone else. When our lessons are learned and our purpose met, we will return “home” to God. We are all eternal souls and are all part of God, Supreme Source, Universal Consciousness or whatever you choose to call Him. The body is just a jacket we wear so that we can roam the earth, experience life and learn lessons.
As Melvin Morse, renowned pediatrician and near-death researcher, wrote in his book Where God Lives (Harper One/2000), “I understood that man and everything else in the universe is a piece of God. As each snowflake contains miniature representations of the entire snowflake, and each strand of human DNA contains the code to create a unique human, we are all tiny pieces of God.”
Knowing that I am eternal and part of God has changed my life considerably. Since my experience, I understand that the only thing that matters on this earth is love. I used to be so consumed with my journalism career and making a name for myself. I wanted to make a lot of money and live an easy life. Today, I know that I had it all wrong. The most important thing that I can do in my life is help others. When it is my time and I watch my own life review, the money, career, and status will not matter one bit. What will matter are the times that I tried to help others and the differences I made. What will matter is the love that I shared.
I have continued to strive to share this message. My latest book, Visits to Heaven, has just been released this month and offers further proof that there is not just a here, but a hereafter. It contains not only incredible NDE accounts from around the globe, but many other mystical experiences including afterlife communications, deathbed visitations, and more. It is also backed up by stories contributed by some of the most respected names in NDE and paranormal research. Writing this book taught me a lot about myself. For one, I am so much more than I think; we all are. We are all one. We cannot help others without helping ourselves. The opposite is true as well. We can’t hurt others without hurting ourselves. In the end, nothing is without purpose.
Josie Varga discovered her passion for writing as a little girl growing up in Elizabeth, New Jersey. She went on to earn a degree in journalism and later became a successful communications consultant while authoring her first book, Footprints in the Sand: A Disabled Woman’s Inspiring Journey to Happiness, which was published in 2004. Since then, she has become a motivational speaker for overcoming life’s challenges and written several books including Make Up Your Mind to Be Happy: 105 Simple Tips. Her latest book, Visits to Heaven, published by 4th Dimension Press, is the long-awaited follow-up to her best-selling Visits from Heaven. Visit Josie's website www.josievarga.com .
Unearthing Ancient Civilizations
Conference to benefit Edgar Cayce’s
A.R.E. Houston Center
by Peggy Sue Skipper
If you read my last post, you know that I am a big fan of A.R.E.’s Houston Center which has become my spiritual home. Last year, I discovered the importance of ancient sites while writing a book with and for Dr. Sam Osmanagich, PhD. I realized that I wanted to be a part of bringing this incredible information to the world. One thing synchronistically led to another, and my business partner, Rita Mills and I were able to bring together three world renowned experts on pyramids and ancient archaeological sites for a one-day conference Unearthing Ancient Civilizations on Saturday, March 5, 2011 in Houston, TX. The conference, which supports A.R.E.’s Houston building project with a donation of a portion of the proceeds, includes presentations by Dr. Sam Osmanagich, Andrew Collins, and Christopher Dunn followed by a Q&A Panel discussion where they will debate their theories and what all of this new information means.
About 10 years ago I attended a family reunion and learned about ancestors I had never heard of before. I realized some of the things about me made more sense. There were several, “Ah-ha, so …that’s where I get it from!” moments during the weekend. In many ways I had felt alienated from the family I grew up around because I was so different. The discovery that I had so many relatives with the same talents and ambitions as me was in many ways life altering.
It has become clear to me that ancient sites are the key to discovering our heritage in much the same way. It is as if we, as a species, are gradually finding out we were adopted in a sense and that our lineage could be very different than what we have been told. There are so many unanswered questions about these ancient sites, and more are being discovered all the time. Who built them? Why were they built? When were they built? Science just hasn’t effectively answered these questions for some of us. For example, Machu Picchu is one of the most famous of ancient sites in the world and is located high in the mountains of Peru. Dr. Sam says that clearly there were four different civilizations involved with the site and the oldest was the most advanced! Now, how is that explained? An issue never clearly addressed by the scientific community. This is just one of the many reason more and more explorers and pioneers in this field are at odds with mainstream scientific thought.
At the Unearthing Ancient Civilizations Conference Dr. Sam will be speaking on his discovery of pyramids in his home country of Bosnia—the first pyramids to be discovered on the European continent. The largest pyramid in this complex is 30% larger than the largest pyramid on the Giza Plateau in Egypt. This discovery has been very controversial in the scientific community, and Dr. Sam has been vilified on one hand and praised on the other in archaeological circles. He has published nearly twenty titles to date with two new ones coming out just prior to the conference. Ancient History Behind the Veil bridges the gap between science and spirituality, and Pyramids Around the World contains the scientific data he has accumulated throughout his career studying pyramids. For more information about his work, visit SamOsmanagich.com.
Chris Dunn began his pyramid odyssey in 1977 after he read Peter Tompkins' book, Secrets of the Great Pyramid. His immediate reaction after learning of the Great Pyramid's precision and design characteristics was to consider this edifice may have had an original purpose that differed from conventional opinion. Chris concluded that it must have originally been built to provide a highly technical society with energy. Following the 1998 publication of The Giza Power Plant he has published many books and papers with his latest in 2010, Lost Technologies of Ancient Egypt, and his work is referenced in over a dozen books on Egypt. In the United States he has appeared on PAX Television, the Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, Lifetime Television and the History Channel in the Ancient Alien episode “The Evidence.” To learn more, visit GizaPower.com.
Andrew Collins will be joining us from the UK, and then flying to South Africa to present at the annual Megalithamania Conference—just one more piece of evidence to substantiate the huge interest in ancient sites. Andrew is a science and history writer, and the author of various books that challenge the way we perceive the past. They include From the Ashes of Angels (1996), which theorizes that the Watchers of the book of Enoch were shamans responsible for the Neolithic revolution, and that their homeland—the biblical Eden—was southeast Turkey, where archaeologists have recently found the oldest stone temple in the world. Gods of Eden (1998) says that Egyptian civilization is thousands of years older than is conventionally believed. Gateway to Atlantis (2000) tries to prove Plato’s Atlantis was located in Cuba and the Bahamas, and The Cygnus Mystery (2006) argues that veneration of the Cygnus constellation was responsible for the world’s earliest sky religions. His most recent book, Beneath the Pyramids, explores Giza’s cave underworld, rediscovered by the author in 2008. Andrew, born in 1957, lives with his wife Sue near Marlborough, Wiltshire. For more information, visit AndrewCollins.com.
We believe that people are ready to hear what these ancient sites have to tell us about our collective past. Perhaps we can find a better future if we understand our true history and know our past better. The content of this conference is a first for Houston and we know there is a large community interested in the information.
We also have 50 tickets to the conference that have been donated to college students and professors. There will be a drawing on Feb 20, 2011 for the winning tickets and interested parties should send an email with their name, contact information and school affiliation to: email@example.com.
For more information on the drawing and the conference please visit the website at: www.UACConference.com. I hope to see you there!
Peggy Sue Skipper is the co-founder of The New Era Times, an online newspaper which seeks to present innovative ideas and ideals as a beacon for those seeking understanding of the evolving consciousness (TheNewEraTimes.com). She is the author of two books: The Art of Conscious Evolution and Love Signs and is working on a new book scheduled for release in early 2011. She is also the producer and host of "The New Era Cafe" TV show.
Holding Egypt in Prayer
by John Van Auken
Having been to Egypt over thirty times, I knew this uprising was coming. It was just a matter of time, which appears to be now. When I first went to Egypt the citizenry were so constrained in their thinking. For example, women were not allowed to drive cars let alone vote! Over these past many years I’ve seen women receive licenses to drive cars and become active members of Parliament. I’ve seen education expand to include more people, even in the poorer villages in rural areas near Luxor and Aswan. (Though there is much more needed since literacy is 83% among men and 59.4% among women—as of 2005 data.)
The Egyptians I meet in the tourist areas and the major population areas are clever, bright, multilingual, understand human nature well, and have an up-beat spirit and attitude. But most all of them are unhappy with their government and with Mubarak. They are tired of him; as well as authoritarian rule and inept, often corrupt, governance. But it is going to be a long journey from where they’ve been to a government that represents the people and is for the people and by the people. Even we who have had such a government for more than 200 years aren’t content with its operation. And if you think we fight politically and have polarizing influences that make cooperation difficult, wait until Mubarak’s iron hand is lifted, then we’ll see some serious challenges for these people. They will likely go through many reforms before they get close to representative governance and we will continue to hold Egypt in prayer. But I am so excited for the Egyptian people and Egypt's role in shaping the coming world.
For, it is not by chance that the entity has come into this material sojourn, or into the present associations, but that greater opportunities may be accorded. …while there are those conditions in the material that bespeak of turmoil, disturbances that make for anxieties, know that there is within self that ability, that divinity, that way shape the ways, the manners through which good, and peace, and harmony, may come to all. Reading 2440-1
John Van Auken
John is an internationally renowned speaker, longtime staff member, and current director at Edgar Cayce's A.R.E. A popular leader of A.R.E.’s life-changing tours to Egypt and other sacred sites, he is also the author of several best-selling books, including his latest Edgar Cayce and the Kabbalah, and the presenter in several best-selling DVDs, including the recently released Edgar Cayce's Tour of Egypt. He is also a regular contributor to A.R.E.’s Membership publications Venture Inward magazine and Venture Inward Newsletter. His extensive knowledge of the Cayce readings, the Bible, world religions, and ancient mysticism is combined with years of experience as a teacher and retreat leader to bring deeper understanding to today’s spiritual seeker.