Raven Q. DeVille

Raven Q. DeVille

Raven was born in the extreme SE corner of New Mexico, lived in the 4-corners region for 11 years, and has spent the last 50 years in Española, Santa Fe, and especially in the city of Los Alamos. She writes of her own various first-hand experiences, second-hand tales of friends, and various theories regarding ghost stories, legends and general oddness of Enchanted New Mexico.

Friday, 21 September 2018 16:05

Visitors

So, if all roads lead to Rome—then certainly they must have passed through New Mexico to get there.

Or, maybe it just seems that way.

Many visitors have enjoyed our area, stayed for a while, then traveled onward or stayed to live. The famous and unknown, the genius and the madman, the talented and perhaps the best of liars—have sat near to us, ate in the same restaurants, danced to the same music, and have done business in the same shops that we often visit. It is easy to be hidden here— in this enchanted place.

Intelligent and interesting people have long found comfort in our state and its various environments, thus the tourist industry has always been one of the main sources of our state’s income. It is an easily overlooked commodity—but commercial hospitality like hotels, motels, parks, recreational areas, etc. have greatly contributed to our economy. Too often we bite the hand that feeds us when we complain about tourists under our breath. We need to remember that visitors buy a large portion of our artistic goods, real estate, and various other items produced here.

Having been a hotel desk clerk in my earlier days, I was always bemused by the famous, the not yet famous, and ordinary people I checked in and out. I often overheard guests chatting in the lobby near the check-in desk, in the dining room or heard their discussions  in the bar. Occasionally, I even joined in the conversations.

Although working behind a hotel desk usually means minimum wage and entry-level status, I found a lot of pleasure and experience that no amount of money could ever buy. It teaches one how to care for people. One has to take charge immediately if the manager is unavailable, think quickly on their feet, make fast decisions, and it forces one to balance both the cash register and the books before each shift is over. Do everything quickly, answer the switchboard by the first ring or two, delegate authority, and try to keep everyone happy (both customers and the large staff that a hotel requires). When a guest walks into an establishment, they are to be treated with the utmost care. Guests need good food and drink, a safe and comfortable place to spend the night and an overall pleasurable experience. Like a large family in a big house, the staff (who also need their special type of occasional nurturing) is more like a family—tending to the hotel visitors and guests. It is a great responsibility to keep multiple travelers happy under a hotel roof especially in a job that is all day, every day, 24-hours around the clock. Yes, there are always people working at night, usually general cleaning, providing security, and doing the night audit. The night auditor ensures all the books balance from all sources like the hotel room charges, restaurant charges, bar tabs, other miscellaneous costs and that all charges are correct. This is done late at night when fewer customers are around and hardly any new charges are flying into accountability—a perfect time to balance the books.

I found working in a hotel was almost a glamorous job, meeting people from all over the world. Although I never had enough opportunity or money to travel extensively, I tried not to indulge in any personal pity parties about my circumstances. Instead, I found that I often met up with people from destinations that I would have chosen to visit. What better tourist guides could I have—than the people who had lived and experienced the very geographical areas of interest I had sought in my travel goals? I almost didn’t need to travel because the world was slowly traveling to me in the form of its former occupants—as current hotel guests. So there they were—standing at my check-in desk at the hotel. Eventually, some of them gave me wonderful stories about wonderful things.

So people talk. They talk to me, they talk to each other and sometimes give little care to who listens in public places. Some of the very wisest and most experienced have sat around and discussed their own thoughts and considerations back and forth with others—debating why this works and that doesn’t—lessons from history, social solutions, love, etc.

Brilliant minds are all around us, all you have to do is be quite and listen. I have been an occasional listener to some of these stories and been told other stories by other listeners (meaning of course, second or third hand information). Many guests were fascinating and were not currently known in the general media at the time. Exaggerations and mistakes are always possibilities—both for and against interesting new ideas—but it is important to keep an open mind. The subject matter was awesome and almost unbelievable but it was fascinating! It makes life more deliciously complex and detailed. As time moved on, I have found that the subject material discussed is just now being seriously considered— all from long-ago conversations I once heard.

For an example, I will relate one theory I once heard.

Moses and Akhenaten were probably one and the same person. Akhenaten (the Heretic King) was the father of the famous King Tut, of the tomb discovered by Howard Carter in 1915 in Egypt. This is the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh who appeared to have an unusually elongated head, an extended abdomen and spindly arms and legs. Much of early life this Pharaoh seems to closely match the life of a young Moses. It appears that some are questioning the dates that these men both existed but science is nothing if it not constantly correcting or fine tuning itself. Dating things from the past has always been a little tricky, even for the experts.

Unlike those before, both Moses and Akhenaten were monotheists (belief in only one God). Although Akhenaten is said to worship the Sun as God, perhaps there is a nuance in translation that has a slight variation of meaning—not yet discovered? Moses was once a Prince of Egypt. Afterwards, he departed Egypt to lead his people in the Exodus and thus no mummy has yet been found for Akhenaten. As a young prince, Moses may have been allowed a privileged access to the secrets of Egyptian priests and their knowledge banks. The performance of the many unexplained feats of Moses might be partially explained by his early access to secret technologies hidden from the common population.

Some scholars claim the Exodus never happened because no records of ancient history exist that record the large and massive group of people moving around near Egypt. Why wouldn’t this massive group of people have been recorded in any history?

As a side-note, famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud was also convinced that Akhenaten and Moses were exactly the same person.

If there is truth to this possibility, it should not shake anyone’s faith— in any degree. Beloved Moses was the Law-Giver whose principles we continue to cherish in our society. However, it could mean that we would have more information of Moses than ever before, rounding out the religious figure to deeper depth and understanding.

Here in New Mexico we have several sites that have the Ten Commandments inscribed onto rock walls. These sites have been dated by experts to have been created more that 2,500 years ago. It might sound odd, but some think that a lost tribe of Israel (or their descendants) could have been in North America thousands of years ago. Several years ago, an Egyptian mummy was found to have cocaine and tobacco in her system. Wouldn’t this indicate ancient trade with the Americas not previously thought possible?

Possibilities of ancient Egyptian influence in North America are slowly coming to light. Curiously, some of the names of certain fish and equipment around and near the Mississippi River have the same names as fish and fishing implements found in ancient Egypt along the Nile.

G.E. Kincade was employed as a scout for the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. He was assigned to some unrelated tracking near the Grand Canyon. As reported in the “Arizona Gazette” on April 5, 1909, (on what might have been a busman’s holiday) he took a water trip in a lesser-traveled area in the Grand Canyon and found a hole in a rock wall opening. After some labor, he reached the hole and found it led into a cave system with a hidden tomb that held several Egyptian artifacts, mummies, and even more curious—a statue of what seemed to be Buddha. The story continues that when Kincade found the trove, he alerted the Smithsonian Institute about his find. When members of the Smithsonian arrived, they took all the artifacts from the cave system and were never heard from again. Unfortunately, Mr. Kincade was bewildered at all the unanswered questions and lack of further investigation from his employer. Eventually, Mr. Kincade also disappeared.

It is possible that any ancient people who could move huge stones to build the large and precisely accurate pyramids (things we still can’t fully duplicate today), could do many things that we moderns cannot even begin to imagine. This would include extremely long distance travel by foot or other primitive methods, settlements on distant foreign soils, and deeper ship navigation into North America. Waterways and rivers were probably much deeper and more navigational than in our modern times, providing deeper accessibility to the interior lands. Earth’s land masses continue to change and perhaps ancient travelers had certain advantages that we (in the modern world) can no longer see or access.

History has been telling us for a long time that the populations were smaller in ancient times, yet were are beginning to hear that populations of South American were much higher than previously thought. Perhaps we might eventually find that North America also once had huge populations and masses of people in certain locations. Who knows who all our visitors (and possible ancestors) have been?

Beneath the ground we walk on—so much more may be waiting to be discovered . . .

 

 

Friday, 14 October 2016 15:27

The Wizard by Raven Q. DeVille

The Wizard

by Raven Q. DeVille

There are still magical people in the world today but they are often disguised to look like everyone else.

This was probably the introduction to the magical part of the journey, moving aside the thick green leaves of the trees as they hung down over the sidewalks. Each brushing of the branches released a perfume of pine and mountain air that wafted downward, like the anointment before a ritual.

I had dreamed about visiting a wizard but the setting was different. It was by the large secluded area below the sacred cliffs of Black Mesa in the northern half of New Mexico. The trees had been cottonwoods, not Pines and Elms like the ones that lined this street in the city of Los Alamos. Funny how this residential neighborhood had such a neglected bit of greenery among all the finely manicured lawns and bushes. But the dream feeling was the same and the overgrowth of this particular neighborhood block had reinforced the imagery for a weird feeling of deja-vu. Since the day he left town around 1975, I would never notice the foliage again. It wasn’t like it had been cut down. It was like it had never been there at all. No dips or lumps in the ground, no tree stumps—nothing. But how familiar it was that day, because I had done all this once before in a dream.

Yes, I had dreamed of the wizard and somehow knew of his existence, before ever seeing him.

He was an ugly man.

He weighed three hundred and forty unhealthy pounds and had long, dark, greasy hair. He wore thick, coke-bottle glasses. I first saw him sitting in a restaurant with his wife. I was between high school and college and working as a waitress, out of necessity for the money. At the time, I was convinced that I could do nothing more in life than menial labor and that I should expect nothing more. I hated the job but had to smile and pretend to be happy, after all no smiles equaled no tips. I would be doing this for the rest of my life. I guess I was thinking this (it was a common thought). I stood there taking his breakfast order among the clinking of dishes and the murmur of dozens of conversations within the room.

“We’ll each have the French toast,” he said, handing me the menus. As I took the menus from him something odd happened in the next couple of seconds. His hand went over mine, a subtle gesture, hidden from the view of his wife by the size of the large menus. The heat from his hand actually touched me before his flesh, and the feeling from it was the drug to which I have since been addicted.

He said, “Things change, you know. Other things are waiting.” An awkward silence followed.

“Why don’t you do her horoscope?” a female voice whispered to him. It was his wife. She was blond and stylish and I wondered why she was with him. Apparently, his clandestine hand touching was not such a secret to her.

“Yes, that would be a good idea,” he said. “Why not?”

Of course I was flattered and blurted out my birth information. All this, before I finished bringing out their breakfast. It was a rush of sudden escapism—from the drudgery of anonymous work and aching feet to the personally mystical and unexpected.

I had hungered for many years to know more about astrology and all the new revivals of ancient wisdoms. I had tried to find as much as I could in bookstores, but not nearly enough had yet been printed. In the early 70’s, there was precious little reading material and even that was vague and simplistic in description. Every week I would steal away to the bookstores in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, but so very little was on the market then. Since I was sixteen, I had been studying astrology on my own but was so frustrated at the lack of meaningful books and resources on the matter that I had almost given up. Nothing existed but silly books about generalized sun signs and love matches. In those days there was a severe drought of information on the subject and I often had to order books from Albuquerque. Mostly I found the best books and information from California and New York. Many phone calls later, I had ordered only a few of the books I needed.

But right at that moment, there was this live intelligent man who obviously had experience and subject knowledge. I have heard that anyone would sell their soul to the devil if they got what they wanted. Well, I hope I am never desperate enough to deal with the devil but specific knowledge is something I crave out of all proportion to other things in this world. I felt as if I had won the lottery that day.

A lot of my first impressions of him changed before they left that morning. He was certainly nothing to look at, but when he opened his mouth, liquid gold flowed forth. He was skilled in social contacts judging by the number of business people and politicians who would stop by his table and shake his hand, but he was also traveled and erudite, he was impossible to ignore. He had that skillful edge of blasé boredom that nibbled at the edges of conversation, labeling him a person from another place. His clothes were nothing impressive, just the usual uniform of the computer nerds at the local Lab. Dark pants, white shirt and a pocket protector for a variety of pens and pencils. The small round gold earring he wore was almost invisible, given his proportions and that awful greasy hair that was too long—even for 1972. Nevertheless, the more I looked at him that day, the more I decided there was really something unique and interesting about him. He was compelling, because he seemed so comfortable with himself and who he was. More athletic men would always be initially attractive, but their beauty soon wears thin as their lack of gray matter begins to show and their insensitivities came to the surface. With Thomas, it was just the opposite. His beautiful wife seemed to adore him and some of the other women in the room would give him a little pinch on the cheek as they passed his table. He would delightfully groan as they walked away.

Who was this guy?

He called me when he finished my horoscope but it took me a long time to screw up enough courage to go over to his house. Almost a year later I found myself knocking at his front door.

He greeted me at the door dressed in a stunning purple wizard’s robe with gold stars, planets and moons that were silk-screened on the surface. It would pass for a man’s lounging outfit for after work but I’m sure that Thomas would know that I would get the message. I was impressed. He introduced me to about four of his seven children (the older ones were out for the evening) and his wife and I spoke briefly. I gave him a small painting as a gift (no southern lady goes without a gift to a first visit), which he carefully tucked behind what seemed to be a stash of similar tokens that had also (obviously) been offered to him.

We sat at the round little table in his kitchen and talked about everything under the sun and beyond the universe. His wife sat in the living room, watching television while she knitted. About five of the kids would quietly pass into the other side of the kitchen fixing themselves snacks and saying their polite “hellos.” It was a perfect little family house of harmony and tolerance.

He interpreted the details of my horoscope in wondrous and horrible ways. Never had anyone paid such close attention to the sensitive details of my nature before. Never had anyone cared. I was only the big ugly girl with the black hair—that was how people usually described me. The first impression people have of me—is usually on the same level as my first impression of Thomas.

That was not his real name, by the way, but it is what I will call him. He was descended from the mysterious Basques and he could often read minds and tell what would happen in the future. He was good friends with the local witch in town and knew many secrets of local residents, which he delightedly shared with me. The most unnerving moments were when we almost didn’t have to talk to each other. He answered my questions before I verbally asked them and was always three steps ahead of me in any direction. Of course it was not controllable—this peculiar gift of clairvoyance.

“You have it too, don’t you?” he asked.

“Well, sometimes, but of course I can’t control mine and it doesn’t happen very often . . .”

“It becomes stronger with age,” he said. (And it did).

He then described the bracelet I had bought for my best friend a few months before. She lived in another town and I never saw her wear it, so I knew he had no actual knowledge of it.

I tried to be brave as he relentlessly exposed the chinks and weaknesses of my psychological armor. As usual, I did not believe anything good he had to say about me, because I was sure it was a lie. But now I wanted to believe that I could actually fly and soar at greater heights, they way he said I could. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all his clever assumptions about my persona were true? I mean, what if I was as intelligent as my chart portrayed me to be? And the adventures that were to happen, what if they really did wait for me in the future? But then that would mean all the other things—would also be true. My life would be filled with many things, but never love or children. Friends would desert me and frustrations would overwhelm me. What if he knew what he was talking about? What if he could predict my life? A slight tremor welled up in me because I knew deep down he was hitting right on all the things I knew to be true about myself already. Perhaps he was only reading my mind. His thoughts were almost clear to me, and apparently my thoughts were very clear to him. Maybe he was just one of those trick mind-readers like they have on television and in Las Vegas. Maybe I was being naïve.

A breeze came in through the open patio door and my horoscope flew off the table onto the floor. Thomas said “Oops,” laughed a little and started for it but it was closer to my side so I bent down to get it from under the table. When I retrieved it and came back up to the sitting position in my chair Thomas had the most horrible look on his face, as if he suddenly saw something he didn’t like. His thoughts were suddenly shrouded from me, as if a heavy curtain had dropped.

Suddenly, a large black mass of feathers hopped into the kitchen behind Thomas. It was a raven as large as a German Shepherd dog. It clacked out a metallic sounding noise and crooked its head to look at me sideways. It was like we almost knew each other. It kept staring at me with those strange blue eyes. Ravens don’t have blue eyes.

In the next second or two, thoughts flashed through my mind, “Do these people know that’s a wild scavenger?” I stupidly thought, “They might not even know it’s in their house!” Although I was trying desperately to remain calm, there was this basic primal urge telling me to get out of the way of this huge monstrous thing that could not possibly be a bird.

“Caugh,” it sounded, “Popcorn. I want popcorn. Caw, caugh.”

Thomas turned around and smiled.

“Okay,” I thought, “it must be some sort of pet or mascot or something.” But now my main area of disbelief was that the damn thing was talking to us.

While I was doing the frightened fool bit (and with good reason I thought), Thomas got up from his chair and propped open the large kitchen door. The bird remained almost motionless in the middle of the kitchen floor but watched Thomas’ movements intently as he moved to the refrigerator and opened a pack of baloney. He threw a slice at the bird. The raven caught it gleefully in mid-air, hopped back out on the porch and flew away into the darkening skyline.

“You know, Thomas,” I said, “Those things aren’t supposed to be domesticated—they carry plague and rabies plus they can be mean.”

“Yeah,” he said, “We know all about the hazards but that bastard comes in through the dog door and raids our garbage. We found that if we just give him something to eat, he’ll leave peacefully and not tell his friends. That way, we never get mobbed by a bunch of hungry Ravens.”

“How can he talk like that, did you guys teach him?” I asked.

“We sort of inherited him with the house. The people who lived here before got so attached to him they had a vet do something to his tongue so it could be taught it to speak.” Thomas bent down to lock the dog door and only then did I notice his hand trembling a bit as he fastened the lock. “Sometimes the kids forget to lock up the dog’s door. They worry more about the dog exploding from not going to the bathroom for a couple of hours, than about that raven hopping around in here on the cabinets. The kids think he’s kinda neat.”

Thomas walked back to the table and sat his large and mostly unconcerned form back down in a comfortable chair at the round table.

“You know, you did give him baloney instead of popcorn,” I said.

“He may be able to talk, but that doesn’t mean he’s a rocket scientist.”

The evening carried on and Thomas continued telling me about loneliness and the desperation of self. He offered no consolation as he took my hand in the warmth of his and addicted me to the drug of hope. When the flesh of his hand pressed against mine, he spoke to me silently with his mind,

“Do it.” his thoughts said.

“What! Tell me!!” my mind replied.

In disgust, he released my hands and changed the subject. I wanted so badly to take his hand again and feel the warmth and press it against my cheek. It was not just him, it was something within him I wanted. I suppose I only wanted to be one of his children that night, or his wife so I wouldn’t have to go home. So I could stay here and talk with him forever.

He was a very loved man. His four-year old daughter with flaming red hair would stick her head in the kitchen occasionally and express her worry that her Daddy was up past his bedtime and he would look back at her lovingly. The television murmured in the room beyond the closed kitchen doors and the antique pendulum clock quietly ticked off the seconds during the lulls of our conversation. I felt so grateful that I finally had someone sitting in front of me who had all the answers to my astrology questions. Although he stroked my ego, his knowledge sent me on future ventures to find greater astrological truths within society, government, and well … everything. Life was now categorized in an understandable format.

It is almost laughable now because eventually there were whole buildings full of these types of books and even special rooms for different interests such as astrology, meditation, tarot cards and so on. Now we all have the Internet—but sometimes even it is lacking. When I studied astrology, I had to learn all the computation by hand, no automatic computers. That was a good thing—because now I can almost see in an instant if someone’s calculations are wrong. I have learned rule of thumb tricks for figuring out the first three parts of a chart in my head (without any electronic devices). It makes me look like a genius to my mathematical friends—unknown to them that I am a total mathematical failure. Finally, about midnight, I noticed everyone else in the house had already gone to bed. All the other human sounds were silent now and I was beginning to worry that I had overstayed my welcome. I stood up from the table and mentioned that I needed to be going. Thomas looked relieved. I gathered up my things and he walked me to the door. Poor Thomas, I know I must have worn him out.

“I dreamed I would meet a wizard like you,” I said. I knew this was a pretty wild statement to throw at someone who programmed computers for a living and listened to an FM station that played golden oldies from the 50’s, but I had to try anyway.

Thomas smiled, and pulled out an old wood cut from a drawer in a cabinet next to the door. Someone had given it to him as a gift. It was a stylized medieval depiction of a man in a long robe with a wand and wearing a conical hat. Moons and stars and comets swirled around the central figure—just as the symbols on his robe. It didn’t at all resemble Thomas, but the interpretation was exact.

“And by the way, did you notice the omen of the night?” Thomas asked.

“What?”

“The raven’s visit. He only pops in about once every few weeks. Your tocaya, in a way.”

“Oh,” I said, “Yeah.” I hadn’t heard that bit of Spanish culture in many years, but when someone else also has your name then you can call them your tocaya. It certainly seemed to be a piece of mystical serendipity.

“How did you get tagged with a name like that, was your mom an Edgar Allen Poe fan?” he asked.

“Everyone else in my family has lighter colored hair than I do. I’m sort of throwback to some of my French ancestors about 150 years ago. In fact, I somewhat resemble my Great-great-grandmother, only she was very dainty and pretty with big round eyes. She had this blue-black hair that some guy wrote a poem about. He compared it the plumage of a raven. She was pretty flattered by the poet’s comparison and even took it as her nick-name, Raven. So when I came along, my coloring made me sort of a good candidate to carry the tribute of our heritage.”

“What ever happened to her?”

“I don’t know, sort of a mystery. She disappeared without a trace when she was in her 30’s.”

Thomas then stroked my hair in an embarrassingly intimate fashion. Those wonderful hands with that strange warmth and magnetism radiating from them, surely they were magic things that healed and made things grow. No ordinary mortal appendages were these hands.

“Maybe she turned into a raven and flew away, “ he said.

I did not know what to make of his statement, but that strange rush of hope gushed throughout my entire being again. Even with the euphoric feeling of it, I hated it, because I knew my vague indistinguishable hopes would not be fulfilled, as always. It was that horrible drug of anticipation of unknown delights, whatever they were. No, life is not a dream, it is a grueling job of drudgery and labor—at least that was the way I saw it then.

We said our good-nights and his door swung closed behind me, dutifully clicking its tumblers to a final and heartless “good-night.”

The moon was fully round and bright and the night air was filled with the faint perfume of sleeping flowers and slumbering trees. The euphoria rushed though me again like a wave of water, for no real reason. It was again the drug of hope. I would be lying if I told you I believed in it then, but over the years I find I have but to remember the feeling as I walked down the stone steps of Thomas’s house into the richness of the night that I was changed, perhaps even born again into the realm of possibilities. To occasionally remember this night, is the opiate of my life.

I doubt Thomas ever understood how important he was to me and how much I had learned from him in those few short hours. He did not know he made me tremble with his knowledge.

In the safe, small town in which I lived, I took my time about walking home that night. I heard the talking raven above me on the way. I could not really see him, but I could hear his black feathered wings lift his heavy body through the air from one street lamp to the next. Great rushing sounds of air as he gracefully glided from tree to tree. He followed me almost to my door and perched on the roof of my neighbors house.

This would probably be a good place to end this little story, but it doesn’t quite end here. You see that particular raven, the talking one, is still around. I don’t know how long they live, but he still seems quite healthy and strong even now—over 40 years later. He doesn’t use human words unless no one else is with me, but he is always vocal. He has this thing for the color blue. He really gets excited when he sees I am wearing a royal blue color. He hops up and down on telephone poles and produces a caw that sounds almost like a laugh. About every two months he leaves me one of his black feathers (usually about 6 or 7 inches long) and something blue next to it on my front porch. Usually it is a piece of blue paper or plastic but I did once find a dangle earring with a blue rhinestone in it. I just hope the owner lost it and the Raven didn’t actually take it out of the poor woman’s ear—in midflight.

He does not like to gather with the other ravens in town and he can be quite active after dark, when he should be quietly roosting in a tree. He can be bothersome at times, flying by the house or hanging under the eaves and cawing loudly into my bedroom.

I’ve tried to understand why he stays with me and exhausting all logical explanations, I have decided that this must be a something unnatural. Perhaps he is not even a raven. Maybe he is a playful spirit instead. Maybe he is a guardian, or even a companion of sorts. Maybe he has even protected me from all sorts of dangers I was never even aware of. His existence is a puzzle.

However, it is the sight and the sound of him that sometimes generates my lust for my private goals. With each feathered sweep of his wings, with every brazen noise from his throat and every floating shadow of him that crosses me upon the ground, ... I am reminded of other, more important things, and then I am at peace, once again.

The raven clacks its bird-talk and then switching to human speech, in words I have never spoken, it calls softly down to me when no one else is listening,

“Tocaya, Tocaya, Tocaya . . .”

 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 05:59

The Time I Died

This has been the hardest story to finish. I have put if off endlessly finding something less troublesome to do—like filing my nails or playing solitaire. It is highly subjective and probably holds nothing for anyone’s interest, but my own. Nevertheless, I am somehow driven to relate it for whatever tiny bit of interest it might offer to others—especially anyone growing up in New Mexico. I am glad to be here, I never wanted to leave in the first place, but I am now often troubled that I am not doing enough in this lifetime.

A few years ago, I was amazingly rescued by people who hardly knew me. The experience made me fall a little bit in love with the doctor who saved me—but then, who wouldn’t? I am still rendered speechless at what the medical community accomplished. I can only stand on the sidelines and watch with awe at how compassionate people can be. I have never had the talent, people skills, or bravery to cope with emergencies. I can only watch in amazement and forever owe a debt to all those many kind souls who saved me, including my neighbor who broke into my house to find me (bless her and her courage).

Death Dream:

The scene seems to be set in old New Mexico (or maybe Mexico), near an old church. There is a wooden wagon called a “death cart” (Carreta de la Muerte) being slowly pulled by some horses toward this church. A coffin lies in the open carriage behind the two horsemen driving the cart. These men are dressed in black and quietly sit on the buckboard seat. One is holding the reins. The atmosphere is clean and fragrant, as if rain had just fallen yet nothing appears wet. I am in a small and crudely crafted coffin that is painted a white so bright that it is almost blue. There is an oddly shaped glass window around my face. A gruesome way for loved ones to grieve over me. I will soon be eternally beneath the ground. The many small ruts in the road and the motion of the wagon gently rock me. It is early afternoon in October and the sky is that special sort of cobalt-blue color that almost brings a tear to the eye—because it is so out-of-this-world gorgeous.

Although I don’t believe I have ever experienced an out-of-body sensation during my life, it seemed I was now looking at myself from above and at different angles as well as being inside the coffin. I was seeing from so many different angles, all at the same time. Although it was an odd experience, it also felt natural. I could see the drivers from the front of the buckboard and from the back of the wagon—at the same time. I assumed that all I had to do now was be quiet and pass through into the next world. I knew I was dead and I waited, hoping that I had lived my life well enough to earn a reward in heaven.

My coffin bumped gently against the grayness that seemed to be behind my head but the afterworld wouldn’t open to me. The vibrating rhythm of the ruts in the road lulled me into further peacefulness. I could almost feel my mother and sister waiting for me to cross over. I couldn’t see them but I was certain they were very close. Strangely, I felt I had already been on the other side, spent time with them, and now they were saying good-bye to me.

I knew my mom was smiling—I couldn’t see her, but I knew somehow that she was close by, and smiling.

I found myself suspended in the air looking through the glass into my coffin and I noticed that I looked different. I had dark curly brown hair and seemed to be a young girl about twelve and of Hispanic or Mexican heritage. The girl’s skin had a darker tint that had been gently kissed by the sun. Her hair was black and thick with long swooping curls.

I am, in reality, 61 and mostly Swedish and French, and a mix of other ancestors but I had been born in New Mexico and lived here most of my life. I didn’t look like her.

I noticed there were no mourners who walked along the death cart and I and wondered why. I wasn’t sad—just curious.

There was no pain, or suffering, or hurt—just a sort of numb anticipation, accompanied by an odd feeling of peace and contentment. I felt as if I had been with old friends and we had spent days together—having fun. I almost expected my jaw to hurt—like it did when I was younger and spent an evening out—laughing with friends.

My concern grew about the not being able to pass through—I had a strange knowledge that I was simply supposed to slide through the grayness. It didn’t matter if it was a solid wall or not—the wall was supposed to just let me float through. My coffin and I were supposed to be like a subatomic neutrino particle passing effortlessly through dense matter. But the grayness was solid and my coffin continued to gently bounce back each time I tried to go through the barrier of gray. I remember seeing a large constructed wall that was ancient Roman in design with sheer curtains in front of it, dipping slightly into the water. At the bottom of the wall was a bank with muddy river rocks in the water near the edge of the bank. Later, I would think that perhaps this was the legendary River Styx. My coffin seemed to float on the water, but I decided that I shouldn’t attempt to climb over the muddy rocks and scale the wall. The breath still came from me and I wondered what I had done wrong? Why won’t the afterlife open to me?

Nothing was happening and I began to find my time in the hand-made casket more and more unbearable.

The two men driving the death cart begin to talk. I seemed to be hovering in the air, right in front of them, as they spoke to each other.

Both of them were dressed in stunning black velvet. Not a speck of dust or lint was on their clothing despite the fact that they were driving horses and a death cart on a very dusty road. They were dressed totally in black from their suede sombrero hats down to their leather boots. The rest of their clothing was of the finest material. Although they were respectful and solemn doing this sad task, it looked like their faces could readily crack into handsome smiles. Both had curly brownish-black hair and it had been elegantly styled. They looked strangely like Mariachi musicians but I saw no instruments and I heard no music. I noticed the black ruffled ties around their necks. The material was like black chiffon, but it had the brightest (and the most beautiful) neon red trim on the ends of the ruffles. There was a slight fragrance that lingered on both of them. It was a rich aroma of everything that is good and fine in the world. Yet, as handsome and wonderful as they seemed—I was terrified of the both of them because they were so beautiful and magnificent.

One of them spoke, “I will put a small Spanish Bible with her before we put her in the ground. It seems to make these young ones rest easier.”

I suddenly realized that I was not dead and needed to tell the drivers before they buried me alive. Thinking of my mother who came from a long (and royal) lineage from southern France and parts of Europe. I needed to quickly tell them what to do!

It was somehow important for these people to understand that I was French, not Spanish. I needed to let someone know I was still alive. This seemed ridiculous since both languages represent the same thing in the Catholic Bible, but nevertheless it seemed to be of paramount importance to make them aware of this difference in Latin heritage.

I didn’t want to be buried alive!

With urgency—I cried out, “No! I need a French Catholic Bible!”

Both men on the buckboard turned their heads and looked each other in the face. Then they continued to turn their heads farther until they were both looking down on me in the coffin. Both of them looked very surprised and a little bit shocked.

Suddenly, I heard one of them ask me, “Do you know where you are?”

______________

Reality:

“Do you know where you are?” Asked one of the two men in the water.

I looked around at the strange shape of the extended hyperbaric chamber.

“A box,” I said.

Two men were floating in the water across from me. Almost everything in the dream had disappeared. I was now in something completely different than a casket. The gray fabric from the chamber ballooned outward and boxy-looking seams were sewn into the fabric. I had almost said an airplane instead of a box, because of the air pressure effect on my hearing, but I was also in water. Water?

I saw the outlines of their heads darkly silhouetted against a small window. That window was strangely shaped—exactly like the coffin window I thought I had been looking through. The October sunlight shone through the window behind each of them. It seemed as if I was looking in on myself from different vantage points.

Suddenly, when the words, “A box” came out of my mouth, the two men started for me and I blacked out again.

Subsequently, I decided that it was the water that had been gently rocking me—not the ruts in the dirt road. The grayness that wouldn’t let me into the afterlife may have been the gray fabric-like walls of the chamber. It was like being on the inside of a large balloon with the walls blowing outward. Of course, the two Mariachi drivers of the death cart were actually a doctor and a male nurse. I also believe the reason there were no mourners along the death cart is because I wasn’t dead yet—or I was coming back to life. The two Mariachi men may have even been angels.

The next thing I remembered was coming out of the chamber on a board or stretcher. I continued to think it was all a death process at first, going through portals to the next world—like going through a tunnel. Of course it wasn’t a tunnel like other near-death experiencer’s describe. No, I didn’t experience the tunnel, the beautiful light, or the colorful gardens—but I know I encountered something wonderful because I came back feeling very happy and contented. I think I am just not allowed to remember my time on the other side.

As I was being passed through openings of medical machines, the doctor said, “Watch your elbows, this is going to hurt a little.” Then he said, “Again, watch your knees, this might hurt a little too.” I felt nothing, but I began to understand I wasn’t going to die or be buried alive. I realized that something in my life must have been left undone or I hadn’t finished yet. There was still something more to do, somehow. The door to the next level was obviously closed to me for now.

Ahh . . . I dare to live,” I thought.

I had always been told I was too competitive. But if I had been brought back for a reason, I would accept the challenge to continue my life. What other choice did I really have?

I hadn’t meant to leave in the first place.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

I was positive I had died. Even though I had been told I was rescued and airlifted to the hospital, I still had doubts that this had really happened. I was certain that I had died and awoken on an embalmer’s cold slab. It wasn’t until later that I believed differently.

Eventually, I was told that my brave neighbor had broken into my house and rescued me. I had stupidly taken one more pain pill than I should have and I had apparently put myself into a coma or deep sleep that lasted for at least four days. Luckily my neighbor noticed that my mailbox was overflowing and I had not brought my empty garbage can in for several days (unlike my usual routine). The last thing I remembered was getting ready to sit down in my living room and work on a jigsaw puzzle.

Nothing like this had ever happened to me before.  

Sometimes I wonder if death might be a parallel time string. When we jump back into the world of the living, things have changed—but only slightly. I once had an agnostic friend who believed that dying was simply stopping. All of us on planet Earth are hurtling through space and the universe at high rates of speed. He thought that when we die (stop) our mind/soul/consciousness is simply left behind in the flotsam/ jetsam path of our planet. Of course I had to disagree with him, but I have since wondered if there were some small bit of validity to his theory. Perhaps we can also pick up new souls as we pass through the paths that other heavenly bodies have left behind?

I know I will die again someday and I’m sure it will be in New Mexico, but I only hope it will not be anytime soon and that I have plenty of good qualitytime until then. I’ve noticed that I seem driven to create a lot more than ever before. Perhaps I am on some sort of inner time clock and I am really pushing myself to get things done by a certain time. But, I guess everyone probably feels that way—to some extent.

How little we all know, exactly what it is that is most important for each of us to accomplish. During this time that I was not quite in the world of the living, I experienced several out of body sequences, often seeing myself from above. These events seemed so natural as to be unquestioned. Although death is a pretty heavy thing to happen to anyone, I suppose it should be a cautionary tale to everyone about being careful with personal medication.

Unbelievably, the following month’s experiences after my death incident would blow everyone’s mind.

But that is a very different—and a very long story—for another time . . . maybe.

I am happy that I am now back and using my time more productively to write and create. Although I am tied to a strict and tight budget, I find that I am seriously undertaking creative projects that I never before attempted. Although I am retired (too early) and no longer work, I find that I am exploring ideas and projects with a different mindset and expectation in order to produce interesting items of interest. At least I hope I am.

You just never know when you might be called back . . .

 

—Raven DeVille

Saturday, 04 October 2014 19:27

Los Alamos Wildlife

I was up late at my computer with my cat curled in contented bliss at my feet. Although it was October, it was a little warm in the house and I had opened the windows for a slight breeze. Suddenly my cat and I both heard at least two animals screaming. Something was getting killed and it was coming form the patio.

We looked at each other (sometimes I forget he is a cat) and at the same time we both got up to investigate. He always outruns me to the door because I’m slow and because it boosts his little ego.

Once at the door I turn the outside light on and notice my cat is backing up—doing either a moon dance or the first symptom of the eco-plague portrayed in the movie, The Happening.

It was neither.

As I looked out the patio door I saw two skunks having an argument about 20 inches from my feet. They are usually quiet little creatures that find silence is often an advantage to their existence. I don’t know what the argument was about. Both were mature adults so I figured it was something about their relationship. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to hear about it.

“Hey!” I yelled down to them—into the early morning darkness, “Knock it off.”

The two skunks were standing on their hind legs, facing each other, and arguing. The one facing in my direction looked up at me (standing behind his friend), turned, and ran. The one with his back to me continued to scream at the retreating skunk. He was feeling the awesomeness of his own fighting ability and somehow missed my cue.

“You guys . . .” I started to say—not knowing quite how to counsel angry skunks.

With these newly uttered words, the remaining skunk whirled around. All four feet and claws were almost at a ballerina angle and sounded like a small circle was being carved into the concrete. After rapidly turning around almost twice, the skunk flared out his tail and looked at me with “I dare you” eyes—his head low to the ground and his bristling tail held high—in my direction. It was clear he’d already had a bad evening and now he had an unwanted obligation to contend with me.

I slowly realized my peril as I gently reached for the door and softly closed it. Eventually the skunk stomped off—maybe to torment the other skunk some more.

I didn’t get sprayed, but I couldn’t help but wonder . . . what sane person plays referee with two angry skunks in the middle of the night?

My cat was now sitting way off to the side with his nose scrunched up. As he unblinkingly watched me walk back to my chair he almost looked as if his head was nodding sideways. His expression said everything.

“You are so stupid . . .”

High up in the mountains here in Los Alamos—everyone has to contend with nature. One can sit in their yard and be entertained all day (and all night) long by animal life. I am a real snob about pets because I only like one or two Siamese cats living with me at any one time. So when wildlife pays my house a visit, all sorts of freaky things tend to happen.

One afternoon I was watering the flowerbeds when I suddenly noticed my cat (yes—a Siamese) was paying close attention to a small garter snake moving through the mortar channels of the rock wall facade on the house. It was only a harmless garter snake but it was a snake nonetheless. I immediately took the cat inside but left him in his harness and leash. Although I had rescued him, he was the biggest (almost 35 pounds at one time) and most beautiful cat I have ever seen. He never went out unless I went with him but I didn’t want him to tangle with the tiny serpent. I told my sister to come out to look at it. In the meantime, a small crowd of curious pre-teen boys crowded in to see the snake.

The first words out of my sister’s mouth were, “Well, if there’s one, there’s going to be another one around here somewhere.”

“Gosh, I hadn’t thought of that!” I said to myself.

After her profound statement, she went back into the house and began watching TV again with a large glass of iced tea by her side—thoroughly unimpressed.

One of the neighbor boys promised me he wouldn’t hurt the snake if I let him have it, so I let him take it off my hands. Of course I didn’t touch the thing, but felt creepy crawly all over for having seen it.

After everyone scattered off, I then noticed that the peach tree needed a little harvesting and plucked the small amount of ripe fruit from it’s branches—careful not to transport any earwigs along with the treasures. I took everything into the house and stood at the sink carefully washing the fruit and again checking for those nasty, fast-moving little earwigs—at arm’s length.

I was thoroughly engrossed in keeping clear of bugs (and snakes) when something started slithering up my right leg. I screamed and threw the peaches in my hand everywhere. For a brief moment, I was sure the thing that had just crawled up my leg was a mutant snake crossed with a large earwig insect.

At my sudden scream, my cat loudly scrambled away from under my feet. I then realized that he had curled his body and tail around my leg in an affectionate bid for food—and that was the earwig/snake I thought I felt. As the cat left the kitchen he almost crashed into my sister coming in. She walked in and was completely drenched from head to foot, holding an empty glass, and with a look of concern on her face.

“What Happened—Why did you scream?” She was dripping wet.

“The cat curled his tail around my leg and I thought it was that ‘other’ snake you mentioned,” I said. “And and . . . why are you all wet?” I asked.

“I was just about to take a drink of ice tea when I heard you scream and it scared me so much that I managed to throw the entire glass in my face!” She didn’t find any of this funny as she turned around and went upstairs to take another bath.

I started to laugh so hard I didn’t see the drippings from my sister’s liquid mishap on the kitchen tile floor pooling beneath me. I slipped and fell on my backsides, but I couldn’t stop laughing. In a bid to regain my senses, I laid back on the floor. I lay there for a while among the peaches and spilled ice tea, making sure I hadn’t broken anything as I was trying amass enough dignity to stand up again.

My cat had regained his composure and had come back into the kitchen. He walked over and sat down next to my face in an almost loving gesture of concern.

He looked lovingly into my eyes as if to say, “Hi. Got anything to eat?”

After I got up off the floor and fed the cat, I later checked and saw that I had a large, perfect, star-shaped bruise on my derriere. “Okay,” I thought to myself, “It’ll go away in a few days. The next afternoon I was driving through White Rock with my car window down and my elbow slightly extended out the window. Suddenly something big and fuzzy hit my arm. I couldn’t find anything so I had just assumed that it was a rock or an insect that hit my arm and dropped back out—into the landscape. On the way back home and about thirty minutes later, I suddenly felt something stab me in my rear end. I half believed that it was just the star shaped bruise acting up a little. However after I got home, I checked and I clearly had a very large bee sting exactly in the middle of the star bruise. Now why did that bee crawl all the way down, cozy up for 20 minutes next to me, and then sting in exactly in that place? Did he really need a target that badly? Maybe he was drunk on some fermented nectar. Later, when I was telling some friends about the recent assault on my posterior, their 12-year old son listened intently. Knowing something about my occasional brushes with the paranormal, he quickly piped up and spoke in a deadpan voice, “A star? Gee, isn’t that the sign of the Werewolf?”

His parents and I all looked at each other as we all tried to keep from smiling in front of their son. We didn’t want to encourage him.

During the early 1970s I worked at the Los Alamos Inn and often walked from my apartment to work. An open field existed in most of the entire section that we now know from the large Mountain Bank Building is now located down to the Hilltop House Motel. In fact the Hilltop was only a small gas station in those days. The old police station was located approximately where Los Alamos National Bank is now. Various apartments I had lived in where located by this area and I often walked by as herds of elk grazed in this area. Sometimes I could count almost fifty heads. The coyotes were also nosing around but stayed shy of the elk—and me. Something we may not realize (now that we don’t have as much animal contact) is that when elk are in mating season they will run after and sometimes attack people (and even cars). I’ve been told that sometimes they get confused and think you are a female elk and will try to induct you into their harem. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I always walked a little faster past the ones with the really big antlers (and the love besotted faces). I remember once, about three o’clock in the morning I looked up and saw a huge elk with antlers so tall they almost brushed the overhead canopy by the Inn—about nine to ten feet high. I was safely inside the building, but his herd quietly followed him as they walked through the driveway and disappeared down into the canyon. While at the Inn, I have seen raccoons busy washing their hands in the swimming pool, a baby bobcat stuck in a dumpster who had to be sedated before he could be rescued and released back into the wild, and one crazy skunk who seemed to enjoy getting into the guest’s rooms and scaring them into corners.

During one summer, I would answered the phone to hysterical hotel guests and at the same time trying to talk them out of a panic until one of our busboys or maintenance men could get over to the room. While holding the phone, the guest would see an Inn employee come in and wave a large tablecloth or sheet like a matador, coaxing the skunk to leave the room.

Luckily no one ever got sprayed. That particular skunk almost seemed tame after a while. I think the skunk just liked the attention he got and enjoyed watching guests move around in funny little circles and screaming and yelling. He did it to several guests before winter had him hibernating in the canyon again. People would prop the doors to the rooms open and then forget to unhook them so they would close. This must have seemed like an awesome invite to some of the woodland creatures. We finally had to put up signs reminding guests to keep the doors closed because of the wildlife.

When we occasionally found the skunks and raccoons taking midnight tours inside the Inn dining rooms and kitchens, we would create trails of baloney to the outside and then shut the door so they couldn’t get back in. Again doors propped open and hungry critters.

One woman who was a waitress and lived in one of the rooms had a toy-sized daschund dog. She never let it out unless she was standing right there with it. She said not only did she see coyotes hanging around— hungrily eyeing at her dog, she was also concerned about the very large ravens we had in the town at that time.

Of course ravens are big birds, but at that time they were enormous! I remember going to the 7-11 store in Los Alamos early in the morning (was located on the northwest corner near the current Pet Store). I would see the birds around the dumpsters and when they landed it sounded like a small child jumping up and down as the ravens flew in and hopped around for scrapes of food.

“My gosh.” I said to “Rosie” (a gentle giant of a woman who worked in the store at the time). “I have never seen such huge ravens in my life. How in the world did they get so big?” I asked no one in particular as I stood there and admired the powerful physiques and massive wingspans of those black flying machines. Their wingspans could easily have been 12 feet wide. In fact, the size of those creatures was so daunting, I was careful to keep my distance from them. At least five of them were gigantic.

“Well,” said Rosie, offering to answer my question but never taking her eyes off the murder of ravens, “I only feed them two bags of old bread—each day.” She continued to seriously watch the birds like I did—from a careful distance and with respect.

I laughed, knowing she was too kind to see this large waddling bird begin his morning on an empty stomach. I knew you weren’t supposed to feed wild animals, but there was such sweetness to her kindness that I couldn’t say anything. No one else had to know. As soon as the morning became brighter the largest birds rose up to navigate on the thermals for the day. It was like a little secret. Since those times, I have never seen large ravens—like I did then. I suspect that someone who didn’t respect nature must have killed off all the biggest ones.

My backyard has drawn many small strange animals to visit. I once saw a badger skitter quickly across my patio. At first I thought he was an oddly colored skunk or raccoon. It wasn’t until he was out of sight that I realized that the brown chevron stripes along his back and his low carriage to the ground did indeed belong to a badger. Of course other people’s cats show up and visited with my cats. My big beautiful boy was neutered, but I would come home from work and often see him holding court with at least a dozen cats directly outside the screen door. He was a handsome boy— like Fabio of the cat world. I have also had occasional visits from ferrets. Although they had escaped from their owner’s yard (a neighbor—a few houses away) they were still a surprise! Especially when they let me pick them up and hold them. They just sort of snuggled into my arms. I almost didn’t want to return them to the owner, but I did.

I have seen chipmunks (who looked just like the cartoon Chip and Dale) play over a bit of cat food. I have seen other types of squirrels on our trees in the neighborhood. Once at a site location within the Lab, I once saw a huge porcupine lumbering within the nearby trees. I know of one house in Los Alamos that had a few plants along its front door path. Within these plants lurked hundreds of tiny, bright-green green snakes. The feisty little serpents were only two or three inches long. If you walked by the bush in the garden where they hid, they would all quickly rush at you with open mouths as they hissed and displayed little fangs. I know I’m supposed to be afraid of this, but every time I walked by I would get the giggles when they would do that to me. About fifty of them would rush me at a time and they all looked like babies trying to be tough—but too scared to really fight. They would retreat in unison and another garrison would come out. Of course I stayed a respectful distance away. I really don’t know what kind of snakes they were—just very short and extremely fast.

Of course, I have been an audience to the antics of the bears on Alabama Street and I have seen both a crawdad and a large catfish happily living in Ashley Pond—but I think the most unexpected thing I ever saw was a mountain lion. Probably about 25 years ago, at about 2:00 in the afternoon and I was driving my car on Pajarito Road—coming from White Rock and going to Los Alamos. A few miles before I ascended the hill past TA-18, I looked to the right at the grassy area before the cliffs. I thought I saw a large buff colored dog behind a fallen log. But it didn’t move like a dog because it was extremely slinky—like a cat. I looked at it once more, nearly bringing my car to a halt on the almost empty road. From the tip of its nose to the end of its long tail, it probably measured 4.5 to 5 feet. I saw it and then it disappeared somewhere into the field that was almost the same color as it was.

So if you live in Los Alamos, I’m sure you will (eventually) encounter much wildlife on your own—or something else as equally entertaining.

It was about 1973 and I was walking from my car to my apartment at about 3:00 a.m. I had been helping someone at work and did not get out until very late. But that was ok with me since I am more of a night person than a normal day citizen. It was quiet and peaceful and the dawn chorus was about two hours away. I started walking up the path to my apartment when I suddenly heard heavy breathing and the sound of heavy footsteps coming up from behind me. I started walking faster thinking it was a deranged, love-sick elk, a really big coyote, or even a mountain lion. As I walked faster and faster, my heart pulled up into my throat and I began to panic. Stupidly, I stopped and cringed as the thing came up by me.

And it passed me.

It was an out-of-shape jogger running in the dark so no one would see him. We didn’t have as many athletes and joggers at that time. If you ran anywhere, people would often stop you and ask if anything was wrong. The jogger continued on down the street and still said nothing. My knees were starting to work again and I quickly got into my apartment and locked the door.

Adrenaline can be induced from all sorts of species.

Nature is always exciting!

 

—Raven DeVille

 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014 06:29

Cap'n Twylo

People who like to work at night are a different breed—especially in a small town like Los Alamos. We like to associate with other night workers like us, but we are rather suspicious of everyone else. It’s those day folk who cause all the problems! Eventually when we get day jobs, we almost return to normal again.

Many years ago, I was actually paid to be a night person and worked from about midnight to dawn. As usual, I was listening to the conversation of a few policemen who had stopped by for a quick coffee break. I took it as an invitation to join them and clear my head from all the night accounting books for a few minutes. After going over pages and pages of information it was becoming too easy to miss mistakes and not see my own errors. A little time out (and coffee) always put me into a more productive state of awareness.

I was always glad the police would stop by because it made me feel safer and gave me someone to talk to in the middle of the night, for a few minutes. Caffeine and small talk also refreshed them for night driving and patrols. They were both large men but “Bernie” was the fun-loving type who seemed to see all sides of everyone’s situation—a great negotiator. “Theo” was a bit more inflexible, and seemed to have a shorter temper—although it would have been hard to imagine him angry with anyone. I often saw how good he was with the kids on the Little League or while performing safety demonstrations at the schools. He was slow of movement and said few words.

On one particular night, these two cops began talking about a kid who used to show up at every incident that called for police intersession. From the way they talked, this boy was about fourteen and he rode a black bike. He also dressed all in black. He would show up at any time of day or night. Not surprisingly, his quiet demeanor and dark clothing kept him somewhat hidden from the sight of most of the authorities. All of this seemed to take place about 1965 to 1972.

I have to mention at this point that people in this era did not wear black clothing very often unless it was a uniform. If you did wear mostly black, you were constantly asked, “Where’s the funeral?” or “Who died?”

Popular colors for these times were rich browns, avocado greens, and tangerine oranges. Purples, pinks, and mustard yellows were also out there but most men only owned white (or mostly white) shirts to wear with any suit they owned. On the other end of the spectrum, the brilliant tie-dye fabrics of Hippies and Yuppies stole the show. Almost everyone had some fringe decorated coats, purses, or boots. If you were conservative, you dressed in neutral colors, crisp white, or pastels. Hardly anyone wore solid black.

This kid in black with all the weird stuff attached to his person was dubbed Cap’n Twylo. When I asked Bernie how they named him, it became apparent that Captain Americawas already taken and Twylo was funny because it was so close to Twilight Zone. Neither Bernie nor Theo could remember the kid’s real name.

“At least I think that what we used to call him,” said Bernie, furrowing his forehead slightly and looking up at the ceiling. Bernie seemed to know the most about him. He almost spoke of him with a  touch of awe. “He was probably the genius son of a genius who worked at the Lab.”

Theo was not as gracious in his description and was clearly irritated by the kid’s incessant appearance at every location or incident that any cop was called to.

“He had that bicycle really rigged out,” claimed Bernie.

Theo nodded in agreement.

“You mean he had a lot of bicycle protection gear?” I asked.

Bernie laughed right at me like he couldn’t believe what I had just said. Then still laughing, he said, “You know when we were kids on bikes, we would have laughed our butts off at anyone who came to school with all the crap they sell to bikers these days. I know, I know—I’m supposed to be promoting bike safety but times have really changed. None of us would ever wear a helmet, or glasses that let you see behind you. If you went to school with any sort of bike ‘protection’ or ‘gear’ you probably wouldn’t come home without a fight during the day and parts of your bike and/or helmet missing.”

Although Theo was sitting there stunned at what Bernie was saying, he said nothing. He already knew that Bernie was just being inconveniently truthful. Theo chose a face of exaggerated disgust over an argument on safety.

On the other hand, I knew Bernie was exactly right. Those weredifferent days and I know that my friends and I would have giggled at the bicycle helmets or the Lycra bike clothing—back then. Since we were taught to hide under our flimsy desks in case of a nuclear attack— we all thought safety was something you did when you had enough time or needed a Brownie badge or something. For example, hardly any of us used those pesky seat belts that were beginning to show up in all the new cars. When we complained about them hurting our bottoms when we sat on them for a ride, we were told, “Oh, just tuck ‘em deep between the seat cushions where you can’t feel them anymore.” So we did. If the car braked unexpectedly, we would automatically put our arm in front of the person next to us. Like that would save someone from being hurled out a plate glass window. No, everyone was supposed to know how to fall off a bike properly or have a car accident without getting hurt—too badly. Besides, a little knee scab from a bike fall was a symbol or brotherhood—even for little girly girls like me that still did tea parties in the backyard.

“Well, what do you mean about rigged-out?” I asked, obviously not knowing the gravity of meaning for a rigged-out bicycle. “Did he have a playing card tied to the wheel so that it sounded like a motorcycle when he rode it?”

That was the extent of my knowledge. Of course I had spent most of my childhood on a bike riding up and down our road for fun, running errands, and often it was my transport between home and school. I thought my bike was state of the art because it had a bell and a dim little light on the front of the steering column so I could find my way home when I was out later than I was supposed to be.

“I had to beg for the front basket but I got it. I needed someplace to hold my books and errand items, as I was riding. I did tricks on that stupid bike like standing on the seat and posing like a dancer as I was riding. I also once took our bulldog for a walk —a dog that could easily push me down and drag me along like a weightless rag doll. I decided it might be cool to harness some of his power so I tied the end of his leash to the front of my bike. I put my feet on my handlebars and crossed them at the ankles as he pulled me along effortlessly. Everything was fine until he saw an excited pack of dogs chasing a cat across the road.

Suddenly a big slobbery look of excitement crossed his face as he saw the other cat-chasing dogs—off we went! Unfortunately when we jumped the curb, my bike shot upright into the air and then fell on its side. The bike and I were now fully on the ground on our collective right side as the dog dragged me. Up over dirt hills and gullies and through sharp dried plants and weeds of vacant lots. I finally did the smart thing and just let go of the bike—it continued to run and frolic with the bulldog and the rest of the dog herd chasing the cat. Later the dog was found and brought to me so he could “apologize to me,” per my older sister’s idea. The dog sat, looked up at me, smiled, and acted like he was ready for a treat and another bike-walk. I was a scratched, bruised, mad little eight-year old. I never trusted any cute little movie about loyal dogs again. Liars!

“No,” said Bernie, “I mean Cap’n Twylo had a sort of headband with built-in binoculars and probably a transistor radio. He was all wired up with all sorts of things coming out of his head. He had installed mysterious electronic equipment all over that black bicycle. Probably had a radio signal that picked up police calls. That may be why he was sometimes there before we were. Sometimes, he would show off a little and make blue sparks come off the front of his bike. Mind you, this was before the big popularity of all the low-rider cars and the tricks they do down in the Española Valley. I have no idea where he got his technical skills. Like I said, he must have been some sort of little nerd genius.”

“Yeah,” said Theo, “I never thought too much of your Cap’n Twylo. He was near the legal standpoint of interfering with some of our investigations . . .”

“He was on that bike,” said Bernie in a slight condescending tone, “He knew trails and places he can get to and hide in before we could even get in our cars. Think you can get a cruiser in between all these trees and narrow places by houses, buildings, and neighborhoods? He was just a curious kid.”

Theo sat there with his arms across his chest trying (but failing) to come up with a better perspective of the weird kid dressed all in black. He understood controlled activity of well-behaved children—but not the unbridled energy of super smart kid. “Yeah, he sure could disappear fast—I’ll give you that,” Theo said.

Bernie continued the story and it seemed that Cap’n Twylo eventually did get a negative reaction from another policemen. Now, there may have been a few other imitators of Cap’n Twylo—just because he seemed sorta cool—but even the fake Twylo’s were going to get in trouble if they went far enough.

Eventually Cap’n Twylo was given a chewing out or a warning to stay away. By the time that particular officer returned to his patrol car, he found that the distinctive red and blue light assembly was missing from the top of his patrol car. It had been quickly and carefully removed. The officer looked up from his car and in the distance—on a high road looking down at the current police scene—the familiar patrol top lights blinking madly and sitting steadily on the black bike. The width of the brackets that held the lights were at least three times wider than the handlebars, but it seemed fastened tightly. There were several more times when Cap’n Twylo made a far-off appearance whenever this particular policeman was called out to a location, but Bernie had been right. It was too difficult to chase this young kid through the forest or through a town full of places to hide. After a while—it got old and not so funny anymore (at least from the Cap’n Twylo’s perspective)—and the performances stopped.

“Whatever happened to him?” I asked Bernie.

Bernie shrugged his shoulders and stared blankly at his coffee cup. “I don’t know, must have moved on, become a policeman, FBI Agent, CIA, . . . Who knows . . . I just hope he’s working for our side.”

—Raven DeVille

Wednesday, 06 August 2014 23:19

Ghostly Warnings

It was a wonky little office that was almost impossible to place a desk and two chairs. Nothing ever looked comfortable or balanced in this room. It was difficult to work in because of awkwardly placed poles, narrow spaces, and unnecessary hard walls. However it had a beautiful view of the Jemez Mountains through the high windows on one wall. Any view of the outdoors is always a welcomed extra for office workers. This was the room that was usually assigned to individuals from our group when they where contracted to work on a project from this particular site. I had a short meeting once in this office before with another co-worker in-situ, but Carla now occupied the space.

Carla was a true beauty. She was tall and moved like a graceful model. I never really liked any of her past boyfriends so when I found out she was available, I immediately fixed her up with someone who was very sweet. Guess what? It took!

Jack and Carla became a beautiful and sweet couple who really enjoyed each other. It’s at least one good thing that I feel I have done in my lifetime—and that was to bring them together. I’m a little bit proud of that.

During the Fall of 2000 that they both walked into my office during lunch hour one day. Carla was smiling from ear to ear.

“I’ve been meaning to tell you that I saw my first ghost,” said Carla. “But with everything that’s been going on I haven’t had a chance to mention it. Indeed, we had all suffered under the material (and scenic) losses of that year’s Cerro Grande Fire that burnt parts of Los Alamos. At last we were able to put some of these things behind us and find comfort in the familiar routine of our jobs.

I still find it amazing that we had a town to come back to—after the fire. If not for the amazing skills of the firefighters and others who helped, none of us would have had anything. Although Jack and Carla were living in Santa Fe at the time and I had no property damages—we all felt badly for those who had lost so much. Life was inwardly (and unexpectedly) traumatic and normal thinking functions became difficult for a time. I think that almost all Los Alamos citizens reevaluated their priorities in life—after the fire. We were all lucky that no lives were lost but after a horrendous event like a forest fire, huge numbers of “natural”deaths statistically sky rocket, due to various reasons. I lost my sister a month after the fire (she was only in her fifties) and my older neighbor passed away two months later. Some people just went to bed and then stayed there—crying, afraid to face the world for days at a time. Sometimes it seemed like misery came in non-ceasing waves. After a while sadness almost became a companion.

Fortunately, we had wonderful people at work and you couldn’t go shopping anywhere in town without someone asking if you were ok and “did you lose your house?”We were all walking around shell-shocked, but we all sort of had each other.

I always had this theory that if and when Armageddon hits, it will not be like a movie or television program where the boys with the most toys wins, or the extreme personalities who hide in underground bunkers eventually come out and conquer the world. No, I think (and I hope) it will be more like the care, generosity, and concern for each other that I experienced after the bad forest fires we’ve had. I don’t mean just Los Alamos, I mean people in Santa Fe, Española, Albuquerque, Glorieta . . . almost everyone in New Mexico reached out to us and offered us their homes to stay in, they feed us, and worried over us. How did I get so lucky to be in the middle of all of this?

“Where and when did you see a ghost?” I asked excitedly.

Jack was standing behind a now seated Carla, “Yeah, really,” he said, letting me know they were both very serious about the matter.

Carla said, “It was several months ago and I was in that weird little office—you know where you almost have to walk sideways and deal with the poles in the middle of the room. I was just finishing up a phone call when I saw someone come in and stand by my desk. I motioned to him that I would be right with him. My hair was hanging down on that side of my face, but I remember looking down at his shoes and thinking how nice they were and admiring the wonderful quality of the fabric of his pants. She said she hung up the phone and looked directly at him but he dissolved into nothingness right before her eyes. She said he was very tall, slender, and well dressed—but by the time she tried to look at his face, he had already dissolved from the waist up.

“I wonder if it could have been Robert Oppenheimer?” I said. I thought, “If the creator of this city were going to show themselves to anyone, it would probably be to a gorgeous girl like Carla, who also had a background in Physics.”

“I’m not sure about that.” Carla replied. “He seemed sort of young.”

“Did this happen before or after the Cerro Grande Fire? I asked.

“It happened right before the fire. As a matter of fact he was just standing there looking out the window at the trees. Actually right where the worst burning occurred . . . now that you mention it,” she said thoughtfully.

I said, “Sometimes before a tragedy strikes a community, a supernatural warning is sent. Maybe Oppie was trying to tell us something? I know you think it wasn’t Oppenheimer but everyone in those days dressed so nicely and they wore a lot of fine wool. All the photos I’ve seen of Oppenheimer show him dressed just like you describe.”

Eventually I also remembered that when people see ghosts of loved ones, the ghosts usually look to be about thirty years old. A time when we might be at our best. Unless it is a child ghost, the spirit represents the very best time of our self, on the very best day, and when we are most attractive. Most physical abnormalities are nonexistent; any limps, scars, or physical problems in life do not apply to the ghost.

I thought a bit and asked, “How old is that building where your office is located?”

There was a little flurry of discussion among us and we came to the conclusion that it was most probably built long after Oppenheimer left Los Alamos. However, a warning might still be a warning—no matter what location it chooses to show itself.

It may not have been Oppenheimer, but I am sure it was some entity concerned about the impeding disaster. I’m sure it was some caring soul who was proud of their work at the Lab and had sympathy for the community.

I really don’t know if anyone else had any such experiences—since this might also help to confirm an concerted effort to get a message across.

Oddly, several people began to ask odd questions of me during August of 2001. One woman pulled me aside and told me that she was never psychic or anything but she kept waking up at 11:11, or every time she opened a page it would be 11, or everything she counted kept coming up exactly 11, 110, or 1111. I explained the number 11 in numerology terms—as best I knew but it didn’t seem to satisfy her—or me.

Then the attack on 9/11 happened. A few days after the tragedy, I poked my head into her office.

I said, “Well, I guess we now both know what those 11s were all about.”

She looked up at me and I could see the understanding suddenly hit her in the face. I could see her suddenly finding the symbolism in the day (9/11), the shape of the two buildings (11), adding up the digits of 11  (1+1 = 2, 2 + 9 = 11), etc. I quietly closed her door and went back to work.

Another co-worker told me her son had a dream in which he looked in the mirror but he didn’t see his own reflection, he saw the image of Ben Laden—turban and all. He didn’t know who the man with turban was until after 9/11. He recognized him immediately following all the broadcasts of Osama bin Laden’s image.

I really don’t know a lot of psychics but the ones I spoke with had no forewarning or unexplained phenomena happen to them regarding 9/11. Yet the messages were sent out—but only to the least expected.

In this case, everyone missed any clues or hints sent from the Great Beyond.

Sensitive individuals have supernatural experiences and forewarnings, while skeptics call their otherworldly knowledge—hunches.

—Raven DeVille

Monday, 07 July 2014 03:14

Sometimes a Goose is Just a Goose!

We have a lovely small pond in Los Alamos called Ashley Pond that is located next to the historic log building that once belonged to the Los Alamos Boys Ranch School. During WWII, the government took over the school and the rest of the town and evacuated everyone in the area in order to create a “secret city” in order to build the first atomic weapons. Los Alamos is quite different from most towns because there is no lake, river, or waterway near the city. We are very isolated and remote but also mostly free from insects that breed in or near water and we share little traffic with water sport enthusiasts. Therefore the anomaly of a spring-fed pond about 150 ft. in diameter is really the only large water feature that we have. It was named after an early resident of the Boys School whose name was actually Ashley Pond. The name play was a bit of humorous indulgence in wry humor for the local natural feature—for anyone who knows the story of the early boy’s ranch. It reality it should probably be called Ashley Pond’s Pond—but it seems a bit much.

Although we all have always enjoyed the pond, it has recently been renovated with a concert stand to the eastern side. The pond has been enhanced with careful landscaping and made into an attractive round pool with new cement sidewalks, and continues to be surrounded by various types of mature trees. The pond was once home to many large goldfish and ducks. I’ve even seen a small crawdad poke it’s head up from the edge.  There is usually a parade of three to six geese completing a short patrol of the pond while quacking about this and that along the way. The small pond is a peaceful haven for families, a lunch hour get-away, and daydreamers. All of the birds remain, year after year, but sometimes when the weather becomes too frigid or snow packed, they are captured by the county and are temporarily wintered in more hospitable locations—off the hill. When spring arrives, they are brought back to the pond and released. Except for once (many years ago) when there was a misunderstanding and the geese wound up being the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals of the caretakers. However, the error was forgiven and more geese were purchased.

I’m not sure of the date, maybe in the early 1980’s, someone noticed that a few more geese where suddenly occupying the pond and they were a completely different breed that the other geese. People began to ask questions and several letters to the newspaper brought the subject to public attention.

We are a city the highest number of Ph.D.s per capita in the country and just because scientists go home at night does not mean they stop thinking. Naturally, there was an abundance of scientific explanation that poured forth for the new geese. All sorts of theories emerged—one more interesting than the other. The migration patterns were changing, natural instincts to trails had been interrupted, global warming, air currents were suddenly different, etc. Maps and migration path charts accompanied articles in the newspaper. Theorists began to argue with each other. Arrogant egos challenged the intellectual concepts that flew through the air about the new birds in town.

(I don’t know this personally, but I have heard the second half of this story from someone else—so I am only repeating what I heard.)

While all this scholarly attention was paid to the extra geese situation, one woman laughed loudly inside her house. She sat reading the newspaper explanations and laughed harder each day about the latest scientific interpretation for the extra geese phenomenon. The reason that she was laughing was simple. She had been given some baby goslings that were cute when they were young but grew up to be somewhat of a nuisance around her house. (A cautionary tale for those who purchase animals for holidays.) She didn’t want to butcher them for food, having become somewhat fond of them, so she finally developed a plan. In the dark of night, she had decided to give them a little ride and treat them to a permanent holiday of lush grass and a nice swimming hole. I’m sure that they didn’t even look back at her—as they happily waddled toward the water to claim their little piece of heaven at Ashley Pond.

Although it was nice that many of our learned people generously offered their opinions on the matter, it just goes to show you that sometimes anyone can make much more of something—than is necessary.

I guess Occam's Razor would apply in this case:

"The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct."

Occam's Razor is a logical principle first described in the 14th century by William of Ockham, an English Franciscan friar and philosopher. It is often used to evaluate the usefulness of a theory. Its main tenet is that "Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity." It can be summed up with the phrase "When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras."

—Raven DeVille

Friday, 11 April 2014 21:31

Mr. Karloff and the Art Supply Room

Humans have occupied New Mexico for hundreds of years, perhaps several millennia or more. This region is rich with spiritual and folkloric intrigue. The area may even invite interaction form various unexplained phenomena.

During my art classes in high school in the Española Valley, I was always amazed at the natural talent from most of my classmates. I had been to a few more places than they had been, I had visited museums in large cities, and I loved Classical and Renaissance art. But most of these humble students were amazing talented.

We often worked on our art projects while talking about the latest interesting subjects in the news. It was the first part of February 1969 and the famous actor Boris Karloff had just passed away. He was a fantastic horror actor and was THE actor who played the original Frankenstein’s Monsterand The Mummy. He spoke in a cultured English accent and set your hair on end with his deep resonant voice.

So on this day in February we sat talking about him and someone else came up with the idea of conducting a séance to see if he would show up. I was still learning about Ouija boards and that I shouldn’t use them—but sometimes teenage hearts are fool hardly enough to try anything.

The art supply room would be the setting. We had the darkness of the windowless room and a candle. We also had a fifteen-minute break (we had a double class that day) coming up that we could use for the experiment. We told the others (that didn’t want to be in the séance) to get their supplies before we closed the door—since we didn’t want to be disturbed.

Yes everything was working out perfectly.

We brought in stools and sat them around the large square cutting table with the burning candle in a vase in the middle. Approximately twelve of us sat on the stools holding hands with the person next to us—gearing down to relax and concentrate on our mission.

The newly constructed walls seemed to be heavily insulated and solid concrete. The door must have been manufactured in a bank vault factory. It was heavy, took a while to open, and so dense that even a heavy knock on it yielded almost no sound. It was like knocking on a rock and expecting to hear the sound on the other side of the mountain. It just wasn’t there. After the first initial jokes and uneasiness, everyone became quiet and still on their stools.

Muffled silence and a promise of adventure filled the atmosphere. I remember that the flame flickered violently even though we all sat still and none of us were closer than three feet to the flame. There was no wind or ventilation of any kind. None of us were breathing that hard. In fact, we wanted to stay in the room for only a few minutes because of the feeling that the air was diminishing. The fiercely flickering candle should have sent us a message, but I guess none of us got the clue. Everyone sat quietly and seriously concentrated. The air seemed to grow thinner—something that is good for storage of books, paper, and art supplies—but not for humans.

Since no one took the cue to start speaking to the spirits, I began. “We are trying to contact the actor Boris Karloff who just passed away. Can you give us some sign that you are here Boris?”

Nothing.

Again, I repeated the words.

Nothing.

I repeated the words a third time and had already decided to call it quits if nothing happened this time.

Without warning, three thunderous bangs resounded from the closed metal door. Everyone jumped off the chairs and some were already standing—and I was one of them. None of us had ever heard a knock so loud on that door. I was convinced that someone was playing a joke and ran to the door to open it and catch the culprit. The thick heavy door opened up into the quiet and peaceful art room where everyone was quietly working on their projects. No one seemed giggly or out of breath and no one was near the big heavy door. Our teacher was a very large man, tall and heavily built—someone like him could have banged on the door loud enough—I guess. I immediately saw him through the glass panels in his office across the room.

I quickly ran over to his area and jokingly asked him if he had wanted in the supply room that badly.

His countenance was relaxed and he wasn’t a bit winded as if he had just run over. He acted surprised because he had been intensely engrossed in a small piece of jewelry he had been working on.

He kept denying he did anything or that anyone else in the room had moved.

Finally, he said, “You know,” he said, “I thought I heard something just a few seconds ago but I just thought it was something you guys were doing inside the room.”

“Oh, come on.” I begged (laughing), “Who banged on the door?”

“No one,” I’ve been sitting here and no one has even walked past that room since you guys went in.

I turned around and realized he could see everything across the room since his office was constructed more with glass panels than concrete walls. His room was a unique design. Both doors could be closed; in case he needed to talk in private to a student, but he could still clearly see the entire art room and doors to the art supplies, photography, and one other storeroom. He always had to be on the lookout for other teacher’s students who often skipped class to hang out in this particularly interesting part of the high school.

He and I had played a lot of jokes on each other so I sort of knew his reactions. However, he was so sincere I began to doubt my “trickster” reasoning. I left his neatly kept office thinking that it was only the middle of the school year and he (or someone else) would eventually brag about his scare tactic with me.

But you know what—he never did. Although I sometimes asked, I was always given the same blank expression. No one else ever confessed either.

Time rolls on and I have since learned to be a little more respectful of people who pass over. I try not to communicate with the recently departed and instead just try to send a silent request for them for peace and an untroubled arrival into the hereafter.

Over the years I have thought about that little incident in the art room and wondered that maybe . . . just maybe . . . Mr. Karloff did give us a visit. After all, I did ask for a sign from him.

It might have been the very nature of the man who played in so many monster and horror movies—to send one last message of terror (and fun) to some of his fans.

Maybe Boris Karloff did pay a visit to a few of his fans? What a grand gentleman—how nice of him!

 

—Raven DeVille

Sunday, 09 March 2014 20:33

The Hunters

This country was founded by people who wanted religious freedom so it is only right that everyone continue to have their choice of religion (or even lack of religion) while enjoying life. I feel most religions and beliefs are all very interesting, wise, and full of gems of wisdom, history, and information. I also appreciate the atheistic and agnostic approach that can be used in explaining events and situations. Sometimes it is important to seek divine interaction to solving a problem—but through practical and natural interactions. If a person needs help, maybe we should help them now and then pray for them later—after they are cared for or when nothing else can be done.

I suppose we all have different ways of looking at beliefs and various parts of religion. In the last ten years I have begun hearing about the Crypto-Jews who live among us here in New Mexico. They first entered the area when the Spanish arrived, many centuries ago. Although most were devout Sephardic-Jews, they were told to hide their true identities and take on Catholicism as their religion or suffer the consequences of the Grand Inquisition. These people (and their families) always tried to remember that they were really Jewish but through the ages much ancestral information was lost. Sometimes their descendant’s activities continue to involve closing all the drapes on Friday evenings and lighting candles, placing rocks upon loved ones’ gravestones, etc. Many local Hispanic people continue to perform these rituals, unknowing of the ancient Jewish heritage that has been hidden for so long. (Please look up books on Crypto-Jews in New Mexico and read about them. It is very interesting.)

Hatred of anyone based on religion or color of skin is an abomination. My mother used to tell me about when she was a child in a convent/boarding school in Washington State. The KKK, in their white hoods and robes, would often burn a large wooden cross near their school. It was a way of terrorizing people and especially the Catholic residents. Mom said the entire convent was frightened because the only residents were young female students, some docile nuns, and a very old priest. Indeed, my mother once told me how her father took her for a sleigh ride one winter evening in the same area and they happened upon some poor man who had been beaten by the KKK and then wrapped in a barbed wire fence. Her father (who had studied medicine in Europe) dislodged him from the fence, took him back to their home, and nursed him back to health. I remember asking my mother if the victim had been black, and she said no, he had been white. I was young and didn’t quite understand, so she explained to me that in the 1920’s (when this happened) that it would be followed by the same mentality that later in Germany would put Jews at mortal risk. She said that if for example, all the Jews had been eliminated, Hitler would have then gone after the Catholics, and next it would have been yet a different group of people. Eventually, almost everyone would be at an eventual risk of hatred—at the hands of a bully—or a group of bullies.

We have many religions (and races) in our state and for the past thirty years or so and there has also been an upsurge in Wicca beliefs. It is often common that Wicca members like to perform some of their rituals outside in a natural environment like the woods, mountains, pleasant green places, by water, etc.

Cool—I always thought the most beautiful place to be with God (or the Goddess, if you wish) was outside in a beautiful place in nature.

A special perk of living in New Mexico is an assortment of many beliefs and backgrounds that co-exist—rather peacefully and intelligently. When I don’t want to participate in something as important as a belief system, I find it is important to respectfully step aside (or just be quiet) and keep the subject away from any conversational hot points. I regret that I have not always been successful at this—but those are my intentions.

So what does all of this have to do with anything?

Going over all these various religions, beliefs, cults, organizations, etc.—is the first step in trying to understand a sighting I once heard about almost forty years ago.

It is with this in mind that I tell this next story.

I was having coffee late one night in a type of local café. The city police would frequent the place for a quick break and ingest enough caffeine to stay awake for the rest of their night shift. We often found ourselves in conversations with each other, as we sipped coffee to stave away sleep. People who routinely work at night are a very different type of individual who tend to find jobs that fit their normal sleep patterns. They experience a much different world than regular daylight people. Sometimes some very deep conversations of all sorts fill the night air. One evening I sat across from one man who was (I believe) a state patrolman. He was only helping out some fellow officers and did not usually work on the town’s police force but was always welcomed by the others for the occasional extra help. During these coffee breaks many of the police would trade ghost stories and experiences with me. Then one evening this man spoke up.

He related a story that he and friend had once been scouting out good wildlife locations for an upcoming hunting season. I can’t remember the type of game (deer or elk probably) but he mentioned it was about 1965 or so.

The location was near a New Mexico town of about 5,000 in population (at that time) and he and his friend were just hiking around in the woods one evening, checking things out. He was a natural athlete and I’m sure he took hiking adventures quite often–so it was just a natural and fun thing for him and his friend to do, especially since he once lived in the area. Although it was dark and pretty remote, he had good survival skills, and was confident in most natural settings.

He said he and his friend suddenly happened upon a large gathering of people in the middle of nowhere. There was a large flaming bonfire and many people surrounded it, dancing and chanting wildly. Most of them were in hooded robes or masks. He said he and his friend quietly watched them for some time—behind a small wooded area—afraid to leave that they might get caught.

Suddenly the unthinkable happened and one of the hooded men stepped away from the crowd, turned, and looked directly at him and his friend. It was as if he could see through the brush—then he turned his head back and started yelling to the others. Suddenly, everyone stopped in their tracks and angrily glared at the wooded bush area. The group became agitated and started coming for them. He said he and his friend turned and ran for dear life. They ran for a long time—until they finally got back to their truck and sped away. Obviously the robed individuals could not run fast enough to catch them and the truck had been a great advantage in their getaway.

Trying to define what type of group it was, I asked him if it had been a KKK meeting and he said no, it looked like some sort of witch gathering. I then asked if it might have been a group of Indians or Penitentes (a sometimes radical branch of the Catholic Church that is famous for performing the crucifixion of Christ on the cross with a real human volunteer). Again the police officer said no, he said he was sure since he was also aware of most of the religious cults and all the other New Mexico traditions.

“No,” he said, shaking his head, “This was a bunch of dark robed people doing something wrong out in the middle of nowhere in the dark of night—so no one would know what they were up to. When they started after us, some of them picked up boards and rocks like they were going to use them as weapons on us. The really scary thing is that while they were chasing us some of their masks fell off and their hoods blew back—and they were some of the leading businessmen and the most respected people in town! Some of them were people I knew,” he said.

Clearly, this had frightened him quite a bit. Contacting the authorities about his encounter obviously never entered his thoughts. He was now a man, with authority to carry a firearm by his side, and who upheld the law, yet even so—the number of people in that gathering, their high profiles in the community—had overwhelmed him to the point of quiet submission about the encounter.

“Did they see your face?” I asked.

“I hope not,” he said. “It was dark and my friend and I were running so fast they never could catch up to us. At any rate, I never went back into that town again. I used to live there and visited it a lot—but not anymore. I was just so disgusted with what I saw—I just can’t . . .” his voice trailed off.

I couldn’t help but feel that he was holding something back.

I have to mention a small observation at this point. His sighting probably happened in the middle 1960’s it was before the book and the movie of Rosemary’s Baby and many years before The Exorcist, and many other popular films of the same genre. Only in recent history do we have movies on the details of negative occult ritual films. My point is that very few people thought in these terms before and neither did they have many references of how other people acted or dressed for this type of alternate lifestyle. Many people (especially teens) will quickly pick up on fads. They may not live the part—but may enjoy dressing or acting the part—from peer pressure—or even as a style statement. At that time, it was extremely difficult getting books on witchcraft, the occult, etc. in local bookstores in the 1960s. It wasn’t until after the movie Rosemary’s Baby that I noticed bookstores really began carrying much larger choices of occult material. (Remember the movie scene in which Rosemary goes to the bookstore in New York to find several books about witches? Many consumers began wanting occult reading material after that movie, and the bookstores suddenly began providing many more books along this line.)
Therefore, it was probably a bit difficult for most people in this state to have many references for occult dress, rituals, etc. in order to be seen in such an ornate setting as the patrolman described. I’m not saying people can’t be creative or old ways handed down, but we just didn’t have the instant, widespread, and immediate information at out fingertips then—as we do today.

So, what were these costumed people doing in that field late at night, after all? Who were they? Maybe it was something completely innocent, or even silly. Maybe it was a homemade version of a community Zozobra.

Occasionally, I hear a rumor that there still exist some very strange negative-occult rituals in large businesses and organizations that most people (and customers) would never suspect. Usually, these organizations instruct the inside members to lie and tell falsehoods to outsiders, when questioned about anything unusual. Supposedly, these hidden activities are tolerated by the powers that be, since no one seems to be getting hurt. This is a free country and no one wants a witch-hunt—literally or figuratively. But, it always makes one wonder what is going on in a non-military, non-technology, non-government business—that warrants group participation in secret and unfamiliar rituals? Why is such control over an employee so important?

Through the years I have often thought about the young patrolman and his story. I think that whatever else he might have seen the robed group doing—is lodged in his mind. I hope that the activities by the late-night bonfire were benign and without need for interaction.

I came away from our conversation thinking that he was holding too much in his heart—but sometimes I can only ask—and sometimes a person can only say so much.

 

—Raven DeVille

Thursday, 13 February 2014 08:33

Strange Wild Things

We have some interesting wildlife here in New Mexico. Lizards run everywhere, Bears nudge around in our trash, Cougars sometimes stalk Deer in the night, and Coyotes sing at the moon. Most of us have learned to be careful with our smaller pets—keeping them away from predators like Coyotes, but also including large birds like Eagles, Falcons, and Ravens. Being a wild animal (as Ravens should be) they will attack and carry off an unprotected small “toy” dog or cat that only weighs ounces. However, Ravens are very intelligent. Someone once said that the only ones who ever really knew what was going in the world—were the Ravens—perched on the windows of closed-door meetings.

Ravens love golf balls. There have been many games interrupted by Ravens who swoop down, snatch a golf ball, and then fly up to deposit it in a tree or a nest. One golfer decided to throw off the bird by first hitting a very old ball off in the direction of one Raven who had been vexing him for several months. The Raven flew down and snatched the used ball and flew off with it to a high tree nearby. Smugly satisfied, the golfer pulled out a shiny new ball and hit into a real golfing direction. When the ball landed, the same Raven flew down with the old ball in its beak and swapped it with the shiny new one. He then flew high up in his perch in a large pine tree. The bird watched the reaction of the golfer and cawed loudly (sounding more like laughs and giggles than bird talk). The golfer jumped up and down in frustration and cursed the bird profusely on the green grass below.

Then there are the ground-dwelling creatures.

I once heard that a teenaged girl had an argument with her boyfriend in Santa Fe. The girl refused to ride in his car any longer, got out, and walked home to Pojoaque. It was late afternoon when she started and she arrived home well after dark. I would not recommend this for anyone, but what happened, happened. Along the way, the young girl reported that she took several shortcuts instead of walking near the road. She reported that a large wild canine followed her most of the way home. The dog kept a wide distance from her, but steadily walked at the girl’s pace. She said she felt “safe” and was sure that the dog was protecting her. The canine might actually been stalking her, waiting for an opportunity to happen. The girl had a naturally long stride and made good time and luckily, she did not break into a run—which would have possibly triggered the dog/coyote/wolf creature’s predatory instinct—especially when she passed through areas devoid of people, noisy cars, and motors near the road.

I once had an experience in Los Alamos in my own front yard. Being an insomniac, I suddenly heard something very heavy run across my front lawn about 3:00 in the morning. It sounded as heavy as a horse, but there was also a sound of something like a rattling dog chain. I opened my front door and saw a large dog-like creature looking back at me from a curb about 50 feet sway. It had a body as big and thick as a healthy German Shepard but it had definite Coyote ears, legs, and tail. The tops of its ears were probably at about 4 feet high. At first I thought it was just a nuisance dog that jumped it’s owners fence and was out for a late night hoot. The monstrous dog looked at me straight in the face—completely unafraid—challenging me to walk closer to it. It never wavered its gaze at me and it seemed intent—as if it were about to attack. I abruptly realized it was some sort of hybrid creature. I had started to walk toward it, to shoo it away, then I realized it was just standing there—waiting for me to make that mistake. When the canine saw me backing up, it reached down and picked up a very large dead cat in its mouth and quickly loped off into the dark. The chain I had head was the cats’ collar just as the canine had killed it in a surprise attack in my yard. Later I would find out that a previous neighbor (disliked by the rest of the neighborhood) had purposely bred large dogs and coyotes. Perhaps this was a product of one of those breeds and the mysterious canine felt comfortable in its own surroundings—and that is why it appeared as it did. Thankfully, I have not seen anything like it for the last fifteen years.

In the 1960’s, I remember how dogs often ran wild and in several different packs. This was before the days of widespread concern about animal control. One pack of feral dogs (all white in color) were known to run wild around the banks of the Rio Grande in Española near several downtown locations. My friend used to exercise her horse by the river and would tell me how she would see the footprints of an entire pack which would then narrow down to only a few dog prints and then finally only one set of paw prints. These prints would seem to morph into two paw prints—as if the dog were only walking on their hind legs. Eventually, the stride would become wider—like that of a human step. Suddenly, the prints would disappear altogether—and change into a naked human footprint. At that point she always said, she was too afraid to follow the prints any farther. She claimed this happened quite often.

One morning an extreme fog bank passed through Pojoaque—quite unlike the weather we are normally accustomed to. I had made a quick stop at a drug store and on my way out everyone was looking outside at the unusual beauty of the unexpected fog.

Playfully I said, “Gosh, this is good weather for a werewolf!” I was thinking about the old Lon Chaney film “The Wolf Man.” In the movie nearly every frame had a heavy fog scene that almost hid the actors.

Thinking nothing more about it, I opened the door and started walking toward my car. A man about 25 feet away was jogging and his dog was obediently trotting along beside him. As soon as I walked out the door, the dog saw me and started for me—and not in a friendly way. I dashed for my door, knowing I could just make it inside the car before the dog bit me—if I was fast enough. The jogger saw what was happening, called the dog, and broke the dog’s intent toward me—long enough for me to get behind the metal and glass of my car. The jogger apologized profusely, and acted as bewildered as I was about the dog’s behavior.

I will admit that I am not necessarily a dog person (I’ve even been brow beaten by Chihuahuas). Even if the canines have the manners of a duke or duchess—I can enjoy them only if they are some one else’s pets. I’m just a little cautious about the hungry “wolf” part that resides in all of them.

Also, I’ve heard it said that you should never have a talk with a dog . . . because they might answer you back.

 

—Raven DeVille

Page 1 of 3

Additional information