Ireland – the land of saints, scholars, and now angels, Reiki, shamans, tarot, crystals, spirit guides, tribal spirit drum workshops, holotropic breathwork and much more. There is a very definite interest in spiritual things.
Why is that?
It's because that's the way we are made. As the writer of the ancient book of wisdom, Ecclesiastes, writes, "God has set eternity in our hearts." Deep down instinctively we know that there is more to life than what we can see. There is a yearning for somewhere we can turn to find peace, to cleanse and purge our souls, to leave our burdens.
I am glad to see people taking a renewed interest in spiritual things, but are all paths equally valid? I'll let Marcia Montenegro, former professional astrologer, tell her story:
One bright sunny 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.
This and other experiences pushed me into the alluring worlds of the paranormal and Eastern beliefs. Then in an 'Inner Light Consciousness' class, I was introduced to my 'spiritual master'. This guide, a spirit being, looked kind and wise. I felt his presence with me and sometimes saw him in dreams and meditations.
I 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. At last, I thought, I was connecting to that spiritual realm.
Later, my studies took me on many paths – Tibetan, Hindu and Zen meditation and philosophy, spirit contact, numerology, psychic development, past-life regression. Reincarnation seemed to answer questions and I experienced what I thought were memories of past lives. However, it was sad to think that my next life might not be so great so if I did not learn lessons from this or previous lives. But why dwell on that?
Finally, it seemed I was on the edge of a hidden wisdom, a truth higher than the everyday superficial thinking around me. I taught astrology, gave public talks, and wrote for astrological and New Age journals. My Halloween birthday and astrological skills made me popular with witches and others. My spiritual progress seemed assured, especially since I was having so many paranormal experiences.
Yet, with all the knowledge and experience I had acquired, what were the answers? Though I believed I would be coming back after my death, where would I go in between and for how long? What would I come back as? I sought peace in Zen Buddhism. But death became an absorbing but uneasy topic for me.
The answer I heard over and over was to love yourself. Despite the meditations and the talk of love, I continued to have frightening experiences. One of the worst was waking up to see an older woman staring at me from the bottom of the bed. I knew she was not flesh and blood, but a spirit. She did not speak, but I heard her in my mind say to me, "I am here to take over your body." Too scared to speak, I said in my mind, "No! No!". This seemed to go on for a long time, until finally, she simply faded away. I was left trembling, perspiring, and my heart racing. By the way, I was not doing drugs.
An unexplained compulsion to go to a church gripped me in the spring and summer of 1990. Since I hated Christianity this made me angry. I ignored this compulsion, then resisted it, and then, after struggling, I decided to give in, hoping that it would go away. It was probably from one of my former lives as a priest or monk, I reasoned.
In the opening minutes of a church service I felt a love I had never known wash down over and through me, so powerfully that I started crying. I knew this love was from God, not from the music, the people, or the place. That love was the real thing. I was starving for that love.
After several weeks, I began to feel unclean about astrology although no one at the church had said anything about it yet. All I knew was that it was somehow separating me from this God of love. I then got the impression that God did not like astrology and wanted me to give it up. Give up my life's work? Give up my identity and purpose? Outside of my son, nothing was more important to me than astrology. But I felt I had no choice; it was so clear to me that God did not like astrology.
As real as it gets
Now what happens? Thinking I should read the Bible, I started reading in Matthew, the first book of the New Testament. Reading the Bible put me in touch with something pure, but I didn't know what it was. Although I had read the Bible before while growing up and had quoted from it for astrological articles, this time it was different. I felt as though I was being cleaned from the inside out as I read it.
This person Jesus fascinated me. It was as though I was learning about Him for the first time. Jesus was different from the masters I had studied. He was more real than the spirit guides, the Ascended Masters, the Higher Self -- all those airy, elusive things that gave no evidence of their existence -- because He came to earth in flesh and He hungered, thirsted, felt pain and sorrow. He did not give a message that denied the dirt and dust of life, but He sat with the outcasts, the prostitutes, and the hated tax collectors yet remained sinless. He was as real as it gets.
Though fully man, and fully God, Jesus willingly laid down His life and died an agonizing death to pay for our sins. He physically rose on the third day, conquering death, so that we can have eternal life with God. No sorcerer, no spiritual master, no Buddha, no shaman, no witch, no psychic has conquered death, but all still lie cold in their graves. But Jesus has power over death and is living today.
What is the biggest difference between my former life and my life in Christ? That I am happier, that life is easier? Not at all. The difference is that I am spiritually satisfied. There is more to learn and much room to grow, but the learning and growth spring from Christ as the foundation, not from a search outside Him. The search has ended; the thirst has been quenched; the hunger within has been filled.
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me," - John 14:6.
"But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." - John 4:14
You can read more of Marcia's story in The Unexpected Journey by Thom Rainer. She has also written SpellBound: The Paranormal Seduction of Today's Kids.
Article copied, with permission, from the 4you.ie web site.