The Conjure Woman

The Conjure Woman
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From "Psychic Journey, the making of a seer" by Arthur J. Burks

Arthur J. Burks

From "Psychic Journey, the making of a seer" by Arthur J. Burks

"Written on the Wind"

Mrs. Burks, the Dominicana and I were living in the hosue of a friend, in Flushing, Long Island, just prior to WWII. We had reached a place in our economic life in which we could not turn. I had been a successful writer for many years, but had sold little or ntohing in recent months. There were many other frustrations and difficulties. Beyond the reach of friends, I was trying to regain control of my writing ability.

I was using the upstairs office of a writre friend, who with his family was cruising in the Carribean. Mrs. Burks and the Dominicana rattled aimlessly around in the big house, until one or the other, I don't know which, decided to try some table-tipping, which neither had ever before tried.

This table-tipping had been going on for some days, and the two women were hilarious over the tables' antics and the utterly idiotic "answers" they got to questions. I went downstairs occasionally, but never took part in the table-tipping. It was pure nonsense, I knew, for I had myself fooled many people with its trickrey.

I did note that once the table turned clear over on its top and slid along the floor, with the girls' hands touching the upthrust legs. But was too concerned wtih the absoloutely necessary task of turning out a salable story to pay much attention.

One afternoon I had just started a novelette, had written about six pages of it - I usually did a pulp novelette in two sittings - when Mrs. Burks called up the stairs:

"Is there anything written on the window up there anyway?"

"Why do you ask?" I felt a little creepy here, for neither of the women had ever invaded the office, and certainly it hadn't been since I started my current novelette.

"We just received a message that is somehow different from all the others we've had. It isn't finished. It's just "written on the wind", which we guess to mean that something is written on the window, but we can't find anything down here."

Dominican 'Zemi' or Ghost/Ancestor, 13th-15th Century
Somewhat gingerly, I pushed aside the first six pages of my new novelette, piled in reverse order at my right hand, as I had taken them from teh typewriter. Somewhat startled, I read my title again: "Written on the Wind". I pushed back my chair, started downstairs, intent on disposing of whatever mystery there might be, with a few pointed, well chosen words....

...I suppose almost everyone has 'got messages' on a table. Two or more people sit around a small table, palms flat but lightly held, on the table's top. When, and if, the table begins to tilt back and forth, its legs alternately off the floor, teh result is "raps", one for 'no' two for 'no answer' or 'I don't know', three for yes. It's an ancient code, via which much nonsense has been spread abroad.



But I sensed there was no nonsense here.

"Who and what", I began grimly, "are you?"

The table answered, "spirit"..."death is nothing to be afraid of".

So what? Who was afraid of t? We were born condemned to die, and as matters then stood with the three of us, agood riddance. I had nothing to say...

"Reincarnation follows."

This I couldn't believe, couldn't go for, but as a writer, I was interested in everything...

"Just who are you?" I demanded again.

The Opium Wars
"I was a sergeant in the Marine Corps." rapped out the table. "I served in China with you. I died of TB and was buried at sea. I have been with you for six years."

"What for?" I demanded, "In what capacity?"

"Guide", came the answer. That settled it. Too many crimes had been committed in the names of guides as various kinds, mostly Indians, Hindus, Persians or Egyptians. But by dead marines?...

...:"you don't like the word guide, I see," it said. 'Maybbe you can suggest a better word."

"Not that I believe in any of this because,"

The table interrupted me, "...because", it went on, "you've played so many tricks on people with the table yourself."

Neithr Mrs. Burks or the Dominicana knew that I had ever played such tricks...

"Well," I said, "how about using the word 'monitor'..."

"It's better," agreed the table. "And I don't like this table either. I've had to take long steps backward, spiritually, to reach you this way. We'll find better ways as we make progress together. First, you're not to discuss me with anyone else unless I say so. Second I am not allowed to compel or coerce you in any way. I am not allowed to interfere with your free will...my first piece of advice to you, even as I start the task of convincing you of the truth of what and who I am, is this: never try to convince anyone...

...after he had established himself to my satisfaction, at least I had enough "proof" to know we had started something or other, he rapped out...

..."Rome," he said, "wasn't built in a day...other monitors are with us but it will be some weeks before you're ready for them. Meanwhile there will be daily sessions. Goodbye now, I must answer a subconscious call."

"But monitors..." I began, "Does everybody have one or more?"

"One, one only from birth to death, unless..."

We knew he was gone but where? And just why, after so many years, were we being contacted by whatever he was? Was visitation hellish, satanic? We did not believe it, for oen of the first things he said was this:

Dominican Baca Spirit Ritual Mask
"Ask LO (the Dominicana), to teach you how to pray. And be grateful to the all powerful that we are being granted this chance for direct communication."

We knew whatever it was seemed religious, but I didn't believe in what I regarded as the mummery of prayer...

I know showed my wife and our friend the novelette I had started, entitled Written on teh Wind. Later, the spirit finished his comment on those four words with this..."Its' a good story. Don't spoil it."

I did spoil it though, for nobody ever bought it. I blamed the rejection on the fact of the surprising "appearance", which, understandably, upset my equilibrium somewhat.

But sales of other writing picked upp; such sales will be referred to only because of the spirits' influence on tehm. I hasten to add that he never, as far as I know, helped me sell anything.

A new life began for three harrassed people. It proved one thing to us: life never reaches a dead end for anybody; when it seems to anyone that it has, or is about to, and there is no way to turn, no turning back, the "All Powerful" steps in or, perhaps sends a messanger.

Pre-Columbian Zemi
..."what is a monitor? What is his, or her job?"

"To advise, help, but never to compel. Usually your contact is by way of hunches, the voice of revelation, the voice of conscience."...

..."We're no different from you, except that we are what you call 'dead' which, to us, means simply taht we exist in our finer bodies, in which you can't see us."...

..."How do we happen to be together now...?"

"Karma...as ye sow, so shall ye reap", he quoted. "What you fail to pay in one life you pay in another...the Universe is ruled by one exact, perfect law. Nobody punishes anybody. When man transgresses law, he automatically brings about his own punishment"...

WWII was pretty well underway at this time, though we were not in it yet, and the Carribian cruise of our friends, who had loaned us their house, had been cut short. They were cruisng on a German boat, the Columbus, and were set ashore when the Columbus made a break for home. It was later scuttled, as most readers remember. Our hosts came home.

"What can we tell tehm:" we asked. "Or do we just keep quiet, with no table-tipping or anything until we can find an apartment n the city?"

"Tell them", he rapped, "They are not quite ready for what we are teaching, but you can't go into your rooms and lock your doors...they have to know, but there will be complications, so you should find an apartment as soon as you politely can."

Our hosts, (Norvell and Audrey), came in on us, got on sleep, and then we told them. They were eager, interested, excited and my writer friend a littlre jealous, as we had been warned he would be.

"You've got the inside track on something." He opined. "From now on you should go to town in every department. Everything you write ought to sell."...

Our hosts had one son, (Mac), and he was excluded from all knowledge of this and monitors in general. He would 'make cnotact' at the propre time, his father was told, though later the father filled teh life of the family with confusion by, against all monitor advice, informing his under-teenage son of what we knew to date - and the monitors of our hosts would 'make contact' in due course. OUr hosts sought to put on pressure, but pressure, it appeared, didn't much affect 'invisibles' as Stewart Edward White calls them in the Betty Books.

Our monitors, begining with this first one, the first we knowingly had any sort of cntact for several months, always referred to Deity as "Father" or "All Powerful" , (as Norvell refers to him in his last letter here) and very soon we were expected to begin every session with prayer, usually the "Lord's Prayer" , said all together and with, as we were advised, deep, deep intensity. In the beginning too, we were always told to drink a glass of water before sessions began, for the sake of purification.

We began asking all sorts of questions. Was Mars inhabited? Venus? The Moon? Jupiter? Pluto? Mercury? Uranus?

"Patience" was usually the answer to such questions. We were expected to learn patience, to learn the word so well we could spell it forward and backward, and from the middle both ways. We early learned that the monitor could not be rushed. We also realized taht he was working with us undre rather strict supervision, though by whom or what he did not tell us. His job for us was one of gentle preparation.

"Well," I persisted, when he wouldn't tell us whether other planets in our system were inhabited, "how long has man lived in this earth?"...

...:"Longer than your scientists think the world is old."...

L. Ron Hubbard, Pulp Days
...I was sitting in the lobby of a publishing house when a red-headed writer entered, (note: L. Ron Hubbard). A year or two previously, he had written a book which , then involved in a publishing venture, wished to publish, (note: "Excalibur"). My associates could not grasp the importance of the book. They refused to publish it. But I had promised, and must make good. A wrangle ensued, and the red-head left for the west coast, taking his book with him.

It was the strangest book I ever read. Reading it seemed to open queer windows in the bodies of every-one one thereafter met. It was a squirmy, self-revealing book. Red-head's withdrawl had brought turmoil into my publishing venture, with great financial loss, and he didn't know, meeting me by surprise, whether I would be friendly. I had no reason to be.

Redhead went home with me. There, in a few moments, we discovered in him one of the worlds' greatest 'sensitives'. Almost before we were able to explain any of what was happening to us, he told us this:

"I was the first flyer in the U.S. to gain a glider pilot's license. I loved gliders. But sometimes I took great chances and found myself in difficulties. I shortly learned, though, that when I was in danger, 'someone' looked after me...she was always there, always visible when I knew myself in great trouble."

(We all) exchanged glances. This is what he, (ed. the table-tipping guide), wrote:

..."Tell him what has happened so far."

The Pirate Jean Lafitte
Then I knew that it was neither 'chance' nor 'accident' that the red-head joined me in that publisher's lobby. Red-head was much interested in what we had, and the hours dragged on...

...An odd thing happened in connection with Red-head's monitors name.

"Look it up in the dictionary"...

We searched the dictionary, and it wasn't there. I gather that the remaining hocus-pocus was designated as evidential for Red-head...


..."You were once..." Read-head was informed and the name of a famous pirate of some centuries previous was given to him. To this his first response was a gasp followed by:

"Since I can remember, that guy has been my hero. I've dug up chantys that were sung in his time. I've assembled material about him, have even prepared radio skits about him. If this is true, I wonder if such self-worship is justified?"

There was more of this, a bit of instruction to the Red-head.

Painting of the Pirate Jean Lafitte
"In the rare-books department of the Public Library, in this particular book, is an ancient oil painting of your former self, done by the Big Hero's painter-friend, which you may scan with interest."

Red-head was deeply interested, as who would not have been? He rattled on about costumes of his piratical period, but became restless: he had to go check on the accuracy of what he'd been told. He didn't spend much time at the library. He was paler than is normal even for a red-head when he returned.

"I found the rare book." he said, "and its title is as we have been given. I found the portrait of my former self too. And listen, folks, if I wore the same costume, I could pose for the picture myself. It's my portrait."

None of the rest of us checked. We didn't need proof, and it never occurred to us that we would write about it. Everybody who got something believed to be new, we thought, immediately started reforming the world, instead of beginning with a research of self; we would not do that.

We stuck to that for eleven years.

I don't remember when, exactly, in through here, I came in contact with, and avidly read, Max Heindel's "Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception." But looked it up in the consequence of this interchange:

"Is there any religious group, sect or faith, which is even close to what you are trying to tell us?"

"Yes...the true Rosicrucians."

"You mean those groups with advertised headquarters in a far Western State?"

"The true Rosicrucian headquarters," came the answer, "is not inside the borders of the U.S., though it is on this continent. And there are no living Rosicrucians. No living person, in a material body, can reach Rosicrucian headquarters."

"Then is Heindel's work completely false?"

"Not by any means! It is at least 85% correct!"

We were never told just which small percentage was not correct. It made the study of Cosmo-Conception an intriguing research.

According to Heindel, man reincarnated, on the average, about every thousand years, generally in alternate sexes. This was neccessary, he said, because changes in the material world were not too great for the reincarnating one to adapt himself to.

But our information was that if man is ever to free himself from the Wheel of LIfe, he must be about the business of paying off his karma - with which all of our monitors were virtually obsessed - which called for frequent incarnations...

...Oh, some years later single copies of the red-heads' book, which I had so desired to publish, could be had for $1,500.00, autographed. But before its publication he published a second book, which made all the difference, Dianetics.

* For the entire text see "Psychic Journey, the making of a seer", Co. Arthur J. Burks