If you've come to my blog to read my EMF (electromagnetic fields) stories, please use the links on the side panel, starting with "Red-zoned into the Arms of Nature."
Under a Dark Moon
Berneice Falling Leaves is a storm walker. That's how she spells her name---"Berneice." She was born during a thunder storm, and if you're a medicine woman that makes you a storm walker, and that means you take on dangerous and difficult assignments. She's tall, wears ankle-high moccasins, hair in a Native American bob, died black, white at the part. She's half Sioux and half Danish.
We talk about her work as we cross paths with one of her several peacocks that roam free on the property around her old adobe home outside Phoenix, Arizona. Another peacock is sounding its blood-curdling screech from behind the chicken coop. I know it's a peacock calling, because my mother used to take us to the San Diego Zoo and there you can hear the peacocks all the way from the bear grotto.
Strolling along with Berneice and me is William the trance medium, middle-aged, with large balding head, and a tumbling baritone laugh. As we squeeze into single file to make our way past a cholla cactus, Berneice says, "So, anyway, Moon has invited me to Korea again if I'll bring two other ministers along with me." She's referring to the Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
William and I don't say anything.
"I'm not done with him and his Moonies," says Berneice, as she bends over to unhitch her purple squaw dress from the cholla cactus. "It's a free round-trip," she says, "all expenses paid at five-star hotels. And you both qualify as ministers---I'll vouch for it. We've got work to do in Seoul and the cards say you're coming." She's referring to the Tarot cards.
We pause under the sparse shade of a mesquite tree. William looks at me, blue eyes round and ready for fun. "Come on, Savitri, Let's do it."
For some reason, I'm booked on an earlier flight arriving in Seoul in the afternoon, time enough to poke around and scope out the neighborhood. At about midnight, Berneice lugs her suitcase into the room. She's laughing. "William is furious because he had no idea the bottle of wine he ordered downstairs was going to cost him $100, all his spending money for the trip."
Meanwhile, Berneice pulls out her cards and spreads them out on her bed. "He," meaning Moon, "is going to lie low. There's a plan to assassinate him," she says pointing to the Tower card and the Ten of Swords. "We're not going to see him on this trip. Anyway, we'll work on the other planes so it doesn't matter."
I still have no idea what work we're going to be doing, but figure she'll let me know. I'm guessing Berneice is operating on the principle that when you witness a dubious act---really see, clearly, what's going on---your job is nearly done.
"I found out there's a Buddhist service down the street at four in the morning," I say.
"Good, we'll go to it."
I've never traveled with Berneice before and feel excited that she responds to my desire for adventure, but I also suspect her reasons for wanting to go to the Buddhist temple is somehow related to "our work."
The next morning, the Moon program begins at 9:00 AM sharp. William is jealous that we didn't tell him about the Buddhist service. I look around the hall at the two hundred or so ministers, half of them Afro-Americans. I find out later that nearly all people on the Moon trip are from the South, mostly Baptists and Methodists. I supposed that a free trip would be tempting to just about anyone, except Episcopalians and Presbyterians, Catholics, who are conspicuously absent.
For several hours we watch videos on a huge screen about Moon and his mission, complete with testimonials and shots of his mass weddings. Moon arranges marriages, pairing all colors and races in his attempt to create a utopia of one color, one race. That evening after a Korean banquet, we are bussed to Moon's opera house, a monumental building reminiscent of the architectural grandiosity of the Nazi era. And, like Hitler, Moon is a connoisseur and patron of the arts. We are dazzled with song and dance for three hours, a Korean ballet folklorico.
I've mentioned that William is a trance medium. He channels Dr. Peebles, a Scotsman, though I've never been clear as to why Dr. Peebles would be found to have any more wisdom than the rest of us. I remember one day when I'd invited William to channel at my yoga center in Tucson, Arizona. William sat in a chair while the thirty of us in the "audience" sat on the floor in my temple room, on my European Oriental rug. My temple cat Bok Choy, a large white tiger point Siamese with Egyptian profile, sauntered in and sat in front of William, looking up at him, obviously waiting for the show to begin. William, when he took notice of Bok Choy's profound attention, burst into his loud baritone laughter. Bok Choy stood, flipped his tail a few times, and walked out of the room, head high. William, covering his smile with his hand, said, "O Lord...I think I insulted your cat." When William recovered his calm, he brought on Dr. Peebles.
Anyway, the day after the Korean dance gala, the Moonies bus us to a parking lot not far from the Moon headquarters. To get there we walk down a quaint street with up-scale oriental-style homes. Berneice says, "His house is one of these. I know it." And William agrees. At the surprisingly modest headquarters, a young American woman shows us around, and I take note of the surprisingly ordinary-looking office workers, mostly Koreans.
At the tour's end, while everyone in our group files out, William signals for me to linger, and whispers, "Let's walk back." Though I'm not sure how far the walk will be, I follow his lead. Berneice doesn't want to stay. With our group gone, I notice that nobody in the office seems to find our presence strange. William strikes up friendly conversation with a Korean woman in her forties. After a bit he says to her, "I'm a spiritualist."
The woman smiles, nodding.
"Are you familiar with spiritualism?" he asks as if it were the most normal question in the world.
"Oh, yes," she says, "In fact we have several among us who are learning to channel. When he dies, that's how he'll communicate with us."
I try really hard not to look at William and I'm pretty sure he's trying really hard not to look at me.
Later the next day, Berneice and William and I huddle in the hotel lobby during a break in the program. Berneice says, "I just found out that about 70 of those ministers from the South have already been persuaded, because of what they've seen so far on those videos, to spread the good word about Moon to their congregations. They're buying the idea that Moon is the new Messiah."
"You can't be serious," says William.
"Dead serious. And, I want you to know that they have Moonies assigned to us, to pick our brains." She punches her fist into her palm and says, "Just send them away whenever you feel them probing around in your brain."
Now I know why I've been feeling irritable and out of sorts. "One of them came up to me, the tall American who introduces the program every day, and told me that we'd get sent back home if we didn't attend every program. I understand, now, how he knew I was planning to play hookie. And he said to stop going to the Buddhist temples."
"Creepy," says William.
"You better believe," says Berneice. "Anyway, we've got an afternoon break today, so let's go look at those masks you wanted to see at the folk art museum, Savitri. And just remember...our mere presence is throwing off their energy."
I feel I'm just along for the ride, but am glad our storm walker thinks we might be making a dent in Moon progress.
On our seventh and last day in Seoul, we three hike up a hill spotted with shaggy trees and wild grasses, the sight of a bloody battle during the Korean War. We'd been up the hill, not far from our hotel, earlier in the week and had decided to do a ceremony to help release what William referred to as "trapped souls," souls who hadn't realized they were dead, were deep into the war trauma, unable to move on. Additionally, we had learned that a good deal of Moon's fanaticism towards creating utopia is fueled by his bitterness over that war.
It is a windless afternoon when we settle in a shady spot at the top of that lone hill that overlooks brown haze surrounding the sprawling city. Berneice pulls out her eagle feather and a braid of sweetgrass which she lights while she's saying her prayers; William calls on his spirit guides, Dr. Peebles included; and I light some incense and say a Sanskrit chant. When we finish, a gentle breeze brushes across our faces and flutters the leaves on trees.
A couple of weeks later, at my yoga and meditation center in Tucson, about thirty people gather to hear Berneice and William and me tell stories about our Korean adventure. First off we let everyone know that we'd developed a taste for Kimchi, the sour cabbage dish served with every Korean meal. In most neighborhoods in Seoul, we saw Kimchi "brewing" in large clay pots on roof-tops.
Then Berneice tells about the assassination expectation, and reveals that she wasn't the only person to know about that possibility. "And he knew about it, too," she adds. "He's no dummy." Berneice punches her fist into her palm and lets us know that her last Tarot card spread, with the Sun and Moon cards prominent, the Joker in the middle and the Five of Swords at the top, indicated that our work in Seoul had met her measure of success, for the time being---though she didn't say how.
To round out the evening, William offers a short channeling session with Dr. Peebles, who seems to answer the unasked question: "Mr. Moon may aspire to build a trans-Pacific bridge, but a Scotsman, such as myself---embodied, of course---is more likely to find a pot of gold at the end of an Irishman's rainbow."
Note: The above story took place in the 1980's. We'd heard of countless, similar stories, of people like Berneice working to defuse Moon's progress. On February 13, 2009, Rev. Sun Myung Moon celebrated his 90th birthday. The world is pretty much the same as it was in the 80's---no Moon-designed utopia, no bridge across the Pacific, and Korea, unfortunately, appears to be quite a bit worse off than before.
Credits: Korean scarecrow photo: www.fotosearch.com/photos-images/korean-traditional-mask.html
More Prickly Pear Spirituality Stories:
"Owl Head Buttes Connection"
"Shaman of Wands"