Tipi Retreat

I don’t typically do things like this, but just out of curiosity, I picked up the phone and dialed a number that would connect me to the man who was leading a tipi retreat in the north Georgia mountains. Just on a whim, you understand...  
I had a free weekend and thought it would be a fun experience.  After all, I was sojourning in Cherokee country and this was a rare opportunity.

The retreat leader, Tom, answered the phone and we talked for a bit about the upcoming event... and then we talked some more. There was something intriguing about him…
He was bright, high energy, stimulating..
We got through the retreat details in the first few minutes, but when it was time to hang up, we lingered.
There was something about his voice...
It was warm and engaging, but more than that….it pulled me in...it was spellbinding.
It drew you like a lover pulling you onto a dance floor and holding you close.
Apparently my voice was having a similar effect on him.
We talked for over three hours.  I was breathless and exhilarated… strangely so.
It had been a long time since I felt this way…  Few men affected me like this.
The retreat was a few long days away and I was anxious to meet him. I hardly slept that night.  He slipped between my thoughts all the rest of the day and colored my dreams that night.  I found myself  powerfully drawn to him in ways I had not anticipated...and for all the right reasons.

My phone rang very early the next morning.  I rolled over in bed trying to ignore it, but it rang persistently.  It was him!
I sat up quickly and immediately regretted sounding so excited to hear his voice.  'Damn!'  I was sure that wasn’t wasted on him.  He was alert and responsive to every detail.
He got right to the point.
"What are you doing this afternoon?  You sounded so interesting yesterday… I’d love to meet you in person and spend some time with you before the weekend. How about this afternoon?  Say, one o’clock…"
"Perfect! See you then!" I countered.

A small blue pickup truck arrived promptly at one o’clock and an energetic figure emerged.  That was the first thing I noticed about him.  He was attractive.  Lean, muscular and sensual, sporting a brown ponytail with just enough gray to suit me. He had an almost feral grace in the way he moved…cat-like.  Big cat…  Dangerous cat, perhaps?
Fast, fleeting impressions...
Time would tell…
His knock at the door was self-assured.
When I opened the door to face him for the first time, his energy nearly lifted me off my feet.
I struggled to maintain control.  My energy, normally so contained, sprang to life, too.  What a rush!
I think he felt the same rush of excitement.
I was attracted to him on all levels.  He had piercing blue eyes that sparkled with intelligence.  He was everything I liked in one ruggedly handsome package. This was going to be interesting…We were so comfortable with one another that we skipped the small talk altogether. We had an easy intimacy from the outset. I liked his sense of humor and candor from the start. My kind of relationship, I mused…
He had great male energy.  My perfect counterpart.  I hoped he was single.
We talked, we sat in silence, we sipped tea.
We exchanged stories...everything from the mundane to the metaphysical and spiritual.
We took the measure of each other...
Somehow we both knew that this was a significant encounter, one not to be taken lightly.  We approached slowly and with care. Our hearts were full and we were glad to have found each other. We had stepped out of time… transported...woozy…
He was unlike anyone I had ever met before.
He looked easily 10 years younger than his age.  He had been a vegetarian for many years. In fact, at this point, he took only fresh juice for nourishment.
As a result of that and his spiritual practices, he only needed 2 or 3  hours of sleep each night.  He was quite remarkable.
"If you sleep so little, what do you do with all your time?"     I asked.
"I do my spiritual work..." he replied a bit cryptically.
There was something in the tone of his voice that caused me to shy away from any further questions.
For what purpose had this unusual man come into my life?
My mind swirled with possibilities, not the least of which was romantic. I had finally met someone of similar depth and passion and intensity.  A soul mate.  My womanly imagination kicked into high gear.
I knew I should at least tap the brakes, but I wanted to enjoy the fantasy a bit longer...just in case.
Layer by layer we revealed ourselves to each other.
We were hungry to know everything about each other.
Through all this, another conversation-this one more silent-flowed.
Our bodies were having a talk of their own.
There was an obvious attraction between us and a kind of delicate courtship was beginning to take place.
I sensed a lover who could be playful, earthy, yet sensitive.
The heat was definitely rising.
My reverie was interrupted by an inner voice that was barely noticeable at first.
It said simply, ‘Pay close attention to his questions.’

I realized that my attention had already shifted considerably. I was eavesdropping on the ‘other'-the body conversation.  I had felt comfortable enough to start passing over details.
It was hard to rouse myself and pay closer attention to what was happening- to what was being said.
He was asking more serious questions now.
Just darting in here and there as my trust level rose.
His questions struck me as the type of questions one would ask if they were seriously interested in getting to know you.
‘What is he seeking?’  the inner voice asked. ‘Listen for the intention…’

As I began to listen, I realized that tucked into the pleasant conversation were questions and off-handed remarks designed to gather details about my personal life and my financial situation. I wasn't working at the time…
For all he knew I could independently wealthy…at a reasonably young age, too, to sweeten the deal.
He was definitely reading me?   But for what purpose?
I had a fleeting sense of being stalked.
I would have dismissed the idea had it not been for the still small voice inside.
Alerted, I woke up and came to my senses.
An innate wisdom began to take over.
My girlish fantasies were set aside now.
I slowly took up the role of the hunter, as well.

Concealing the shift in my awareness, I continued to answer questions in a soft, non-defensive way.  I would give nothing important away.
Only this time I watched him very carefully as he took in the information.
I followed the trail of the conversation, the thrust of his questions, the backtracking, the persistent pursuit.
I was indeed being stalked...and perhaps, not for a good purpose.
When the game could go no farther, he grew restless and we decided to call it a day.
We gave it a good finish and ended on a positive note, relaxing again and enjoying the moment.
As he was leaving, he smiled warmly and thanked me for the afternoon.
"I feel so close to you… like we’ve known each other for a very long time. Would it be all right if I gave you a hug?"
I smiled back, saying ‘yes’ with my eyes.
He gently stepped in and embraced me lightly in a way that felt safe and caring.
Just before releasing me, he momentarily held me a little tighter. He bent his head to my neck and sniffed twice sharply.
Only then did he let me go.

In the next moment he bounded down the stairs, climbed into his truck and started the engine.  Then he was gone.
I stood there a bit stunned, unsure of what had just happened.  It was so quick and unexpected!

It felt distinctly feral...more animal than human...wolf-like...predatory.
I felt a sense of alarm deep inside. What had just happened?
His last act left me feeling unnerved and shaky, somehow violated.  I tried to tell myself that it was nothing, but I didn’t feel the same and I couldn’t quell my unease as evening approached.
There was more to this man and to this encounter then I had anticipated...

That night I slept fitfully, strange visions and shadows playing through my dreams.
In the morning I wondered about this man who didn’t sleep...  Was it my imagination or did he have the power to penetrate my dreams?

I was growing more curious about him almost against my will. Over the next few days, he felt like a growing obsession.
There was much to admire about the man.  Much that I aspired to.  His spiritual experiences fascinated me.

He had shared his dream with me of purchasing a tract of land to create a permanent site for teaching native American ways.  He had patiently gathered supporters and was coming closer to achieving his goals.
He intimated that he was searching for a life partner to work alongside him.  She would have to be his equal… strong, accomplished and independent.
He was dangling a hook...

Saturday morning I got on the road for the drive to the tipi retreat. The sky was bright blue accented with billowy white clouds. Perfect weather was forecast for the days ahead. Lovely! The anticipation I felt was growing, but there was a faint tinge of something indefinable...a forewarning, perhaps?
I hoped I had just read more into his actions than was warranted, but I was thoughtful on the drive to the tipi retreat.
I crested the final hill and spotted the dozen or so tipis rising proudly into the sky. I parked the car in the tall grass, grabbed my sleeping bag and headed to the registration area. I scanned the crowd, curious about my fellow attendees.  It looked like a fair number of 40-something new age types...mostly women with just a handful of men.
It was a curious mix. Wide-eyed and hopeful, many of them appeared to be well-off.
As I wandered the grounds checking things out, I began to wonder what my real purpose was in being there...

A chance conversation with a woman about my age led to my first breakthrough.  We chatted while washing our hands at the well.  She was not there for the retreat, but she had come to keep an eye out for her young niece-  a 14 year old girl.  She was there on behalf of the girl's mother, as well as her own concern for her much-loved niece.
It seems that this young girl had taken up with the man who had organized the event.
Two weeks after they met, she suddenly dropped out of school and declared her love for this much older man.
She now wanted only to live with him and have his babies.
She could not be reasoned with and soon made good on her threat to leave home for an undisclosed location..
Her mother was understandably distraught.
Her sister, the girl's aunt, was there to observe...to lay eyes on the man who had seemingly bewitched the girl.

Now I began to understand the strange mixture of impressions and feelings that had been swirling around the edges of my awareness for days...
She showed me a photo of the girl so I could watch for her.
We exchanged all the information we had and then we set off in different directions to scout things out.
We arranged to meet again that evening...discreetly.
She had an understanding of things...we could work together.

I was reminded of my conversation with Tom and his probing questions centered around sex and money.
As I wandered the grounds and paid closer attention to those most in his thrall, it was easy to see that Tom had carefully chosen and nurtured his devotees along similar lines...sex or money.
There were several nubile young women vying for his special attention.
But there was also a strong coterie of wealthy older women who had been groomed to provide considerable financial support for his plans.
I seemed to be somewhere in the middle...a possible source of both energies...the sweet spot.
Everyone seemed to exist within their own personal bubble of excitement and expectation.  They each, including the few men gathered, felt that they were specially hand-picked by the 'master' to be part of manifesting his dreams.
I was seeing with new eyes.
I mingled with the people who were indicated by Spirit and soon I was hearing their stories.
My suspicions were strongly confirmed.
Several of the well-to-do, older women were quite enamored of Tom.  He had apparently leaned heavily on them to donate land and assets to him.
Tom was charming, charismatic and calculating. He was seducing each one in whatever ways they were most vulnerable, playing up to them as son, cherished friend, possible love interest, shaman, spiritual advisor and the like.
He was like a puppet-master keeping each one emotionally involved while keeping the various players separated from one another so as not to incur jealousy.
He greeted each person, myself included, with a focused penetration that made you feel like you were special and unique to him.
Very flattering indeed.

It was risky behavior having them all convened together like this.  It was a lot to handle, even for someone like him.
He was good...I'd give him that.

It took a long time to find Tom's 14 year old girlfriend.
I had traversed the grounds several times in the free time before the start of the retreat, but I couldn't find her anywhere.  I caught sight of her aunt a couple of times and she signaled  that she was similarly frustrated.
Finally, I strolled as casually as I could, into the woods beyond the encampment and found a solitary tent in a hidden spot.
It was just barely large enough for 2 people.
Gathered nearby were the trappings of a young girl...hippie skirt, jewelry, etc.
That might be her, I thought.
I left quietly and slipped back to the retreat area. As I gazed around, searching for the aunt, I saw Tom staring intently at me.  A chill went through me.
His features stiffened briefly, but he went on to give me a big smile.  I had touched on something he didn't want me to see.  I pretended to join the gathering as if nothing had happened, but I knew I was on thin ice.  He was watchful as a hawk now.

As the day progressed, I watched Tom as he led the group through a variety of activities.  There was yoga, meditation, Native American ritual, drumming, dancing and story telling, climaxing that evening with fire walking.
And then there was the fundraising...
The weekend was turning from a time of enlightenment into an infomercial for his new retreat center.

One of the older women caught my eye. I struck up a conversation with her. She had been recently widowed.    Her husband had left her very well-off.
Tom had been leaning on her to gift a 20 acre parcel of land to him.  She was on the verge of doing so, in fact.
His whole scheme depended on her gift.
"How long have you known Tom?" I asked.
"Oh!  Tom and I have been close for several months!  Isn't he amazing?!"
I had to wonder how she would feel about his 14 year old girlfriend...

Later that day, I found the girl's aunt and told her where I thought her niece might be.
A few more puzzle pieces had fallen into place in her recollection of recent events.  The girl had started using drugs about the time of their meeting. At least that was what they suspected.
She was hiding more than a 50-something lover...
The girl had not been present for any of the ceremonies or events that day or evening which seemed strange because everyone was expected to gather together...no exceptions in this tightly organized event.
Tom, along with a few trusted assistants, kept a close eye on everything...and everyone.
We were careful to keep our open contact to a minimum.
That night, after turning in and lights out, we would try to ascertain where Tom spent the night.
When you're dealing with someone like this, they are reading your thoughts and intentions, as well...anticipating your moves.  We would have to careful and we didn't have any time to waste.
Through the long night, we kept watch, and sure enough, Tom was spotted heading to the edge of the wood near the girl's tent.

Before long, we heard the muffled sounds of lovemaking.
The aunt recognized her niece's voice.
We crept back to our tipis and waited for morning.
Before dawn, the niece made her way to the communal shower...a solitary figure hoping not to be seen.  She seemed exhausted...spent.   She half-stumbled back to her tent.
Moments later, Tom emerged from the woods, full of energy for the day.
I suddenly understood that he was feeding off of her sexual energy.  The girl was hooked on every level...mesmerized, drugged, emotionally and energetically.
She was in over her head.  She would have little will to break free. It would be more challenging to break his spell over her.  He would not release her easily.

Tom was just one more wolf in sheep's clothing...a spiritual teacher misusing his knowledge, preying on his students.
I remembered the moment of our 1st meeting with its quick flash of danger...a warning.

I felt my inner strength rising.  I was alert- gaining clarity.
The puzzle pieces fell together.
The man was a predator intent on his goals.
I was not here for the reasons I had originally thought...

But how to bring things to light and expose him was not yet clear. In fact, I was still reeling from the sudden sure insights.  There was a lesson in this for me, too.
I had started to take the bait.
Had Spirit not warned me, I might have been as foolishly beguiled as the others.
He was better than most...

My mind began to drift back in time some 20 years.  I recognized this energy...but I couldn't connect the memories.  I was reaching for something indefinable...
Something primal...attracting me toward danger... irresistibly...
Some part of me had known better, but I was foolish enough to think that I could handle it...that I could play with the fire and not get burned.

The memory burst through!
My first encounter with a shamanic type of the dark side...
another hungry predator without a conscience.
I had tangled with a few of these over the years.
Charismatic, mind-bending, ruthless, complex.

I understood the energies stirring in me.
Not only was the young girl in trouble...
There were other potential victims.
How would I be used here?  How would I stay safe?

Once the days events were underway and Tom was fully occupied, the girl's aunt slipped into the woods to make contact with her niece.
The girl was in a drugged state, disheveled and barely coherent.  She was thin and exhausted.
She had gone downhill rapidly in the 2 weeks since she had disappeared from her family's home and broken contact.

A call was made to her parents to let them know that she had been found.
No wonder Tom had hidden her in the woods, away from the others...

It was only a matter of hours before he would be found out.
Decisions had to be made fast.
He would be furious once his plans were interfered with...
Dangerous once exposed.
There was no fooling myself hoping that he would not know.

Throughout the final day, I networked with as many people as I could, trying to untangle the web he had woven.
He had several schemes going.  Some others had also wondered about him, but they lacked firm evidence.
He was coercing many of his followers to blindly turn over their assets to him. Several had been sexually compromised...both male and female.

Slowly, his double-dealing was coming to light.
People were becoming aware of the reality behind his façade.

I left before the closing ceremony.  I had quietly gathered my things and was making a discreet exit...or so I hoped.
I glanced back one more time to find Tom staring intently at me.   A flash of energy shot through me.
There was fury and malice of a kind I hadn't felt in a long time.   I turned and kept walking...

I was intent on putting the whole miserable affair behind me.   I put him out of reach.   I returned home, tired and feeling ragged from the experience.
So much had happened so quickly.
I dropped into bed, ready to get some rest and put it all behind me, though another part of me knew that it wasn't over with my leaving...
I braced myself for some form of backlash.

I fell into an exhausted sleep- only to be awakened by a clear sense of his presence in the room.
A shamanic soul traveler...
The feeling was aggressive...piercing and clear.
What happened next went beyond my expectation...
His energy was distinctly sexual.
It was strangely strong and compelling...magnetic.
He exerted a very strong pull and I actually felt my body responding against my will.
He was working deliberately on me...and it was anything but friendly. He was manipulating me and drawing my vital energy to himself. He was more powerful than I had guessed.  It was a torment and a taunt...not the backlash   I would have expected.
It was fury in a different form...
It was fierce.  It was theft by force...an energetic seduction and rape.

I remembered just then that he slept very little...he did his 'work' while others slept.

I got out of bed, showered, dressed and fought him off on all levels.  In response, he intensified his attacks.
Serious business...
I only thought I had put him out of reach when I left the retreat.   For the next 3 weeks, I felt his pressure along with his sick fantasies.  He could enter my dreams, send energy into the room, invade my thoughts.
He was relentless in his pursuit, like a murderous animal intent on his prey, backing up and charging at me from different angles...angrily nipping at me around the clock.
It was exhausting, but I didn't dare give in to exhaustion or confusion.  It was a fight to the death with this predator...

I had to wonder what was going on behind the scenes...
how his schemes and carefully laid plans were dissolving.
I was feeling the resultant rage and fury.

I kept thinking back to the sharp sniffs he made at my throat
when he left me after our first meeting...the sense of alarm
and violation I had felt in that moment.
I tried to comprehend what had happened.
I had witnessed his 'power' over so many people at the retreat.  I was wrestling with his misuse of power now...
It was harsh.

The lessons of that weekend went far beyond what I had anticipated.
So many things in life are like that...
You think you are meeting for one reason and an entirely different scenario unfolds and you find yourself caught up in something strong and unexpected...unpleasant...even dangerous.
You learn not to open yourself so quickly and indiscriminately.

We are not taught nearly enough about energy, not the least of which is sexual energy.
It is a very pure and potent force in more ways than we realize.
People suffer the after-effects of its misuse all their lives, but few understand and know how to hold it or use it in a good way, much less protect themselves from the many predators, both visible and invisible.

We have an inner life as well as an outer life...an inner counsel, as well.
An inner reality that sometimes conflicts with or augments outer 'reality'.
But we are not taught to recognize and heed it when it first speaks. Bitter experiences and long-lasting pain often result.
We must learn to capture and pay attention to our first fleeting impressions...they are the most valuable and important information we have.

There are levels of reality and vastly different levels of experience that we encounter and must learn to deal with. Sometimes we are brought face to face with the reality of evil, the predatory nature of some aspects of life, our inner knowing, our early warning system...and lastly, our capabilities in the face of it.
We come to terms with the necessity of fighting...
even when that is not our natural attitude.
In this case, a shamanic contest...

It was several more years before I learned what happened
when he sniffed sharply at my neck.
He was capturing my essence...a shamanic trick.
It took some effort to regain the energy.
Many times we lose vitality in life, not knowing how it happened.
Engaging in sex with the wrong people leaves people depleted, for instance, but there are more subtle ways to lose essence, such as prolonged eye contact, strong emotional attachment or being isolated by or in close contact with a controlling, demanding or depleted person.

In the end, Tom's ventures came to a grinding halt.
The young girl was restored over time and she got her life back on track.
After a few weeks, his attacks lessened and ground to nothing, as well.
The silent battle was over...

all rights reserved  2017
You may contact the author, Debra Robinson, at skydancer@ij.net