An excerpt from Bad Mind, forthcoming from Aster Press
Amity is 63 and lives and plans to die on the north shore of Oahu. Her twin diagnoses, end-stage liver disease and cancer, have freed her. She is shedding certain trappings of her earthly life: jewelry, clothing, secrets. She has come to me with tales of her other-worldly encounters.
Like most experiencers, just talking about her encounters is a major step. To do so breaks an American taboo: speaking openly of personal spirit-world encounters. Taboos help to keep us in line and hold our shared worldview together. If you break the taboo, others might feel threatened. Crush the worldview, crush the person, to paraphrase John E. Mack.
I knew Amity once, years ago. We both lived in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Then, she didn’t speak of her other-worldly encounters, nor I mine. We were both young, hopeful and unencumbered by the weight of time, loss and regrets. Maybe we both needed that weight to feel sufficiently grounded to come out about our secret experiences.
Amity’s first encounter of two occurred in 1974 in rural Alabama, near the Georgia border. This is what she told me:
“I encountered a UFO along with a group of friends on a weekend in 1974. We’d all gotten together in a friend’s house on the edge of a pasture in Crawford, Alabama, a small town near the Georgia border, not far from the Army post Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. I was 21. We’d all known each other since high school. Jim, my first husband, was there, along with four other married couples and another friend. Several were brothers.
“I was in the living room, and the others, including my husband, were in the kitchen. Suddenly their voices raised in excitement, shouting about lights. I heard the commotion as they ran to the screen door of the kitchen.
“I held back. I had never heard Jim and our friends sound as they did; they sounded excited in a way I’d never heard humans sound before. Everyone was sober; none of us had been drinking or imbibing in anything that might have impaired our perceptions.
“Finally, I rose and went into the kitchen. Everyone was making their way out the screen door. Eventually I followed.
“A giant disc with multi-colored lights like Christmas lights sat on the ground in the large pasture behind the house. I could see the outer surface of the craft looked like old, gray metal. It was absurd how much it looked like the spaceships on television shows.
“Jim started to run toward the landed craft.
“I thought, ‘I want nothing to do with this,’ and in that the second the multi-colored lights on the craft began to spin, and the craft lifted up and out of the pasture.”
I asked Amity how the encounter affected her, her husband and her friends. This had become a pivotal question for me when interviewing experiencers. So far I’d found most people who’d encountered something other-worldly or extraordinary stayed in the stage of awe when they recollected the experience. Few attempted to understand how and in what way it had changed them.
Amity responded, “I tend to just accept the reality of [my encounters] without question or doubt, then disengage from the energy. For whatever reason, it just leaves me alone. Even at age 21, I felt it left me alone, the flying saucer, that is, because I believed it, respected it, the experience, but wished to stay in my own realm and leave it to its.”
Like an old-fashioned fairy, Amity could engage, then disengage, with the energy around her. Her features were even fairy-like: high, prominent cheekbones, upturned eyes, fine hair that lay close to her skull.
Perhaps the ability to psychologically separate is the necessary quality for encounters with other-worldly beings. It seems to allow an entrance for energies and beings out of our daily world. Amity seems at peace with this quality in herself. I have always been uncomfortable with it in myself. For me and for Amity, our bodies and then our lives had to falter before we could think intelligently about our other-worldly visitors and the worlds in which they exist.