(My six previous adventures into other Realms of Awareness 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’)
I didn’t plan this but it turns out that a major character in today’s episode/part/chapter (I’m going to have to pick one and stick with it) is connected to Spring Equinox, which is today!
I love serendipity.
When last we saw our intrepid hero, our Shaman-in-training, she was standing on the edge of … well, nothingness. (which I wasn’t happy about, at all)
Christmas was a big deal when I was a child, not because of the ‘Christmas Spirit’ (which I didn’t really ‘get’) but because I would receive, ordered all the way from England, a ‘Girls Own’ bumper album of stories, (which probably accounts for why Hermione Granger is one of my heroes – I was born in England and my family emigrated to Australia when I was two, and I think this was one of the ways my parents kept that connection alive for me) and a similar ‘bumper annual’ book of Rupert the Bear’s adventures.
All these stories had a satisfying beginning, middle, and end, and later as I sought out my own reading material (science fiction and fantasy mostly, although I did have a brief flirtation with regency romances in the 70’s) I required those three elements to be present.
Where were you when ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, premiered? I’d traveled all the way to Sydney (a two-hour train trip) and queued up for hours to be one of the first to see it.
Remember how it ended?
Han Solo, encased in carbonite, carried off to Jabba the Hutt to a fate worse than death. Luke Skywalker, with his new hand, in shock because of that ‘I am your father’ moment. Leia, discovering she’s connected to the Force, Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian leaving in the Millennium Falcon to search for Han.
As far as I was concerned, when the end-titles started rolling up the screen, we were still in the middle of the picture. (which was in fact the truth, but I had to wait several years to see the other half)
The end of my previous week’s Journey felt similarly unfinished. I’d obviously got a handle on the ‘basics’ (obvious to me, at least) and I was ready to go deeper.
It was time to meet the neighbours.
A breeze skimmed around the room even before I’d begun my Journey. It pulled me Between the Worlds, through the nothingness of the week before, and deposited me in the middle of a sun-drenched cobblestone boulevard, wide and inviting. The buildings on either side looked vaguely Romanesque, but with strange angles that created optical illusions where light and shadow met.
There were many women walking along the street, all heading in the same direction, so I joined the throng.
Some politely nodded, I was not known but felt welcomed none-the-less, and some, so set on their destination, walked a straight line that never deviated, looking neither right nor left.
Being a student of the female form divine, I noticed that some of my companions moved in ways that didn’t seem quite … human, let alone female-form-divine-ish.
What hubris, I chided myself, to think that humans were the only ones to do this Work. The more I looked the more I realised that beings, Spirit Walkers from all walks of life and species, strolled alongside me.
I beamed from ear to ear. This was so cool!
We arrived at our destination, a great Hall, essentially the boulevard roofed over, with corridors to museums, storehouses, and smaller meeting rooms, branching off from the main atrium.
Some of my companions headed down those halls but the majority of us milled around, ‘meeting and greeting’, then gradually settled into the wickedly comfortable seats facing a wide stage, most of which was hidden behind two huge burgundy coloured velvet curtains. I introduced myself to those seated around me and we chatted for a few moments until the room slowly darkened.
The curtains wafted back and forth as though someone had walked behind them and ruffled the air.
A voice spoke quietly but such was its power that everyone heard. “Are you ready?”
I glanced around at my companions, who were all doing the same thing.
Well, someone had to start things off. “Yes,” I said, not as confidently as perhaps I could have. A wave of assents followed, then quiet descended again.
We were asked the same question again and this time we responded immediately and with a touch more confidence.
“Very well,” the voice continued. “You who spoke first, come forth.”
It figured. I stood up.
A shaft of light, like a spotlight, surrounded me and suddenly hardened into a crystal shell which just as abruptly melted away, and I was somewhere else.
I stood in another hallway of the enormous Hall with a colonnade along one side that opened out onto a broad sun-dappled pergola, festooned with purple and white wisteria blooms. The delicious flowery aroma distracted me and it was a while before I noticed two women standing next to me.
They motioned me to join them as they walked, until we passed a shallow flight of steps with the swirling nothingness at the bottom.
The women informed me that to Walk Between the Worlds I must learn the process of true transformation into each of the Four Elements I’d already learned to manipulate. (with differing degrees of difficulty and success I might add)
“Rock, for example,” one of them said as we approached a giant boulder in the middle of the walkway. “You need to un-define the boundary between your body and the rock, to become rock, to know its essence, to be able to do this as easily and as smoothly as the breeze that caresses your skin.”
The other woman took my hand and pressed it against the rock. “Do it,’ she commanded. The touch of her hand ripped through me like a white hot fire, but not painful.
‘Painful’, was the furthest thing from what I felt at that moment.
She took her hand off mine and repeated her command with less intensity. I probably imagined the tiniest upward curve of her mouth as my hand sank into the rock and the rest of me followed.
I was surrounded by a fiery redness, churning and boiling, compressed by the weight of an entire planet until it could find a crack in the mantle through which to break out.
I ‘undefined’ my Self until there was no difference between me and the magma. I became mindless except for that singular purpose, to escape.
I forced myself through that crack, and shouldered aside the puny tectonic plates who dared to thwart my will.
Up, through the surface of the earth until suddenly, like uncoiling a tightly wound spring, I exploded out of the volcanic vent and high and wide into the sky. I screamed in agony as the cold air began to quench my passion.
Time passed, ages, eons.
Continents shifted. Seas rose around me and drained away with soporific regularity.
At last I became a solitary sentinel. My substance scoured by wind and water and sun until all that remained was obdurate stone.
Once in a millennium a tiny grain of sand blew loose from a crack in my substance and began its long fall. This tiny intimate part of myself was hustled by the wind until it reached the ground and was part of me no longer.
I became aware of my sense of my Self separating from my sense of ‘rockness’. Tears welled in my heart, weighted with the loss of that tiny grain of sand.
I slowly made my way through the stone to the top of the butte. The breeze from the beginning of my Journey had followed me here and whipped around as though inviting me to leap off this narrow pinnacle and trust my fate to its capricious nature.
Nope. Not gonna do that! Being in such a precarious location had brought me completely back to my senses.
I wiped the tears from my eyes and was about to retrace my path down through the butte when the way back snapped closed. That narrowed my choices, but there was one problem with that flying with the wind thing, I didn’t know how to fly.
Someone tapped my shoulder and I bloody near fell off my perch!
There she was, the woman who told me to ‘do it’, way back in another time and place, floating just off the precipice edge. She was wearing snug-fitting, dark coloured clothes.
“Do it,” she said as though expecting me to immediately comply.
I was tempted, but it’d already been a bit of an eventful trip. I was emotionally wrung out and in no fit state to step out onto nothing but a bit of wind, even if it was in the company of a rather attractive (even if I do say so myself) Guide.
I shook my head and waited to return from whence I came, for the Journey to end. (I was kind of looking forward to a bracing cuppa tea and a biscuit/cookie)
And waited …
… and didn’t return.
This was new.
I took a moment to catch my breath and do a bit of a Grounding, before whatever was going to happen next started happening.
The ‘dark woman’ hovered nearby, not quite smiling, but I could sense a gleam in her eye. A tiny shimmer in the air next to her caught my attention as it grew and grew until it manifested as a woman who was both old and young.
Her name was Oestra, Goddess of cycles; menstrual and lunar, relationships, Journeys, birth-life-age-death-rebirth, and from whom many of the most fun Easter (and Spring Equinox) traditions have descended.
“What do you want?” She asked in a voice filled with ferocious Power.
I glanced at the Dark Woman.
“Not what she wants,” Oestra said. I could’ve sworn she restrained the urge to roll her eyes. “What you want.”
What the hell. In for a penny, in for a pound, I say. I took a deep breath. “To fly.”
Because of course I wanted to fly. Who wouldn’t, given the chance? How often have we watched a bird in flight, from the soaring wingspan of a eagle to the tiniest hovering hummingbird, and felt awe, tinged with just a wee bit of envy?
The Dark Woman made to bump shoulders with Oestra, but probably thought better of it as Oestra glided toward me.
“You must give up all that anchors you to the ground.”
“All? Again? I just did that with …” Oestra quirked an eyebrow at me. “Right. All. Again.”
She immediately whipped out this honking great sword and sliced off a piece of me, from head to foot!
At least that’s what I thought she did until I looked closer. There was a silhouette of me laying on the rock, but it was in a primary colour rather than black. The part of me where she’d sliced was actually still attached and unharmed, but clear, like glass. I could see right through me.
Suddenly the pain of being cut open, albeit psychically, with a sword, hit me. I almost keeled over in agony.
She sliced again, the other side this time, and I screamed. Another silhouette in another primary colour lay on the rock.
Another slice. And another and another. It went on forever.
My mind turned to ice and was electrified by the pain at the same time. I shed more and more colour and became clearer and clearer until only small globes of colour, aligned with my Power Centers, were left deep within my body.
Fuck flying lessons. I was being tortured. The pain took me beyond my limits, beyond trust, beyond comprehension, beyond fear, beyond death.
My Guide, the Dark Woman, came toward me, and in that moment, that blessed moment, my suffering lifted. She reached into my body, and pulled out the coloured globes one by one, stacking them in a pyramid at my feet, until only one remained.
This one, tiny, red, battered, pulsing, heart, I had to take out myself.
I reached into my see-through chest with my colourless hands and removed it, and handed it to Oestra as my last sacrificial benison.
My feet left the ground.
I shot straight up into the stratosphere. This was what being a jet or a rocket must’ve felt like. I rushed up beyond the pull of the atmosphere. I hovered there for a moment and then came plunging back down as fast as I went up.
I screamed again, but this time in an exhilaration that was almost as painful in its extremity as the torture had been.
I leveled out and began to slipstream from side to side, soaring above fields and water, continents and alien landscapes, following the sun around whatever world this was, until I met up with Oestra and the Dark Woman, my Guide, again.
The flight was over. I was no longer colourless.
As I landed on the butte I staggered and almost fell off. The Dark Woman hauled me back and turned me toward Oestra who hugged my tight. I leaned into her endless compassion until I felt strong enough to return.
My relationship was in its last desperate death throes and I felt very alone in the world. I had friends but they couldn’t touch the hurt abandoned place in my heart, which ached for that deep touching that only a lover could bring.
Oestra understood, and by enfolding me in her arms, not only did she share my exhilaration about my flying, but she also eased that loneliness in my heart for a while.
I found love, acceptance, attending, when I Journeyed. Sometimes it came from the most unexpected places, and in the most unusual ways.