Forty-Eight

I was sitting cross-legged in the sand in the desert, my breath circulating around my body like golden strings. There was a big storm coming, and I was worried. But the Siberian man came and sat down behind me, with his back touching mine. Our breaths joined, golden threads brushing our skin. “That is not our storm”, he said. I felt calm, centered. All was raging around us but we were not touched. I raised my head to look at the blue sky above me, the clouds were gently wandering about. No signs of upheaval up there.

When it calmed down, we were still sitting there. Suddenly, I started to see in a different way, like staring into the Sun with eyes closed. It felt as if I was watching with my skin or through my skin, from the inside. At first, it was dark, then very blurred. Slowly, I could make out a huge eye, of somebody very old, somebody very ancient. She was so close to my face that I could feel her breath. And she was looking at me.

Thirty-Two

We were in a cave, the walls were lit by an unknown source, or maybe they were glowing by themselves. The Siberian man was behind me, and we were following a row of figures, enrobed in white, semi-transparent cloth. I asked him who they were, but he didn’t reply. “Is this some kind of procession? of whom?”

No reply.

Then I looked up at the ceiling of the cave, and to my surprise, I saw the stars.

“How can this be? How can we be down in the belly of the earth, in a cave, and see the stars at the same time?”

The Siberian man didn’t reply. The starry sky above was so vast, so beautiful, so alive, it took my breath away. We started to float, both the translucent beings and I. The Siberian man got hold of me by the ankles, and while we were flying higher and higher, he climbed up on my legs, until he was hugging my waist. I could feel his breath on my nape. We were floating among the stars, feathery, iridescent, luminous. Merging with the infinite.

“This is amazing. I want to stay here.” – I told the Siberian man.

“Like hell you will. We’re going down… gently, gently.”

“Do we have to? Why?”

“Because we are going down.”

And he was becoming heavier and heavier, weighing us down, until we arrived, feet on the ground, down in the cave. It was empty, and I felt sad.

“Did we really have to come back here?”

“Yes, we did”

Then the old woman dressed in white descended from one of the paths of the cave.

“Oh, look at you” she smiled at me “oh, the flight of the soul, beautiful, isn’t it?”

I didn’t reply. I felt sad. They exchanged looks with the Siberian man. The old woman nodded:

“Let’s sit down a bit, shall we?”

We did.

“Who were they? The beings? Did they just die, or something like that?”

“Well, they were never actually alive, you know, not the way you mean it.”

“You mean not in a body?”

“Oh” she sighed, with a little shake of the head, smiling. I understood she meant it was complicated.

Suddenly, I was in a winter forest. It was night. Snow everywhere. And wind. I saw a fox, chewing the bark of a tree. Then I saw a pack of wolves, and they started to run together, all like one, swift and quiet.

They were running through the forest, among the trees, from a hill or mountain, down into the valley. I saw an owl on a tree branch, turning its head around and around. Then I was with the wolves, running, and the Siberian man was with me. Suddenly all stopped. No animal moved, no wind stirred. The world stood still.

And then I knew why. Now I could hear it, too. A baby, crying. As if we all rushed there for this child.

The wolves gathered in a circle, and in the middle, there was a basket. The Siberian man went there and lifted it up, checking if the baby was alright. He smiled at me.

Thirty-One

We were in a wintry landscape with the Siberian man. Broad daylight. There was nothing around us. Nothing could be seen, nothing could be heard… It felt as if the snow was the frozen echo of the bright blue sky, and we were submerged in this dazzling silence.

Then we could hear a soft murmur growing into a roar. It stopped, it started again. My heart sank. I looked at the Siberian man, he was worried, too. “We go that way”, he said “as fast as we can. or faster”. It was not easy in the deep snow. Every step was a struggle. But we kept on going.

We reached the edge: we were on a plateau. A distant world below us, far, far away. The earth was vibrating under our feet, maybe some kind of avalanche was coming.

“We go”, said the Siberian man. He jumped onto a small landing just below the edge. I followed.

In front of us was the vast, white abyss, and behind us there was a cave. We entered. He lead me the way, and we went deeper and deeper.

Suddenly, I noticed that there was someone in front of us, a woman dressed in white, gently glowing like the moonlight. From the way she moved, I guessed she was very old.

“Who is she?”, I asked the Siberian man.

“Be polite”, he replied.

I was perplexed. What did he want me to do? I felt like a child. “Be polite”. I never knew what exactly adults wanted me to do when they said that. A lie is a lie, truth is truth. What is “polite”? Then, years later, I told a man how I never figured this out. And he said “You don’t get it, you don’t get it. So what. Darn politeness. you are kind and you care. Those who don’t feel it, well, there’s plenty of space around, they can just walk away. Politely.” And we laughed.

The old woman turned around and came to me. A powerful presence. She smiled and put a finger on my temple.

“He means be quiet. In there, too. Hush.”

I shut up.

“Good girl” – she said. I saw from her mischievous smile that she knew exactly how irritating that sounded, she did it on purpose. I got even more curious about her, I wanted to ask questions, but I understood from the glances of the Siberian man that this was not the time. We were in her realm now, and we had to get going, there was probably a long journey ahead of us. And so we set forth in total silence.

Twenty-One

I could see some thick, knitted material, dark blue, with some dark purple embellishment on it. It reflected light in a beautiful way. First, I could only see this piece of textile, and felt the wind, it was quite fresh and salty. Then I could hear the waves.

And then, I could see the sea. We were on top of a plateau or a rock, it was green around us, wildflowers, moss… the sky was covered, stormy, but there was no rain yet. A young woman was sitting on a rock, she had long, dark hair and Asian eyes. It felt very peaceful being around her. She was covered by a thick, dark blue-purple blanket.

I could hear footsteps, and as I turned around, I saw the Siberian man approaching.

“Meet my daughter” – he said.

The woman looked at me, smiled with her eyes and nodded slightly, then turned back towards the sea. I was to her right, observing her profile. She looked around twenty. I turned back to the Siberian man to estimate his age, and he seemed somewhere between fifty and sixty, or around sixty. Difficult to say.

I turned back to the woman, but she looked older now, around my age. I must have made a mistake a minute before. She looked at me for a second, then turned back to the sea. I watched the water, too, and the sky, and the flowers rocking in the wind.

When I turned back to her again, she seemed to be in her fifties. I realized she was ageing in front of my eyes.I peeked at the Siberian man, wondering what was going on. He was not getting older, he stayed the same age. He smiled. When I took another glimpse at the woman, she was quite old, her hair was all white.

“Will she die in front of me?” – I wondered.

The Siberian man stepped closer, he was standing right behind me and put his hands on my shoulders. I glimpsed at the woman again, she just disappeared, the blanket fell onto the rock, her hair transformed into mist and the wind blew it away.

“She’s gone” – I thought to myself.

The Siberian man stroked my back gently.

Then I noticed something below, a small dot coming out of the sea. It was getting closer to the rocky slope, and I realized it was a toddler, in a long, white shirt. Suddenly, I heard a cheerful cry:

“Father!”

The Siberian man waved back, smiling. The little girl was climbing towards us, growing. She was around 11 or 12 when she reached the top, and greeted us with a big smile and sparkling eyes, giggling.

She sat down next to me, where the old woman had been just before. The Siberian man took the blanket and put it around her. She bowed her head, and blushed slightly when she looked at me. She was probably around 18 now…

Eleven

I was in the dark, and I could hardly make out what was going on. There were a lot of fast moving images, unrelated to each other. One of them was a man who had no skin. When I went closer, his flesh almost looked like fire… and I asked him what he thought my ascendant was, it came just like that. And he replied Leo 14.*

At times it felt like we were in a night jungle, other times it was more like deep underwater. At one point, I was on a cliff, looking down into a dark river, and there was a crocodile swimming, and something that looked like a big spider-woman came out of its head, and another, and another. I should have been frightened or disgusted, but I wasn’t. Then a big flock of birds or other winged creatures came flying close by, very fast. “don’t be afraid”, the old woman said, “they can’t see us”.

I wasn’t afraid. It all reminded me of being a child, of waking up  in the middle of the night: the whole room was transformed by the moonlight filtering in through the blinds… all the familiar objects turned into strange, amorphous beings…

This time, however, I understood that it was not the world around us that was weird or scary, it was my sight that was not good enough.  “It will come, later” the old woman said. Then I noticed red floss, like roots, pulsating. I was in my own body. I saw them grow and reach out through my skin, like golden threads, like a golden lace entwining around me… at the moment, however, it was all quite a mess…  “it will sort out”, the old woman said. The sensation reminded me of the time when I was pregnant and I could feel a new life growing inside me, but this new life right now was developing not within but around…


*It took me a while to realize that the skinless man was the Sabian symbol itself: Leo 14 reads “A human soul seeking opportunities for outward manifestation”. He had no skin, nothing to protect or  envelope him, nothing to make him truly visible or recognizable in the outer world, no face, no fingerprints…

Eight

I was in the forest, again. I heard birds, and as I looked up, I saw a group of cranes flying by. They turned and started to fly in the opposite direction, as if they bumped into a wall and had to change course. Then they turned again, to and fro, as if they were sewing the sky together, and the distance between one end and the other was becoming smaller and smaller, and I saw that indeed there was a wall, one of water at either end, closing. I was not sure whether the cranes were bringing them together or the walls were pushing the cranes, but at one point they touched and the whole world submerged in water, including me. I saw sunlight filtering through, playing on the grass, and it was so beautiful, so peaceful…

But then I noticed something moving, something red, like a snake. When it came closer, it looked more like a Chinese dragon. It got quite dark, all I could see was a big, gaping wound, I don’t know whom it belonged to, but I heard my mother and grandmother panic “we should call a doctor”, telling each other what to do, shrieking, I couldn’t understand them anymore, and I couldn’t see them, either, or anything else.

Next, I was in the forest, again. It was almost night, and a group of crows were flying to and fro the same way as the cranes before, but it was not water they were welding together and pouring down on us but darkness…

When the night fell, I saw a figure made of bright smoke. I couldn’t make out its shape, but it had wings. As it was approaching, it looked more and more like somebody riding a winged horse. As soon as it reached me, it froze, went black, and made a clanging sound, like metal hitting metal, and I heard my mother say “it is cast iron, it’s from the factory” (my mother used to work in a cast iron factory called “Vulcan”). She went on clanging and clanging, but I could not see a thing, it was so dark. Little by little, it started to sound more and more like a bell, a huge bell… For a moment, I was in a cemetary.

I saw the group of crows again, tightly clinging together, facing me, cawing, and their cawing was more and more like words, until they were screaming “it was you, it was you, it was you”. I got frightened, couldn’t move for a moment, and then when I could have moved, I decided I would not, happens what happens.

Then, from behind me, came something like an old peasant woman dressed in a large, black shawl. She charged at the crows, “shoo, sparrows, shoo, shoo! shoo pidgeons, shoo, shoo!”, again and again. I recognized the words from a folk tale.

These words are uttered in the story when the young couple – who were kidnapped by the devil when they were children – decide to escape from him. The devil sends his servants after them when he realizes they are gone, and each time the girl can feel him coming, the boy casts a spell and they turn themselves into something else. The servant doesn’t realize it is them and goes back to the devil empty handed. First time the boy tunrs himself into a priest and the girl into a church. The second time the girl turns into a field of wheat, and the boy into a man guarding the field. When the servant of the devil comes and asks him whether he saw a boy and a girl running this way, he just keeps saying “shoo, sparrows, shoo, shoo! shoo pidgeons, shoo, shoo!” until the servant’s had enough and goes back to the devil. The third time it is the devil himself who comes after them, this time the girl turns into a lake and the boy into a golden duck. When the devil arrives, he knows the duck is the boy, but he has to go into the lake to get him. When he enters the water, the duck keeps swimming towards the middle where the water is the deepest, and the devil drowns.

I decided to let the woman deal with the crows, and slipped away. First I was going slowly, then I to run, and at one point the world was turning upside down, around and around.

When it stopped, I was relieved because I first thought that I was on the upper side, but then I noticed that what surrounded me were not winter branches but roots, I was below the ground, and I got really scared. I saw a pool of water, and as I started going towards it, the world turned around, again. I realized it was more like a river… I sat down on the bank and put my hands in the water. I saw something that looked like roots growing into the water, but they moved. They started to look more and more like human hands, and my own hands looked small in comparison. As the branches or roots were changing into a person, I knew I should look at my companion, but I just couldn’t get myself to. “it’s okay” – he or she whispered “everything is okay now, you don’t have to look at me, you will look when you are ready, it’s okay, it really is”. It felt warm, it felt safe, just sitting side by side, the sunlight playing on the water…

Seven

I was in the forest again, by the yew tree, and wondered if I could meet Jupiter. There came the golden bee and told me to clench my hand around her. We started to fly upwards, spiralling around the tree; higher and higher, until we felt surrounded by water, as if diving. But it was calm only for a minute, then we started to whirl, and we were rocking more and more fiercely… suddenly, we found ourselves in a large boat or ship. The old woman was sitting there, waiting for us. Surrounded by a raging sea, a swirling, furious darkness, we could feel nothing but a fresh breeze on our face. We were moving ahead gently and steadily in the stormy waters, untouched. “where is Jupiter?” I asked her.  – “You’re on his ship”, she smiled, “makes a difference, hm?”, she beckoned towards the gale.

Six

I was in an old forest, it was late afternoon or evening, and a group of children was running around, laughing, chasing each other. Then it started to snow… I was surpized, because it felt like summer, warm and green… but then I realized that what surrounded us was not snow but seeds from a cottonwood tree. There was hardly any wind, we were enveloped in small, luminous feathers, playing in the colours of the setting sun. The world was in slow motion, as if we were all floating. I looked around, observing all the details, the lights, the colours, and I noticed that there was a river close by, and a boat on the bank. There was an old couple sitting by the boat. I remembered the woman from previous meditations. I didn’t recognize the man, but I could tell from the way they looked at each other that they were intimate.

Then I saw the great yew tree… I was mesmerized and went closer. It had a cavity at its foot, and there seemed to be some light within, red, like fire, but I didn’t want to go down there. I stared upwards instead, and pondered whether I could climb up. I suddenly remembered an old dream with my “home”. In my dreams, I am usually either in an unknown place, or somebody else’s house, but in this one I was in my own home:  a tree house with colourful, translucent veils instead of walls, high up on a big, old tree, in the middle of an ancient woods…

Five

I wondered, what would it be like to meet Jupiter? I thought I’d ask the bee. I found myself in a narrow boat,  like a canoe. There was somebody sitting at my head, rowing. I was lying on my back, staring at the sky above me. I saw some spots of light shooting by, they looked like fireflies, except the bee who was flying very close to me. Then I realized they were not fireflies but stars, and that even though it felt like we were hardly moving at all, we were in fact gliding so fast the stars seemed to leave a trail on our breaths…

It was a small river, and we were going upstream, the landscape changed from summer reed to autumn meadow to snow covered field, and the river got more and more narrow, until the rower had to step out and pull the canoe.

At one point, somewhere in the midst of autumn, we stopped by a field of harvested corn. Barely visible beings wrapped me in a large piece of white gauze, as if I was a newborn baby (I still couldn’t move). I saw my mother as a young girl, maybe seven, they also put a sheet around her shoulders, like a shawl to protect her from the cold. Then I saw another girl, about the same age, on the other side of the river (to the right) and they dropped the cloth on her head and tightened it around the knees, I was frightened for a second that they would suffocate her, she seemed scared, too, but didn’t move or give a sound. They loosened the gauze, and then my canoe sped off, leaving me to wonder if the girl took it off her head in the end or stayed under it…

Finally, the rower stopped pulling me across the snow, and I wasn’t sure whether we arrived somewhere or she just got exhausted. Then I heard a drum, two reindeers came to meet us, and I could feel a new presence welcoming us without words.

.


Note:

Going upstream the river to the north reminded me of the tree of languages, my mother tongue belongs to the ugric family, one of only three languages. The other two people are both native to Siberia, they are mostly nomadic reindeer herders – the drum could have been a shaman’s drum.

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