December 19, 2021

 I’m pretty worn out. These forays into the Imaginal are draining. I feel like I’ve just attended one of my Ridhwan retreats. There is this certain kind of fatigue that sets in after a spiritual retreat when ‘muscles’ I haven’t worked are spent. It is different from physical or even mental fatigue; it’s the fatigue of the three centers working in concert with each other.

The Imaginal allows for a hyper-real experience because all three centers are firing simultaneously. This doesn’t happen in everyday life very often because usually I’m only nominally using the mind/heart/belly subtle sensing. Usually, I’m just using my physical and emotions senses, maybe with a dash of subtle sensing thrown in. This is the opposite. Instead of mostly using my physical and emotional senses, I’m using the subtle senses full tilt. Moreover, I am working and working hard to be open to everything that is occurring. It’s intense and tiring. It’s a good thing my meditations are only 40 minutes long because I couldn’t hold on for much more than that.

Today, I encountered the African American man whom I’ve been meeting for much of the past week. He was still shadowed in darkness and I couldn’t really see his face. I don’t know if he’s just becoming resigned to my presence or if he’s slightly more open to me but I didn’t sense the same closed-offness from him. He wasn’t exactly warm and welcoming, though. He sort of tolerates me, maybe because he realizes that my presence is needed in some way.

We found ourselves in a clearing in a forest. There were ruins of a cabin and outbuildings before us. The ruins both seemed to be smoking as if they had only just been burned down and overgrown as if they had been long abandoned. Was this the same cabin we visited a few days ago where we met the man’s daughter (or maybe his grandmother or mother?) as she lay dying? It felt similar.

This time, it was autumn rather than winter and mist tendrils wrapped around the trees of the forest. In the smoking ruins, I could see the charred remains of a human body. Was it his body? Was this the place where he was lynched?

It seems like it was because even as I became aware of the charred remains of the body, I looked up and saw that the glade was ringed by six or eight burning figures. They were humans who were burning in silent agony and I couldn’t make out any features, just flames. I knew these were the men (and possibly a woman or two) who had lynched him. They ringed us, bodies licking with flames, but were utterly still and silent. Do I need to tell you that this was a bit creepy? (Actually, this whole experience is creepy but probably no less creepy than my other forays into the Imaginal.)

I was aware that my role was just to hold the space and allow everything to unfold as it would. As such, I could feel all of my centers engaged and working hard. My body was awash in all sorts of patterns of tension and contraction, some numb and some painful. My heart ached.

But I stayed there.

There was nothing to do but sit and breathe into my belly.

After a time, I looked up and saw the black man (whose name I still don’t know) was now limned in black and white. I could finally see his face, although there was no color. He was like a black and white outline of a man. Still, his face was expressive and filled with all kinds of emotions. He seemed to be spotlighted by white light whenever he walked. I don’t know how to interpret this but it seems related to his process of working through the events of that night.

At that point, I noticed the white people (men?) who lynched him were no longer burning but appeared almost as zombies. Their bodies were hunched over as if they were dead and decaying. There was blackness surrounding them.

I recognized this blackness; it’s the same blackness that I would see around the lost souls in the Bardo all those months ago when this strange journey began. Were they on the verge of waking up?

I looked over to the ruins of the foundation of one of the outbuildings near the charred human remains. There was a vine growing there. As I watched, it flowered into a thing of terrible beauty, its blossom the bright red of blood and scorching orange of fire. I remembered the Billie Holiday song, ‘Strange Fruit,’ and wondered if this was the flower of such a “vine.”. Do these flowers bloom wherever someone is lynched and murdered in the Imaginal?

That was pretty much it.

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