(The five previous stories can be read in sequence on their own page, ‘Prelude’ just up there on the header, or you can catch up on individual stories over to the right in the ‘Topics’ section, under ‘Prelude’)
Every time I Journeyed another layer of my fears, my preconceived notions, my externally imposed (and thereafter internalized) limitations and deceptions, peeled away. I could see clearer and clearer each week.
I wondered, a bit nervously, what this week might throw at me.
I’ve only ever ridden a horse once in my life, which lasted all of five seconds. I went up one side, over the top, and down the other. The horse looked down at me, flat on my back, with that gleeful superior expression horses get when a human has done something ridiculous. (his name was Rain Lover, a retired racehorse who’d won the Melbourne Cup twice, the biggest race in Australia, so in my defense, he was a whole lot taller than your average bear … erm, horse)
Now, I found myself atop a beautiful grey mare whose job it was to see that I stayed on her back until we reached our destination, far off into the desert. Unlike the above mentioned nag, she did so, and at the end of our journey I slid off her soft warm back, stood on wobbly knees, and thanked her profusely.
I’d arrived at a box canyon carved out of the surrounding sandstone by some long gone river, and was greeted by a gathering of women. They seemed to glow a little around the edges as they ushered me toward a dark opening in the back of the canyon wall.
We stepped from the scorching heat of the desert sun into the shadowy coolness of the cave, and as we walked they asked me to recall the things I had already learned in my Journeys and be aware of the enormity of the things I didn’t know.
Yep, I thought to myself, this was going as expected.
I hastily complied as we progressed along curved tunnel. One by one the women faded away as though they were melting into the rock. By the time I got to where it opened out into a good-sized cavern, they’d disappeared completely.
In the center of the cavern a small fire burned brightly. I hoped it wasn’t of the exploding variety like my previous Journey. The shadows of the women sitting around it danced along the walls. They were the same women who’d just faded away on me, only less solid, Spirit versions of their Selves. None-the-less I stood to one side waiting for an invitation to rejoin them. It seemed the polite thing to do.
A women rose and glided toward me. She carried a beautifully fashioned stone knife in her hand and began to cut the same herringbone pattern of marks I’d seen carved into the walls of the Bast temple on my first Journey, into the skin of my forearms.
A little part of me that carried the trauma of my motorbike accident in its nucleus squeaked in fright. Ok, it was a big part.
A Much Shorter Retrospective Digression Than The Last One …
I’m the only woman I know who doesn’t have a piercing upon her person, of one sort of another, anywhere.
Long before I received all those wonderful scars on my right knee from the motorbike crash, I had accumulated two other important scars that contributed to my non-pierced self.
The first occurred when I was a child. (separate from the usual bruises, scrapes, bumps and general bloodletting-spawned scars of childhood)
My father, who was as confused about my burgeoning baby butch identity emerging from the wilds of my early childhood as I was, tried to force me to wear a dress for a family outing. He won, but only because he was bigger than me. I later fell and cut my leg. (funnily enough, in the exact place on my knee that would be sliced off when I had the motorbike accident twenty years later) I got blood all over the dress, ended up wearing my old clothes, with a giant bandage over my wound. I wore that ‘huge’ scar (I was just a little kid so size was a matter of perspective) like a badge of honour.
My second scar of renown was a self-inflicted one on my left forearm. A scream for help from my teen years that no-one heard, so I resumed my self-imposed protective silence. You wouldn’t believe it these days, but back then I had a spoken vocabulary of only a few hundred words. I never spoke more, or less, than what I required to survive.
In the heady days of my ‘steep learning curve’ when I moved to Sydney a year after the motorbike accident, all the women around me had pierced ears and/or were contemplating getting some in places with significantly more nerve endings. (this was a time, long past, when body piercings were only starting to enjoy their hedonistic popularity)
I honestly contemplated it for a few … moments, but the idea of voluntarily choosing to have my body skewered by inanimate pointy objects, even if they only made a tiny little hole to stick dangly ornaments through, made me feel queasy and heading in the opposite direction at a great rate of knots.
Back to our story …
“This is a Blood Ritual.” The Spirit Woman said gently, trying to soothe my fears as she staunched the flow of blood from my arms with some silvery dust. “In this moment, you have a choice. You can stay here in this Place of Power and the shedding of your blood will not have meaning, or you can go further into the Mystery and find the strength and means to continue this Path.”
My heart then did what I was coming to expect it to do when Truths were revealed to me on these Journeys, it seized up for a few moments then thudded against my ribcage until it got back up to speed.
The Spirit Woman indicated a dark tunnel branching off from the cavern. “Choose.”
The second tunnel curved and sloped downward. My eyes adjusted to the darkness as I walked the spiral, and ended up directly underneath the first cave. The tunnel ended in a shimmering wall that looked like quicksilver or the surface of water as a fish might see it.
A friend of mine once said, on a completely unrelated topic, that all we really need to do is stand in our life and breathe.
Once I stopped thinking about what to do next and simply let my sense of my Self lead the way, I knew what to do.
My hand passed through the quicksilver surface of the wall and, meeting no resistance, I stepped through the Portal into a dark space.
I was in another cave, bigger than the others, but again directly underneath the other two. I had descended into the heart of the Earth in a Sacred Spiral.
The quicksilver Portal retreated to one side of the cavern taking the small amount of light it generated with it.
There was that the familiar thudding in my chest again. I was buried who-knew-how-far underground, in the dark, utter dark, with no way out, and I was supposed to do, what?
Because of my previous adventures I had learned enough to know that I could create whatever I willed, (with varying degrees of difficulty) if only I could figure out what that might be.
My heart settled down. I breathed some more.
First, I needed to create light from lightlessness.
I focused my attention on the pattern tattooed on my forearms, and moved the energy pulsing there down to my hands.
Tiny bright tendrils of energy began to radiate from my fingers. The streams of light swayed and danced from finger to finger, grew brighter, swallowed up my palms, spread across the backs of my hands, and even shone through my fingernails. My hands were wreathed in pure light.
I gazed at these beautiful glowing hands, my hands, in amazement. I lifted them over my head. The light spilled out through my fingertips and filled the whole of the cavern with the most brilliant of whitest lights.
My eyes, used to the dark and overloaded by the intensity of the light immediately filled with tears. When I could see again I beheld a cave made entirely out of crystal. The light reflected and refracted around the space until it shattered again and again into a million rainbows and returned to pure white light once more.
I did a little dance of joy like a gleeful child who had just discovered the most wondrous magical thing ever. I laughed and I cried and l laughed again, dizzy with euphoria.
I calmed down eventually but I still had a big grin plastered on my face while I looked for a way out. I hadn’t noticed until that moment that the floor of this wondrous crystal cave was crystal too. Of course it would be. Nice long pointy shards of crystal, angled in every direction.
I faced the next part of my challenge. To get back across the cave to the Portal, the edges of which glowed with the same bright light still shimmering all around me.
I focused my will and saw the crystals as all soft and smooth. They ignored me and remained pointy. What if I flew above them? The crystals flexed and slowly turned their pointy ends toward me. Several of them started to grow.
Got it. No flying.
I must walk, (and it was made clear to me there was no other way to do this) with bare feet, across the razor sharp edges of the crystals, without shedding a single drop of blood.
Remember that part of me that had a thing about not willingly putting myself in situations where I would have my person perforated? She was a gibbering mess now.
I shifted my weight onto my right foot and slowly, very slowly raised my left and lowered it onto the crystals, the very pointy crystals. I could feel them pushing against the sole of my foot. I held my breath and shifted my weight onto it.
I knew I couldn’t entertain even the merest thought of injury or my fear would bring the entire structure down on me and there would be slicing and dicing and blood everywhere. I focused my will as sharp as the sharpest of the needle-like crystals underneath my foot and took another step.
And another, until I stood in front of the Portal, where I finally remembered to breathe. My solar plexus ached and I shook from head to toe, but I’d done it!
The bright silvery light of the Portal slowly shifted. Swirling patterns rose to its surface and resolved into a map that showed the three caverns I’d already been in and others both above and below those three. An endless labyrinth stretching beyond my capacity to understand.
This was the way out though, I knew that. I stepped through the map and found myself back at the entrance to the very first tunnel in the desert canyon, only the canyon wasn’t there anymore. Nothing was there.
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