A powerful psychic predicted my novel, Forecast, a decade before I wrote it. She also predicted that I’d use her name in it, although I didn’t know that until years later, in a letter that came to me after she died.
I grew up in a small town on the NSW north coast. My mother was a nurse at the local hospital and most afternoons after school, I would head there and wait for her to finish her shift.
Rowie, a clairvoyant, was a regular patient. All the nurses would pop by and ask her questions.
“Yes you’ll have a baby.”
“I know he’s a worry but he’s a teenager. There’s a girl he’ll meet. She’ll straighten him out.”
“I’m sorry dear but he’s two-timing you.”
Now and then Rowie would buzz for a nurse and announce that the Angel of Death had arrived. “It’s for old Mrs Smith in 205.”
She was never wrong.
My mother and Rowie were particularly close. Psychic phenomena never unnerved us like it does some people. In fact, we live with it ourselves. We often have dead relatives and friends drop by, and seeing someone’s aura is as normal to me as seeing their arms and legs. Rowie took us under her ample wing.
Later, when I moved overseas, I often phoned her to say hi and she’d end the conversation with something like, “When you apply for that new visa, don’t line up for the woman. There will be a man… line up there or you won’t get that visa.”
The last time I saw Rowena I was 23 and on a trip home to Australia. I now believe she knew we’d never cross paths again—not on this plane anyway—because she used the meeting to change the course of my life.
I’d always been interested in the occult, yet I’d never truly considered “Spirit.” I was unimpressed by organized religion. My religion teacher at school told me that ghosts didn’t exist, yet I saw them regularly. Was I crazy or was she wrong? I felt I had to choose between my ghosts and her God, so early on in life I chose what I knew.
I was completely floored when Rowie told me she had a deep faith in God. Here was a woman who could remember her past lives, who left her body each morning to communicate with her dead husband on the astral planes, who made a living from psychic readings telling me about her religious beliefs.
“You might not understand me now, but you will,” she said. “You’re going on a journey … you will discover Spirit and magic and God and how they are all one … and then, when it all comes together for you, you’ll write about it.”
“Stories … books.”
“About God? I’d rather pass kidney stones.”
“Not “God”, but your characters will be in close contact with Spirit. Like me.”
“It wasn’t that long ago that God botherers (yes, I actually said that) burnt people like you.”
“Only because we were closer to God than they were, my dear.”
“I’ll never be Christian.”
“Witch, Christian… called yourself a Marshmallow. It doesn’t matter.”
“It all sounds awfully serious, Row.”
“Oh no dear, make it funny,” she chuckled. “That’s the point.”
“Funny books about God?”
“Don’t use the word God if it makes you uncomfortable. I’m just telling you it’s all the same thing.”
“And when will I do this?”
Rowie shrugged. One day. You need to travel, study … and find your voice.”
I wasn’t convinced. “I don’t think you’re right about this one.”
“I’m always right.” She handed me an envelope. “Open this later.”
“No … later. You’ll know when.”
Though curious, I tucked the envelope away in my mother’s house and returned overseas.
Rowie’s talk about God and magic being connected confused me. Could the two go hand in hand? It was a question that began to haunt me and set me on a lifelong path of spiritual investigation. It’s one I still walk today.
Rowie died while I was living in Vienna. My mother was with her and later told me how normal her passing was. I was surprised. Rowie had such a powerful connection to the other side that I’d expected it to really throw out the banners to welcome her home. I should’ve known better. She’d once teased me, “Stop expecting mystical marching bands. Spirit is subtle.”
By this time, I’d forgotten about the envelope. But I was writing. My spiritual search led me all around the world, to many teachers, and finally to a place where I trusted myself. Throughout it all, I wrote and wrote. My stories were about witches, mystics and psychics—eccentrics to some, but to me they were everyday people with strong spiritual beliefs and practices. It was coming together now.
I was living in New York when I wrote Forecast. I named my protagonist after my friend. My fictional Rowie is tiny with red hair. The real Rowie was much older, much larger, with long silver hair. But they share the same heart, and I feel it’s a small way of honoring the woman who had such a profound impact on my spiritual life.
When I eventually returned to live in Australia I unpacked some boxes at my mother’s and I found Rowena’s letter. It was 10 years after her death, and just after Forecast was first published. It took me a moment to realize what it was. And then nerves set in—what on earth was in there? Was it some profound prediction? A forecast of things to come? More spiritual lessons?
It was time to open it. Slowly I read Rowie’s letter…
I was right wasn’t I?
How’s the book? Did I get a mention?
God bless, dear.
I turned it over… and over again. That was it? I laughed until I cried. Right? She was always right.