Chapel Hill harbors assorted fanatics, people who will talk to you for hours with little or no encouragement if their intuitions (or eagerness to proselytize) suggest you’ll listen, or at least won’t walk away. Whether it’s about local politics, macrobiotics, or a favorite guru, it is frequently a one-way “discussion” you didn’t ask for.

Warren Barrett of Storybook Farm near Chapel Hill will talk to you for hours with a similar fanaticism for his own version of truth, but he doesn’t have to seek out his audience. They seek him out, one by one, hearing of his approach to life not as something unique or better, but one lived and narrated by Warren with the enthusiasm of a practiced storyteller.

His “stories” can have a powerful effect. Ron Tabor of Chapel Hill was moved enough to do a television documentary about Warren, which appeared on the local public station.

Warren and Mary Barrett operate a kindergarten on their farm, a beautifully kept tract of land in Chatham County. The farm is more than a lure for city children; it is in keeping with their philosophy of returning the earth to an Edenic state, to live off the land and respect it as part of themselves.

Warren has developed his gifts as a promoter during his sixty-three years, which makes it a pleasure to listen to him. He has the ability to magnify and convince, embodying an assurance that is rockhard.

What follows is an edited version of a recently taped conversation.

— Betsy Campbell


SUN: What one event in your life most influenced you?

WARREN: What influenced me most was when Ethel, my first wife, a cancer victim, crossed into spirit, and I started searching, asking, “What’s this all about?”

We were in our thirties, coming along with three fine children, and all of a sudden my world blew up. I lost my business, my home, my car, everything, in just a few months.

Ethel had been buried about thirty days when I was driving up from Daytona Beach to Wilmington, where I lived. On the way up, I decided it wasn’t worth it all. I was going to take my life. Between Jacksonville, Florida and the Georgia line, is a long straight stretch of road. Cars, and especially trucks were just balling the jack on that highway.

So I picked out a big diesel truck; I was going to sideswipe him so it’d tear me all to pieces and not really hurt him, because I was in a small car. I pushed the accelerator all the way down to the floor as it approached me, and pulled right into its path. I was so close I could see the driver’s eyes. He was sitting on the air horn, and I didn’t give a damn. But at the moment just before the crash, I heard a distinct voice say “NO WARREN!” I mean loud and authoritative. It scared the hell out of me because here I was alone, and whether it was a reaction to that voice or the pillar of air being pushed by the truck, I wound up in a shallow ditch on the side of the road, and cried. I mean I cried copious tears, just like a baby. I don’t know how long I was there. Over and over I said, “God forgive me.”

That was the last week of 1951. I really started searching in earnest then. What was that voice? This was a real voice, nothing in my mind, none of this bereaved husband business, but a voice that vibrated in my ears.

It wasn’t until the fall of 1956 that I started learning things I’d never learned before. I ran the whole gamut of psychic experiences and different religions and yoga and transcendental meditation and silva mind control, one thing after another. With each one, I thought, “This is it.” When I got into spiritualism, I thought that was the answer, but that isn’t the answer. It’s just a step. Even to this day, I still say, there’s more.

SUN: How did you happen to come to Chapel Hill?

WARREN: I spent 19 years in Puerto Rico where my father was a missionary. In 1934 I came to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a transfer student from the Polytechnic Institute in Puerto Rico. I fell in love with Chapel Hill and said, “I’m going to come back here and live.” Before I did, I worked a lot of different places: Louisiana, Texas, South Carolina.

I remarried two years after Ethel died, in 1953, and moved my little girls to Chapel Hill. I married a widow who had a boy and a girl. I had three children, so that was five children, and then we had another child between us.

Those were rough years. I wasn’t even making fifty dollars a week, and trying to feed eight mouths. I was selling insurance, and Chapel Hill was full of insurance people. Still is.

One night I came in, very disheartened. I told Mary, “Let’s just act as if we had $500,000. Let’s sit down and blow it tonight.” She said, “Are you insane?” I said, “Well maybe, but let’s do it anyway.” She said, “Well all right.” So after the kids went to bed, we started looking through some magazines, and we got a big cardboard box and started pasting in these pictures of things that we wanted.

Mary was about to have a child, and I wanted a little boy. So there was a picture of a little baby boy. And the next picture was a house in the country, and the next was of rail fences, and then a swimming pool, a lake, cars, horses, ducks, boats, a big stationwagon, a Mercedes Benz, and even a helicopter. So we pasted all these pictures in there, and put the box up in our bedroom, and said, “We’re going to live this thing.”

This was in spring of 1954. We moved it to the bathroom where we’d see it more, and all the kids could see it.

We didn’t know it but we were following a very important law set down by that fantastic master Jesus of Nazareth: “Seek and ye shall find; ask and it shall be given to you.”

On May 13, Mary had a little boy and we moved into this place, which has become Storybook Farm, on Halloween night of 1955. Since that time, we’ve had Mercedes 19OSL’s in the yard, a big stationwagon, horses, cows, sheep, a lake; we had canoes, we had everything that was inside that cardboard box, except one. The helicopter. And what is my stepson? A helicopter pilot instructor. I’m still crazy about helicopters; if I really need it, I’ll have one. But I really don’t need one.

The cardboard box was a map; it all came to pass. We have five buses and a business of our own, and a shop. That’s one thing that wasn’t in the cardboard box, the shop. I always loved to work with my hands. The shop came through the same process, through creating it first in your mind.

The name “Storybook Farm” came when I was reading to my kids one night, and in the middle of this book, there was a picture of this farm. When I saw the picture I said, “Oh wow, how beautiful! One of these days, we’re going to have a place just like that. A storybook farm.”

The place came with an English shepherd and thirty some sheep and chickens. We bought the working farm. Overnight we became rural. From McCauley Street to here was quite a jump. If hard work does it, then I can accomplish it. I tried to instill that in every one of my kids . . . the whole bunch of us had a goal; I didn’t do it all myself. We wanted to make this farm work. It does, but it’s work. I thought that after you passed sixty you could ease up. Not so. I still work sixteen, eighteen hours a day. And enjoy it.

SUN: The next issue of The Sun has a special section on animals. Obviously you’ve worked with animals. Is there a common destiny that humans have with other species?

WARREN: When we recognize that atomically we’re very similar to this chair, or my dog or my horse, we recognize that there is an affinity: hey, that’s part of all that is. That bird that just flew by is a part of this thing. The horse out there is, too. What makes me different from that thing, is that along the way of creation, God not only said let us make man in our image and likeness, he said, “and give him dominion.” Ah, voila! We have a choice. The dog has no choice; it will do what’s instinctive. The tree has no choice. It will lose its leaves, and get them back.

Man is different. He was given a choice. You can choose right, or you can choose wrong. That’s the tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden, the ability to think negatively. God said, “leave that alone.”

This is a learning planet. Earth is a school. Entities that have disobeyed on other planets, and there are many of them honey, I mean many of them, millions. They must come to this vibration, this planet, which is quite low, and start over again. The process is to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere through reincarnation, over and over again, as we learn these steps. When we have learned our lessons, we don’t have to come back again.

I’ve had lousy lifetimes and beautiful ones too. But this time, they say I have to fulfill a promise I made, many many years ago. I’ve asked where and when I made the promise. It was around 2,000 years ago. The promise was a sound one, and I’ve been evading it for many lifetimes, and this time they said, “You will not evade it.” And I’m doing it, keeping my promise, right now. (At this point Warren’s face and body contorted dramatically as if he’d had a seizure. It lasted a few seconds. When he opened his eyes again, he explained:)

I’ve got a spirit associate that is quite strong and when he touches me, I jump.

You don’t escape your promises. When I said, “I want to dedicate my life to doing God’s work on earth,” I blew it for so many times, and I was forty before I started this. But from here on out, they say, “you have a choice to die anytime you want,” but I say, “I’ll hang around awhile.”

They say, “You’re going to help people understand the truth. Too many times, you’ve told too many half-truths, or no truth . . . but we’re going to give you the truth, and you pass it on. Those who have ears, will hear. Those who don’t, won’t.” And that’s the way they told me, sitting right over there. We had two mediums in trance. I said, “Okay, I dig that.” So here we are.

As for animals, they are part of me. How can I hurt my animals? I gave away my rabbits because I didn’t want to kill them. I haven’t killed a chicken because I don’t want to. I eat meat very rarely, mostly fish. I don’t even like to cut a tree down. If I have to I will.

I will kill for food if my brother is starving. Animals are my children, part of me. My friends. I can communicate with them through our common maker. Animals are a method by which we can understand our immediate ambiance a little more. They are creations of one fabulous creator.

I had a dog that died in September. He was given to me in another lifetime as a little wolf. When I got him this time, he was an army dog and I was told he would have just one master and if I couldn’t handle him, they’d come back and get him. And when that man drove out of here that dog looked at me and became mine and I looked at him and said, “Oh my God, who are you?” And he just kept looking at me. And from that moment on, he stayed by my side all the time. He could read my mind. He knew when I was going to do things. He’d jump in the back of the truck before I even got there, when I was thinking of going somewhere.

He and I had tremendous rapport. He was 100% blind when he died; he walked off. I have never seen him since. He spared me the heartache of burying him.

Between animals, there can exist a tremendous love. And what love is this? The love of our maker. We have a common creator, a common maker.

We must return earth to its original Edenic state. There’s no job more important, than for all of us to recognize our Godliness. We are children of a creator, and it’s high time we started acting like it. We have been conditioned to believe we are “born in sin, you live in sin, and you die in sin.” That is a lot of crap, and I don’t care what preacher hears me say that.

We have come along with a guilt complex, and this makes us do things in a clandestine way, when we shouldn’t have to. As we gain understanding, these things will wash away. What will become important is: I recognize you as my sister. And you recognize me as your brother. And we are part of each other, and under no condition, can I hurt you, in any way. Then, we’re acting godly.

Jesus said it in ten words: “As you think in your heart, so shall ye be.” If you think in terms of ripping people off, you’re going to rip them off. Then there’s another law that says, “Judge not, lest ye be judged, for with what judgement you judge, you shall be judged.” Gossip not, or you’ll be gossiped about. Steal not, or you’ll be stolen from. Cheat not, or you’ll be cheated. That’s the negative side of the law.

Love, and you shall be loved. Give, and it shall be given. Be kind, and others will be kind to you. Help and you shall be helped. It’s the same law.

So the laws are there. How are you using the laws? Negatively, or positively? Don’t hand me this stuff of “Oh, I can’t help who I am because my parents were this way and I was born in the ghetto and we never had any money.” I don’t dig it. I refuse to accept that. I refused to accept illness twenty-five years ago and I have not had a fever since. Except last Christmas Eve. My son was sick in bed with a high fever and we wanted him to come to the picnic. I went in my room and said, “Father, let me share that fever so George can come.” Within two hours I had a fever of 102. His fever went down, and he got up from his bed and came to the picnic. So did I.