January 16, 2021

This morning’s voyage to the Imaginal left me gutted.

Even though I was in the Imaginal almost as soon as I began meditating, it took me longer to settle because I was carrying around doubt about my experiences. I got an email from my Diamond Approach teacher which seemed to suggest that the realm I am visiting is different from the Essential Realm because the Essential Realm is universal and the one I am visiting, while certainly informed by Essence, is personal. I interpreted this to mean it’s in my head which didn’t help my confidence, although in retrospect I see he’s correct; the journeys I am taking have personal relevance to me and are not something that students of Inner Work would necessarily experience universally.

Anyway, because the experience of entering the Imaginal is so fantastical and such an affront to my rational mind, my confidence and trust in my experiences there is fragile and easily shaken. I spent the first half of my meditation questioning myself which diluted some of the impact. Fortunately, this nervousness and uncertainty dissipated by the midway point.

I started off standing on the top of a lighthouse looking out over a moonlit sea. The salt air had a tropical scent to it and I realized that I was not in a frozen, northern land but somewhere in the southern seas. I steadied myself on the railing of the lighthouse, trying to calm the butterflies in my stomach. Looking down, I noticed a motor boat was waiting for me and I descended the circular stair of the lighthouse, climbing aboard the craft and allowing it to take me across the sea. We headed directly towards the moon.

Eventually, a small island appeared on the horizon. It was mostly made out of mangroves with a few palm trees. The boat pulled ashore on a wide, white sand beach and I climbed out, sitting down on the beach and running my fingers through the sand. It was made up of bits of coral, shells and broken fragments of fishbones. 

I hadn’t been sitting there for long before I realized that something was sitting on the sand next to me. I looked over and saw it was a huge manatee, its weathered skin marred by countless scars. It was clearly old and had been through a lot...but it had survived.

I could tell that the manatee wasn’t really a manatee; it was a human soul pretending to be one. I turned to it and hugged my arms around its giant, soft neck and invited it to reveal itself to me. I assumed that this human/manatee was True Nature’s target here and that I had been sent to help it recover its memories and continue on its journey in the afterlife. It turned out that this wasn’t exactly true, however.

The manatee explained (wordlessly, of course) that it preferred its thick skin because it protected it from the vicissitudes of life. Being thick-skinned was its choice. In other words, it had purposely chosen this form but had never forgotten that it was human. I could tell the manatee wanted to show me something and followed it out into the sea. Once in the water, it allowed its manatee form to dissolve and he became a man. The man’s body glowed with golden light and he swam with confidence out into the surf before taking me beneath the surface. We swam together over the reefs, enjoying the schools of beautiful fish and other creatures drifting through the water. Eventually, we came to our destination.

It took me a while to realize what it was. At first, it looked like a sea cave. Its openings were black as midnight, unpenetrated by any light. (The waters around us glowed with the silvery light of the moon and some of the sea creatures swimming around us were bioluminescent.) The blackness got me curious because I could tell it wasn’t natural. I approached. The manatee man stayed back, waiting patiently.

As I neared the caves, I realized they weren’t caves at all but the remains of a sunken battleship. It had been underwater for so long that it was mostly covered with coral and bore little resemblance to a ship. I swam up to one of the pitch-black holes and peered inside before plunging inside.

The interior of the destroyed ship was so dark that I couldn’t see anything but I could feel countless shades of the dead sailors pressing against me. The water reeked of death and blood. Clearly, the occupants had died a horrible and fiery death before sinking to their watery grave. 

The further inside I went, the more I could ‘see’. The water was stained with blood and the floating corpses around me were bloated and contorted and mostly dismembered. I was drawn toward a fiery red glow that seemed to signify both the explosion that had destroyed the ship and the blood of the dead sailors. I swam up to the fire and contemplated it, realizing that it represented more than just blood and destruction; it also represented strength, hope and perseverance.

It seems that my recognition of the vibrant and abiding strength in the fire called forth a shade. At first, he was pure black but his form began to change as he floated there, becoming more human. He was one of the dead sailors. I explained to him who I was and, more importantly, who had brought me here. I slowly began to realize that the man/manatee waiting for us outside the ship had not died in the explosion that sank the ship. He had survived and ended up dying much later, probably of natural causes. In death, though, he had returned to the site of the wreck to wait for his dead friend. I don’t know if the two were lovers but I suspect not; I think they were just very good friends who had gone through a lot together and their friendship had grown so strong that it survived even death.

Almost as soon as the dead sailor realized who was waiting for him, he began to glow with the same golden light of his waiting friend. He swam out of the ship and was reunited with his friend. They swam to the surface and I watched them walking arm in arm over the water toward the setting moon.

There was a little island nearby and I swam to it and sat down to watch the moon. It was a beautiful, warm night and the water lapped soothingly on the sand. The hint of a breeze ruffled my hair. I was at peace for the moment until Pegasus swooped down from above and alighted on the sand next to me. He bowed his head, urging me to climb up which I did and soon we were flying across the moonlit sea. We flew for a long time until we reached land, eventually nearing a range of rugged mountains. The flying horse deposited me on the crest of a mountain covered in crystalline snow and I slid down its slopes, eventually entering a deep, tangled wood.

The trees in the forest were so tangled and their foliage so thick that the moonlight became a gorgeous emerald green by the time it reached the floor. The air was humid and rich; it was a lovely place. I walked among the trees for a while, enjoying their beauty, until I spotted a soft, white glow. Walking toward it, I realized it was a unicorn. Such a grand and noble beast! I bowed to its majesty and it bowed back to me, both of us acknowledging our allegiance to the source of all truth.

The unicorn lowered its head, pointing at a form lying on the forest floor nearby. I approached, seeing that it was the body of a woman in a long dress. She seemed near death and her face was drained of color, her skin desiccated as if empty of blood. Yet, she wasn’t dead...just not very alive and incredibly weak. The unicorn was waiting patiently for her.

I stood over her for a moment before kneeling and taking her head in my lap. She opened her pale eyes and gazed up at me. Her visage was filled with torment. I understood then that she had committed suicide, slitting her wrists. This was the reason she appeared so desiccated; all of the blood had drained out of her. (It’s interesting to note that this is the third suicide victim I’ve encountered and, like the dying lion/knight, this woman was so weak she could barely move. Does killing oneself leave one too weak to move through the Imaginal? You may recall that the other suicide victim was the mermaid trapped beneath the ice of the frozen lake. She could move but could never break free of her watery grave.)

What transpired next was an extended inner dialog between me and this poor woman. She believed herself to be beyond redemption and I sought to reassure her that no one is ever beyond redemption. She was not easily convinced, asking me how I would know because I hadn’t committed suicide myself. I responded to this by opening myself to her and showing her just how flawed I am. She had full view of my history and could easily see that I was no saint. And yet True Nature had not abandoned me...ever. Just like her. I looked up and pointed at the unicorn, telling her that it was the proof that True Nature never abandons anyone.

“That is a fucking unicorn and its here just for you!” I shouted at her, surprised by my vehemence. “Now get the fuck up and climb on its back and don’t look back!”

She did.

Somehow, she found the strength to rise and mount the beast, throwing her arms around its neck and hugging it closely. I watched the unicorn turn and carry her away, a brilliant white light in the dark wood.

I didn’t have long to contemplate what had happened before another beast arrived for me. This time it was ‘just’ a horse. A simple, grey mare that was nonetheless a gorgeous creature. I climbed upon her back and allowed her to carry me down the mountainside and out of the forest.

Clear, blue sky greeted us and sunlight shone down upon us for only a moment before being eclipsed by mist. We entered a dead orchard with twisted, burned trees. All around us was carnage, the scattered remains of countless people blown to bits. The horse dropped me off at the ruins of a stone house, its roof gone and nearly reduced to rubble. There were remnants of crates and tables and chairs.

I was greeted then by a host of wraiths, the souls of the people who had died in this horrendous attack. This is the part that left me gutted because I assumed I was there to help them in some way.

But, no.

That wasn’t it at all why I had been called there. Instead of me helping them, they were there to help me.

I’ll explain.

The wraiths converged around me, a spectral, sickly green group. There were two wraiths, though, who were preeminent: The spirit of a young man and woman. I bowed to them and asked what had happened here.

“We were murdered on our wedding day,” they said, “by Americans.”

I stopped in surprise. Americans? American soldiers?

They nodded, explaining, “It was an air attack. We were bombed when we gathered for the ceremony. We and most of our wedding guests were killed.” They motioned to the carnage around them. “This was to be our wedding feast.”

I was overcome with sadness and grief at these words but lost it when I asked them why they were here.

“We are here to forgive you. We only want to tell you that we forgive you. We also want to forgive the people who murdered us.”

I was completely caught off guard by this and collapsed to my knees, holding my head in my hands and bawling. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, couldn’t believe that these people were not angry or resentful or filled with hatred for us Americans who had destroyed their lives on what was supposed to be their happiest day. It touched me profoundly and left me shaken to the core. It was such an undeserved blessing!

But I accepted it.

I accepted their forgiveness and cherished it, telling them so and thanking them sincerely.

I think these people were probably murdered by a drone strike and thus their killers were faceless and unknown to them. As I knelt there, receiving their forgiveness and blessing, I realized there was something I could do. I reached out and place my outspread hand in the dirt before me, pledging that all of those who were responsible for this desecration and murder would be compelled to pass through this very spot when they died. All of them would eventually come through here and meet the people whose blood covered their hands. They would come here and receive their blessing and forgiveness.

What an unexpected thing! To be presented with such profound sweetness! We have this stereotype of people from the Muslim world as being driven by hatred and desire for revenge. And yet here were a whole group of people murdered out of stupidity who wanted nothing more than to forgive their killers in person. I understood that, even though I had nothing personally to do with the attack, my hands were also stained with their blood because I was an American and therefore shared culpability.

Significantly, when I raised my head again after placing the marker on the ground, the scene had transformed around me. Rather than a scene of destruction, the sky was clear, blue and cloudless. The sun overhead warmed my back. The orchard had regrown and the trees were filled with olives. Around me, the house was no longer demolished but whole, its stones painted white to reflect the heat. Tent poles surrounded me and white canvas flapped in the breeze over my head. A feast was laid out in the shade of the awnings and the entire wedding party was seated before me.

It was once again a feast of love and celebration. I smiled, wiping the tears from my eyes. I bowed deeply to them, thanking them once again for their hospitality, blessings and forgiveness. I wished them a happy life together and assured them that their murderers would come by sooner or later. They would have no choice! 

I walked away feeling very humbled. I had never expected anything like this in the Imaginal! I walked through the grove and down the hill to a little rise overlooking the sparkling blue sea. The sky was radiant blue overhead and the sun was a soft touch on my skin. A flock of the whitest doves flew overhead, their brilliant white limned by the incredibly rich cerulean blue of the sky and sea.


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