Sacred Sites, the Path of Souls, and Guardian Spirits
By Brent Raynes
Saturday afternoon, August 13th. My wife Joan and I gather with several others in the home of a distinguished Tennessee neurosurgeon, Dr. Arthur Cushman. The meeting room has numerous shelves and display cases filled with ancient Native American artifacts that rival most museums I’ve been in. Everywhere I turn I discover another unique and fascinating object. I feel like a kid in a candy store! We each take turns asking Dr. Cushman about the various artifacts we see and he patiently responds to each of our questions.
After everyone has arrived and introductions have been made, Dr. Cushman picks up a small drum and beating it lightly leads us in a Native American-based ceremony in which we face each of the four cardinal directions, meditating upon certain beneficial spiritual energies and attributes traditionally associated with each. In addition, he also has us meditate upon the Upper World realm (straight up) and the Under World realm (straight down), as well as our own inner center, right where we are. He explains that while this ceremony will last only a few minutes, a few months ago he attended one near California’s Baja and Sonora, Mexico, that lasted for several hours.
Afterwards, Dr. Cushman got down to the business of what he had called us all together to talk about. “I’ve been collecting Indian artifacts for a long time, primarily from this area,” he began. “They just started coming to me. People would bring them to me. Some of them they gave to me, some they sold to me, some were expensive and some were very cheap. They told me that they felt that I needed to have them. I had no idea what they meant. Dozens of them from all over this area, and most of them are late prehistoric or Mississippian, from about 800 A.D. to 1300. They all seem to be telling a story, and I was fascinated by what the story was and what it meant, but I really couldn’t find any information on it. So the Rosetta Stone for deciphering the Path of Souls, or the Great Serpent as it has also been called by the Mississippian culture, was accomplished in two ways. One was a careful study of the iconography. A friend of mine in Texas, Dr. Kent Reilly, has had a study group that studied all of this iconography and then they compared it with legends and myths of the Native Americans. A lot of this was recorded in the late 18th and early 19th centuries before all of the information was lost. They found that the myth of the Path of Souls, or what happens to a person after they die, is essentially the same, and this has been traced all the way across Asia to Tibet and then down into South America.”
I first became aware of Dr. Cushman’s deep and abiding passion for preserving Native American history and culture last year when a copy of a newspaper article from The Tennessean (dated 12/28/08) came to my attention. It told of how a site near Nashville called Mound Bottom, located along the Harpeth River, contained a group of 1,000-year-old Indian Mounds. A developer had his eye on some property nearby, when Dr. Cushman purchased 65 acres to keep a suburban division from popping up near it. “I believe, as Chief Seattle said, ‘We belong to the Earth. The Earth does not belong to us,” Dr. Cushman told reporter Jennifer Brooks. “This area is still considered sacred. The earth is sacred, the trees are sacred.”
There’s certainly no doubt in my mind whatsoever that Dr. Cushman is very passionate when it comes to Native American history, culture, and spirituality. Interspersed here and there between the sharing of his deep research into iconographic images and their meanings, Dr. Cushman also shared with the small group very personal and fascinating insights and non-ordinary anomalous experiences that he had had along the way. His life journey has certainly been anything but dull and ordinary.
For example, he paused at one point and showed us all a half dollar sized gorget (see picture). He described how some twenty years ago, this object had been given to him by a Clarksville man. The artifact had allegedly been found in an ancient “stone box grave” in that area. Then about five years ago, the man contacted Dr. Cushman and offered him $8,000 to get it back. Dr. Cushman agreed and had placed it in his car, inside a small cardboard box. However, on his way to work he stopped briefly at a pharmacy and when he came out it was gone! He got to his office and he looked through his car, along with office staff, and no one could find a trace of it. He called the police and his insurance company to report it stolen. When he returned home he and his wife Carolyn went through the car again, and again could not find it.
He had given up. Then something extraordinary happened. “I just suddenly felt, ‘I’m going to look one more time,” Dr. Cushman said. “So I went down and opened the car door and it was sitting right on the driver’s seat. So I picked it up and I said, ‘What are you trying to tell me?’ Then the spirit of the ancient medicine man who had owned it stood there and said, ‘I was a very powerful medicine man. This has been given to you and to your loan. You’re not to sell it, you’re not to give it away, and you’ll eventually learn the meaning of it.”
In essence, this is what this meeting was about – Dr. Cushman’s search for meaning of such things. “There are three concentric circles that make up three different worlds,” he explained, pointing to the artifact. “The Middle World, the Upper World, and the Under World.” As you can see in the photograph, three circular rings encircle the symbol of the cross, the four directions.
In Dr. Cushman’s presentation he described the Native American afterlife concept wherein a departed spirit enters the mouth of a huge sky serpent and traverses the Milky Way to a final cosmic destination that equates with our notion of heaven. I was quite interested to note that he mentioned the star system of Cygnus in his cosmic gateway to the afterlife, as I had met British author Andrew Collins and talked with him about global afterlife myths in connection with Cygnus just a few months before his book The Cygnus Mystery was published.
Noted Nashville investigative mythologist William Henry was scheduled to attend this small gathering, but was unable to make it due to a sudden and unexpected illness in his family. I am sure that had he attended he would have had much to interject into this event as he has written and lectured much about the cosmic serpent archetype as a portal to the afterlife. “In the company of some gods the Pharaoh enters a ‘Serpent’ inside which he is to ‘shed the skin’ and emerge ‘in the form of a rejuvenated Ra,” he wrote of the Egyptian afterlife concept in his book Oracle of the Illuminati. He also quoted Harold Bayley who noted: “Osiris enters the tail of a great serpent, was drawn through its body and came out through it mouth, and was then born anew.” Henry added that mysterious ancient beings known to the Gnostics as the Archons (who some modern ufologists have compared to the abducting greys) were encountered in ones afterlife journey in all seven heavens. “All we need to do is substitute the word ‘Grey’ for ‘Archon’ and we have the essential Gnostic story of the creation of humanity,” Henry wrote. In each heaven the soul had to provide the correct password in order to continue its journey. Henry added that Egyptians held a similar view, and noted that the Mayans believed that the Milky Way gave us seven powers known as K’ul. “They are distributed in our bodies,” he wrote. “The Mayans mastered these sacred powers to become Quetzalcoatl or Kukulkan. Kan or can is Mayan word for ‘serpent’ and ‘four’ and alludes to the highest esoteric knowledge of the Maya.”
The challenges of the journey to the spirit world definitely sound a bit tricky, to put it mildly. Dr. Cushman described a widespread Native American afterlife belief system, largely inspired by the deep trances of their medicine men, much of which was unknown to me, and I am pretty sure the other attendees as well, and it pertained to specific burial arrangements that were made after death and what these ancient people believed happened to a person’s spirit upon dying.
Dr. Cushman explained that at death one had two soul components that were released from the physical body. One soul force went into the earth, according to this belief, and if not buried properly could bother the living. At times, these ancestors would break the bones or drill holes in the bones of the dead in order to make sure that life force entered the earth properly. The other, which he referred to as the free spirit, guided by spirit guides or ancient ones if you will, ascended up into the heavens and would enter “into a dark tunnel, the mouth of a serpent.” There he would experience a complete life review, a process that reminds me of what near-death experiencers frequently describe.
Next he would be on a shoreline and observe the Great Severed Hand constellation (what we know as Orion) sinking into the ocean. As it was sinking into the ocean, the spirit of this former human being would dive into the water, seeking a portal contained within this constellation. This portal was to be found in what we call the Belt of Orion, seeking to get through the middle star of the three, known by the Mayan’s as the Hearth Stones of Creation, and by astronomers as M42. “It’s one of the most active places in our Milky Way galaxy,” Dr. Cushman noted. “It’s where new stars are being produced. That’s a portal.”
If one failed to enter that portal, then they had to return to earth as a poltergeist or a malevolent spirit. But if they succeeded in entering the portal, then they would continue their journey inside the serpent, now in the Underworld, until reaching a bridge located at Sirius, Canis Major, with two dogs (appropriately enough) guarding that bridge. He explained that in Greek mythology it was a double headed dog that stood at the bridge of Sirius. You had to feed the dog(s) and be nice to it (them) or else your journey might not end so nicely. After all, the bridge could be very narrow and shaky. You might fall off (maybe even get pushed, eh?) and end up back on earth as an ordinary ghost, a mindless phantom who repeats the same activities over and over again, like walking along the same hallway, through the same doorway, endlessly.
“Then you come to a split in the Milky Way,” Dr. Cushman says. “This is located at the Great Eagle. We call it Cygnus or the Northern Cross, or the Summer Triangle. Anyway, where the Milky Way divides there is a left hand and a right hand path. The right hand goes to Deneb and the left hand path is a dead end, and at that point is where the Judge of Souls, who is usually depicted as an Eagle Man or an Eagle Dancer, sits.”
The Judge of Souls will ask you various questions, according to whatever particular lore and traditions one’s tribe happens to subscribe to. Dr. Cushman says that one common question asked is how many people on earth were better because of your presence in their lives. If you fail this test, then you go to the dead end where you ponder things for awhile and meet with spirit guides who presumably can council you. Then you eventually get to go back down the Path of Souls and start all over again, hopefully getting it right next time.
From what Dr. Cushman said, someone who had been really bad in life (he used Hitler as an example) were in danger of having the Judge of Souls eat their brain. I was trying not to dwell too much, at that point, on scenes from Night of the Living Dead.
Dr. Cushman next described how the journey took one’s spirit to the “realm of souls,” what we know as Scorpio or Sagittarius. Here it was believed that our ancestors, ascended masters, angels, archangels and the Creator himself it seems resides. Dr. Cushman stated that there is a dark rift here, that astronomers say all matter in our galaxy came from there. There is a large black hole here at our galaxy’s core. Referring to the ancient Mayans, Dr. Cushman stated, “They knew where the center of the galaxy was.”
“Some of the Christian mystical literature says that when the New Jerusalem comes it’s going to come through the Great Portal in Orion,” Dr. Cushman added.
Gone but not forgotten….
In recent weeks, we’ve lost quite a number of great pioneers and original thinkers in the crusade to enlighten society and science about profound insights and alternative truths. As most of you already know, Budd Hopkins, the founder of the Intruders Foundation and the author of Missing Time, Intruders and Witnessed, passed away on Sunday, August 21st. Loren Coleman posted on his website Cryptomundo: “Many in the community of individuals who follow what can be loosely called Fortean phenomena are calling this a terrible summer. It has been. The deaths of Hilary Evans, Bill Corliss, and Bob Girard have hit us hard, in the heart.” He also mentions others, including famous Mothman witness Linda Scarberry who passed away earlier this year, on March 6th, and of course there is much on his site too about Budd Hopkins’s death.
In addition, author, scientist and former astronaut Brian O’Leary, who I interviewed a couple or so years back for this magazine, passed away at his home in Vilcabama, Ecuador, at age 71, on July 29th. (www.brianoleary.info). Brian had studied and written much about UFOs, the paranormal, quantum physics, and free energy. He was even one of our eZine subscribers. He and so make other comrades at arms in the ongoing struggle for truth and enlightenment shall be deeply missed by so many of us. It hardly seems right to no longer have their council and guidance, though fortunately we still retain informative writings and videos of most of them for us to continue to consult and assimilate.
Oh Yeah! About those Archons and Saturn….
“Supposedly they live or lurk outside the inner planets near Saturn,” researcher Jay Weidner told us in an interview on Rense Radio. What struck me as rather intriguing when I read that is that we have had a first rate mystery well photographed by the space probe known as Cassini in 2006 at Saturn’s north pole….a huge hexagonal-shaped pattern! It sure looks weird!! However, researchers at Oxford seem determined to burst our bubble as they claim that they have duplicated this strange looking effect in the laboratory. Using a slow spinning cylinder of water to represent Saturn’s atmosphere and a small, rapidly rotating ring that was supposed to represent the jet stream (plus they added fluorescent green dye) they reportedly got a pretty well-defined hexagon! For more information on this mystery and the Oxford experiment and explanation, go to: http://news.discovery.com/space/saturns-north-pole-hexagon-mystery-solved.html.