“I Will Introduce You to the Other Side”

 

On the evening of March 14, 2018, Brad prayed for help with what we call our “Charles Henry project.” The project began one year earlier in 2017 with dreams about Henry’s laboratory research in Paris at the Sorbonne in the 1890s. Based in part on Henry’s work we were inspired to invent what we call the “spiritual engineering of sacred ecstasy,” a pragmatic orientation to ecstatic experience. This work is detailed in a book we had just completed and sent to press the day before. Now we were planning to build some of the technical vibration-enhancing equipment we had envisioned and we had run into challenges. We needed more practical instruction and guidance than what former dreams had provided. Brad reports:

I normally adopt a radical “Thy will be done” attitude in my prayers that is absent of any specified request, but that night in March I did something out of the ordinary. I prayed that Charles Henry himself would come through in dream to give us some practical technical advice. I fell asleep and woke up in the midst of what felt like a major download of information: the clear guidance we sought was immediately given. I was so excited about the information that I forgot I had prayed to receive it.

The next night I had a series of three dreams. I first dreamed I was at a place that seemed familiar, yet I could not quite place its geographical location. It looked like the social meeting room of the Native American mental health agency where I had previously worked. The room also reminded me of the social meeting rooms in both my father and grandfather’s churches. Somehow the room was both places at once; it was filled with members of my childhood churches as well as indigenous people I had previously worked with both at mental health centers and in ceremonial settings.

An old man, clearly a medicine man, was sitting in the middle of the floor. He was nothing more than skin and bones and looked barely alive—existing on the fragile border between life and death. This man looked both familiar and unfamiliar, a hybrid of someone I knew well and a person I had not yet met. Someone in the room announced: “Go to him and help him cross over.” I immediately sat down in front of him and started to say something when the frail holy man spoke, “I need a twenty-dollar bill and a five-dollar bill.”

Someone from the back of the room who seemed like one of his helpers came forward with the two bills. The elder subsequently said to me, “Choose a five or twenty-dollar bill. Pick one and then sign your name on it. I will take it over to the other side and introduce you.” I chose the five-dollar bill and nervously signed it. As I handed him the bill I worried that my signature was not legible, but then wondered if perhaps it was better that my name was not clear since I wasn’t sure what it meant that he would “introduce me” on the other side.

 

 

 

When I handed the five-dollar bill to the old man, he leaned over and hugged me while exhaling his final breath. As he did so I felt his spirit pass into me. I assumed he had crossed over. Strangely, however, the man seemed to remain, suspended without breath between life and death. I then got up and went to the back of the room to talk to his helper who was with his wife and young children. They all seemed to experience the situation as a natural ceremonial event.

 

 

Stunned by the wonder of it all, I woke up from the vision in a daze pondering the identity of that old mysterious man. He resembled my paternal grandfather, a country preacher from Missouri, but he was also someone else. Then I remembered where I had previously witnessed that room filled with indigenous elders and helpers. It was in Canada at an Ojibwa mental health agency directed by a man named George Simard. I had gone there many years ago to provide consultation for his staff.

I first met George when he came seeking my help. He had grown up reared as a Catholic schoolboy, but his grandfather was the medicine man of a traditional medicine lodge and hoped George would someday learn the old cultural ways. Just before we met, George dreamed that he was in a medicine lodge with his grandfather who was conducting an important ceremony. His grandfather walked up to him in the dream carrying a seashell filled with red paint. While saying a prayer, the old medicine man dipped his finger into the shell and proceeded to paint a red mark on George’s forehead. It sent a shock of energy through his body and he woke up trembling. His startled response also woke up his wife who asked him what had happened. She turned on the light and then innocently asked, “George, how did you get that red mark on your forehead?”

After this mystery took place, George could not stop thinking about it and was unable to sleep at night. He came to me and asked for help and wondered whether there was something he should do. He had heard about how I had helped several other traditional indigenous people he knew. His extraordinary, non-ordinary dream was his beginning entry into accessing traditional medicine ways.

 

While remembering George, I was struck with the realization that the medicine man I met in my visionary experience was a hybrid of George’s grandfather and my own grandfather. Furthermore, the room belonged to both cultural traditions and geographical locales. I wondered whether my mark on the currency had admitted me to double realities—this side and “the other side.” Is this what allows communication with those who lived here before? I then remembered that the night before I had prayed to receive communication from Charles Henry and that specific information had been downloaded in the middle of the night.

When I did a Google search the next morning on $5 and $20 bills and any connection it might have to indigenous healing, I was led to a story about the Lakota medicine man, Frank Fools Crow. Years ago, some folks had come to him needing help, though they had doubts about whether he could really communicate with spirits in a Yuwipi ceremony. They told Fools Crow that they had placed a $5 and a $20 bill in a tin can and buried it in the surrounding countryside. If his ceremony was real, they said, he could ask the spirit to find it. He found it. Fools Crow told them he wished they would have put fifty dollars in there.[1]

George Simard came to me during a time in my life when I was conducting the same ceremony that called on the spirits. I had visioned into both the Lakota Yuwipi and the Ojibwa shaking wigwam ceremonies and had been tested and approved by other medicine people who had been anointed to conduct them. One of these elders had been taught and blessed to conduct the Yuwipi ceremony by Frank Fools Crow. I kept quiet about all this for many years because it was socially awkward to be a hybrid, a syncopated syncretic, and a double agent of spiritual work with one foot in modern times and another in the old ways.

 

Liberace’s Arpeggio

After dreaming of the medicine man, Brad received two more dreams that night:

As I remained in bed wondering about the “five and twenty” dream, I eventually fell asleep and had a second dream. I woke up this time saying to myself, “This really is an important dream! I must remember every detail.” That dream, too, had a double nature and involved instruction on the Charles Henry project. I went over it several times to assure I’d remember, and then went back to sleep. A third dream subsequently arrived.

To my surprise I dreamed of having a piano lesson with Liberace, the former popular pianist whose musical style emphasized arpeggios, the flowing notes that quickly go up and down the keyboard. He listened to me play and sternly replied without a smile (which was unusual for him—he always smiled on television and during his stage shows), “You are missing too many notes. Go back and spend more time working it out.” I had no idea what this meant because long ago I actually mastered the arpeggio in my own playing, performing it as well as Liberace and sometimes better.

 

 

 

When I shared the dream with Hillary later in the early morning hours, she reminded me that we had recently scrapped a plan to construct a unique kind of body piano keyboard based in part on Charles Henry’s research. It was designed to have many keys that would send vibrations all along the spine corresponding to the musical tones produced by a piano keyboard. We had abandoned this design because research demonstrated that the human skin is unable to adequately detect the difference between multiple vibrations. It adapts to a nearby vibration within 1-2 seconds. In other words, if you vibrate one spot on the skin and then vibrate another nearby spot, both vibrations will only be felt for a few seconds until they are felt as one combined vibration.

Liberace’s instruction, Hillary brilliantly pointed out, was that all the keys we previously considered constructing need to be put back in the body keyboard because an arpeggio involves each note only occurring for less than a second. It would be felt as a rippling vibration up and down the spine. Liberace was the perfect dreamtime consultant for this advice because arpeggios were his stylistic trademark. This information also matched a key principle of spiritual engineering: It’s the changing movement of vibration that is ecstatically important, not its static or sustained application on a particular part of the body. Hillary and I went back to the drawing board and discussed how to bring back the missing notes for the body keyboard.

 

Ripples

As we discussed this dream and the first dream with the five and twenty-dollar bills, Brad realized that he had forgotten the second dream, though it was experienced as the most important dream when it occurred. We trust that it planted seeds into the unconscious mind that are not yet ready for the conscious mind to know and articulate. Whatever the case, our Charles Henry project moved forward due to ongoing dreams that directed its development.

 

While we can never say that Brad literally communicated with Charles Henry or directly received information from him, we can say that calling for him through prayer helped us access information we were otherwise unable to attain. It also introduced a hybrid, syncretic form of dream that fused two realities together at the same time. In a church that was also an indigenous mental health clinic (itself a combination of two cultures), Brad met a grandfather who was both a preacher and shaman—an amalgam of many grandfathers. Brad received spiritual breath from a holy man suspended between life and death. Then a mark from Brad—his signature—was taken over to the other side, just as George Simard brought a mark from his grandfather back onto this side of things.

These mysteries should not be held captive by the stilling and distilling mind but instead felt like an arpeggio that ripples briefly across the many keys of our body instrument, delivering a sacred vibration that reminds us that there is more than one side to things. Spirit is found in the movement, the crossing, the breathing, the blending, the changing, and the exchanging that, when fully experienced, becomes the vibratory oscillation of life itself.

-The Keeneys, May 17, 2018

 

 

 

[1] In Thomas E. Mails, Fools Crow, (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1979), 185.

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