Lesley Ann Crossingham is an internationally recognised Spiritual artist, author and teacher. This is her story.. in her words of her life so far! All the photos were taken by Lesley.
Every person’s life journey is a spiritual pathway, even if they don’t see it that way and believe they have no spiritual desires, interest or drive. So often, it is only in retrospect as we look back along the path well-travelled do we see the important spiritual markers that point to inner growth, soul-challenges, meetings with masters, and so much more.
For me, my drive to go out and explore was an urge to find my tribe or people. I was born only a few years after WW2 which had brought my parents together. They were from two distant parts of the United Kingdom yet they met on the lonely moors of Yorkshire. They married, and moved south to the busy industrial towns of the midlands; I was born in Warwick, near to the great medieval castle closed to the ancient Butts where medieval knights had practiced archery. I was a much wanted child, and I knew that, but I never felt part of my family tribe; I turned out to be a dark child who tanned easily and made my fair skinned sister look snowy white. The children at school called me “Chinese face” and I hated being different. I always felt like an outsider and so would spend my time wandering the nearby Midland forests, which had been sacred to the old druids.
At around five or six I started to see spirits, usually fairies. I had suffered a bad case of whooping cough and that awful illness made the visions clearer. I was beginning to show the signs of the Empath. Fortunately both my mother and Grandmother were also Empaths and they supported me by explaining what I saw and encouraging me to draw the fairies with my little wax crayons.
As I grew into a surly teenager the support of my family was not enough. I felt and looked different, but I also ached to fit in and find my tribe. During one stormy and moody tirade in class the Headmistress summoned my mother and suggested I needed medication for my “mood swings.” Luckily my mother knew better and so instead I was sent into exile to the far north of Scotland to the Outer Hebrides.
The Hebrides are a cluster of rocky, windy and incredibly cold islands located in the middle of a steel gray sea. It is the land of the midnight sun and the northern lights. It is the place of ancient stone druid circles and crumbling castles, but it was the saving of me. I went into the care of my Grandmother and several aunts, all of whom had white chin whiskers and seemed to be knitting thick jumpers endlessly, as they sipped tea and spat out Scottish swear words to anyone who annoyed them.
I was given spiritual training in the Celtic traditions of fairies, Goddesses, Ladies of the Castle-Keep and so much more. I would spend hours in solitude, listening to the spirit voices as I wandered the cold and rocky hillsides, looking out to the cold northern Seas. I meditated with the rippling northern lights, which my Grandmother called the true Fairy lights that transform the mind. Just as she promised, I found my abilities strengthened and the voices and images of spirit grew stronger. Yet I felt more of an outsider than ever. During this time, whilst rummaging through my Grandmothers documents and photos that I found reference to a mysterious Great Grandfather who had “returned” to Manitoba in Canada. After badgering and whining my grandmother eventually admitted that the family had a “taint” of other bloodlines. We were related to King Robert the Bruce but we also had a Native American Indian connection. This revelation that we had Native Indian blood intrigued me and I vowed to discover more, including what I imagined would be distant Native American Indian relatives.
I eventually returned south to complete my education, but I again rebelled in dramatic fashion; I ran away and dropped out of school at age 15 and went to Cornwall and Glastonbury for the various Pop festivals. During the next few months, until the weather turned cold, I lived a hippy lifestyle living in numerous caravan parks. Around that time I also discovered a Cornish ashram where they offered Hindu and Buddhist meditation teachings. I remember sitting in satsang for the first time, utterly amazed at the experience of deep meditation.
I was stuck but couldn’t bring myself to go back to school. Then my boyfriend announced he had been given a job opportunity in South Africa and I was determined to escape the U.K. with him. I soon became the mother of two boys, which kept me very busy. Yet my spirit conversations never ceased. One thing I am always grateful for is that both my mother and grandmother taught me the ways of signs. After a series of signs I found myself at the now famous Phoenix Ashram near Durban in South Africa. The ashram had been founded, in the 1905 by Mahatma Gandhi. I received deeper training in eastern Hindu and Buddhist meditations as well as the Satyagraha concept which basically means the insistence on truth. (The Ashram was burned to the ground in 1985)
I was determined to discover more about my ancestry and because of my Grandmother’s paperwork, I managed to get visas for Canada. I was also able to get into University and complete my education and graduated as a photo journalist. Again, through a series of strange coincidences (which I write about in my books: Wolf Trail, Kachina, and Ghost Mountain) I ended up working on two Native American Indian newspapers in Alberta. During these years I apprenticed under three Native American Indian medicine people. The salary I earned was not spectacular, but nonetheless, I got paid to travel around Alberta and all parts of the North, interviewing elders, sitting in on ceremonies and listing to the wise words of the chiefs. I spent my time travelling from one reservation to another, reporting stories, taking photographs and interviewing elders and spiritual teachers for the newspaper.
During this time on the reservations, I also found myself intrigued by the stone inscriptions and ochre paintings and spent a lot of time researching information. I also loved the ancient mystery creation tales and wrote a story/article on the Hopi Indians and their creation stories. This story won a newspaper award, and this lead to an invitation to go south to their reservation. During an emotional and confusing time with my Indian Teacher, I had one of my famous hissy-fits and stormed down to California and then out to the Hopi desert-lands where I spent a summer learning traditional pottery, sleeping on the floor and tending the fields. I have written about my experiences in my book: Kachina.
I returned to Alberta and to my old teacher in order to vision quest. Much as I had some amazing experiences, especially those in Hopiland, I still did not understand what they all meant. I ached to understand my purpose and why I seemed to have been singled out for these extraordinary events.
I spent months living and training in the Four Winds spiritual camp before being guided by my teacher to a cave high in the Rocky Mountains of southern Alberta, near the Milk River. I sat in Vision Quest in this ancient Blackfoot visioning place and received an amazing vision of where my life was taking me. All of it has come true and is, in fact, it is still unfolding. At the same time, because of my research I discovered some interesting pictograms, which seemed to echo a story found in the Muslim Holy Koran, also called “the Cave”. I was starting to realize that there is a common-thread that runs through all the ancient myths and stories. (Read more about that in Ghost Mountain)
My teacher holds up the sacred Water Pipe dedicated to the power of the River.
Yet the Indian land-right negotiations were also at full pitch. I was young, passionate and determined to write about these dreadful events in the newspaper and expose the “bad guys” who were big corp and big government. Oil companies had discovered shale oil and gas on some of the traditional lands, and were conducting drilling and fracking explorations, which frightened the game. Many traditional people were unable to feed their families and were then forced onto welfare payments. This then forced them away from their traditions and into the big, heart-less cities, far away from their traditional support network. Eventually many of them turned to alcohol, abuse and tribal destruction.
I had been following these stories for years, but everything came to a head with a violent confrontation. There was a tribal road block or demonstration; yet it was raided by a battalion of undercover agents in the dead of night. Many traditional and peace-loving people lost their lives by “accident” at that road-block. These deaths included my medicine brother, and many others.
I had experienced a profound vision quest with incredible confirmation, yet my whole life was imploding. I returned to the newspaper office to discover my Elder had also transitioned to the Blue Road (death) and my heart broke. At the same time I discovered my former partner had left the country taking our two boys with him. I was alone and everyone I cared about seemed to be leaving the planet or living on another continent. Yet I also knew that when this kind of explosion occurs, power is about to come and it did with yet another invitation.
An invitation from a foreign land and a strange and unknown culture is usually unexpected yet I felt nothing. Perhaps I was still in shock over the loss of so many of my close friends and mentors. Perhaps I was still integrating the experiences of the Vision Quest, but when I was told that the Libyan government, under the control of the infamous Moahmir Ghadaffi had invited me to present my information on the inscriptions in the Rocky Mountain Cave, I didn’t feel even mildly surprised.
All these years later, I think there was a huge part of me hoping to die out there in that desolate north African country. I was in deep mourning over the death of my teacher, Medicine Bear, as well as Michael, and so many others; Yet I wasn’t depressed or suicidal, just totally happy and very willing to die. It was my personal Dark Night of the Soul demonstrated in an utterly personal and “in your face” way.
(If this interests you, please read my book: Ghost Mountain)
It was a long journey. We had to go via Switzerland and have our Libyan visas stamped in the passport. Luckily they accepted Canadian passports, so I hid my British passport inside my undies just in case! My Muslim compatriot and Pictogram expert was at my side pretending to know all about the pictograms he had never even seen. We landed in Tripoli and within days we were taken, via plane to Benghazi and the University to present our information to a panel of experts.
I ended up with my photo on the front page of a Tripoli newspaper, which caused me all kinds of problems when I later visited Jerusalem... another story which I might tell one day! My Hotel (far left) BAb El Bahar was where another journalist had been flung to his death from a top-floor balcony a few months earlier
They seemed impressed with the materials, but also impressed with me. I happily wore a headscarf because I was in their country, and this deference seemed to impress them. No one commented on my materials, instead I was given a wonderful tour of Tripoli and several Roman and Greek ruins. Then I was left, for weeks at a time, in my hotel. I requested, several times, to return to Canada, but they always politely refused. After a few days of polite discussions of "no", I awoke one morning to find a large black limo waiting for me outside. Wordlessly and without any explanation I was taken to the huge white palace of the president, Major General Ghadaffi to find that he lived in a Bedouin tent pitched on the marble floor of the foyer.
It was the strangest interview I had ever conducted. I could see from his expressions that he understood English, yet he insisted on a translator. The translator often got a word or two wrong, and Gadfaffi would correct him, in English, then return to speaking in Arabic. It was surreal and I found myself swinging from feelings of amusement to utter terror, especially when I could see all the fawning officials perspiring heavily with stiff and fixed broad smiles.
Finally the interview was over and Gadaffi stood, clapped his hands, (just like in the movies) and offered me a gift of anything I desired. Remembering my U.K. passport tucked in my knickers, I asked if I could go to Australia. It was clear that travelling back over the Atlantic was a problem for some strange reason. He smiled, a long, slimy crocodile smile, and within hours I was whisked to the airport to go first to Rome and then finally, Perth.
I arrived in Australia at the moment the news broke that the Locherbie PanAm plane had gone down in Scotland. I was an utter jet-lagged wreck. I had originally been scheduled to return on that plane, but my ticket was changed by the Libyan authorities.
The relaxed atmosphere and “she’ll be right” attitude of Australia was an absolute panacea. Within days I was determined to get back to living a “normal” life as a mother and a regular working journalist. Of course, as usual, spirit had other plans. I was offered a job in a country newspaper in New South Wales in a place I had never heard of, called Griffith. Within days of arriving there I began to have the first of several strange phone calls from men with strong Italian accents wanting me to do them a favour in exchange for yet another favour. This was surreal.. once again...
I met Barbara McKay, the widow of the murdered politician whose body had never been found, and slowly pieced together the whole situation. It is a long and turgid story, but basically, as the first “sheila” newspaper editor who was uncovering all kinds of corruption, I found myself and my family under a new threat. My car tyres were slashed and I had several phone calls threatening my boys. After a quiet night of visioning the spirit of my old teacher returned to me and pointed south. So I moved to Melbourne.
It was now the early 90s and I turned my back on conventional journalism. It had always been a challenging profession, but at least it was honest. Now it was no longer honest and I wanted out!
I had resisted my teacher's demand that I share the Indian wisdom ways. I didn't feel qualified or confident. I was sure no one would be interested. So I finally stuck up a notice in a milk-bar in Sassafras in the Melbourne Dandenongs and much to my shock and surprise over a hundred people turned up! Over the next few years I offered all kinds of circles and gatherings. This included traditional beadwork, as well as drum making classes. Later I opened three shops all called Spirit Vision. I offered traditional Indian goods, as well as the materials to help people make their own medicine bags or tools of empowerment. During this time I had been offering clairvoyant readings, but now I added a quick sketch of the Spirit Guide I saw. These pictures grew larger as I included Totem animal spirits and more. I also attended several new age festivals, including the Ballarat Rainbow Festival in the early 90s.
Maggie Blackkettle, a Blackfoot Elder taught me how to do the traditional beadwork. She is dancing with her daughter and granddaughter at a powwow in Gleichan Alberta.
In the mid 90s I bought a small parcel of land out at Launching Place in Victoria. I offered vision quests, sweat lodges, Medicine Wheel gatherings and much more. I also published my first book Sacred Circle and made my popular CD, SkyLoom, which is still one of the best selling albums on Avondale Music’s listings. However, during this time interest in my art work and readings began to grow and very soon I started attending more festivals, including festivals interstate. This lead to other invitations to visit Spiritual Centres overseas, including Singapore, Malaysia, the United Kingdom and the United States over the last few years.
More recently I have created some websites to help promote and propagate balanced spiritual wisdom. These include: Sacred Tree Books, Spirit Vision, Find Your Psychic and Circle of Stones websites as well as my own personal site, Lesleycrossingham.com.au. I am busily working on several projects, including my version of the Major Arcana Tarot, as well as numerous book projects.
There are dozens of amazing incidents and experiences I have left out of this quick overview. I have also had some amazing romantic encounters that read straight out of a Mills and Boon book; but I have also fallen on hard times, been broke and down and out in East Los Angeles; but no matter what, I have followed my signs and opened myself to spiritual guidance, and something has always come up for me. This, I believe is the key, and I learned it all those years ago in the wind-swept valleys of the Hebrides.
Over the remainder of my life, be it long or short, I will write about all these events. I have signed agreements with several Publishing Houses and that is where much of my focus is now going. I hope to offer shaman circles, country-wide to teach and encourage you all to gather in your own Sacred Circle, with others or alone and awaken your own powers -- we all have these abilities!
I want to add that not once did I ever make a vision board, meditate on manifesting any of these amazing events; I just let the magic in, and those ideas, adventures and gifts far surpassed anything I could possibly imagine. Both my parents were just working-class folks who worked in factories and lived in Council (housing commission) houses. I went to a very ordinary state school and left at 15, barely literate. I could, however, bake a cake and starch an apron. From there, by my determination and the guiding hand of spirit, I have been right around the world. I have been blessed with the most amazing and wonderful teachers who gave me the sacred keys of wisdom, which I hope to share with you, via my books, workshops and gatherings.
I am in the process of turning all my books into eBooks making them more widely available for everyone. I will still offer some paper books, whilst stocks last, but as they sell out you may have to go directly to the publisher for a paper copy. I will continue to offer the Medicine Wheel book as a paper book, but all the others will eventually be available only through the publisher and via eBook format!
If you are interested in going deeper, please go to my bookshop: