Monday, October 24, 2005

War, Peace and Hehpsehboah

(More unusual people I have known. Oh, there'll be more. There always are)

War, Peace, and Hehpsehboah

September, 2002

Any human being, left alone, would naturally choose peace over war, especially one who has been through it -- face-deep into the shooting and bombing and the horror and the terror, that is -- and not just twirling a flag from some cozy front porch or political pulpit, coaxing others to die for one righteousness or another. Those of us who want peace now need to do something about it.

So what are we doing about it?

A Vancouver, B.C., woman named Hehpsehboah means to do something about it. She saw her family wiped out in the midst of war, despite her warnings.

At the beginning of September, 2002, with the help of friends, Hehpsehboah, 65, set up a spot in downtown Vancouver, braving cold nights and a downpour to begin generating a global peace movement right where she lived. She sat outside, speaking to people straight through the weekend, breaking only for a catnap here and there. She broadcast across a free internet service called "Paltalk" for 52 of those hours.

She spent the first day of her marathon weekend hungry; she eats only two little rice-cakes a day, but friends forgot to bring them. There were computer breakdowns and sabotages by vandals. A security guard went through her and her friends' pocketbooks, stole her last five dollars, and stole a copy of the book she had self-published, out for meager sales. She chased some pot-smoking teenagers out of one of the teepees that had been set up for the event.

The Vancouver media ignored her. They also ignored a peace march that had been scheduled that weekend, which was broken up by the heavy rain.

After the downpour and 3 days of non-stop speaking and broadcasting to supporters and catcallers, the peace gathering was over. Hehpsehboah went back to her apartment, $32,000 in debt to a friend for the tents and permits and no money for the month's rent.

No more than 70 or 80 people had gathered around to listen to her at any one time that weekend. Still, the windows at the nearby hotel had been open, so perhaps visitors had listened from their rooms. And still, Hehpsehboah was proud to point out a few individuals who came up and wished her well with all their hearts. "...if we could just shout to the world 'keep it going!'" said three women from Seattle.

Some who stopped to speak to her were war veterans, or soldiers on furlough in Vancouver: Canadian, Israeli, Palestinian and Angolan soldiers, each of whom had seen real combat and lived to deplore it and any further excuses for it.

Hehpsehboah said "Some of them broke down and cried, and told me 'this is the time more than ever before... people have to learn to respect each other, and to love one another, and understand there must be,'" she emphasized, quoting one of the soldiers, "'No! More! War!'"

One of the Palestinian soldiers had an Israeli wife. They had a baby, which prompted them to leave the middle east. He said "What should I have them do, cut my son in half?"

First attempt done, Hehpsehboah had no food in her house. No dog food for her 18 month old Pekingese pup, Qian Long, either. Finally, a friend volunteered to pay October's rent. By September 19, Hehpsehboah had obtained some food for her pup, but none for herself. Her longsuffering volunteer assistant, Katharina, gesticulating over the months of frustration and deprivation, unmet commitments and false promises, exclaimed "what ARE you doing this for, anyway?

Hehpsehboah replied "I'm still in a body, aren't I? I'm not dead, am I? So long as I'm still here there is a chance to accomplish this. If it comes to it, then I'll go out on the street and beg for food."

What an unusual story.

And what kind of a global peace movement is this? A pathetic gesture by some poor old crazy lady who watches too much TV news? "When I watch CNN, I usually smile," Hehpsehboah said. "I can see how they are slanting their news to make people think it's something other than it is, and I can see them hiding things from the public."

As unusual as it is, and as impossible as the goal seems, this story stands as a not untypical episode in the unusual life Hehpsehboah has led. She has an uncanny ability to perceive when someone is hiding something. I joked to her that it must have been impossible to hide Christmas presents for her as a little girl. She said I was right.

When she was four, Hehpsehboah lived in the Netherlands, in the midst of the second world war. Her father, owner of a 400 year old brewery, was a leader in the Dutch underground. His little girl's remarkable talent proved invaluable to the allied underground: she could tell where the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe would be attacking next.

Her ability to sense the probable movements of the enemy ahead of time saved thousands of lives. Her uncanny accuracy made newspaper headlines across Europe. The papers deemed her "The Little Prophet."

One day the Little Prophet warned all not to take shelter in a nearby warehouse. They did anyway, including her family. The warehouse took a direct hit from a German bomb and all were killed.

The Little Prophet grew up in orphanages, where she was often severely mistreated, while her abilities improved with age. Not long ago an American paper nicknamed her "Nana Nostradamus," referring cheekily to her now-legendary ability to pronounce future events in her bubbly, matronly manners of expression... without concealing them in obscure rhymed quatrains, as Nostradamus needed to do.

Even a modestly skeptical reader viewing the past global weather predictions posted on Hehpsehboah's website might dismiss them as fake -- how could anybody be that good? But she is indeed "that good" -- so far. "So far" incorporates about 6 decades of phenomenal accuracy.

Karen O'tay lives not far from San Antonio, Texas. On Sunday, June 30, 2002, she took a drive to San Antonio, not expecting the weather to have anything to do with anything. She expected to drive back home that night.

"There hadn't been any forecasts of rain for at least the past two weeks," she said. "Nobody was expecting any. The TV weather reports said nothing. Then it started coming down in sheets. I was trapped right in the middle of Northeast San Antonio during the whole thing."

The whole thing lasted 8 days. Thirteen inches of rain deluged the area. San Antonio experienced its worst flood in 100 years. George W. Bush took a photo-op trip with his FEMA chief to survey the damage and ceremoniously declared it a disaster area.

Karen had remembered Hehpsehboah's prediction too late to get out of the way. Hehpsehboah had been the only one to foresee the disaster, from among scientists or seers. She'd said it would happen on June 30, and there it was.

An Insurance company in Chicago relies on Hehpsehboah's ability to foresee disasters. "I spent eight months with her in Vancouver," said John, who handles catastrophe claims, "and I got used to the fact that every time she predicted a major storm or an earthquake [anywhere in the world], there it was."

Hehpsehboah has been pretty darn good at foreseeing other kinds of disasters as well.

A few weeks ago on Saturday morning, September 14, 2002, she called to tell me that she had sat up straight in bed in the middle of the night -- she'd heard terrible news about the state of Kashmir, India.

Violence would be starting there within 8 hours, she told me. It could lead to a tremendous crisis. If this trouble in Kashmir weren't averted, it would result in an international crisis in about a week. Kashmir is claimed by both India and Pakistan, and has been the trigger of violence frequently since 1947. It had been quiet lately.

I checked for news reports after we rang off. Nothing. I e-mailed a friend in Kolkata. He wrote back immediately that, yes, violence had begun to flare in Kashmir.

That evening the first reports began trickling in over internet news services. The Indian government had begun to force voting among the Muslim population in Kashmir, leading to the deaths of two political candidates and 17 others.

The reports of atrocities and street fighting with the Indian army grew within hours of Hepsehboah's own report from her bed in the middle of the night. A week or so later, the temple at Gujarat was bombed by fanatics,resulting in rioting, killing well over 1,000 and injuring twice that many, creating international news.

"I am not a psychic," she declares, "I don't tell fortunes. I hear news from the Creator and I pass it on for the good of all who will use it."

It might take months to catalog Hehpsehboah's long record of remarkable accuracy. Doubtless, she would consider such an undertaking quite vain. Her stated purpose is simply to help people get out of the way of trouble, no differently than were her childhood efforts during World War Two.

Predictions, or prophesying, however, may not be her most remarkable trait. Ask the young man we'll call Jason, who walks around on two sound legs these days.

When he was a little boy, Jason was scheduled to have a leg amputated. The night before the surgery, the boy's father and an uncle took him from the hospital and brought him to Hehpsehboah. By 6 o'clock the following morning, they brought the little boy back to the hospital, his leg completely healed. The doctor stamped his imprimatur on this fact.

Hehpsehboah's past is also peppered with hundreds of such instances -- miraculous cures of diseases of all sorts diagnosed as terminal and hopeless by doctors. She is careless about saving letters of testimony; however, she has hundreds of these from grateful people whom she pulled from the brink of death, or from doctor's diagnoses of "inoperable" or "terminal." There are accounts of spontaneous healings at meetings, and "remote" healings of people who wrote or called for her help from a distance, as well as from those who attended her lectures.

She refuses to make a fortune through exploiting the sick and the dying -- even against the advice of the famed religious healer, Kathryn Kuhlman, who once urged her to do just that.

Instead, Hehpsehboah, somewhat naively, has been exploited. She once spent some months healing people at a naturopathic clinic in British Columbia. While working 16 hour days there, one of her clients told her he could no longer afford to come. Surprised, she asked why. She then learned people were paying $125 for 5 minutes of her time. Repulsed by the greed, Hehpsehboah walked out the door and never returned. She did, however, continue with the client, who subsequently recovered from his daily epileptic attacks.

Where do these amazing abilities come from, then? Hehpsehboah says "from the Creator of the Universe." With that, she may describe energies from what one may call the spiritual realms, with which she has been familiar since her earliest memories. She subscribes to no religion and preferrs to point out the great damage the world's religious blunders have often caused the world.

Nevertheless, she recognizes the validity of the individuals who have been of service to mankind in quite tangible ways, whatever their religious background.

Take Padre Pio, the Catholic mystic currently under canonization process by the Vatican. Padre Pio was world famous for healing the sick in the name of Christ. He suffered the stigmata -- that is, the phenomenon of routinely bleeding from the wrists and feet and chest, mirroring the same wounds Christ showed the doubting Apostle Thomas, in the New Testament story.

Hehpsehboah said "the stigmata was very, very important for Padre Pio. He needed this phenomenon to reaffirm his own faith in the Creator of the Universe, and this is where his power to heal came from. "I tried the stigmata once myself," she said, "but I decided it was childish, so I stopped it."

The Vatican is unlikely to canonize Hehpsehboah, who claims Zoroastrianism as her personal religion, but when the good Padre met her years ago when she was still a young countess, he broke down into tears of recognition.

The North American First Nation people's organization named her "Thunderbird Woman." This means that, according to Native American prophecy among various North American tribes, she is the woman who would be sent to the planet to serve as a messenger directly from God. (Hehpsehboah's mother was a full-blooded Mi'qmak indian from Eastern Canada. Her Dutch father the brewery owner came from a long line of nobles.)

Not long before she was born, Hehpsehboah's parents-to-be had a strange visit from a priest, an astrologer, a lama, and a rabbi. They all told her that their new daughter should be named "Shri Shanti A Deva Dutta." This name means "God's Holy Messenger of Peace."

This is not to say that Hehpsehboah is an unceasing beam of unblinking know-it-all. She has been wrong about certain things (thank God), and she is frank. Here's a good example of this lady's frankness:

One day Hehpsehboah happened to meet the Dalai Lama in a store in New York City. After a brief chat, the Dalai Lama paused, and said quizzically, "Is there something you want to tell me?" Hehpsehboah thought, and replied "I think that you are like a bird in a gilded cage. You were picked as a child by a bunch of old men who thought you were a bunch of other old men. It is impossible to be happy when you live your life trying to be someone you're not!"

Who else would tell the Dalai Lama a thing like that?

Neither are her prophetic statements or remarkable healings Hehpsehboah's most conspicuous personal traits. She did not earn the nickname "the Mother Theresa of Canada" from the papers for nothing.

Over the years, Hehpsehboah has established soup kitchens and shelters and housing for the poor, never using a nickel of the donations for her own luxury. She has had, and often still has, indigent and poverty-stricken people sleeping on the floor of her own small apartment, eating her food, sometimes leaving none for herself. Her altruism has often gone to such extremes that, as an old friend recently complained to her bluntly, "you've let people eat you out of house and home, and strip you right down to the bone!"

In 1993, while busying herself with healing and with finding food and shelter for the impoverished (she sleeps only about 3 hours a night, and sometimes doesn't sleep at all), Hehpsehboah had a remarkable experience.

She describes it this way: "It was as though a very great curtain descended from the sky all around me. A voice said to me 'You have healed men's bodies for a long time, and now it is time for you to begin to heal men's souls.'"

And there it started, on a streetcorner in Vancouver protesting the latest, greatest war.

[Epilogue: Maybe Hehpsehboah's anti-war weekend didn't make CNN, but Bishop Desmond Tutu did call and congratulate her for it.]

9/22/11 I see by the stats a fair number of people are reading this article. If you're curious, Hehpsehboah can be found at -- the site looks hokey, but she can't do anything about it.


Anonymous JDay said...

I like this story, but it needs some editing.

"One night Queen Hecuba left her daughter Cassandra alone in the temple. The small girl, her skin golden in moolight, lay still among the glossy snakes, listening as only a child can listen and learned the great truths that the snakes had brought up from the underworld. What, I want to know, did they tell her?....If the snakes' story is of this loss, I'm not surprised that Cassandra stood by the city gates and tore her hair and howled."
-exerpt taken from "Wild Comfort, the Solace of Nature" by Kathleen Dean Moore.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Tom Dark said...

"Which notes does your majesty suggest I remove?"

Not editing following the airy-fairy quote, I hope. I enjoy reality.

I helped Hehpsehboah establish a little movement called "Pals for Peace," and got a nice call from Desmond Tutu thanking us for it.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Caro said...

A remarkable story, very well-told.

There is humor in the image of her telling the Dalai Lama, "It's impossible to be happy when you try to be someone you're not!" And yet, if there has been one great and serious theme to my own life thus far, it would probably be the struggle to learn and live that very lesson.

8:53 PM  
Blogger Tom Dark said...

Indeed, Caro. By this time, we would be better off defining our religions than they us.

8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where do you MEET these people, Tom?

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And now, for the obvious questions, where is she now, and sadly, when's Iran?

2:25 PM  
Blogger Tom Dark said...

It's a secret, @litdreamer -- can't have you finding these people for yourself and becoming even greater than I am.

For Anonymous, tho':

Like I say, I think the old dear's been co-opted again. Check Paltalk radio and see if she's still on there and you can talk to her yourself.

We don't need a prophetess about Iran. It'll happen the second they think they can finally get away with it.

3:03 PM  

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