Here’s another powerful synchronicity that Christine experienced. I wish we’d had this one for our book, Sensing the Future.
In analyzing my near-death experience and the flood of lucid and precognitive dreams that have followed since then, I have found that my experience parallels that of Moss (1996), which fit the typical pattern of shamanic initiation involving illness and immersion in the dreamworld.
Moss interviewed an Aboriginal shaman who stated, “No one becomes a sangoma [shaman] without first getting sick. . . . Everyone who is called by the spirits gets the sickness, a bad sickness” (as cited in Moss, 1996, p. 138). The shaman further revealed that “her time of illness was dominated by dreams” (p. 138). I relate this to my experience several years ago, when I contracted the necrotizing fasciitis bacteria, which began in my throat and spread all the way down to my abdomen.
According to the surgeons and doctors, I had a 1% chance of surviving, given the severity and location of the infection, and I was incredibly fortunate to have narrowly escaped death. I learned many lessons from this illness. While I did not know, moment to moment, if I would live or die, I became aware of the real value of each breath. Each moment became immeasurably significant, precious, and beautiful and contained more meaning than imaginable—each moment contained an eternity.
Paradoxically, the two months I was in the hospital fighting this disease were some of the most precious moments in my life. The experience taught me how to surrender and let go and, ultimately, how to live. As Krishnamurti (1969) explained, “death is a renewal, a mutation, in which thought does not function at all because thought is old. When there is death there is something totally new. Freedom from the known is death and then you are living” (p. 77).
Months prior to contracting the infection, I had several lucid dreams wherein I attempted to remove a cyst from my throat, which, in hindsight, was an accurate presaging, considering there was actually a cyst in my throat, which triggered the entire infection. My story is consistent with many other studies on precognition. According to Talbot (1991), psychologists Jean Achterberg and Bernie Siegel, who conducted research on the effects of imagery on cancer patients, reported that they were “already ‘imaging’ their illnesses many months before the illness manifests in their body” (p. 188).
I also had extremely vivid, reoccurring nightmares in which a Native American woman visited me night after night in a violent fit of rage and proceeded to strangle me. Every time, I woke up from the dream, I felt her energy and hands still around my neck. These reoccurring dreams, not only reflected the ways in which I was suppressing my own authentic voice but also foreshadowed my illness and attempted to communicate the spiritual message of the importance of honoring my soul’s desire.
Paul Rageneau, a Jesuit priest who lived among the Hurons in the mid-17th century, reported that they believe that our souls’ desires become known to us through the language of dreams and that when these desires are fulfilled, the soul is satisfied; however, if the soul “is not granted what it desires, it becomes angry; not only does it fail to bring the body the health and well-being it might have wished to bring, but often it even revolts against the body, causing various diseases even death.” (As cited in Moss, 2005, p. 37)
Looking through my dream journal from the period before my illness, in an undated entry, I described the following dream:
I saw the girl again last night. She is a part of me—this Native American girl, who haunts my dreams. She seems so real. . . . It feels as though she is warning me. And then I see the red shirt and I hate it, I don’t want to wear it. (Author’s dream journal, December 2007)
Over the years, I had recalled the girl in my repetitive nightmares with great vividness, but I had forgotten about the detail regarding the red shirt until writing this chapter. This detail is significant, for I had never understood the connection. In hindsight, I can see that this red shirt offered to me could have represented the massive quantity of blood that was lost and drawn out of my chest by the wound vacuum for an entire month while in a medically induced coma.
As horrific as these dreams were along with the physical suffering associated with major illness, I can look back with a sense of gratitude for the experience, which gave me a glimpse into deeper realities and set me on a new path within the world. While in a medically induced coma, I lived suspended in an inescapable dream world, and my dreams reflected what was happening to my body in my waking life.
Among these were dreams of dismemberment. I was unable to wake myself up from these horrific dreams, which were so real to me that it seemed I lived out entire lifetimes. My experience of time was greatly altered, and upon waking, a more intuitive, sensitive, and emotional part of my personality that I had resisted and attempted to hide had become more pronounced. I had undergone so many operations that I was left with few emotional defenses and was unable to repress my thoughts and emotions in the way in which I had previously.