Posts Tagged With: Eastern Townships

Magic in the Neighbourhood

The Brownie Castle, Granby, Quebec

I have mentioned a few times that I grew up in a particularly idyllic part of Canada, in Southern Quebec, an area known as the Eastern Townships, which straddles the border with Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. It is in the Appalachian panhandle, the oldest mountain range on planet Earth, which once upon a time, many ice ages ago, was 7 times higher than the Himalayas.

Lavender farm among the hills of the Eastern Townships.

Lavender farm among the hills of the Eastern Townships.

Today they are mostly gentle, rounded hills, meandering rivers, sleepy villages established by the Loyalists (persons who were in the US but wanted to remain loyal subjects of the British Crown so left and came up to Canada), farms, vineyards producing iced apple cider wine and ski hills.
To me the Townships has always been home, not Montreal.

Lac Boivin, I learned how to ice-skate on this lake as a 4 year old, in the winter when it was frozen over.

Lac Boivin, I learned how to ice-skate on this lake as a 4 year old, in the winter when it was frozen over.

More particularly I grew up in a town called Granby, a small town established by Scottish settlers. Much of the English-speaking population left the Townships in the late-1970s, early 1980s, when the separatist political party, the Parti Quebecois came into power. Today about 50 000 Anglos barely hold on while the area became more French due to draconian language laws (I’m not going to go into the whole Anglo vs French thing in Quebec but its a constant theme living in Quebec. You can read about it here if you want). Even so, if you ever get the chance to visit, the “STOP” signs are still in English. The wide boulevards, which mark English town-planning are still there. Drive around even more and there are little villages and hamlets with names like Mystic, Aberdeen, East Angus and Waterloo.

In Granby, I grew up practically on the doorstep of the mysterious Brownie Castle, a strange mansion with a hexagonal tower built by the Walt Disney of the Victorian age, Palmer Cox.

Palmer Cox, back in the day.

Palmer Cox, back in the day.

Funny how you can live somewhere for years and never really know the history and more particularly, the esoteric history of that place. I only found all this out in late August but Palmer Cox was a very well-known illustrator in the late 19th century, who grew up in tiny Granby and worked for years in places like New York City and San Francisco. His illustrations were in publications like The New Yorker and Harper’s. And then he created, The Brownies.

brownies-their-book-by-palmer-cox

The Brownies were based on the stories he grew up with from his Scottish heritage, particularly his mother who was from the Highlands. In Scottish folklore, the Brownies were tiny spirits who helped people out in the home. You walk out of a room and come back 5 minutes later and suddenly the floors are mopped or the bed has been made mysteriously. Cox wrote many books about them which were a fantastic hit with kids the world over, not unlike the Harry Potter phenomena.

The Eastman Kodak company using the Brownies for an ad.

The Eastman Kodak company using the Brownies for an ad.

The Brownie images were used to promote dozens of products like soaps and shoe shine polish. In many ways, it was the precursor of what we see the Disney corporation do these days with their animated characters. Cox made millions from it, lived in Europe for years and then for some reason, decided to come back to sleepy little Granby to build the Brownie castle.

And with the Brownie mansion in the background, shortly after it was constructed.

And with the Brownie Castle in the background, shortly after it was constructed.

The Brownie mansion sits in my old neighbourhood.

Across the street from the mansion is the oldest park in Granby, Victoria Park (named after the queen at the time) designed by Frederick Todd, who went on to design Canada’s Parliament Hill in Ottawa, the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City and… Fort Tyron Park in New York City (with Frederick Olmsted Jr.).

The stream heading off into the pool, Victoria Park 1945. It still pretty much looks the same.

The stream heading off into the pool, Victoria Park 1945. It still pretty much looks the same.

I practically grew up in that park, walked through it everyday on my way to school, played with my friends among the rocks and streams and even as a kid, I felt there was something special there.

The Japanese Cedars, they can live for hundreds of years. Many temples and shrines in Japan have groves of these trees.

The Japanese Red Cedars, they can live for hundreds of years. Many temples and shrines in Japan have groves of these trees.

In the fountains, in the grove of ancient Japanese Red Cedars, in the ponds and the exposed giant granite rocks, a hallmark of Olmsted and Todd park design, which I found out in my recent NYC trip. Even now, whenever I return to visit, I always catch someone doing something spiritual there. I’ve seen people meditating, I’ve seen people doing Tai-Chi or yoga. I’m not the only one who can feel *something* is at work in that park. There’s some good mojo in that whole area.

Before going to New York, I went back to Granby to look at the Brownie Castle again (today, it is a private residence with three different apartments, I’m not sure the tenants even know or care about the significance of the building) and to visit Palmer Cox’s grave at the Cowie Street cemetery.

Plaque on Cox's grave.

Plaque on Cox’s grave.

I couldn’t figure out why on Earth would Cox come back to tiny Granby after hitting the jackpot and living in glamorous places like NYC and Europe for decades to build a whimsical mansion in the middle of nowhere ? (The park and neighbourhood were developed decades after the mansion was built.)

Cox, was a Freemason, which also has its own set of esoteric teachings, much of it is a mish-mash of proto-ancient Egyptian and Hermetic teachings and rituals, so he was savvy to these things. Frederick Todd, another Scotsman, was also a Mason (in fact a guy I once knew who was thinking of becoming a Mason even told me that the layout of Parliament Hill is based on the layout of the inside of a Masonic Lodge).
It makes me wonder if Cox felt the energy of that area, the benevolent presence of something and felt compelled to return the favour?

Categories: Pop culture, Those unseen things, Travels | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Following the Cosmic Breadcrumb Trail

“Centres of light must be established throughout the world, because they attract the inhabitants of higher realms who rejoice in them. The beams of light we project by means of our songs, our meditations and our prayers are seen from great distances by celestial, high-frequency entities. Perceiving these pure rays of light shining through the spiritual shadows and darkness surrounding the earth, they come to contemplate them and bestow their blessings on us.  We must establish these rivers of light throughout the world in order to form a link between heaven and earth. They are living, breathing conduits through which these divine blessings descend for all human beings, and. without them the earth would be prey to very dark and destructive forces. If you truly wish to help your family, your country and the entire world, you must do everything possible to create these pockets of light through which the earth enters into contact with heaven. All human beings benefit from your efforts, thanks to which they receive spiritual nourishment and joy. This is the greatest, most glorious work you can undertake. You must never forget this.”
– Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

This past July I went and spent a weekend at Blagoslovenie, the motherhouse of the Canadian chapter of the organization which looks after the dissemination of the teachings of the Bulgarian/French Gnostic spiritual master Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov.

MasterPostCard11

Aivanhov, to the more recent readers of my blog, is one of  the spiritual master whose teachings I feel resonates the closest for me (you’ll see his quotes around here a lot)  and while I don’t want to classify myself as a “follower” (I find that word has really culty associations and asks people to suspend their critical thinking skills) I will say that Aivanhov’s teachings have inspired me immensely over the years and in many ways have played a huge part in how I look at things. What I like about him is that he has a very take-it-or-leave-it attitude. There’s no “come-follow-me-and-I-promise-you-riches” kind of talk.  May not work for everyone but it works for me.  (For anyone interested, the biography about him by the late yoga scholar and noted Indologist Georg Feuerstein is fantastic and gives an amazing understanding of Aivanhov’s work for beginners.)
Great read.

Great read.

The have chapters all over the world now but I’m quite lucky in that the Canadian headquarter is a 2 hour drive away from me in Quebec’s magical Eastern Townships, at the top of the Appalachian panhandle and not far at all from one of the only 7 crystal mines in the world. It’s a beautiful and often over-looked part of Canada which is blessed with an exceptional microclimate which allows for all sorts of organic farming, outdoor living and homesteading.
Eastern townships
My understanding is that the area was once a golf course back in the 1970s. The organization bought it in the early 1980s. Aivanhov visited the area several times before he passed on in 1986 and designated it the Canadian headquarter . The area is now transformed into a self-sustaining organic farm with 7 different lakes on the gigantic property which includes meadows, forests, orchards, fields, hills, greenhouses, streams and ponds all fed by underground springs. It is quite an impressive and incredibly peaceful and pure place to visit. Colorful birds and butterflies are everywhere, cute little chipmunks run around between the trees and you can hear birds singing all day long. In Aivanhov’s words, “Billions of the most extraordinary entities live here… Go, walk the land, explore it and put these entities to work.”
Eastern townships
It was this last quote alone which convinced me that I need to go experience the place and investigate it. Also, I had been due for a spiritual retreat for quite a while. Too many questions. Not enough answers. Not enough clarity. Needed to be around some like-minded people. Walking, doing some yoga and meditating in nature sounded like the antidote which I needed. And so I went.
sungazing
For those persons who are unfamiliar with Aivanhov’s teachings, it might be a bumpy trip. After all, you’re saying prayers in the original Bulgarian or in French translation, singing songs in Bulgarian, eating vegetarian meals in silence, waking up super-early in the morning to watch the sunrise and greet the Sun in silent meditation followed by a session of sun-gazing and solar yoga (exercises below). I’ve been reading Aivanhov since 1996-97 so I understood what these spiritual exercises signified and what was going on and didn’t feel uncomfortable in the least while joining everyone else. Everyone there made me feel welcome and were exceptionally kind.
One morning, another guest and I went walking through the forests and meadows and looking at the various lakes. I was looking for a good spot to do some yoga by myself but I also wanted a chance to investigate the extensive grounds and get a feel for the land there. My walking companion is a herbalist and wanted a chance to gather some fresh St. John’s Wort in the meadows. Eventually I found myself at one of the many lakes, liked what I saw and lay down my yoga mat.
Companion: “Can you keep a secret”
Me: “Yes, of course”
Companion: “This is the exact spot where the Master would meditate.”
I was elated. What were the odds? It was sign that I was at least on the right rack. Finally, a space where I could try to communicate with him. I returned the next day by myself to meditate, ask questions and ask for a sign which would give me an answer. One of the questions I wasn’t sure about was a reconnaissance trip to the Pacific Northwest of the US, to survey and investigate a few spiritual spots, namely Neahkahnie mountain, Nehalem Bay, Crater Lake and Orcas Island.
Almost as soon as I hit the highway while driving home back from the retreat, I saw an exit sign towards “Boulevard de Portland” in the town of Sherbrooke.
I got my answer.
673499
(P.S It’s not possible for everyone to go out and create a spiritual retreat or compound. It’s really about creating a shared, common place of  pure intention, that’s how we become the the conduits between heaven and earth. You can do that in your back yard, front lawn or balcony. Watch this film below and it’s easy to understand why it’s possible in even the grimmest of places.)
Categories: Ascension, Ch-ch-ch-changes, New Energy Centers, Raise your EQ, Travels, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.