Copyright © 2010 by William R. Mistele. All rights reserved.


                                       The Changeling


Note: See Mckennitt, the Stolen Child, for example, on from W.B. Yeat’s poem


 Come away, Oh human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand,

For the worlds more full of weeping

Than you can understand




 I once knew a Hopi Indian medicine man 1978.  I was his only student.   He told me how he acquired his healing powers.

    The day he was born another child died at birth in his village.  The elders who were priests performed a ritual.  They encouraged the child who had died to study herbs and healing on the astral plane in order to grow wise.  Later in life, after the living child had completed his assigned tasks in life, the two would reunite.  At that time, the departed child would become a spirit guide, assisting the living person to become a shaman. 

   For the Hopi Indians, this kind of magical action made perfect sense.  Our world and the next are not so far apart.  They interact.  What would otherwise be considered a loss was turned and made into a creative act.  Both worlds are enriched.

   And also I realized from this first hand report that there must be a great many interactions occurring between the spiritual realms that our world knows nothing about.  


                                                    The Changeling


In a large city in France (not Paris) in 1996, a baby girl was born.  Out the window of the hospital nursery, in that quiet afternoon, you can see a storm camping on the horizon.  Dark, with vicious lightning, the clouds wait for an order before they advance. 

   At 4:37 PM that afternoon, approximately fifty-two minutes after the birth, the air in the nursery briefly turns cold, dropping five to seven degrees in temperature. 

   If you were standing there and could sense these things, you would feel a sudden accumulation of energy, like a flash flood or a storm surge running through the ground.  The air is thick with a cool, contracting, fluctuating, pulsing magnetic field.      

    We normally do not notice these things, but the ground continuously has charges of energy moving through it.  When the charge is strong enough, we witness lightning coming down.  But the lightning is but a small display of the forces arrayed in the earth and the clouds.  

   On this unusual day, the magnetic field within the ground beneath the hospital is remarkably powerful.  So much so, that a gate opens to the fairy realm of the undines.  Because of this opportunity, this open door between the realms, two undines, invisible to all by a clairvoyant, stand over the human child.  They are silvery blue, translucent in appearance--tall, slender women.

  The one undine places her hands down to touch the child and then carefully, as if plucking the strings of a harp, she draws out its soul.  As that bundle of complex soul energy leaves the body, the other undine lowers the soul of a mermaid child into the body in the crib. 

  The infant’s heartbeat and breathing stop for an instant and then continue on.  There is no cry, no squirming, and no complaint.  The entire procedure takes place in less than a minute.

   I realize some will insist that the soul does not enter an infant until at least four months after the birth.  Others say that the soul, though not in the body, is nevertheless already attached—the choice as to who will incarnate has already been made.  Perhaps this is why the exchange could proceed so rapidly—the soul was not so closely bound to the body that it could not be carried away to another place.    

   The soul of the baby girl and the undine who holds it vanishes as they both return to the undine realm. There the human soul is placed in the body of a mermaid on the astral plane while the mermaid infant is now within the body of the infant in the crib.  It is the souls, you see, that are exchanged.  The infant’s body remains the same and has not been moved.

    Though the exchange is now complete, one undine shall remain near at hand to watch over the infant for several weeks.  Caution and attentive care are essential lest a flaw appear in the process.  The binding of spirit to flesh and bone requires a total commitment.  No hint or clue can be left behind; no one must suspect that the water spirits have intervened.  To say the least, the magic used to accomplish this was intense.      

     The infant now in the crib has become a changeling.  Conditions under which such exchanges may be made vary on a case by case basis.  In this situation, it is the unusual accumulation of magnetism in the ground that presents the opportunity seized upon by fairies.

   But why? Why would undines do such a thing?  For undines, being composed solely of the water element, a better question is, Why not?  Why does water seep into the cracks of a granite cliff and split it open as it freezes eventually bringing down a mountain? 

   Why does water slowly wear away solid rock, digging into the schist to form a river canyon? Why does water move along unseen in underground streams?  The answer is that water flows to where it wants to go.  It is the way of nature.

    From the point of view of human morality, taking a soul out of a human body without the purview of humanity is reprehensible.  But we are not the only players on this planet.  There are other races present.  The earth is no ones possession.  The human body is made mostly of water and over water the undines have an authority that is independent of human morality.  

  Contrary to the fairy tales we are told, the realm of undines and mermaids take no interest in humanity.  And if there is an interaction such as this one, the explanation falls outside of the confines of human reason.  The undines see our race as irrelevant to the greater purposes for which this planet exists.  We are here but for a little while and then we shall be no more.  The mermaids have been here long before we came and shall remain ….well, some are nearly immortal.

   It is true that from time to time a mermaid will materialize on a beach or in the sea.  You could touch her or communicate with her if you know telepathy.  But then she vanishes away, dematerializing as if what you had seen was only a dream.   

   It is an energy thing. If the energy accumulating is strong enough and of the right type, it is like the mermaid puts on flesh and blood and a heart begins to beat.  You can do the same if you have a highly skilled medium.  The air in the room grows cold and a white mist of pure vitality seeps out from the body of the medium.  And then a mermaid stands before you in a physical body.  But then the energy is quickly used up and she is gone.

   There is little need to fear.  Genuine changelings of the kind in this story are very rare.  There are only four known cases of this happening on earth at this time.  It requires a magical action for an undine to have a child.  Genuine magic of this kind is rare even among the undines.  And only such a magical child can be exchanged for the soul of a human being. 

   What will the mermaid now in the body of a female child know as she grows older? Will she realize that she is from another world?  The answer is that in this example no one tells her.  She is on her own. 

    It is even rarer for human beings to sense these things.  Only once in the last hundred years have parents realized their child was inhabited with the soul of a mermaid.  And in that case they viewed the exchange as an act of God, as something sacred that was not to be looked down upon.    

    What does our mermaid child look like as she grows up?  She is very pure.  She is innocent, tender, fragile, and gifted with the ability to feel—she responds to the impressions of her senses and to her environment with about ten times greater sensitivity than either the children or the adults around her. 

  A chair is not just a chair for her.  Look at it or touch it and she can sense its history, the emotions of those who have sat in it, the trees from which the wood was made, and the feelings of the workmen who formed it.    

  A face is not just a face for her.  In the eyes, the hair, the lips, and the skin she sees reflected the love and the hate, the joy and the fear, that have settled there.  A person’s face is a poem, a song, or a story that speaks with its own voice.  The eyes, the lips, and voice reveal things that the person would break down and cry over if he or she thought they were no longer hidden.

    The girl would make a great model for some painter because of her haunting eyes, eyes like a full moon that call you to come dance in a grove, lips like the rose light of dawn that warn sailors of storms; and her hair like the black tides of a night with no light, neither stars or moon, where the roar of a distant surf bids you walk without thought of self or any care, only the desire to be free of human need.  Like I say, she would make a great model for a painter in need of inspiration in order to sit down and paint.         

    She keeps her inner feeling carefully hidden from other people.  She knows that what she feels should never be shared with others, for she has learned early on that they are blind to these things—how to give all of your self as you love, how to be unafraid, and how to explore the intricate labyrinth in a moment of time without knowing what the next moment will bring.    

   Her parents think that she is pretty girl, somewhat shy, who likes to play by herself.  She is fascinated by animals; she sits in a tree or hides in the backyard in the bushes watching the calico cat, the timid mouse, the owl waiting for a rat, and the doves bobbing and singing.     

   Lately, now that she is thirteen years old, she has taken up photography, using a digital Canon camera.  She walks though the woods and along streams.  She takes pictures of the same river at different hours of the day and at different seasons of the year.  Why? 

   It is like the river is trying to talk to her and she wants so much to hear and to decipher its message.  She photo edits the pictures, turning them transparent, doing overlays, and then making them into drawings—a few lines on a white background; as if she is looking for what remains when the river banks and the waves are taken away? 

    There are no people in her pictures, just nature scenes and abandoned barns, trees, flowers, paths in the woods, etc.  Her pictures sometimes look like paintings.  Change the light and the entire picture changes.

   Her personality is detached.  There is something precious about her, but what that is unavailable to others. 

   She obviously knows what is expected of her.  She can say, “Thank you,” “How interesting,” or ask a meaningful question, if the social interaction requires such things.  She can play at school with other children.  She does her homework.  She learns foreign languages almost without effort.  She draws.  She jogs.

   She is on the swimming team—swimming, in fact, is the one area in which she exerts the full force of her will.  She has no desire to win.  It is more like the water responds to her will when she swims.  Without anyone knowing why, she is made captain of the team in spite of being shy.  And this choice is never questioned.      

   If you watched her carefully you might suspect that she is playing a part like an actress.  She participates according to the social context and responds well to subtext.  But she is always holding back, pulling her punches, showing only a small part. 

   As I have pointed out, no one has told her she is a mermaid and she has no connection to that realm in dream or in vision. 

   Yet what about this?  If you sit with her in a corner café some fine summer night, and if she totally trusts you because you listen as well as she can feel, perhaps then you might ask her straight out, “What bothers you deep down?”  In that moment, she would reply, “I do not belong here.  The world is all wrong. The people are not fully alive.  And I do not know why.”

    There is one last thing.  If you stood in front of her and sensed her aura, you could tell right away that she is not a human being.  If you were three or four feet away and felt the energy of her aura pass though you, you would see yourself out on the open sea at night before a path of moonlight reaching out to the horizon. 

  You would feel serenity pass through you, deeper than thought or imagery, deeper than a dream, from a place beyond even dreamless sleep.  And then you would feel yourself sinking down into the ocean a thousand feet deep.  You would feel that vast body of water around you and that it contains one quality and one feeling, namely, a sense of peace.  Mermaids such as this one embody qualities that human beings can not easily imagine or fathom.


What of the human child now in a mermaid’s body on the astral plane?  What is growing up like for her? 

   As she grows it is like being in an aquarium, except instead of fish there are mermaids swimming all around her.  The mermaids come right up to her and there is this instant connection from inside without having to speak.  She feels the other’s feelings flow through her.  In this way she learns to sense and perceive as a mermaid, not though speech, not though imitative behavior, but intuitively understanding what water is, what it does, and how life exists within it. 

   If there were language, it would be like this: “Let us spend the summer watching over the reefs of this island, sensing each fish and its habitat, or flowing with the tides, feeling the sun and the moonrise.  Watch the tiny algae, the larger fish coming and going, the young and the old.  This is home; this is play; this is work; doing these things is what we are all about.”  

    It goes on: “Next, let’s flow with the current as it takes us to the North Pole.  We’ll watch the seals and the whales and what could be more exciting than to sense the fresh water melting, mixing with the salt water, changing temperatures, sinking down, down into the deep, flowing back around the circumference of the world. 

    “If you want, you can slide along the edge of a wave as its rolls a thousand miles, as it breaks on a beach, moves on in a wave again and again since there is no end; feel that subtle magnetic swirl in the curling wave--it has its own taste, like a wine you can drink, bringing to life new things in your self you have never felt.  Or just lie back and float on the surface of the sea and feel starlight as its sinks into your being, absorbed, coming to life as a song or a dream.” 

    It is not like there is a one on one mentor or parent.  It is more like being part of a community or a large, extended family.  Anyone can become your teacher or your friend.  If you open you heart, you can draw near and share in the actions of any other water spirit.  There are no social barriers here.  The sea itself is your friend.  Water is your breath.  And there is always present the subtle vibration of love.  It is everywhere and it is absolutely impossible to miss.     

   Being a mermaid certainly beats being unemployed, being in a bad marriage, or being a social reject.  Here there are no bad marriages, no ill will, no suffering due to poverty, unemployment, failure, poor motivation, or to shame.

   Does this human child ever think human thoughts as she sojourns among mermaids?  Words from a dictionary are not in her mind.  All the same, she is well aware she is not as these other beings.  They are so innocent and pure. Their feelings are always perfectly clear.

    She, however, is composed of five elements, even though her body is that of a mermaid.  She senses something is missing.  She can do what mermaids do.  But the spontaneity and the total engagement in the moment is lacking. 

    Does she go on a quest to uncover the reasons for this?  No.  To be a mermaid is to go with the flow.  Mermaid existence has its own bliss which often will reduce the desire for a quest or dampen the need to be curious.

   But if she could put into words what she senses it would go like this: “They are never building anything.  They do not make things.  They have rank and power.  This is clear.  But no one is ordering anyone else to do something. There is no strife, no competition, no striving, and no struggle. 

   “They can learn a great deal and very quickly, but they do not test their own boundaries.  They do not seek to overcome their own limitations.  Yet the best is that they know how to let go: they can feel the entire sea of the earth flow through their souls in any moment.  And as they do this the only things that exist are the sensations, the feelings, and the vibrations of being one with the whole.”      


One day the mermaid shall return to her own realm, after the physical body she lives within dies.  At that moment, she will awaken in the realm of mermaids and be greeted by her parents, those undines who brought her into being.

   There will be a period of transition.  She has inhabited a human body, thought with a brain, spoken with human languages, and remains in possession of human memoires.  All the same, perception, especially sight and sound in the realm of undines is far more vivid and real than these things are to human beings.  It is natural, then, to want to look around, see what is here, and to begin to explore.

   Time is not the same, but soon enough she will appreciate that her soul belongs in a mermaid body.  And then she feels that she has awoken from a bad dream. 

    She shall ask, “Why was so much kept secret from me about the true nature of reality?” 

   With this coming home, seeing it for the first time, and realizing this is where she truly belongs—she is genuinely puzzled why she could not have been here all along.  There is a great sigh of relief like the moment when you realize the truth, that everything you were taught to believe has been false. 

   And then she thinks using both human and mermaid thought, What does it matter? I am now free. The past is no more.  This is where I belong; the human was the illusion. 

   Human experiences, memories, thinking, language capacity, and the human mind still remain; they just are no longer of much use.  It is like a wedding gown you use once and then put in a closet and forget about, unless years later you take it out only to weep about what you once dreamed.      

    There is one further thing to say about the mermaid side of this magical changeling exchange.  As the undine parents, as they come up and greet their returning child, they open their minds.  And then in a few moments, the entire life experiences of the mermaid passes into their own minds and hearts.  

  It is a mermaid thing: you can feel what another feels.  You can also, if you are skilled, replay the entire set of memories in the others’ mind.  I’ll try not to say too much but let me just point out—the mermaids keep records of all the experiences of their entire race.  In a pinch, they can access wisdom far beyond what human beings can imagine. 


And what of the human child after her counterpart returns to the realm of mermaids?  Unlike what legends suggest, a child with the human soul does not remain in that fairy realm.  She incarnates as a human being. 

   As she finally grows up in a human body in the way that was originally intended, she will not have any mermaid magic unless that was taught to her while she was in the other realm.  

   But she will have the magic of water as part of her personality.  She will sense this automatically from her past life experience with the mermaids: that human beings are very silly in this way—they have a compelling need to be selfish.  Greed, jealousy, hatred, animosity, possessiveness--all of these feelings seem like a self-destructive act of binding a ball and chain to your own leg.  There is no need to be tied down to something negative when you already feel free inside. 

   And if you could stand in front of her, this human child returned to humanity, and feel the energy of her aura pass though you, you would not doubt that she is completely human.  You would, however, think that here is a person of great emotional force. 

  When she is upset, it is like standing on the shore and watching a hurricane move in with storm surge, rain, and violent winds.  And when she is happy chances are you would feel like you are in a sauna, a mineral spring, or floating in a tide pool at the beach.  Her happiness flows though you and you let go and feel release and at peace. 

  In other words, you would feel she has an emotional force unlike anyone you have ever met.  And whether you thought about it or not, you would find your self being careful not to get her angry.  You would not want those tides and currents of emotions like riptides taking hold of you or throwing you about. 




Is there more to be said? Some ethical question to be clarified?

   It is said that young children, age eleven or so, are still unable to understand both sides of a question.  They think that something is either right or it is wrong, it is black or it is white—complexity escapes them.  The idea of having to act with ambiguity, to make choices without full knowledge of consequences—they can not live with that kind of stress.  And so they decide on a simple answer and attach themselves to it in order to feel calm.

   Almost all theologians in Western history have been like this.  And so they have failed to seek out new answers or to explore unknown horizons. 

  But if you insist and press me on the question of how a changeling can come into being, I will say this: The message from the divine to humanity is, Either explore the realms of bliss and make them part of your self or cease to exist.