Heaven’s net is wide;
Coarse are the meshes,
Yet nothing slips through.
Lao Tze

With the din of the noisy farewell still ringing in their ears, the small band of priests and soldiers, accompanied by a large group of Jumanos, turned westward towards the San Antonio Mission. The Jumanos had been fearful of the priests’ crossing through unfriendly Apache lands. Contrary to their fears, all along the winding pathways they were met by apparently friendly tribes who seemed as mysteriously drawn to the procession as bees to the nectar of flowers. In every instance these tribes, who were unknown to the priests, begged the Franciscans to remain with them. One of the most insistent groups was the Tejas, who indicated they too had been taught by the Lady in Blue and wanted to be baptized.

Upon hearing the name of the Tejas, Father Salas recalled the archbishop’s letter in which this tribe was mentioned as the other one named by the nun. With this added encouragement he was inspired to hasten on to Isleta in order to get his report on its way to Mexico City. He felt certain this would bolster chances for new exploratory expeditions to other unknown tribes the Lady in Blue had mentioned visiting, and to whom she had urged priests be sent.1 

Several questions are raised in the priests’ homeward encounter with so many unknown yet friendly native peoples: How did they know that the friars were coming, and with sufficient accuracy to intersect with them along the way? Were they guided by an instinctual sense of knowing? Or was knowledge of the party’s whereabouts revealed in a way more comparable to clairvoyance—to seeing things clearly but out of range of normal vision? Or had the Jumanos telepathically informed neighboring tribes of the route the party would be traveling? Could the Jumanos accompanying them have been mentally communicating their whereabouts in a manner similar to present-day electronic tracking devices? However precognition occurred, was it along the line Jung meant by a "collective psychism"? By this did he intend the activation of a deep level on which all persons are connected, but which tribal peoples matter-of-factly accept and depend upon? Was this deep-level connection what Black Elk so poignantly recalled?

In the old days when we were a strong and happy people, all our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation, and so long as the hoop was unbroken, the people flourished.2

Studies of tribal societies suggest their modus operandi as a unit rather than as individuals. Sometimes this is taken to mean that individuality is the more evolved state of consciousness. But under what circumstances is this so? Does the sense of being a separate individual necessarily lead to a more meaningful and fulfilled life? Or is this an inflation of a Western "civilized" world towards "primitive" peoples?

In the Gospels, Jesus is observed drawing individuals out of the crowd and elevating them to a position of importance in the sight of God. Also evident is the Gospel’s lack of status determinants for entering the kingdom of God. It is come not according to education, wealth, or even moral or mental health, but to the poor, the infirm, the meek, the penitent, and those who mourn. By and large, these are the ones being called to a new awareness of divine interaction in their personal lives. But then, in his final instructions, Jesus calls those closest to him to a still higher level of consciousness in which they are to function as one mind and one body. He promises that in this way he can continue to be with them. In their unity with one another they will know their oneness with him, and through him with the One—the Father. As his corporate body they will do even greater things than he has done. Where even two or three are in agreement, whatever they ask in his name will be done.3 Is the implication here that the process of attaining wholeness as an individual is only a stepping stone to a state of consciousness beyond individuality? And is the next stage an expanded awareness of being part of a larger whole? John Sanford, in his study of the Gospel of John, hones in on a fine distinction:

The wholeness of the individual is not found in a person as an isolated unit, but in a whole person who lives in creative and conscious relationship with others. In fact, our individual reality does not exist apart from our relationship with others, for we are, in the final analysis, small units interrelated with a creative Oneness that embraces eventually the whole cosmos.4

Here Sanford gives new meaning to unitive consciousness, and to the sacredness of the unbroken circle. But if broken, what happens then? When the vision of unity is lost, what are the consequences? Many would say this is the state into which present civilization has fallen; where in the West the square of materiality dominates; where houses are squarish and the world is still held to have "four corners." Conversely, in Native American spirituality there are seven directions, with the seventh being the inner self, and the governing motif the eternal circle:

The life of a [human being] is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our tepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.5

Some hold that those native to the North American continent originated in the Orient. Esther Harding notes similarities between tribal consciousness and the Eastern mind, and how the Western mind differs:

The intense concern with the personal life that is so characteristic of Western civilization is unknown among primitives. Orientals too have it in strikingly less marked degree than do Occidentals. In India, for instance, the dominant religious teaching is that the goal of life consists in loss of the personal ego through union with or mergence into the All-Consciousness, the Atman.6

Harding wonders if "the Western concept of the importance of the personal soul" offers a clue to the disillusionment so often suffered mid-life in the West. She asks if this could be because the ego is intended to be replaced by "a new centre of consciousness"—the Self.

Certainly the Hindus have explored the inner realm of the human psyche far more deeply than we have, for while we have been concerned with the problems of the outer world, they have been profoundly occupied with those of the soul.7

Is it possible the paths of East and West will meet at the top of the mountain? Harding looks for this possibility in the West’s further explorations of the hidden depths of the psyche—as above so below—as humanity is one in its collective depths so it is one on its sublime heights. Coming to light in the field of comparative religion is the surprising similarity between the teachings of Buddha, Lao Tze, and Jesus. Also noteworthy are Eastern parallels to Agreda’s feats of consciousness:

In the Orient, especially in India, the ideal of culture has been related to the conquest of the forces of nature within the human being, . . . Religious training seeks to make conscious the psychological happenings that normally go on below the threshold of consciousness. Through these disciplines the adept acquires conscious control of energies that usually function autonomously. This is accompanied by certain psychic experiences described in the texts as being of the nature of an expansion of consciousness beyond the ego stage, with a consequent freeing from the passions and desirousness that bind [persons] unconditionally to the world.8

From the above Jungian point of view, the problem is in the individual’s failure to evolve beyond the ego stage, and to therefore remain in the repetitive struggles of "desirousness." With development arrested at this stage the individual becomes progressively more isolated and alienated from fulfilling relationships and from a meaningful function within a community. When ego development fails to lead to the Self’s knowledge of the principle of unity, then the last state is a regressive and isolating individualism. On the other hand, if the ego lays down its life for the greater life of the whole, then the Self becomes the integrating center of the whole person, and the person remains both inwardly and outwardly connected. The same principle is central to Jesus’ teachings in which he speaks of the necessity of having to lose one’s life in order to gain it.

Agreda, late in her life, reported that having experienced the "first death" she had no fear of the "second death." Her birth into unitive awareness had come at an unusually early age. Still in her teens and motivated by love for faraway souls, she was transported to the other side of the world, and there she met a people with whom she could share God’s love—not just for them collectively or impersonally, but for each one individually. Thus her ministry was a reflection of her own synthesis of the personal and the transcendent.

Those in the East who have studied Yoga under a master have learned the importance of attuning their minds to that of their teacher, thus allowing their consciousness to be lifted to the master’s level. Saint Paul urged something similar in instructing Christians to "put on" the mind of Christ, or to "let" this same mind be in them.9 Saint Francis several times experienced his consciousness merging with the crucified Christ. On one occasion a voice spoke to him from the cross. On another he received the marks of the crucifixion in his body. For Agreda, the cross was also a touchstone, and before which she would fall into ecstasy. The Jumanos, then, were well advised in Father Salas’ parting instructions to pray daily before the cross. As a tribal people they would have understood the language of symbolism and the cross as where heaven and earth met. To them the Christian mysteries may have felt strangely familiar, and more easily incorporated into their own spirituality than might be imagined.

+ + +

Certainly the small band of priests and soldiers must have been awe struck by the events just passed and those now occurring as they made their way back to their home mission. What explanation could there have been other than they were witness to the hand of God at work? And the tribal peoples would have agreed wholeheartedly, but with the difference that for them everything was viewed as a manifestation of the Great Spirit. While the priests and soldiers looked upon precognition as supernatural, for tribal peoples it was the practical means of distant communication provided by the Great Spirit. Based on their intuitive knowledge of the interconnection of everything, such was to be expected. But beyond the anthropological view that this is how primitive consciousness naturally functions, could there be an explanation that does not preclude more highly differentiated consciousness from developing intuitive communication skills? Would a unified field of consciousness theory have room for both unitive and individual consciousness? If so should the two be viewed as overlapping or as two distinct levels, dimensions, or types of communication?

In the case of Agreda, the development of her consciousness was particularly complex. Her relationship to the spiritual world was rooted, first of all, in her own early mystical experiences. But then, as a daughter of the inquisitional Church, she could not have achieved or maintained her position of abbess without assenting to its doctrinal dictates. She would have had to integrate her personal experience with her indoctrinated beliefs. And in order to enter a convent she would have had to acquiesce to functioning not out of personal interest but in the interest of the entire community. Additionally, in keeping her Franciscan rule she would have been committed to a daily life of self-examination, a path in many ways similar to that of analytical psychology’s individuation process. In all these ways, the formation of her mind and spirit would have uniquely prepared her for the role in which she would find herself as the Lady in Blue. As her communication with tribal peoples was based on her own unitive awareness, so theirs with other tribes was similarly based. This, at least, may be a partial explanation for how messages flowed from one tribe to another, and also how the various tribes were all at once aware of what was going on in that vast wilderness area.10

For the most part, paranormal powers of communication are believed to be a carry-over from an earlier stage of evolution which gradually became lost as more reliable sensory faculties were developed. If so, this would suggest that the highly practical use of the five senses has been acquired at the price of loosing more subtle, extrasensory means of knowing. And if so there is reason to hope that which has been lost can be recovered.

Certainly the experiences related in this and the previous chapter offer evidence that the paranormal was the norm in the American Southwest, and as recently as three hundred years ago. It also seems reasonable to assume that this mode of communication was premised on a working knowledge of the interconnecting link between persons whose sense of self was more unitive than personal.

According to The Acts of the Apostles, communal living was the rule of the early Church, but in subsequent generations was lost. With the Desert Fathers and other forms of early monasticism it would reappear and continue through its flowering in the Middle Ages. From there its decline again began, until now those actually living together in Christian community are the exception. As a tenant of faith, however, the unity of the Whole Christ is celebrated in the rite of Holy Communion. How interesting, then, to read Joseph Epes Brown’s comparison of eucharistic symbolism to the peace pipe of Native American spirituality:

As the pipe is filled with the sacred tobacco, prayers are offered for all the powers of the universe, and for the myriad forms of creation, each of which is represented by a grain of tobacco. . . . when the fire of the Great Spirit is added a divine sacrifice is enacted . . . . In mingling his life-breath with the tobacco and fire through the straight stem of concentration, the man who smokes assists at the sacrifice of his own self, or ego, and is thus aided in realizing the Divine Presence at this own center. . . . The mysteries of the peace pipe are so profound that it is not too much to say that the rite . . . is something very near to the Holy Communion for Christians.11

In failing to appreciate the similarities between Christianity and Native American spirituality an opportunity has been lost. No longer can a spirituality born of American soil be observed in its unspoiled state. But then the times of the seventeenth century were not right for doing so. The times, in fact, only recently have become favorable with the growing recognition of the universality of all great religions.

How fortunate for posterity that Fathers Salas’ and Lopez’ amazingly detailed reports of these first encounters are preserved so that through their eyes it is still possible to observe a native people’s response to the Gospel as they receive it from a beautiful lady come down to them from the sky. Can their response be attributed to the manner in which they received it? Or was their receptivity due to the universality of the message and its symbolism? What had Jesus in mind in saying he had "other sheep . . . not of this fold"? As the most obvious interpretation, Sanford offers that "Jesus was referring to people who were not Jews but would also belong to him."

Psychologically this is a way of saying that the Center is a reality in all humankind. Christ is within all of us, regardless of our color or religious persuasion. This is the basis of the archetype of Oneness . . . .12

+ + +

It is true that the Native Americans met their Lady in Blue in an extraordinary way. But since for them the origin of everything was spirit, how she appeared was entirely acceptable. For them she was both a real person and a teacher come from another dimension. They didn’t think of her as an "unreal" apparition. Actually, they were not as puzzled over her appearance in their midst as she herself was. In confession she admitted not knowing whether she traveled there "within the body or out of the body." Since her consciousness traveled with her and her senses were aware of such details as the time of day or the change in climate, she must have felt herself functioning as persons normally do in a physical body and in "real time" versus "dreamtime."

Something the rational mind projects onto "primitive" peoples is belief in magic, but which is then quickly dismissed as irrational, or if not dismissed is feared as diabolical. But what if the Western perception of what constitutes magic is not the same as that of tribal peoples? What if from a tribal perspective belief in or performance of magic is, in actuality, a science based on long and careful observation of how things, under certain verifiable conditions, work? In other words, what some call magic some call a miracle, and others call science, with each perception based on and limited by a particular worldview subject to changing times.

Moreover, behind the illusion of the archetypal magician’s "now you see it, now you don’t," may be the illusiveness of the material world itself. How energy and matter interchange is still a mystery to most persons. Less so is how, under certain conditions, flowing water becomes ice, but in other circumstances becomes steam. Or consider the physicist’s statement that matter is frozen energy. In like manner, while in Spain Agreda was abbess of a convent, but to the natives of the Southwest she was the Lady in Blue. In one reality her body was stabilized in its physical form, but in the other reality she came down from the sky. And when she left she disappeared in the same way in which she had appeared. Now they saw her, now they didn’t. Nor was that a problem, because for them a spirit being was no less real, whereas for the strict materialist it was and still is a problem.

Having come this far in the story of Agreda, what are the known facts concerning her role as missionary and teacher? From the manner in which the Jumanos venerated the cross and showed unmistakably signs of having been prepared to receive baptism, the priests knew that this tribe, at least, had been well taught—indoctrinated was the word used. Moreover, the Jumanos’ reverence towards both the cross and the rite of baptism showed a deep and symbolic understanding of the meaning of both, something they either were quick to grasp or about which they had an innate or universal understanding. The fact that ten thousand were so anxious to receive baptism affirms their recognition of the sacramental power of this rite of regeneration. Can it be assumed that the Lady in Blue had prepared them for baptism in a way that was easy for them to understand and embrace? And what was the significance of their immediate impulse to bring their sick to be healed? Had they been told of the many who came to Jesus for healing? From hearing Gospel accounts, did they recognize Jesus as an extraordinarily great shaman? Had they been told or did they simply conclude that his power to heal had been passed on to his priests? This much we do know, they came expecting to be healed and they were.

+ + +

Inspired by the faith of the humble Jumanos, and pressed from every side by the requests of other tribes to return to them, the priests hastened towards Albuquerque to inform Father Benavides of all that had happened. He then could be on his way to Mexico City to relate to the archbishop how his fellow Franciscans had accomplished the task to which they had been assigned. For the returning priests, all that had taken place must have injected a new sense of meaning into their missionary work. And it must have reassured them of their call to the work they were doing.

When finally they arrived at the San Antonio Mission, Benavides was so certain of divine intervention in the conversion of the Jumanos that he concluded continued support was bound to be forthcoming from the archbishop, the viceroy, and the prelates in Mexico. He therefore determined to set out at once for Mexico City. Since it had become known that precious metals were not to be found in this vast territory, support for the missionary work had waned. Benavides was now optimistic this attitude would change once the Spanish crown saw the hand of God unmistakably at work.

The former custodian made the long trip to Mexico City without mishap. Neither was there any doubt there among those in authority; all agreeing that God had shown special providence in the Franciscans’ work among the Jumanos. Nor was there anything in Benavides’ report to suggest the occurrences were other than miraculous, that "God [had set] aside the physical laws to draw human hearts to himself." This was, of course, the widely held view of the time and maintained by scientists and philosophers alike. How different today with physicists holding that there are no laws laid down in nature, only "laws" human beings declare through observing the way they think nature operates.

In Psyche and Symbol13  Jung points out that when events in the world stand in a meaningful relationship which cannot be derived from any imminent causality, it is much the same as different parts of the human body working in harmony with one another and meaningfully adjusting to one another. "The West," he writes, "has done everything possible to discard this antiquated hypothesis, but has not quite succeeded." This, he goes on to say, is not so much a question of superstition as a truth that has remained hidden because of having less to do with the physical side of events than their psychic counterparts. Out of the twentieth century disciplines of physics, psychology and parapsychology comes evidence of a certain class of events not explained by causality. Included here would be the influence of the Lady in Blue over the Jumanos. This inexplicable factor is what Jung calls "synchronicity," a term with much the same meaning as Rhine’s ESP, Benavides’ "will of God," or the astronomer Kepler’s "correspondence theory."

Jung defines "synchronicity" as a coincidence in time of two or more causally-unrelated events which have the same or similar meaning. The phenomenon may be a foreboding, a dream, a vision, a hunch, or some other similar inner perception which coincides in meaning with an outward event situated in the past, present or future. The life and events of Mary of Agreda furnish a number of good examples of this phenomenon, one as previously observed in her "bouts with the devil."

Synchronicity, although no more baffling than the discontinuities of physics, does require a different kind of thinking. Confusion results only to the degree the workings of the logical mind are uppermost. As causally-unrelated events, consider the many meaningful convergencies in the story of the Jumanos’ conversion: the simultaneous, multi-local appearances of the Lady in Blue; her foreknowledge of the exact place where the two parties would meet; the unity of spirit with which an entire tribe of ten thousand asks for baptism; the healing of two hundred of their sick; the telepathic communication between the tribes of an entire widespread area as to the exact route the priests would be taking on their return trip; and the foreknowledge of where their paths would intersect. None of the above are attributable to ordinary mental processes, neither on the part of Agreda nor that of the native peoples.

Such occurrences seem strange to the rational mind and its subordination to the natural sciences which maintain that for every effect there is a logical cause. With the rise of the physical sciences, the acausal world of earlier ages and peoples became submerged in favor of reasonable causality. In such a black and white mental climate, Agreda’s feats could not have been perceived in any way other than being miraculous acts of God or the works of devil. In such a worldview the mysterious became the "occult"—and not just meaning hidden but forbidden. This, in turn, led to the madness of Catholic and Protestant hierarchies alike, with one burning as many heretics as the other. Under only slightly different circumstances, Agreda could well have been among them.

An environment unfavorable for the psychically-gifted continued well into the nineteenth century. And a renewal of interest towards the paranormal would not become apparent until 1882 with the founding of the Society for Psychical Research in England when, once again, inquiring minds would dare to seek truth in the light of day. Even so, phenomena such as surrounded Agreda has been slow to gain respectability by science and religion alike. Psychology and philosophy, however, were more open, due probably to their roots in the scholasticism of the Middle Ages which, reflecting back to Plato, at least acknowledged the relationship between all things, i.e., the correspondences skeptics of all ages have called "coincidences."

For some the relationship between psyche and physics, or soul and body, is not obvious. Yet few today disbelieve altogether the power of mind to effect matter. From the beginning experiments in which Rhine established proof of psychokinesis, a certain credibility has grown towards the idea of the control of mind over matter. Nevertheless, what still may be missing is a theory which sees a person as more than a physical body, as having, in fact, several or more "bodies" of different vibrational frequencies, and including one that is the "etheric" pattern of the physical body. Until something along this line is envisioned, the West will continue to lack a reasonable explanation for how the young Agreda could have projected her personality, consciousness, and appearance across an ocean, and continue to do so again and again over a period of eleven years.

If only now with the help of quantum physics such a theory can be entertained, think of the faith of Father Benavides who had only rumors to go on—of a young nun who was teaching the tenants of the Christian faith to the tribal peoples of his own Southwest mission field. He did, however, have one advantage: faced with the inexplicable, he was forced to accept the evidence as it was presented to him and from there take it on faith. Contrast this to the skepticism of the intervening centuries when such matters—even when witnessed, corroborated, and substantiated by competently documented records—had been disbelieved for want of a worldview to accommodate the breaking of staunchly held laws as to how things are. Conversely, Jung held that only if a person has had similar experiences can the unbelievable be believed. Otherwise it is a matter of waiting until science catches up with experience.

. . . either there are physical processes which cause psychic happenings or there is a preexistent psyche which organizes matter. In the first case, it is hard to see how chemical processes can ever produce psychic processes, and in the second case, one wonders how an immaterial psyche could ever set matter in motion. Yet, now, of course, we know it does.14

Benavides, with his magnificent simplicity of soul, could accept the profundity of the meaningful chain of events that had brought to light the revelation that there was a Lady in Blue, that she evidently belonged to his own order, and that in some miraculous way she had become the teacher of tribes never before reached by the missionaries of New Spain. Moreover, not only had she taught them, but she had healed them of their diseases and had won their devotion as well. This knowledge of the Jumanos’ conversion worked in Benavides to create an intense desire to make a thorough investigation of one held in so high regard. He anticipated that a full revelation of her work would inspire a reluctant Spanish monarchy to give the Franciscan missions of his territory the financial support they needed. Accordingly, he saw his recall to Mexico City for reassignment as another confirmation of "the hand of God" at work He therefore determined to ask the archbishop’s permission to go to Madrid to plead his case.

He lost no time in leaving for the capital of New Spain. Arriving there, he immediately related the story of the Lady in Blue to the archbishop and to his other superiors—ecclesiastical and civil. Those in authority agreed that he should personally carry the news of the missions to Spain.

It was for Madrid, then, he set sail, carrying with him information about the missions of New Mexico, but with his own primary motivation being the investigation of the nun about whom the claims had been made. He felt great good would result if he could discuss with her their joint missionary activity. He hoped the message she might give him for his fellow missionaries would encourage them to continue their work. Nor can anyone blame him if he was also motivated by a purely human curiosity to discover who she was, and to hear firsthand what she had learned about the territory over which he had been custodian and its native peoples.

Included in the next chapter is Benavides’ impression of the handsome woman who was now twenty-nine years old. He also recounts what she had to say about the nature of her "flights" and the manner in which they were accomplished.


Chapter Six

1. Charles W. Hackett, "The Miraculous Journeys of Mother María de Jesús de Agreda to La Quivara," in Pichardo’s Treatise on the Limits of Louisiana and Texas (Austin, 1934).
2. Brown, op cit
3. Matthew 18:19-20
4. John A Sanford, Mystical Christianity, Crossroad (NY, 1994), p 304
5. Brown, op cit
6. M Esther Harding, Psychic Energy, Princeton Univ Press (Princeton, 1963), pp225-6
7. Ibid
8. Ibid
9. Philippians 2:5
10. Marsden Hartley, Art and Archeology, Vol . X, No. 1 (January, 1920)
11. Brown, op cit.
12. Sanford, op cit
13. C G Jung, Psyche and Symbol, Doubleday, (NY, 1958) p 263
14. Aniela Jaffe, Ghosts, Apparitions, University Books (NY, 1963), (quoting Jung)

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