MARY OF AGREDA
The Divine Spirit
In turning to the investigation of communication on the paranormal level, one of the first topics that commands attention is the way Agreda, as the Lady in Blue, was able to transfer her thoughts to the Native Americans, and successfully enough to instruct them in her Christian teaching. Of equal interest is the means which enabled the Native Americans to communicate with their beautiful young teacher.
Another matter worthy of examination is that Agreda’s recall of the names of the Native American tribes she had taught was not altogether accurate. In her conversation with Benavides she pronounced the name Tejas as "Titlas." Could this indicate a verbal communicative process? Since she admitted to Benavides that he might find inaccuracies in the way she spelled the names, did this imply that her memory in her conscious state was inadequate? The Tejas, as well as the Jumanos (which she and others have pronounced "Jumanes"), were known to the Franciscan priests, but the young abbess also named other tribes who were not known to them. Proof of their existence had to wait to be verified until later explorers, penetrating unknown territories, encountered the other Native American tribes whom Sister Agreda had taught. How did she gather these facts on her paranormal travels? Or does her story merely indicate that on the unconscious level there is no communication barrier, any more than there are barriers of space and time on the psychic plane?
Bear in mind that Mother Agreda said she talked to the Native Americans in her native Spanish, which they understood and to which they replied in their individual dialects. Keep in mind also, that she said when in America she understood them but when in Spain could not recall their language. In other words, communication was only possible under trance. Her religious examiners, however, attributed her ability to communicate in languages she didn’t know to the gift of tongues. Because there is biblical precedence for this gift they could accept it as an additional grace bestowed on her along with the gift of bilocation. But if her own testimony is disregarded here, it could divert attention from the possibility that on the psychic level there is such a phenomenon as paranormal dialogue.
Agreda admitted there was one instance when she failed to establish rapport with a tribe along the Rio Colorado. This tribe twice shot her down with their arrows which is puzzling unless the “body” in which she appeared to them was to some degree subject to their attack. As for her reaction to their hostility, she rejoiced in the incident feeling it earned her a martyr's crown--a matter of no little importance to a Franciscan nun. Since she was actually felled to the ground, the incident also suggests that her sensory reactions on the psychic plane had at least some correspondence to those on the natural plane, but only temporarily stunning her for she later "rose to her feet and disappeared in the sky."
There is no reason to doubt that the consciousness can serve as an instrument to the projected, psychic personality in a way similar to how it serves the physical being. Here again the eastern concept of an etheric form or "double" to the physical body would seems relevant as a form of a different vibrational frequency which acts as a unifying mechanism and interfaces to the physical form. When the channel between the physical and spiritual breaks (as with the silver cord of Ecclesiastes), then it is said the physical body can no longer support life and death occurs.
Bizarre as the shooting down of Agreda's phantom body (as seen by the Native Americans) may seem, the incident was corroborated by the Spanish explorer, Captain Juan Mateo Mange, and the Jesuit missionary who accompanied him, Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino, who, in 1690, made an expedition to explore the Colorado and Gila Rivers. Along the Camino del Diablo, the two Spaniards asked some of the old Native Americans they met if they had heard their ancestors say they had seen a Spanish captain pass by with horses. Herbert E. Bolton, in his Rim of Christendo,(1) records that the Spaniards referred to Don Juan de Ońate's 1606 journey. The Native Americans replied that they had not, but volunteered that when they were boys, a white woman carrying a cross and dressed clear to her feet in white, brown and blue, her head covered with a veil, came to visit their ancestors. The Native Americans also related how she "harangued with their fathers in a language they could not understand," and they had shot her down twice with arrows, but she had risen each time "to disappear in the sky."
Mange reported in his journal that the "beautiful white woman referred to must have been the Venerable María de Jesús de Agreda, since the men appeared to be about eighty years old, and it would have been possible for them to have remembered her visits, as the nun was known to have traveled in America sixty or more years before." But Mange was also puzzled about her failure to communicate with them and wrote he "could not understand how God had performed the greater miracle, transporting her to New Spain, and yet had not bestowed upon her the gift of tongues, since He does not do things imperfectly." The Spanish captain concluded that as the Native Americans were young, they would not have understood, or that their memories could have been “confounded by the devil.”(2)
Since this tribe was not hostile to Captain Mange and Father Kino, it is unwarranted to surmise they were of a warlike nature. Why, then, had communication broken down in this one instance, when it had been so successful at other times? There are several theories that explain how transference of thought takes place on the paranormal level. One is that all communication of the collective unconscious comes through a mind-to-mind relationship, rather than through the medium of language. On the other hand, human communication in earliest times was by means other than words; language being fairly recent as evolution goes. The biblical story of the tower of Babel could be understood to assume that all peoples originally spoke a universal language, but that later, through disunity, they were forced to speak in a confusion of bewildering tongues. The multilingual state, then, could symbolize a disharmony in human relationships, as well as a breakdown in communication with the Creator.
Some people reason that in the psychic phenomena of glossolalia (tongue-speaking), persons revert to this universal language used before Babel. Each phenomenon could be a different variety or another phase of the same. That is not to say that other languages are not used in this complex manifestation. There are innumerable cases on record of glossolalia where people, in religious ecstasy or under hypnotism, in trance, or under the influence of drugs, speak fluently in languages they cannot speak in their conscious state. Science and religion together would do well to investigate this matter, particularly since in recent times glossolalia is once again common as it was in first century Church gatherings.
The story of the first Pentecost provides a good biblical account of glossolalia,(3) but one that needs to be read carefully in order not to overlook the importance Paul gave to harmony. He refers in one place to speaking in tongues "for one's own benefit,"(4) but again this could be another facet of the same phenomenon, or it might still be another phenomenon. This latter kind, however, is not used for communication purposes in the presence of a language barrier, as was the case with Mary Agreda. In the biblical account of the first Pentecost, "devout men" from many nations were reported each to have heard the Galilean disciples speaking in their own diverse languages. And this would seem to have corresponded to Agreda's experience.
In her case there was that other previously detailed instance of paranormal communication in which she appeared to the Jumanos at dawn on the day they were planning to strike their tents and move to another place. This time she appeared to each of them singly while they were still in their tents. Whether the appearances were simultaneous or in continuum is uncertain, or whether this was an example of bilocation or of multilocation. The purpose, however, was clearly to communicate an urgent message.
Lacking well-evidenced records that can be studied by competent researchers, it is difficult to determine the true function of the mind in its relation to the physical as well as the psychical self. This overlapping of the psychic and physical selves adds to the difficulty of understanding the exact nature the manifestations being considered.
There is also an overlapping of psychic and religious phenomena here. St Theresa, in her autobiography, points to the difficulty she had in distinguishing the nature of her "great favors."(5) And this may be why Paul advised Christians to pray for the gift of discerning spirits--so as to know if the charisma were spiritual, natural, or evil.(6) Here again it seems sound to conclude that all such phenomena are natural to and part of the total human personality, including the unconscious self and the conscious self, and whether used for better or worse. Again it was St. Theresa who wrote that humility and humor were her greatest protections against evil, and which graces she used to advantage.
In limiting the psychic phenomena of speaking in other tongues to religious experiences such as those relating to the saints, or in associating the phenomena with "fanatics" or with emotionalism, the tendency is to discredit the possible significance paranormal dialogue may have in widening communication between diverse cultures. The early Christians took such charisma for granted and used it as they used any other natural talent--for the glory of God--looking upon it much as medical skill, musical talent, or physical strength is viewed today. When they saw their members leading useful and unselfish lives through the employment of charismatic gifts, they accepted these as blessings from God and not as manifestations of pride or power.
The story of Simon the Magician illustrates how paranormal talents are not to be used. It is from this biblical story that the word "simony"--or trafficking in sacred things--is derived. Simon had astounded the Samaritans with his magic, so much so that many thought his gift issued from God (spiritual in nature), instead of the marked degree of inherently human psychic power with which he was endowed. After becoming one of Philip's converts, he witnessed a laying-on-of-hands ceremony and saw Samaritans receive the Holy Spirit. He recognized this as a power he did not have, and so he offered the apostles money to help him acquire it. Peter rebuked him saying, "May your silver be lost forever and you with it, for thinking that money could buy what God has given for nothing."(7) Thus Philip emphasized that charismatic gifts were bestowed and were to be used according to God’s purposes and not for self-aggrandizement.
At Pentecost as with Agreda the gift of speaking in unknown languages was given for the purpose of overcoming the barrier of communication. Yet today so many other barriers to communication exist that even those who speak the same language are nonetheless divided by social, racial, political and religious differences. Like Simon the obsession with wealth and power has atrophied the natural gifts of compassion, understanding, and the eyes to see and feel for those who suffer. Empathy and compassion are also barrier-transcending gifts and ones that make dialogue and heart-to-heart communication possible. Yet this lack under girds the disunity that exists on every strata of society. The disharmony of the races is but one example of what is repeated again and again between different age groups, between the sexes, or between those of different sexual preferences, between employer and employee, teacher and student, as well as between the individuals of the intercommunity, interstate or international groups. Integration, on the other hand, begins with the smallest unit: the integration first of our own three natures, then of ourselves with the members of our own family, with our neighbors, with society and, most of all, with God.
How was Agreda’s rapport with the Native Americans along the Rio Grande to be understood? Why was she able to establish communication with these Native Americans but failed to do so with the Native Americans along the Rio Colorado? Agreda herself must have felt compassion was the answer, but that regrettably this sometimes failed. She wrote in the letter Benavides was to carry to his Franciscan associates in New Mexico that they should try to persuade the government to supply only soldiers of "gentle natures." Years later, Father Junípero Serra also made a similar statement when he requested additional workers for his California mission field. "Send me men well-versed in love," he wrote, "for it is the only equipment sturdy enough to endure." (8)
Remembering that Agreda's teleportations were always triggered in trance when the physical self was subservient to the subliminal self, it is tempting to conclude that barriers to communication on the physical level are eliminated on the psychic level when the motivation to communicate is selflessly based. Perhaps this is easier to understand when the psychic world is viewed as governed by its own laws rather than by the laws of the physical world. It is the total world into which all are born that is expanded, modified and perceived according to the psychic senses as these are set into motion under laws different from those of the physical universe.
An interesting side-light here is that "guides" or controls for spiritualistic mediums are often said (or posed) as Native Americans, the explanation being that Native Americans are conversant with the spirit world. When the Europeans first came to America they observed how native tribes varied in culture and in their religious aptitudes. More recently, prominent archeologists have singled out Agreda's Southwest Native Americans as America's true religionists--the truly great mystics of this hemisphere. Knowing this, I would surmise that the tribes along the Colorado were not on the same illumined path as were the Jumanos and the Tejas. This would answer the question posed earlier as to why these particular Colorado Native Americans were unable to communicate with their trance visitor.
The way in which the Jumanos worked as a unit suggests that they were, in this instance, functioning as a group mind which allowed them to act in accord and without visible cause. This working of a group mind is found in nature, although usually on the animal level: Bees send messages where honey is to be found, and ants coordinate their group activity. In primitive people this sort of communication still functions. It is therefore imperative to investigate without further loss of time the psychic power of the Southwest Native American tribes before these gifts are totally lost through disuse or the loss of tribal unity. United, as the Pueblo Native Americans seem to have been during the time of Agreda, and with their interest centered in their Creator as archeological diggings tell us they were, in some mysterious way Agreda served as the one who linked their minds and hers and God’s together. Was this unity of levels of consciousness, and of cultures and languages, affected through the action of the Holy Spirit? Clearly this was the case at Pentecost when the apostles and the devout “from every nation” similarly transcended cultural and linguistic barriers. In both instances the integration took place “in Christ” and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Questions remaining are: Was Agreda reaching these naturally devout Native Americans with her own deeper mind? Did they understand her in an extrasensory, intuitive or telepathic way? Is this a faculty latent in all, but more commonly activated when persons are integrated through love? If this is the explanation, then the Agreda story provides important insight into telepathy as well as intimating how much was lost in using force to bring the Native America peoples into subjection, as it was our misfortune and our sin to do. In not establishing a trustworthy basis for friendship and cooperation, how great was our loss?
Simple as Father Benavides' explanation of glossolalia is, there is still another explanation: Mary Agreda was able to establish dialogue with the Native Americans for the same reason that she was able to reach them through her teleportations. Desire and need were the operative factors. She was able to communicate with them because of her desire to reach them with the Christ’s message of God’s love for them. They received her because they were spiritually open and receptive to the Spirit in her and which witnessed to their souls through her. She was the agent and they the percipients; together both were in harmony with each other and with their Creator. It was as simple as that.
But what was the basis of the harmony between them? What did they have in common? Could it have been their similar mystical attunement? If so, then Agreda’s approach with them probably was not in the manner of “indoctrination” but rather an integration of spiritual truths: her mysticism of “being in Christ” and theirs of living in harmony with all of creation. Their nature mysticism was also part of her spiritual heritage as a daughter of Francis of Assisi--the best known and loved of all nature mystics. With this as the basis of their harmony it also could have been the secret of the ease with which they established communicated. With them it really was a matter of “being on the same wave length.”
Even though Agreda's purpose and motivation were spiritual, her excursions were carried out on a psychic level as distinguished from the spiritual level where the soul and God--the human and the divine--unite. On this highest plane of pure being, the mystic meets God as the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent One, while the psychic level is where mind and matter are bridged, and therefore where Agreda and the Native Americans met, but still where mind creates the thought and action and where imagination and desire are creative factors. However, since Agreda’s motivation was so purely spiritual, or perhaps better to say “in God’s will,” this accounted for the success of the adventure, or so it seems to me.
Although Agreda was only twenty-nine when she met Benavides, she had been working eleven years in his Franciscan mission field. After this time there is no record of her having continued her American activities. We do know, however, that she continued her ascent into that higher dimension of the spiritual world until she was worthy to be acclaimed one of the most amazing mystics of all time. As for explaining the nature of her communication, it could well have been a reversal of the occurrence at Babel: what had been divided was now reunited. And the Jumanos were known to have had a long history of peaceful existence. The Tejas, who also were her followers, were the descendants, of the Texcucans of Old Mexico, whose culture has not been surpassed to this day. These two tribes must therefore have offered the ultimate opportunity for paranormal communication, while the unfriendly Colorado Native Americans were on a different psychic level, with a resulting lack of understanding or receptivity to Agreda’s visitation. The Agreda approach to overcoming differences was to first extend love in the hope that through love a bridge between two worlds could be built. It worked usually, although there was this one known time when it failed.
Bio-philosophy is a relatively new study, yet it was a subject in which the Native Americans excelled: living as they did not only in harmony with their Creator but also in a way that unified spirit and matter--Creator and creation. Today, leading-edge physicists are looking towards this same end. Some even consider parapsychology as a science of the future from which more can be learned about how matter and consciousness interact and interpenetrate. A good place to look for answers is to antiquity in an attempt to rediscover the intuitive, natural awareness people once had but sacrificed to forces of civilization and of rationalism in particular. Through further study of the life of the Lady in Blue, more clues to a more amicable existence between the people of earth may come to light. In the following chapter the significance of her American activity will be weighed.
1. (New York, 1936)
2. Captain Juan Mateo Mange, "Luz ze Tierra Incognita," Publicaciones del Archivo General de la Nación, Vol. X (Mexico City, 934).|
3. Acts i-ii.
4. Cor. xiv. 14.
5. Translated by J. M. Cohen (Baltimore, 1957).
6. Cor. xiv. 14.
7. Acts viii. 18-24.
8. Letter to Palou, August 18, 1771. See Englehardt, The Missions and Missionaries, Vol. II (Santa Barbara, 1930).