Cathee recently stumbled across a web site that had a gallery of pictures of Kennedys mourning, from several funerals. And there I was, coming down the steps from visiting my father's coffin.
When you're three years old, you're like an emotional sponge. When people are traumatized, and you're the focus of photos bringing up people's strong emotions, then a connection is made with you. And it's a two way street. I don't know if there's any way to block that—if other celebrities have come up with a way to not feel that energy coming at them. We're in the age of the photograph now. And it's interesting what photographs are energetically—almost little holograms of a person, and of an experience.
To be the focus of mass emotion and thought when you're only three, and you're in a tiny body being whipped around by nannies, security agents and occasionally a parent. . . . I hope I'm not being egotistical and short-sighted to say, I don't know anyone else I've ever heard of who has experienced that to the extent I did. In the first place, TV was just coming in then. People before then weren't on TV, or even in so much mass-distribution printing.
We recently saw an article online about a book being compiled of letters that were written to my mother Jackie by the public, after the assassination. Here we are almost half a century later, and someone is still reopening the wound. People had commented on this news story, giving memories of where they were when they heard the news and so forth. And they were still looking at my darn picture. So it never ends. [laughs] I don't know if five hundred years from now, people are going to still be looking at my picture. I hope not.
I had no coping mechanisms. If people are looking at your picture in the media because you did something bad and you get a lot of judgment, I would guess you'd tend to close down, as with corrupt corporate heads. But if you're a focus of attention because people are feeling sympathetic towards you and your picture opens their hearts—"that poor three-year-old"—when you're that young you don't have a way of shutting that out. You're wide open emotionally and not able to think logically about it.
So I was just a sponge. And it was made worse in that you would think a child would need to be with his mother at a time like that. But my mother was a total wreck. My sister was falling into herself and closing up. The secret service men were kind of frantic. They were hovering much closer than they ever had—probably for good reason—but I didn't know that. I wondered "why are they watching me so closely?" I didn't understand, and thought maybe they were watching to make sure I didn't do something wrong, almost as if I'd caused my dad to die because I had done something wrong.
My nanny was crying a lot. Everybody was crying a lot.
There was no way out of the emotional haze. There was nobody in my world of however many millions of Americans, let alone my immediate family and playmates and so forth, who was not grieving and shocked. There was nowhere to go and find people who were not suddenly acting totally weird. And that was on top of my own feeling of my dad not being there any more, although he did stick around in spirit until I was seven.
He helped me tremendously in getting through it, because I was very psychic at that point and could feel him right with me. He was about the only one who wasn't acting weird. Thank God for him. He was great. And now I know what it feels like to try to reach people. But I don't think he was able to reach many people from the other side. He tried.
I feel that in a lot of ways he knew what was coming. And once he was dead, he was blown away by how much people loved him. This is what I experienced too—amazement at how big an effect I'd had on people.
I think he was relieved. He was out of his back pain, which had been really bad. He was out of some hard political decision-making that was looming with Vietnam and various issues. Politics is always one vise-grip difficult situation after another because you've always got warring parties, and to be able to just lay down that responsibility was a relief.
He'd started to gear up for re-election, and so he'd come under a lot of scrutiny. And just a few months before his death, my parents had had a baby that had lived only a couple days. Biographers say my mom and dad got a lot closer during that time, but I don't think my dad was good at getting a lot closer. I think he felt a bit trapped emotionally, because Mummy was still very much grieving. The baby dying right after a long pregnancy was hard on her. I think my dad was totally inept at knowing how to comfort her. And she wanted to hang around him more, which he found somewhat of a pull on him. So both his domestic and political career lives were under a lot of strain right then, because to gear up for re-election, he needed my mother to be in good shape and give him strength. I'm sure I was acting like a typical tot. Cathee's been noticing how many press photos of me show me in a bad mood when I was little, looking like I was crying or throwing a tantrum. So I was a typical kid—until the assassination, anyway. After that I was probably saintly a lot of times, and would only throw fits if I was really frustrated. I kept hoping nothing bad would happen again.
So Dad was there for me. As best I can remember and see now as I look back, he was so relieved to be out of there that he enjoyed watching the pageantry of his funeral, how people scrambled to politically grab power with him gone, and how things shifted around. And he could see how much he'd meant to people. I think he got a kick out of it, from a humble place of "I'm not worth all that. What is this hullabaloo? I'm just a guy. How do people blow me up into this whole thing?" And there was the Camelot idealization and all that. He figured he was having much more fun watching it than he would have had living longer. So that's a good thing.
Any time someone sees a photograph of someone, whether it's in the news or just in somebody's scrapbook, a subtle energy "streamer" goes between the two people. It goes out from the person looking at the photograph to the person whose image it is. And of course, the viewer is always looking at a former version of the subject, back in time. Even if the photo was taken just a couple minutes before, they're not the same person exactly. So it reinforces that person's existence at the moment they were photographed.
In a way, people create each other. Whatever you focus on becomes bigger and fuller in consciousness. And so I was probably never more big and full as a selfhood—in the sense of being filled with people's psychic attention—as I was then. My little three-year-old personality had to be able to hold a tremendous amount of consciousness that was wanting to relate to it, and sending out streamers to it.
Sometimes when you look at a photograph, you just whiz by it. But sometimes you look at the person almost as if you're talking to them and they can talk back. Or you try to "read" what they were thinking or feeling when that photo was taken. And so when people look at a photo of me like that, or with empathy in their heart, it almost demands a response energetically not only from the deva [spirit] of the photo, but from the person it depicts. I think that was true even of pictures of my mother when she was pregnant with me—I was in the picture if it was obvious she was pregnant.
So I was bigger and more alive in the sea of consciousness when I was three years old than I ever was afterwards. And my mother was indelibly stamped in everyone's psyche—if she hadn't already been—in our country and beyond.
As Cathee read a book about Jackie, she thought "this woman was just an ordinary woman. She was talented and beautiful, but why did she get all that attention?" I think a lot of it was because her photo was taken so much. It wasn't just that people found her interesting, exciting and beautiful, and that's why they took her photo. After awhile, it's because you've been looking at this woman's photo that you feel like you have a relationship with her. And in fact, you do. If you look deeply enough at someone's photo—not just glancing—you do have a relationship with that person, I firmly believe. And there is a deva of your relationship with that person, even though you've never seen them in person. Shamans have always worked through objects that have come from a person. A photo is much like having someone's scarf or something. Their imprint is in it.
Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote a New York Times bestseller, has talked about what it's like for her to perhaps have her best book behind her, and have the rest of her life to live. My biggest lovefest with the public was when I was three. How do you go on from there—especially with the emotions involved in that lovefest, and the amazing exponential growing of consciousness of so many relationship devas going back and forth?
There were devas of relationship between me and literally hundreds of millions of people, because people did tend to not just glance at photographs of the funeral. They tended to watch the TV broadcasts, or the newspaper or magazine pictures pretty intently. Some people would call that making relationship cords with people, but they aren't really cords. I would call them devas of relationship with people, which have a life of their own. I was surrounded by a whole cloud of them. And they were made when people were grieving, shocked, upset or scared. People didn't know if that was going to be just the first of many assassinations or a coup or what, because they didn't know who did it for awhile, or who he was connected with. People are still trying to figure that out. And so people felt many different emotions in wondering if the United States was going to go through a huge change.
Even people who didn't like the Kennedys were very upset by the event, and were focused on me and Mummy and Caroline. There is an archetype of the widowed mother with kids—the husbandless mother raising the son. And that struck a note in millions of women. At that time many women who had children knew that if something happened to their husbands, they would be immediately thrown into poverty and barely able to make it, if at all. I think behind a lot of the sympathy for my mother was not only that losing her husband must have hurt her heart, but a feeling of "my gosh, if that happened to me, what would I do?" So not everyone liked the Kennedys—a lot of people obviously didn't like us—but even those people were looking at our photos and sending emotions. And some of those emotions were not pleasant to be on the receiving end of.
How could I in a three-year-old body take that avalanche of attention and expectation? In many cases, people would have loved for me to look at them, or to say something that would comfort them. I felt there was a lot of expectation of me. And I carried through my whole life the feeling that I was supposed to make it OK for everybody in America that this had happened. To be the strong one, the comforting one—the one that makes people smile. I did my best.
In that huge swath of emotion of my immediate family, friends and beyond, I had absolutely no room in my childlike undeveloped psyche to have a sense of my own selfhood—to say "what do I feel?" For a child, emotions pass and change quickly. It's not like they're sitting there thinking, "What do I feel now? I can't tell how I feel—it's complex and vague."
So now I'm here after death coming into Cathee and our joint life, and wondering who the heck I am. When anybody dies, usually the personality fades—unless a lot of people are still thinking about the person, which keeps their personality strong even after death. That gives them a sense of selfhood. But it's a weird one, since it's people's images of who you were coming at you—more than it's you being able to have a real relationship of give-and-take at that point.
But with Cathee and me, it was set up so that this would be the second half of my life. So we chose to not have my former personality disintegrate off into different aspects of itself and largely dissolve. Many times there are "karmic strands" that weave back into a new life. But in my case, part of the experiment was that we should be able to choose what we want and don't want to bring in to our new joint life. That was part of the deal originally.
So I'm wondering, who the heck was I? And if I feel back into my life—like a past life recall of who John was—the three-year-old John is huge. Anybody would say "that's who you are" based on how big I was in consciousness then, and how much that was energized by so many people, and is still being energized by people. I guess there are many photos of me as an older guy still out there, but that one of me as a three-year-old is still everywhere. We've seen it on ebay on mugs and little plates. Ceramic figurines have been made of it, and a large doll with a removable jacket. Weird.
This is why I'm looking forward to an upcoming session where a healer is going to work on the trauma from my death, and from my dad's death too. But I don't know how much she can do. I don't know how much of the trauma from dad's assassination was my trauma, or whether she'll have to take it out of the whole nation to heal it. Because at three, I was so flooded with a tidal wave of people's grief that I don't know how I could ever separate out what was my trauma and what was their trauma. It was almost like being a scapegoat for other people's trauma. "Here, I don't want it, you take it." That's what an icon iswhen you carry some image for people—for the mass psyche, even. And actually, it would be interesting to go back through literature and see how many myths there are of the fatherless three-year-old of the queen.
I'm almost choked up as I talk, because what it feels like now—looking back—is being overwhelmed that there's no map through that forest. There's no way to get a handle on this. If you could photograph everybody's devas of relationship with me, and all the emotions and psychic stuff they were sending at me, you couldn't see me in that photo even if I was the only person there—just all these clouds. You'd see a dark smoke, like entities totally making the picture gray. And it's like, I think there's a little boy in there somewhere. How do I find him? How do I elbow my way in there when everyone else feels that their drama is the most important thing? "Where I was when I found out about the assassination. . . ." They're still thinking about it. They're still grieving it.
So mass trauma made me kind of a savior figure—with my Catholic background, especially. And with all of the imagery in millions of Christians' minds that Jesus took on all the darkness for us, and we walked away free and clear. This being a Christian nation, I think unconsciously people were used to going to church on Sunday and throwing their stuff at Jesus, and going to confession if they were Catholic and walking away feeling lighter. Because of that archetype, and me being a three-year-old who people considered an innocent because I was so young, I think there were many people expecting me to take their trauma on. I don't think it was just my own feeling that I needed to make people happy and take it on. People expected it, although not consciously.
But the rest of my life people, tended to greet me with friendliness and almost a gratitude. And I appreciated having that easy rapport with people.
I'm just now putting this together—it's not like I realized this when I was alive. And why I'm seeing it now is: that dynamic was still there on my tenth death anniversary. All the outpourings of love for me were a familiar energy. Cathee was amazed, and I was too, at the outpourings of love for me ten years after my death. And on the web, people are still posting and commenting on commemorations of my life.
What is that about? Now that we are moving into a new age, I am suspicious that part of it is that as you go up in energy and awareness, your old traumas tend to surface. And oops, there's the Kennedy assassination one. And with it, "wasn't his son a cute little boy? Just seeing his shining face and watching him grow up gave me hope for the future. I feel love for this guy because he gave me hope." Or, "look at his strength. He kept going, so I can keep going." But I think there's also an element of "he bore some of my trauma for me." I'm not putting my finger on this very accurately, but I think that's there. I think people expected that, and were grateful for it on unconscious levels, and their Christian background paradigms made it seem like that was a good thing for me to do.
So when I was living that, I just did what I thought was required of me, to some extent. I tried to have my own life, but I also tried to smile for the photographers once in a while. The paparazzi were not so much what annoyed me. It was the expectations of the readers who would see the photos later that I somehow live their ideal life for them, and always be the beautiful one. I think I had an anger about that, that burned in me my whole life. You wouldn't think it would be such an awful thing, because there's some admiration in that, some good feelings, even gratitude maybe or "isn't he good-looking" or fondness if they remembered me from childhood.
But there was also tremendous expectation. And boy, if you don't live up to it, there is another kind of feeling that comes at you, which is what I also experienced on the tenth anniversary of my death. "He was a lousy pilot. Why was he such a bad pilot? Oh, those Kennedys—you know, they all take too big a risks. They're all irresponsible in that," etc. Judgments came at me like a ton of bricks.
This helps to talk. It helps me to just let it go.
I think Cathee took on expectations that she be a good little president's child too. [Her father was a college president.] There's some resonance. She can understand this.
A lot of my life was in all sorts of clouds. Hardly any of it just seemed like me. And see, for anyone who lives in a culture—which is everyone—I don't know how free we are to choose an identity—to write our own script, to have our own story. I don't know if other people have a lot more freedom than I did in that, or not. Or are we all walking around in clouds of cultural archetypes? People made me the prince, but then does that mean they make themselves either the potential princess, or the ugly stepsister, or the . . . pick a role, but there are strong archetypes for even the one who doesn't get chosen. The one who isn't rich. Those are all there too.
So choose your paradigm, I guess. If you get into a paradigm of being a prince while deep down inside you realize it's not something you earned—it's something that you just happened to pick up like a virus—is that really so satisfying? Or does that feel like an expectation, because you know you're playing out millions of people's expectations of that archetype?
Cathee: So John, what hopes do you have for our joint life now as a soul braid, coming out of that one?
John: Part of the question is, how much selfhood do I have that's not given to me from the past? Hardly anybody knows me as John now. So I think it's fair to say that "the deva of John's persona" is much bigger than who I am now, based on all the people who are still remembering him. Even though he's been dead a decade, that persona is being fed a lot more than the John who is now Cathee-John is fed energetically, in making a sense of selfhood and devas of relationship and so forth. Who I am now is puny compared to who that personality is, which probably has a life of its own.
This is actually quite interesting. Is the deva of my personality as seen by the public any more or less a conscious being than the part of me that was created to come into Cathee?
The Leapers: We're glad you asked. The person who is talking right now is vastly more creative and powerful than that persona of John, who can react, but not choose much. It's more like a thing than a person. But you're right—it's enormous. And it dwarfs what you think you can do with Cathee. As famous as Cathee-John could possibly get, she'll never be that famous. And this is where the two of you have lots of decisions to make.
You've talked about wanting to draw on what you learned, and even the fame that you acquired then. Do you want to emphasize that now, or not? Do you want this life to be primarily a continuation of that life, or something totally different? You have a lot of decisions to make. Of course, it's much bigger than you. Our whole soul family is creating you, as we often say. But the more conscious you can be in that, the better.
As long as you've got that treasure—the reputation—our advice is to use it. Why start over from scratch? Any more than why should Cathee start over from scratch—she's got a beautiful background with nature. Let's use that too. It's the same kind of continuity. We're glad you're looking at all this.
John, perhaps your main purpose for having chosen the role you did was to now use all those lines of light between you and millions of people. You can help them leap to more loving parallel worlds as this world fades out, along with the paradigms it's built on—like martyrdom. Together, you can find the treasures from your experiences, and help to create new worlds, with vastly different archetypes.
from Lines of Light: A Conversation with John Kennedy Jr. to:
A Personal Face: A Message from JFK Jr.
Part One Table of Contents
The Parallel Worlds Handbook introduction
© Cathee Courter and Peter MacGill, text. All rights reserved. The first photo is a fair use photo from the AP, used for educational purposes. The second photo is from Abbie Rowe White House Photographs and is in the public domain.
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