By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
With Jay's permission, Duke reads his question: "He'd like to know, 'How are my spiritual awakening and enlightenment going by way of the Holy Spirit?'"
He turns to Jay. "Let's get away from that, from the Holy Spirit."
Jay scowls slightly.
"No," Duke continues, "the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with you, do you understand that? So we can use all kinds of words and terms; it may make us better, but now we know a lot of people who think like that but they've got shiny seats from sitting!"
Jay has another question. "Do I have any Native American guides at this point?" he asks.
"Well, I'll tell you something," Duke begins. "Every one of us has one, and that's usually the messenger -- the one who tells us what's gonna happen before it does. Pay attention to your messenger. She's going to appear as a little girl."
"Yeah, all the Indian messengers are girls," Duke says. "If you ever have an out-of-body experience, these little girls know wherever you're going."
That seems to bring Jay some comfort.
"OK, well!" Duke barks. "I hope we helped with that!"
No jaw-dropping revelations tonight. No one seems concerned, let alone skeptical.
A high point of the evening is channeling. After a break for some popcorn and brownies laid out on a ceramic plate, it's time to talk to spirits. "Are you ready, babe?" Duke asks the Rev. Lori "Loretta" Rohr, who has been an associate of the Haven since 2000.
Duke tells the group, "Go ahead, sit down and she'll channel for you."
After a nervous cough and a hard swallow, Rohr's eyes close. She seems to suffer a short spasm, and little high-pitched moans escape her throat. The moans lower in pitch, and her eyes flutter. She becomes catatonic, head pivoting on her wobbly neck as if she's drunk. When she opens her eyes briefly, she looks queasy. Her eyes shut again, roll back in her head, and wobble, lolling around behind her closed lids like marbles on a pillow.
"You ready to go?" Duke asks. "We're gonna energize a little bit so she can get started."
He stares at her as if he's trying to set her on fire with his eyes. Five more minutes pass as Rohr twitches and groans. Finally, she opens her eyes.
"Good evening, everyone," she says in a stilted British accent.
"How are you?" Duke inquires.
"I... am... fine," she says, haltingly. "How... is... everyone?"
"You're not quite complete, hon," Duke says gently, like a man telling his wife her bra strap is showing. "Take your time."
"Hmm, yes," Rohr agrees. She rolls her head some more, and her eyes open and shut.
"Good evening again," Rohr begins with her stiff upper lip. "I am so glad you are here this evening. I welcome you to this haven of serenity. And what have you all been doing lately that has brought you to this place of peace?"
It's a familiar personage for Duke and his regulars -- Blanche, a long-dead Englishwoman with a puckish sense of humor and a tendency to make pronouncements about the state of the contemporary world.
Linda raises her hand. It's the big question: "I would like to know, how do you view our world?"
"There are some evil elements in the world," "Blanche" says through Rohr. "That needs to be corrected. Our atmosphere has... poison gases in it that are not good. We need to take care of the Earth. Help each other to understand that we must cleanse the Earth with a positive vibration; otherwise, y'all aren't going to be here after a while."
Whether the appearance of y'all is a slip of Rohr's tongue or a character lapse, the rapt gathering takes no notice.
"I would like to know if ET is going to intervene on man's behalf before the planet is destroyed," a man named Jody says.
"Uh, mmm, well," says Rohr, fading in and out. She closes her eyes, then opens them. "Oh, they're already here!"
Rohr smiles beatifically. "Thank you. It's time for me to fly away. You make me feel so -- I feel wonderful!"
"Goodbye, Blanche," Linda says. "Thank you for coming!"
Rohr's eyes shut, and she twitches back to normal. Several minutes pass. Rohr opens her eyes and looks around as if she's awakened from a nap, confused and disoriented. Laughter all around the room.
"Everyone's looking at me!" Rohr complains.
"Welcome back," Jay says.
Rohr, a short, timid woman with long brown hair, tells newcomers to the group that she started channeling a year after she first came to the Haven.
"It took that long to find out who you are," Duke remarks.
A skeptic at first, Rohr was blown away after attending a service. "I didn't know anything about spiritualism," she says, "but when I went home, I couldn't sleep. The next thing you know, I'm volunteering to do stuff around here, clean the refrigerator, whatever."