Voices in the Garden

Floating midway down the pit cave, my feet dangled into the abyss. There was barely enough space for my sitting bones on the ledge before it broke away into nothingness. A familiar flush of fear crashed over me yet was instantaneously transmuted into the kind of thrill I get while looking over the edge of the great Cliff’s of Mohr, or the railing on the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.

Scary and yet, so compelling. I really do understand how people can be overcome by sensation, to lose their minds enough to jump. There might be a lot of freedom in that feeling.

Excitement softened into pleasure as the tingling sensations moved upward under my skin through my body, into my heart, down my arms and eventually exiting, no pouring, out the palms of my hands.

I might have mistaken it for sweat.

All that curiosity and joy was pushed aside because I couldn’t stop my mind from telling it’s own story. Instead, I recoiled, pressing my back into the stone wall behind me, looking down my own nose into the void suspiciously.

I saw absolutely nothing in that midnight milieu, though a creepy feeling began to move like a dense coastal fog into my legs, from way down there. It was like the cold waking breath of a dragon streaming through my body. Each time he exhaled, I inhaled. And as I sucked his breath in, I turned to a resistant stone; on the exhale I lost my constitution, becoming completely drained of life force.

I allowed that dragon to breathe through me for some time. In between breaths I could hear the woman calling from below, “Micaela, Micaela,” she said it again and again.

——————————————————————

I’d been hearing her voice all day now; it was soft and coaxing, like a zephyr dancing along the beach. At the first sound, I ran through the gate past the great Oak tree into the garden, skipping, like a small girl.

Where I normally stop to wade in the stream of healing iron water from the Red Spring, today I ran past making a beeline to the Yew trees and sat on the bench waiting, for something.

When her voice whispered again, I looked into in the thicket between the trees. A dark oval opened and gently pulled me inward. Once inside, I stood at ground level looking down at the roots of one of the ancient Yews.

That’s when I heard the clarity in her voice, this time it was less wispy, much clearer. I walked down the root system following her call. So preoccupied with the tones, I walked and then fell into a void, landing on the stone precipice where I now sit, a ledge barely big enough to cradle my bottom.

My toes are numb, my heart races, I am cold to bone.

Suddenly there’s a tug on my right foot. Something is pulling me into the unknown and I am still strong enough, at least, to resist, once again. “Stop!” I cannot stand on the ledge, though my knees jerk toward my chest and I balance on my sitting bones, leaning back into that stone wall.

She calls again, this woman. Now I hear her sweetness, her softness, as she cries out from her heart, “Micaela, come in!”

No matter what I hear, I trust not because my mind is busy making more stories. Mostly it reminds me that I do not trust myself to take the right turn, here, and I go no further. In no time, the absence of will bounces me back to the surface where I lay, happily relieved, on the bench between the two Yew trees, safe once again.

As I reflected on my adventure, I realize what I’d just done. I actually had made a decision. I’d chosen safety and knowingness over awareness and expansion.

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Another World

Dateline: Santa Fe, New Mexico, approximately 3:30 am, Tuesday, February 21.

Nineteen hours into the future, in Christchurch New Zealand, on the afternoon of Tuesday, February 21, a 6.3-measured earthquake had just roared through the south island of that little island nation.

At that time in the US, most of us were fast asleep. In my bed, I imagined I was high on a hilltop; the waves of golden grains and grasses rolling by in the breeze as I looked out at the landscape and beyond.

It must have been summer time in the California coastal foothills. The sky was a burnt-yellow haze.

The sun was warm, not hot, though the air felt like the singeing yawn of an oven door opening as it moved through my nostrils. Dry and incredibly still outside, everything was quiet with that hovering, heavy feeling we left coasters call Earthquake weather. It was almost one of those days when time stood still.

I was alone.

For a while all I could see were the hills as they swept down toward the ocean, someplace far below me and a little further West. Scanning the horizon, there was nothing to see, really, yet my gaze went beyond the limits of my eyes; I was intent on finding what I felt was soon arriving, from someplace way out there.

Not too surprisingly, a large, sand-colored sphere appeared in front of me, floating in that murky haze, right where the sea must have flooded out from the edge of the world I knew.

I stood up from a squat and almost fell immediately back onto my butt into the itchy grasses as the great marbled mass bumped into Earths’ aura. Before I stood up again, the monster ball had nudged the atmosphere two more times.

Strange how I was still calm; even stranger that nothing serious had happened, yet. It took a little while before my mind finally groked that this giant brownish-tan sphere was actually another planet and I was watching the collision point between it and my Earth, all in excruciatingly slow, slow motion.

Almost as though the two behemoths had locked horns, they’d pressed on each other a few more times before I realized the hills were caving in on themselves and debris was falling down from the sky above. Chunks of the Earth that had first flown upward were landing now, like a thousand mines all exploding simultaneously in front of me.

I started to run when I finally awakened to the severe reality of this event only moments later. I ran down the rounded golden bellies of grain, kind of sliding, kind of flying. I focused and listened to the clearly directive, inner conversation that told me over and over “to hurry and warn everyone about the earthquake before it happened.”

Then my body woke up.

Journey Inward: At the Edge of the Forest

Life is a sacred journey; we need only go within. This is the first in a series of inner world, shamanic journeys.

The Pathway In

The Pathway In

At the Edge of the Forest

“Who do you want to be–you or some accommodated version of another person’s projection you believe is a true reflection of you?”

I sat on my stump at the edge of the forested path, contemplating his question, looking out at the rounded landscape embroidered with the last vestiges of Spring’s wildflowers. They were almost impressionistic, maybe like the surreality of Monet’s inner world.

Trying to make it all feel less like a dream, and avoiding my own inner world, I searched for the sea beyond the fog. As always, in the Summer months, it was there, just beyond my vision, at the edge of the hills behind a fluffy yet formidable white wall. If I touched the fog in my dream, it would dissipate and I would find my answers lying out there lifting with the swells in one moment and lost in the troughs the next. Right now though, I wasn’t ready to see.

He was standing nearby, one foot on his own stump, breathing down on me like the wind and towering above me like a giant tree god. His skin was the same rusty color as the local redwood bark, his hair polished, long and black. Almost like the searing and burnished charcoal wounds inside the remains of a fire-gutted trunk, I’m certain lightening had struck his foliage many times too. Even his gaze matched the lifelong scars of courage and resilience on those gigantic trunks, his formidable stature was powerfully duplicated in each of his subtle bodies.

As age rings on a tree claim another year of growth and wisdom, each layer of his energy was individuated and clear. The golden threads of connection sewing the memories together synergistically, and like the volunteers growing from dismembered stumps into a circular fortress of new growth, he was also immortal. When he glanced down at me, his eyes contradicted this mystery. One blue, one green, each reflected a picture window to all souls. In them, I could view the history of the Universe, if I chose to see it.

“Are you searching for acceptance?” He prodded me again.

“Yes,” I said. “From myself.” Then I became whiny. “Why do people feel so put off by me…as if I have an expectation of them?”

“Because you carry pictures in your field as you work through the old energy,” he was still standing on one foot, gazing into the forest in the opposite direction of my outward view. “As it is scraped from the marrow of your bones, its dust covered gumminess begins to surface. Eventually the rain washes it away. Because you don’t hide it, you expose it. Because they don’t want to deal with their own lack of acceptance, you light them up in ways they don’t want to acknowledge…ways they feel they are superior to you. Just by doing your own housecleaning they are shown the dirty corners of their lives they believe they’ve already cleared. You show them their lies,” he sounded as though this all came from a place higher than the tree tops.

“Maybe they’ve already completed those lessons and they have no tolerance for someone like me who is just now getting to that sticky stuff,” I was so willing to dismiss myself and my progress.

He stood there for a moment, the precise triangular corners of his eyes looked at me with one eyebrow lifted, seemingly debating whether or not to give me any more input. I could tell he wondered why, in these moments, he even wasted his time. It was his usual response when I disrespected myself, yet this time he showed me some mercy. “No. They are projecting onto you so you not only do your work, you also hold their secrets. Why would you want to carry all that?” This was a constant question. Why would I want to carry all that?

“If you believe you aren’t equal to them, if you give them your power and recoil, you also allow them to lord their illusion over you like an invisible ceiling.” I turned away from my fog bank to look up at him. He’d definitely used the right words. I was suddenly and totally present.

“Unconsciously they want you to believe you are the cause of the upset inside them. What you expose in yourself uncovers and mirrors the secrets they try desperately to hold in place. If you anchor your truth in your belly and your feet on the ground, their lies will ultimately be revealed to their own consciousness and they will no longer stomach the energy as it rushes upward giving them a big nauseating headache. One day they will spontaneously throw-up when you aren’t around, projecting this delusion onto themselves. That’s when they’ll know.”

My eyes were closed through the last bit; I wanted to envision this part of the story. Then I swiveled around, slowly lifting my lids to the wild flowers looking through my eyelashes at the golden hills. And turning the rest of the way around, I looked out wide-eyed at the ocean. It was calm and flat, like glass, the still pool of true reflection.

Warrior of the Light: The Stand

A Warrior of the Light carefully studies the position that he intends to conquer.

However difficult the objective, there is always a way of overcoming obstacles. He seeks out alternative paths, he sharpens his sword, he tries to fill his heart with the necessary determination to face the challenge.

But as he advances, the Warrior realizes that there are difficulties he had not reckoned with.

If he waits for the ideal moment, he will never set off. The Warrior requires a touch of madness to take the next step.

The Warrior uses that touch of madness. For–in both love and war–it is impossible to foresee everything.” An excerpt from Paulo Coelho’s “Warrior of the Light: A Manual.”

The mature warrior stands up without standing up. He has become one who does not need to stand up because he is, at the very least, aware of the contents of his life and his actions, even if he does not know the results beforehand. He knows his intentions are to serve. He is curious and disciplined, often conservative in his stance.

Before he matured, he searched for other warriors; in his seeking he often found himself begging his closest friends and family to give up their lives to accompany him on his journey. He frequently laid himself out as a personal sacrifice to show those comrades how to survive even the biggest blows to the ego. He stood, like a baby deer, on spindly, clumsy legs.

At one point, long before he began this search, the warrior believed he was one of few people willing and capable of drawing his sword to fight off the dark and angry foes. Acting mostly alone, he used his point to do damage and power-over people, standing strong and loud in the battlefields of his life, wondering why no one ever came to support him in his quest. He destroyed almost everything he wanted to stand-up for.

His own rage was preceded by a long and quiet self-imprisonment, during which time his only weapon, his deep “wanting,” was turned against himself. Living in a self-fulfilling prophecy of helplessness and hopeless collapse, he was a soul without purpose, destined for failure. It is to this place the Warrior returns now and again, the place from which he first grew and one day will leave to those who are at the beginning of their journey.

These experiences have given the Warrior strength, conviction and trust, to climb up and out of the abyss, and to finally crash through the glass ceiling, into the place he’s envisioned all along. This is the place he’s always known, the place worthy of his lifelong warrior’s stance.

Paulo Coelho is a light warrior whose stories relate many of his own journeys, inexorably linking the inner and outer terrain. I find his stories both intriguing and somehow comforting as he is always reaching beyond his known world into new and different frontiers. Tens of thousands of miles and usually continents away, his journeys bring me close to a group of souls I feel I’ve known for aeons. Each of his books not only feels very real to me–whether he writes of men or women, via fiction or non-fiction; they are all quite personal.

This in itself, is incredibly captivating, and certainly why his stories are translated into 71 different languages, selling over 100 million copies.

From his beginning with the “Alchemist,” to his more recent publishing of “The Aleph,” Coelho’s characters–which no matter how obvious or obscure, I see as reflections and vignettes of his own life–are consummate warriors: both arrogant and humble, curious and complacent, fearless and afraid.

After reading through “Warrior of the Light: A Manual” for the second time, I now pick it up a couple of times a week, randomly thumbing through to find a pertinent verse. They are all pertinent, and as this next verse implies, hold a quality of humility and receptivity.

Coelho speaks from the heart every time.

The Warrior of the Light views life with tenderness and determination.

He stands before a mystery, whose solution he will one day find. Every so often, he says to himself: “This life is absolutely insane.”

He is right. In surrendering to the miracle of the everyday, he notices that he cannot always foresee the consequences of his actions. Sometimes he acts without even knowing that he is doing so, he saves someone without even knowing he is saving them, he suffers without even knowing why he is sad.

Yes, life is insane. But the great wisdom of the Warrior lies in choosing his insanity wisely.” An excerpt from Paulo Coelho’s “Warrior of the Light: A Manual.”

Purchase Paulo Coelho’s book.