Read Prelude (the first bit) HERE
… the story so far … Childhood of major suckitude … searching for spiritual meaning … my first encounter with meditation … end up in front of an ancient tree … and away we go …
I took a moment to assess my situation. The Morton Bay fig tree was real and I was really standing next to it.
A large almost weightless ebony ball appeared in my hands.
Surely not a crystal ball, some irreverent part of my mind commented, but as I looked vague shapes shimmered and flared inside it and I knew what they represented.
The remnants of my stress at running late looked like a mini lightning strike. An odd-looking jiggly thing off to one side was the tough week I’d had at work. Another shape was my University workload. Another one was my relationship, it wasn’t going well. My health, finances, all the aspects of my everyday life captured in miniature.
The tree was a kind of way-station on my Journey between the physical world and whatever lay ahead. I couldn’t take all my mental dross with me, so this was the perfect place to leave it, to be collected on my way back if I so chose. I gently lodged my ebony ball in a comfortable little nook between two branches, and feeling much lighter, took a deep breath.
My perception shifted and I looked down on a sea of long rolling sand dunes in shades of yellows and browns stretching out in all directions. No trees, grasses, or visible life anywhere. The air around me smelled crisp cold, with a dry bite, not at all what I expected. I glided on soft silent wings across the sky, flying from horizon to endless horizon.
My flight seemed to last forever but eventually the desert ended at the edge of an ocean and plunged abruptly into the green depths beyond the gentle tidal surge. The sea, too, extended in an hypnotic rolling swell as far as I could see.
I landed at the edge of the sand and faced the sea, folded my wings back from whence they came, and waited. Not much else I could do, really.
A wooden rowboat aged by wind and tide gently beached itself. I got in and off we went, across the sea to the opposite shore, which looked exactly the same as the one I’d just left. Sand dunes rising out of the water and then more sand dunes, beyond sand dunes, beyond sand dunes. I left the boat, unfurled my wings and soared onward to my final destination.
An oddly shaped building appeared at the edge of the horizon, becoming larger and larger as I drew close.
By now I was starting to feel, not exactly tired, but edgy, as though the part of me that firmly believed in three dimensions and all the familiarity and safety they entailed, was having a bit of a terse conversation with the part of me that accepted all I was experiencing here, as real too.
I drew closer to the building. Long sweeping planes and cunning tight corners flowed into curves rather than angles and took on a very specific shape. The seven storey high building was a statue of a very elegant looking Siamese cat with her front feet tucked together and her tail draped neatly over the tops of them.
Well, color me gobsmacked! My internal discussion shut down without a whimper.
“Of course it’s a giant Siamese cat,” I said. “What else would it be?” I really hoped I wouldn’t hear an answer because I was starting to feel a little punchy at this point.
As I softly landed in front of the building that towered above me like an overhanging cliff a doorway opened up in one of the giant toes. With a kind of fatalistic acceptance I stepped through. The opening wasn’t very wide, but the scale of the temple was so massive that just one toe left me with ample headroom.
The opening closed behind me without a sound, leaving me in utter darkness. Not just your ordinary darkness either, where you know the sun is out there on the other side of the planet, just out of sight for a while. This was a complete absence of even the concept of light.
My internal voices really had something to discuss now. Mostly about whether I should feel an ordinary garden-variety existential fear, or outright unadulterated imminent-annihilation terror.
I didn’t know which way was up, which way was down. I didn’t know where to go, or what to do next. I had willingly entered a place I had no frame of reference for, that was completely beyond the constraints of any time or measurements of distance that I knew of. Where magic was happening all around me, and dreams, possibly nightmares, came true.
I spent endless moments in that unutterable blackness before I realized I was still standing upright. Therefore, it followed that I had to be standing on something. My rational mind was so pleased to have some sort of reality to hang on to it relinquished its terrified death-grip on my throat and I could breathe again.
Breath meant movement and with movement came light. As I walked, a faint glow bright enough to see by emanated from the walls and faded back into blackness as I passed. The walls themselves were carved in long serrated grooves as though something with very big claws had scratched it out of the bedrock.
My eyes adjusted to the dimness so that when I reached the end of the tunnel, the circular room beyond seemed like it was bathed in brilliant white light. It was a perfect hemisphere nestled between the two front feet of the giant statue. I looked around but the only thing that I could make any sense of at all were a series of deep gashes carved into the walls in a herringbone pattern.
I reached out and touched them, they weren’t rock anymore, they were made out of clay, and I knew they represented a telling of my entire life. My past, present, and my unknown future. In some places the clay was still damp and in others it was so old and dry that I was afraid it would crumble if I even breathed on it. I understood the clay was made out of the blood of the earth, the first Mother of us all.
I knew if I could translate the pattern I would be able to see the course of my life from its beginning to its end, and beyond. The enormity of such knowledge set my hands shaking and I felt cold, ice cold.
A pair of french doors appeared right in the middle of the solid clay wall. They looked as though they’d always been there. Perhaps they had, and I could only see them when I needed to. They led out into a small courtyard, with beautiful green growing things and hidden somewhere just out of sight, the sound of water flowing, like a fountain.
Suddenly I was warm again. I walked through the lush tropical greenery with tears in my eyes.
This potency, this beauty of my ‘interior’ or ‘spirit’ world had always been here and I’d never been able to access it until now. I laughed and cried. I felt sad for all that I’d missed, and elated for all I might find, all at the same time. I wanted to go further, beyond the garden, beyond the sand dunes, to explore just how far this wondrous paradise extended, to venture into who-knows-how-many other magnificent Realms. I wanted it all in one big hit. I wanted . . . I wanted . . .
A lifetime’s hunger condensed around me into this one impeccable moment. I hurried to the edge of the garden and bumped into something large and immovable. I looked up, and up, and up.
Her name, she said, was Bast. She cocked her head slightly to one side and glared fiercely down her whiskers at me. She held one gigantic, yet perfectly proportioned paw, just above my head, poised to stamp me out of existence.
“I want to fly,” I shouted at her with my arms outflung. “Give me back my wings.”
Bast laughed. Her belly shook with her mirth. “I will catch you and eat you. You will not survive.”
I glanced at a tiny butterfly innocently sipping nectar in the garden, and I thought I might be able to fly out as a very small and insignificant butterfly so no-one or no-thing would notice me, and I’d be OK.
“No,” Bast said. “I will squash you.” Her paw quivered just above my scalp. “You are not ready, and you will not survive.”
She seemed so very sure of herself and, seeing as how she was a whole lot bigger than me, I conceded her the point.
As I returned to the garden, and thence to my physical body, sitting in a chair in a small room in an old suburb of a ocean-side city, exhaustion swept over me like a tidal wave. Moving, standing up, breathing, took all of my energy.
Obviously, there were things I had to learn before I could go exploring any further, so I was content to wait, (at least until the following week) to understand how and what I would need to survive.
I was so excited though. Here was a place, a Realm, that could take me as far as I was wiling to go. I felt invincible.