Category Archives: Darkness

More on Thinking

[thoughts from    ~burning woman~    by Sha’Tara]

Let’s start with an interesting quote provided by Charles at The Vale of Soul-Making,
https://thevaleofsoulmaking.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/novalis-3/

Sometimes with the most intense pain a paralysis of sensibility occurs. The soul disintegrates–hence the deadly frost–the free power of the mind–the shattering, ceaseless wit of this kind of despair. There is no inclination for anything any more–the person is alone, like a baleful power–as he has no connection with the rest of the world he consumes himself gradually–and in accordance with his own principle he is–misanthropic and misotheos. — Novalis, from “Miscellaneous Observations,” Novalis: Philosophical Writings, translated and edited by Margaret Mahony Stoljar . (State University of New York Press; First Printing edition, February 27, 1997)

While this is going way beyond my own perception, there is an interesting parallel.  There are people on this world who have become highly empathetic.  To develop that sense “in the raw” on a world so full of violence with so much of it gratuitous and totally unnecessary, is to come face to face with a suffering, a pain, that never dissolves.  The uninitiate plunged into this maelstrom of awareness will have her feelings torn apart.  Everything will remind her of the many horrors taking place literally everywhere, and she will suffer the effects of those horrors in her mind, day and night.  These effects will spread into the body.

The above quote speaks of someone who, like many who have been severely tortured, in order to survive has developed a “paralysis of sensibility” to the ever-present pain that must of necessity lead to complete despair.  Those who cannot do that quite often commit suicide: it’s the only way out, unless one turns to drugs, alcohol or some form of institutionally established violence.  It is easy to see how both, misanthropy (hate of mankind) and misotheos (hate of God or gods) can flow from this condition because it’s a blame place. 

I’ll backtrack a bit: how does one become an empath?  It’s dangerously simple: one first becomes a thinker, then a deeper thinker, then an absolute thinking force.  Thinking, after all is the only real way to interact with life if we would be intelligent, sentient and self aware beings.  Thinking is the core of the human experience.  Those who do not, or cannot, think for themselves; those who fear their own wild thoughts, are not human.  At best they hover a few degrees “above” the mental state of animals; at worst they are psychopaths.  They can only feel their own needs and desires.  Everything and everyone else is there to satisfy those needs and greeds.  Not incidentally much of what passes for “love” on this world remains in that category-had to throw that reminder in… 

Thinking about the “human” condition changes all of that for the thinker.  It opens up endless possibilities hitherto closed to the mind.  It frees the imagination so violently extracted from most minds in early childhood.  This is all well and good, but if thinking makes one aware of the things of earth, that must include the blood-filled vat of violence constantly fed and religiously maintained on earth, and that must lead to despair, or to the frozen mind state and eventual self-consummation described in the above quote. 

I can truthfully say that I am an empath.  I arrived “here” through a persistent drive to know the why’s and wherefore’s of people’s need to express their lives through various forms of violence – some done to themselves, most done unto others.  Prior to a fortuitous intervention by those I call “the Teachers” I had reached a point of mental trouble deep enough to force me to make a pact with myself that I would terminate my life.  My mind was held in a vise of pain from negative awareness, and eventually that pain reached into the body, attacking its weakest parts.  Being at least as strong minded as my mother (who not incidentally committed suicide at age 46) for the same reasons I was then experiencing, namely that life was unbearable pain, I decided to do the same.  It was logical.  I had seen her try drugs to ease her pain, to no avail.  I hated drugs, and still do, so I would not go there.  Came the fateful day.  Came the unexpected intervention, rescue, and equally unexpected healing. 

In a flash of understanding I realized the vise had been unscrewed, yet my awareness remained the same, even augmented.  What had changed?  I was given a chance to become a compassionate being.  It was a whole new way to look upon the world.  I felt my hate, my anger, gradually fade out, to be replaced with something totally new to me: Joy and Sorrow (deliberately capitalized here).  Imagine how much thinking I had to do in those days to keep up with all of that; with the changes I was experiencing, and troubling everybody else around me with. 

I need to make two points here.  The first is that such a change made me anathema to my familiar society.  Within a couple of years I was forced into a divorce, holding on to nothing except a job, which kept me from being on the streets.  Old friends evaporated.  Frightening, exhilarating, crazy, out of control life.  Yet I didn’t mind so much, being busy experiencing a “new” healthy body and finding my newly awakened mind experimenting wandering through a much greater, ever-expanding cosmos. 

The second, much more important point is about Joy and Sorrow.  The usual understanding is that joy is just an aspect of pleasure.  Sorrow is an aspect of suffering, or pain.  This is more than a wrong interpretation: it’s a grievous error, as I hope to point out.

How does one discern that Joy and Sorrow are different from the usual layout of pleasure and suffering?  Again, the same argument that says compassion is completely different from love:  motive changes to selflessness.  Where there be selfish moves or motives, there you will not find either Joy or Sorrow, though you will find their imitators a plenty.   This is where some really deep seated lies of the Matrix can be exposed.  Joy and Sorrow  result from a personal choice to become a compassionate being, in other words, a selfless being.  These three then become one, none of them being connected to the selfish “id” or “ego.”  Compassion destroys the egotistic personality.  From that point on, the compassionate person no longer feels the need to experience selfish pleasure, or to avoid personal suffering, but do note this: only in cases when such experience or avoidance would in the least way cause loss to another – for it is wise to choose pleasure over suffering, always and suffering is not a normal or natural part of living a life here, so it should be avoided.  What is of crucial importance is that quest for pleasure and avoidance of suffering must in no way contribute to another’s loss, discomfort or pain.  The reasoning for this, though quite obvious, is usually not understood by those who do not practice compassion.  What  sort of person always puts the needs of others before her own?  The fully responsible individual.    

The compassionate being is an empath.  She does not operate from selfish motives but seeks to ever expand her behaviour into altruistic expressions.  These expressions then become her very nature.  Her goal in this is to meld herself into her choices becoming one with them, an avatar of compassion. 

Allow me to “wax poetic” for a paragraph here: 

The compassionate, the empath,
Joy-full or Sorrow-full
never resisting the currents
as the waves of the sea
respond to winds and currents:
a human bridge between light and darkness
that a new species of the human family
may take its first timid steps,
learning to walk between worlds,
neither fearing the darkness,
nor clinging to the light.

The more we seek to join with extremes, the more we must suffer the ever-present need of some form of violence within our emotions.  Violence isn’t engendered in darkness anymore than in light – violence expresses from the need to experience extreme behaviour, whether directly or vicariously.  Two things promote violence: fear and hubris.  Two weaknesses the compassionate empath no longer encounters in her own mind, or heart.

Our type of life demands duality – we need to finally accept that because without duality there is no balance.  Just as opposite poles of a magnet cannot be “reconciled” or joined together, so it is foolishness to speak of light overcoming darkness or vice-versa. 

Why not abandon the endless, pointless quest for the high or the low; for heaven or for hell?  We can become shadow beings, living freely and fully between opposite forces that are there but to maintain an in-between space for us – in perpetual balance.  Two solutions to two major Earthian problems would immediately happen: end of war and maybe more importantly, end of misogyny.  Would it not be worth a try, or even any amount of personal sacrifice, to reach this place? 

I’ve said these things before, many times, and I know I will continue to say them until I no longer can.  My point in all of this is to clarify some bits and pieces of the many misconceptions people hold about so many things.  Might be worth giving it some thought.  At this point in our failing civilization, what have we got to lose? 

I tell stories, I’m not an advice giver – that never works.  Having said that, secure in the knowledge that no one will follow it and later blame me when the proverbial doo-doo hits the equally proverbial fan, let me give you some advice (don’t you just love contradictions?).  Let me give you  a key to understanding the process involved in being a change agent. 

When you go on to ponder a solution to a problem, or talk about it, or write about it, or even do something about it, keep this in mind, it will save you much disappointment: look back upon history and your own personal experience and ask, “has this been tried before?  If it worked, is it still working?  Is it gaining strength, overcoming the negativity it was set up to do?”  If your answer to these basic question is a clear “no” then you need to come up with an entirely new solution.  Warning: if you insist on fiddling around with any aspects of the old “tried and failed” solutions, no new way will show itself.

My sincere apologies for that “finger pointing” ending.  I don’t know how else to communicate this point emphatically.  In any case, only those so inclined will take it personally.  Small consolation, but better than nothing…

“Energy medicine is powerful, all right.  I had a magnetic healing session a few weeks ago and I was stuck to my refrigerator door for two days.” — Swami Beyondananda. 

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The Fly in the Ointment

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

There are “bad” people in the world, and there are “good” people. For the sake of argument, we’ll say that for every “good” person, there are on average, say, 100,000 “bad” people (I’m sure it’s way higher than that but let’s be generous). When I say “bad” people I’m not saying “criminally bad people” per se, I’m talking about people who simply don’t care, being self-centered and selfishly motivated, whereas “good” people are those who care about things other than as they affect them, or as they may harm or benefit them personally, i.e., “good” people are relatively selfless.

That said, there is a third, tiny minority of people who exist, it seems, strictly to throw the proverbial monkey wrench in the gears: the fly in the societal ointment. In ancient times they were known as prophets and these “naysayers” were always at odds with the propagandists (the false prophets – today’s main stream media and priesthood of that always popular self-help and positive thinking church) and with society’s leadership and society at large (the Establishment). Their end was often quite violent.

I happen to fit the label of the latter, whether I like it or not. Although the areas where such as myself can speak freely are rapidly diminishing I am thankful that I can still do it, for people with the prophetic curse/gift must speak or die. Remember Cassandra’s curse! As Lord Byron wrote: “If I do not write to empty my mind, I go mad.” We speak “the truth” not only as we see it, but as we are driven to see it and speak it. That more than anything else, is what really irritates people; not just those who stand to lose greatly if we are listened to, but basically everybody. And here’s why.

In a world such as man has made of this earth, the truth is neither pleasant nor painless for anyone confronted with it. It is civilization’s scalpel, and the more diseased civilization, the deeper the scalpel must cut in order to attempt removal of diseased parts and allow for re-construction. Once convinced of the seriousness of a particular disease and the need to amputate, a patient may finally accept the fact and come to rely on the surgeon to save her life. Here’s the rub: a prophet is not the surgeon who’s going to amputate the cancerous parts of the body politic and help activate healing and possible re-growth of missing parts. The prophet does two things: s/he will tell you what your problem is based on your symptoms, and s/he will also tell you whether any surgery can fix the problem or whether it’s too deep, too endemic, to be arrested and a healthy recovery possible.

The prophet does not wield the scalpel: you, as a member of that body, are the surgeon.

You, with full cooperation and participation of all other parts of the body politic must perform the surgery, must endure to pain, accept the prophet’s “prescriptions and diet” if there’s to be any hope of recovery.

If the prophet says the disease has delved too deeply and greedily inside the body for the body to recover, that is not the end of the matter either. If (that’s a huge “if”) all the parts of the entire body still insist they want to live as a body, nothing is ever impossible, nothing is written in stone. Recovery remains possible, but the costs of attempting such a recovery may be way higher than most are willing to undertake. Since the majority “share holders” of the body are endemically “bad” people, i.e., bad stewards and managers, the prophet, taking that into account, will say (to the “good” people), “Honestly Pete, it ain’t happenin.”

This little essay is a warning to all the “good” and certainly well-meaning people I’ve encountered, whose efforts on behalf of the world, the animals, the environment, the poor, the oppressed, the war-torn refugees are beyond stalwart, to not expect those efforts to actually change to body politic for the better. They are band aids, nothing more, because they will never be allowed to be more than that. Success would mean loss of privilege, profit and comfort for that overwhelming majority of “bad” people. As a prophet I’m not advocating the “good” people stop their selfless efforts on behalf of what they perceive as needy, including the global environment, far from it. But to avoid burn out, disappointment and worst-case scenario, despair, make it a purpose, not a goal. Be there, without expectations. Be there because that’s where you belong; because that’s who and what you are. Then come hell or high water, all will be well, even when you are drowning in tears of sorrow and the tiny beachheads you’ve created though a lifetime of effort are wiped out overnight by the men in jackboots.

We are daily made aware that we are awash in the blood of martyrs. That blood is not a healing balm upon the earth, but an acid burning Earthian civilization to its bones and to its very marrow. So much blood has been shed in the last century and the first decade and a half of this one that nothing but a complete wipe out of man’s current civilization can begin to expunge man’s grossest-ever crimes committed against helpless and peace-seeking innocence. As a species, man has plunged (and continues to plunge) lower than even hell can imagine. That’s not the worst part. The worst part is, that for the vast majority it’s just more “business as usual.”  The day belongs to the “bad” people. 

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.” A quote not to be used lightly in these, the last days of this civilization. Yes, the last days, for the necessary will to change does not exist and will not be allowed to come to pass.

Destiny?  What Destiny?

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~]

While trying to assemble the human jigsaw puzzle in my mind, I have been keeping track of the missing pieces which must eventually spell the end of civilization as we’ve known it through history and as we sadly observe it today. 

One of these major missing pieces is a sentient species’ sense of destiny.  Most people, it seems, do not possess a personal sense of destiny – certainly not in any serious sense.  The same is true of man as a species: it does not have a declared sense of destiny.  The question to keep in mind while considering this problem is, “Can a sentient species call itself human and not have a sense of destiny?” (Question for another time.)  

For millennia we’ve relied on the gods to map our destiny for us.  We were “powerfully motivated” not to think about destiny except as decreed by the gods’ varied and various institutions and we responded with slavish obedience and mindless praise.  The gods died, one by one, and one day when no one was really looking, they’d been officially replaced by crass materialism, Marxism and evolutionary Darwinism.  What should have been a triumph of humanitarian accomplishments and freedom turned out to be a giant, possibly catastrophic, step backward for man and his little world.  OK, backward is wrong.  Better put, two giant steps sideways, one to the left and one to the right.  

Whereas the gods had always offered specious promises of some type of eternal life thus unwittingly providing a bulwark against massive and unchecked growth and material exploitation, Marxism and Darwinism created the dead end, fall over, cliff into perpetual darkness.  The new gospel proclaimed that an individual came from nothing and passed into nothing.  The future of mankind was no longer to be found in spiritual development or mental expansion but would be tied to the vagaries of a mindless finite material universe.  If a thinking individual thought of “the future” at all, it was in terms of some nebulous “future of mankind” or “future of the planet.” 

The results of this approach were not long in manifesting.  There came a rage to “live in the now” manifested as mindless consumerism and hedonism.  Destiny, if it was even thought of in those terms, was understood as the bolstering, protection and expansion of the Status Quo as determined by a numerically shrinking, exponentially richer class of elitist individuals and “noble” families. 

Our civilization is plunging into chaos because it isn’t aware of whether it serves a greater purpose, or none at all or whether it is just supposed to serve itself… at whatever costs to… whatever and whomever.  

Before science took over man’s mind, the gods, or increasingly the great male god, provided man’s purpose and that dead end purpose was stated as “to praise, serve and obey god.”  No other reason was given whereby man could find his purpose in life and if man refused to kowtow to god, his end would be inconceivably horrible.  If he managed to jump through all the legalistic hoops and traps set out by the god’s priesthood, remaining on the straight and narrow every minute, he just might be saved.  That kept some people very busy, very fearful and very poor.  It also kept them very ignorant of everything, particularly of the cosmos they lived in.  

Then science, or perhaps better put, pseudo science, prostitute of political and financial forces, took the upper hand, using obvious foolishness and fallacies of organized religion to push its own theories on how it all worked, onto civilization’s stage.  It claimed the limelight and after a few lucky guesses, established itself as “the Voice” of reason and knowledge.  Once established, it could now stick out its hand and receive the dues from the Status Quo that used to flow into Religion’s coffers.  The same dirty money into a different set of bloody hands. 

What did man get from that exchange of powers?  A new pseudo destiny, probably best described by a novel I read once: Tomorrow, the Stars (Heinlein, if you must know!).  Key word here?  Tomorrow.  Religion, all over again.  Patience, hope, faith… and tomorrow you’ll have it, if you donate, believe, pay your taxes and accept marginalization.  The problem with this is, “tomorrow” never comes.  All the tomorrows of science were soon sold out to the highest bidder, and instead of “light ships” capable of doing many times the speed of light ploughing through space to find “brave new worlds and new civilizations” man inherited nuclear weaponry and other weapons of mass destruction.  He was given poisons with which to kill unwanted lifeforms and increase depleted soil yields and science called that “the Green Revolution.” He was given nuclear power plants and dams… and pipelines and highways on which to burn whatever flowed out of the pipelines.  In short, man was given a much wider and faster treadmill than he’d ever experienced and he was ecstatic.  For a very short while.     

Religion gave man death through endless wars.  Science added a poisoned environment to endless wars. 

Of our destiny we remain blissfully ignorant.

A Difficult but Necessary Matter of Balance

 (thoughts from    ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara)

I haven’t had much time for blogging lately, being as they say, busy.  But surprisingly, I’ve had time, perhaps too much time, to think about this world, about its overall condition and where it is heading, apparently heedless and unaware.  I know this is a judgment forming an opinion, but not once in my entire life of 70 years has my sense of where things are going ever been wrong.  It’s like a compass in my mind, something I can “see” and rely on entirely, basing my personal movements on it, knowing when to “hold and when to fold” as the song goes.

I feel massive waves of sorrow passing over me time and again, triggered by many encounters: a baby in its mother’s arms; an old man hunched over waiting to safely cross a busy street; a homeless lady holding a sign saying, ‘Please buy my CD, I’m hungry’ and displaying a CD she probably found in a dumpster – (she got lucky: I saw her and I chose to believe her despite all the propaganda against her) or even moved to a helpless stop by the wind’s choreography of tree branches not yet covered in leaves.  A house hunched behind a sagging gate; a rusting sign from a business that went broke years before…  

Have you ever just “thought” about “the world” and had tears well in your eyes until they started flowing down your cheeks?  Closed your eyes and brought your hands together as if in prayer, though you don’t pray?  Then thinking, ‘Do I want to be here?’ and knowing the answer is ‘No, I don’t want to feel this, this way, connected to this chaos of ignorance, of pain, of apparent mindlessness.  I don’t want to be the stranger any longer; to not be able to speak to the trees, the birds, the clouds.  I’m tired of just feeling and finding it so terribly difficult to harness those feelings; to draw intelligence, awareness, understanding, acceptance and meaningful teaching from them.  That is probably neither their purpose, nor task but I’m breaking the rules here.’ 

Life, I find, is like driving a street.  Some parts are smooth, some rough.  Some are safe and some, well, you may not get out of alive.  The truly sad part is, much of life is entered into without its overall costs duly assessed.  People are programmed, it seems, to repeat patterns and unable to stop and consider the risks, the odds, based on previous lives, previous experiences of elder people, or people in history.  ‘What are my chances this is going to work as I hope?’ Is not the question asked.  Plunge into the swamp, there are no alligators here!  But there are, disguised as floating logs.  You may have passed your swimming tests and won medals, but guaranteed: terror is but a splash behind you, and it isn’t virtual reality. 

Too dark a vision?  Probably, but some of us have chosen a path that runs counter to that of the herd and we see that which the herd isn’t permitted to see, and would not want to see in any case. 

Someone has to shed burning hot tears for the dying.  It’s a difficult but necessary matter of balance.  

 

The Edge of Human (Borrowed title from Blade Runner 2 by K. W. Jeter)

[Voice from  ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

In the beginning was the Past.  Father God stood alone, last remaining Titan, proud in his quasi-Omnipotence gained from the overthrow of his enemies.

 
He created Time, the lever with which he would reach across eternity and weigh all life.  And he stood at one end, holding it, fondling it, loving it.  Then he created the fulcrum, which he called the Present and which history named the Christ.  Then he created the human, the man. 
 
But the man was cold and afraid in the dark and cried.  And she heard his sobs in the darkness and drawn by compassion, came forth to comfort him.  She came from Spirit, without father or mother.  And she made herself human for him and called herself Eve.
 
“Be not afraid” she said, pressing herself against him.  But the man was provoked by her naked truth and violated her.  Then she saw the emptiness of his soul, the ugliness of it.  She ran away from him but could not go far.  She became heavy with child as she walked down the time ramp hoping to find its end.  She bore her child in pain and horror but also in love.  It grew heavy in her arms and took the life from her as it suckled greedily and painfully. 
 
Father God felt the presence of her weight and that of her child upon his lever and in his quasi-Omnipotence, pushed down to force her to come to him.  He sensed a great fear and hatred of her, as if she could somehow put an end to his self-delusion of Omni-grandeur.  Eve struggled along the incline of the lever, intent on finding the end.  She knew if she surrendered and went back she would be swallowed in the anonymity of slavery and her child would die.  But her humanity pulled her down.  Exhausted, she dragged herself upward, splinters entering her hands and knees.  On and on until finally she could go no more and collapsed.  She put the child down and waited.  
 
The End, my End, will find me here.”  She reasoned.
 
“Why have you stopped, Eve?” Came a gentle voice from the darkness before her.
 
“I can’t go anymore.  I am empty.  My child is starving.  This is my end.”
 
“It never is, Eve.  You have travailed throughout the history of humanity and you bore the future in your womb and in your arms.  You suckled it from your spirit.  It surely will not die.  And neither will you.  Listen carefully — It is always the darkest and coldest just before the dawn.  You are not dying, you are changing. 
 
You’ve come to the edge of human. 
 
Look at your child – it’s not like you, nor like its father.  It is all that you ever wanted for your world and yourself.  Let it stand on its own.  It will take your hand and lead you into a new world.  The world in your mind.  For that is who this child is: your world.  You created it, from your hopes, dreams and feelings.  From your sufferings and pain.  From your dignity and strength.  From your walk that refused to surrender to any man, demon or God.”   
 
And her child stood beside her and picked her up.  With one blow, the curtain of darkness was rent in half and she saw a shimmering light beyond, at the end of the coarse wooden ramp she’d walked on for so long; where she had left a trail of tears and blood.  The great hell of time deflated like a balloon behind her and she walked forward, knowing that she was now more than human, more than god or goddess, something entirely new. 
 
But she remains Eve. 

“Follow the raven into shadow and you will find the light”  (medicine man saying)

The Times After (conclusion)

   [Short story, by Sha’Tara]

For some time, Lon watched Reuben as he disappeared, then a cry from the orphanage made him turn and run to the ramshackle building.  Two of the adults were already there, calming the children and bending over one three year old lying on the ground, the little body thrashing, if feebly.  Sweet little Amri.

“What’s wrong with her, does anyone know?”

“Maybe something she ate.  The children are chewing on anything they can eat.  They’re all in terrible pain, Lon.

“I know, Maggie.  I agree, we need to move, no more delays.  We’ll get started right now, pack what we can, hide what we can’t carry and go.”

“Where?”

“Ruben said he’d go north if he was free to do so.  He walked west when he left, but you know Ruben – he’d do that automatically just to confuse anyone wanted to follow or track him.  I know he’d turn as soon as he was out of sight, but which way?  I wish now we’d gone with him.  We’ll have a quick meeting in about an hour and decide our direction, then we’ll just go.  We cannot stay here, there’s nothing left to eat, and the water is no longer safe to drink.”

Soon the miserable camp was stripped and obliterated of recent human habitation as much as was possible.  The children were lined up and given a rope to hang on to.  The meeting was short: they would go east; no reason why except a secret vote turned up a majority of two for an eastern direction. 

Lon was bitterly disappointed, he’d hoped they would try to follow Ruben, though he well knew that was impossible.  He left his message for Ruben and they began their danger-fraught quest for food and water.  Already Lon had violated one of Ruben’s warnings, to only travel at night.  Adults took turns carrying little Amri and the weaker children.  The rest of the children began to lose some of their listlessness as they noticed changes along the route.

Evening saw the group drop down into a small gully, to hide and for protection.  Kamal, one of the strongest adults, went off in search of water which against so many odds, he did find.  Everybody searched for edible plants and roots and some of the hunger was assuaged for a time.  Night came and the small fire was doused so it wouldn’t create a glow.  The people slept on the ground, in their old rags.  Dried grasses had been stacked to lay little Amri and two other sickly children upon and each had an adult companion to keep them cuddled and reassured.  The stars came out, harsh and bright, flickering like cold, unseeing eyes.  Unable to help himself, Lon who was one of the sentry detail, walked a short distance away from the fitful and fretting sleepers and looked into the sky, turning slowly as he did so. 

“Where are you Ana?” he thought to himself.  “You promised and you must know we are in dire straights now.  We need your help; I need you here.  Don’t let Ruben be right about this.  I’m desperately counting on you.  You know I’m a terrible leader and here I am, leader by default.  This is too much responsibility…”

Morning came early, gray and cold before the sun could rise.  The hungry troop stood up, drank some water, and took to the land again, walking in the general direction of the sunrise.  Everybody, even the children, walked slower, looking for plants and roots to eat.  Hopelessness more than sadness pervaded the group.  Who could blame them? 

Finally the sun was high enough to beam down some energy into their wasted bodies.  Laughter even erupted from some children as they noticed a butterfly.

“Follow it,” said one of the women, “it may lead us to some edible flowers, or even berries.”  There was a bit of a chase, but the children were cautioned not to interfere with the insect’s path.  Suddenly it rose up and they thought they’d lost it but it came down again to disappear behind a dip in the flat ground.  They came to the edge and looked down upon a miracle, a regular feast.  An entire embankment was covered in blackberries, more or less ripe. 

Lon cautioned his charges: “I know you are very hungry but these plants will hurt you terribly if you wander in them carelessly.  We have nothing to bind rips and tears in skin.  Please use extreme caution.  Do not be in any hurry, we will camp here.  There are many green things here, there must be water also.”

Kamal went out on water detail again, he seemed to have a knack for finding it, and he did find potable water – warm but quenching nevertheless.  The blackberries did not give up their bounty without bloodshed but they proved adequate to ease the group’s hunger.  That was a good ending to what had started as a very dismal day.

That night Lon had a dream.

It wasn’t Ana who came to him in the dream, but his older sister whom he had watched being gang-raped and die in one of the hunters’ camps.  She stood on the open ground, away from the camp.  He walked over to her. 

“Hello Lon, it’s nice to see you again.  I’ve missed you terribly.  I’m sorry I abandoned you in the camp but my body wouldn’t hold on any longer.  I knew you had survived and escaped.  How are you?” 

“I’m so glad to see you Nan, you have no idea.  I’m OK, but we’re in a very precarious situation here, the people I mean.  We need help.  The children are weakening; some are sick.”

“I know that, but things must take their course, Lon.  In a way it’s your own fault that things are this bad.”

“How can you say that, Nan?  How dare you!  I’ve done everything I could to help here…”

“From your point of view, yes, but did you listen to those who may have known more?  Did you listen to Ruben, or were you so worried about his wild streak, his atavism, that you refused to trust his better survivalist judgment?  Didn’t he counsel to take the group away several months ago when the drought started?  Didn’t you think he’d know where to take you all if you followed him?  Did you think that he was trying to gain control of the group and were jealous of him?  Weren’t you afraid he would break your rules when he deemed necessary to save lives?   I know you Lon.  You mean well, but you have never really mined those deeper aspects of your nature: the fearful, the coward and the user – those aspects of one’s personality that become the controller; which reside in your subconscious.  It’s those things that killed Ana, and have brought you to these straights.”

“What do you know of Ruben, or Ana?  How can you possibly know what’s in my subconscious?  How can you know anything if you accuse me of killing Ana?  I loved her!”

“Of course you did.  You never realized you loved her too much under the circumstances, and you strangled her.  She didn’t know because in her own way she loved you too, but you choked her those many times when you insisted she come away from her duties to be with you.  She was conflicted; didn’t know where to stand between your demands, and the needs of the people.  Oh yes, you killed her.  She was an empath, Lon.  If you had allowed her full freedom to live her nature she’d still be here, with all of you, and she’d be laughing with you tonight.”

“It’s a dream, just a dream,” said Lon in the dream, “isn’t it?”

“If you want, but it is much more than a dream.  I’m here to help, Lon, but you must do as I tell you – exactly as I tell you – when you wake up into your real world.  You will abandon any idea of leading this little group.  Someone much more suitable is going to appear during the coming day.  Your hopes for the group will be fulfilled, but not the way you hoped they would be.  When help arrives, this is what you must do: walk away north, into the wilderness, by yourself.  Do not turn back, do not come back.  Your own redemption or your death, await in the young re-grown northern forests.  You will meet some people there and they will teach you about real love which is compassion.  I will see you again, Lon.  Goodbye.”

He watched her fade in the pale moonlight and woke up drenched in sweat.  Immediately he began to shake violently.  He got up, stretched and went on a short run to warm up, all the while thinking about his dream.

“That’s not a dream, that’s a nightmare!”  he thought.  Then he saw the possibility that it had been a vision.  “Morning will tell, tomorrow will tell.  I’ll wait until help arrives, I’ll see.”

Strange times call for strange events.  By the middle of the next day, as most of the people were busy gathering berries, eating, hauling water or keeping the children in line, the very first event of Lon’s dream came to pass: Ruben returned from his quest.  He approved of the stopping place with a few nods.  Always somewhat taciturn, he was even quieter than usual.  Lon queried him.

“What brings you back so soon, and how did you find us?”  Ruben frowned, then started talking:

“A blind man could have tracked your group Lon.  Haven’t I taught you anything at all about being circumspect?  What’s all around you, any idea?  What lurks out there?  What’s watching?  What’s scenting the air?  What’s listening?  Anyway, I saw your sign, and read your message at the old camp.  Also, I smelled your smoke – it travels a long way in this light breeze.  But that’s no longer your concern.  I’m taking over guiding this little group, for however long it takes before we get the help we were promised.”

“Say that again?  The help we were promised?  What do you mean by that?”

“I had a vision.  Saw a woman who claimed she was your sister.  She said that Ana had sent her.  She explained about your, well, character defects.  I already knew that, it’s partly why I had to leave, see?  Anyway the vision woman asked me to return to the group and be the guide until Ana and her people are ready and able to rescue and relocate those of the group who want it.  She said they’d all been waiting for you but you wouldn’t see it, so they decided to violate a bit of “prime directive” by contacting me.

You know me Lon.  You know I would not make this up – I don’t believe in any of this.  Somehow though, that woman, your sister, was very convincing. 

“Now you have to go.  Sorry, but it’s got to be short goodbyes.  Take whatever you want, or think you might need and head north.  She said Ana will meet with you when you’ve been gone long enough.  North, Lon, north.  It’s all waiting for your there.   Once my stint here is done, I’ll be tracking up myself – I won’t be going with Ana’s people, even if they’re only relocating the people to another part of this earth.  This, this land, this continent, is my world.  I belong here.

“I still don’t believe this, but irrational as it all is, I understand.  It’s not about belief, it’s the flow, just as in the wild.  All anyone needs to do is walk in the great flow of things.  The only time we must struggle is in opposition to those who do not walk in the flow of life.  That’s what gives rise to endless conflict.  I sensed your need to impose change and values.  You can’t wish, desire or impose non-violence anymore than you can stop a meat grinder by sticking your fingers in it, Lon. 

“I know this is harsh for you at the moment; you’re hurt and angry, but  you’ll learn.  The loneliness and the wild will teach you; the north, with its cold and its pristine snows will cleanse you and change you.  If you’re worried about food or shelter, observe the animals and the birds and learn: they’re the best teachers in the wild.  I’ll see you again, in the spring.”    

     

FIRE SPIRIT

[a short story   by Sha’Tara]

A restless wind whispers softly in the spruce on the edge of a small lake. Brightly shining stars and distant, paling northern lights cast eerie shadows in the late summer night. A great horned owl calls, answered by the howl of a timber wolf echoed over the waters. A startled killdeer gives its plaintive cry, repeated several times, then silence again. Glowing softly, a small campfire throws its own little stars into the night, their flickering, sinewy path changing to the mood of the breeze. A young woman sits near the fire, staring, unmoving, her dark eyes reflecting its dancing light. The minutes pass slowly as the stars trace their endless circle around the tail of little bear.

At a  chosen moment the woman stands and throws some broken branches upon the fire, watching intently as the flames leap up, crackling, hungry. She begins a slow dance around the edge of the fire, her bare feet moving through the drying grass, her footsteps blending with the lapping of wavelets on the shore and the sighing of the wind in the branches. She hums in a low monotone, unintelligible words passing her lips. Gradually, the song becomes more forceful. Proudly throwing back her head, her black hair cascading down her back, she lifts her hands up and starts chanting. The song rises and falls, hauntingly moving, echoes of ancient voices seeking words to an as yet unformed hope.

Her dance takes on a rhythmic pattern, her knee-length dress swaying as she approaches the fire then steps back lightly into the darkness of the trees, to reappear from another direction. Her voice rises above the trees, flowing through the rolling hills…

From the midst of the flame, a form takes shape, graying head bowed, hands held in blessing. The form addresses the dancer: “Daughter, what are you doing? Why dance with danger tonight? Why seek death? You are the hope of the people. Would you tempt the white man again and be accused of witchcraft? Would you die in his fire too? You summoned me… now answer me!”

Swaying gently, without looking at the flame, the song dying on her lips, she answers the vision: “I am your daughter. I cannot be otherwise and I have your heart also. You died to save me, mother, though I never asked it of you. Now, you are Fire Spirit. You live in the heart of the volcano at the centre of creation and possess the gifts of life and healing in full measure: would you deny me my own birthright and refuse me my homecoming?

There is nothing left here, mother. The people are ashes, spirits without homes. Those who remain are slaves eating crumbs from the hand of their conqueror. Should I fear a moment of pain and I too become a slave?

No, mother! Do not try to dissuade me. Tonight, I dance with the spirits under the stars. Tomorrow, I will dance in the fire. Then I’ll come to you and together we will prepare the medicine for the wandering spirits. We will rise with the breath of the sun in our mouths, awakening the land, shaking the ashes of the people in the winds until all becomes one and life pulses freely in the land again. I’ll see you tomorrow, mother…”

The flames died down and the vision vanished. She took up her chant and her dance, delighting in a myriad of physical sensations heightened by the knowledge that this was her last night on earth. In the morning, her relentless pursuers would find her. The angry new god would have his victim and enjoy a short-lived victory over the past. From his fire she would rise to become Fire Spirit and wrest the future from his bloody hands.