(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’)
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.
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.
A little Schumann and Buniatishvili?