January 26, 2021

 The mystery continues. This morning my trip to the Imaginal had a decidedly queer twist. I started out meditating, perceiving the leaves of a sycamore tree as I did so. I was sitting in the tree, looking out at the hazy blue sky. Below me, the field was rocky and grassy and sheep were grazing. Beside me, a shepherd boy was lying back on a branch, playing a flute. I climbed down from the tree and looked down the hillside and out onto the shimmering sea. It was hot and sunny. There was a small town next to the sea about a quarter of a mile away. Its buildings were simple brick covered with mud or stucco. I got the sense I was in the Mediterranean somewhere, perhaps the Holy Land or somewhere in the early Christian diaspora.

As I stood there, a cloaked figure approached. I gave a start when I realized it was a ‘corpse’ still wrapped in its funeral shroud. The impression of the face revealed on the outside of the shroud made me think of the Shroud of Turin but this was definitely not Christ. It wasn’t even a man. I could tell from sensing into the spectral figure that she was a woman.


She turned and headed off down the hill to a cave not far from the village. I followed, realizing it was a burial cave. The large stone at the entrance had been moved aside (reminiscent of when Mary Magdalen discovered the stone rolled back from Jesus’ tomb.) Inside were more corpses wrapped in shrouds. I followed the mysterious figure to another large, round stone covering an opening further inside the cave. 


It was a mandala. Made from clay, its surface was covered with intricate, spiraling inscriptions. I didn’t recognize the writing but my eye was drawn to the center as inevitably happens when I encounter a mandala. The center was a speck of ebony, the manifestation of the Absolute.


I rolled the mandala stone aside. Inside the rocky chamber the ceiling glowed with reflected green and blue light. Curious, I approached and realized the light was reflected off the surface of beautiful azure-green water. Mesmerizing, I looked down and saw a shrouded figure lying in the water. I knew it was a woman. Further, I knew it was a holy woman, probably an early gnostic Christian. The figure who had led me into the cave had followed me inside the cave and the chamber and she stood beside me, gazing down upon the corpse of the woman. I knew then that they had been lovers. I got the sense that the woman lying in the water had been murdered, possibly by drowning (which would explain the water.)


I waded into the pool and lifted the woman’s body out of the water, cradling her for a moment before placing her on the rock next to the pool. When I looked up, I saw that both women had shed their shrouds and were now living, breathing people. They were beautiful. I climbed out of the pool and we hugged, sharing the intimate communion of people dedicated to True Nature. I cried with them over the way they had been mistreated in life and for the horrible things people had done and said to them. It was heartbreaking realizing that homophobia has such deep roots that its violence continues to haunt us even after death.


After a while, the woman who had been lying in the water motioned toward the pool. I knew that I was supposed to enter it and swim down through the watery cavern. I did so, marveling at the beautiful azure stone. I exited the water after coming up for air inside another cave. This cavern was deep blue, not quite cobalt blue, but beautiful nonetheless. A crude stairway wended upward and looked up to see another mandala. This one was fashioned out of deep blue stone and covered in the same intricate, spiral writing as the first one. My eye was led to the black center and I knew I had to move this mandala stone aside, too. I knew there was another crypt behind it.


I climbed the stairs, still followed by the two women, and rolled back the stone. Inside, the crypt was pitch black. I stepped inside and immediately encountered a black, horned devil. This broke my heart because I could tell it was no devil, just a soul convinced that it was. I cried when I sensed this was the soul of a gay man. He was small and hunched, possibly due to a birth defect or dwarfism. Beside him was another soul, also black, but not in the form of a devil. I bade them to emerge from the crypt and rejoin the world.


As they stepped forward, they changed, becoming men. One was tall and the other was short. I knew that they had been lovers in their lifetime and also that they had been persecuted for this. They were probably compatriots of the two women, probably also gnostic Christians.


The two men embraced, holding onto each other and crying. I was deeply touched when they invited me into their embrace and we hugged each other, crying the whole time. After a while, the two women joined us. It was a bittersweet moment because we were celebrating their newfound freedom but also grieving the mistreatment they endured in life.


They opened to me and I opened to them and I was staggered by the love they directed toward me. I attempted to receive it and was surprised to discover that they helped me to see another wound I’ve been carrying around (through both lifetimes.) That’s the feeling of being an outcast and not belonging anywhere. I hadn’t realized how deep this identification runs within me. It hurt a lot to recognize it and it hurt to realize how much this identity distorts my perception of reality. I cried hard, feeling the warmth and love of those lovely souls enfolding me. I felt like they were welcoming me into their family, a family that includes queer folk but many others as well. It’s a family where no one cares about queerness; it’s just accepted as perfectly normal.


The four of them left me then and, when I looked up, the outline of a viking warrior was revealed in the round doorway of the crypt. He wasn’t just a black outline but black, through and through. The sure sign of a soul in need of help and, sure enough, he needed me. I was struck by his macho image, clearly this was a straight-identified Viking warrior (I know, I know! Homosexuality is a new, Western liberal identity invented in the last hundred years or so but there were still guys who loved guys and who were identified with being macho long before Oscar Wilde.) He was clad in the armor he’d been buried in and wearing a horned helmet. 


I tried to get this warrior to un-armor himself and be ‘naked’ but he would have none of it. He was too enamored of being a tough dude. His inky darkness did, however, disappear, revealing a robust ginger-haired and bearded man in his mid-twenties. He was handsome and burly.


He led me to yet another crypt, this one a burial mound or cairn, and I knew that his male lover was buried inside. Like the previous souls I’d helped, I could tell the desire they felt for each other had been taboo and they’d had to hide it, perhaps sublimating their sexual frustration into a ferocity in battle that verged on recklessness. Certainly, it had ensured that neither lived very long. Even though these guys represented a sort of toxic masculinity that modern folks like me tend to poo-poo, I felt bad for them. Yet more victims of homophobia’s poison. It’s horrible what it does to people and how its effects impact the soul even in death.


I entered the cairn with the warrior’s lover’s remains and found a beautiful blond youth with a blond mustache and cropped beard. Like his lover, he’d been buried with his full armor. Both had died in battle, perhaps in the same battle. This young man was younger than his lover but not much younger, perhaps in his late teens or early twenties. I helped him out of his grave and led him back to his waiting lover. The two embraced each other but didn’t kiss. I got the sense they still had work to do to come to terms with their desire for each other. The macho image is really a barrier. I hope they’re able to drop it and allow themselves to be vulnerable and love each other the way they so clearly wish to.


It’s funny that one of the functions I serve in the Bardo is to assist dead queers. It make sense, I suppose, especially when you realize that queerness is something that transcends even death...and so does homophobia. I’m touched and honored to be called to help these souls and also feel touched by the love and assistance some of them offer me.


After the vikings left to continue their journey, no doubt slaying dragons and doing other manly things, I sat for the rest of my meditation, aware of being held in the embrace of a giant being. At first I thought he was Griffin because of his size but realized this entity was more akin to the Tibetan goddess I had met on January 17, 2021, upon my ‘graduation’ from the Bardo. This demon was huge and muscular and sensuous but mostly he just enjoyed holding me against him. I could feel his giant thighs against my own. He was resting his chin on my head and his powerful arms encircled me. He was mostly shining, deep black but he was also limned with glowing red. 


I slowly realized his presence there was not a quirk but a continuation of the welcoming into a family of beings I had experienced with the two pairs of same-sex lovers and Gnostic Christians. His love and embrace were subtly eroding my inner resistance and identity with being a loner and an outcast. I felt not only his presence holding me but the presence of many others and it touched me deeply.


I hope that this continues and one day I can let go of my belief in being a freak for good.


***


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