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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Through the Window of a Train: A Canadian Railway Anthology

[Note:  Barbara is a friend of mine who has written Through the Window of a Train. I think it's a great book, and offered to put a notice about it on my blog. Email her at for info about where to buy it.   A.O.]

By Barbara Lange

If you´ve ever been curious about the lives of people on board a moving train, or wanted to take a nostalgic trip back to the steam era, then this book is for you. Since the first trans-continental passenger train, the Pacific Express, headed west in 1885 – the railway has been part of many people´s lives. For some the railway was their life. One only needs to mention The Moonlight SpecialThe CNR, The E&NThe CPRThe Blueberry SpecialThe Milk Run, or The HS&W  (Hellish Slow & Wobbly) for memories to come flooding back.

This journey begins in Craigellachie, amongst the verdant mountains of British Columbia, where the famous last spike was driven home. The reader is then transported to Vancouver Island and across the Prairies to Nova Scotia, and from the era of steam to diesel-electric trains. Relive hilarious, hazardous, and historical moments as you peek through the window of a train and into the past. Meet gandy dancers, a rookie running out of steam, lost immigrants, and women entering the male-dominated world of the railway. Experience asbestos snowball fights, boxcar classrooms, and silk trains as they blur by your window.

These stories retell the significance of the railway, or a single journey taken, in the lives of ordinary Canadians. Dotted with junction and siding names, engine numbers, and routes, for the rail enthusiast.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Launch a Success

Thanks to everyone who came out to the launch of "Exploring the Mysteries of Life & Death" at McNally Robinson Booksellers at Grant Park Mall in Winnipeg. Over 60 people turned out on a wintry but sunny afternoon to celebrate with me.

If anyone is wishing to buy the book ($15), you can go to McNally Robinson, Prairie Sky Books, Radiance Gifts, Hollow Reed Holistic, Elemental Book & Curiosity Shop, U of M Bookstore, and Neighbourhood Books & Cafe.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Book Launch for Exploring the Mysteries of Life & Death

  Book Launch: Sunday, February 2 at 2 pm, McNally Robinson at Grant Park, Grant Avenue, Winnipeg Manitoba. Come celebrate with us: Reading, Q&A, Refreshments, Door Prizes.

 Exploring the Mysteries of Life and Death

Join Anna Olson as she touches on past life memories, visions, near death experience, ghosts, communication with deceased loved ones, near death awareness and more – in her new book, Exploring the Mysteries of Life & Death. She presents possible answers and explanations that may intrigue, amuse or annoy you – or make you question your previous beliefs.
Anna has been interested in metaphysics, the world of the unseen, for close to 30 years. She has learned through reading books, listening to others’ stories, and her own mystical experiences. She also loves to write, having written and edited professionally for over 20 years.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New book: Exploring the Mysteries of Life & Death

Hi everyone:  I've just published my new book called "Exploring the Mysteries of Life & Death" (140 pages, self-published). Don't worry, it's not a sad book – it's got some funny cartoons and lots of cheerful stuff. The list on the front says:   Past Life Memories * Visions * Near Death Experience * Ghosts * Communication with Deceased Loved Ones * Near Death Awareness  – and more!

On the back, it says:   Questions you may have ....
*  You or a loved one has had a near death experience. How do you cope with it?
*  A loved one saw a vision shortly before death. Do you understand why?
*  Are memories of past lives real?
*  Has the spirit of a loved one communicated with after his or her death?
*  How are ghosts created, and how can they be helped to go to the Light?

So far, the book (selling for $15), is available at Winnipeg's Prairie Sky Books, Radiance Books & Treasures, Hollow Reed Holistic, McNally Robinson Booksellers, Elemental Books & Curiosity Shop, U of M Bookstore, The Forks Trading Post (2nd floor at The Forks), and The Neighbourhood Cafe & Books. It's also available in the Winnipeg Public Library. In Gimli, Manitoba, it's available at Tergesen's General Merchant.

If you would like me to mail you a book, send a cheque for $20 ($15 plus $5 S&H) payable to Anna Olson, (#1115–610 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg MB, R3C 0G5). You can also buy it through

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Proof is in the (Heavenly) Pudding

By ANNA OLSON (1,590 words)

In my past view, spiritual was not a word that I would have employed during a scientific conversation. Now I believe it is a word that we cannot afford to leave out.
                Eben Alexander, Proof of Heaven

Eben Alexander, M.D., was busily occupied in his roles of neurosurgeon, husband and father when his sense of identity suddenly changed. On November 10, 2008, at age fifty-four, he developed bacterial meningitis that ravaged his central nervous system for six days. On the seventh day, he started to recover, mystifying everyone, including himself, with his amazing revival and distinct memories of what happened while in a coma. He would never be the same again.
Previously a self-proclaimed skeptic on spiritual matters, Eben Alexander is now a zealous proselytizer of the love and acceptance that he experienced on the “other side.” He feels he must share this message – that it’s the most important task he has. His book, Proof of Heaven  (Simon & Schuster, 2012) and his website are steps in that direction.     
The physical nightmare

Alexander describes waking up with pain at the base of his spine, which evolved to include a severe headache and a grand mal seizure. In the emergency room, doctors and nurses discovered he had gram-negative bacterial meningitis, a very rare condition, especially as nothing had happened to introduce bacteria into his central nervous system. His last words before lapsing into a six-day coma were “God, help me!”
On the seventh day, he woke up, thrashing with discomfort from the breathing tube he no longer needed. “Thank you,” he said as soon as it was removed. Later, as his surprised family and friends gathered around his bed, he said: “All is well. Don’t worry, all is well.”
All was not immediately well, however, as Alexander developed a full-blown “intensive care unit (ICU) psychosis,” which often happens to patients when their brains come alive after a period of inactivity. Gradually, the hallucinations and paranoid thinking decreased as language, memories and recognition returned. He has since regained his full mental abilities.
The real miracle

Eben Alexander claims three medical puzzles for his case: contracting bacterial meningitis even though doctors couldn't figure out how bacteria got into his "closed" central nervous system; staying alive even though bacteria were eating his cerebral cortex, the part of the brain "responsible for memory, language, emotion, visual and auditory awareness, and logic"; and the full recovery of his mental faculties.
The above is enough to get Alexander into the record books, with the doctors involved shaking their heads in amazement.
The real shocker for everyone is what Alexander experienced while in a coma. “I was encountering the reality of a world of consciousness,” he writes, “that existed completely free of the limitations of my physical brain. My experience showed me that the death of the human body and the brain are not the end of human consciousness, that human experience continues beyond the grave.”
Those are powerful words coming from a man who had built his career completely immersed in the scientific world of neurosurgery. Before his illness, Alexander had filed any reports of the supernatural under the heading “unknown.” He assumed a common sense answer would be obvious at some point.
In Proof of Heaven, Alexander writes that his first awareness while in a coma was witnessing a kind of underworld. “Darkness, but a visible darkness – like being submerged in mud yet also being able to see through it,” he recounts. He felt like a point of consciousness without memory or identity, just awareness of what was going on around him. He later called this mud-like environment the “Realm of the Earthworm’s Eye View.”
After Alexander's encounter with this sludgy netherworld, he suddenly whooshed through an opening and found himself in what appeared to be a completely different world – “brilliant, vibrant, ecstatic, stunning” – into which he felt like he was being born. It was earthlike but with a difference. He was flying, passing over trees and fields, streams and waterfalls. Children laughed and played, and adults sang and danced. Everyone's clothing seemed to have a living warmth, as did the trees and flowers.

As Alexander was flying along, someone appeared next to him. They rode together on what looked like an intricately patterned butterfly wing. This “Girl on the Butterfly Wing” imparted a strong message of unconditional love: “You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever. You have nothing to fear. There is nothing you can do wrong.” She intimated that there was more for him to see, but that he would be going back to his life on earth.

“Everything was distinct,” Alexander says, “yet everything was also a part of everything else.” He would silently pose a question and the answer would “come instantly in an explosion of light, colour, love, and beauty that blew through me like a crashing wave.”

Alexander then found himself entering what he called the Core, “an immense void, completely dark, infinite in size, yet also infinitely comforting.” A brilliant orb seemed to act as interpreter between him and what he sensed was God, the Creator, the Source. He uses the name “Om” to describe what he felt was an omniscient, omnipotent and unconditionally loving God.

Alexander learned to navigate between the levels of his mystical journey. When he slipped down to the murky, mud-like level, he found that when he wished for the “Spinning Melody” he had heard before, it appeared and pulled him out of the sludge, up towards the Gateway and the Core.
“Emotions are different up there,” Alexander writes. “Imagine that every time your mood changed here on earth, the weather changed instantly along with it. That your tears would bring on a torrential downpour, and your joy would make the clouds instantly disappear.” He says that inside and outside don’t exist in heaven – everything is permeable and connected.
Although he felt he had communed with God (or “Om”), Alexander admits he “never heard Om’s voice directly, nor saw Om’s face." He says it was as if Om spoke to him through "thoughts that were like wave-walls rolling through me, rocking everything around me and showing that there is a deeper fabric of existence – a fabric that all of us are always part of, but of which we’re generally not conscious.”  
Eben Alexander says that communicating with God is the most extraordinary experience imaginable, while at the same time being very natural. “God is present in us at all times,” he claims. “Without recovering that memory of our larger connectedness, and of the unconditional love of our Creator, we will always feel lost here on earth.”

Back on planet earth
The Girl on the Butterfly Wing had told him he would be going back. Now he was descending through great walls of clouds. He sensed people praying for him, and it gave him confidence that everything would be all right.
Back in the earthly world of the living, Alexander needed to recover and then decide what to do with the rest of his life. He could either keep quiet or go public with what he experienced. He chose the latter.

A contribution to the near death experience (NDE) literature that Alexander wants to make is to squash medical explanations for NDEs. He writes, “The more I read of the ‘scientific’ explanations of what NDEs are, the more I was shocked by their transparent flimsiness. And yet I also knew with chagrin that they were exactly the ones that the old ‘me’ would have pointed to vaguely if someone had asked me to explain what an NDE is.”
While Alexander was writing about his heavenly journey, he realized he was disappointed that he hadn’t seen the spirits of deceased loved ones. He was grateful to the Girl on the Butterfly Wing, but she didn’t resemble anyone he knew from his past. Then he saw a picture of the sister he had never met. It was her. She had been born to his birth family after he had been adopted out, but she died before he reunited with them. Realizing that the Girl was the spirit of his dead sister helped to heal his deep pain about losing his birth parents.
                  * * *** * *
I loved this book. It’s deliciously ironic that a neurosurgeon who doesn’t believe in mystical tales from others has a near death experience that flips him into being a zealous promoter of the reality of heaven. In Appendix BAlexander demolishes all the neurological arguments that attempt to explain NDEs. This guy knows brains, and you’re not going to fool him by using fancy medical terms to invalidate NDEs.
Alexander wonders if this journey in and out of coma was “meant to be” in the sense that his illness and recovery were to show proof of consciousness beyond brain functioning. For six days, his brain was being eaten by bacteria, yet he had vivid, interactive and life-changing experiences in another dimension.
Those of us who believe in the existence of spirit or soul probably won’t have any trouble accepting his near death experience. There are others who say there is no spirit that lives on separate from brain and body. Perhaps Eben Alexander’s revelations in Proof of Heaven will help to convince the doubters that a person’s spirit does exist  – and that heaven is real and VERY beautiful.
Anna Olson is a Winnipeg freelance writer and editor. She can be reached at Read more of her articles at
Sidebar (656 words):    “The Prophet” – Eben Alexander Gets Pummelled
In his article “The Prophet” (Esquire magazine, August 2013), Luke Dittrich questions the credibility of Eben Alexander, author of Proof of Heaven ( Dittrich declines to accept that Alexander's near death experience (NDE) is proof of anything.
In his introduction, Dittrich writes: “Before Proof of Heaven made Dr. Eben Alexander rich and famous as a ‘man of science’ who’d experienced the afterlife, he was something else: a neurosurgeon with a troubled history and a man in need of reinvention.”     
Let’s deal with the troubled history issue first. In Proof of Heaven we learn that at four months of age, Eben Alexander was adopted by a couple that loved him completely, calling him “chosen” (as opposed to adopted). However, there was still a part of him that felt rejected and unloved because his birth parents gave him up. This subconscious ache surfaced seven years before his illness. At the time, he had found his birth parents, but they didn’t want to see him because they were still grieving the loss of their daughter two years earlier. This ache pulled him down, affecting his home life and work.

In the book, Alexander doesn’t give details of these pre-NDE problems, but he doesn’t hide the fact that this was a difficult period. Do his former misdeeds (like an insensitive bedside manner in one instance, and surgery on the wrong vertebrae in another) negate his NDE? Dittrich also details the excellent pioneering work that Alexander accomplished. My impulse is to take the NDE at face value regardless of previous good or bad deeds.

Dittrich says Alexander was “a man in need of reinvention” prior to his NDE. In  Proof of Heaven, Alexander says that as he recovered from his illness, he realized he felt like two personalities walking around in one body. His experience on the other side felt intensely real; he couldn’t dismiss it. Yet he still loved science. "How was I going to create room for both of these realities to coexist?"  he asked himself.
Alexander’s decision has been to go public with his experience. He has created a website,, and he speaks often on radio, TV and at conferences and other public events (browse “Eben Alexander YouTube” for public performances). Proof of Heaven has been translated into 35 languages. If he gets rich from it all, why put him down? His success shows a high level of public interest in a spiritual topic. We could applaud that. (Do we complain when people are paid millions to chase a ball or puck around?)
Whenever a person takes a public stand on a controversial topic, he or she can expect a certain amount of criticism. Luke Dittrich’s article may convince some people to disregard Alexander’s message, but it doesn’t dissuade me. I think the article is a case of “shoot the messenger” rather than dealing with the substance of the message.
Dittrich quotes the Dalai Lama chastising Alexander at a function at which both were speakers. “When a man makes extraordinary claims,” the Dalai Lama said, “a thorough investigation is required to ensure that person is reliable, has no reason to lie.”
Dittrich's implication is that, because Alexander once falsified a medical record, his otherworldly experience is not to be believed.

Who am I to argue with the Dalai Lama? But I will anyway. My approach to dealing with another person talking about a mystical experience is to ask: Does it resonate with me? Will this information help me live a better life?
My answer is yes to both questions when I look at Eben Alexander’s report of his near death experience. I have read a lot about NDEs in general plus I’ve had one of my own. Alexander's experience has some different elements to it, but fits within my previous understanding.
I admire Alexander’s courage to go public and risk the “rotten tomato” flings from people like Luke Dittrich.
                             Anna Olson

Monday, June 24, 2013

Assisted Suicide: What Do Spirits Say?

 By Anna Olson

When I look into the subject of assisted suicide, I find abundant material from the pro-choice and the pro-life sides – but not much attention by anyone on spiritual realities. Many on the pro-choice side don’t believe in life after death; they believe we live a life, the body dies, and that’s it. The pro-life people talk about God being the only arbiter of life and death but give no information on how different kinds of death affect the spirit of the person.
I admit my bias here: I believe in life after death. I have communicated with spirit entities enough to be assured that my spirit will continue to live on in another dimension after my physical death. I prefer the word ‘transition’ to ‘death’ to describe what happens at the end of our earthly life.
I also lean towards the pro-choice side of the debate even though there are several downsides to an early exit if we can believe the statements attributed to spirits, detailed below. I think it’s important for people to make their own choices, to think it through for themselves how and when they want to die.
Pamela Rae Heath and Jon Klimo have done a huge amount of work collecting material dealing with the spiritual side of suicide, which they present in the book, Suicide: What Really Happens in the Afterlife? Channeled Conversations with the Dead (North Atlantic Books, 2006). Besides assisted suicide, they deal with traditional suicide, murder-suicide, and suicide bombers. “Suicide by cop” is another form of suicide that has surfaced in recent years, where a person deliberately provokes a law enforcement officer to kill him or her. 
In Suicide: What Really Happens in the Afterlife? Heath and Klimo have gathered channeled messages from spirits of people who died through some form of suicide, and from spirit guides who help other spirits in the afterlife. (A definition of channeling: a person on earth is able to converse with the spirit of someone who has died or a spirit guide. The channeler either writes down what a spirit is saying or speaks into a tape recorder and then transcribes.)
The channeler’s prejudices can taint the message. Heath and Klimo do not guarantee accurate channeling – in fact, in a few places they point out what might be the channeler’s feelings coming through. In all, I think the authors attempt to give an overview of the wide range of messages that have come through various channelers, without being dogmatic as to what the reader should believe. For example, the authors point out a pronouncement that may have come from the mind of the channeler rather than from a spirit: “It [euthanasia] is not according to God’s Laws, and he will not forgive it.”
In Suicide: What Really Happens in the Afterlife? Heath and Klimo give the source of all their quotes – but here, for brevity’s sake, I will just give concepts and some quotes.
The spirit statements vary from acceptance of euthanasia when there is a long period of physical suffering and lack of a will to live – to regret that something was lost by an early exit.
One argument against euthanasia (from the spirit’s point of view) is that it is harder on the spirit than a natural death. “The euthanasia of terminally ill patients may be a shock to the system, which causes the soul to have to adjust a great deal more than would otherwise be necessary.”
Losing opportunities for emotional growth is another argument against premature death. Those who leave through suicide or assisted suicide “will experience some sadness that they let go of the opportunity for learning.” Another spirit says, “One never really knows until after the fact (when the soul learns the truth of the situation in the afterlife) whether something valuable was lost with cutting your suffering short.”
Some are concerned about their families. “In the case of terminally ill or elderly persons, some are sick and want to save their families time, money, and heartache by committing suicide. These people are unaware of the spiritual side of their actions. Perhaps before coming into the physical plane, family members set up certain conditions and situations in order to work out their group karma. Or they needed to experience being of service to the one who is ill.” (One definition of karma: the cosmic principle according to which each person is rewarded or punished in one incarnation according to that person's deeds in the previous incarnation.) 
More benefits of a natural death: “How do we know that a soul didn’t choose to go through an experience of a fatal illness in order to burn away karma? If we cut short someone’s natural time on earth, we never know whether something valuable could have been learned or whether such an experience was necessary to reach a new spiritual plateau.”
If people opt out too soon, “one consequence might be that they would lose the opportunity to practice the suffering that is needed for them to develop greater compassion for others.”
We need to feel useful and it’s painful if we don’t. “Part of the trauma [of being on life support] being that when the pattern for that life is over, why should the physical instrument [the body] be maintained? When the time of purposefulness has ended, then there is a certain vacuum, a certain lack, in that which lies ahead, and prolongation of the physical instrument is a painful process, part of the pain being its purposelessness.” 
One person’s illness is another person’s chance to provide care. “There can be a long terminal illness, which may be an opportunity to experience the love of others in the care given, and the progressive love of society providing care. [It’s important] to judge each case individually.”
One spirit pointed out that “there is a difference between no longer artificially prolonging life – hence allowing a natural death to occur – and an act of euthanasia performed because a person is old and tired and finding life hard.”
Heath and Klimo note: “But once passed, these souls insist that is was necessary, both for us and for them, that the spiritual lesson of pain and suffering prior to passing be learned. A loved one in the hereafter says they would gladly endure their pain again to gain the same reward in the hereafter. They also acknowledge that no matter how bad things got, all of it was necessary for the completion of their lessons on the earth. ‘If I had to do it again to get the same reward here, I would in a heartbeat’” (communicated by the spirit of a young woman who died of scleroderma, a very painful skin condition).

                         * * *** * *
The above are concepts to consider when thinking about assisted suicide for oneself or a loved one. Watching a loved one go through a long, agonizing death can be very painful. But perhaps the dying person and the caregivers gain something on the emotional and spiritual side that they weren’t aware of at the time.
It’s interesting that loss of dignity rates highest in a Dutch study (1991) that asked patients requesting euthanasia to give their reasons (quoted by Heath and Klimo). Here is a breakdown of their answers: loss of dignity (57 percent); pain (46 percent); pain, when it is the only reason given (5 percent); when the nature of one’s dying seems unworthy (46 percent); having to be dependent on others (33 percent); and being tired of life (23 percent).
Dignity is an emotional term. It covers being able to sustain one’s normal life, finances, health, and self-care (bathing and toileting). People have different tolerances for lack of independence. Some consider it undignified to be dependent on others for the basics of life and so would rather die early than go through such an experience. Perhaps if they knew they might benefit spiritually by waiting for a natural death, they would be willing to go through pain and discomfort to reach that goal.
The concept of spirit reaction to assisted suicide (and suicide in general) is fascinating. If you’re interested in looking into this more deeply, I hope you will read Suicide: What Really Happens in the Afterlife? by Pamela Rae Heath and Jon Klimo.
 Anna Olson is a Winnipeg freelance writer and editor. She can be reached at 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

My Love Affair With Geese

By Anna Olson

How do geese know when to fly to the sun?
Who tells them the seasons?
 How do we humans know when it is time to move on?
As with the migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within, if only we would listen to it, that tells us so certainly when to go forth into the unknown.
                                                                      Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
(The Wheel of Life)

When I think back to when geese and I were first introduced, I would say it was through my dad being a hunter. He would bring home geese and ducks for plucking, singeing, eviscerating, and of course eating. I was a good helper, especially for pulling out the innards, as my small hands could get into the cavities better than his larger ones. I don’t remember any prayers or reverence for the birds. My dad was a farm boy and was continuing the practice of shooting birds to feed his family.

The next incident I remember is standing in Grant Park Mall parking lot, staring in awe as a big flock of geese flew directly over me. (I was probably in my late thirties at the time. I’m late sixties now.) When I got home, I put my thoughts on paper.

It’s spring, and the geese are flying overhead, squawking their way to the northeast. I am thrilled they have chosen to fly over me. I watch hypnotized: the beating and flapping, squawking and jockeying for position, the familiar V-shape plus stragglers and independents. Such purpose and intensity. They didn't even pack a lunch! No money, no hotels! Does the farmer know they're coming down in his grain field? Our rivers and marshes and lakes have cleared their ice to be ready for them.
    I want to fly away, too.
    Twice a year they leave home. So much energy used up in migration when it could be put to better use! But being alive means being active. Does it matter what we do as long as we are active?
    Do you fly the friendly skies as the airline advertises? Do airplanes get in your way? What about eagles and hawks?
    Are you running away from anything – or running open-winged to something?
    Such powerful movements of animals, birds and insects: mammals beneath the sea and on land, insects beneath the ground, birds and butterflies in the air. So much is invisible to us humans. I feel small and insignificant in the face of their intuitive knowledge and fearless plunge into the unknown.
    I feel a heart connection to the flock of geese, and I wish them well on their journey.
    So thanks for flying over me today, geese. Bon voyage.

Lots of Geese at Grand Marais
In my mid-fifties, I moved to Grand Marais (a community near Grand Beach, Manitoba). A flock of geese flew over my house on the day I moved in. I didn’t see them because I was in the house but I heard them. Also, my friends sitting outside called to me as they were going over. I thought that was a good omen, a sign I was in a good place. I was into making and selling pottery so I put a tribute to geese on the little cards I attached to my pottery.

There were lots of geese at Grand Marais on the edge of Lake Winnipeg. There were marshes and sheltered bays and small islands that the geese loved for feeding and breeding. I watched the young goslings grow from leggy balls of yellow fluff, to larger grey youngsters, then to young adults with the familiar black and white markings, ready to fly south. I loved the sound of the honking and flapping of powerful wings. I would sit on a grassy spot nearby a feeding flock and commune with them, always aware of the sentinel’s watchful gaze, alert to any signs of danger, including me if I tried to get too close. Sometimes they would fly low above the town heading for a grassy spot for feeding or to the sheltered bay to feed in the shallow waters.

My heart always sang when geese were near. They were my friends, my buddies, my inspiration.

I wasn’t totally happy living at Grand Marais. I had trouble fitting in. I was feeling lonely, especially in the winter as fewer relatives and friends came out from Winnipeg, and it was harder for me to go there. I thought I would try renting out my house for the winter so I advertised its availability. One evening I was in my kitchen, about to pull the blinds and turn on the light. There’s still a bit of outside light left. I’ll wait a few minutes before pulling the blinds, I said to myself.

Two minutes later, I heard honking and several geese came from the west and flew over my house. As my kitchen faced west, I got a good look at them. As usual, my heart thrilled to the sight and sound of the geese.

The next day, a couple came to look at the house with the intention of renting it. As I sat there talking with them, I went into an altered state and felt three thought forms drop into my head. They expanded into the words: It is time for you to move on. These are the people who are moving in. The geese came to say good-bye.

What a shock! The thoughts were so clear. You know the saying “get your ducks in a row”? These thought forms dropped into my brain in a row at the top of my head from front to back.

Because I loved the geese so much, I wanted to follow their advice. I let the people move in, and I migrated south to Winnipeg. I told people, “I’m going south for the winter – to Winnipeg!” (I have to tell you, one of my fantasies is to follow the geese south in the fall, and see where at least some of them go for the winter, then come back here in the spring as they do.)

The family moved in (two parents and three children) and my problems began. Because the geese told me that these were the ones to move in, I didn’t ask for references. If I had, I would have found out that they had a habit of not paying their rent. What a shock! I didn’t have much experience renting out property and for a while accepted the woman’s excuses for bounced cheques: my bank didn’t register my deposit quickly enough, I wrote the cheque on the wrong account, etc. I found I had to drive out from Winnipeg and ask for cash. By the time they moved out in nine months, I had collected about half the rent I was owed.

Why was this happening to me?! I shook my fist at the renters, the geese, and the universe in general. A psychic friend tuned in and said I was going through this turmoil because I had some lessons to learn. I accepted this pronouncement and tried to figure out what my side of the problem was. I realized that the renter woman reminded me of a certain relative of mine who was smiling on the surface and “empty” underneath. Because the law says you can’t evict families when children are in school, it took me a while to get over the helpless feeling and finally ask them to leave. Thankfully they left without trashing the place.

Throughout this ordeal, close friends and relatives who knew my goose story were surprised that I didn’t throw away my love for geese. I trusted that this ordeal was for my highest good, and I focused on what I was learning from it. I finally did sell my house at Grand Marais. On the last day when I went to the grocery store to hand in my postal box key, I saw the Winnipeg Sun’s front page headline: “Geese is the Word.” Of course I bought a paper, and still have the clippings of the pictures and text. In my mind, goose spirit managed to influence the editors to feature geese on my last day.

Am I crazy to think this? Maybe, but this is how I live – partly in this world, and partly in a world where magical things really can happen.

Back in Winnipeg, I found a book called Goose Girl by Joe McLellan and Matrine McLellan, illustrated by Rhian Brynjolson (Pemmican Publications, 2007).

Goose Girl is about Marie, a M├ętis girl living with her family in Northern Canada near a lake plentiful with geese. Marie loved to walk to the lake to watch the geese landing, swimming, feeding, and taking off. Her mother told her that geese have a special task. “When we die, the geese take our spirits south into the sky to our Promised Land.”

One night right after her tenth birthday, Marie heard a noise behind her as she walked home from the lake. When she got to her house, she turned and saw that a particular goose had followed her home. Marie squatted down so she and the goose could look each other in the eye. This happened many times.

Grandfather was watching this friendship develop between Marie and the geese. He said that if she liked, she could be called Niskaw, the Cree word for goose. Excited and happy, Marie said yes. “You will still be Marie,” Grandfather said, “but Niskaw makes you more than Marie. It makes you able to bring the teachings and the healings of the geese to our people.”

Grandfather told Marie, “You will do the work of the geese. This is how you will help our people. Put this [tobacco] on the water, Niskaw, as an offering to your brothers and sisters, the geese.”
When her grandfather died of old age, Niskaw took tobacco, ran to the lake and spread it on the water. She called to the geese, “Take Mishoom’s spirit to our ancestors, south to the Promised Land.”

Niskaw walked home with her goose following. She was very sad about her grandfather’s death. “When she reached home, Niskaw sat down on the ground and hung her head. Her goose hopped into her lap and nestled into her chest. Niskaw wrapped her arms around her goose and buried her face into its soft feathery back and cried harder than she had ever cried in her whole life. When she stopped, her goose hopped down and flew back to the lake.”

Every day for the rest of her life Marie visited the sick, comforted the dying, and called the geese to take their spirits home. When Marie was very old, she walked to the lake and called to her goose. Then “she lay her cane down on the sand and she and her goose flew away together, forever.”

* *** * *
When I first read Goose Girl, I thought it was a lovely, heart-warming myth. Imagine my surprise when a dialogue with the geese suggested the book was based on truth.

A few days after moving to Lions Place in Winnipeg (I’m in my mid sixties by then), I saw several geese fly by my living room window. I am on the eleventh floor with the living room window facing east. The geese were heading north.
           I have found that I can connect with spirit entities through dialogue on paper. I write ‘from myself’ with my right hand and answer ‘from spirit’ with my left hand. I pretend the spirit I am attempting to communicate with is "overshadowing" me – that is, entering my body and speaking through me, rather than sitting opposite me. Here is what resulted:

Anna:  Hi geese. I'm so happy to see you fly by my window. My heart is happy. You flew over my Grand Marais house when I moved in there. My heart is happy when I see you. Was your flying by special for me?

Geese: There is a connection with the Goose Girl story. Geese help souls go to the other side. You are giving "On the Nature of Life After Death" workshops. We are your spirit helpers. Please do the rattle activity for us. Cormorant spirit is helping, too. They go into deep water. The geese feed in more shallow water. Water is for emotion: flowing water, flowing emotions.

Anna: Thank you geese. I hadn't made that connection between the book Goose Girl and my workshops and my strong interest in life after death. Maybe I'll use Goose Girl in future workshops or in my writing. Did you help Evelyn [a friend who had recently died] with her transition or do you just help when people have a belief in the role of geese?

Geese:  Evelyn transitioned easily. She didn't need much help. Our help can be invisible when there is lack of belief. Thanks for your love of us. You used to eat us because your dad shot us. It's OK to eat us for food but there was a lack of reverence. Now you have reverence. Work with us.

                                                             * * *** * * *

My reaction: I was surprised they gave no response to the "fly-by" incident; they just leapt into the message they had for me, that they are part of my guidance for my writing efforts and workshops (now called “Exploring the Mysteries of Life and Death”).
           Also surprising was the request for me to “rattle” for them. A few years ago, I was told by a shamanic teacher to shake a rattle while walking backing and forth, pretending I’m a certain animal or bird. In shamanic lore, our animal and bird spirit helpers like to experience earthly existence through this exercise. I used to do it for geese and cormorant spirit but fizzled after a while. Time to start rattling again!
           The phrase ‘work with us’ made an impact on me as well. It felt like encouragement to continue with writing about after-life topics, and to keep offering workshops. Now, when I hear of someone who has had a sudden death and whose spirit might be stranded on the astral plane, I call on goose spirit to help them go to the right level in the after-life. 

           That's my story of my life with goose spirit so far. I'm happy to keep honouring them and working with them as best I can.