January 22, 2021

Another morning and another inexplicable trip to the Bardo. The experiences sure run the gamut! Today, I was deep in the north woods, helping indigenous souls. Most of the time, I can piece together clues from what I’m seeing and guess at what happened to the souls. This morning, the first experience is a mystery, although it does have a certain coherence. I can only guess at what it means.

Sitting down to meditate, it wasn’t long before I am in a canoe on a deep lake. It is nighttime and before me is a wooded promontory. It is cold and cloudy but there is diffuse light penetrating the clouds from the moon. The canoe skims across the water, bringing me to the shore of the promontory. I get out. The forest is quite lovely, tall deciduous and conifers tower overhead. The lake is calm, its waters dark blue. I walk through the woods along the rocky shore until I see a fire. I approach and sit down, conscious that there are lightly glowing spirits in the trees peeking down at me. I ignore them because they are not why I am here.

Slowly, I become aware of a round depression in the ground on the other side of the fire. A wide, round hole has been dug into the ground and covered by a collapsed tent. Because we’re on the shore of the lake and the water table is high, the hole is wet; the tent is soaking. Curious, I move around the fire and pull back the heavy fabric of the tent. There is a man underneath but not a lost soul. He appears to be a white guy. He’s hairy with a thick, brown beard. He appears to be of middle age. He reminds of my brother-in-law Michael; that is to say he looks like a frontiersman. I feel like I’m not in the United States but somewhere in Canada, perhaps in the wilderness of Ontario or Quebec.

I pull the man out of the tent. He is soaking wet from the water and I help him sit by the fire. I tell him that he reminds me of my brother-in-law and ask why he is here. He says he is looking for his family and nods toward the hole. I look over and see that there is something beneath the tent, some kind of membrane or something. I stand and pull the canvas tent aside and look down at the hole. It appears to be deep and filled with water and there is indeed a semi-transparent membrane. I draw back and when I realize there is an old indigenous woman lying face up in the water, her body pressing up against the membrane. I realize that she’s not dead but appears to be sleeping.

I approach and pull back the membrane, realizing it’s thick and heavy despite being somewhat transparent. I don’t like it. It’s like the skin of a dead animal. I pull it aside and wade into the water to help the old woman. Her hair is long and white and she is wearing animal furs. As I place my arms under her body, I realize it is warm. She opens her eyes.

I bow to her, instinctively calling her ‘Grandmother’.

She smiles and acknowledges me. “Come,” she says. “Help our daughters.” She stands in the water and point down into the watery pit.

I bow and follow her into the water. Even though we are underwater, though, we are not swimming. We walk down, down, down. The tunnel finally levels out and I can see a white glow ahead. When we reach the bottom of the tunnel and continue through the cave, the old woman leads me to round opening covered by a stretched leather hide. It is white and a black circle is painted in the center. The circle is divided into quadrants, I assume representing the four directions. There are colorful figures painted in each of the quadrants but my eyes are drawn to the center which is a black dot. The woman urged me forward.

As I near, the black hole opens and envelopes me, swallowing me. I find myself on the other side of the hole where it is pitch black. The water is black, the stone is black, everything is black, black, black. I can feel bodies floating in the water around me and feel strands of hair brushing up against my skin. It is creepy. My lungs seize as if I am drowning, I have to fight back panic. (Of all the ways of dying, drowning is one I find particularly terrifying.) I calm when I remember I can breathe underwater and that another way of seeing this blackness is as the Absolute.

The bodies floating around me stir and come alive. Gradually the blackness recedes and I realize I am in this watery cave with four young women. I know I need to get them out of here and contemplate what to do with the hide stretched across the opening. It reminds me of a mandala and is clearly sacred so I don’t want to tear it open. Instead, I carefully slice it open along the axes of the four directions. This seems less destructive to me. The young women and I swim out, gradually reaching the surface. We pull ourselves out of the water and find the man and the grandmother waiting for us by the fire.

The women are overjoyed when they see the man and run to him. He is elated as well and they hug together, sobbing. When they pull away from him, they all bow to the old woman. She smiles and acknowledges them before turning to me and extending her hand.

She leads me away from the fire, up the hill to the north where we meet an old man. He is dressed similarly to the old woman, has long hair and dressed in furs. I bowed to him, recognizing him or at least recognizing the whisper of another one of his forms.

He inclined his head to me and smiled, welcoming me.

I explained that I felt humbled to be in his presence as well as the presence of the holy woman beside me. I also said that I didn’t feel like I belonged here; I am white and my ancestors seriously abused his people. I didn’t feel it was appropriate for white guys to pretend to be saviors of indigenous people.

He laughed at this. “Is that why you think we’ve summoned you?” He turned and looked down the hillside toward the north. “I don’t care what color your skin is; I care only that you have been pledged to me. You know who I am, don’t you?”

I knelt before him, saying I did, although I also noted that he was kinder and more human than he had appeared to me last time.

“That’s just one of my appearances,” he explained. “I predate humans but also count them as kin. But that’s not why I have called here right now.” He looked against down the hill to the north where I spotted an old, decrepit bull moose. He was so ancient that he could barely stand. His hair was coming out in tufts and was turning white. He was gaunt, on the verge of death. “Follow him,” the grandfather said.

I did.

The moose staggered down the rocky hill, picking his way unsteadily around trees and roots and rocks. At the bottom of the hill, there was a some clearing in the forest where a ring of timber wolves were stationed. They crouched down with their hackles raised and their teeth bared at the moose but they did not attack. Instead, they stayed back and made room for the moose to enter the clearing.

There was an ancient wolf in the center. It was just as old and moth eaten as the moose, its body gaunt and its hair falling out. It was so weak that it could barely lift its head. It watched the moose approach, eyes filled with hatred, but it was too weak to do anything. It couldn’t even growl.

The moose collapsed on the ground next to the wolf and died. A moment later, the wolf died as well. I stood there looking down at their bodies questioningly, wondering what this was all about. After a moment, black spirits arose from the bodies of the dead animals. They seeped out of their nostrils like thick smoke, gradually rising and coalescing in the black forms of two men.

I knew that these men had been sworn enemies but as I watched their spirits, I realized they had also been friends at one time and reminded them of this.

“Why do you still hate each other?” I asked. “You’re long dead. Can’t you let go of this grudge?”

The blackness slowly leached away, revealing two warriors. One was dressed in a wolf skin and the other in a moose skin. They regarded each other with malice at first but then softened. Soon, they were smiling at each other.

I saw something else then that gave me an inkling of the source of their enmity: Not only had they once been friends but they had been lovers, too. It was this love for each other that confused them, especially because they both were attracted to women, too. Eventually, they couldn’t reconcile their feelings for each other, not being able to handle admitting their attraction, and it turned to hatred.

“You’re bi,” I said. “Get over it. It’s fine for two guys to get it on. In fact, I can tell you want to get it on right now.”

They looked at each other, still wary.

I threw my hands up in the air. “Oh, for Chrissake! Look at you! You’re both a couple of studs! Go ahead and fuck the shit out of each other! You deserve it! You’ve waited long enough.”

When they still hesitated, I explained, “Look around. Do you see anyone else here waiting for you? No! You’re here together for a reason. Your bond outlasted even death. Now go ahead and celebrate it!”

This proved to be the last straw and they threw themselves at each other, shredding their clothing in their eagerness to get at their hot bods. They were a couple of studs and part of me would have loved to join them but I sensed that three was a crowd and withdrew, giving them their privacy. I knew they would be just fine from here on out and I was glad they were together again after so long.


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