A Guardian Angel's Oath
By Victor Lemonte Wooten
I’m lucky to have grown up with very spiritual parents, both of whom came from very spiritual families. When my mom was growing up, for instance, everything from finding the right land to farm on, to what wood to build their house with, to the spot to actually build the house, was all governed by my grandmother’s dreams and visions.
My mother had the same gifts. I remember driving with one of my four brothers and getting pulled over by the police because our car fit the description of someone they were looking for. When the policeman saw that we were dressed in suits, he let us go. But my mom, who was three hours away in another state, called us on the phone right away asking us what happened. We grew up with those types of stories, thinking it was normal.
That’s why a dream I had in the mid-’80s made such an impression on me. I dreamed that I was flying over my grandmother’s front yard with a bunch of bright blue birds. I looked down and saw my mom standing in the front door, telling me to get inside because a storm was coming. I remember being surrounded by these birds and knowing that I was okay, that I was protected. I tried to tell my mom that I was fine, but she was really worried and kept trying to get me to come down from the sky and come inside. I knew it was a special dream because I rarely dream in color. Still, I didn’t really know at the time what the dream meant.
Later that year, I was patrolling with a crime-prevention group called the Guardian Angels in Virginia. We had stepped in and broken up a fight between two girls, but the crowd standing around watching did not want the fight broken up. So the crowd and the girls all turned on us. I was the patrol leader and there were only seven of us, three of whom were new recruits. I knew we had to retreat but I didn’t want to just take off running because that would excite the crowd and make them come after us even harder. So we just started walking away, but the crowd followed us, throwing rocks and getting more vocal and violent by the minute.
I had one of my team members, a woman named Cathy, in one hand and another member named Aaron in the other. Aaron was getting mad and wanted to retaliate, but I kept dragging them, saying, “We’ve gotta go, we’ve gotta go.” After we finally reached safety in a nearby convenience store, I realized that one of our members was missing. I took off my red beret and my white Guardian Angels T-shirt so I wouldn’t be easily identifiable, and went back out through the crowd looking for him.
The thing that was really interesting about that night is that at no time was I concerned for my own safety. I just wanted to get my group out of there safely. Cathy, who I’m still good friends with today, later said that people were hitting me with sticks as I was dragging her and Aaron along, and I don’t remember that at all. Not only that, but the member who had gotten separated from us ended up calling my house and asking my mom if she had heard from me, which was a huge mistake. That really freaked my mom out, thinking that something had happened to me. So she was calling me, and I’m telling her not to worry, that everything’s fine.
And then I remembered my dream. Just like in that dream, my mom was worried and calling me, and I was telling her I was okay. I knew that I was safe, that I was totally surrounded by God—there’s really no way not to be. That’s why, even though the crowd had been threatening us, I was so not concerned with my own safety—it wasn’t even a thought. I just knew I had to protect my group of people.
That incident led to a very powerful clarification dream. I was in Germany on a European tour in the mid-’90s. In my dream, I was at a party. It wasn’t at my house, but I was in charge. My goal was to make sure that everyone at the party was taken care of and happy. There were only men at the party, and I was going around asking if everyone was okay, if anybody needed anything. People were making requests—I can remember certain people asking for women. I knew that whatever people asked for, I could get. But it was my responsibility to make sure that anything that was granted to them was used responsibly. If it was women, it was just for the female energy, the companionship, and not for sex.
In order for me to get something that was requested, I had to pick up a receiver, sort of like a telephone, that would make a direct connection to what I would call God, even though no terminology was used in this dream. I would have to pick up the receiver and whisper an oath that nobody else was allowed to hear. Basically, the oath was stating that I was going to be totally responsible for the request. At the end of the party, I was given a gift while a voice rang in my mind that said, This one is for you. It was the same voice that I had been speaking to on the receiver.
When I woke up, I called my mom and grandmother to tell them about the dream and ask for their interpretation. They were very happy about it and told me that the purpose of the dream was to help me see what my role in life is. And I do see it now, that the role I’ve taken on in life is to help take care of people and to help make good things happen for them. The dream also clarified for me that, in whatever I do for people, I have to be responsible for my actions, even to the point of taking on part of the responsibility for what they do with it.
Then, in 2000, I ran my first music camp for bass players. I call it a bass/nature camp because we teach nature awareness and how to use the outdoors and nature to enhance whatever it is we do in life. Since it was essentially a music camp, I wasn’t sure how people were going to take to it because we do a lot of spiritual-type exercises, many of which are done blindfolded, like eating meals and walking in the woods. On the last day, we were walking around the camp as people were packing up to leave. A young teenager came over to me with tears in his eyes and said, “You know, Victor, when I first got here, I was looking around going, “Oh my God, there goes Victor Wooten! But now I see everybody that way.”
It was at that point that I realized that we did it, that that was exactly what we were after. To hear this young, macho teenage boy with tears in his eyes come to me and say that at a music camp—I thought, Wow, we really pulled off something amazing. He got a whole lot more out of camp than just how to play his instrument. I started crying and gave him a big hug. Then I got all the instructors together and told them what had just happened. I thanked all of them and hugged them, too.
I use the oath from my dream to this day. And I’ve found that I’ve been able to, for lack of a better term, help people find themselves through the talent that I’ve been given, which is music. Especially through these camps, I’ve been able to use music to help people grow and find themselves. And I have grown so much from it, too. I’ve been able to find my own self and answer questions about my own life through helping others.
Regaled as the most influential bassist since Jaco Pastorius, Victor Wooten is known for his solo recordings and tours, and as an original member of the Grammy-winning supergroup, Béla Fleck & The Flecktones. He is an innovator on the bass guitar, as well as a talented composer, arranger, producer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist. Click here for Victor’s extended bio.
This story appears in Phil Bolsta’s book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything. To order your copy, click here.