Marcia’s Story: A Strange But True Spiritual Journey
by Marcia Montenegro
Spirit guides, meditation, astrology, the “higher Self,” raising the kundalini, developing psychic abilities, praying to gurus, astral travel, numerology, Tarot cards, contacting the dead, hanging out with witches, Sufis, followers of Muktananda, Rajneesh, Sai Baba, Maharaji, — all these and more were part of my journey. How did I get on this path?
I grew up with an agnostic father and a mother who was raised going to church. My sister and I had to attend church, because my mother thought that was the right thing to do, although she did not always go. Due to my father’s job in the Foreign Service, we moved around a lot, so we ended up in different churches located overseas and in the Washington, DC, area. Eventually, I became serious about religion. In high school, I had the idea that being good would please God and get me into heaven. But reading about other religions and meeting those who believed differently made me wonder. Maybe there was more to it than what I had — some knowledge of God and Jesus which was mostly superficial. I wanted something deeper, more experiential. I was also rejecting the idea of hell and was disillusioned with Christians. Christianity seemed defined by sermons, going to Sunday School, and doing good works. How boring! I was missing out on something! Also, I never fit in during my high school years. Being someone who wrote poetry, being in an alcoholic home, having no real roots all combined to make me feel different and unlike other people. I started my journey at the end of high school.
That journey continued through college where I had paranormal experiences, made friends with someone who said she saw auras, and attended spiritualist meetings where the ministers received messages from the dead. One bright sunny Florida afternoon, as I rested on my bed fully awake with eyes partly closed, I felt myself floating. I opened my eyes and was stunned to see my body on the bed below me as I hovered near the ceiling. I thought I had died. The shock slammed me back into my body in an almost painful way. This was my first out-of-body experience and I had no idea what it was or that it even had a name. I told no one about it.
The journey stretched into the 70’s when I visited psychics and an astrologer, and did a lot of reading on the paranormal, and about Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. I remember reading a book on Vedanta (sect of Hinduism) each morning in the cafeteria of the building where I worked. I started to see connections in my life with the colors of the chakras, the seven psychic centers of energy in the body according to Hindu beliefs. This and other experiences pushed me into an active plunge into the alluring worlds of the paranormal and Eastern beliefs.
Into the fire
In an Inner Light Consciousness class, I was introduced to my “spiritual master” during a guided visualization. This guide, a spirit being, looked kind and wise. I felt his presence with me and sometimes saw him in dreams and meditations until 1990. I also had unpleasant, scary and weird experiences and visitations, once seeing a tall hooded figure in dark robes looking at my body in the bed as I hovered out-of-body nearby. Although extremely frightened by this apparition, I rationalized it by telling myself that I was being tested. Another time, as I was out-of-body, I not only saw my body on the bed, but also saw a double of myself floating across from me. I had spontaneous out-of-body experiences that sometimes kept me from sleeping and that were also often very eerie. But to me, the paranormal was spiritual, and spiritual was good.
Another reason I accepted the scary stuff was my attitude. I liked to think I was tough and nothing could frighten me away. So I would think, ?Go ahead, scare me. I can take it!? I had a lot of anger and defiance in me which probably came from dealing with an alcoholic parent. This angry defiance proved useful to me in many ways. It helped me get through a lot of painful situations, and it was going to help me deal with the bizarre experiences I would face. But anger and defiance over a long period of time easily turn into cynicism. I did become cynical although it was usually hidden, even from myself, behind a desire to help people. This defiant cynicism was my defense, as in ?No one is going to stop me doing what I want; nothing can scare me away; and don?t try to impress me.? Later, after many occult experiences, the cynicism was deeper. I knew a lot of people had not done what I had, and I thought most people were wimps and satisfied with superficial lives, not searching deeply as I was. But this was my defense against getting hurt or feeling helpless.
I also learned to meditate, do psychic healing, analyze dreams, and chant. It was mystical and magical. When I first started to do Eastern meditation, I felt an incredible peace. I felt that I was fading away and merging with something greater. It seemed I was literally one with the universe, and the teaching that we are all connected to one force seemed true. After all, I believed that truth was in experience, and here my experience was confirming that belief. At last, I thought, I was connecting to that spiritual realm…
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