(My previous eleven 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 with individual episodes over to the right in the ‘Topics’ section, under ‘Prelude’)
A wolf’s head appeared in front of me. Close enough that I could count each and every one of her teeth. There were a lot of them, and very pointy. I backed away and she disappeared.
Then I came across an owl, not your usual upright owl. No, this one was on its side and looked suspiciously like some sort of mechanical toy.
I saw a coiled cobra with her hood splayed wide, ready to strike. Thankfully not up close and, also thankfully, not facing me. She faded away into the edges of my Journey-scape and I wondered if (but probably ‘when’ knowing me) I’d be seeing her again.
A hole opened up beneath me and I slid, feet-first, down a long spiraling tunnel. Sparks of colour and odd transparent shapes flickered around me as I fell.
Eventually the tunnel opened out onto a vast disc-shaped plateau that smelled like it had been sprayed with some sort of asphalt substance which sluggishly oozed away from my feet, obviously as keen to avoid me as I was to avoid it.
Next to me stood the Storyteller, but before I had any time say anything to her, the disc broke in half. This time I had company as I fell through, and we ended up in a weightless realm filled with paint splatters of yellow, pink, and orange.
The Storyteller and I drifted toward a huge mechanical structure that looked suspiciously like a set of wolf jaws opening and closing. We looked at each other and neither one of us said anything. I wondered if it belonged to her. She was probably wondering the same thing about me. We continued on.
Beyond the wolf jaws we came across other obscure mechanical structures that creaked and groaned and gnashed their cogs and gears.
A form of gravity surrounded us, and ‘up and down’ had meaning again. I felt like I was in a museum and all these mechanical things were on display for me.
“So, what’s the story here?” I asked the Storyteller.
“Buggered if I know,” she said, and walked off with an indifferent shrug.
“Not exactly helpful,” I said to her retreating back.
The texture of my surroundings changed and took on an artificial quality, like brittle cellophane.
“I get that I’m in a story but there’s no Storytell … Ahh.”
I was the Storyteller.
The cellophane-y substance shattered and I was suddenly an observer in one of my previous Journeys, many weeks ago in the Crystal Cavern of my initiation.
I watched my earlier Self raise the light with her hands, (she was rather good, I thought) until a mocking voice called to me from beyond the cavern walls.
I passed effortlessly across the crystal-strewn floor and swept the solid rock aside as though it were a curtain. I was backstage at some sort of theater. The smell of the dry decay of the dust motes that swirled endlessly in the pallid beams of watery light reminded me of old 1930’s black and white movies and vaudeville shows of earlier times.
Ropes hung down from gloomy catwalks in the fly gallery high above. Pieces of wood braced large sheets of plywood with muted scenes painted on them and cross-braced with other panels. The whole area was littered with giant clockwork machinery, wheels and cogs, and levers coming out of the floor. Everything felt like it had paused for just a heartbeat and was waiting impatiently to start up again.
Just out of sight, the mocking voice cackled again. “She thinks she did it all by herself,” it said as though to an unseen audience. The dim lights grew steadily brighter and the clockwork machinery started up. “It’s all done with mirrors and wheels and ropes. Like a puppet show.”
I’d sweated blood and tears in my adventures and to have some annoying twerp mock all I’d done really got my dander up. I screwed the entire scene up in a little ball of cellophane-like material and threw it away.
“She did do it all herself!” I said as I turned away … and came face to face with the Dark Woman.
“Not entirely,” she said with a smile, and held her spear upright in front of her. I took hold of it, each of my hands below hers.
She began a deep-throated chant that raised the hair on the back of my neck and sent chills down my spine. The spear began to vibrate and heat up, shifting us through space and time until I was again in another Journey from my past. The very first one. (which if you’re heading off to refresh your memory, was in two parts, Prelude, and PreludeII) Only now the strange herringbone pattern had evolved so that my life from my earliest memories until this very moment appeared as a series of frozen images.
I moved to the first image, and witnessed the child I was. A child who lived out a fantasy world of spaceships and submarines in her treehouse. A confused and frightened child who couldn’t figure out what that horrible man was doing and why no-one stopped him, or believed her.
Then there was the anguished heartbroken girl, about to menstruate for the first time, who couldn’t understand how her family disintegrated overnight.
Next to her was my adolescent self, filled with hurt and confusion. Unable to believe that the world around her was fucked and that what had happened to her wasn’t her fault. So she locked her emotions, her voice, away.
I passed by the next few images. They were fleeting years with only the passage of time to distinguish one from the other.
I stopped next to her in her early twenties, on a squash court, where for the first time, everything in her life clicked into place. The sound of the racquet hitting the ball, the ball hitting the wall, bouncing off a side wall, onto another racquet and back again. She’d begun to open up the silent places in her spirit, struggled to communicate with words, to feel feelings, to be alive.
I smiled to myself, but perhaps it was a grimace. The dark Woman took my hand, gifting me her strength for what was to come. I knew that moment of shining glory wasn’t going to last for very long.
There she was on her motorbike, flowing with the winding mountain road on a dark April night.
I shivered, my breath ragged and shallow.
(now, decades later, in writing these words, that same frisson hovers, just perceptible, at the edges of my awareness)
The motorbike and rider leaned into a corner. The headlights of the two semi-trailers loomed large. The moment of impact captured in the sculpture of her athletic dreams being stripped away.
I moved through more images where I witnessed her leaving the countryside of her childhood and figuring how to navigate through a big city, through relationships and experiences, journey’s with women, various careers, until at last I arrived at the final image.
Me, in this moment looking back at the imagery of my life.
I nodded slowly, grounded, solid.
“I am here.” The words came from deep within me, soft at first. A whisper. “I am here.”
“I … the essence of who I have been, the result of my life, the images on the wall and what living them has made me into, who I have chosen to become.
“Am … who I am now, in this cavern, and why I am here.
“Here … an awareness of the whole of existence in this moment.
The three words flew up and echoed around the room. Grew louder, stronger, more potent, and folded around one and another until they filled the entire space.
The Dark Woman handed me her spear and I raised it above my head into the roiling sound. She squatted low, her arms solid around my thighs, and lifted me high off the ground. I felt her strength and sureness flow through me as I focused my, our, intent on the spear.
I whirled it around my head. Slowly at first, pointing to all the individual images around the walls, gathering the chanting energy like the Pied Piper. I spun the spear faster, round and round, charging it with these energies, until the energy exploded, smashed the images, shattered the rock plinths on which they stood. Reduced the shattered pieces of rock to rubble, the rubble to dust.
The energy of the chant became a whisper that softly echoed around the chamber then faded away like a single puff of wind.
The Dark Woman slowly loosened her arms and I slid down into her embrace, holding the spear in my hands behind her back.
With my hands I gently shifted the spear that lay along her spine into her body. With my arms I brought her body into mine.
The spear was a tool, not lightly given, but earned, and not to be denied or returnable. My memories weren’t lost or destroyed but I would never be mindlessly driven by them again.
And the Dark Woman?
She stood in front of me one last time. “Will I see you again?”
“I don’t know.” she said. “Nothing of our past exists here anymore.” She gestured around the empty space. Even the dust had drifted away.
But then, she smiled. “The past, once set in mortal stone, is nothing but dust. And the future,” she paused. I held my breath. “Has no power here.”
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One more Khatia concert – this time Rachmaninov’s concerto #3