Art – Azazel the Fallen Angel

ACEO artist trading card featuring Azazel the fallen angel from Jewish/Christian mythology.

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Check out my art for sale on ebay!

Poetry: Sleeping Poetic Genius

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Sleeping Poetic Genius
By: Maranda Russell

I wrote a poem
in my sleep last night.
The words, colors, and images
now blur in my mind.
I try to pin them down,
only to have them
wiggle away
like a puppy
desperate to escape
a confining embrace.

The poem was grand,
of this I am sure.
A masterpiece of language,
now shriveled and dried up
like an unlucky worm
laying dead
after a rainstorm.

Strangest Lucid Dream Ever

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I had the strangest lucid dream ever the other night. As many lucid dreams start, I was in the middle of a dream when I suddenly realized that I WAS dreaming, and at that point was able to take over and consciously guide the rest of the dream. At first I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but after thinking about all the cool stuff I had done in previous lucid dreams over the years (meeting Michael Jackson, swimming in outer space with whales, visiting a robot world, etc.), I decided to start off with just flying – probably my favorite dream activity!

I flew a bit above the earth for a while, enjoying the beauty of the nature, towns, and waterways that passed below me, and then decided to fly higher and see what I could find above me. For some reason, it was a struggle to get high enough, almost like I didn’t believe in myself enough to go higher, even though I knew it was a dream and I had all the power.

Finally I did get high enough to reach a higher plane of existence, which by the way was a very interesting place. If I remember right it was almost ancient Greek-like in structure, had more advanced beings that weren’t quite angels, but felt more advanced than humans. The most interesting part of this place was that I viewed a puppet show where my mother, one of her previous husbands, and others I had known in my life were the puppets being controlled by these other beings. It was super weird.

While on this higher plane, I was greatly tempted to delve beneath their sea, because I could remember past lucid dreams where I had been able to travel underwater without needing to breathe, but now I was suddenly afraid to try it again, even though I knew it was a dream and I knew nothing could truly hurt me. I knew I couldn’t drown, but I still struggled to overcome my own self doubt and my grasp of “reality”, similar to how I had struggled to believe I could fly higher earlier in the dream.

In the end, I knew that the only thing holding me back was my fear and need to believe in myself, but it was almost impossible to overcome those things. I know there is a real message of depth there, even for my waking life, but I’m still a little weirded out by the whole experience. Hopefully I don’t sound like a nutcase too lol.

Hallucinations in Childhood

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Something I’ve been thinking about recently is hallucinations. As an adult, I haven’t really had a history of hallucinations. The closest things I can think of are a few times I have been awoken from my sleep by my husband or my mother’s voice loudly calling my name, only to find they are either not even at home or they swear they didn’t call for me. It is easy to assume this might be just weird remnants of a dream though, so I don’t consider it definitely a hallucination. There have also been a few times I hear a weird, high-pitched whining noise that no one else seems to hear. This could just be my autistic sensitivity though, picking up on something others don’t. It isn’t tinnitus, I have that as well, so I know the difference.

However, as a child I do have at least one vivid memory of a hallucination, maybe two. The first happened when I was around 5 or so, and it happened in the middle of a church service at my grandfather’s house (he was a pastor that ran his own church). In the middle of the service, this huge bird suddenly appeared next to my grandfather as he talked. It was a beautiful, rainbow colored bird, and I could physically see it, so it wasn’t like an imaginary friend (which I also had). I was excited by its appearance and made a bit of a fuss trying to tell my mom about it, but it became clear soon that she couldn’t see it and apparently no one else did either. I got in trouble for yelling out, so ended up sitting there staring at this huge bird and wondering what the heck was going on and why no one else could see it. To this day, I have no idea what happened that day or why. I wish I remembered what was going on in my life at the time, to see if I was under acute stress at the time, but I really don’t know.

The other possible hallucination happened when I was 12. It was soon after my father died and I was having the worst panic attack of my life up until that point. I was sitting on the bed, trying to breathe, feeling terrified and alone, when suddenly a bright figure appeared at the end of the bed. At first I was terrified, but the being told me not to be afraid and I immediately felt a calm I had never felt before in my life. The panic attack was gone and the bright figure somehow communicated to me that I was safe and protected before leaving. I assumed at the time it was my guardian angel, but now that I am no longer religious and not sure what I believe in, I wonder if it could have possibly been a hallucination brought on by grief and terror. I honestly don’t know. I certainly wouldn’t mind having a guardian angel, but if I do, why didn’t they protect me or show up during even more dangerous moments of my life, moments when my life was actually in danger?

These two experiences as a child makes me wonder if they were hallucinations, and if they were, is it normal for children to have hallucinations and then grow out of them? Or is this just a warning that if I am pushed too far emotionally or mentally, that something may break inside me and I could lose touch with reality? Could I someday have another hallucination out of nowhere? That is a scary thought. Has anyone else out there also had experiences like this as a kid and apparently grown out of them?

*Art by Maranda Russell

“Mystified” – young adult novel review

“Mystified” is a book that truly kept me guessing from the beginning until the end.  This young adult novel, which was written by T.C. Booth, is a unique blend of fantasy, faith, romance, angels, spiritual warfare, family issues and the ordinary dilemmas that are part of being a teenager in today’s world.

The plot seems simple enough, a teenage girl named Erin Colley finds herself torn between a popular jock at her school and a mysterious hottie who happens to show up whenever Erin finds herself in need of assistance.  As Erin gets to know the mysterious stranger more, she realizes that he is more than human and finds out that she has some special gifts as well.  As the story progresses, Erin finds out that what at first appeared to be blessings may create bittersweet yearnings as she learns to merge her gifts with her normal human life.

This story does definitely have some spiritual and Christian overtones, but in no way do they detract from the story or slow down the pace.  In fact, the mix of fantasy and spirituality work together to enhance the story, making it richer and deeper.  I also liked the fact that the characters were realistic.  They all had their own unique personality flaws, but they also have the confidence to be themselves and choose the right path, even when things get hard.  As the characters grow and mature, they come to realize that popularity isn’t really all that important, especially when it means compromising your beliefs.

If you have been looking for an inspiring, yet exciting tale, this might be just the book for you.  To find out more about the book, please visit the author’s website.  While there you can read a little more about the book, including character descriptions and discount promotions that are currently available.  There are also links to purchase the book in eBook form from Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.

Do you believe in ghosts???

This weekend we have been at our church family camp.  We haven’t had a lot of extra time to do sightseeing, but in what little time we did have, we visited several historical, supposedly haunted places.  There was the Knox County Poorhouse which was really more like an insane asylum where the unwanted of society got dumped.  So many people died from the horrible conditions there, that they started secretly burying them in unmarked graves.  Some of these graves are still found today.  Later the poorhouse became a Bible College, where there was a horrible elevator accident that killed several people.  All of these lost souls are said to haunt the property.

Then we went to the Curtis Mansion, a house that is in horrible disrepair today, but must have been spectacular in its day.  It is supposed to be haunted by the ghost of a little girl.

Our last stop was at Kenyon College where supposedly there is a gateway to hell…in fact, even the church itself is said to stand on the hellmouth…quite a story huh?  Of course, the college has had a lot of deaths that make it a good haunting spot.  Nine students died in a fire, several students committed suicide, a few met mysterious deaths and a couple kids were involved in train or vehicle accidents on campus.

So did we see anything?  Not really.  We took some pics that we haven’t been able to post yet, so I will see if anything showed up on those.  I could tell there were some very strange light patterns in some of the pictures, but not sure what caused that.

I often get asked why I like to visit haunted spots.  Do I really believe in ghosts?  Well, I don’t know.  I have certainly experienced some odd things in my life that I couldn’t explain, but I don’t know why those things happened.  For instance, in my grandparents’ house, you could often hear footsteps overhead when no one was there.  There was also a bloodstain upstairs that would vanish when you washed it, but would soon show up again exactly as it was before.

In my childhood home, where an elderly lady died, things would often mysteriously move or things would fall from the wall and end up on the other side of the room…not really sure what was going on.  The oddest incidence was probably when my grandmother died though.  After her death, an anniversary lamp that her and my grandpa had gotten on their wedding day constantly flickered on and off.  Even unplugged it would continue to flicker.  However, the day she was buried, the strange activity ended and never happened again.  Coincidence?  I don’t know…but certainly weird.

I know that many fellow Christians think ghosts are unreal or are caused by demons.  I’m not sure about that.  My grandma was a strong Christian…one of the greatest I’ve known.  I have also known faithful Christians who saw loved ones after they died, and those “ghosts” told their living loved ones that heaven is glorious and to keep living for God.  Why would a demon encourage others to live for God?  Plus, many ghost stories are positive tales of ghosts who have saved the lives of loved ones or helped those in times of need…would demons do that?  And if they are angels, why not just appear as angels instead of ghosts?

I don’t have the answers and won’t pretend that I do.  But I know there is much more out there than we can see…who knows how it all happens or what it is…but I must admit it does fascinate me.