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The first person to arrive was Bruce Sullivan, who brought his Tibetan bowls, the ones he had played on Mount Tam for the Harmonic Convergence.

Bob Trowbridge, our host, bonged them with a yarn mallet, and a hum swelled and vibrated through the room.

The next arrival was Kari Lekven. Bob greeted her warmly: He had met her the night before at a past-life workshop, where she got rumblings that she had once been an Arab camel trader with seven wives.

Ultimately there were six of us, gathered in the comfortable Marin living room to watch and listen as Carol, a psychiatric nurse, channeled a spirit she calls George II.

I had never seen a channeling before, hadn’t the slightest idea whether or not I believed in channeling, but I was here because what the heck.

If Shirley MacLaine can go out on a limb, then why oh why can’t I?

When we had all poured ourselves some tea, and Bruce’s bowls had calmed down, Bob explained what channeling is all about. “We all channel in some ways,” he said, “but we call it intuition or an inner voice.

“When I was a minister sometimes I’d preach and say things I’d never thought of before,” he said. “I never knew where they came from.”

Bruce described an Englishwoman named Rosemary Brown who had channeled symphonies in the tradition of Bach and Beethoven but knew nothing of music herself.

Bob turned to me: Doesn’t what I write sometimes seem to come from some place beyond my conscious self? “Hmmph,” I replied, thinking it over.

According to Bob, our knowledge of channeling began with the old-fashioned sťances, when family members sought messages from dead Uncle Charlie. Nowadays, Uncle Charlie has taken a back seat to such messengers from the spirit world as Seth, Ascended Masters like George Washington and Walt Disney, and Ramtha, who’s gotten a lot of attention in the press. He’s a 35,000-year-old warrior from Atlantis.

Every Tuesday night a Marin woman named Vera channels Socrates.

Dozens of other Marinites channel on a regular basis, Bob said. Five or 10 of them hold weekly gatherings like this one. Carol, a pale woman with a relaxed smile, said she had tried channeling after years of success with automatic writing: a spirit dictated, and she just wrote what it said. “I was fearful of the whole process, and I still am,” she said, though she seemed to be totally calm.

She first channeled an entity named Enoch, whose place was taken for five years by George I, who departed last year to make way for George II. George II is the name she has given to him, she said; she suspects he is not one person but a “committee” of spirits.

Carol tucked her feet under her on the sofa and closed her eyes, and within seconds, a new voice erupted from her lips. It was a formal, heavily enunciated, Maria Ouspenskaya kind of voice, at first forceful, later faint. It told us we were in the presence of George II, who extended warm and lengthy greetings—he had met some of these people before—and asked if anyone had any questions.

Everyone had a question but me; I had no idea how to talk to a spirit. George II had great news for everyone; Bruce is going to have great success selling his bowls; Lois’s dead mother is enjoying The Other Side but may be back soon; Kari’s feeling of closeness to her sister is not surprising, since the two were lovers two centuries ago (when Kari was a man).

Bob was told that a recurring dream, which he had found unpleasant, was really a helpful signal telling him to integrate two parts of his personality. Bob nodded raptly, though he said afterward, “I only take from these things what makes sense to me. Spirits can be just as wrong as anyone else: They may be talking nonsense in a spiritual tone of voice.”

After half an hour, Carol sighed a few times and George departed. Carol opened her eyes. She said in her normal voice she felt fine—just a little drained.”

We all poured more tea. Bob led a guided meditation to our inner selves but I was strictly nowhere. We took turns playing Bruce’s bowls, which were not Tibetan at all, but high-tech chalices made from powdered quartz. He said the formula for making them had come from Atlantis. Through a channel.

Bob asked if I felt I had gotten anything out of the evening.

“Who knows?” I replied.  ∆


Marin Independent Journal, Wednesday, August 26, 1987

Channeling: Why Oh Why Can't