Magical Powers and Painted Hills 23


Painted Hills, John Day

I am going to share a secret that I have shared with only three people in my life. But first, the context.

tent camping, BLM, Bureau of Land Management, John Day, Painted Hills, Mitchell, Oregon

Our tent and our dog on BLM land outside of John Day

My husband, who I call Allen in this blog to maintain his privacy, and I set out on the spring equinox weekend last month to camp. We ventured into an area of central Oregon around 3,000 feet in elevation, near the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The stunning reds, oranges, purples, pinks, greens, yellows, whites, tans, and blues that color these hills have developed over millions of years by natural processes.

Painted Hills, John Day

Pink, gold, white, green, and orange

We set up our tent in a primitive campsite on BLM land. The only signs of people in our valley were the gravel road and two campfire rings assembled from stones by previous campers. We’d brought water. It was below freezing at night, which was as we intended—the ticks and rattlesnakes were unlikely to be active yet.

Painted Hills, John Day National Monument, Oregon

Some hills at John Day seem to have purple horizontal stripes, like the one pictured here in the background.

The next day we hiked for over four hours, including on an old wagon trail, in a dry ravine, on an elk trail, and cross-country where there was little brush—just scrubby junipers, rocks, dry grasses, and occasional wildflowers. Our destination was a summit from where we could get a better view of one of the colorful hills that appeared to have purple horizontal stripes.

Feet at campfire

My husband and I warm our feet at our campfire.

After our evening dinner of stir fry, we huddled by our campfire as the temperature dropped. Our dog wanted the warmth of the tent, so Allen let her in, and then followed. I stayed by the campfire to enjoy the starry night for a long while, knowing it had been far too long since I’d paid full, sustained attention to the sky, and longer still since I had seen the Milky Way in its glory. There were no artificial lights for miles, and the lunar cycle was only in its first hours, its crescent of light an uncertain newborn.

Once I went to bed, I do believe it was the hours I’d spent staring at the sky that rewarded me with a wondrous dream.

I shot effortlessly up into the air, with a dozen astonished villagers watching me from between their small medieval houses. Once I returned to earth, I explained to the people that I had three additional magic powers. In truth, I knew I had more than three, and selecting which three to tell them was arbitrary. Then I picked up a communication from someone who had previously crossed over to death. I realized that communicating with the dead was among my most important magic powers, right up there with flying, and I should have told them.

I tried to help the villagers understand that they could also develop any of these magical powers, if they wanted. They just needed to believe it was possible for them, and then practice.

I woke up delighted. Not long before, I had lamented to Allen that it had become rare for me to have what I refer to as one of my magical power dreams. But this was a spectacular one indeed, because I had never had more than one magical ability in any one dream.

Tree, cloudy sky, Painted Hills, John Day

So this is my secret I promised to tell you: I have experienced many dreams of having magical powers.

My fear of telling this has been that it might seem braggy, or even as if I have delusions of grandeur. Anxiety about this is what comes from having grown up with a mother who once told me–during years when she spent most of her time in bed–she was the reincarnation of Jesus, and she was to lead the world in a New Age. (Strangely, I’m more comfortable sharing that family secret.) But by this point in my life I am confident nobody who knows me will think I harbor such an out-sized sense of myself.

If I consumed more super-hero comics, and fantasy books and films than average, perhaps I would not be so surprised at having such an empowered dream life. Or if I felt more confident and indomitable during my waking life. But as it is, I feel very fortunate that for whatever quirky reason (and I’m sure being my mother’s daughter is part of that reason), I have an amazing dream life that bolsters me as I struggle through my waking life.

My magical power dreams started with flying. Many people have flying dreams, but mine did not come easily. As a young child, I frequently dreamed I strove to fly away from my scary, violent father, and I would flap my arms frantically to escape him, often climbing up onto the top of a wooden fence so I would have the advantage of starting six feet above the ground. But as I clawed at the air he would grab my feet. In those early years, I never got free.

I graduated to glorious flying dreams. For many years, especially in my young adulthood, I extended my arms in front of me Superman style. I swooped down and often gave other people rides on my back, or held their hand to ferry them along through the air.

The next magical power I had was floating in air. These took place inside a building, and I hovered just below the ceiling, watching what was going on with the people in the room who were not aware of my presence.

Occasionally I had magical swimming dreams, and though swimming can be ordinary, these dreams had the same joyful, exhilarating quality as my best flying dreams–zooming under water, or skimming the surface, torpedo speed. Which is nothing like my paltry real-life skills in the water.

Then I experienced an explosion in the variety of magical powers. By day I was humbly working at a desk or sorting family laundry, and by night I was turning invisible, walking through walls, shrinking tiny to dart around undetected, or being able to step out into the air off the upper floor of a skyscraper and hover, returning safely to the floor next to me at will. Some of my dream-time encounters with loved ones who had died left me deeply contented with a sense I had genuinely connected with them during my sleep.

Painted Hills, John Day National Monument, Oregon

Toes of a giant

The dreams were not always pleasant. Several times I dreamed I was thirty or so feet tall, and in a couple of these my size made me an easy target for an angry crowd intent on stoning me. The flying dreams in particular could be frustrating, as sometimes I still faced obstacles that inhibited my travels as when I was very young, and often I found myself confined to flying only a few feet off the ground. But in a couple dreams I was able to easily leave Earth for outer space, even to visit other planets.

Woman flying in her dream

I’d rather fly low than not fly at all!

After our second night sleeping in a tent, Allen and I broke camp. We hiked the enchanted hills of John Day Monument.

Painted Hills, John Day, Orange hill in foreground, purple hills in background

Painted Hills, John Day, White, purple, and navy blue deposits contrast with the red stripes on green hills.

Grateful for so much magic.

Woman's fake flying trick revealed

Well, I can dream, can’t I?


About Maureen Kay

Maureen Kay has just finished writing a novel called Fracture. She blogs about her personal experiences, bigger issues, other authors, and her writing journey.


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23 thoughts on “Magical Powers and Painted Hills

  • Carlo

    Well I can really relate to this sort of thing, though in my latter years I have become more of a skeptic of super nature, as I feel day to day nature is super enough. But I do believe the fantastic worlds that inhabit our biological mind, whether biochemical in nature or truly out of some unknown mystic transport element we don’t currently understand, there is power. And I feel it is a sort of power that taps the Universe.
    Anyway, nicely written Maureen. And thanks for sharing the workings of your inner self, so to emphasize. I really enjoy these type of discussions.

    • Maureen Kay Post author

      Thanks, Carlo, I like that sentiment, that day-to-day nature is super enough, while appreciating the power of “the fantastic worlds that inhabit our biological mind…” that can tap into the power of the universe. Thanks for adding more layers to this!

  • zzeuqram

    Interesting. I looked up what this meant on the Internet, and each power has a different meaning. Flying often involves trying to escape a situation. Understandable, considering your hard childhood. I know that many of my dreams are story-like. Quite entertaining, actually. Personally, I think dreams allow us to go beyond our mundane and prosaic lives. They’re our minds and spirits set free.

    • Maureen Kay Post author

      Wow, I’d like to hear more about what you learned! I did think it interesting when I wrote it out that my magical powers of my dream life tended to fall into two camps–one more along the idea of escaping, and the other more along the idea of sneaking/eavesdropping! Kind of makes sense I became interested in fiction writing, on both accounts, at a very young age, as creating stories is a means to escape, and observing others more than participating with others tends to describe children who evolve into writers.

  • Mary Dessein

    Maureen!
    I love your secret, the idea of keeping such wonder to yourself reminds me how so often we seem to be afraid of ourselves. I know I have been, limited myself because everything might go off the rails if I didn’t. Dreaming, powers, talking with ancestors: thank you ~
    best,
    Mary

    • Maureen Kay Post author

      Thanks, Mary! So true about limiting ourselves from fear, and sometimes legitimate, helpful fears. I find exposing myself to others through my writing very frightening, and yet it’s always what I have wanted to do in life. This has been a core dilemma for me.

      The closer my novel is to being finished, the more frightened I am of the idea of others reading it. That was what motivated me to post this secret. I kept thinking, if I can’t share something like this, there’s no way I can let people read what I’ve written in my novel.

      I wish you many happy, magical, empowering dreams! As well as safety and protection in waking life, while finding all the waking empowerment you wish for.

  • Padma

    Hi Maureen. I had to read this post — some of my favorite topics ever — dreams, spirituality, the mind’s abilities.
    We are sympatico that way — I have notebooks full of such dreams. For many years when I knew I was dreaming, I would choose to fly thru the stars. I loved it. I felt blissed out in ways I never can during waking life. But after awhile I decided I had more important things to accomplish than the thrill of flying the cosmos and so I mostly went on to other things, when given the choice during lucid dreaming. Sadly, as I age, these types of dreams are now rare. And I do miss cosmic flying! I think looking at stars and being out in nature can increase the chances of these dreams.

    • Maureen Kay Post author

      Thanks for sharing your amazing lucid dreaming experiences, Padma! It sounds like you have had a lot more lucid dreams than I have had. I think of lucid dreaming as involving a different kind of awareness–a heightened awareness–than in a typical state, as dreams that seem exceptionally real, and as when you sometimes know you’re dreaming and can control what happens next. I do love them when I have them. Some of my dreams about deceased loved ones (even dogs) have been lucid–but others more typical-type dreams. It sounds like you evolved your dream skills to an exceptional ability to control them and provide yourself euphoric experiences, and a bigger-picture awareness.

      Keeping a dream journal is a great way to develop a rich dreaming life. I have only recorded dreams sporadically, but recording dreams does make a difference in the brain prioritizing putting such experiences into the “remember upon waking up” part of the brain. Also–and I read this in a book after figuring out myself to do it–trying to recall a dream before moving your head or opening your eyes first thing upon waking helps a lot.

      I credit my mother, more than anyone, in starting me early in valuing and developing my dream life. In our family, instead of greeting each other first thing in the morning with “How are you?” or “How did you sleep?” it was “What did you dream?” or more typically, hearing about our mother’s dream. Certain books and other conversations developed my interest in dreaming further.

      • Padma

        thanks Maureen. Of course not all my dreams have been lucid. Perhaps more than many people, but I also value “ordinary” dreams which can teach you things about yourself, your mind, the universe. and you can have very enriching, exciting, enlightening dreams without knowing at the time you are dreaming.
        Yes, keeping a journal helps, but I only record ones I view as valuable. Though sometimes the ordinary ones can be prophetic.
        And yes, even though our family can be crazy or mean, it’s good to realize we got something good from them. My mother would say “it was just a dream,” and write them off when I told her any as a child. She didn’t believe I could astral travel either. Yet, she would sometimes know who was on the phone before picking up, even if she hadn’t talked to them in years but she poo-poo’d all psychic stuff.
        I could go on indefinitely about my dreams, other people’s dreams, dream practices …
        I hope to see more of these type of posts on your blog!

  • Jay Renaud

    Time to trumpet your good fortune! Your own copious fountain of what the Elizabethans termed “fancy” — i.e. what we usually call the “imagination”. Possession defines the person with the capacity to create art.

    Possession can be a bounty or a curse, depending on the chances of one’s life, but lacking it no one creates.

  • margaret

    I love this blog post. First being in a magical place and then experiencing magical powers when you drift off to sleep. I notice that my dream life waxes and wanes. When I was pregnant I had dreams that I never wanted to end. They were full of powerful images. When I was very sick for 2 years, my dreams every night were the same. I was walking through a thick pudding like substance, I couldn’t see very well and I had thick “stuff” coming out of my mouth. In each dream, someone would come and guide me out of this morass. One time I remember it was a dear friend of mine who had passed away 8 years earlier. Once, I was better I started to have flying dreams. I was powerful and would jump in the air and fly over cities and towns. I think our dreams are very telling with what is going on in our physical lives.

    • Maureen Kay Post author

      Thank you for adding those important dream experiences to this conversation, Margaret. So wonderful about the guide and the deceased friend who would come to lead you out of the morass. It’s so wonderful your health has improved, and that your dreams have become so empowered and fantastic!

  • Allyssa Axell

    Love how the camera pulls back on your “Low Flying Through the Firmament” self-portrait – you bedecked with a starry blue and violet gauzy veil – to reveal you grounded and secured atop a beach towel draped physical object. With an impish expression: “See?”

    • Maureen Kay Post author

      So glad you enjoyed the silly photos of me “flying”! Yes, while Allen took that last photo, the plastic laundry hamper I had turned upside down to balance on was giving out and sinking–so I was getting increasingly “grounded”!

  • Susan

    I’m sad dreams do not visit me at night. What’s that about?

    The story was wonderfully absorbing and the photos stunning. Take me to a new spot!