following group NDE appears in the
for Near-Death Studies
(Volume XIX, No. 3, 2000) and is described in a
greater way in May Eulitt's and Dr. Stephen Hoyer's
Fireweaver: The Story
of a Life, a Near-Death, and Beyond.
May finally made the
transition into spirit on February 19, 2002, due
to complications following a surgical procedure
to repair one of her heart valves. She was 52 years
old. The following is her near-death experience
as described to Dr. Stephen Hoyer:
During the fall of 1971,
when I was 22 years old, I shared a near-death experience
with my cousin, James, and his best friend, Rashad,
who was from India. Both young men were on a break
from school and were staying with my family on our
farm. One afternoon the three of us went to the
cornfield to cut fodder. To get to the field we
had to go through a metal gate, and we took turns
climbing down to open and shut it. By late afternoon
a storm started brewing in the west, and we decided
to quit for the day. It was James' turn to open
the gate, and as he did so, he reached up for my
arm to climb back up onto the wagon. I was leaning
the wrong way, and his weight pulled me toward him.
Rashad grabbed my other arm to steady me, and we
were in just this position when the lightening hit
saw the lightning sparkle along the top of the gate.
The next thing we knew, we were in a large room
or hall made of dark stone. The ceiling was so high
and the gloom was so thick we couldn't see the top.
There were no furnishings or wall hangings, just
cold, black stone all around. I knew I should be
afraid, but I just felt peaceful, floating along
there in the gloom with my two friends in the great,
dark hall. The stately walls of this place loomed
above us and seemed to radiate both great power
and also great masculinity. I remember thinking
it would have suited King Arthur. It was at that
point that I realized that the three of us were
united in thought and body. Images of Arthur came
to me from James and Rashad. James saw only a cosmic
version of the king. Rashad seemed to [be] envisioning
himself in the time of Arthur. As we all became
conscious of each other's thoughts, I suddenly knew
James and Rashad better than I have ever known anyone
We realized there was
light coming into the chamber from an archway at
one end. It was more than just light. It was a golden,
embracing warmth. It gave off a feeling of peace
and contentment more intense than anything we had
ever felt. We were drawn toward it. We weren't talking,
but we were communicating with each other on some
other level, seeing through each other's eyes. As
we came to the archway and passed through, we entered
a beautiful valley.
There were meadows and
tree-lined hills that led to tall mountains in the
distance. Everything glistened with golden sparks
saw that the sparkling lights were tiny, transparent
bubbles that drifted in the air and sparkled on
the grass. We realized that each tiny sparkle was
a soul. To me, the valley appeared to be Heaven,
but at the same time I knew that James and Rashad
were seeing it differently. James saw it as the
Gulf of Souls. Rashad saw it as Nirvana, and somehow
we knew all this without speaking. The light began
gathering at the far end of the valley, and slowly,
out of the mist, a pure white being began to materialize.
I saw an angel with a strong, bright face, but not
like you'd usually imagine. She was closer to a
Valkyrie. I knew she was the special angel that
watches over the women of my family, and I perceived
her name to be Hellena. James saw this same being
as his late father, a career Naval officer, in a
white dress uniform. Rashad perceived the being
to be the Enlightened One, or Buddha.
being spoke first to Rashad and welcomed him. He
said that Rashad's time on Earth was done. He was
worthy now of Nirvana. Rashad asked why James and
I were there and was told that we were part of the
reason why he was worthy of Nirvana. His two great
friends loved him so much that they had willingly
accompanied him on his last journey. At the same
time, however, James received a different message.
He had been worried about what his father would
think about his anti-war protest activities, and
his father told him he was proud of him for standing
up for what he believed. He knew he was not a coward
because a coward would not have made this journey
with Rashad. I received yet another message in which
Hellena told me she was glad I had remembered the
example of strength, honesty, wisdom, and loyalty
taught to me by my family.
spent what seemed like an eternity in this place
as we talked to our separate, yet joined, entities.
They said they appeared to us in this way because
back in the real world we were physically joined
when the lightning struck us. They said it also
symbolized the joining of all religions and doctrines.
They said I would live to see a new age of tolerance,
that the souls and hearts of humanity would be joined
as the three of us were.
The guides taught us
that doctrine and creed and race meant nothing.
No matter what we believed we were all children
joined under one God, and that the only rule was
God's true law - do unto others as you would have
them do unto you. We should treat all people as
if they were a part of our soul because they were.
All living things in the universe were connected
to one another. They said that soon humanity would
mature enough to assume a higher place in the universal
scheme of things, but until then we must learn acceptance
and tolerance and love for each other. They said
there would come a new age when people would not
be able to endure seeing others homeless and hungry.
We would realize that only by helping each other
could we truly help ourselves.
Eventually we were told
that it was time to go. We would not be allowed
to stay longer because it was not yet time for me
or for James, only for Rashad. The enlightened one
told Rashad he would have a little time before he
returned to take care of his worldly affairs. James'
father told him he would return to this place soon
after Rashad, but the two of them had to go back
for now so that I could. I said I would willing
stay here in this valley with them, but Hellena
told me that I had not fulfilled my destiny; that
I had children yet unborn.
We drifted slowly toward
the archway. The pull became stronger and we were
literally thrown back into the world. We floated
for a while there, hovering above our bodies. Some
of my cousins had been in the next field and had
seen what had happened. We saw them all come running
to where we lay. James and Rashad's hands were still
stuck to my arms. We saw my cousins pry their fingers
loose so they could turn Rashad over to help him.
When our hands were pried
loose, James and I re-entered our bodies. We felt
as if we were on fire, but it turned out that we
had only minor injuries. Rashad, it seemed, being
on the end, had taken most of the charge. The doctors
said that the lightning had caused damage to his
heart, lungs, and liver. He remained in the hospital
for several weeks. During that time, tests revealed
that James had a brain tumor that would eventually
claim his life.
As soon as Rashad could
travel, James took him home to India. He offered
to stay, but Rashad told him that he wished solitude
for his final time. Rashad took on the life of the
Ascetic, in the Vedic tradition. He asked his wife
to stay with her family because he wanted his last
days to be spent in spiritual awakenings. About
a year and a half later, on a cold day in January,
Rashad returned to Nirvana. James and I knew when
his soul left the world without being told.
James lived about three
years after he found out he had the brain tumor.
He gave most of his considerable inheritance to
a charity that educated young people in India. I,
on the other hand, have survived for another thirty
years (so far) with the knowledge that this experience
which I shared with my closest friends has been
a guiding force in my life. I strive every day to
meet my destiny, whatever it may be, with the same
quiet dignity and resolution they showed when they
met theirs. They have truly been my pathfinders,
and I know that the connection I shared with them
so long ago is the same connection we all share.
We just sometimes fail to realize it.