Have you ever experienced that moment in your life … where everything suddenly flipped upside down? The zero hour … where everything that came before it was different from everything that came after? That moment that wouldn’t have brought you to where you are today if it had not occurred? The turning point in your very own war with yourself?
The turning point in the ongoing war with myself was on July 19th, 2010. That day will forever remain my ‘zero hour’ and Devil’s Den will forever remain my ‘ground zero’. It was the day I died metaphorically, and also the day I awoke spiritually.
The day started out like any other day at work – rushed, confused, and chaotic. I had to be near Gettysburg, PA for my last press check I ever made, for the last brochure I ever created at my old company. I had designed a Weddings & Honeymoons brochure and had to ensure that the colors of images were being printed out correctly at the facility. This print shop was about two hours from my place of work and I hadn’t been on a press check in years, so I was a little hyped up and a tad on the nervous side. To top it off, it was a sweltering, humid day out that day as it had been most of that summer.
I didn’t plan to go to Gettysburg; the town in which the battle, that was the turning point in the Civil War, was fought. It just happened as the day unfolded. I figured, I am this close … why not visit? I hadn’t been there in over 22 years. Everything turned out fine and well at the press check so, after lunch with the owner, I went off on my little days’ adventure.
I ended up beginning the rest of the day at the visitor’s center, where I watched a short film and took a tour in the museum. As the hours unfolded, I was getting more and more emotionally charged, just as the air outside was becoming because of an approaching thunderstorm. I was emotionally drawn to the war stories, to the heart ache of soldiers written on charred paper in their learther-bound diaries, and to the images and quotes plastered all over the walls.
I then entered the Cyclorama room. A huge 360-degree view of a painting that depicted the entire battle of Gettysburg from July 1st, 1863 to July 3rd, 1863. It was stunning. I was in awe of this experience. There were very few people in the room at the time. Due to the short film I had seen, and all the war artifacts and stories I had come across in the museum, I felt a deep, emotional connection to the painting. This was my home after all. It was my land. These were my people.
As the music played, and I walked around the circular room, I became extremely emotional and started to well up inside. I began to cry and I couldn’t for the life of me understand why. I suppose it was because I had felt such a sorrow like I have never felt before in my life.
(Image Credits – Wikipedia)
Most anyone who has ever stepped foot in the town of Gettysburg, especially on the battlefields, knows that the air there is very heavy with sorrow, pain and residual afflictions…not to mention its haunted past and present. On the flip side, there is a lot of pride in it as well. But that day, that day…was different. That day I felt the heaviness and weight of all lives lost. I was shattered inside.
I have always felt my deepest connections to the land and the other realm in places of great sorrow, death and dying. Be it battlefields, indian burial sites, historic landmarks, or energetic towns … it’s always been a natural attraction for me. I can feel and sense residual energy and I am affected by it’s hold on me. That day was no different other than the fact that I had never in my life felt such a weight on my heart. It was bloodiest battle this country has ever known. 1,000’s of lives lost and (I believe) over 58,000 wounded lay on the battlefields after the 3rd day.
By the time I was done touring the battlefields of Gettysburg that day, I was exhausted and almost on the verge of heat stroke. My energy was draining and fast. But I had had enough energy to finally make it to the most fascinating place within the park. Devil’s Den.
The bloodiest battle was fought on the 2nd day, at Devil’s Den, an extraordinary outcropping of boulders in the middle of a valley, below Little Round Top, next to Slaughter Pen. Sounds inviting, doesn’t it? It should also be known that Devil’s Den was an ancient Indian ritual site as well. And it is the most haunted place within Gettysburg, and that says a lot considering that Gettysburg is, in many eyes, the most haunted place in all of America, if not the world.
I found a path that I set foot. Along the path, I found a cave, into which I went. I lost my balance at one point and laid my hands on the rocks to steady myself … the touch sent shivers throughout my entire body and, again, tears welled up inside me and poured out. I could barely handle the magnitude of the lives lost there that day in July almost 150 years later.
I made my way up the rocks to the top, where I followed another path toward the Triangular Field that overlooked Little Round Top and Slaughter Pen. It was on my way back that I felt a strange burn on my neck, as if I had been scratched by a tree branch or as if I had scratched myself. The sweat poured down my chest and neck and overflowed the area where I felt the burning. I went to wipe the sweat off my neck, and to my surprise, the burning got ten times worse. It was as if my entire neck was on fire. I had never felt that before. I fully expected my entire neck and chest to be bright red.
As soon as I wiped the sweat off and wandered down the path in a daze to my car, as I was exhausted and felt faint, I passed two men at the top. Both dressed in black from head to toe. They looked me straight in the eyes and looked at me as if I had two heads. I will never forget that stare-down for as long as I live. It was very odd.
I got back to my car to immediately check my neck. I know for a fact that I had not brushed up against anything. It didn’t matter anyway, because what was about the transpire next blew my mind and made me certain that something paranormal was at play. Now, mind you, at the time, I hadn’t known that Devil’s Den was a hotspot, so it’s not like I was looking for it.
I got in my car and looked in the rearview mirror. To my shock there were scratch marks on my neck, right across my jugular. They were two perfectly parallel lines at the time. But to my horror, the scratch marks changed as I drove home, finally morphing into a perfect X right across the jugular vein. Now, I could see me shaking this off as me accidentally running into brush or scratching myself had it remained the same. But it changed as I drove. From two parallel lines that finally ended up crossing in the end into a precise pattern.
Days after, the scratch marks only got worse, finally resulting in a full-blown tattoo that lasted about 2 weeks or so. I couldn’t possibly make those marks if I tried.
I don’t know if it was the fear, the heat or the mania that was about to ensue for the first time in my life, but I was in shock that night. I thought to myself, “If THAT can happen, then what else in this Universe can happen? If something can reach out from beyond and physically scratch me, what else can really happen … what else is reallllly going on in this world and beyond?” I had been a christian up until those final days there. And this just blew it all out of the water for me. I had finally broken through my own religion in the next coming manic months and I had finally begun to unravel walls and webs of lies that had held me captive for so very long.
This experience was what catapulted me into a 5-month-long mania and down a long road of searching endlessly for answers. This was the event that changed the course of history in my life because the doors of possibilities … ALL possibilities finally laid wide open for me at that very moment in time. Anything was possible to me at that point. And THAT realization, alone, will flip your world upside down and turn your universe inside out. I didn’t know which way was up and which way was down. It took me five years after that incident to finally right myself again and to be able to stand proud in the new person I have become. For that moment changed my life forever and for the better. I was touched, spiritually. And, of that, I am certain.
So much more to say, but this is so long as it is. I will go on and on later!