That summer in 1971, I was with my husband and children in the mountains of northern Georgia while he was working with the camera crew of the movie "Deliverance." On weekends, some of the cast and crew and their families would take the rafts out on the river for a little R&R. They filmed on the same part of the Chattahoochee River we rafted on and, of the eight of us on this particular Sunday afternoon, four of us, including myself, had rafted down this stretch before.
But the river was different this time. Low, from several days of no rain. Different paths had to be taken through the many rapids.
On the last set of rapids, we made an almost fatal mistake. The raft I was in got turned around, went over a four foot drop backwards, and became stuck there by the churning action of the water.
The raft was trapped in a hydraulic, a white-water phenomenon, which held the raft against the rocks. I was thrown out and got caught between the raft and the rocks, with the force of the river pouring down on my head and the suction of the hydraulic motion pulling me under. A man inside the raft held my arm and tried to pull me back into the raft, but the most he could do was enable me to catch an occasional quick breath before the water sucked me back down. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place!
Very consciously and calmly, no panic at all, I knew I was going to die, it was just a matter of how. Being smashed into the rocks was painful, so I decided drowning was the better choice. The next time my head popped out of the water, with my last breath, I told him to let go and he did. I felt the water pull me under and I relaxed into it. I knew there was no point in struggling as I breathed in the water, and everything went black. For a moment...
The next thing I knew I was a hundred feet above the river, looking down at the raft stuck against the rocks below. I saw the two men in the raft looking for me to come out from underneath. I saw the other woman, who had been in our raft, downstream, clinging to a rock. I watched my husband and my teenage sister, who had rafted, without incident, down the rapids ahead of us, come running back up the hill to find out why all the debris was floating down the river. We had taken everything out of their raft and put it into ours in case they flipped over, but they went down so easily, we just jumped in to follow them down.
From above, I watched my husband climb onto a rock in the river. He couldn't hear what the two men still in the raft were shouting to him over the roar of the water. He had no idea where I was or what had happened, but he knew I was missing. He looked as if he wanted to jump in to try to find me and I suddenly found myself at his side, trying to stop him because he wasn't much of a swimmer and I knew there was no point. When I reached out to stop him, my hand went right through him. I looked at my hand and thought... oh, my god, I'm dead!
In that instant, total knowledge of reality appeared to me and I saw the multi-dimensionality of the universe. My consciousness expanded so far beyond the physical plane that I was no longer aware of it, nor of myself. I was so much a part of it all, there was no distinction. It was a brilliant flash of light and I was allowed to see into it for a brief moment and experience a feeling of love so profound, powerful and overwhelming that I can only describe it as pure Bliss (even though that doesn't begin to describe it).
Suddenly, I was whisked away and found myself traveling rapidly through a vortex toward a beautiful white light in the far, far distance. I continued to experience an overwhelming feeling of love within me and around me. There was no fear, no anxiety, and no worry. I even felt as if I'd done this before and was remembering that I was going home. I was filled with joy. I had no sense of a body, no feeling of limitations or boundaries. Yet, I was still me and aware that I was having this experience.
Before long, I realized I wasn't alone. There was someone, whom I can only describe as a Loving Being of Light, traveling beside me... at the speed of light! We communicated mentally. This was someone I have always known and I knew that as soon as I sensed the presence of this being. Yet I cannot now tell you now who it was. I didn't have the sense that it was any familiar religious figure or deceased relative, but rather a special friend who is always with me wherever I am; perhaps, my guardian angel. This Being told me telepathically that I had a choice about going back. I thought, no, no, no, I want this to go on forever!
Suddenly, we burst into the light and a whole new reality was revealed to me, similar to the physical world, but, in this higher vibration, more colorful, more beautiful, more amazing. I saw plants, trees, mountains, lakes, animals, and shimmering crystal-like buildings, some very large and ornate. I saw beings moving about, light beings, going about their daily lives. They don't have physical bodies, but they are distinct fields of energy. They don't walk, they float. They have lives much like ours, but without the struggles and sorrows. They are artists, musicians, dancers, singers, inventors, builders, healers, creators of magical things... things they will manifest in their next lifetime in the physical universe.
Again, the Being of Light told me it was my choice to stay or go, but that there was more for me to do in that life and it wasn't quite time for me to leave. Still hesitating, I was told that if I chose to go back, I would be given certain knowledge to take back with me to share with others. After much discussion, I agreed to go back and suddenly found myself in front of a tall cone-shaped building; so tall, it seemed to go on forever. I was told this was the Hall of Knowledge. I entered the building and flew, spiraling upwards, through what appeared to be shelves of books, like in a library, many millions of books, and I flew through them all. When I reached the top, I burst through it into a kaleidoscope of colors and, at the same time, my head popped out of the water. I was down river about ten yards from the raft.
I immediately became aware of where I was and grabbed for the nearest rock. I was able to pull myself up and I coughed up a lot of water. I was in a state of shock, but needed no medical attention. I don't know how long I was under the raft, no one was looking at their watch at the time. It could have been three or four minutes, it could have been ten. There was no time where I had been.
I can't say that I was clinically dead, but I have no memory of struggling under the water or trying to hold my breath till I reached the surface. (I've been a swimmer, water skier, scuba diver, and surfer, so I've had plenty of close calls under water before when I thought I might die, but nothing like this. These other times I remember perfectly well struggling to reach the surface, my lungs about to burst.) What I do remember during the time my body was in the water under the raft is what I have told you.
Date NDE Occurred: 8/1/1971
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Accident Life threatening event, but not clinical death possibly hypothermia from the cold waterWe were white-water river rafting. I got sucked out of the raft and was stuck between our raft and a torrent of water pouring down on my head. I couldn't breathe and complete loss of control.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Positive
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes I didn't see me. Having a body or not didn't seem important.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? I was completely alert and aware of what was going on. My consciousness was way beyond my normal waking consciousness, I was aware of everything in the Universe and how it all works as One. I knew I was in the presence of God without 'seeing' God. There was no fear, only love all around me.
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning There was no space or time... very hard to explain otherwise. It seemed like I was gone for days but only minutes could have passed.
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Yes I felt I was traveling through the tunnel at the speed of light, but it was really hard to tell if I was still and lights were streaking past me, or I was streaking past the lights. I saw it as the effect of a transition between dimensions.
The experience included: Presence of deceased persons
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Yes There was a Being of Light with me in the tunnel. I knew who it was then but can't tell you now. Someone I have known through eternity... not a religious figure, possibly my guardian angel. We had a great deal of telepathic communication but I can't tell you what was communicated as it wasn't in words. This Being showed me around on the other side where I saw many other light beings going about their lives. The only communication I remembered is that it wasn't my time to go, I had more work to do in this life, and if I chose to go back, I would be given access to knowledge that would help me with my mission.
The experience included: Void
The experience included: Darkness
The experience included: Light
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes In the tunnel experience, I seemed to be headed toward a brilliant clear light which got bigger as I approached it. Bright as it was, it wasn't blinding... it was love and warmth. It became huge and I passed through it into another realm of existence.
The experience included: A landscape or city
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm After I passed through the light, I found myself in a beautiful environment, something of a pastoral scene with mountains, lakes, grass. There was no 'sun' but light emanated from everything and was everywhere. I saw crystalline structures, buildings of all sizes, some very tall and ornate. Colors were more brilliant than on earth. It all felt very normal, nothing weird.
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Overwhelming unconditional love throughout... exhilaration... amazement... wonder... awe... freedom... great joy... bliss... peace... gratitude...
The experience included: Special Knowledge
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe I understood everything... how we come to earth, why, what happens when we die, where we go after death, what our spiritual journey is all about, God-All That Is, the beginning of the physical universe, how life began, the progression of the Spirit-Soul-Human returning to the Source... I forgot most of this upon returning but it has been coming back to me over the years.
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future Not consciously, but in the years following I've predicted many things that have come to pass and been a pioneer in the field of consciousness raising. Many things I've started have become mainstream years later.
Did you come to a border or point of no return? I came to a barrier that I was not permitted to cross; or was sent back against my will I was really into this experience and didn't want to return... had no thoughts or emotions about loved ones left behind, but the Being of Light was convincing that it was important for me to return. I wasn't angry or upset in any way, didn't really have a chance because as soon as I agreed to go back, I was pulled back immediately.
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What was your religion prior to your experience? reading (philosophy, psychology, spirituality, metaphysics), writing, gardening, exploring the wilderness, watching sunsets and the stars, spending time with my children and playing with my grandkids Liberal
What is your religion now? I attended Christian churches (Christian Science, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian) infrequently throughout childhood. Converted to Catholicism in high school, married in the Church, had my 3 children baptized, then left the Church at age 27 and never went back. None of what I had learned made any sense nor had any relevance to my life. I was a borderline agnostic-atheist at the time of my experience. Liberal
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes Certainly my beliefs changed dramatically as I described above, but my whole attitude toward life changed also. I ended up divorced a couple of years later. Personal and spiritual growth became more important than living a normal life. I went back to college and earned degrees in psychology. My focus became helping others rather than getting more for myself. I became very non-materialistic. Life's little problems don't bother me anymore; I just go with the flow.
The experience included: Presence of unearthly beings
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes I could talk about the out-of-body part but after that, I had nothing in my experience to relate it to, I just didn't have the words... it's like trying to describe a sunset to a blind person.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes Many of my clients ask me if I'm psychic but I don't claim to be. I just seem to know things. I have channeled written information that comes from I don't know where. I haven't tried to develop or really explore these gifts.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The best part was having the experience, the worst was being treated like a crazy person because I said I did. But I am so grateful for it because it freed me from fear of death and allowed me to live a life I never would have lived without it.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes The people I told at first dismissed it as some kind of fantasy so I stopped sharing it for many years. It was fifteen years before I mentioned it again at a time and place where people were more open to hearing it. Since then I have told my story at many gatherings and written about it and what I learned. It is through my web site that I have touched many lives and many people have emailed me telling me how my story has changed their lives and opened their minds.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Yes I was able to re-experience the tunnel experience during meditation, but it wasn't quite the same and I went no further than the tunnel, there was no clear light. I also experienced a life review during meditation. I would like to mention something else that isn't talked about much and that's hallucinogens. Hoping to recreate the experience, I've tried several drugs, including LSD, mushrooms, and ecstasy. These experiences were all wonderful, interesting, intriguing, fascinating, but there is a big difference. Yes, you get to explore other levels of consciousness but there is often a feeling of loss of control and fear that does not occur during an NDE. With the drugs, there is a surreal feeling, but with the NDE it feels more real than this life. With drugs, it's more an experience is happening to you. With the NDE, you're the experience, the experience is of yourself, your consciousness. A good thing about hallucinogens though is that they give people (who haven't had an NDE) a glimpse into altered states of consciousness and an awareness that there is more to us than we've been led to believe.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? I had read the Bible before my NDE and can't say I understood it or appreciated it, but during my experience, I had a revelation about it. I read it again after my experience and I understood it completely... no longer through a glass darkly. And not anything like I learned in Bible study. Actually the Bible helped me put my experience into words... it's all there, you just have to read from a different level of consciousness to see it. I realized that a lot of it was about what people back then learned through their own near death experiences. People haven't stopped having them, we're just more vocal about it today. Back then, others thought people who claimed to have mystical experiences were saints, today they call us nut cases or try to explain it away scientifically so we don't cast doubt on their long held beliefs based on a wrong world view.