The Cayce Musketeers in Florida, 1989 – 2011: Bimini
Heave the suitcase; pass it to the men in the boat. Heave the duffel bag; pass it to the men in the boat. Heave the next suitcase. Oomph, what was in that, lead diving belts? I was helping to transfer the luggage of my retreat group from van to boat on South Bimini Island.
We were about 25 people from across the U.S., but the majority came from Florida. We had gathered at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, and then boarded three small airplanes for the flight to Bimini. The planes were small enough that we had to duck-walk down the central aisle. Indeed, we and our baggage had to first be weighed on a medical scale; every pound mattered.
We crossed the Gulfstream to the airstrip on South Bimini. As we landed I saw the carcasses of several airplanes scattered around the airfield. This was a bit disconcerting. After coming to a stop we disembarked, processed through Customs, and then boarded our ground transportation.
We proceeded toward the port where we would be ferried across the narrow strait between South Bimini and North Bimini. After a very short ride, however, we stopped at a well. It is purported to be the legendary Fountain of Youth sought by Juan Ponce de Leon. The well was rimmed with loose stones arranged around it on the ground. A bucket lay alongside. Prompted by our tour leader, Dr. Joan Hanley, I picked up the bucket. I discovered that there’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza.
Figuring it out, I bent down and scooped up a bucketful of water from the well. A couple of drinking cups were produced, as well as several cupped hands, as the water running out of the bottom of the bucket was captured and sipped. The flotsam from the well remained (mostly) in the bucket. I hesitated to drink the water, afraid of possible parasites or other nasty things.
My sense of adventure won out, though, as I took one of the cups, caught some water, and drank. After all, how could I live with myself if, after reaching the Fountain of Youth, I did not drink? When everyone who wished to had drunk the water, we rode the rest of the way to the ferry.
The Florida Gold Coast Team sponsors an annual retreat with a nationally-known speaker from the A.R.E. community. Our Miami organizer, Dr. Joan Hanley, is an educator who has retired from her Dade County Public School System position as a school principal. Joan developed an abiding interest in the Edgar Cayce Readings’ connection of Bimini with the lost continent of Atlantis. This led to personal explorations on and around the Bimini Islands. Leading small groups there followed. Joan suggested that we hold our retreat on Bimini, and offered to handle the arrangements and lead the group. The team jumped at the opportunity. It was so much fun that we ended up holding the retreat on Bimini three years in a row. Here are some "rememberies".
A group of adventurers gathered one morning in Alice Town. We were met by Ashley Saunders, local historian, teacher, author, bush doctor, and so much more. We stayed close to Ashley as he led us on a walking tour. There were the places that became famous as favorite hangouts of Ernest Hemingway. We saw the site of the Rod and Gun Club. We walked past the Big Game Club. We sipped beverages in the iconic bar of The Compleat Angler (now tragically burned down), surrounded by photos of Papa enjoying life.
We walked on and examined the ruins of several notable buildings. Ashley then took us to his Dolphin House, a unique domicile built with his own hands to celebrate the history and art of the island. Some of the group presented gifts to Ashley for use in the house.
We continued our walk, Ashley pointing out many of the plants, growing wild or planted for landscaping, and their medicinal uses. He explained that he was the last of the bush doctors, having trained under the previous expert and practitioner of bush medicine. He went on to tell us that until the mid-1950’s modern western medicine had not come to Bimini. Residents made do with what was available. This plant could be brewed into a tea to treat such-and-such an ailment. That one could be made into a poultice. The next one had a milky sap used to treat warts. My favorite was a wiry orange vine that could be brewed into an aphrodisiac. After about two hours the heat and sun had wilted us, and Ashley bade us farewell for the moment. We would see him again during our stay on Bimini.
Sitting in the open boat guided skillfully by Bonefish Willy, wind blowing my hair as we skimmed at breakneck speed over the water, surrounded by Paradise, this was one of those life-affirming moments forever living in memory. We were heading for the Healing Hole. Bonefish Willy slowed the skiff, threaded it amongst a jumble of mangrove islands, and brought it to a halt at the edge of the mangroves.
The place looked to me like every other point along the mangroves, those “walking trees” that are propped up on an extensive network of roots, keeping the green leaves above the water’s surface. We disembarked in shallow water. Joan directed us to hang our towels, shirts, cameras, or other items upon the mangroves, and then led us slipping and sliding along a tiny channel in the trees.
It was difficult walking in the waist-to-chest-deep water over hidden tangles of roots. They kept reaching out and grabbing our legs and feet. More than once I stepped and went down. Trying to stay to the higher edge of the channel was fruitless. After a little while I realized that the water in the channel was flowing back toward open water where we had begun. We continued on and came to a large round opening in the vegetation, the Healing Hole. Water flowed upward from the depths of the hole and supported us, so that we floated without effort. Healing properties have been attributed to this water. We basked in the good vibes for a time. Some people made claims about specific ailments being helped. As for me, perhaps the greatest effect was on my soul. My spirit soared.
Another boat, another endless bank of mangroves. This time we turned in at an almost imperceptible bit of ribbon on a stick planted at the edge of the trees. We got out and clambered up a gray-white sandy beach onto a small island that was mostly clear of mangroves. This was one of several “effigy mounds” of uncertain origin that were clustered in this part of the bay. Visible mainly from the air they resemble the shapes of geometric figures and animals. I stepped as lightly as I could, almost on tiptoe. It felt sacrilegious to disturb the surface.
We slogged from one to the next to the next, crossing through ankle-deep water in between them. One was the Shark Mound. Shaped like a Lemon Shark, it had a white sandy outline, and the mangroves and other obscuring plants stayed clear. On one trip, Joan and her friend archeologist Gypsy Graves, along with Gypsy’s assistant, obtained permission from the local government to perform an investigation of the site. They found an old, large Queen Conch shell right where they thought the eye should be. Survey measurements proved this to be the case. A limited dig showed that a layer of sand covered a layer of beachrock.
The mound that intrigued me the most, however, was the Rectangular Mound. We climbed up the slope from the water, and someone suggested we engage in meditation. Forming into a large ring we clasped hands while standing. I was the last one to enter the circle. As I grasped the hands of my neighbors to close the circle I had a profound vision.
I saw a double row of small shops and apartments, back-to-back, forming a long, concrete- like rectangle. It was an experimental outpost of the main town to the northwest on a bluff overlooking the ocean. The town was growing and some residents wanted to try expanding into a new area. I saw the shops and apartments fill up with people, and then abandoned in stages. It was not a viable site. I saw drifts of sand come in through open doorways and broken windows. Then storms and high tides added more and more sand until the place was completely covered. I returned to the present moment. The only evidence that anything was ever here was the rectangular mound on which we stood. I felt certain that if a core was drilled down it would penetrate the remains of the roof of the building.
A daily practice was meditation, sometimes twice daily. With different leaders, we practiced a variety of techniques. Crystals were in abundance, and so was sage. This was burned to purify and harmonize vibrations of individuals and the group as a whole. Some also burned sage and other herbs during private ceremonies. Chanting rounded out the preparations for meditation. Another daily enjoyment was sunrise exercises and meditation.
Camaraderie was a large part of the allure for this retreat. Joining together in activities, taking meals together, swapping stories. These all gave many opportunities to make new friends and renew old friendships. A special form of companionship was with the spotted dolphins that claimed the local waters as their own. They came up to the dive boat, playing in the bow wave and the wake. They let us get in the water and swim with them. Inches apart, we spiraled upward through the water together in an underwater ballet. It was sheer joy. What a privilege to share this aquatic element with such wonderful creatures.
A mere quarter mile offshore from our lodgings was the famed Bimini Road. Snorkeling over it I could see it clearly through the shallow water. Rows of large flat boulders fitted together to form a large inverted “J” shape, running roughly parallel to shore. Some think it is a fallen wall, others a breakwater, others part of a harbor when the water level was lower. Others insist it is natural rock that split into pieces. I had little doubt that it was constructed rather than natural. I dove down, and anchored myself by holding onto the edge of a rock.
Small colorful wrasses, Sergeant Majors, and other reef fish abounded over and under the rocks. Indeed, there was space under the rocks because the rocks rested on a few small stones that held them above the sand. This could not be natural, to my way of thinking. Coming up for air, I swam to the curve of the “J”. On the shoreward side the rocks subsided under the sand, but on the opposite side the edge was high above the sand and there was a sharply defined vertical edge to the curve. This dive left us with plenty of fuel for speculation.
Adjacent to our lodge was the most picturesque of beaches. Lori Denn and I walked over to it to investigate. The sand was the finest I’ve ever had the delight to put my feet on. It was fine like cool talcum powder and made my feet very happy. This white crescent beach was outlined with Australian Pine Trees that provided shade to the upper beach. The water was crystalline with the lightest of swells providing a rhythmic susurration as they broke upon the shore. Highlighting it all, as if placed by a master artist, an overturned boat hull of bright colors was embedded in the sandy bottom just below the shoreline. I sat down on the beach and sifted the sand through my fingers. The tiniest of seashells appeared, some looking like minute bubbles only a millimeter across. The sun warmed us a bit so we ran into the water, delighting in its refreshing coolness.
The entire group was on a dive boat, looking for dolphins. The sea that day presented us with great rounded swells, and the passengers were feeling it. I had taken Marazine to stave off seasickness, so I was standing in the bow enjoying the ride. Only Linda O’Hara joined me there, seemingly oblivious to the rising and falling of the boat. Captain Bill Keefe was running the boat in great circles. He explained that the dolphins knew the sound of his boat’s engine and were often attracted to it. After a while, with no sightings, Linda and I heard an odd sound behind us. The entire group was seated on two rows of benches around the outside of the small cabin, chanting. We heard in unison orrreeeommmmmmmm, orrreeeommmmmmmm, orrreeeommmmmmmm. Then someone said they were calling the dolphins.
Well, it apparently worked, because Linda and I turned back to face the water and bam, a dolphin spy-hopped, coming well up out of the water! We made eye contact and I swear it smiled. They do have that smiling appearance, after all. A second dolphin appeared then, followed by several more. They played in the bow wave created by the movement of the boat. Everyone had ample views, and were excited and happy, showing grins like the dolphins. Satisfaction and contentment was palpable when Captain Bill turned the boat toward the harbor.
These were just some of the adventures we modern Atlanteans enjoyed in Bimini. I think many of the participants returned home, as I did, with soul-satisfying memories that will last a lifetime. There are vacations, and adventures, but every once in a while we have the privilege of engaging in an activity that connects us with our core being. The satisfaction is profound. The flow of time fades, and we exist in a higher state of being. For me, the Bimini retreats brought me back to myself and engaged me as the person I wish to be—adventurer, leader, explorer, psychic, gregarious, living in the moment, and full of optimism. Oh, and having fun to boot!
About the Author:
Ron Feldheim has studied, promoted, and taught the Edgar Cayce Readings for over thirty years. Beginning with the formation of the Miami Council in 1980, Ron’s focus has been on organizing and developing local field programs. Ron expanded his role as a field volunteer when the Miami and Palm Beach Councils later merged to form the Gold Coast Team. At this same time, A.R.E. Headquarters chartered the Southeast Region, and Ron was invited to join the Region Core Team of active volunteers. He then became the first Chairman of the Region’s Management Team, and after a six-year stint developed the position of Retreat Coordinator. He has been a member of two A Search For God Study Groups.
Currently residing in Miami Beach, he is Area Team Coordinator and just completed a one-year term as Chairman of the Region’s Management Team. Ron is a speaker, writer, healer, and intuitive. Ron’s professional career has been in Clinical Microbiology and Information Technology.