Electric Dreams

Princess Diana's Death as a Ripple in the Collective Field of Consciousness: 

Personal Ruminations in the Context of My Work With the Cree

Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D. 

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Gackenbach, Jayne (1997 September). Princess Diana's Death as a Ripple in the Collective Field of Consciousness: Personal Ruminations in the Context of My Work With the Cree. Electric Dreams 4(9). Retrieved July 26, 2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams  

I asked my class at Maskwachees Cultural College where were they when they heard about the death of Princess Diana? All recalled their exact physical locations as did I, sort of. Although my waking consciousness heard the news of the Princess's death as I was driving in my car about midnight central standard time when it came over the radio, something deeper in me "heard" it hours earlier.

About 6 PM I was experiencing extreme agitation/anxiety. Being a type A personality one might point out, "well, that's not anything new", but this was different in its intensity and sense of being driven to do something, but what? As is often the case when we experience unknown intense emotions at the time I tried to label it in terms of my current circumstances. At 7 PM I went into a movie and upon leaving the theatre a couple of hours later I recall thinking to myself, "Ah, this is much better" regarding my previous agitation which was simply gone and replaced by a sense of tranquillity. The scientist in me argued, that's the effect of the movie, but "Austin Powers" leading to tranquillity!

I dropped any attempts to internally account for this sequence of feelings until after I heard about Diana's death several hours later. As I lay in bed mulling over what I had heard in the hour or so of late night news I had tuned into regarding her death I realized that my experience earlier in the evening coincided exactly with the time between her accident and her death. Then I remembered a similar experience I had around the death of a Native American woman in 1992, CrowWoman. I wrote about this experience in my book "The Traditional Death of CrowWoman":

We all expected every day that week to be her last. Every moment of every day the family waited. But the moments passed, the hours passed, the days passed. I stayed away feeling that it was not my place to go to the hospital. This was the time for the family only. Friday night I picked up her grandson intending to keep him for the weekend. Although he was a bit hyper he seemed OK. Saturday morning as he and my son played while my daughter slept in, I got really restless. I thought, "Oh, this is ridiculous, she's still alive! I'm just gonna go read her that book [Tibetan Book of the Dead]. Maybe she needs to hear it." As much as I find this book intellectually interesting, I am not a practicing Tibetan Buddhist. Therefore I didn't seriously think she had to have the book read to her. But I had been surprised that she was still alive when I had returned from India a week earlier, after attending a conference on sleeping, dreaming and dying with the Dalai Lama, and she had asked me to read it to her. But when I went to do it the next night (Monday) she had taken a turn for the worse and it was a death watch. Then the following Saturday morning I had this strong impulse to go to the hospital. I hadn't gone all week. I hurriedly dressed, grabbed the book and drove to the hospital. Upon entering I checked the cafeteria and found her sister and the Old Man's wife, having a smoke. I joined them. Within 15 minutes of my arrival CrowWoman died.

I very much felt I had no control over any of these events and that I was a pawn in something that was unfolding. I ended up not only taking her grandson into my heart but also writing a book about her remarkable death. Almost exactly five years later as I laid in bed mulling over my sense of shock at the death of Diana I realized that the feelings of earlier in the evening were the exact same ones I had experienced that Saturday morning when CrowWoman died and called me to be in the light of her death.

In this case much of the western world has experienced the light of Princess Diana's death. That week, along with the rest of the world, I followed the unfolding story. I cried softly from time to time during the week and my heart just ached for her boys. I thought to myself as the grief spread and its breadth and depth became increasingly apparent that this was a spiritual event unfolding. I mentioned this idea to CrowWoman's daughter who agreed but the scientist in me needed confirmation, a further sign. I knew that something else had to happen but despite wild internal speculations did not image what it would be. When the sign arrived, the death of Mother Theresa, there was no longer any doubt in my mind about the spiritual nature of this moment in time. With the death of Mother Theresa so close in time to the death of Princess Diana and during the time of such deep grieving for many in the western world it seemed that the death of Mother Theresa somehow joined our two worlds, east and west, in grief for our beloved women. Both mothers in a personal as well as a transpersonal sense.

Then one of my middle aged students from Blue Quills First Nations College came up to me shyly after class earlier today cradling the "National Enquirer", "Star" and "People Magazine" in her arms. She told me that she was saving these for her children so they would have a record of these powerful events. She too felt that a spiritual event was unfolding, perhaps she hesitantly suggested "the end of the monarchy". At this time of a call to self government for Native peoples in central Alberta the idea of the end of the monarchy is shocking. In their stories of their history with the crown the central Alberta Cree often speak about Queen Victoria as somehow understanding their plight. I was born on Queen Victoria's birthday.

Layers upon layers of "coincidences" from the deeply personal to the clearly transpersonal are emerging for as all as we mull over and continue to grieve these dual deaths and the ripple they have caused in our collective consciousness.

Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D.

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