(My previous nine 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 episodes over to the right in the ‘Topics’ section, under ‘Prelude’)
I was feeling persnickety. Not at anything or anyone in particular … just … just … off.
Like if you got stung by a mozzie (mosquito) and scratched it because it itched, then you scratched it because it hurt, then you scratched it some more because you were angry that it still itched and hurt, and then it started to bleed and you had to put a band-aid (bandage) on it, which was ridiculous because it was just a mosquito bite! … and then you’re too out-of-sorts to be able to laugh at the whole thing.
Yeah, just like that.
Not the best frame of mind to go a’roving across the firmament.
One of the things I always do at the beginning of a Journey is to create a Sacred Circle by calling in the Four Directions, the Four Elements, the Four Guardians, to anchor the Circle in the physical Realm so I can find my way back to my body.
The Elements and Directions provide a clear location. (bearing in mind I lived on the east coast of Australia at this time) I’d start in the East, from whence the sun rose, signifying the start of a new day, a new Journey. Geographically speaking, to the east of where I lived was Water, the Pacific Ocean.
Being in the southern hemisphere the sun traversed the sky via a northerly arc, and it certainly got a lot hotter the further north you went, so, next was Fire in the North. To the west was a whole lotta dirt, an entire continent of it, so Earth was in the West, and finally (and not only because they were the only ones left) in the South was Air.
(Today, I live on the west coast of British Columbia in Canada, so East is Earth, South is Fire, Water is West, and Air is North – the Calling of the Elements/Directions/Guardians differs from Tradition to Tradition, but the gist of it is the same, to create a sacred space, separate from the ordinary, where magical mystical things can happen)
The Guardians embody the energies of each Direction/Element and manifest in each Journey as they will. Animals, colours, symbols, spirit archetypes, etc.
Given my state of persnicketyness, I wasn’t overly surprised when my Guardians turned out to be dragons.
From the East, a sister to the Loch Ness ‘monster’ rose out of the ocean. Form the North, a fire-breathing Pernese dragon came gliding in for a perfect landing. Out of the red earth of the West, one of the Ancients, a brachiosaur, rumbled across the mountains. The air to the South was filled with the rustling of tiny Antarctic Ice-Dragons wings.
The dragons danced the Circle into being and firmly anchored it in the places between the Worlds. One minute swaying together, graceful and majestic, the next, gamboling like clumsy kittens at their first encounter with sunshine,
I have to admit, I smiled, and found myself walking along a rustic track in a land of emerald green. On one side, lowing cattle stood knee-deep in lush fields of pasture, on the other, the grass abruptly gave way to the knife-like edge of a cliff-top.
The track meandered through the fields for a while then swung back toward the cliff until I could see the tide surging over the broken rocks far, far below. The tumbling breeze that gusted across the pasture smelled of sweet cut grass and the tang of sea air.
I enjoyed the walk until I caught sight of a shadowy presence ahead, walking in the same direction. The Dark Woman.
I’d only ever been aware of her as an outline, a nebulous female shape, or simply sensed her presence.
I truly don’t know what happened, but my perskicketys returned and I stopped dead in my tracks. “I’m not going any further,” I shouted, “Until I know exactly what you look like!”
She stopped walking too, slowly turned around and very deliberately walked back to me.
It seemed like a very long time.
I held my breath.
“Hah!” she said and turned away. I breathed again. “How can you expect to see what I look like when you can’t even see what you look like.” She waved her hand as though casually backhanding a fly. “You could be a frog for all you know.”
My stomach contracted painfully and I abruptly sat on my haunches in the grass, my skin a moist greenish-brown. Before I could take in what had happened, I was myself again.
My skin still felt damp, but thankfully, it was just a soft drizzle that had moved in from across the fields.
My perskicketys turned stubborn. “I don’t care what you do to me, I’m not moving, I’ll make sure we both stay here, I can do that you know, until I see what you look like.”
The Dark Woman turned back to me, growing darker with each step until she was shrouded in pure midnight. “Or,” she said thoughtfully, as though the idea had just occurred to her. “I could be the frog.”
And she became one. Right there in the middle of the track.
The drizzle turned to rain.
“Or,” she croaked, “I might even be a magpie.”
She flew across to the other side of the track and perched on top of a weathered old stump. She cocked her head to one side and clacked her beak at me as the rain became a drenching downpour. It dripped off the end of my nose and her beak. The wind gusted and blew her off her perch. She flopped over and was her Dark Woman self again.
“It won’t work,” I said. I’d been tested by a much harsher taskmistress than her. “We’re staying here, until I see you.”
She gave me an eye-roll worthy of Bea Arthur, (why, yes, I was a Golden Girls fan, now that you mention it) and raised her arms. I was in for it now, but she just lowered them and the cabin we’d built together last week came into being around us.
“Oh,” I said.
She threw a towel at me and turned to stoke the fire, moving aside the two fire-cats who’d taken up residence on the warm bricks, one black and one white.
By the time the fire was snapping and crackling in the hearth, I was dry and wondered what sort of trouble my persnickertys had got me into.
She stood with her back to the fire, in silhouette again. “I know what’s bothering you.”
I took a step forward. I didn’t want to, or maybe I did. The Pandora’s box of her words repelled me as much as they seduced me. I didn’t want to hear what she had to say, and yet, maybe I did.
“If you want answers, you’ll have to create the light to see me by.”
I focused on my hands and a soft white light flowed between them.
I saw her face, the line of her jaw, the shape of her mouth, the curve of her nose, colour of her eyes, angle of eyebrow, depth of forehead. I’d never seen her before but I recognised her.
Suddenly I felt sad, and I didn’t know why.
She made to reach for my hands but pulled back immediately. I think she knew I needed that small distance between us.
“Why do you think we’ve become so familiar with each other so quickly?”
It was a rhetorical question so I didn’t respond. I had wondered though, what it was about her, of all the beings I’d encountered, that kept pulling at my consciousness.
“By now you’ve realised these Realms of Awareness have always been here, have always surrounded you.” She paused, and this time I wanted to reach out to her.
“You’ve been on your own since you were 14, and long before that there was no-one you could trust. And now, here we are.” She glanced around our little room. It was a look that encompassed all my adventures so far, and the far greater expanse of knowledge and experience to come. “You’ve found the kind of connection you craved all your life … and you’ve asked yourself where was it all when you needed it in the past.”
Yeah, I’d wondered that too. But really, my past was just that, past. Immovable and immutable. I was happy to leave it there.
“You will continue to confront all the things of your past that would stop you from reaching far beyond anything you’ve already experienced in these Realms.”
Well, so much for that.
“My earlier question wasn’t rhetorical.” She smiled and I swear the entire universe got a little bit brighter. “I’ll be with you, from now on.”
In my exquisitely dysfunctional family, I had always felt alone. It was safer. Nothing could touch the deep still core of me that way. I couldn’t be hurt by anyone. Not really, not deep down where I truly lived, and from that still deep place my childhood imagination soared. My treehouse became a spaceship, or a submarine, or a hot-air balloon swaying in the wind far above the concerns of a childhood stalked by adult terrors.
Maybe the Dark Woman had always been there. Maybe that’s why I’d actually survived my childhood, my adolescence , getting caught in a bushfire, the motorbike accident, moving to the city, getting a political, (and academic) education, falling in and out of love, body-surfing, having a confrontation with a giant cat-Goddess, learning how to fly …
Not surprising really. It probably has ninja skills and is able to poison you at five hundred paces. I love the fact that I grew up in a country where almost every animal of fur, feather, scales, and skin, could kill the unwary in all manner of unpleasant and painful ways. (I wonder what that says about me? … hmm … best not to know) As far as I can remember I only ever got stung by a bee and a spider. Dodged a bullet there.