2018 decided to show me who’s boss … first we had another ice storm, thankfully not as severe as the last one, the power only went out for a couple of hours and no more branches were lost from the Winter Tree, or trees in our neighbourhood. There has been unfortunately, a tremendous amount of branch trimming and tree lopping as people began to clean up the storm damage. And … I’m now recovering from five migraines in six days. Not just your planet-buster migraines, these were galaxy-busters. Thank you 2018!
On with the post I was going to write before the above mentioned galactic destruction was let loose inside my cranium.
Ever notice how things come in waves?…
… you find that pair of wrist braces in a backpack that hasn’t been used for years …
… that jar that fell behind the fridge (that you couldn’t be bothered to move the fridge out to get) suddenly appears on top of the dishwasher …
… and a sock finally reappears out of the washing machine of life, (just like that bee ) that’s been M.I.A. since midsummer …
… All within the space of 24 hours?
I call it Murphy’s Law of Attraction, (a variation of the original which says that anything that CAN happen WILL happen) which goes something like this: If one thing decides to screw with you then many things will decide to screw with you in order to keep it company and ruin your day/week/month/year …
… which is apropos of nothing to do with this post, apart from having been asked by a few people of late, both online and off, about that one little phrase in my ‘About Me’ page, that goes like this, ‘… I’m a shaman…’
It all began a few decades ago… in a Galaxy Far, Fa … erm … in a country on the other side of the Pacific Ocean
I was running late. (still do, and with monotonous regularity) I missed my bus connection and speed-walked for six blocks, thankfully most of them downhill, and found the room in the building where I needed to be. All the other women in the room were seated and, apart making quiet eye contact with whomsoever they knew, seemed to be firmly in this physical reality.
My embarrassment that I might be too late and interrupt all sorts of otherworldly goings-ons vanished. I sat down on the only empty chair left and prepared to embark upon the unknowable. I breathed a few deep breaths and closed my eyes. The lights dimmed and my first Journey began.
(I’m not going to go into the mechanics of shifting into a trance state. There are so many different styles and the experience is ultimately unique to each person.)
I was sitting inside my head, metaphorically twiddling my thumbs and wondering if anything out of the ordinary would happen at all, when betwixt one moment and the next, my sense of what was real expanded beyond any understanding I had a context for and catapulted me into somewhere else where anything, quite literally anything, could happen.
My body, from my neck to my thighs stretched and grew longer, like I was made of rubber. I could have reached up and touched the ceiling above me without any effort at all. I had never experienced a physical sensation like this ever before, but for some strange reason I wasn’t scared. Disconcerted? Certainly. Who wouldn’t be? But not scared. My fear had been suspended by something, someone perhaps, for unknown reasons, so, because I didn’t have any other experiences to judge it against, I simply accepted the phenomenon as something that was supposed to happen in a meditative state.
My awareness of the strange physical sensations in my body evaporated and I was … elsewhere.
If all the realms beyond this mortal physical one were like marbles in a bag, I had manifested somewhere in the spaces between the marbles. Out of the nothingness of this Gap Between the Worlds, roots swirled into being in front of me like gnarled fingers and flowed smoothly into the trunk of a tree. Magnificent branches spread out from the trunk into a massive umbrella of grey-green branches. It was a huge Moreton Bay fig tree.
I reached out and gently brushed my fingers along the bark. Its roughness caressed the edges of my fingertips. Awe took my breath away as realized I was in the presence of such a potent physical response in another realm of Awareness, while I was also sitting in an ordinary room with my eyes closed, and yet, this felt right, like I had been waiting all my life for it to happen.
A retrospective digression . . .
Small country towns and rural backwoods often produce offspring with itchy feet and restless minds. This Journey of mine started in a tin shack on the bank of a creek in the harsh untidy Australian bush.
All through my childhood and young adulthood life I lived through a variety of mundane and oh-so not-so mundane abuses. As I grew through the first decade of my life, and became aware of the wild bushland that was my backyard, I sensed a deep awareness of something that seemed to be sleeping, waiting for me to grow to adulthood when I would be able to understand it. In my childish innocence I simply felt ‘safe’ out there. There wasn’t much in my childhood world indoors that was safe, and I escaped outside to the bush as often as I could.
I never really liked school. I always wanted to know the layers of ‘why’, about everything, and to see beyond the horizon, and all that going to school did was to keep my nose firmly buried in books of rote material, and exams. So, I left school as soon as I was legally able to, (14) and got a job. Not a very fancy one mind you, but I earned enough to live, just. I lost that job and found another. I learned how to survive. I lied about my age and got a better job with better pay.
All the time, searching for that next horizon.
The townships around where I grew up were quite famous for their early colonial architecture, particularly the churches. In my teens I began investigating these monolithic sandstone manifestations of religion to see if they could answer my rebelliously agonizing questions of Life, Sexuality, the Universe, and Everything.
I found them all wanting. I never believed their story. For awhile though, in a sort of a spiritual desperation, seeing as it was the only form of spirituality around me at the time, I tried to believe their dogma, but I rebelled at the blatant separatism (among many, many ‘isms’), that each belief system or creed taught. (I had the ridiculous experience of one of these religions offering to ‘cure’ me because I was a lesbian)
I didn’t fit their model and they certainly didn’t fit me.
In spite of a childhood of adult imposed terrors, the agonies of adolescence where I knew I was different and fearing I was the only one in the whole wide world, and the longings of young adulthood, I knew beyond any doubt that there was something waiting for me out there. Something that was magical and wonderful, and once I found it I would never be the same, ever again. Until I found it, or it found me, I was content to just drift along the line of my life, trying all sorts of new experiences. Experimenting with love and lust, consciousness altering substances, political movements, and the philosophical paradoxes of the adult world.
All that changed the day I discovered a sport that set my heart on fire! I felt like I KNEW what I was waiting for at last. I mapped out my path with a dedication and self-discipline that brought a tear to the eye of the most cynical of my friends at the time. I planned to progress through the amateur rankings, then play professionally, and then become the best in the world. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was my destiny. I declared my every, well almost every, waking moment to that goal.
(The trophies from that era are long gone, but I still have the memories safely tucked away, to be taken out now and then and looked upon fondly)
I was in my early twenties and I rode a motorbike. It was cheap to run, because I couldn’t afford the luxury of a car when every cent I earned seemed to disappear into training for my dream. I felt such freedom, and strangely enough, a sense of safety when I was riding my bike. It seemed that none of the ghosts of my past could ever catch me.
Have you ever gone to a lookout at night that overlooks a city? All those beautiful fairy lights, innocent in the distance. In summer the air carried the scent of flowers and freshly mown grass, and in the winter, wood fires cast lazy tendrils of aromatic smoke through the chilly air.
I would ride out in the early hours of the morning when the country roads were empty of human life but so full of the energy of the night. I traveled along backroads and highways that flowed like rivers of pure moonlight. They wound across endless dark plains, up through mountain clefts, and over high peaks and mountain passes.
Early one night I was idling my way home through a rugged terrain of gorges and steep twisted roads when suddenly all I could see in front of me was the glare of headlights. I was smashed off my motorbike and my dream of athletic stardom ended in a trail of broken bits of plastic and machinery from my bike, and a butchered knee. It was 7.30pm on the 5th of April 1983. As it turned out, a time and date to remember. (but that’s another story for another time 🙂 )
I would never be physically able to ride a motorbike again. (without it being severely modified) My time as a ‘biker’ was done. I never regretted a single moment of my time riding one, and I know for certain that if I had been in a car the night of that accident I surely would have died. The bike allowed me time and the agility to maneuver enough to save my life.
As a treatment for relieving pain in broken bodies, morphine is magnificent. During the 5 weeks and 1 day I was in hospital, Sister Morphine and her less (relatively) intense siblings, numbed my emotional turmoil and physical pain to a level that allowed me time and space to reconcile myself to the undeniable fact that I would always, and only, have one-and-a-half knees.
I remember lying in that hospital bed with my leg swathed in bandages from my ankle to my thigh, knowing that I had come within millimeters of not being alive at all, knowing how bad the damage was, and wondering if I would have a leg to stand on at all. In one simple rush of thought, like the swelling of an unstoppable tide, I relinquished all my dreams, hopes and fantasies. I was back at the beginning of my searching again, almost.
Of course this epiphany happened only at an intellectual level. It took a little longer for this information to percolate through to my other levels of Awareness, and a lot longer for me to accept it. For many years, in my dreams I would always have two good knees. I would wake up and start to get out of bed like I used to, and either hurt myself terribly or catch myself just in the nick of time from falling flat on my face. Either way, getting out of bed was not my favorite activity of the day. To finally appear in my dreams with my damaged knee was, in a strange kind of a way, a relief.
Anyway, back to the hospital. With my emotional responses thus temporarily suspended, I was intellectually able to find some of my answers to the big WHY?
I would never be that world famous athlete, but I would be able to walk upright, eventually, with a limp, and the rest of my body functioned as it should.
I realized I had been given the gift of experiencing the passion of Knowing, of understanding at a very deep level in my Spirit, what being on a Life-path felt like. I just hadn’t picked the right one yet! That seemed simple enough. All I had to do was find out what my path truly was, (fully aware of the irony of the statement) but I KNEW that all I had to do was keep looking. And so I did.
I left the small town behind and moved to Sydney (Australia) and found out lots of things about how to survive in the Big Smoke.
Moving from the country to the city also kick-started my political education as a woman in a capitalist patriarchal society. I got scared, I got angry, I got radical, I got even. I got laid, I got into collectives and consensus, I got into women’s peace camps and anti-nuclear protest rallys. I got into performing, I even got to play guitar in Sydney Town Hall on International Women’s day! I read the worlds of Mary Daly, Kate Millett, Diane Stein, Starhawk, Monica Sjoo, Dale Spender, Vicki Noble, and many, many others. My head spun. I found in those books, and living that life, the answers to so many of my questions, but not all. I’d found my key to what I was supposed to be doing, but where, oh where, was the door?
I was deep in the painful end of a relationship. I had just begun to study at University. Architecture if you please! If there is a more secular bastion of intellectual patriarchal endeavor, I’ve yet to come across it, but for a high-school drop-out simply getting into University was a great achievement. In the midst of these not insignificant events, I heard about a meditation group that I thought might help me find at least some balance in my chaotic life that also might give me some clue as to what and where that door was.
Little did I know, that very first evening, when I found my door, it would swing wide open without hesitation and welcome me into its Mysteries. Although, with hindsight, it felt like it sucked me in, shredded me, and spat me back out, remade and ready to begin again.
… but what happened after the Moreton Bay fig tree, I hear you ask? … Well, that’s for the next chapter.
For those who wondered why I capitalized Sister Morphine, here’s a blast from the past.