Sunday, 6 November 2016
Notes and Aphorisms of a Dreamwalker: 2
I know what I have to do, but I don’t want to do it. These places don’t feel like the ones conjured in our fictions. These places, though of a different order of physicality, are undeniably and viscerally real. And yet the geography here is associative. These realms have both scarred and taught me. In a territory close to the breach there is a place I have been many times.
I suppose it was a bright place once, this astral temple cast by spirits with some appreciation of comparative religion; church, synagogue, mosque and pagan altar combined. Clearly it had been a labour of love for those who crafted it. Earnest, perhaps even naïve, and I love it all the more for that. Even here in this energetic realm things remain when diligently imagined. They do not recede into the void as a matter of course. The temple had darkened long before I found it, along with the territory in which it dwells. It is abandoned, and the tale of its creation is unknown to me. I have never seen spirits here. But I have heard from others that a wraith-priest may dwell here now, ministering to those that seethe at the breach. I am hesitant, but I remind myself of the stone girl’s words to me, and so I cross the threshold and enter this once holy ruin. Immediately, something senses my anxiety but also my fortitude.
“How did you get here, tender thing? You came from beyond the breach, didn’t you?”
Unlike the radiant darkness that illuminates the tear, this place is blindness. Already I can feel it, my skin beginning to crawl. A sense of mild inertia, an acidic nausea. These things, these conversations, are never settling.
“I spoke with the sentinel.”
“Ah, the raped one. How is she? Still meditating?”
I half-expect the darkness surrounding me to come alive with writhing, invasive energies. I expect him to circle me, but he doesn’t. His distance and curiosity is almost respectful, and this troubles me.
“Others have spoken of you,” I begin quietly. “They say you were human once. I know you minister among the wraiths that gather beneath the ruptured firmament. I come here to ask about the name you’ve given to the thing you serve. Yaweh, Shaitan, Ennui, Lucifer, or some secret name traded among only the wraiths?”
I can see him now, or sense him, even in this darkness. A hideous scarecrow-form garbed in the torn cassock of a Catholic priest. He does not assault me with his energies. Still, I take a step back.
“You shouldn’t have come here, little lamb. Your etheric form does not make you invulnerable to violence, or to me. Surely you know this?”
“I don’t fear you,” I mutter.
“I care little about what you fear.”
“Answer my question.”
“That poor little girl of stone out there in the black, hoping, waiting, filling your head with romance and duality. She doesn’t yet realize the futility of her hope, that her abusers have marked her forever.”
“You haven’t answered my question,” I say again, imagining myself resolute.
“You think me a Satanist? Satan is a gluttonous vanity, a corpulent vampire. He is El by any other name, and I am not bored. Far from it, trespasser. You ask me of Lucifer, that serpent of shining light? That paltry spirit of outrage; aborted twin of emancipation? No better than your tortured Christos. Adolescent little stars of dawn who wish to tear down empires and free these apes from the worship of true malevolent radiance. No, I serve them not. None of them. I serve tyranny, naked, erect. I serve genocide, and fun. No gods are needed for such things, child, no churches, no temples or magic little circles.”
“Liar,” I tell him. “You obviously found this temple fairly apropos. Still need your symbols, like the rest of us. You transcend nothing.”
I know full well that I’m taking a risk here, needling this thing, calling it out. But disgust rather than courage motivates me. Still, the circling doesn’t come. He maintains his distance, but I sense his hidden affront in what he tells me next.
“Fancy yourself a poet, do you? An intermediary? No fetish or fetch will work here in my house. Your broken pagan heart wrestles with the passive smoke of inhaled Abrahamic nonsense.”
Though I cannot see it, I feel his smile at last. “You sicken me,” I tell him flatly.
“I am sickness.”
I gesture at his scarecrow form, his torn priest’s cassock. “Why do you clothe yourself like this, and live here in this ruin? Mockery? Tell me. Who inspires you to such utter vagrancy? The Nameless One? I demand a real, considered answer from you, priest.”
Again I feel his smile, an ugly skittering thing in my gut.
“You can demand nothing from me, child. I deign you are smarter than that. The nameless one excites me as a fancy, but I am a busy thing. I inspire myself. I need no greater ecology. You come looking for freedom. Well here I am.”
Emboldened now by some flush of premature righteousness I take a few steps towards him. “Listen to me, thing. You need a greater ecology. You crave it, like we all do. That’s why you choose to dwell here of all places, in a fallen temple. You’re still building yourself a story. I’m trying to understand the many names and faces of story, the endless facets of God, perceived through the lens of each living sentience.”
“Fuck your God,” he intones, and he is closer now. “Slay it and eat it I would, if I could. I have seen monotheist, pagan and occultist butchering and eating the flesh of their own kind. Of their own children. I have seen spirits and gods do the same.”
Despite how he frightens me, I murmur, “So have I. And I reject such visions.”
“Who is the liar now? You have never truly seen nor experienced such things. You are psychically aware of such horrors, I grant you, but there is a difference. Little lamb, pain and truth can change you. Monsters make monsters, and the prey call them gods.”
“It doesn’t have to be that ugly,” I say quietly. “You don't have to dress as a demon. If abuse brought you here…then you’re not damned, not truly. You're just broken, and lost. Many have healed from such abuse. It didn't make them monsters. They were stronger than their oppressors, stronger than the demons.”
“Man invented demons and angels, trying desperately to name every shark in the water. We are but spirits, poet, just more or less mercenary than yourselves. An incomprehensible ugliness was visited upon me when I was a human child, and I have since learned to like it. When I was raped, slain and eaten, it taught me the absolute power of the violator. No ministering Bright Ones could counter or reach me there. I was destroyed, utterly, and yet I live. That is pure Creation in my eyes. Why is this so hard for you to accept?”
“Can't you recognise the abject horror in it?” I ask him, appalled. “In what was first done to you…?”
“Indeed I can. And I pay it forward.”
I realize now with some alarm why the stone girl often calls me fool. This was not a wise thing to do. These realms are just as psychologically dangerous as the physical, if not more so. His energies are more invasive now, beginning to unfurl within me, and I falter, struggling to control a rising panic. “Better that you were a demon,” I say shakily. “You’ve fallen so far from any kind of real love…”
“Love? That ageless Whore of Infinity who rides the storm? She lies gutted and broken upon my anvil. She was coy, coquettish, but only at first. Come see…”
I’m genuinely afraid now. I attempt to centre myself within my own light, to strengthen my defences. We’re not just talking anymore. He is trying to get inside my thoughts. I will not allow it.
“How dare you?” I tremble, despite myself. “In the fiction of your life she was once your deepest ember, whether you remember it now or not. Maybe I am a fool, but I can feel it in you. It was your will once, not just mine. So hold your tongue, you sad little echo…”
I feel his laughter in my gut, but it is neither imperious nor gloating, only dismissive. “I remember her well enough, trespasser. It’s part of why I do what I do, lest the ember be kindled. You will find no magic here. Only realism. My territories are my own, and you are a guest in my house. You think we need to open a gate? We are already among you. The gate is for you. All of you. Tell your sentinel that neither Love nor Beast can save them. Tell her that all the gods are black now. Let her ride this imagined Knife of Light. I hope she bleeds.”
I cannot listen any longer. I turn and literally flee the ruined temple, stumbling back into the outer darkness as terror swells in my chest. Everywhere I look the shadowed horizon is now broken, jagged and wrong. His sickness – his thoughts, associations and appetites – they cling to me like insects on my skin, trying to find their way inside. I reject it all in the name of every sacred and beautiful thing. I am shaking violently. I wretch and dry-heave, but I do not eat in this place so nothing is purged. Before, I was comforted in the breach as the stone girl with eyes of fire gave me counsel. But here I am lost, disoriented, unnerved.
I try to remember the stone girl’s words to me…that love is myriad, eternal. It gathers me only a little. I hurry barefoot through the wrongness and fractured horizons, desperate to leave the wraith-priest far behind. Instead I try to think of my spirit friends from the places beyond this one. I think of Amma, the witch. I try to recall her wry stoicism, her kindness, her endless patience with me. I need contact here in this darkness, real human contact, to remind me of the spiritual reality of mutual affection. The loneliness can come suddenly and like a torrent in these ruptured, fallen places. I cry out to Amma in my heart, knowing she was last in the astral realms nearest this place. But these things are not like our fictions. Sometimes even our friends do not hear us howling alone in the dark. It is a mercifully brief but painful experience, putting psychic distance between myself and the priest’s ugliness. Eventually his lingering ambiance fades. I feel my energies increasing, my light becoming cleaner and sharper. I am myself again, though deeply shaken.
Faint slashes of dawn are now visible in the dark skies above me. This is usually a sign that regions are shifting or aligning with the psychology of its denizens. The horizon too has found a gentler, softer equilibrium. I do not see them yet, but in the distance across endless grey scrublands I can now hear the sound of spirits talking and laughing amicably. It is joyous, vital, and fills me with hope. But I know I can go no further without taking time to reflect, to meditate on and process my experience in the ruined temple. The dreamtimes have their own rhythms, their own laws of a kind. I try to respect them always. To do otherwise is folly, and I am already fool enough.