“Of Stars and Clay” Excerpt

Chapter 1

Amazon Jungle

Earth Sentinels II cover

The day the world changed forever seemed like an ordinary day for the Nawatia tribe, which lived deep in the heart of the Amazon jungle. A handful of tribesmen with red-and-black lines painted over their faces stood along the riverbank enjoying a day of fishing. One of their best hunters, Takwa, brought a gourd to his mouth, tipping it high to drink the fermented brew contained within, taking a long guzzle. The colorful feathers in his hair hung back. After quenching his thirst, he let out a satisfied sigh, passing the coveted beverage to the man beside him.

It was then that Takwa looked to the sky. A passenger plane flew high overhead, leaving behind an iridescent misty trail. He pointed at it, calling out, “Look!”

All of the men stared at the strange flying beast. They didn’t often see a jumbo airliner this far from civilization.

Standing among them was a young man named Zachary. He was notably different from the others—tall and lanky with sandy-blond hair and fair skin that was perpetually sunburned. He had no painted lines on his skin, and instead of a loincloth, he wore cut-off jeans and a ragged t-shirt. He put his hand to his forehead to shield his green eyes from the sun as he gazed at the plane. Zachary frowned because he knew the exhaust fumes weren’t normal, or even exhaust. The pearly sheen of the far-reaching trail made it obvious something was amiss—at least to him.

Farther from the shore, wandering alone through the scrub was the tribe’s shaman, Pahtia, an older man with gray hair who was searching for the medicinal herb Pau D’arco, which, when found, would be cut and dried, then used at a later time as a remedy for warding off infections. He was also searching for the Chanca Piedra plant, which offered pain-relief qualities, but he stopped his quest when he noticed his fellow tribesmen staring at the sky. Curious, he hobbled through the underbrush, making his way to the clearing along the riverbank where the jungle canopy gave way to the open skies. There, he stood behind the other men, leaning on his staff while studying the plane’s exhaust trail that reflected the colors of the rainbow as it drifted through the cloudless sky—a hazy cord attached to the silver speck on the horizon.

Pahtia contemplated the situation, muttering, “Bad omen.” 

Zachary overheard his father-in-law, and felt he was right. But at that moment, a fish nibbled on his bait. The young man needed to react quickly, otherwise, the catch would be lost. He jerked the line, swiftly sinking the hook into the mouth of an impressive-sized Pacu, one of the best-tasting fish in the Amazon, and large enough to feed them all—if he landed it.

The fish fought for its life, wriggling out of the water, shimmering in the sunlight before plunging back into the river.

The other men salivated at the thought of cooking the delicious fish in banana leaves over an open fire.

“Careful!” one of the men shouted.

“Not too fast,” another advised.

Takwa tried to steal the line from Zachary’s hand. “Let me do it.”

But Zachary resisted. It was his fish.

Takwa gave up, but stood nearby, irritated.

The Pacu flipped and flopped, desperate to free itself, causing the line to spin off the stick that served as the fishing pole.

“You are a bad fisherman!” Takwa growled.

Zachary ignored the criticism, rewinding the line, trying to exhaust the fish. His amateurish technique frustrated the other men.

The stakes were raised when a 12-foot Black Caiman, the largest member of the crocodilian family, noticed the commotion. The prehistoric creature slid into the river, gliding toward an easy meal. This predator was the perfect killing machine. It had armored skin, a mouth full of jagged teeth, and clear lenses that protected its eyes while attacking its prey. It was also incredibly fast when it wanted to be. And although caimans, like alligators and crocodiles, were not usually a threat to grown men, preferring smaller game and fish, one could never be too careful so Zachary kept an eye on the encroaching beast as well as his fish.

No longer a passive bystander, Pahtia warned his son-in-law, “Hurry up! Or you will lose it!”

Sweat beaded on Zachary’s forehead. Too fast, too slow. He tightened the line.

The caiman swished its tail more vigorously, closing the gap, its primordial eyes and ridged spine cutting through the rippling waters.

Then the reptile submerged.

The tribesmen knew the caiman would attack from below.

“Pull!” yelled Pahtia.

Zachary yanked the line with all his might, causing it to cut into his fingers as the fish flew into the air, bounding toward the shore.

Everyone’s eyes followed the glistening Pacu. The line slackened as the fish soared.

The caiman lunged from the water, opening its tooth-riddled jaws, consuming the entire fish and cutting the line before splashing back into the deep murky river.

The men groaned.

“You will never fit in,” Takwa jeered.

Pahtia sighed and rolled his eyes, annoyed by his son-in-law’s continual failures, but then he noticed the blood running down Zachary’s fingers. The healer knew the cut would fester in this hot and humid rainforest, easily turning into a life-threatening infection. Not wanting his daughter’s scorn, he reluctantly offered to help the young man, saying, “Come with me.”

Zachary sighed with indignation. He hated relying on Pahtia for anything, but it was better than staying here among the other men. Takwa’s contempt was obvious even with his back turned to him.

As Zachary followed Pahtia away from the river, he felt sorry for himself. He had tried to fit in, day after day, but living in the Amazon jungle was difficult, and a major cultural shock from his upbringing in New York City and later in rural Pennsylvania. Here, the children were taught from birth how to survive in the rainforest, avoiding the dangers that lurked in every nook and cranny. And even though Zachary had been here five years, he still had a lot to learn.

Pahtia led his son-in-law down a narrow path that wandered through dense foliage, tangled vines and ancient trees, heading to his hut on the outskirts of the village. Few tribe members visited the shaman there. Most only came to see him when they were sick or needed guidance. Pahtia’s powers scared them a bit. After all, if he had the power to heal, didn’t he also have the power to make them sick? Or worse? It wasn’t a totally unfounded fear. There were shamans who practiced black magic in the jungle for their own personal gain. But Pahtia wasn’t one of them.

As the two men walked along, a flock of green parrots scattered. From an overhead branch, a toucan studied them, its observant button eyes peering past its enormous black-tipped orange beak. Squirrel monkeys, hidden in the trees, hooted.

Pahtia hummed as he shuffled along, his staff steadying his gait. He was happiest away from the others. He liked being undisturbed while hunting for herbs or journeying to the spirit realm. He knew that one could only hear the spirits’ voices clearly when the mind was quiet.

The shaman’s thatched-roof hut came into view. Its walls were made of bamboo slats spaced evenly apart. The gaps allowed Pahtia to detect anyone approaching, yet still gave him some measure of privacy.

Inside, dried wild flowers, roots and herbs were tacked to the slats and hanging from the ceiling. Some were spread across the worktable.

Pahtia instructed Zachary to sit near the fire pit that he often used for cooking and simmering herbal concoctions.

The old man walked to the back of the hut where he rummaged through his assorted botanicals, selecting a few dried leaves and flowers, placing them in a stone bowl. He added a splash of masato, and then began grinding the ingredients together.

Meanwhile, Zachary sat near the cold ashes staring out the doorway, thinking about the ill-boding plane trail. “Pahtia?”

The shaman stopped mixing, looking up.

Zachary suggested, “Why don’t we visit Bechard and ask him about the plane?”

“Never again! That spirit tricked us.”

“He meant well.”

Pahtia shook his head. “He holds a darkness in his heart.” He tapped his chest to emphasize his point.

“Pahtia?”

With a touch of irritation, he answered, “Yes?”

“I’ve got a bad feeling about the plane.”

“I know.” The old man walked toward Zachary carrying the stone bowl. He sat down to finish mixing the compound.

“What should we do?”

“I am not sure. I will visit Maka later. She always has good advice.” Pahtia was referring to his spirit guide, who helped him with healings, divination and guidance on physical and spiritual matters.

He gathered a clump of the smelly herbal remedy with his gnarled fingers. “This will go on your wound to keep it from getting infected, and so Conchita will not be mad at me.” He added, “You can die from infection, you know.”

Zachary sighed. “Yes, I know.” He hated being treated like a complete idiot.

Pahtia shaped the clump into a ball, casually mentioning, “When I die, I will shapeshift into a great caiman.” His eyes gleamed as he imagined reincarnating as this noble reptile. “Maybe next time, I take your fish.” He let out a rare chuckle, annoying his son-in-law, and then began humming as he applied fresh salve to the young man’s injured fingers.

Zachary winced.

Pahtia smiled.

Too embarrassed to return to the fishing expedition, Zachary went home to Conchita, who was standing in their hut cradling their infant son. Her long black hair hung over part of her face as she gazed at the baby while singing a traditional lullaby. The moment Zachary saw his wife, he forgot all about the failed fishing attempt.

Conchita smiled at her husband, but it faded when she noticed his hand was bandaged with leaves and bamboo twine. She asked with concern, “What happened?”

“Oh, it’s nothing,” he said, wanting to forget the whole thing.

“Let me see it,” she insisted.

Zachary reluctantly held out his injured hand for inspection by the shaman’s daughter.

She balanced the baby on her hip while using her free hand to examine the patch job, sniffing to detect which herbs had been used, flipping his hand over to study the other side, finally conceding, “Father did a good job.”

“Yes, he did.” Zachary glanced around the hut, asking, “Where’s Eva?”

“Outside. See.”

Conchita pointed out the doorway at the sunlit center of the village where the young children were having fun with a Capuchin monkey that jumped from one child’s shoulder to the next, playing a game of catch-me-if-you-can. Four-year-old Eva ran toward the scampering rascal with her hands outstretched, only to have the monkey leap over her sun-bleached curls, landing on top of another child’s shoulder. The children squealed with delight.

Zachary laughed at their antics until he glanced up at the sky. Remnants of the shimmering plane trail still lingered.

Conchita, noticing his troubled expression, asked him, “What is wrong?”

Zachary decided to shake off his worries. After all, what could he do about it? So instead of answering her question, he smiled, brushing Conchita’s long hair away from her face, kissing her neck, softly saying, “Nothing’s wrong. Sit with me.” He sat on the palm leaves that covered the floor, patting them with his uninjured hand to encourage her to join him.

She handed him the baby, then settled beside him. The father gently held his son in his arms. Conchita kissed the little one’s forehead to assure him that she was still nearby. The infant gurgled with elation as only babies can do. It was moments like this that Zachary remembered why he had come here.

During the night, Pahtia hobbled through the rainforest using his staff to steady his step. In his other hand, he held a burning torch to light the way. The moon and stars were hidden behind the dark storm clouds. Thunder pounded in the distance.

The old man quickened his step. He made his way across the empty village where everyone was safely tucked inside their huts, sound asleep.

He peered into one of the huts, past the lattice gate blocking the doorway, whispering, “Conchita…”

She stirred, but did not wake.

He held onto the doorframe, poking his staff through the gate, nudging his daughter.

Conchita opened her eyes and saw the silhouetted figure standing outside the hut. She wondered if she was dreaming. It wasn’t until a gust of wind blew, throwing the torch flames past Pahtia’s face, that she recognized him. “Father?”

He tersely said, “Come with me.” 

Although groggy with sleep, she got up, quietly opening the gate, stepping outside, careful not to disturb her loved ones.

Conchita followed her father to the outskirts of the village, continuing down a barely visible path. Overreaching branches and vines, flailing in the storm’s gusts of wind, hindered their progress. A splash in the distance sent shivers down Conchita’s spine. She glanced behind herself, feeling an overwhelming urge to return to her children and husband. The farther she went, the stronger the urge became.

She stopped in her tracks, asserting herself, “I am not going. Not tonight. Tomorrow, I will come.”

Pahtia looked back at his daughter, solemnly stating, “I have something to share with you. But it must be tonight.” He continued along the path.

Lightening crackled overhead.

Against her better judgment, Conchita followed him. “Why not morning?” she asked, her voice nearly drowned out by the rolling thunder.

“Morning is too late,” he declared.

They reached Pahtia’s hut. The flames in the fire pit burned brightly, welcoming them home.

She sat near the fire in her usual spot, combing her windswept hair with her fingers while observing the storm brewing outside.

Meanwhile, Pahtia went to his workbench, reverently picking up a leather medicine pouch. He returned to sit beside his daughter. With sentimental eyes, he said to her, “You have been a good apprentice. Learned all I had to teach.” He set the medicine pouch on his lap so he could use both hands to remove the necklace from around his neck. A glistening stone amulet dangled from the leather cord. “This was my father’s, and now it is yours. Shaman to shaman.”

Conchita lowered her head to accept the gift. “Thank you.” It was a great honor to be declared a shaman. She looked down at the amulet that rested against her chest, picking it up, holding it between her fingers, still not believing the stone her father had worn since she was a child was now hers.

Pahtia continued, “I will ask my helper spirits to be your helpers. All that I have is now yours.”

He opened the medicine pouch’s drawstrings, reaching inside to take out a purple quartz cluster. He held it up between his bony fingers. “This has magical powers. Hold out your hand.” He placed it securely in her palm. “This stone holds the vibration of Mother Earth. Keep it safe.” He pulled out a jaguar’s curved claw. “Not Taslia,” he clarified, referring to his totem animal, which also happened to be a jaguar. “This was my first kill. I was brave and used only a spear. Very dangerous. Very strong energy.” He handed it to Conchita before he once more dug into his bag, removing a plant root. “This is a wise root. It knows the secrets of the rainforest.” Pahtia placed it in Conchita’s hand beside the other sacred articles. Next, he extracted a human tooth, staring at it as if he was remembering how he acquired it so many years ago, then, without an explanation, he returned it to the pouch.

“Father, why are you giving me these things tonight?”

“I had a vision, a prophecy. And in this vision, I saw blood-red skies and a snake slither out of its hole, standing like a man with a gold crown on its head. I heard the moaning of men and women in pain, lying on the ground. Too many to count. The snake took joy in their sorrow, eating them.”

“Stop it. You are scaring me.”

Pahtia became angry. “No daughter of mine is afraid!”

His harsh words made Conchita regret coming here.

Outside, the storm unleashed its heavy rains.

Pahtia’s demeanor softened. “Forget what I said. I know you are strong. Let us journey together one more time. I need to ask Maka for guidance.”

Conchita believed in her father’s prophecies, but that didn’t mean this one would happen tonight—maybe not even in their lifetime. However, he was more riled up about this one than usual. All she wanted to do was return home and sleep with her family, but the downpour made her hesitant to leave. Besides, she knew her father would prod her until she relented, so Conchita reluctantly agreed, “I will journey with you.”

“Good. Let me get the herb.” The shaman used his staff to stand up, stiffly moving across the floor.

Conchita noticed for the first time how much her father had aged. His frame was frail, and his hair was almost entirely gray. She looked away before he returned.

Pahtia sat beside his daughter once more. He said a prayer while bringing the herb closer to his face, honoring it. He dropped the sacred leaves into the fire. Smoke burst out of the flames, billowing all around them.

The pair closed their eyes, breathing deeply, letting the smoke fill their lungs.

The shaman called for his totem animal, “Taslia, please come!”

A moment later, from out of the storm, an ethereal black jaguar padded through the doorway, entering the smoke-filled hut. The ghostly feline stood there swishing her tail while her golden eyes reflected the flames. The totem animal contained the archetypal powers of strength and courage—attributes that would help Pahtia face the dangers encroaching upon him and his tribe.

The shaman acknowledged Taslia’s presence, “Thank you, old friend, for coming. I need to speak to Maka. Will you please take us to her?”

Taslia nodded.

Pahtia’s spirit rose out of his body. He climbed onto the jaguar’s back.

Conchita’s spirit sat behind her father’s.

The big cat carried the pair out of the hut, entering the mystical realm of the jungle. Rain fell from the pitch-black sky, dripping off the ethereal leaves as they moved through the shadowy trees. 

Conchita held tightly on to her father. Even if they weren’t in mortal danger, she knew they were surrounded by spirits—most were benevolent, but some were malicious.

Pahtia, on the other hand, was enjoying the ride, listening to the jungle sounds while taking in the sights. He breathed deeply, smelling the humus aroma the rain brought to the surface. The wet leaves dragging across his face and exposed arms didn’t irritate him. Instead, the cold austere contact made him feel alive.

The rain ceased when they moved through a mist and into another realm.

Strolling out of the trees, the totem animal carried its riders to a waterfall reflecting the moonlight as it cascaded into the ebony lake below.

Pahtia dismounted. He ambled through the ferns, standing at the edge of the dark water, calling out, “Maka! Please come!”

Conchita, who had trailed behind her father, stood by his side.

A ball of light appeared from out of the starry sky, hovering over the lake. It expanded into the form of a beautiful woman, who wore white-fringed animal skins decorated with colorful feathers and beads. Her black hair hung down to her knees. The spirit guide gave the visitors a warm smile, saying, “Greetings! It is good to see you again.”

Pahtia bowed his head out of respect, solemnly replying, “Greetings to you as well, Maka. Thank you for coming. We need your help. I believe the end is near.”

“The end of what, dear Pahtia?”

“The end of this life—for me and my tribe.”

“Pahtia, you know there is no death. Only change. Why do you falter now?”

The shaman bolstered his chest, touting, “I do not falter! I came for help.”

“I understand your concerns, but keep this in mind. That which seems to be the end is always the beginning. Trust that this is so. To take away the impending change would hinder your spiritual growth. This I cannot do.”

The beautiful spirit guide turned to face Conchita. “This change will be the most difficult for you. Remember these words in the days to come: You are the bearer of the light—an integral part of overcoming the darkness that has lasted for far too long. Great challenges await many.

“Remember, for the caterpillar to become a butterfly is a difficult process—one that requires a tremendous amount of trust as it molts many times before the metamorphosis completes itself. But never does the butterfly mourn the loss of its former self. Although, for the caterpillar, the transformation feels like death.”

Maka’s body glowed brighter and brighter until she was lost in the brilliance, breaking into a thousand sparkling lights, dissipating into the night.

 


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Excerpt from “Dreams of Heaven”, releasing August 2017

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Chapter 2

Savannah bolted upright in bed, shaking from a bad dream. It took her a moment to realize she was safe in her own bedroom. Relief flooded over her, but her heart kept pounding. She glanced at her husband, who was sound asleep, before getting up, grabbing her robe from the foot of the bed. 

She left the bedroom, heading down the dark stairwell, reaching the living room decorated with rattan furniture that mimicked the tropics. The overhead palm-leaf fan slowly spun.

Savannah pulled open the sliding glass door. The sea breeze rushed past her, rustling the vertical blinds. She stepped outside, walking across the deck. The ocean roared. She stood by the railing, watching the waves ebb and flow under the moon’s glow. The salty mist settled over her, layer by layer, slowly creating a vaporous cocoon. Savannah didn’t mind the dampness. It made her feel connected—like an old house being overcome by the elements, metamorphosing back to its natural state. In the distance, thunder rumbled. A storm was brewing.

Someone opened the sliding glass door, startling Savannah, who turned to see her husband, Steve, coming towards her.

He reached her side, asking, “What are you doing out here?”

“Just getting some fresh air.”

Steve didn’t believe her. “Something wrong?”

Savannah appreciated his concern, however, thinking about the nightmare sent shivers down her spine. Not wanting to talk about it, she replied, “Oh, nothing.”

“Are you sure?”

She faced the water to avoid his gaze.

Steve kept looking at his wife, hoping she would confide in him. When she didn’t answer, he became concerned, asking, “What is it? Do you feel okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine. It was just a bad dream. That’s all.”

“A dream? What was it about?”

“You don’t want to hear about it. Trust me.”

“I can handle it.”

“Fine. I don’t remember the first part, but the dream began with a car accident.” She was surprised at the intensity of her emotions as she recounted the details. Her breathing grew labored. “All of us were in the SUV. There were sirens and ambulances everywhere. The worst part is…” she hesitated to say, “you and the kids were killed.”

Steve’s gut tightened. His wife’s fear was contagious. He fought against it, reminding himself, It was just a dream. His rational mind took control and he calmly responded, “We’re all fine. Like you said, ‘It was just a dream.’”

“I know,” she agreed, but truthfully she was worried the dream was more than that. She feared it was a premonition.

Steve consoled her, “I once read that when you dream about someone dying, it really means your relationship is changing. Maybe you’re afraid of the kids getting older and leaving the nest.”

She replied, “Maybe,” even though the explanation didn’t feel right to her.

Her husband wrapped his arm around her, pulling her closer. Together, they watched the indigo waves pitch to a primordial rhythm.

Savannah wanted to claim this moment, hoping that somehow she could stop the approaching black train that bore an ominous warning. In the distance, she heard it rumbling down the tracks. A long shrill whistle drifted through the air, coming closer and closer until it crossed the divide between realities, whispering in her ear, “I’m coming.”

 

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“The Organic Farm” book excerpt from “Earth Sentinels: The Storm Creators”


Earth Sentinels Cover-Amazon-240pg.inddChapter 3

The Organic Farm

On a sunny August morning, the Thompson family was busy harvesting their organic crops. Marilyn and her husband, Larry, had retired early from their stressful jobs in New York City and bought this quaint farm in Pennsylvania to get back to nature, pouring half of their life savings into the venture.

Marilyn rested while wiping the sweat from her face with a handkerchief. She stuffed it back in her pocket while looking out over the rolling hills, admiring the fertile farm beds filled with tomatoes, radishes, green beans and squash. All of this organic produce would be sold at a local farmers’ market. Bees buzzed and butterflies floated over the late blooms. She watched her 17-year-old son, Zachary, select ripe tomatoes, setting them in a wagon. He had grown a few inches taller than his father, but he had her sandy-blond hair and fine features.

Car tires scrunched over the crushed limestone driveway, coming to a stop. Dust floated around the tires. An older couple got out of the vehicle, standing side by side looking solemn.

Marilyn, Larry and Zachary waved at their neighbors, Burt and Nancy Wheeler, who returned the greeting, but remained where they stood. Something was wrong.

Larry said to his wife, “This can’t be good…looks like their best milk cow died.”

Marilyn replied, “Shhh…this might be serious. Come on.”

The Thompsons walked out of the field, passing the red barn that housed the milk cow. The chickens scratching in the yard scurried away clucking.

The neighbors met them halfway.

Larry shook the man’s hand. “Good morning.”

Burt said, “Morning. Sorry we didn’t call first, but we’ve got something important to tell you.”

“Okay…”

“This would be better sitting down.”

The Thompson family suddenly felt a sense of dread. Larry responded, “Sure, this way.” He led his neighbors through the back door of the centennial farmhouse. They entered the kitchen, taking their seats at the long plank table. Marilyn asked the neighbors if they would like something to drink, but they shook their heads.

Burt started the conversation, “We’ve been having problems with our cows, one died, and a few had stillborn calves. We heard other farmers had the same thing, so we tested our well and lake. And well…” Bert found it difficult to say the words, “The results showed toxic chemicals and methane gas.” The dairy farmer became visibly upset, his voice wavering as he said, “We’ve lived here for four generations and never had a problem with our water before they started fracking.”

“How can that be?” Marilyn asked, “They aren’t even drilling close to us!” 

“Yeah…well,” answered Burt, “we did some research and found out that Pennsylvania allows horizontal drilling, so a rig can be a mile or more away, but drill right under your house without your permission, if you don’t own the mineral rights.” He rubbed his forehead, noticeably stressed. “We own ours, and told them, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ We didn’t want their money. The farm’s enough for us. But obviously someone near us either took the money or didn’t own the rights.”

“But where’d the chemicals come from?” Larry asked.

“The fracking water. They pump millions of gallons of water, laced with chemicals, so they can extract more gas out of the shoal. Then they have the nerve to tell us it’s all suctioned up, but common sense tells ’ya it can’t be, not all of it. And if they hit an underground stream or aquifer, the contaminated water can flow for miles.”

His wife confided, “We plan on moving our cows to my cousin’s place in Dauphin County. We can’t in good conscience sell the milk. But what’ll we do? Farming’s all we know.” She bit her bottom lip, trying not to cry.

Burt changed the subject, delicately asking the Thompsons, “Have you tested your water? I only ask because our land butts up to yours.”

The awareness that the organic farm might be ruined settled over Marilyn like a dark fog. How can we claim the produce is organic if there are chemicals in the water? How can we sell it at all? She contemplated these troubling questions before quietly saying, “We didn’t give in. We refused to let them test our land and still…” she trailed off. Zachary put his arm around his mother to comfort her.

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The Magic Seeds” book excerpt from “Earth Sentinels: The Storm Creators”

Earth Sentinels Cover-Amazon-240pg.inddChapter 2

The Magic Seeds

Mahakanta Suresh stood at the edge of his field staring at the withered cotton crop. His farm had been handed down through many generations, providing not only a living, but a good way of life in India’s Cotton Belt. He leaned heavily on his hoe, reminiscing of a time long ago when his father had danced with his mother after a bountiful harvest. The entire village had prospered that year, celebrating late into the night with food, spirits and music. His father had stepped away from the festivities and sauntered over to him, holding out a velvety fig he had picked fresh from a banyan branch. Mahakanta plucked the sweet, earthy tasting treat from his father’s weathered hand, watching him laugh heartily, drunk from the free-flowing wine.

Mahakanta savored his childhood memory before it faded, leaving him to face the devastation in front of him. He could have survived the misfortune of one bad season, but alas, last year’s crop had also failed. Now there was no money left to buy new seeds. He would lose his farm and house to the moneylenders who had extended him credit.

He could no longer face his wife and three children, who silently ate their dinner each night while hopelessness filled the air. His family once had a future, but without property, they would be burdened with a husband and father who couldn’t support or provide for them. They would become the lowest of the low.

A sacred cow wandered past him. The bells on its collar clinked as it headed toward his neighbor’s field, which was filled with thriving cotton grown from traditional seeds. Mahakanta remembered the purveyor arriving at his doorstep two years earlier, catching him as he returned home after a hard day’s work. The salesman opened his satchel, showing Mahakanta charts and photos of other customers’ cotton fields that yielded 10 times the average using his new magic seeds. In addition, he touted that the magic seeds resisted pests, eliminating the need to purchase expensive pesticides. The purveyor promised the magic seeds would make Mahakanta a very wealthy man, but what the salesman did not tell him was that these seeds were not drought tolerant like the traditional ones that had been used for generations in India. And the man did not share the fact that the seeds were genetically structured to self-destruct, ensuring that Mahakanta would have to buy new seeds the following year.

So with hope for a better future, Mahakanta naively bought and planted the magic seeds, watching the green shoots emerge in the spring. However, it was not long before the plants withered in the scorching sun and succumbed to the hungry bollworms.

How Mahakanta wished he had switched back to the traditional seeds after the first failed crop, but the purveyor assured him that the dismal harvest was caused by the drought, not the magic seeds, and the next bountiful crop would more than make up for his losses. Mahakanta’s misplaced trust had been a deadly mistake. His only comfort was that he wasn’t the only one who had fallen under the spell of the magic seeds. Dozens of other farmers in his village had done the same thing.

Knowing he could not survive this second disaster, Mahakanta unscrewed the cap on a pesticide bottle, took one last look at the land of his ancestors, then gulped the toxic fluid. The acid scorched his throat as he swallowed, and the noxious fumes made him gag and cough violently. He thought it was a fitting punishment for his failure, expecting to be dead before his family came back from working in the fields.

Instead, his son found him writhing on the ground in agonizing pain. His wife ran over screaming for help. A neighbor who had found Mahakanta not long after he drank the pesticide explained what had happened. There was nothing anyone could do—the poison always took its victim.

The wife held Mahakanta’s head in her lap and wailed, tears streaking down her cheeks, “I told you the money wasn’t important! Why didn’t you listen!?”

Mahakanta did not respond. The pain made him oblivious to his surroundings. He convulsed violently, spewing red-speckled vomit all over the front of his shirt.

His wife continued to sob, rocking back and forth in utter grief.

Mahakanta was overcome with pain. Everything went dark. He felt his body become weightless. A blue mist appeared, forming into shapes that turned into human forms. He recognized a neighbor who had committed suicide a few weeks earlier. Countless numbers of spirits came forward, one after another, each a victim of crop failure caused by the magic seeds. Before Mahakanta could ask why they came, they escorted him away.

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Gas Station Dreams

Shaman Stone Soup Cover-2017.inddExcerpt from the book Shaman Stone Soup


“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

One night in October, I had a dream that was so powerful there was no doubt in my mind that it had really happened.

In the dream, I floated into a scene of a man pumping gas. I knew he was a pastor who was having trouble making a difficult decision. My spirit descended into his car and “sat” in the passenger seat to wait for him to finish pumping gas. The pastor got in, started the car, and drove slowly through the parking lot. He paused before pulling into the street. At that moment he felt my presence, and although he couldn’t see me, he knew I was there. I apologized for the intrusion. In his thoughts, he said, “That’s okay. I was thinking about going for a drive.”

I knew he had changed his plans of going directly home, and instead, he decided to go for a long drive to ponder his difficult decision. I left him alone with his thoughts as he drove away.

When I woke up, I remembered the dream vividly and couldn’t forget it for weeks. I kept looking for this man in public—expecting to meet him.

But after a couple of months had passed and I hadn’t yet met the pastor, the dream was tucked into the back of my mind.

Then one night, I pulled up to my gym and noticed a Red Cross blood mobile in the parking lot. I decided I would give blood, although I had never voluntarily donated blood before.

I walked up to the table set up temporarily in the gym’s lobby. The young woman standing there asked if I had any health problems, and I said no. She asked if I was in good health and feeling well. I answered that I was feeling a little light headed, but she didn’t seem to hear me and began talking with someone else while she handed me a folder with a stack of forms that needed to be filled out.

After my name was called, I walked through the chilly night to the large RV that served as the blood mobile. A young woman greeted me and escorted me to a tiny room where she asked me questions, pricked my finger to take blood, and attached a finger monitor to check my blood pressure. At this point, there was a problem. It seemed my pulse rate and blood pressure were too high, which was very unusual since I normally have low blood pressure. She mentioned that I might be stressed about giving blood and thought answering additional questions on a computer in the room would give me time to calm down.

I finished the questions and was waiting for the woman to return when a man entered and explained he was the supervisor. I knew I wouldn’t be giving blood as soon as he sat down, but decided to let the conversation play out.

With a smile, he asked me how I was feeling. I answered that I felt fine. He said perhaps I was coming down with something and just didn’t know it yet—that sometimes an undetected infection can make the blood pressure spike as the body fights it.

I mentioned that I was feeling light headed, but felt that it was a reaction from an intense healing session I performed earlier in the day.

The supervisor was surprisingly knowledgeable about shamanic healing and pointed out that a healing session should have lowered my blood pressure. I agreed with him. He continued asking me questions about the healings that I performed, saying that it was wonderful work to offer healings and appreciated my efforts.

His spiritual demeanor captured my attention, and I asked him how he knew so much about healing. He answered that he was a pastor of a church in a distant city. Suddenly it dawned on me that he was the pastor from my dream! I began telling him, “Several months ago you had a tough decision to make.”

He nodded his head in agreement, and said a few months earlier he had to decide whether to stay at his church or become the new pastor at a church of a different denomination. His mind told him to stay with his current congregation, but he felt God was guiding him to leave. After much soul searching, he had decided to go to the new church.

When I described seeing him in my dream at the gas station and the interaction that had occurred, he remembered asking God for a sign and stated that he often went on long drives to think.   

I had been waiting to meet him and was blessed to do so. What a wonderful confirmation for the two of us.

I knew the elevated pulse rate was divine intervention, and after leaving the blood mobile, I went to work out at the gym. It felt great!


Message from the Spirit

We are all divine spirits, helping others on conscious and unconscious levels. The past, present and future exist simultaneously—all lives, all events have already occurred—leaving you with memories of illusions that you pluck from the recesses of your mind. You have reached enlightenment because you have never left it. So you have the ability to act as an angel, reaching out to others, offering miracles and love, now.

“Bear Claw Lake” book excerpt from “The Earth Sentinels: The Storm Creators”

Earth Sentinels Cover-Amazon-240pg.indd

Chapter 1

Bear Claw Lake

In a remote area of Canada, a white, double cab pickup truck sped down Highway 55 heading toward Bear Claw Lake, one of the deepest and largest bodies of water in the Alberta province, as well as the major tributary for the Saskatchewan and Beaver rivers. Traces of the Old North Trail ran beside its deep waters and through the surrounding dense forest, used for centuries by the Blackfoot Nation for migration and trading all the way from the permafrost Yukon Territory to sunny New Mexico. Inside the truck was a team of independent specialists commissioned by the Falicon Gas and Oil Company to investigate an ongoing oil spill.

The disaster had been caused by Falicon’s use of the in-situ extraction method that pressurized the oil bed with extremely hot steam and chemicals, cracking the reservoir, causing the oil to escape through spider web ruptures in the earth.

The white pickup turned off the two-lane highway onto a dirt road, dust billowing as it sped toward the disaster. The driver wore a pistol strapped to his side and rested his arm on the console. A scientist sat in the front passenger’s seat reviewing paperwork. He sighed, setting the papers down. The three engineers in the backseat rode quietly looking out the windows.

A glimpse of an old pickup in the rearview mirror caught the driver’s attention. It was a 1973 two-tone Ford with a rusty chrome grill and bumper. Inside were two men from the nearby Bear Claw First Nation reservation. Tom Running Deer sat in the passenger seat holding a Winchester 30-30 rifle between his knees with the barrel protruding a few inches above the dashboard. His black t-shirt was taut over his muscular frame. A few gray hairs highlighted his long black hair that was held back in a ponytail. Beside him was his great-uncle, Chief Keme, who gripped the wheel with his strong hands. A sterling silver ring, accented with turquoise, decorated his right ring finger. He wore a clean, white shirt with a frayed collar. Both men fiercely glared at the intruders in front of them.

The company driver checked the rearview mirror again, saying, “Don’t look, but we’re being tailed by Indians.” The engineers and scientist spun around, peering out the back window. “Jesus! I told you not to look!” The men quickly faced forward again. “Now keep your cool. They’re probably just headed back to the rez, having a little fun with us.” The driver’s comments provided little relief to his nervous passengers.

The old Ford barreled in on the white pickup truck, nearly bumping its rear end before easing back. The engineers and scientist tensely waited for the driver to react, but he drove in silence until the Ford veered off, rumbling down another dirt road, disappearing behind a cloud of dust.

A mile later, the Falicon truck came to a security check point. A guard waved it through, directing the driver to a grassy area where a dozen company vehicles were already parked. Beyond this point were hundreds of square kilometers of what used to be a virgin forest.

The men got out, removing their equipment from the back of the truck. When everyone was ready, they trudged through the eerily quiet forest.

Mike, the head engineer, sniffed the air. “God, something smells terrible!”

The team cautiously approached the lake, observing the disaster spread out before them. The water was covered with an iridescent film of oil that was decomposing into a foul, brown sludge along the shoreline, which was littered with a few dead Canadian geese and a loon gasping for air while struggling to flap its oil-covered wings. A bloated beaver carcass bobbed in the lake. Dead walleye, sauger and lake trout floated on the surface. The surrounding vegetation lay rotting in the sun. The cleanup crew, fully protected inside their bio-hazard suits, used rakes to cull the tar balls.

The scientist stared at the mess shaking his head. He tried to contain his anger, but his voice trembled as he said, “I gave my recommendations early on. I told headquarters we had no ‘Plan B’, but they went ahead anyway.” He lost control. “Fuck the animals! Fuck the planet!” He threw his hard hat down. “Do they really expect us to fix the earth!?”

The ground shuddered, alarming the scientist, who shouted, “Did you feel that!?”

Mike answered, “Yeah…strange.”

Lightning blazed out of the clear blue sky, striking the water. Thunder boomed as the oil slick ignited, creating a lake of fire. The flames reached the shoreline, following channels of oil runoff, spreading through the forest until one of the fire streams reached an oil reservoir where it exploded, creating a mammoth ball of fire that billowed over the forest. The force of the combustion knocked down the engineers, scientists and cleanup crew. Thick, black smoke descended upon the dazed team members, who struggled to their feet, coughing and choking. The earth violently shook again. Everyone raced out of the man-made hell.

The sound of the oil spill explosion reverberated throughout the Bear Claw First Nation’s reservation, which was located a mile from the lake in the middle of the forest where the tribe lived in dilapidated houses that were clustered together like a herd of buffalo protecting their young from the wolves. Crooked stove pipes stuck out of the rooftops with missing shingles. Broken-down cars and rusted-out trucks were parked haphazardly in the weeds. Children, startled by the blast, immediately stopped chasing a ball. Men playing poker and drinking beer under the shade of a tree were stunned into silence as they watched the fireball arch over the trees. Finally one of the men spoke, voicing what the others were thinking, “I knew the oil company would screw up. They always do.”

“It’s time for a council meeting,” said Tom Running Deer, “It’s time for this to end.”

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The Gift of Schizophrenia

Shaman Stone Soup Cover-2017.inddExcerpt from the book Shaman Stone Soup

“When you have looked on what seemed terrifying, and seen it change to sights of loveliness and peace; when you have looked on scenes of violence and death, and watched them change to quiet views of gardens under open skies, with clear, life-giving water running happily beside them in dancing brooks that never waste away; who need persuade you to accept the gift of vision?” — A Course in Miracles

The medical community views schizophrenia as a condition that can be treated but not cured. Schizophrenics are considered to have a mental illness with symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, and dysfunction—which are subdued with antipsychotic medications.

However, I believe that schizophrenics are not suffering from an illness, but rather, are extremely receptive to contact from spirits, and when they cannot ward off imposing negative spirits who have no regard for the schizophrenics’ well being, they become overwhelmed, catatonic, anxious, depressed, and even suicidal with thoughts and visions that seem to be their own, but in reality, are instilled into their minds by outside forces.

With proper shamanic healing and training, which has been done successfully in indigenous tribes under the guidance of shamans, schizophrenics could learn to prevent the intrusion of loud, negative spirits, and allow only the loving spirits’ quiet voices to be heard. They have the gift to become great healers and shamans.

I was given the chance to prove this belief when “Andrew,” a schizophrenic, middle-aged truck driver contacted me for a healing. He said he was constantly assaulted by negative voices and wanted relief.

After I requested his healing from my spirit guide, I emailed him these results:

“In the spirit realm, with my spirit guide, we began to perform an extraction and aura cleansing on your energetic body. There were many extractions and it took awhile to remove them. Afterward, your aura was cleansed and then the angels came in with loving energy and infused you with it. They then built-up your energetic body to prevent unwanted spirits and people’s thoughts from entering. Your crown chakra was too open and was reduced to a much smaller size to prevent unwanted spirits from entering. An intention was set that only the most holy of spirits would be able to enter.”

After receiving my message, Andrew indicated that he had known I had completed the healing. When I inquired how he knew, he sent me a lengthy description of what he had experienced while I performed his healing.

The following is a portion of Andrew’s description of the healing as he wrote it with the exception of a few grammatical corrections.

“Elizabeth…I had been snoozing…before that I had been wondering when you would do the healing.

Today, I was gently awakened by a soft voice that said, ‘They’re here.’

I then began to be aware of your very light presence…my eyes were still closed. It was then that I said, “Hi!” (Author’s note: This was significant, because when the healing began, I said “Hi” to Andrew’s spirit and was surprised when he said “Hi” back. I replied, “Oh, you know I am here,” but I didn’t mention this in my message to him.)

I felt as though there were two presences in the room other than you and me. The little voice said, ‘Don’t open your eyes!’

I lay there for a few seconds and then I saw the outline of two spirits. One of a living person and one not. The one that was no longer living seemed very ‘live’ and holy. The other one appeared to be witnessing something. As I was lying in bed, I felt very little other than calm and comfortable. I closed my eyes again. The voice said, ‘That was him.’ Seemingly referring to the ‘live’ one.

I lay still. The voice said now they’re getting rid of the spirits. I still felt calm and comfortable and yet wondered because I didn’t feel much. Then the voice said, ‘Now the angels are here.’

I kept my eyes closed and waited. A few minutes passed as I tried to sleep so as not to be a nuisance. The little voice said, ‘You’re not a nuisance.’

After a few minutes, the voice said, ‘It’s okay, they’re gone.’

I felt a little like a computer that had just come to life and wondered, ‘Is there nothing more?’

My apartment was dark…I keep the shades closed most of the time. It was near sunset and a little of the westerly sunlight was creeping through.

I started to make myself a cup of coffee, then the voice said, ‘She’s gone.’…meaning you.”

While I always give my clients a description of their healing, this was the first time a client had given me one! It showed how spiritually connected he was.

A few weeks later, Andrew complained that his mind was too quiet! I encouraged him to give it more time to adjust to the lack of noise in his mind. The loving spirits are soft spoken and do not impose themselves on anyone.

Ten months later, he wrote to me stating that the negative voices were bothering him less and less. He was now able to control the spirits’ abilities to contact him and was doing well.

Message from the Spirit: Schizophrenia is a two-edged sword. It is both a curse and a gift until it becomes a finely tuned instrument. Then what could cut and kill becomes a mechanism for separating the wheat from the chaff—a gift for healing.

Shaman Stone Soup

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