Sextiped Valley column: Mysterious encounters with other minds |

Sextiped Valley column: Mysterious encounters with other minds

So as not to offend anyone, let me preface this column by saying up front that if you are offended by the taking seriously of anomalous phenomena loosely grouped under the aegis of “psi” — such as telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, etc. — perhaps you should stop reading here. Because that is where I’m going this month.

Last month, I turned 72. For over 50 years, I’ve worked with animals for my living, in varied capacities and with many different species. I’ve learned a lot. Some of it has come from studying and applying what is known about behavior, learning, nutrition and health. I have enormous respect for my predecessors’ and contemporaries’ discoveries in these fields, often going against what was conventional wisdom until, through their efforts, it was corrected or augmented.

But I have to say that I’ve learned the most from the animals themselves. The ones I’ve known through my work, my personal familiar companions, and also the ones I’ve encountered through anomalous media: in my case, usually dreams, or telepathic communications that are both wordless and specific. And over the years, through these experiences, I’ve become convinced that consciousness must be fundamental to the universe.

Since arriving at this conclusion largely on my own, I’ve been encouraged to learn that this proposition is now at the cutting edge of both physics and psychology, permitting an opening for serious scientific exploration to appear in the public realm. It’s still definitely rejected by scientistic dogmatists, but the old materialist paradigm is rapidly giving way. While I’m not a scientist, I’ve discovered that I can follow the scientific discussions, if not the technical sections, enough to realize that the skeptics focus their debunking not on criticisms of methods, the honesty of the researchers or the conclusions from the data but rather from an insistence that what appears to be true simply cannot be. That isn’t science. It’s something like ideology. It’s dogma.

I’m working with an urgent compulsion to tell a story, which I don’t entirely know, as insights are being given to me by a cohort of mice. Lab mice. And wild mice, pet mice, former and future mice — and this story has to do with healing, specifically with healing cancer. It can’t be a coincidence, I think, that breeding and culturing cancer-prone mice has been so bound up with biomedical research seeking a cure for cancer. And cancer has been a presence in my life, destructive, yes — but also, somehow, numinous. I struggle to engage with the mice who keep nibbling at the edge of my awareness, pulling me into a collaboration of sorts, and letting me hear — if only in my imagination — the songs they are singing (yes, mice do sing, only at too high a frequency for human ears, unless technically modified, the way elephants’ low frequency rumbling communications are rendered audible).

I strongly suspect that many of you also have experiences of these “anomalous” sorts that you could share. People who live with animals, love them, know them — just do. My project is bringing me into contact with writers and scientists — but I really want to hear from any of you who have anecdotes and personal experiences that would help shed light on some of what is still poorly understood. I’m convinced increasing understanding of these phenomena is important. Really important. And I personally feel comforted and encouraged when I learn what others have felt, wondered about and known. So this is an invitation to any of you who might be inclined to share your experiences with me. I promise confidentiality and respectful attention. You can send them to me at I look forward to hearing from you.

Laurie Raymond owns High Tails Dog & Cat Outfitters in Glenwood Springs.

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