Growing Up Meta

I’d just turned twelve and refused to stay home alone. Either I went out with friends, or someone had to stay home with me. I was spooked, and I have my mom to blame.

Until that moment, growing up in a household filled with stories and laughter made me feel safe. My mother, Donna, was a strong and supportive role model. Besides becoming an RN before she met my dad, she took care of all homemaking and child-rearing duties. She gardened, pickled, and she knit-one-purl-two. She liked to dance, sing and entertain.

But there were more layers to her. Isn’t everyone’s mother invited as a guest on radio and TV talk shows to discuss astral travel and life after death? Or speak at a men’s prison about how to lead a more meaningful life?

And doesn’t every mother go on group excursions in search of UFOs? Or take along her ten-year-old daughter on cross-country road trips? On road trips with Mom, she didn’t sightsee but gave scheduled lectures on subjects like ESP and auras.

Squeezed into the back seat of a car heading west, our caravan of middle-aged women talked of clairvoyant encounters and prophetic dreams. They raised their consciousness levels through meditation and healed their aches with mind over matter. In my childhood reasoning, all of this seemed normal.

Shannon Kernaghan Meta-cropped-300x300 Growing Up Meta Humor

Had Mom’s pioneering been today, she’d make less of a ripple. But her odyssey towards enlightenment felt adventurous in the 60s and early 70s. As a natural yet unassuming leader, Mom began a branch of the Metaphysical Society where she acted as president. The society was both non-profit and non-denominational, and its open doors attracted an eclectic collection of members. I was six when she started and was pulled along by her undertow of energy.

There was always something going on in our home. One afternoon, I walked in the front door and saw my dad napping on our couch. Weird, I thought, he’s never home early from work. Is he sick? I walked towards him and when he turned over, it wasn’t my dad.

“Say hello to Dr. Banerjee, dear,” said my mom who appeared from the kitchen. Dr. Banerjee was a visiting Metaphysical member from Calcutta who would spend the night with us. He enjoyed half a dozen fried wieners for supper, a “delicacy” he’d never tasted.

Another time I came home from school to find our driveway filled with cars.

Through our front window, I watched several people slowly walking around our living room and holding a metal rod in each hand. Picture water dowsing sticks. Mom and her Meta posse were experimenting with Vivaxis rods. Mom explained that vivaxis comes from the words “life” and “center” and refers to a unique energy flow that connects us to our planet. Did they find any connections? Who knows, but the desserts people brought were delicious.

Mom was searching for awareness. If the door to her tiny office was closed, I knew not to bother her. She was either doing her “automatic writing” or she was meditating.

“Wanna come to a spiritualist meeting to see a medium?” she asked. Yes, I did!

When we walked into the crowded hall, everyone looked old, with heavily rouged cheeks and hair piled high. Picture the characters from the 1968 movie Rosemary’s Baby, that’s how I’d describe them today, but without the evil component.

The summer I turned eleven, I helped Mom at a summer fair along with several society volunteers. My job was to test peoples’ ESP – that’s Extra Sensory Perception – by using Zener cards.            

“Now look at the card but don’t show me,” I’d tell people willing to give this a try. Each card had a star, circle, square, squiggly lines or an X. I’d close my eyes and try to “see” their card in my mind. Then we’d switch roles and the participant tried to “read” my mind.

Friends ask how my mom got involved with this study of the paranormal. My brother Gregory, her first child, was the reason. When he turned five, he was diagnosed with brain cancer and underwent surgery. After the operation, two surgeons explained that they couldn’t remove all the deep-buried tendrils of cancer.

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“Take him home and love him,” one of them told my parents. And that’s what they did for almost ten years before the cancer returned, fast and hard.

For several months my mom nursed him at home to keep him with his brothers and sisters, to keep everything feeling “normal.”

But she couldn’t save him, despite performing a makeshift tracheotomy in his bed when he stopped breathing. He survived only long enough to spend a few weeks in hospital.

After he died, Mom would have benefitted from bereavement counseling or at least a partner who’d sit and mourn with her. My dad’s coping mechanism was to disappear into his TV repair business six days and five evenings a week, or to mow the lawn until the grass was shorn to nubs.

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Years later, Mom told me she felt so alone but with four children to care for, she couldn’t let herself break down.

Then came the turning point: Mom’s sister mailed a newspaper clipping about a woman who started a metaphysical society in another city. My mother reached out to this woman, who kickstarted Mom’s spiritual trailblazing. In no time Mom met others seeking more meaning about life and about what might be on the “other side.”

Although endlessly busy, she kept our household running smoothly and my dad supported her quest. Best of all, she was happy.

So, back to the beginning. Why was I creeped out at age twelve?

To raise money, the society decided to hold a garage sale. Since we had a large basement, Mom told others to bring donations to our place where she’d store everything until the sale.

One night, Mom was at a Meta meeting and I was alone doing homework at the kitchen table. That’s when I heard it, the distinct sound of something scraping across the basement floor. Moments later, that same noise again! As soon as my mom walked through the door, I ran to her.

“I bet that was a spirit connected to their old furniture.”

“No, you mean ghosts? Now we have ghosts?”

“Don’t worry, dear, we’ll have everything out in a week, and they’ll likely leave.”

“Whatya mean they’ll ‘likely’ leave?” I was shitting myself and here she was excited!

Years later when I told my husband the story, he suggested that something leaning probably just slid a few inches on our linoleum floor. He started calling Mom a “broom-beater,” which she thought was hilarious.

Decades later as Mom and I sipped our glasses of wine, she said she stepped down as president after my “ghost” scare.

“You quit for me? I never knew that.”

“Of course for you, I didn’t like seeing you so nervous.”

“But you ran it for half a dozen years, and you loved all your Meta friends.”

“I wanted to be home with you, dear, you were more important. And correction: I loved most of my friends. There were a few whack jobs in the mix.”

That made me laugh and I clinked her wine glass, ever impressed with this New Age mom of mine. I started to pour her more wine until she cut me off with her hand. “No more, dear,” she said. “What if the police pull me over.”

“The police? It’s almost midnight, where are you going?”

“You never know,” and she winked at me. “I just might blow the dust off my broom and go for a spin.”

Shannon Kernaghan Mom-Shannon-292x300 Growing Up Meta Humor

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