Vol 3 April 2003       

Carol's painting of Mt. Beluha
The Lure of Russia
with Carol Hiltner
by Emma Rigge


Emma: I know you've been to Russia at least ten times. What is it, Carol, that draws you there?

Carol: I went there the first time on World Peace Day in 1986, for the purpose of creating friendship with the Russians. I wanted to something — whatever an individual person can do — about the Cold War. And it seemed to me a reasonable thing that the people of Russia and the people in America could be friends.

Later, though, there was a dream invitation that called me to the wild Altai Mountains of Siberia. After that, I was really hooked. For the past four summers, I've gone trekking in Altai.

For me, simply being in Russia has become a mystical journey. I continuously have "Through the Looking-Glass" experiences when I'm there. I can never anticipate what adventures will occur, only that they will be extraordinary.

In Altai, there are always the "extreme recreation" events — like having a bear snuggle up to me at night, or getting hit by lightning. But there are other kinds of adventures that are far more interesting than the physical challenges — at least, they are to me. Because Altai, the original home of shamanism, is a place of extremely powerful spiritual energy.

On one level, this energy seems to bring to the surface whatever issues are up for whoever goes there. It's like a cauldron for personal growth. On top of hiking ten to fifteen miles a day, I have come to expect spectacular interpersonal blow-ups and break-downs and other kinds of accelerated "awakening experiences." They've happened on every trip. All of my façades are stripped away and my deep secrets revealed — ones I've hidden even from myself. And then I get to deal with them in that raw, wilderness environment.

But there is a second spiritual level that involves other-dimensional adventures. These, of course, are the experiences I like best. As a result of the increased chi, ecstasy is my normal state there. That makes all the physical and interpersonal stuff — which is actually the exposure of old trauma so it can be healed — completely worth the agony.

I'm an artist, and I come home from Altai each fall with a wealth of powerful images to paint. The dreams and visions I experience there are vivid and intense — and the intensity keeps on increasing, even when I'm not there.

Emma: Tell me more about the mystical aspects.

Carol: Let me begin by saying that Russia is replete with sacred and magical places, and the Russians all know where they are because it's part of their culture to be tuned in to them. When they come to the United States, they know where ours are, too, because they know how to feel them. I'm learning how to do that, too.

In Russian history, there is a legend about a highly evolved spiritual civilization called Belovodye ("white waters") that existed in the far north (see article about Belovodye). According to the legend, there was a climate change and everybody there dispersed, but the leadership went into another dimension and stayed put — and that's who you encounter when you journey interdimensionally to Belovodye. Belovodye is actually what the Tibetans call "Shambhala."

Well, Altai, a region about the size of Washington State, is located directly north of Tibet. And it's my understanding that one of the mystical gates to Shambhala is in Altai, at Mt. Beluha. So there is considerable speculation as to whether the location of this Belovodye was in the "far north" of Russia or was actually in the "far north" of Tibet — that is, in Altai.

Whether it's true or not that Altai was Shambhala, it is definitely a place of "white waters" — many of the rivers there are glacier-fed.

Emma: You said you were invited to Altai in a dream. Who extended this invitation?

Carol: They identified themselves as the Council of 100, and I think they may be this leadership of Belovodye that changed dimensions. They were definitely other-dimensional beings. I see them myself as luminous, semi-transparent, and white — and I have talked to a number of people who also see such beings in Altai. They call them the White People.

I was told that my reasons for going there were to open an energy vortex and to translate some tablets.

Even though, as a non-Russian speaking foreigner, the logistics of such a trip were daunting, I didn't have a moment of doubt about whether I should go or not. The doubts all came later — when I was in the middle of the mountains and couldn't find either the vortex or the tablets, and was so disoriented by the shifted energy that I couldn't even stay on my feet. That was really hard.

But I did eventually find and open the vortex and translate the tablets.

Emma: Why do you think you, in particular, were called to open this vortex? And what did the tablets say?

Carol: Actually, I believe that this vortex is an integral part of who I am, and that I myself closed this vortex at the end of the Belovodye civilization — which I was told intuitively was about 30,000 years ago. That figure makes sense, because the last Ice Age was just getting underway at that time.

It is a multidimensional vortex. And the fact that it was now time to re-open it gives me great hope.

The tablets are in this other dimension where the White People are. There are no words on them. Rather, they contain imprints of ideas, like:

We are one. You are loved. You are safe. You will know what you need to know when you need to know it.

I translated these ideas in two ways. To begin with, the dream invitation itself contained all these ideas, so that was the first way.

And then, since one can only really convey something that is part of one's own experience, I went to Altai and experienced the truth of these ideas in my own life. So the second part of the translation is the journal of my quest. I've published both parts in a book, The Altai Chronicles: Tablets of Light, and I've also included paintings of some of my visions.

I completed that part of my assignment, but it is clear to me that the quest was only the very beginning of my process of waking up — of becoming conscious.

Emma: Do you think these adventures are a personal thing, unique to you, or do you think they are one piece in a bigger puzzle?

Carol: Both. My connection was with Belovodye. Clearly that is part of my soul path. I had work to do at this time, and that's what took me there.

However, I'm not the only one who is feeling that. Altai is a place of pilgrimage for Russians. I would say that it is a major center of this "heart" that Russia feels she has to share with us. Belovodye was a place of enlightenment, of spiritual awareness. And boy, do we ever need awareness in this world!

I'm not saying that it is necessary for people to specifically go there to have that experience of awakening. I don't think the place would withstand a flood of tourists. But it is important for Americans to understand what is there.

Emma: Could you tell us just one story that will convey the flavor of your journeys to Russia?

Carol: One of my most profound experiences there was with a spiritual group that I consider to be my Moscow "family." Significantly, this happened right after 9-11.

I had met them all first in Altai. We were now back in Moscow, and they had gathered more than a hundred people together, to spend a day telling them about their trip (it's not unusual, by the way, for Russian spiritual gatherings like this one to number in the hundreds).

At the end of the day, they did a special ceremony just because I was there, because I was an American. It was an ancient Russian peace-making ceremony wherein the women of two warring factions come together and exchange white scarves.

The ritual was done using two circles drawn on the floor, overlapped to create a vesica piscis — where the arc of one circle goes through the middle of the other one. My Russian counterpart and I were supposed to walk the edge of our own circle, then the edge of the other circle, until we each stood in the middle of our own circle. In the center, they had placed a candle and a little statue — a small altar.

As I walked these circles, I went deep into trance and became transformed from "me" into some sort of priestess. I found out later that the other woman had been experiencing the same thing.

By the time we got to our positions in the center of our circles, our bodies were just thrumming. Then we walked toward the center until we stood across from each other. Now, not only were we standing within the double circles drawn on the floor, but also there was a much larger circle of over a hundred people all around us. And this pulsating energy was running through us.

One of the hardest things I have ever done in my life was to lift up my eyes and make eye contact with the other woman. An almost overwhelming amount of energy was already coursing through me, and I knew that when we connected, the energy coming through the two of us would be multiplied by the intentions of the entire group.

It was really difficult for the two of us to stay on our feet when that happened — we actually had to lean against each other.

I had not generally been into rituals. That was the first time in my life that I understood what power can be generated through such form. It definitely transcended our little group.

This all happened, as I said, a week after 9-11, and the Russians were feeling profound sympathy and concern. They had wanted to do this ritual with me because, for all the attention on the Middle East, they believe that the solutions are in the coming together of Russians and Americans — the spiritual awakening that comes from the merging of the two.

Carol Hiltner (Carol@AltaiBooks.com) is a visionary artist and writer and a regular contributor to Spirit of Ma'at. Her book The Altai Chronicles: Tablets of Light is a journal of her experiences in Altai. Her website, which contains photos of many of her paintings, is at AltaiBooks.com.

Interviewer Emma Rigge (RiggeEmma@hotmail.com) is a London native and a student of many spiritual traditions, who is currently traveling in the U.S. to establish links between different groups in order to further unification of spiritual thought.