From a young age I was fascinated by nature and many of my earliest memories are associated with the fate of plants and animals. It didn’t seem that a day passed by that I wasn’t either rescuing a sick animal or watering a dying plant.
By the age of seven, although I don’t remember having many toys, my bedroom was filled with plants of every shape and size, which I cared for lovingly.
I suppose one could call this personal crusade a hobby and that is certainly how I saw it then. But now I know there was much more to this bond with nature and it was through this bond that I first felt the presence of an angel. An angel that came to comfort me in a time of great distress, although at the time I had no understanding of what was happening.
Since then I have seen many angels, but it wasn’t until receiving the seemingly innocent present of a gift voucher years later, that I really understood what took place that day.
The Unexpected Gift
The story begins in Ireland in 2004. It was Christmas Eve and just as I was leaving work, a colleague slipped an envelope into my hand, wishing me a happy Christmas. Expecting to find the usual festive card inside, I was surprised to find a gift voucher for a shop in my local town. I didn’t recognise the name of the shop but decided that on my next trip into town, I would find out where it was and what it sold.
Like many towns in rural Ireland, ours comprises of a small number of scattered yet somehow interlinking streets and it didn’t take long to find the shop, hidden down a small alleyway that I seldom used. With a quick peek through the windows, various objects could be seen, such as angels, fairies and elves and I hesitated before going in as I had little interest in such things. Ten minutes later I wasn’t surprised to find myself back outside empty handed and that evening I tucked the voucher away in a drawer and totally forgot about it.
About six months later, while having coffee with my friend, Caroline, she happened to mention a medium who was visiting our town that week. She said the medium was renowned for her amazingly accurate Tarot card readings and that she was thinking of going to see her. When I heard that the readings were being held in the shop to which I had the gift voucher, I thought that this might be the perfect opportunity to use it.
Later that evening I searched through the drawer of miscellaneous items where I thought I had put the voucher, wondering if it was still even there. Eventually, finding it at the bottom of the drawer, I saw it had an expiry date only a week away. So, the next day, ignoring all misgivings, I rang the shop and booked an appointment to see the medium the following morning.
After a quick breakfast and before there could be any change of heart I drove the short distance to town. Once at the shop I was led upstairs to meet the medium, who was sitting in a dimly lit room. I wasn’t quite sure how she might look, having never met a medium before, but she certainly didn’t seem anything out of the ordinary. Feeling a bit guilty for expecting her to look otherwise, I smiled warmly at her and she introduced herself as Sally.
Once alone, we chatted for a few minutes until she asked me what kind of cards I would like a reading from. Sally showed me various sorts, including Tarot. I have never really liked the idea of Tarot cards so the sight of them was enough to prompt me to say that I didn’t want a card reading after all and I asked if there anything else she could do. So, instead of a card reading, Sally asked me to sit close beside her and to hold her hand – which, after a moment’s pause, I did. She then put a crystal into her other hand and asked me to close my eyes.
It seems impossible to continue my story without acknowledging that it was at this point my understanding of life began to change. The simplest way to describe what happened would be that of an awakening to another level of consciousness, of which previously I had been unaware. As soon as I closed my eyes, a strange tingling began to run through my body, a sensation that came and went in very strong waves. It travelled up from the hand that Sally was holding and spread throughout my whole body, even into my face. Alarmed by this new sensation, I opened my eyes to tell her. She assured me that it was alright and that it just meant a spirit was coming through to communicate with us, which alarmed me even more.
The thought that ghosts coexist with us had always terrified me and I was certain that if I actually saw one I would pass out with fright. Therefore, to be told that one was travelling up through my hand was nearly enough to send me running back down the stairs and all the way home without a backward glance. However, we continued to sit together as I was somehow aware now that our hands were joined, it was a connection that was not mine to break.
I distinctly remember one presence that Sally described clearly to me. She thought it was a spirit and at the time so did I, since I knew so little, yet I now know that it was an angelic being. Sally described her as being extremely beautiful, a woman with long flowing hair who was exquisitely dressed and who seemed to have a message for me: I was to look for Gretta McCarthy, to whom I was distantly related. This was not a name I was familiar with. Challenging her about this information, she once more made contact with the presence. To my surprise, it replied, saying there were many relatives living near me that I didn’t know, but to find this particular one. It was also insistent that I find a specific tree, which, despite being able to see it clearly in her mind, Sally did not recognise.
Afterwards, we chatted about the unusual messages. Sally said she wished she was an artist so that she could capture the beauty of the presence that had appeared to her. Little did either of us know that not only would this presence soon reappear in my life, but many others as well. Sally asked me to call back and tell her if Gretta McCarthy was ever found. Promising that I would, we said our goodbyes.
Intrigued by the whole experience, the morning’s events were relayed to my two sons, Lee and Thomas, when I got home. Gretta McCarthy was discussed at some length, especially the fact that she was apparently related to us and yet we had no idea who she was. We also considered whether she was even alive, since the medium could contact spirits. After much debate, we decided to look into nearby church graveyards to see if we could spot the name. It was soon obvious that McCarthy is a very common Irish name and it did not take long to realise that finding the right grave would be impossible. Furthermore, given the bizarre nature of the tale, we couldn’t exactly try to enlist the help of the local priest. In the end we gave up our search and once again things were forgotten about.
A festival to remember
It was another friend, Ellen, who unknowingly set the story back in motion. About six months later she rang, asking if I would be interested in going to a Mind, Body & Spirit festival in the nearby city as she had two free tickets. Since I hadn’t anything on that particular weekend, I agreed to tag along, although I was not sure what this kind of festival entailed.
Two days later we arrived at the festival, faced with countless number of stands selling a mind-boggling array of alternative therapies. It was an extremely busy scene, and I was soon drawn in by the lively atmosphere. What particularly struck me was the number of people queuing to see mediums or those giving card readings. It reminded me of my visit with Sally back at home. There was so much happening that it was necessary to circuit the entire event several times to take it all in. On my third time around and having lost Ellen at this point, I stopped at one particular stand. It was set out simply with a large statue of an angel on the table and a picture hanging on the wall behind it. A lady behind the stand saw me gazing at the picture and told me that it was Angel Ariel. This surprised me, as it wasn’t really how I expected an angel might look. I imagined them to be far more beautiful, in fact, much like the one she had on the table in front of her. She told me that she worked with Angel Ariel, channelling messages from the angelic realm. I found this a bit too incredible to believe but, being polite, said nothing of my thoughts.
She then said that there would be a talk in the gallery in thirty minutes’ time on Integrated Energy Therapy®, or I.E.T.®, which is used to establish the link to the angelic realm and anyone was welcome to come along. Wandering around the stalls, I couldn’t get the image of Ariel out of my mind although I had no idea why. Catching up with Ellen, I asked if she fancied going along to a talk on angels. She looked slightly surprised but agreed and a few minutes later we were climbing the stairs to a small gallery where about 50 people had gathered. We all sat quietly while the speaker relayed how she had become involved with I.E.T.® and working with angels. She explained that she communicated with angels through the use of ‘heartlinks’, channelling their energy into this world through an invisible cord. This concept continued to elude me, until we were asked to close our eyes while the speaker channelled angelic energy to us. Everyone obliged, and we carried on listening as she spoke. Suddenly, though my eyes were closed, I began to clearly see an enormous ball of red fire descending on to the top of my head. I couldn’t feel its heat, yet instinctively knew that it was intensely hot and very strong. It seemed to be settled over the top of my head the whole time she was talking.
The ability to see another reality clearly while one’s eyes are closed is known as seeing with the ‘third eye’ – though at the time I had no understanding of this term. When we were asked to open our eyes again, I turned to Ellen in amazement, describing what I had seen and felt, asking if she had experienced the same thing – or something like it. Ellen replied that she hadn’t seen anything and looked at me as if I had gone slightly mad. As others began to share what they had felt during the exercise, it soon became obvious that no-one else had experienced the same ball of fire. Realising this, I decided not to share it with anyone else … until now.
Being so impressed and slightly overawed by this strange experience, I returned to the stand after the talk. On reaching it, a healing was being performed on a woman seated in a chair. Her eyes were closed and she seemed to be totally oblivious to what was going on around her – a fascinating feat given the considerable amount of noise and activity all around.
Above the chair, was a hand-written sign advertising a fifteen-minute healing for €20 and I made an impulsive decision to have one. When the chair was empty, I was invited to be seated and to close my eyes. And so, for the third time since receiving my gift voucher, I obligingly closed my eyes.
Within seconds, I was witness to a scene that played out clearly with my eyes shut, a scene that I will always remember. Whereas earlier there had been colours that seemed to form flames above my head, I now perceived a ‘presence’. Though I had never seen one before, I instantly knew it as the angel who had communicated with Sally in the shop, although I am still not able to explain how I knew this.
In the scene I was a child again, of about six or seven years old and the young, beautiful woman was standing before me in a white flowing dress. She was tall and slim, with a cascade of brown hair that draped her shoulders and we stood together on a hillside covered with wild flowers and butterflies. She approached me, saying ‘Would you like to play a game?’
Slightly surprised by this question, I asked, ‘Which one?’
Smiling at me, she replied, ‘We can play whatever game you choose.’
This was unfolding before me while sitting quietly on the same chair where I had seen the other healing take place. Like the woman before me, I was oblivious to the noise and bustle around me. I could clearly hear people talking near the stand, but they just seemed insignificant and to have lost meaning in the here and now. In a way that I couldn’t explain or understand, I had moved from the physical world into a spiritual one in the blink of an eye and, incredibly, I felt right at home.
It didn’t take long to pick a game since I was so young and we were soon playing ‘chase’, followed by ‘hide and seek’. There was much laughter as we raced and tumbled through the field, heading down towards a river. When we reached it, the young woman didn’t pause for a second, running straight across the water without causing a ripple on the surface. I stopped, staring over at her, stunned by what she had just done. Turning back she asked, ‘Why didn’t you follow me?’
‘You are not playing fair! I can’t walk across water like you can,’ I shouted back across to her.
Laughingly she told me that I could do it and to try. Fear of falling into the water and doing something unknown held me back. I was also acutely aware that I didn’t like being separated from her, a fact that seemed to hold huge significance, but I refused to try. Then – seemingly from nowhere, stepping stones appeared in a line across the river. Not hesitating for a moment, I skipped across and was soon by her side once more. Night was beginning to fall, so we lit a campfire together and sat nearby, singing songs from my childhood. Suddenly in the middle of a song she abruptly stood up,
‘It’s time to leave,’ she said.
Within an instant, I was back on the hillside but now standing alone among the flowers and butterflies. At that same moment, I was asked to open my eyes again.
This time, there were no words to describe what I had just witnessed, and I stared up at the lady, speechless. She smiled and asked if the healing had been enjoyable. I immediately knew that once again, no one had shared my experience. Somehow managing to find my tongue, I began to tell her what just occurred. She was amazed and urged me to take part in a course connected with angels she was facilitating.
Later that evening, still slightly bemused, I started sorting through the various leaflets I had accumulated from the festival. I kept a few, including the one about the course with the angels, which was to be held in about six weeks’ time. It was a three-day course and seemed quite expensive to me. It was also in a town that was a good three-hour drive away, so I didn’t give it much more thought that evening.
A weekend of awakening
Over the next couple of weeks I kept picking the leaflet up. Whenever I sat down for a cup of tea, I would get it out to read again. Eventually, frustrated, I rang Ellen, telling her about the course and asked if she would be interested in going along. She agreed and the following day we posted off our deposits. The next few weeks were then spent frantically saving up the balance, all the while wondering what on earth I was doing.
When the weekend finally arrived, we were really looking forward to a few days away. We arrived early on a Saturday morning along with the group of seven women and two men from various locations around the country. The lady from the stand was also there and introduced herself as Gretta Murphy and the course began.
Gretta explained that the course we were about to embark on was I.E.T.® to the advanced level. We learned that the first thing that needed to be done was for Gretta to attune us to the angelic realm.
She proceeded to do this while we meditated as a group, with our eyes closed. I now know that we were attuned individually to become almost like empty vessels, allowing energy from another realm to flow through us. Through this attunement, each person then became a facilitator in a process of healing, channelling angelic energy to this world. This sounds unbelievable and, to be honest, it did to me at the time too, but as we practised the process of channelling, Ellen and I became aware that something was happening that neither of us really understood or recognised. We could feel an overwhelming sense of peace and calm around us as we worked throughout the weekend.
By the last day, we were thoroughly enjoying the company of our new friends and over lunch, I decided to share the story of my gift voucher. I finished by telling everyone about the mysterious Gretta McCarthy, explaining how we had given up on our search for her as we didn’t know where to start looking. At that point, Gretta revealed that her married name was, in fact, McCarthy, but that she liked to be known by her maiden name, Murphy. It is seldom that I am ever at a loss for words, but I was speechless. How had I not noticed her name?
After lunch I went in search of certificates hanging on her walls and sure enough, the name Gretta McCarthy was on each of them. As Gretta was using her maiden name on her leaflets, I had totally overlooked the coincidence of her first name. Yet here I was, faced with the reality that I had found the woman the medium had told me to look for in less than a year. It seemed unbelievable, yet no matter how often I ran the series of events through my stubbornly logical mind, writing it off as a mere coincidence was not possible.
That evening we said our goodbyes, promising to keep in touch as one does and everyone left clutching their certificates to show they had completed the advanced level in I.E.T.®. Our worlds were now opened to the angelic realm and little did I realise what was in store. Quite sure that if I had, I probably would never have gone. I was aware that something quite powerful must have happened if it had had the capability to bring me this far into unknown territory with such ease.
Once home, Lee and Thomas gathered around me to hear about the events of the weekend. I should add that while my sons had a moderately religious upbringing, I would describe myself as neither overly religious nor dismissive of faith. I feel this helped them develop a healthy viewpoint from which they could then decide for themselves how best they wanted to interpret religion. Thinking back on it now though, they must have wondered what on earth had happened to their sensible mother. To their credit, they sat and listened to everything I had to say and even let me give them a heartlink.
Lying in bed that night, mulling over the events of the weekend, for some reason I became extremely agitated at the possibility of being able to see angels with my physical eye, even though I had not been able to up to that point. Because I am afraid of the dark, the thought that one might appear beside my bed in the middle of the night to speak to me, felt no more welcome than the appearance of a ghost. To combat this new-found fear, in the still silence of the night, I said a little prayer asking the angels never to do anything that might startle me. Feeling somewhat reassured by this, I snuggled down and drifted off to sleep. I am not so sure I would have been quite so easily placated if I had had any notion of the sheer volume of angels and spirits that were soon to come into my life at every opportunity and everywhere I went, from that night forward.
Extract from Call of an Angel by Patricia O'Toole
To be published worldwide by Blackbird Digital Books on 7 November 2017.
c. Patricia O'Toole 2017
All rights reserved.
Large Print Paperback ISBN 9780995473591