Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon?
Would you like to fly in my beautiful balloon?
We could float among the stars together, you and I.
For we can fly! We can fly! Up, up and away!
My beautiful, my beautiful balloon!
The world’s a nicer place in my beautiful balloon.
It wears a nicer face in my beautiful balloon.
We can sing a song and sail along the silver sky.
For we can fly, we can fly! Up, up and away!
My beautiful, my beautiful balloon!
Suspended under a twilight canopy,
We’ll search the clouds for a star to guide us.
If by some chance you find yourself loving me,
We’ll find a cloud to hide us.
We’ll keep the moon beside us.
– Jimmy Webb, from “Up, Up and Away” (1967)
One good thing about being in your twenties and having a planned role to play that is not scheduled even to begin until you are sixty years old is that you will have a lot of time to prepare for it. And in retrospect, it is clear that my Thomas intended to use all our intervening years both wisely and well! He was a rookie as a spirit guide, and the amnesia that we accept when we enter these earth-lives made me feel like a rookie as a human being, so he and I started out as rookies together. I had just come through the turmoil of the nineteen-sixties, so by the time I was in my mid-twenties, I was altogether disgusted with civilization. Thomas had prompted me to major in early Christian history in college – I can still remember his nudge from out of nowhere – and he chose for me a very Catholic husband with Asperger’s syndrome. I entered a crowded mixer one evening, and I spotted a nervous but nice-looking guy who had an amazing halo of light around him (I swear!), and right then and there I fell in love. I needed to learn to be a good researcher, and I also needed a stable career, so Thomas prompted me to want to be a lawyer. I needed to learn to write very well, and I think Thomas thought that writing fiction would help me learn to better understand people. So that was why he brought Marvina into my life.
It was clear from last week’s comments that our blog post failed to convey the message that Thomas and I had hoped it would convey. History is lived forward, so when it is viewed backward, people often miss noticing some of the most important historical events. Once again, my beloveds, what we are attempting to do with this brief numbered series is to try to determine what human beings really are at our deepest core. Scientists tell us we are just meat-robots, lacking even the most basic free will, while Christianity says that we are venal and fallen, at our core just nasty and malleable putty, which means that we must endure tight controls in order to live together in peaceful community. And I do like Linda Ellerbe’s book! I hope that one day you will read it. Perhaps if you were to read the whole book, you would grasp her points better than you ever can get them just from reading the excerpts that I chose, and that Thomas and I then used in that blog post. I was planning to move on from it now, but my beloved Thomas has persuaded me to take a detour for just this week. He wants to share with you some of our treasured friend Marvina’s contributions to our work. She is my only other spirit guide that I know by name, and it is long past time for you to meet her. We could have done none of this work without her!
But first, let’s quickly summarize what we were trying to do last week. As we know, the ancestors of these meat-bodies evolved over many millions of years. You might think of all the various creatures in this quick video (scroll down) as simply animals, not human nor even proto-human, but simply living as animals live, and gradually moving up the food chain in their experience of punctuated equilibrium until they became apex predators themselves. But then, amazingly recently – just 200,000 earth-years ago! – something happened that nearly wiped out all the hominids on earth. And then every human being living today, and even ninety percent of all the other animals and the plants that are now alive all appeared at essentially the same time, about 200,000 earth-years ago. There actually was something like a Garden of Eden event! And it is just those specific people who lived 200,000 earth-years ago and their direct descendants that we are trying to understand in more depth with this brief numbered series. But the problem is that those people were bright and sensitive enough to be fearful of the vast unknown around them, and the monstrous gods that they invented with the hope that those gods might be fierce enough to protect them from the vast unknown have given us an awful mental picture of those people themselves. Were the earliest true humans really as fearsome as the gods that they created for their own protection? Or were they instead more like sociable plants by nature, living in peaceful community and creating scary-seeming gods only as they might create scary-seeming spears as they prepared to go out and peacefully hunt in loving cooperation with their gentle companions?
The main point of last week’s blog post was the crucial fork in human history that occurred at 325 CE, and that would have been much more obvious to those who were living history forward than it was to our blog readers here. Prior to that year, we were still essentially the same creatures that had appeared in the Eden of 200,000 earth-years ago. And it is those basic humans that we are trying to better understand with this brief series! At that crucial fork in humanity’s history as it was being lived forward that was the year 325 CE, one branch would have taken us into two thousand years of living the teachings of Jesus. If we had taken that fork, we might by now be living in the kingdom of God on earth.
But on the branch of the fork that Constantine forced human history to take in that fateful year, he locked away inside his newly-created Christian Bible everything that Jesus had said. Every word! Then for the first thousand years of Roman Christianity, that Bible was published only in Latin. Even after the Reformation, lay people were strongly discouraged from reading the Bible. And in most modern-day denominations, Christians are urged not even to read Jesus’s words without adulteration by Paul’s letters. So since modern Western civilization is built on Christianity and its fear-based dogmas, it is almost impossible for moderns to study humankind in its natural state. As our beloved community here seems to have proven yet again last week.
And now, Thomas wants us to tell you my story. I graduated from college in 1968 and was married in 1972, and my oldest child was born in 1977. Chrissy was a very easy baby who was happy to amuse herself, so she would play beside me while I spent most of my time writing and doing research. She has Asperger’s syndrome, like her dad, but since much later she graduated from college at twenty and she is now a brilliant artist and a software engineer, her life has turned out very well. And before she was born, even before our marriage, Edward was drafted as a pathologist and he went to Vietnam, which also gave me lots of time to myself. There wasn’t much afterlife evidence available until after Raymond Moody’s Life After Life came out in 1976, and those were the days before personal computers, and I have always hated TV. So I spent most of the seventies more or less trying to reinvent civilization.
I didn’t think at the time that was what I was doing. I believed I was researching and writing novels. But I was so appalled by what I had witnessed in my then-brief lifetime that I spent a lot of the seventies experimenting with alternative ways of organizing human societies. I began by inventing an island in the South Atlantic that had been populated by shipwreck victims, and on that island everything was the opposite of the way things were in the United States. It would be another forty years before I would even meet Thomas, and twenty years at least before I would give much thought to what a spirit guide is and how this whole thing works, so I didn’t realize that none of what then was happening in my life was my own idea. But in fact, of course, none of it was. During this past week my Thomas has been helping me to reconstruct that time, which process has been a lot of fun all by itself. Who knew? But fifty years ago, there being no time where he is now, Thomas and I spent years experimenting with these very questions, in anticipation of today. And that was when Thomas invited Marvina to join us as my writing guide and my fiction channel, which she has continued to be for all these intervening years. I know now that most of that whole many-years-long series of experiments was conducted under her close tutelage.
The thing about fiction-writing is that, unlike real life, it always has to work. It has to be true to scientific realities and to human nature, and nothing ever can be miraculous. In real life, impossible things can happen every day! But if you try to use miracles in a piece of fiction, immediately you turn off your reader. And in fiction, your characters themselves also must all be true to life. Once they have their own distinctive personalities, they must continue to behave consistently, or – again – you will turn off your reader. And learning how to design people who had never been caged turned out to be the hardest part of this entire process.
So in retrospect, using these fictional vignettes was a surprisingly productive way to test alternative social organizations. Our testing ground, which is that little island in the South Atlantic, is twice as long as it is wide and about as far south as Virginia is north, so it has seasons. It’s a spent volcano with a grassy valley in the middle and small mountains at the northern end. I used to know its dimensions, but you could walk it from south to north and back again in one very long day that began before dawn and ended after sunset, although you never would actually do that. The only animals are half-tame long-haired sheep, horses shrunk to ponies, and dogs, cats, and rats, all off shipwrecks. The only possible name for such a place would be Atlantica, so we have called it that for fifty years.
To create a way to live that is the opposite of Western civilization is very much easier said than done. I am unclear on whether Marvina first said it or whether it was my own idea, but I began these experiments with the conviction that if I could create a way of life for Atlanticans that was the precise opposite of American life, they would then live together in a happy community. And I will spare you all the ugly details, but I created disaster after fictional disaster. Marvina never let me know that I was not alone in playing this game, so I went through months and then years of frustration while the Atlanticans kept getting into fictional wars and otherwise running off the rails. Then I would notice the elements of control over people’s lives that still existed, and which apparently were the reasons why what I was writing still was going wrong and things still didn’t work. It took me a couple of years to relax enough to create characters that were even capable of living in freedom. I think I was afraid of what they might do if I really let them go.
What I gradually learned is that it is very hard for those of us who live in Western civilization to imagine how it is possible for people to live without any controls at all. What, do you mean no laws for real? Are you kidding me? But very gradually I learned so much! The two things these people could not abide were gods and fixed leadership structures. Whenever I tried any form of civilization that included a religion or leaders in set roles, there soon were the usual civilization-style issues. What they seemed to like best was no actual leader, just an old and beloved wise-woman figure who helped them keep a kind of voluntary order, and casual debates held over communal meals that eventually resulted in a consensus that might take them years to develop. That style of civilization was spiritually happy, and it worked well, even over centuries.
The key thing I learned is that people really cannot abide living with any constraints at all.
And when we live with no constraints, we are peaceful, loving, and mutually supportive.
The more you try to restrict people with laws and rules and even customs, the more they fight to be free of them. And people living in absolute freedom are not raving crazies. Not at all! No, that sort of response seems to be what you get when you restrict someone’s freedoms, and his mental cage then chafes on his mind. We enter these lives in order to learn and grow spiritually. And even though we may not be consciously aware of that fact, at a subconscious level spiritual freedom is a core human need that is apparently as essential to us as food and breathing. On Atlantica, when we let them have as much freedom as they want, it turns out that they want freedom without any limits at all.
Here is a little more of what Atlanticans have learned about managing a rules-free society:
What my Atlantican years have given me to understand is that human beings living in a state of nature are neither meat-automatons nor sinful putty. Far from it! If people are allowed to feel themselves to be entirely free from shame and all constraints from earliest infancy, they are happy, loving, mutually supportive, wise, and simply delightful to know. Marvina and I have gotten to know a few Atlanticans pretty well over the past fifty years, although their several novels are now long out of print. My Thomas wants us to finish channeling that series now, and to put it back into print since most of my other work is largely completed. We’ll see. But we consider it to be beyond dispute that both Western civilization and Christianity with all their many fear-based laws and rules and shames and miscellaneous restrictions on people’s lives are the cause, and they certainly are in no way the cure of all the many problems and cares that burden people in the modern world.
Love is waiting there in my beautiful balloon.
Way up in the air in my beautiful balloon.
If you’ll hold my hand, we’ll chase your dream across the sky,
For we can fly, we can fly! Up, up and away!
My beautiful, my beautiful balloon! Balloon!
Up, up, and away!
– Jimmy Webb, from “Up, Up and Away” (1967)