Prelude XVI

(My previous fifteen 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’)

-oOo-

For those who have journeyed along with me on these adventures you might’ve gleaned an inkling of what is to come. If you’re new to the story, you might want to start at the beginning.

What is about to happen is not for the faint-of-heart, nor the unprepared.

-oOo-

‘I had found the ‘keystone’  … or rather, the keystone had found me.’

After the finale of the previous episode (XV) I spent the next few days, and nights, in a bit of a daze. Whatever that ‘presence’ was, I knew I would have to thoroughly defeat it in order to continue my Adventures. It wasn’t a friendly or blithe spirit, or even a manifestation of Herself as an Elemental Energy. (Earth, Fire, Air, Water) It wasn’t an Ally with a gift, or a tool, or a weapon. It was my Adversary.

Adversarial energy is that which we, sooner or later in this work, must overcome in order to move forward. It is the manifestation of our shadows, the wounds on our Spirit that are as a result of the actions of others, and/or our own actions that have impacted on the wounds of others.

We all have one. (at least) Buried, perhaps deep down within our Selves in that place that is filled with things we never show anyone else, ever, not even ourselves. (unless were pushed to it) Or we carry it before us, either for all and sundry to see and be turned away, or to be held in reserve then slipped from bondage in order to cause as much harm as possible then swiftly resheathed until next time.

The Adversary is the greatest danger we will ever face. Until the confrontation occurs we have no idea, who, or what, or how it will manifest, but once defeated, which is not an easy thing to do nor is success guaranteed, we are never again in thrall to it.

We will however, always carry the scars. How we choose to carry them is also part of the defeat of the Adversary.

-oOo-

I didn’t set off on this Journey as I had all the others, skipping off from the Physical Realm without any clear idea of what I would be doing or where I would be going. This time my steps, at least at the beginning, needed to be deliberate and clear. Once the Journey itself was underway, all bets were off.

I began by sitting in a different physical place, and not with the usual group of women. I was alone. There was no room for error or the unintentional interruption of someone coughing or sneezing or even shuffling around in their seat.

I created an inviolable Sacred Circle warded by the Four Elements, The Four Directions, The Four Guardians. Never had I needed their grounding and protection more. With loins, and other bits, girded, off into the cosmos I went.

I deliberately started my Journey in the Gap Between The Worlds. (the place where, in my very first Journey, I left the silver ball in the branches of the Moreton Bay fig tree) It looked different this time but fulfilled the same purpose. Journeys already begun, were scribed as giant circles that Journeyers had passed through on their way to whatever Realm of Awareness awaited them.

I stood in the middle of one of these Circles and was joined by a Warrior Woman, Malawatea, and yet, not-Malawatea. She was the manifestation of all the Spirit Warrior Women I had and would meet in all my Journeys, past, present, and future. (The restriction of linear, forward-moving time only has meaning in the physical world)

She dressed me in a tough leather tunic, protective leggings, and handed me my spear. Then, suitably garbed and armed, I passed through the Circle to my destination with the Warrior Woman at my side, where I immediately snapped into high alert mode, back-to-back with the Warrior Woman. Great danger lurked here even though the surrounding forest seemed calm and peaceful.

Nothing immediately manifested or attacked so I relaxed, a little. The trees in one direction parted to reveal a path leading up a gentle slope beside a creek that trilled and chuckled to itself as it merrily rolled over tiny pebbles and rocks.

“After you,” the Warrior Woman said with an un-ironic smile. We both understood how this worked.

“You are too kind,” I said with equal courtesy.

As we walked along the path the untamed elemental energy of the Earth was so strong I could almost see it rising off the water like a heat shimmer.

We came to a natural pool in the flow of the creek where the knee-deep water drifted lazily over a cracked and crumbling seam of ancient basalt.

The shimmering Earth energy focused in the center of the pool, marking it as a doorway, a Portal into another Realm. I thought it a bit odd that I could see through the shimmer to the opposite bank where the path rose up from the water as though the Portal didn’t exist. In my, admittedly limited experience, that wasn’t how Portals worked.

With a mental shrug I waded into the water and through the shimmer. I dashed a quick look over my shoulder where the bank looked exactly as I left it. Also odd.

The bank I was now facing however, had changed significantly. An open mouth of a cave gaped where the path had been. The ordinary light of this Realm wasn’t able to cross its threshold. It looked like an impenetrable gash in the fabric of reality.

My conscious mind began to babble. Thoughts of the day, times of my life, anything to distract me from going into that darkness. The Warrior Woman waited patiently while I got my rebellious mind back on track, taking each thought and acknowledging it and putting it firmly away from me.

“My task was to guide you to this place,” she said as she faded from view. “And make sure you were suitably armed.”

Yep, that was how it worked. I thanked her without taking my eyes off that tear in reality, still not quite ready to wade the rest of the way across the pool and enter it.

A discordant smell started to waft around me. It smelled like … I looked down and my heart sank. There was blood in the water.

“So there is,” a gruff voice next to me sadly agreed. “You’d best turn around and face it.” She pulled me back up onto the bank opposite the cave and took my chilled hands in her own enormous paws and introduced herself.

“I am Ursu. The Great Bear.”

Glad to be momentarily distracted from the blood I chuckled, although it came out sounding more like a lament. “Yeah, I kinda figured that.” Her furry brown shoulder was level with the top of my head.

She looked at me very intently. “You cannot falter here.”

So much for distractions. She handed me a shield to partner to my spear. I put my arm through the straps and snugged them tight.

“Thanks.”

“You will need it.” She wasn’t one to waste words.

“Back to the cave then,” I said, somewhat reluctantly.

Ursu smiled. If you’ve ever been up close and personal with bear fangs you’ll know that her smile was, impressive. “Not to fight,” she said. I breathed a sigh of relief. “Another Ally.”

The more the merrier, I thought, until I peered into the strange darkness that began to writhe as I watched. A cold shiver ran up my spine.

The darkness grew thicker and formed into a long, sinuous shape.  A large triangular head and a flaring hood reared up as though sloughing off the residual darkness and a pair of emerald-ringed, jet-black eyes stared across the stream at me.

I turned to my bear companion. “An Ally?”

“Come,” she said and plunged across the stream. I followed like an errant leaf caught in her wake.

I’d lost count, but this had to be at least the third time I’d passed through the shimmering Portal. I was beginning to feel a little dizzy. Ursu helped me up onto the bank with one arm and gestured to the really, really big, black snake with the other.

“This is Naja,” she said. “A cobra.” It was obvious she wanted to avoid any insult that might’ve come out of my unmindful mouth.

I nodded to the sn … cobra, and she nodded back, blinking slowly and looking me up and down, taking in the spear and shield.

“Good,” Naja said quietly without even a hint of a hiss. “Now we fight.”

Ursu nudged my shoulder. “Turn around again.”

“Again?” I closed my mouth before either of them saw. I’d been turning around all this time without even noticing it. But, could I do it again, this time consciously?

Of course I could.

Only this time the stream and its banks had shifted to one side and I stood at the edge of a small grass covered dell. On the far side of the little clearing was my Enemy. A shadowy form, male, human, covered from head to foot in a foul-smelling slime.

With Ursu on my left and Naja on my right I stepped forward into the glade, as did he.

The slime pooled at his feet as he moved and I saw that he had a wolf skull and pelt, still wet and steaming from its brutal slaughter, covering his face and shoulders. He was a little man, thoroughly and utterly unredeemable. Just being this close to him made my gorge rise in an acid lump. The miasma of corruption clung to him like a shroud.

The cobra, the bear, and I, waited until he drew a short staff, knotted and gnarled with stolen power, out from under the wolf-skin and swung it at me.

I raised my shield and easily deflected the feeble blow. Then it was my turn. I ripped the clubbed staff from his hands and flung it in the stream. It was no match for the puissance of the water and dissolved into nothingness.

He clawed at my shield but the few marks he managed to make I healed with a flick of my will before he could blight it any further. I grew suddenly suspicious. This was too easy.

Just then my awareness shifted and I was outside of my Self, high up and to the left of the conflict. I saw a woman with a shield and a spear. I saw a bear to her left, and a snake to her right. But where was the Enemy?

My heart thudded in the back of my throat. There was only place he could be.

I turned around as a grey mist surrounded me. Ursu and Naja appeared at my side and the mist parted a little to reveal black rain-drenched rocks, topped by a tower built of dark and ragged stone. Here and there protrusions of fungus erupted like some obscene act that could no longer be contained behind the stone veneer.

The three of us swiftly traversed the bleak landscape and reached the door to the tower, a monstrous thing of decaying wood, bound with straps of rusted iron, and barred shut with huge bolts. Ursu dug her claws into it and with a disdainful flick of her wrist wrenched it apart.

Before I could move Naja ducked in front of me and rose up with her hood spread wide, ready to strike a killing blow.

“Wait here!” she commanded, and disappeared into the opening. Ursu and I exchanged glances, yeah, right, no way were we going to let her go in there alone.

As we passed the threshold I heard shrieking and thumping as though a great struggle was taking place, then, silence. I looked down and saw a glistening fluid trickle out of the gloom.

Blood.

A great wail rose up from my throat so loaded with pain I thought it would sear my vocal cords forever.

Ursu roared, a sound to match my pain and made to go in but I held her back. I wasn’t going to lose another Ally. I walked through the shattered opening with Ursu by my side, following the trail of blood.

My feet made no sound on the loose earth. It had a fresh turned fragrance to it that lifted my spirits until I sensed the sweetish iron-tainted taint of spilled blood mixed in with it. This was how he corrupted all things innocent, all things of the Mother. The trail of blood spiraled into a shallow depression in the middle of the space, and there I found my magnificent cobra.

He had taken her dismembered head and stuck it on top of a pike wedged upright among a hastily assembled pile of stones. The Earth having refused to condone such an obscene violation.

I looked up into Naja’s eyes, bereft of life, and I felt a rage build in me, strong enough to destroy worlds, potent enough to enact an armeggedon that would have no equal. I pulled Ursu’s willing spirit into me, joined her rage with mine, her strength with mine.

But first we had a duty to the dead.

I placed my spear on a clean patch of earth then, unclenching my fists with a shake to stop them trembling, I reached up, and as gently as I could, removed Naja’s head from the gore-streaked charnel-pike. I knelt down and laid her next to the spear. It would be her protector now. They both flowed into the earth until nothing of them remained above ground.

I stayed there for a moment, then slowly got to my feet and pulled the pike out from the pile of rocks. Naja’s blood quickly dried on my palms giving me a firm grip on the wood. Even in death she was still with me.

I turned quickly and silently. I knew who it was standing behind me, as if to ambush me, catch me unawares, as he did when I was a child. I swung the pike around in a wide deadly arc like an axe and cut off his head.

His corpse collapsed on the ground.

His head rolled in the dirt.

I walked up to that lifeless thing and gently lifted the poor wolf’s pelt, until I could see his face. What he did to me, to his daughters, to the women and girls I knew as a child, and my rage and shame and anger and fear, almost gagged me, but finally after all the years of silence, I found my Voice. I spoke with a strength and power that started the stone walls crumbling all around me.

“This vile excrescence is the monster who molested me as a child!”

The Bear within screamed, thirsting for vengeance. “TEAR HIS HEART OUT!”

I agreed. He deserved no better.

I punched the pike through bone and muscle and severed the heart from the body, then turned, effortlessly, and walked away as the tower crumbled to dust.

The forest reclaimed the hate-blasted land and healed the aching wounds with its rampant life. The stream offered water to the new growth, and soon only a single patch of bare earth remained. I planted the heart deep within that little plot of land and sat on the soft green grass beside it.

With a huffing sound, Ursu plopped herself behind me and wrapped her giant arms around me as I cried. As I sobbed. As I moaned and wailed and grieved. For all that had been taken from me and for all that I had reclaimed.

She held me in her arms until I had cried my Self clean, then handed me a handkerchief.

“I always carry a spare,” she said with a catch in her voice as she blew her nose on another.

It was a good thing she was sitting behind me because I was so exhausted, so drained that I would’ve fallen over if she hadn’t been. We sat together, waiting, for something, we didn’t know what, but it felt like it might be something good, something hopeful.

The patch of earth shimmered and broke open and out from that tear in reality Naja rose, alive and whole. She had a scar around her neck. A scar she would always carry with honor, for me, for all the women.

-oOo-

From the time I was of an age to understand that the man who was always looming over me, stalking me, was out to hurt me, I’d woven an impenetrable web of Silence about me. The kind of silence children impose on themselves when there is no explanation for the horrors adults inflict on them.

The truth of the matter is that we are never very far away from whatever abyss swallowed us up when we were children. I’ve walked the edge of my ‘Silence abyss’ a few times in my life since I was a child and will walk it a few more before I die and head off to the next great adventure. Because, as any Walker of a Spiritual Path knows, even if the battle is fought but once, the remembering and the scars and our human ability to trip over our feet, are very real and constant companions. However, walking the edge is far different than falling.

-oOo-

Some years later I was retelling this story at a Retreat I was Teaching and someone asked me why didn’t I forgive my abuser rather than having to do battle and carry that wound with me all this time.

I answered thusly: A – it wasn’t my job to forgive him, it was my job (as a shaman) to overcome my Adversary, and then to transform the energy released at his death into something useful, either in that Realm, or this, or both … and… B – by his actions over many years, he had not earned forgiveness. He had a wife and two daughters and every woman and girl child in our valley, including them, had been exposed to his corruption in one way or another … and… C – forgiveness serves no purpose, either here or in the Spirit Realms. It is a construct aimed at controlling the rage of the abuse survivor more than anything else, so those around her/him feel less uncomfortable with the truth about the choices human beings are capable of … and … D – I did not carry the wound any further that this Journey. I carried the scar, which is a completely different kettle of kittens.

I recently had an email exchange with a woman who was debating with herself about whether to out her abusers (who were well known within her particular profession) or not, because they were in ‘ill health’ and ‘what good would it do?’ (her words) I shared my thoughts on the matter and never heard from her again. I hope she made a decision that honoured her Self.

Speaking out is about healing our Selves, in whatever way, whatever Path, we choose.

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Prelude XV

(My previous fourteen 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’)

-oOo-

Something was afoot. A stirring in the places between the Worlds, the ‘gaps’ between the marbles in my ‘bag of marbles’ analogy. It fadeed a little throughout the week between each Journey, but never completely, and always returned a little bit stronger each week.

I was being prepared for a challenge that, if the training I’d received wasn’t up to scratch, to fail would have dire consequences. (within the Journey)

And it would also be the end of any further adventures.

I wouldn’t be able to any go deeper into these Worlds (safely) that had so enchanted me, taken my heart, and showed me my untold potential. (‘safely’ being a relative term given all the things that had already happened to me!)

The best analogy I can think of is building a stone archway out of individual blocks. The placement of each one on top of the other is very important especially when you get up high enough and start to curve the arch itself. The most important stone is, of course, the keystone at the apex of the arch.

Without it the structure will fail. Adventures can be had on either side of the arch, but none going forward. With the keystone, the arch is complete and can be walked under, through, and over, without fear of it collapsing. The Path can be continued, on into the Unknown.

Each adventure, each Journey, I undertook was tinged with this awareness. Would this one be the ‘keystone’?

-oOo-

The ordinariness of the physical world faded to black, still, quiet.

Tiny pinpricks of light slowly came into existence all around me, and expanded into stars and galaxies, black holes and supernovas. I swayed with the subtle music of the cosmos until I found myself at the very end of the Universe. (or the beginning, depending on your point of view)

(An interwebz search for ‘Hubble images’ brought up this magnificent collection. Go ahead, take a wander through them, I’ll wait … because this is what I saw too)

I drank it all in until my mortal eyes, even in ‘Journey-mode’, were unable to gaze upon it any longer.

I made to turn around but my feet remained in place as though nailed to some cosmic plank of wood. I cursed and swore, and twisted my body, but stuck, they remained.

As I’ve mentioned before this happened regularly and was just as frustrating this time as it had been every other time. I laboriously heaved the entire structure of my Journey around so it was finally in front of me. I plonked it down into place and took a moment, with my hands on my knees, to catch my breath. I was definitely going to have to figure out an easier was to do this.

I straightened up and felt the immensity of the continuous movement of that wondrous living galaxy-spanning entity on the skin of my back. In front of me was the unfathomable expanse at the edge of All Known Things that could only be traversed at the speed of thought … which at that moment, just happened to be blue. A deep rich potent blue.

I chuckled to myself. OK then, off into the wild blue yonder!

I stepped forward and down a little. A soft breeze blew through the blueness, gathering it up and forming tiny crystals that settled at my feet, revealing a flat featureless plain that extended out in all directions.

I picked up a handful of the sand-like crystals and let them drift between my fingers. The breeze carried them through the air until they brushed over something, invisible, to reveal a face laying on top of the plain.

I cast more of the blue dust into the wind and more faces appeared. It was as though a whole race of giants had buried themselves until only their faces remained above the surface.

They had high cheekbones and wide eyes, and mouths that were a twitch away from speaking. But for all that they looked like they were just (blue) stone statues I felt their energy lean hungrily toward me

“It’s your fear they want,” said a voice that came in with the wind.

Up until that moment, as far as I could tell, I wasn’t feeling any fear.

My body clenched up and I broke out in a cold sweat.

“Ah, there it is.”

So, what was I afraid of? If fear, as an emotion, is a warning, it had certainly got my attention. I relaxed my shoulders and let tension slide out of my body and down into the earth, and switched into ‘attention mode’.

The faces themselves didn’t feel dangerous. I glanced sideways around me. Nothing there either.

The wind dropped to stillness and the dust slid off the faces. Although they remained blue I could see through them as though they were glass.

All of a sudden they lifted up from the plain until they were upright and started toward me. Surrounding and almost encircling me before I could move out of the way.

 “No!” I said in a quivery voice, feeling a little freaked out. I held up my hand. “One at a time would be good.” They moved back and formed a ‘V’ shape in front of me.

I stood still as they, each in their turn, came up to me, and by either touching my forehead with their own, or sending their energy in a beam of blue light, gave me a gift of Sight.

At first I could see all around me in all directions, as thought I were in the center of a sphere, and with each touch of energy this sight expanded until I could see the spinning of suns and galaxies. The entire universe that I wasn’t able to encompass at the beginning of my Journey. The sphere of my sight grew larger and larger, expanded beyond my comprehension. And still, the faces came on.

I felt my sense of Self dissipate as it was dragged along with my expanding vision. It was an amazing sensation, like nothing else I’d felt before, to truly be beyond any human, any mortal, sensation or experience. I released every pore, every synapse, every cell, every atom of my essence, into this amaranthine existence.

Some of my brain cells must’ve still been in communication with each other because in a single flash of awareness I knew, with crystal clarity, that this … seduction, was the stuff of madness. And unless I reclaimed my Self, I would be lost to it forever.

I made to gather myself together when a tiny beguiling thought intruded on the process. What if I didn’t go back? Would my physical body, sitting in a chair in a darkened room, just disintegrate and drift away like fairy-dust? Would I re-inhabit my body as though I were sleepwalking, just going through the motions? When compared to this, why would I even want to go back?

Oh, what a pretty seduction it was indeed.

What turned it for me? … … I wasn’t done being human.

One by one I began to close off the visions and pull the ‘sphere’ of my sight inwards, until I was standing on the blueness and the faces had finally receded, along with the flow of their energy. They were still out there though, perhaps waiting for my ‘fear’ to manifest again.

Time for a digression…

… Make no mistake, the other Realms of Awareness are overwhelmingly seductive. They deal in absolutes, archetypes, grand challenges and experiences that leave us breathless with awe and longing. (and so far removed from our daily ‘grinds’ and endless supply of doubts and fears)

I occasionally wonder if the ‘madness’ that some people carry with them stems from not being able to clearly choose which reality to live in, and by not choosing, become stuck with pieces of their Spirit in each one, and destined to wander aimlessly with only the most tenuous of threads connecting them to their physical bodies.

This is why it is so important to have someone with you who knows exactly what it takes to get you back into your body when learning how to do this stuff, and why so many people who undertake such Journeys without either the knowledge of how to do it themselves or someone who does, can have very bad experiences.

Plus … it always helps to have something physical to do once you return, hence the cuppa tea and a biscuit/cookie mentioned elsewhere. Eating something protein-y helps too, it refocuses your energy way from the Spirit Realms and aims it toward your digestion. As does a good orgasm. Sex, really, really, good sex, (either with a partner or alone) is the best thing ever, to ground one back in one’s body. 🙂

And now, on with the adventure …

Something pushed at me from behind. Just hard enough to get my attention.

I was NOT going to go through the whole ‘turning around’ thing again, so I ever so slightly ‘bumped’, back.

A small woman dressed in green tights, tunic and pixie hat bumped my shoulder as she wafted by me. The more she came into focus the smaller she got. The blueness started turning greenish and took on discrete forms and shapes that were almost familiar.

“Got that out of you system, have you?” she chided. “You were supposed to come here first, you know.”

I shrugged. “Sorry.” What else could I say?

“Hmm.” She sounded remarkably unconvinced of the sincerity of my apology, but appeared to accept it on probation. “Well enough of that, it’s time we got a move on.” She drifted closer to my face and looked at me very seriously. “You’re almost there, you know.”

I looked down for a moment. I was standing on a sandy path with sandstone rocks scattered to the side. “Am I ready?” I wondered if I was ready for her answer, whichever way it went.

She patted my cheek with her warm small hand. “Almost.”

I reached for a nearby boulder and sat down abruptly. So, not ready, either way.

I took a deep breath and looked around me at last. I was sitting on a rock at the edge of the world, and spread out before me and below me was the breathtaking vista of the Escarpment in the Blue Mountains, near where I lived as a child. Soaring sandstone cliffs hid dark shadowed gullies with water running through them that tippled over the edge to the river so far beyond me that it had disappeared into the blue haze. (which is caused by the eucalyptus oil in the air, from all the gum trees)

The sun dipped toward the western horizon, the rock underneath me warm from its touch. The little green Deva thoughtfully allowed me a few moments to drink in the vista then ‘tutted’ at me to get a move on.

I’d never been ‘tutted’ at before. It was quite effective.

I walked along the sandstone path that led from my rock and across the face of the cliff. My shoulder brushed against the stone face on one side, and, keeping both eyes on the narrow path, I tried not to look down at the sheer chasm dropping away on the other. As I inched my way around a large boulder sticking out into the path I saw that it branched into two just ahead.

One fork looked enticing. It led up into a small hanging valley and the path itself was covered in soft mosses that would be gentle on my (I only noticed at that moment) bare feet.

The other path continued underneath a waterfall, flowing down from the valley above like a curtain, and along the narrow ledge. At first glance it looked as though it was strewn with sharp rocks, twigs, and thorns, but as I got closer I saw clear spaces, like stepping stones, among the sharp edges and pointy things.

I heard voices urging me to take the easier path. It looked like my little green Deva had company. Sounding distressed, they pointed out that if I had to concentrate on where to put my feet all the time, I’d miss seeing the end of my Journey. In the far distance, at the end of the path, a golden glow shone like a fireworks explosion frozen in time.

I reassured them that I’d take each step slowly and look up at the energy glow between each one. This seemed to be acceptable, so along the crooked path I went. It soon veered away from the cliff edge and into a small woodland grove tucked down inside a gully. The Devas came out of hiding and danced around me. Surrounded by their energies I could feel, with all my senses, physical and otherworldly, how vibrantly alive everything was.

The path drew me on however, until I came to a staircase. The Devas urged me to walk up it. The treads were smooth and the steps shallow, but I was on to their tricks. I continued walking along the path and looked over my shoulder. The staircase went up for a dozen or so steps then finished in mid-air. I flashed the Devas a ‘look’ to let them know I knew what they knew, and they giggled at me. Who knew ‘tuts’ and giggles’ could be so expressive.

Smiling, I walked on until I couldn’t walk any further, literally. My feet wouldn’t move. I froze.

Something, a presence, appeared in the middle of the path.

Without thinking I forced my Self out of the Journey. Tears ran down my face. I wrapped my arms around myself to keep the terror away. I felt a keening grow deep in the back of my throat, “No no nono,” but no sound came out of my mouth.

-oOo-

I had found the ‘keystone’  … or rather, the keystone had found me.

Prelude XIV

(My previous thirteen 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’)

-oOo-

I’m not a patient person, (I learned, endurance, when I was stuck in hospital for five weeks – and one day but who’s counting – unable to walk and waiting to see if my leg would heal) but I’m an even-tempered person, for the most part, even if it’s not something that comes easily. My ‘line in the sand’ is quite broad but once the far boundary’s been crossed, I don’t take prisoners.

It had been a week since my last adventure and the tickle in my throat did indeed develop into nasty head-cold that knocked me out of action for the entire week, and although I was over the worst of it I wasn’t in any mood to take prisoners.

-oOo-

Almost before my Journey began, a formless, and as yet, directionless anger rose up from my gut and settled itself at the base of my skull. (probably because seven-tenths of me thought I ought to still be in bed with a hot water bottle, aspirin, and a bowl of restorative chicken-carrot-and-ginger-soup to keep me company)

A enormous marketplace came into being around me but although its teeming denizens thought they were free because it was so big, a great wall surrounded the entire space at the horizon’s edge.

I made my way slowly through the maze of stalls selling all manner of things. Spices, dried pulses, cloth, jewelry, wickedly sharp weapons, household goods, and many, many other objects whose usage was beyond my mortal abilities to comprehend. Those who catered to a more unsavoury clientele hawked their wares beneath low hung canopies, patched and frayed at the edges, all the while casting furtive looks into the crowd. Soothsayers, of the genuine and charlatan variety, flung their saying of sooths at anyone foolish enough to make eye-contact. Food vendors wandered the narrow alleys and wide boulevards selling freshly cooked seafoods and meats, pies, and veggie kebabs.

I ran the finest of fabrics through my fingers, reveling in the sheer sensuousness. I smelled the aromas wafting at me from all directions. I tasted meats and fruits of unknown origins and species, knowing full-well I could indulge my tastebuds as I had left my Anglo-Saxon digestive system far behind me.

Dust from ten thousand feet plumed around me on its way up into the violet-tinged sky.

I enjoyed myself to the hilt, but my convalescent state had left me vulnerable to this cornucopia of excess. Eventually the cacophonous avalanche of bleats, clangs, bangs, screeches, and people shouting at each other, drove me from the main concourse and I ducked down a side alley where the noise, if not the dust, became bearable.

I stood in a small cobbled courtyard, bound on three sides by cascades of hanging plants festooned with tiny droplets of water from a cleverly hidden misting device. I relaxed my shoulders and breathed deeply of the softer air.

In the center of the courtyard stood two high-backed ebony chairs side-by-side, each with a small white porcelain urn on its seat.

Without warning, the urns exploded. Shards flew everywhere, a few punching through my clothes and drawing blood. The chairs shattered into bits of kindling that caught fire and were reduced to ashes in a few moments. For some reason this infuriated me more than my tiny wounds.

“What a fucking waste!” I shouted. “What’s the point?” I shook with rage and turned to go back to the bazaar. At least there the dust and noise made sense.

A sheet of metal with a huge hole punched through it blocked my way. Whatever had blown up the urns had escaped through the hole. Incensed at still more destruction I made up my mind to pursue it.

 As I clambered through the hole I cut myself quite deeply on one of the jagged and rusty edges. I swore at my clumsiness, which didn’t help matters much either.

Back out in the market, one of the food vendors exclaimed at the tear in my shirtsleeve and the blooming bloodstain. Because I couldn’t be bothered with explanations, I just flexed my will, healed the wound and erased the stain.

The vendor fell silent and backed up into the crowded thoroughfare. The silence spread from person to person, stall to stall, like some sort of pestilence. It soon encompassed the whole place, right out to the far distant walls.

The moment of silence stretched out like a giant rubber band, pulled to its limit.

Suddenly everyone started talking and gesticulating louder than ever and the noise crashed back over me like a tidal wave, although quickly returning to its normal level, to my relief. I couldn’t’ve withstood such an assault for much longer.

My rage and confusion engaged in a neck-and-neck race to the finish line. What the hell was going on?

Another scene flickered into being around me, then flickered out just as quickly. And another and another, so fast that I couldn’t make any sense of them.

I wondered if this was just an after/side-effect of being sick. (this was the first time I’d been unwell since I began my adventures) If it was, my impressed-ness was underwhelming.

I shifted my attention away from the texture of my Journey to create a ‘pause’ in the proceedings, and contemplated ending my Journey.

This work was tough enough when I was healthy, and it was clear to me, finally, that I wasn’t in any shape to continue. My physical body had the shakes, which probably meant I ought to be in bed with a hot water bottle, aspirin, and a bowl of restorative chicken-carrot-and-ginger-soup to keep me company. It would’ve been the first time I’d returned from a Journey before its end and a part of me felt like I was letting myself down, like I was cheating.

Well, I think that must’ve been the last straw for whatever or whoever was orchestrating my current misadventures, because my shivers suddenly increased beyond what was physically possible.

My attention snapped back to my Journey.

The flagged stones underneath the entire marketplace buckled and heaved. Cracks opened up in the ground and the heavens split apart. Blasts of white-hot steam burned everyone and everything they touched. Screams filled the air and felt as though they were tearing me apart.

The shaking continued as my insides liquefied.

“Alright!” I snapped. My anger rose beyond my desire to control it. “If that’s what you want, lets take it all the way!”

I focused my rage, my horror of what was happening in the bazaar, on my internal shaking, on the breakdown of my body, and I … pushed.

I pushed the rage deeper and deeper until it reached my cells, until the structure of the cells broke down into their atomic composition. I used my anger like a scourge and goaded the breakdown further, down to the quantum level where matter ceased to exist and only energy reigned.

I wasn’t done yet.

I spun the quantum field anti-clockwise, (the original widdershins) and whipped it up with my anger to create a shift of energy that I could control, could work with.

Soon the field was spinning so fast it didn’t need me to sustain it so I moved myself to the center where everything was still and reined in my anger. It had served its function.

Something foreign, alien, began to stir within the field. The centrifugal force had shaken it loose from where it had lain undiscovered for who knew how long. It expanded like a mushroom cloud and grew until it broke out of the quantum field. It coalesced first into its atomic structure, then into physical matter, and finally scurried to hide within the cells of my body.

I continued the outward pressure until it oozed through my pores like some hideous doughy fungus. It began to harden until the suffocatingly obscene substance completely encased me.

But, just like everything else on this Journey, this attempt at suffocation triggered my anger and wrenched it out of my control until it was an entity separate from myself.

I flexed my will to crack open the disgusting thing encasing me and escape. It gave way for a moment then reformed even more solid than before.

My anger exploded with enough force to erase the cosmos, (or so it felt at the time) and I found myself standing on the outside of the pillar of gray-black solidified oozy substance. Relief that the uncontrollably destructive force of my anger had been contained left me feeling light-headed.

I turned away and almost stumbled over the staff I received as a gift last week.

I warily nudged it with my toe. If I took it up I’d have to use it, but given my state of mind, along with feeling weak as a baby kitten from the head-cold aftereffects, I feared what would happen if I unleashed the power of the staff on something that had already proven itself to be, perhaps, equally powerful.

“Pick it up.” An imperious voice commanded.

I shook my head and whispered, “No.”

“Pick. It. Up!”

“No. I won’t. It’s not safe.” I wasn’t sure whether I was talking about the staff or myself.

“You only get three chances. Pick it up.”

I knew the alternative to picking up the staff, to basically reject the ‘three chances’ rule, was probably akin to a fate worse than the other side of death. I’d experienced a whole bunch of fates this side of death and I had no desire to go through to the ones on the other side.

(My first few adventures were mostly about establishing what worked for me in these other Realms of Awareness, and what didn’t. These ‘rules’ are different for everyone. The tricky bit is what you have to go through to figure ‘em out!)

Still, I thought it was profoundly unfair to take advantage of my weakened barely-convalescent state. (let’s keep the fact that I chose to drag myself out of bed and do this Journey, just between us, shall we?)

Fine!”

I flicked the staff up with my foot and caught it in both hands. I swung it over my head and struck the solidified oozy pillar, once.

It was a colossal blow even if I do say so myself. The concussion alone threw me out into the now deserted marketplace where I landed flat on my back with an almighty thump.

The staff was nowhere to be seen, I didn’t know it it’d been destroyed, but the pillar certainly had. I rolled over and painfully clawed my way to my feet, aware that some elemental force had been liberated. Whether for good or ill, remained to be seen.

-oOo-

My immediate family of origin was broken long before it completely imploded when I was twelve.

Each of us acted out that brokenness in our own unique ways, but all of them were self-destructive and, as is the way of self-destructiveness, another sort of destruction rained down on all others within the blast range.

My parents dealt with their anguish in ways I, as a child, couldn’t understand. (although I gained some insight as an adult, as you do)

I chose to emotionally shut down and silence myself so as not to be visible. Only coming alive when I was alone in the wild bushland.

I had/have a younger brother. (I say ‘had/have’, because I haven’t had any contact with any of my family of origin since the late 80’s) His defense mechanism was to be highly visible, loud and belligerently visible, and take up as much space as possible.

One day he and I got into a verbal fight. Well, he fought and I retreated, hurt, and angry that he was picking on me simply because I was the nearest target. (me, pointing that out didn’t help matters much. Funny that)

We were standing at opposite ends of the dilapidated remains of a small barn that my father had begun but never finished. (he was good at never finishing things) There were raw logs, old ropes, rusty hand tools, rotten planks in frowzy chaotic piles everywhere. (a kid’s paradise, if you weren’t in the midst of a shouting match with your sibling)

My brother wouldn’t stop pushing at me, (I doubt he knew how to) and the more he pushed the angrier I got. In my child-ish way, I knew this was not a good thing. (my mother was half Irish and I’d inherited every measure of her temper) I told him I was getting angry and if he didn’t stop there’d be real trouble. (we were both kids, remember, so ultimatums were our default response) My brother, on the other hand, didn’t have a clue, and me imparting another bit of information only inspired him to new heights.

We were almost screaming at each other when my anger shattered my conscious thoughts. I picked up a rusty hatchet (a small axe) and threw it at him.

It thudded into a wooden post about two centimeters (an inch) from his left ear.

We both froze.

His face went from crimson to bleached terror.

He bolted in one direction and I took off in the other. (by unspoken agreement we never mentioned the hatchet incident again, and certainly never told our parents)

I have no memory of picking up that hatchet and throwing it. I could’ve killed him. I knew that if I went into that enraged place ever again, the risk would be just as great, so I didn’t let my anger, my ‘temper’, off its leash, until this particular Journey.

-oOo-

One more Khatia for the road.

At the 48 minute mark you get to see her perform a couple of four-handed pieces with her sister, who’s no slouch when it comes to tickling the ivorys herself!

A fitting ending I think, to my Khatia mini-music-festival.

Prelude XIII

(My previous twelve 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’)

-oOo-

I had an irritation in the back of my throat that just wouldn’t go away. It wasn’t your ordinary garden variety tickle either, and it would, I knew, morph into a full-blown head-cold within the next twenty-four hours.

I was so distracted that I missed most of the imagery from my Grounding and only managed to tune back in when I saw a spear, wreathed in fire.

A shaft of fire flowed up from the tip of the spear, so high I couldn’t see where it ended. It grew wider until it looked like a road, a golden path to who-knew where.

Well, what was I to do but walk upon it? I cleared my throat as surreptitiously as I could, (hoping it would clear whatever was torturing my throat. It didn’t) and set off.

The path led through a lush green forest until it passed between two jade trees. The highly polished facets of the jade reflected the light from the golden path into the rest of the forest, casting greenish-golden rainbows everywhere I looked.

The irritation in my throat increased. I broke out into a cold sweat that made my eyes water. I swallow hard, and coughed.

(Sometimes, the physical intervenes. An itch that needed scratching, an aching joint, a numb bum from sitting, a tickle up my nose from an errant bit of pollen, or toast crumb that didn’t go all the way down … I’m not one for the remain-still no-matter-what-and-ignore-your-body’s-needs, school of thought, when doing this work. That smacks too much of the rigidity that some spiritual, and religious, practices demand of their adherents; the my-way-or-the-highway version of Walking the Path … if you gotta scratch an itch, then you gotta scratch an itch, and the truth is, it won’t negate your experience. It might be altered, but who’s to say that wasn’t what was supposed to happen anyway)

I stopped between the two trees and glanced up. Wedged between them was a giant tarnished silvery sphere. I leaned back to get a better look when it fell down onto my chest. I held my arms out to grab it but it got bigger and bigger until it rolled off of me and smacked onto the golden pathway with a crack that echoed throughout the forest.

It increased in size until it grew far beyond my awareness, beyond any possible conception of its size. Its surface wasn’t smooth anymore but criss-crossed with ravines and bottomless crevasses, as though it had been eroded by wind and rain for millennia.

I looked around, trying to find a way in, when a voice said, “The way to get from the outside to the inside, is to focus.”

I refrained from rolling my eyes, barely, and sniffed, idly wondering if I’d get through this entire adventure without having to blow my nose.

I ‘focused’ on a single chasm and walked through it until I found myself inside the sphere, surrounded by utter desolation. No trees, no plants, or animals, no life. Mounds of slag, with oozing oil pits in their hollows, stretched as far as I could see. Thunderous clouds hung low and roiled with sickening lurches. The over-ripe smell of decay percolated through the fetid air.

I slowly walked away from the scant protection afforded by the chasm’s reflection in this Realm and saw off to one side, a cliff rising out of the land, with a jagged cleft scored into it, shrouded in deep shadows. Out from the shadow drifted a huge cocoon, somewhat metallic in surface texture. It split open, and as the two halves fell apart, a scorpion, about the size of a percheron rolled clear and landed in front of me.

It shook for a moment then extended its legs and pushed the claw at the end of each one into the blighted earth as though to anchor it for … I had no idea what for, but I wasn’t going to stick around to find out.

Before I could move, or even flex my will to shift Realms, the scorpion shuddered, from its nasty pincers at the front end to coiled stinger at the other.

Like the cocoon it then split down its middle into two halves. Viscera and other ‘ewww’-worthy gloop flopped out of its body cavity and revealed a vaguely humanoid body entwined in the remaining icky bits.

The body breathed the gulping breaths of birth. It lived, but no-one was home.

It was at this point I realised two things. One, my current physical body was about to disappear on me, and two, that was my new one.

I slowly approached the pile of gloop, grasped the body by one gloop-covered arm, and pulled it free of the, really disgusting, sticky, (now that it had dried out a little) gloop.

To my great credit I neither vomited nor wiped my hands on my shirt, but only because I wasn’t ‘embodied’ anymore. No vomit, no hands, no shirt.

I looked down at the creature, closed my eyes, (or at least my awareness of them) and drifted down into it.

I’d done some pretty weird stuff in my adventures so far but this took the cake.

I opened my eyes and everything around me looked as though it was tinted in shades of yellowish-green, then I realised it was my eyes that had changed. My field of vision had wavy edges to it. The iris of my eyes were reptilian rather than mammalian. My face was elongated, jaws extended forward. I also had a tail. I knew I had a tail because I’d been laying on it and, being a continuation of my spine, it didn’t appreciate the extra weight. I rolled over onto all fours and pushed myself onto my wide three-toed-and-clawed feet.

I flexed all my new muscles. I had powerful legs, built for running. Strong arms, also ending in a set of rather impressive claws. As I twisted this way and that, admiring my new form I saw a faint pattern of scales on my shiny new skin. (dragon-sized scales rather than fish-sized, I thought)

I was here in this strange land, to receive two gifts.

I wondered if this body was one of the gifts, (which would’ve been beyond cool) and received a negative answer. This body was a vehicle in which to move through this land, to find the gifts. I asked if my new vision, (that I’d decided was dragon-ish rather than lizard-ish) was one of the gifts, but no, it too was simply the means to an end.

I rolled my shoulders, (half-hoping a set of wings might pop into existence) and set off in the direction that pulled at me. As I got comfortable with how my new body worked, I walked faster, then jogged along.

My body warmed to the task and I started running. The dusky land flowed beneath my feet. I ran faster. The land became a blur as I ran at an unimaginable speed toward the still distant horizon. Past sound, past time, past an awareness of any reality except this ever increasing movement, this unbelievable speed across the land.

A thought popped in and out of my mind in an instant. I wondered what might happen if I kept on running faster and faster for all eternity. Would I catch up with the Big Bang? Would I eventually go so fast that I’d catch up with myself?

It was probably just as well that soon I outran my ability to create thoughts.

A flash of blue sky, high up in the sky, broke through my endless acceleration. In an instant I ceased running and stood in the absolute stillness and silence that surrounded me.

A cold shiver made the edges of the scales on my arms curl upward. I was standing in the middle of a snowfield. The silence was so profoundly deep I could feel it settling into the earth.

My new body quickly adapted and my three-toed feet sank into the snow as I moved forward. Walking this time, leisurely, toward a woodland that looked like a picture postcard. Snow bent the boughs of the ancient trees almost to the ground and between a pair of them I spotted a set of animal tracks. I wasn’t alone here.

I came upon a reindeer. Her magnificent antlers glowed in the soft light that emanated from the trees. She was busy using her antlers to move the snow cover aside to reveal the sweet grasses underneath, but when she saw me she lifted her head and snuffled the air, her breath coming out in white puffs of stream.

I stood stock still, hoping my strange body wouldn’t spook her, but it seemed like she thought of me/it as an old friend because she came over and gently head-butted me, obviously schmoozing for a skritch.

‘Dragon’ claws make for good skritches. Every time I stopped she nudged my hand to another spot and away we went again.

Finally, my new-and-improved muscles got tired and she lowered her head so that the tips of her antlers were at eye level. Suspended between the two outermost prongs was the silver sphere, albeit significantly smaller than I’d last seen it. It fell forward and I grabbed it in my right hand before it hit the snow.

A sphere in exchange for skritches seemed like a fair bargain to me. Mdme Reindeer thought so too, because she ambled off between the snow covered trees, probably in search of more skritches.

At first I thought I was imagining the cold getting more intense, but as I walked back out of the forest my feet didn’t sink into the snow anymore. It had frozen solid, like ice. I walked, carefully, on top of it until the air around me started to freeze as well. It cracked into shards as I walked through it then refroze behind me. I took a few more steps but that was it. I was frozen in place.

A subterranean rumble rose up near me from deep within the ground. With a sound like a million wind-chimes let loose on a windy day, the frozen air shattered.

The ground shook again and a crack opened up beside me. Something rose up through the earth, through the snow, and passed through my open left hand. My eyes started to water and I blinked them hard. The strange irises contracted and I saw what was in my hand. A staff of fiery red energy, wreathed in runes and a repeating pattern of what looked suspiciously like stylised antlers. As I watched it cooled to a silver colour that matched the sphere in my left hand.

-oOo-

Once I was sure I was back in my body, in the room, I opened my eyes, but the body I’d re-entered didn’t quite feel like my own. I surreptitiously did a quick check for tail, scales and three-toed feet. Everything looked like it was supposed to.

Some weeks later a friend of mine returned from overseas with a gift for me.

After comparing notes we realised she’d bought this gorgeous pewter statuette (she’s only 6cm tall) the same time as I’d been doing this Journey.

-oOo-

A little Schumann and Buniatishvili?

 

Prelude XII

(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’)

-oOo-

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.”

-oOo- -oOo- -oOo- -oOo- -oOo- -oOo- -oOo- -oOo-

One more Khatia concert – this time Rachmaninov’s concerto #3

Prelude XI

(My previous ten 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’)

-oOo-

A sense of expectation, an awareness of the unknown, ran down my spine like ice-water.

The air around me had an electrical charge to it, as though a thunderstorm had recently blown through but no rain had fallen. I breathed it in, feeling the energy fill me and focus in my hands until I was about ready to burst at the seams with it.

Along with the energy came a sound, the rhythmic soughing of stones being rolled by ocean waves … which took me to my destination, or at least the first stepping off point for my adventure.

A pebbly beach sloped lazily down to the water’s edge and behind me towered the high bluff that I was on top of for last weeks ‘froggy’ adventure. It was a beautiful sunny day, the kind of day where you could smell the sunshine radiating off the rocks and sand and sea.

The sun slowly set behind the bluff as the Dark Woman, (whose name I now knew, but won’t repeat. The Naming of certain Names is not for these stories) came up behind me and put her arms around my waist. She was taller than me, which for a lass as tall as I, was an unfamiliar, yet comforting sensation. She smelled of sunshine too.

I breathed into her and she held me close. The electric energy in my hands eased and slipped beneath my conscious attention. We stood together in companionable silence and watched the day pass to dusk until the evening sky filled with twinkling stars that danced all around us.

My body began to split in two, as though one aspect of me had been superimposed on the other, and then slowly, and painlessly, (phew) one of the aspects took a step to one side and turned around.

The horizon, betwixt water and sky, began to glow as the full moon rose in the eastern sky and laid down a silvery path so bright it was hard to look at.

The Dark Woman’s energy surrounded me like a cloak and I stepped off the edge of the sand where it met the water and on to the silvery path. But only one of the two images of me stepped forward, the other remained behind. I no longer needed it, or the duality it represented, a duality that had been coursing through me since I began my Journeying adventures.

Was it really going to be this easy? After all the struggles I’d gone through, and a not insignificant number of self-flagellating doubts? Was this all it would take?

Yes.

I left the aspect of my Self that was my university studies, and all that that implied, behind. (I’ve never once regretted the choice I made. Some things are just … right)

I walked further along the silvery Moon Path, and as its immaculately clear light shone all around me, through me, I felt the other image, abandoned on the shore, dissolve into nothingness.

I remained in this state of grace … until I came to the end of the Path and drifted off, over the edge, into the clear light.

I admit it, I wallowed. It felt so exquisite to just be in that place, in that energy.

Slowly, as though my mind was unable to process the thought any quicker, I realised that the light was the energy of my heart … as others see it, as others feel it. Not as I do, filtered through my own pain and insecurities and other stuff, but as they see and feel it.

Great rears rolled down my cheeks. The light completely overwhelmed me.

“This is what they see? This is what my love feels like?”

Not obsessive, not needy, but free, buoyant, alive, magnificently beautiful.  “This what it is to be loved by me?”

“Yes,” the Dark Woman whispered in my ear.

The bright lightness slowly darkened and became the night sky again, pitch black, pinpricked with stars. The moon had long ago set behind the land and I was surrounded, held, by the darkness …

Until …

… an enormous leaf-bladed spear sped through the air and passed through my body between my heart and solar plexus, and thunked into the hard ground behind me!

“Well,” I said as I checked for punctures in both my physical and spirit bodies. “This is new.”

As neither seemed to be damaged I did a sweep of my surroundings, because, of course, I was now somewhere else. My hands reclaimed my attention as they buzzed with electrical energy that seemed stronger more dense, than before.

Suddenly iron-hard bands of energy whipped around me and bound me in place. The Dark Woman stood in front of me, two, two-and-a-half meters tall, or taller, and looking remarkably solid, disconcertingly so. She held the spear above her shoulder, poised to throw it into me.

“Before I came to these Spirit Realms,” she said, “I lived and died in this physical body.”

I had, somehow, ended up in her Spirit Realm.

… A momentary digression …

Remember that bag of marbles I mentioned way back in the beginning of these adventures? Well, each and every one of us has our very own bag of marbles. (the first one who drops a losing your marbles joke gets to sing the Hogwarts school song, out loud, in front of the whole room) Which is why no two Shamans, or anyone walking a Spiritual Path, ever experience the ‘otherworlds’ the same way. We can go visiting someone else’s ‘bag of marbles’, but it’s tricky and you need to know how to get back to your own or you could get marooned out there.

… digression ends …

I shrugged off the iron bands and breathed my Self into this Realm so I would understand the ‘rules’ and avail myself of the wonders herein, unscathed. (well, with as few scathes as was womanly possible. I swear, I never sought out trouble, but it always had a way of finding me)

The browns and reds and muted greens of the Dark Woman’s homeland surrounded us as, after making sure I knew what and where I was, she lowered the spear. For which I was truly grateful. I really didn’t want to find out what it felt like to be skewered when we were both in the same Realm.

… another same-sized digression …

Why might she have skewered me? From her perspective I was an unknown danger. At that point in my adventures just about everything I encountered, every Realm I entered, was for the very first time. Although she and I were fast coming to a great many understandings of and about each other, there was still much about my abilities she (as did I, to be honest) had little understanding of. As I was the Guardian of my Realm, so she was the Guardian of hers, and if I’d run amok (or even walked slowly) she was prepared to do whatever was necessary to protect it.

… digression ends …

The Dark Woman sat down and began to create a sand painting. I sat across from her, entranced. When she finished she drew a circle around the entire design then divided it into two halves.

“I thought so,” she said. “This is you and I. Two halves of the same circle.”

I stared at the design inside the circle. It showed quite clearly that we shared the same incarnate line. (spiritually at least, if not physically)

We’d just entered a whole ‘nuther world of weird.

It appeared the Dark Woman agreed with my analysis. “Because of this,” she said, and swept her hand across the sand painting. It slowly blew apart, its message delivered. “I can manifest in your Realm without effort, and you, in mine.”

We sat in silence, contemplating the possibilities. I smiled as strains of orchestral music floated across the landscape.

“You know this piece?”  she asked. When I nodded, she continued, “As do I, now. Tchaikovsky.”

“Yes.” I smiled again. “His 1st piano concerto.” I raised my arms and ‘conducted’ (more like Bugs Bunny, unfortunately, than Marin Alsop) an unseen orchestra. The music swirled around us like a living thing. Perhaps it was.

(Another snippet of Widder info – Classical music has always been my first love, closely followed by Rock-n-Roll. Interesting bedfellows, no?)

As my hands moved in what could laughingly be called elegant parabolas, flashes of electric energy spiked from my fingertips and twitched around my hands like barbed wire.

The electricity lanced from hand to hand in ever increasing arcs. I tried shaking my hands as I would to release a static charge, but the energy just kept on expanding, growing stronger.

The Dark Woman suddenly stood up and hoisted me into her arms. She took off like a bat outta hell toward some destination I couldn’t see.

“What, are, you, doing?” I huffed as her giant bounding steps grew longer and higher with each leap.

She shook her head, conserving her energy for our headlong gallop, while I forced my hands together, interlocking my fingers. It helped, but I knew it was a stop-gap measure. I trusted that the Dark Woman knew what she was doing.

A sonic boom shattered the landscape. I tumbled out of her arms and landed on all fours in a different reality.

The earth underneath my fingers felt primitive, raw, unformed. Without thought I pushed the energy in my hands down into the land and felt it kickstart a chain-reaction in the very core of the world. It began to turn on its axis. Chemicals churned in its molten core, nucleonic reactions sparked basic elemental structures, the building blocks of life.

To say I was stunned would be an understatement. I leaned further down until my forehead touched the nascent land. It glowed with vitality, whereas I was …

“Get up,” the Dark Woman said. “You look silly with your bum stuck up in the air like that.”

I craned my neck and looked at her from under my arm. “I can’t. I’m … erm, stuck.”

I couldn’t lift my hands from the earth. The energy transfer was still going on. She placed her hands on my shoulders and together we raised two columns of energy that looked like upside down waterfalls. They pushed against my hands until I was standing upright again. 

The Dark Woman laughed with glee and wrapped me in a hug, lifting me off the ground so that our eyes were level. “That was fun!”

Not really my idea of fun, but I could see her point.

She put me down and placed her hand over my heart, right where that spear went through, funnily enough.

-oOo-

Tchaikovsky’s 1st Piano Concerto: This performance by the electrifying Khatia Buniatshvili

Prelude X

(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’)

-oOo-

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.

-oOo-

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.

Time passed.

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 …

-oOo-

When putting this post together I decided to do a bit of ‘magpie’ research and discovered that Aussie magpies are a separate species from the Eurasian/North American ones.

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.

The Dark (Magpie) Woman

The Dark (Magpie) Woman