A Spiritual Jigsaw Puzzle

Do you like jigsaw puzzles?

Maybe I’m wrong, but there seem to be less jigsaw puzzles in the shops than when I was a boy. I can remember going through a phase when I kept getting puzzles with more and more pieces - and then, just to make things more difficult - turning the pieces upside down and putting the whole thing together sight unseen.

Of course, there’s nothing worse than a jigsaw puzzle with a piece missing, or one that doesn’t quite seem to fit…

Piece 1. ~ The Spirit Guide

I don’t like flying. Actually I love it when the plane has taken off and I’m in the air (did you discover that you could control your flight direction in my last blog post). It’s just that I feel so out of control. I know that statistically it is the safest form of travel - but I still have a feeling of foreboding for days before a flight.

We were due to fly over to Killarney and I was starting to get my pre-flight nerves, so it came as some consolation to hear the spiritual medium at church, tell me that the spirit of a man, a "known" man was going to help me. The medium couldn’t tell me who he was, or had been when he was alive, but she did say that he looked very much like me. I thought at once about George Bernard Shaw and also James Joyce. But I wasn’t at all convinced…

Piece 2. ~ Ann and David

…Later we were all having our usual cup of tea, when Ann, a member of the congregation, asked me if I would read something at a dedication service she and the Rev. Eileen were arranging for her son David who had died at the age of nineteen, eight years previously. Ann explained that David had been beaten to death at the roadside. What a terrible thing for a mother to endure; her only son murdered, leaving her with her memories and grief. Ann explained that David had been a bit of a tearaway, but with “a heart of gold and a wonderful smile.” As Ann continued, her love for David poured out of her. She was planning the service to reassure him that he could ‘go on’ and that she wanted him to understand that she could cope with the rest of her earthly life.

“I don’t want him to worry anymore. He will have lots to do and I want him to feel that he can go and get on with his own destiny and not hang around, worrying about me.”

Piece 3. Death and Danger

I drove the Rev. Eileen home and as we approached her front door, a group of teenagers were picking on a young boy. The boy, who must have been around David’s age, looked frightened and their violence made me think that David’s fate was about to be re-enacted right in front of us. Fortunately the group dispersed -, but death can come so quickly.

Once inside, we sat down with a cup of tea, silently observed by a small group of Irish figurines on the mantelpiece. “They really live” said Eileen. Eight pairs of twinkling eyes looked back. I was due to go to Ireland in a week and I felt uneasy about the flight. “Keep me safe in Killarney” I thought.

Piece 4. The Poem

I then told Eileen about my conversation with Ann. Suddenly prompted by the sight of the Irish figurines, I realized that I would not be able to read at the service because I would be in Killarney on that day. Eileen looked disappointed. We sat in silence for a little while, and then I heard myself say “I could write a poem for her.” Eileen smiled.

Piece 5. The Vision

So the matter was settled, although I had no idea what I would write. I did however; relate to Eileen a visual hallucination that had happened to me a couple of nights previously, which in want for a better term, I could only describe as a ‘Vision’. Up to then I had always viewed the term ‘Vision’ as a rather biblical and romantic way of describing the output of a vivid imagination. This was mainly because I had not had one. I now know that a vision, once received, is unmistakable and cannot be confused with a normal visual-mental image, or a dream. This particular vision turned out to relate directly to Ann and David, although that was not clear to me then, as Eileen and I sat with her husband Ken, who had pottered downstairs to join us:

I was lying in bed, when the normal pattern of shapes, colours and stars that I (and possibly everyone else) see projected onto the back of my eyelids, slowly gained depth. I seemed to be floating in outer space and gazing at the infinity of the universe. The image was so real that I became a little frightened, but at the same time, intrigued at what might happen. I found could still wriggle my fingers and toes and therefore I assumed I was not dreaming - in any case it all seemed so real.

Then the infinity of stars dissolved and I found myself floating through a passage, toward a sunlit garden in the grounds of a beautiful mansion. The colours were unbelievable, like nothing I had seen before. Although I find it hard to believe in a heaven of gardens, flowers and mansions, I was sure that if such a heaven existed, I was indeed seeing it. At this point I was so enthralled with what I was seeing and so aware that I was not controlling the vision as in my normal imagination, that I opened my eyes and found I was simply lying on my bed in my dimly lit room. I was delighted to find that when I closed my eyes again, the vision was still there.

Then around the corner of the passage, came a black and white dog. The dog looked at me intently and then slowly the vision of the garden, the mansion, the “guardian” dog and the wonderful colours faded back into the starlit universe, which itself became again the patterns behind my eyelids.

Piece 6. ~ The Poet

The next day I woke with a favourite line from a poem by Dylan Thomas, running through my head:

“the ball I threw whilst playing in the park has not yet reached the ground” 

Dylan Thomas was the first poet I had encountered when I was around sixteen years of age, and the line that repeated again and again in my mind as I made my morning coffee came from “Should Lanterns Shine.” David had experienced such a short life and the idea that the ball was still flying through the air, seemed to underline this. Sipping my coffee, I considered that sending Dylan’s poem to Ann might be sufficient.

Piece 7. ~ A Poem for David

It was at this point that the poem I was to eventually write that day, started to form - seemingly of its own accord. We were opening at the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton that evening and as I drove to the venue, thoughts words and phrases bounced through my head. Ann wanted something “young” to read; David had died eight years ago, so in a sense he had been re-born into the spirit realm at the moment of his death. Ann wanted David to “go on” and learn. Thoughts of my own first day at school and how I wanted to go home for tea and cuddles and how excited I was to see my mother waiting for me at the school gates replayed in my head. The thoughts and images kept coming during the sound-check and the preparatory staging for the evening’s opening night and I became more and more impatient to get the poem down on paper.

Eventually all the pre-show preparations were complete and I was able to go across the road from the stage door, to the local “Naff-Caff” a fantastic and dying English tradition, where steak-pie, lamb chops, egg chips and beans and the like, can be obtained for under a fiver, including a slice of bread and butter and a large cup of tea (so much better and cheaper than double burger “Whoppers” “Tortilla Wraps” and the rest of the new generation of fast food plastic digestive nightmares that are overtaking our simple and surprisingly nutritious – but totally un-trendy private enterprises.

After sausage egg and chips and still drinking my tea, I wrote David’s poem down in one rapid burst. The words came through me as if from somewhere else. Looking at the poem, completed in around twenty minutes, with so few corrections, I was stunned at the depth of meaning within it, even if the style was rather naïve. I had written it as if I was Ann. As I wrote, I had become Ann and David, my mother and myself.  However, even though the poem was finished, I felt compelled to add Dylan’s line at the end. I also felt it was “ok” to change it to “The ball you threw whilst playing in the park, has not yet reached the ground.” I thanked Dylan Thomas in my mind, for whatever part he had played in guiding, or at least inspiring me.

Piece 8. ~ The Dog

The following Sunday, I met Ann. She was delighted with the poem and I was starting to explain that it had seemed to come through me, as if I had been guided, when my attention was drawn to a black and white dog, sitting at the feet of Christine, a medium and a member of the congregation - it was the dog I had seen in my vision of the wonderful garden.

After the service I asked Helen, another member of our church, if she knew the name of the dog that had been sitting at Christine’s feet that afternoon. Her reply sent a shiver of excitement right through my body, “Dylan” she said

                                        “As in Dylan Thomas.”

Piece 9. ~ The Bomb Scare

Landing in Dublin a week later, on route to Killarney, there was a bomb-scare, in which I became involved and which hit the front pages of National newspapers – I remembered the Irish figurines and my feeling of impending danger.

Piece 10. ~ The Poet and the Dog

One evening in Killarney, near the end of Act 1, a title I had seen years before, “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog” flashed through my mind. In the dressing room during the interval, Spencer the Company Manager, Russell “the Baker” and Richard “the Cowboy” helped me look up the title on the Internet. This is what we found:

"Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog" – An autobiographical collection of short stories, prose and Poetry by Dylan Thomas.


More Pieces

All of the above happened around eighteen months ago and I decided last weekend to write the whole thing up as a spiritual investigation, a jigsaw puzzle if you like. All of the pieces seemed to fit well and I didn’t even consider piece 1. and the ‘known’ spirit guide - in fact my original first piece was piece 2…

…until I started to read the excellent accounts of the life of Dylan Thomas on the website of BBC Wales.

Piece 11. ~James Joyce

Dylan Thomas had called his collection of poems and short stories "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog, after Joyce’s semi-autobiographical work, "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" This made me think of what is now piece 1., the ‘known’ spirit who was going to help me.

But the medium had said that the spirit had looked like me, and James Joyce, apart from being rather thin, bore no resemblance. So I read on…

Piece 12. ~ Augustus John

…James Joyce had been painted by an artist called Augustus John. Joyce it seems had complained that John’s drawings of him had failed to represent accurately the lower part of his face…

…Augustus John had also sketched Dylan Thomas, as well as introducing him to (and having an affair with) Caitlin Thomas, Dylan’s wife.

So was Augustus John, the ‘known’ spirit and the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle?

WP7120448-2hen we’raugustus johne born, no-one tells us how many pieces there are in the box…












28/Oct/07 - Spiritualism ~ A Prophecy Unrecognised

28/Oct/07 - Spiritualism ~ A Prophecy Unrecognised

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The highlight of a visit to Spiritualist church is undoubtedly the part of the service where the medium or clairvoyant gives messages to members of the congregation. Now most of the time, the messages seem to ‘touch the spot‘; occasionally however, a message is received with a bewildered expression and the identity of the spirit is not recognized as being part of the family ancestry.

I often find myself in the position of not recognizing the spirit contact, due I think to the fact that I have only a hazy idea of my family ancestry. Both my parents were totally self-sufficient in their love for each other and for me, their only son. Consequently we only visited the ‘Aunts and Uncles’ once or twice a year, usually at Christmas and perhaps for a day at the sea-side in the summer. I remember that the Aunties all smelt of perfume and wore two-piece suits (jacket and skirt) which always seemed to be made of a rough tweedy material that chaffed my bare legs as I fulfilled the penance of having to sit on their laps, whilst they talked about me as if I wasn’t there. “He’s doing very well isn’t he”, “He’s growing into a fine boy” etc. I used to put up with it in part, I’m ashamed to say, in order that they would press a sixpenny piece or even a shilling into my hand. The Uncles would often frighten me by insisting that I joined them in a game of backyard-football. Two Uncles would start trying to dribble the ball past each other, looking and sounding like hippo’s at war. Suddenly they would turn and kick the ball toward me “Come on Lad!” they’d shout. They’d go quiet when I silently declined to kick the ball back. “Our Kitty’s got him all dressed up like a girl” remarked one of the Aunties - not comprehending that I could hear and understand her.

It’s perhaps just as well that the majority of the messages I receive are from my Mother and occasionally my Father, although I do yet quite a few from figures from the past - usually offering to help with my writing. Shirley the medium turned to me one Sunday last year and told me she had a “known person” with her who was going to be with me in Eire. Shirley described him to me, saying that he had resembled me during his life and that he would help me. I have to admit that the first image that came into my mind was bw soulmerlinthat of George Bernard Shaw and I also admit to being skeptical at the time. I was therefore pleasantly surprised that the first thing I saw was a large blow-up of GBSshaw in the airport arrivals concourse when I arrived in Dublin a few days later. After all, one message or contact with Napoleon has got to be genuine!

There was one particular message I received last October, which I didn’t understand until two days ago, when suddenly everything ‘clicked into context’ and made perfect sense. The Rev. Eileen was conducting messages and described how the spirit-world was pleased with the progress I had made with my writing, but then went on to describe an image she could see of what I presumed to be an ancient manuscript. Eileen said that I would have a page, one half of which would contain writing and the other half would be comprised of designs and charts of some sort. She then went on to say that it was like an endless scroll, with the writing going down one side and the patterns and charts down the other.

Those of you who have visited my Almanack before will know that I have only recently created a broad blue sidebar area down the right-hand side, for entries, archives, calendars etc, and that the Almanack page had previously only a thin blue strip of geometric designs down each side. After eight months of writing, I had realized that my bespoke, hand-drawn, painted and designed ‘blog’ would have to conform to the standard blog-design of Wordpress or Blogspot for example, in order that readers would be able to easily refer back to previous entries, look at a selection of ‘the best’ and also visit site-links and various ’widgets’.

Joining Blogrush gave the Almanack page it’s final half and half format. I wanted to place their module on the PA0700181Almanack page and I couldn’t see where and how I could do it. I’m glad to say that Alison, my web-designer came up with the solution of getting rid of the left-hand blue geometric strip and putting it over onto the right-hand side and generally widening the blue border to it’s present format. I say “glad” because it removes any chance that I was subconsciously trying to get the page to look like Eileen’s description some 12 months earlier - in any case I had never related her ‘vision’ to that of a web-page, but more to an illuminated medieval parchment scroll. I also had no idea about blogging at that time and I hadn’t even considered owning and running a web-site.

When things are viewed out of context, they can often not be identified. I passed by the woman who works at the shop at the top of my street the other day because I had only seen her behind the shop counter and didn’t recognize her as she walked towards me. She seemed a little miffed the following day when I went in to get my paper and responded a little stiffly to my cheery “hello”. I also remember as a boy, not recognizing our local vicar because he was not wearing his dog-collar - he looked so ordinary and not at all ‘vicar-ish’. (There’s Eileen above, looking very vicar-ish, together with John Chapman, who is perhaps one of the most spiritual and funny men I have ever met.)

Perhaps that’s why Mary Magdalene didn’t recognize Jesus at first when she went to the tomb…


PS: Do try some of the links on the Blogrush module - most of them are really good and some are excellent - a tip: If you’re not too interested in the titles on display in the module, keep refreshing the page - You’ll find a different set of titles will come up each time. Happy reading.

Oh yes - I’ve just turned “Flowers” into “Flowers and Scorpions”. I wanted to create a popular weekly blog - and here it is - a weekly tabloid on spirituality and life. The “Sun” and the “Daily Star” have a lot to answer for! You can reach it from the banner below, or the links at the top of this page, or through the “Flowers” square on the Home Page. Now it can be established that the Almanack is a “posh” paper. (sometimes the Independant and sometimes the Express or Mail!)


Photographs from top:

top L - Me

top R - George Bernard Shaw

btm R - Eileen Millward and John Chapman

Alison Parton my web-designer http://www.notatoad.co.uk

Sunday 12th August 2007 ~ Messages from Beyond



Messages from Beyond

The Rev. John Chapman turned to the congregation one Sunday and told them that they didn’t really need him. “Everything is Spirit” he said “you can reach out and receive messages without the gateway of a medium”.

Translation for 140 languages by ALS

John is essentially right, but it takes time to become more sensitive to the ‘otherworld’. If you think of yourself as a radio or television receiver that is out of tune and that the process of your spiritual searching and self-analysis are the means of tuning your receptivity, you will I think get an idea of the development process of psychic awareness.

My own psychic abilities have grown over the last two years, as predicted repeatedly by mediums, both within the Spiritual Church and in the ‘commercial’ tarot, astrological and psychic-reading communities. Nevertheless my last two visits to church have proved to me that John is essentially right. The messages I received on both Sundays were warming and encouraging, but were not in themselves a proof - my own psychic ‘thoughts’ however, caused me to flush with excitement at today’s service when Dad came through…

Last Sunday (5th August)

I didn’t want to go to church – no particular reason except idleness – then the problem of an Almanack entry came into my head, a head devoid of any theme or idea to write about. Almost at once, I got the impression that Christina wanted me to go because I would find a theme to write about. I abandoned thoughts of a Sunday afternoon in front of the box and set off in the car…

Maureen Hitchin is a delicate bird-like woman, with a childish laugh and an open-ness that I have found in quite a few of her peers. I could feel the familiar tension and fullness in the middle of my forehead and so it was no surprise to me when she came to me first.

The message Maureen gave to me was accurate and yet could apply to a lot of deceased mothers:-

Maureen described a “Wonderful Lady” (Christina) around 5’3” in height, not fat but a little bit cuddly. She reported breathing problems when she was here. She said that Christina was very loving and at most times very spiritual, but that she was occasionally ‘brought down’ by the atrocities in injustice she saw all around her. Maureen commented that Christina did not have many friends or family and that she was not ready to die and even at age 90, wanted to remain in this life. She then said that my mother was so happy now and quoted her as saying that the afterlife was “Wonderful”. Maureen also said that my mother was so pleased at the way things had turned out for me and my projects and that she would continue to help me.

I returned home and decided to write up the account of Maureen’s contact with my mother, however the pressure of last week’s rehearsals and sheer tiredness, made me put off the entry, which was just as well because the experience of today’s church visit brings home to me that the proof I search for is further born out by the fact that I preconceived the moment of contact with my parents. The excitement I feel is that I am on the other side of the fence and instead of wondering if the medium is genuine or not, I now have my own truth and proof.

This Sunday 12th August.

I had gone to church this afternoon, without any feelings from Christiana. My mind was drifting around as Polly Daniels gave out messages. My thoughts turned to my father and I realised that I almost never think of him when it comes to contacting the after-existence and that I seldom reach out and try to contact his spirit. The thought made me sad and guilty, so I at once told him I loved him and that I wanted to contact his spirit.

Almost at once, Polly turned to me. “I have a father-figure here….”

‘till the next time

25th February ~ All The World’s a Stage…

~Sunday is most people’s day off. It should be perfect - a proper rest and change from the preceding week. So often however, it turns out to be rainy, boring, and too full of family arguments. ~ “Sunday Bloody Sunday” ~ It’s understandable I guess; we play our parts all week and by the weekend it is so often a case of “Will the real Me stand up.”
Shakespeare wrote: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players“. As an actor, I emerge from and then return to my dressing-room, at the begining and end of each performance. It sounds very like the Afterlife and I’m sure that Shakespeare was well aware of the analogy. It becomes more fascinating, if I consider my life, outside the dressing-room and the theatre. I would not consider the Australian Bar opposite the Manchester Opera House as being Heaven, but in a way it is. I am no longer an actor, smiling and laughing for an on and off-stage audience, irrespective of my real internal feelings; I am part of and happily anonymous, within a larger picture – just being “me”. I can remember rushing home each weekend, to enjoy my “free” time. Once at home, I would so often, become bored and unsure of what to do and neglectful of my family, as I irritably spent Sunday, on a fruitless search for the “I” in infinity.~

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on…”

“I” had woken from my dreams this morning, feeling pretty good, but it was in church that the real Joy started. Each week we have a different ‘medium’, on a sort of spiritual touring circuit, around our area. Today we had Aileen Davies, a redoubtable lady I had never met before. Aileen turned, “May I come to you Sir…” “Yes” I replied. Aileen then described my mother, “Expressive and theatrical, although she was not on the stage” “An elegant lady, beautiful in her time”. Aileen then sensed lilies, my mother liked ‘lily of the valley’ soaps and perfumes. At this point, I started to hope that at last, after nearly two years, that my mother was contacting me. The messages became more direct; “She suffered with her breathing; she had problems with her heart…she died suddenly.” That was true. Then: “She is your mentor, she will guide and support you with your new project.” Aileen went on to tell me that Christina had written a lot, particularly poems and that I had all her writings and read them often - that my project was a literary one which had just begun and that I should go through “the gate”. I was so happy and kept thinking of the words the farmer heard in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, he will come”. I’m still wary - ever the doubter, but the accuracy of Aileen’s contact with my mother, made my Perfect Sunday.

We are such stuff As Dreams are made on


“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts…”
William Shakespeare

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