Christy Gray Has Returned to the Realm of the Spirit

Christy Gray

On June 7, 2023, at 6:20 a.m., Anna Christine Gray leapt off the great high dive of life and plunged joyfully back into the realm of Spirit. 

Born on Dec. 27, 1947, “in an elevator going up, in Jackson, TN,” Christy Gray made wild and profound use of her 75 years on this precious Earth. A lifelong mystic, Christy didn’t consider herself a member of any specific religion, but honored all paths and loved Spirit in every form.

Her visionary capacities were evident at an early age. When she was a child, she was a fan of the TV show “Wagon Train.” Her mother made her a purple dress and bonnet, and Christy often loaded all of the neighborhood children onto a picnic table and led them west toward Oregon. In this vision, her husband had died and nobody else dared such a passage. So she set out alone with her many children and a gorgeous china collection carefully hidden in barrels. The point of the journey was the adventure, she said—they never reached the West Coast. This childhood vision was one that Christy grew into over the course of her singular, phenomenal, magical life. 

In her 20s, Christy taught art and first grade in a few different Georgia public schools, including a small elementary school in Canon that had only five teachers, one for each grade. She loved working with the children, but she yearned for adventure, for a “ramble,” as she called them, so she left teaching to wait tables in Athens at The Prime Time, tripling her income and freeing her schedule. She would work for a few months, and then take a month or two off to go on road trips with friends, traversing the continent east to west, south to north.

In her early 30s, she “got the itch for a real job,” so she returned to the University of Georgia for a second degree in graphic design. A term or two in, her class went on a tour of the Banner-Herald. She was the only adult in the class, and the only one asking questions. A day later, she received a job offer from the paper. She asked one of her professors what she should do, and he said, “Why pay for school when you can work there and get paid?” So she joined the Banner-Herald in 1983. As it turned out, she said, the pay was even worse than teaching. But she loved the work, she won awards for her art, and she made many lifelong friends.

In May of 1985, she went to Great Britain for six weeks. This trip, she said, “changed the world for me.” She started a freelance graphic design business that allowed her to leave the newspaper and granted her the freedom to explore all that was opening to her. She was living in The Grove at this time, a site now sacred to so many in the community. Of The Grove, Christy said, “It was cold in winter, cool in summer; there was a creek in the front yard. Magic. That’s where things really began to evolve for me spiritually.”

One year while living at The Grove, Christy gifted 40 friends tarot readings for Christmas. The card read, “Your past, future, and Christmas present, come for tea with Sister Christine.” Many of her friends came right away, she said, and others waited years. When one friend asked to buy a reading for her daughter, a new possibility opened to Christy. She’d not considered selling readings. She said, “Spirit was always tapping on the door, always putting another breadcrumb in front of me. Always, always, another breadcrumb and then, ‘Wait for instructions.’ I would.”

Her listening and waiting led her, in July of 1988, to a deep initiation. During a near-death experience she experienced directly the beauty of the other side. She was cradled in the lap of the Goddess, and she experienced unconditional love.

Afterward, she found it very difficult to remain Earth-bound. In November of 1988, she saw a deal advertised in the newspaper—$310 for a round-trip ticket to England and five days with a car. She bought an extra five days with the car and left the States thinking she would not return. The trip was revolutionary for her. “It was as if after spending all my life looking at the picture,” she said, “I was finally in the picture, part of it.” One particular road in Cornwall was so deep even the roots of the trees were above her little rental car. Christy realized that this landscape was the landscape of the afterlife as she’d experienced it, a physical manifestation of the wholeness and connection she’d tasted in her near-death experience, and it remained so for the rest of her days. During this trip, she was “inoculated by Spirit.” She no longer wished to leave her human life. After this, “If Spirit threw things in front of me, I picked them up,” she said. “If they were thrown in front of me, they were meant to be learned.”

After returning to the States, Christy versed herself in the sacred history of the British Isles, and she began The Mist and the Stone Tours. She led tours to Great Britain and Ireland. These weren’t tourist experiences, but “pilgrimages, which is a journey of the heart. It was that for everyone,” she said. “It became that, for all of us.” She only took one to two groups a year until, in 1999, a friend wrote an article for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution praising the intimacy and uniqueness of Christy’s tours. “After this it was gangbusters,” Christy said. “I was 51 years old. I didn’t know anything about the business end of it and really had to dig in and learn.” She took groups from May to July, returned to the States until fall, and then led winter tours from October to December. The combination of holy sites and Christy’s interpretation of sacred history allowed many to taste the unconditional love of the Goddess just as Christy had experienced it during her near-death experience.

These annual visits to the landscape of her soul fortified Christy for her months in Athens. It was as if she could open an etheric channel from the Chalice Well in Glastonbury to the beloved wooden farm table where she read tarot cards and channeled visions for others. “When you’re afraid, choose curiosity,” she advised, and certainly her own life was a lived example of this motto. So many in the Athens community and beyond were healed and held by Christy’s tremendous compassion, wisdom and insight.

She was a being of great power and perception, and she owed this, she said, to being always “the teacher and the taught.” She greeted each person she met as the embodiment of the divine, and she liked to remind others: “God is not a rock star. You can talk to God like a friend. I say, ‘Spirit, which ketchup should I buy?’ and Spirit says, ‘Well, you like the organic Kroger brand, and it’s on sale.’”

“The Tribe,” Christy called the vast network of people she loved and is loved by, and she facilitated and celebrated her beloveds’ personal connection to Spirit in so many ways. She taught classes, mentored apprentices, guided priestesses, and hosted decades of full moon circles and Celtic Wheel of the Year circles. She hosted ceremonies and rituals for births, marriages, initiations and deaths. “We always brought them back to the Temple,” she said, “to this place, to let them be celebrated and honored.”

Christy’s connection to Spirit gave her a fierce voice and determination when it came to politics. A lifelong Democrat, she was a tireless activist and organizer. She would slap the table and curse even as she reminded everyone gathered that the meanest of politicians was still a child of Spirit. “Love through,” she would say. “Love through, and call your senators.”

Among the wise women of Athens, there is in circulation a letter that Christy wrote in her fifties when she was asked about aging. Her own words say more about who she was and how she lived than any of our words can manage.

“Dear Ones, In my youth, I thought by this time in my life I would have a husband, children, financial security, my own home, a great career and nice legs. Well, in fact, it seems that I have none of these things, but like the Rolling Stones said, ‘You don’t always get what you want, but sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.’ And so it has been with me.

“Husband: Gloria Steinem said, ‘We grow up to be the men we wanted to marry.’ I am that. The ‘husband-self’; contented and loved and grateful for the marvelous men that I have had, have, and will have in my life.

“Children: Many, honored and diverse; my own ‘Child self’ and those that rest in the hearts of my loving darni family. (Darni means ‘of the heart, not the blood.’)

“Financial Security: Poverty has been my great teacher. It has taught me survival, strength through endurance, and appreciation of the smallest thing. It has taught me to yield and to ask for help. Poverty has taught me about my great abundance. It has taught me humility

and placed me in solidarity with others. It has taught me to examine my resistance to life. I must say I could not have paid money for these lessons, and I am finally grateful.

“My Own Home: This gorgeous Earth…what more could I ask?

“A Great Career: The greatest career, the wildish woman on the spirit path. Let me show you my portfolio sometime.

“Nice legs: Deep in the night my legs lie sleek and smooth and long, draped across the folds of fabric of my bed, resting in sleep next to the strong legs of my lover, he and I glowing in the moon’s light. My legs are perfect and beautiful, insurable even, like Betty Grable’s… ah, the power of imagination.

“In the light and guidance of the Wise Ones who have gone before me, I love you…”

Christy Gray became the woman she imagined herself as when she was a child on that picnic bench: the bold and courageous guide at the front of the caravan, leading her charges home. She even collected the beautiful china she’d envisioned, a wealth of bowls and handcrafted pottery gathered piece by piece during her travels in her beloved British Isles.

Our dear Christy Gray has now reached the proverbial West. It only took a lifetime. She asked not to have a list of those who preceded her in death, and for it only to be said that she is “survived by this beautiful Earth.”

All of us who have had the great honor of loving Christy Gray and of being loved by her know that we will meet again. “It all leads to the same place in the end,” she said. “I will see you there.”

Christy asked for no flowers, and she asked that memorial donations be made to Georgia Public Broadcasting because GPB “informed and entertained” her for years. Call Sherry White at 404-824-0122 to donate or mail checks to: GPB, Attention: Sherry White, 260 14th Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30318.

We can also honor Christy by “giving to the world.” She recommends we give others “not what you think they want, but what they ask for, what they say they need.” As an example, she suggested giving $20 to the next homeless person who asks. “Many people don’t understand how I’ve lived my life,” she said. “This is a way to understand.”

A celebration of Christy’s life will be held on Oct. 28 from 11 a.m.–2 p.m., at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens.