After reading a few blog entries, one of my brothers (not the scientist) asked, “What is a gnome anyway?” This struck me as a fine question, and one that gets us closer to the heart of the matter. Mano, Barbara’s gnome mentor, makes clear that the nature beings are of the Earth and are willing to appear in whatever way we need them to in order to make contact. This gives a lot of leeway, though many of us, nonetheless, picture bearded little fellows with red pointed hats and colored jackets. The gnome figurine on Barbara’s sink—the one she off-handedly began talking to as she did dishes—looked like this. And then the large smokestack gnome image she saw when driving with her cousin took on a classical gnome shape as well, with glasses and book under his arm.
But if, when you’re tuning in fully, you see a face in a tree, that too can be the swirl of gnome energy. Mano once told Barbara: “You have been questioning whether we are truly gnomes. Your concept of gnome is far too small. There are degrees and orders within the gnome consciousness. Don’t spend time trying to figure it out. It is not important to the work we are doing. If it were, you would be told. For now, build your experience and depth with the work we are doing together.”
When I last visited Barbara, she asked about my attempts to contact the elemental world in my old Saratoga haven of creek and giant oaks. Searching for the true experience, I talked about my sense of energy flows, the slowing down and blurring of hard lines, sometimes a feeling of being in a vortex or of sharing a pillar of light with a tree. She encouraged me to validate these results and to keep trying, suggesting that I take my laptop to the creek and write whatever comes into my head and fingers. At the request of the nature spirits, she has been doing this regularly for a long time, and then she works with the input, verifying through her meditative intuition, the pendulum, the Tarot.
Even the people who receive spiritual or extra-sensory information directly—and certainly those like me who are striving to learn how—are always filtering what they receive through the complexity of their own perceptions. The psychic must interpret by bringing to language a picture or a sensing. So a critical part of this deepening-consciousness work must be the honing of tools, personal ones, that honor core truths and work honestly with the material.
“Intention is the key,” the gnomes have told Barbara. “It opens the door for our ability to speak to you. Remember we speak in vibration, not in the English language. You do the interpretation of our vibration, and writing is a good way for you to do this.”
“There are two forms of awareness,” Mano says. “We prefer vibrational teaching to word teaching. I know you like concepts, yet vibrational teaching opens into concepts by an inner knowing rather than word learning. When we send a teaching on a vibration of love, it transfers into knowing and experience for you. Then we receive an energy from you—an exchange.”
“Everything is so subtle,” Barbara says. “When I tell you a gnome spoke to me and said this, it sounds very solid and real. You might think, ‘I wish I heard so clearly.’ I have learned to accept the fleeting thoughts and to follow where the threads lead. I have learned to trust myself to write the thoughts as they come and then go back with the pendulum to check for truth and accuracy and explanation. If I stop as I write to question and wonder, I move from intuition and inspiration to my intellect and the whole creative flow is aborted. Each part of the brain is involved, and each has its time to do what it does best.”
Barbara knows several people who actually see elementals in a matter-of-fact way. What they describe when they’re in the amphitheater is not necessarily what she has come to know through her more consciously cultivated way of perceiving. But she has learned not to judge these other perceptions. “The being of the tree communicates by showing its face, and my friend may describe a different face. The tree flashes its face to me, and it may flash another face in another place to another person.”
“Maria, from Panama, saw them from birth and was beaten for it,” Barbara mused. “Margaret didn’t see, but she trusted what she felt and observed. She mentioned having a horse that was getting anxious, and then she heard a tree fall far away. She intuited that the horse was picking up on the event and feeling concern for the tree. My process is that I feel it, and as I feel it’s as if I’m thinking into what it looks like. A little girl described it as see/feel.”
And so, my dear brother, back to the question: what is a gnome, really? It seems that we cannot know without cultivating the relationship first. Indeed, the perception may actually be in the relationship. And it’s not an answer we can arrive at and then be done with; it must be tended and nourished, from the inside. I think it’s related to a bridging of energies, with the energies always moving.
So now a little piece of my mind says: Well, if a gnome can be anything, it can also be nothing, a mind trick. This reductive thinking, which bathes me momentarily in confusing waters, is not the final word. It’s simply not. Yet I admit it in as part of the process—this process of flowing from the specific and particular (what do gnomes look like and how is their world set up, and how do they differ, say, from leprechauns) and the biggest of pictures, which involves trusting the intuitions that I, in the deepest authenticity I can muster, catch as they sing by in the middle of the night.