June 24, 2023

 I’ve been avoiding going into the Imaginal for the past ten days or so because I’ve been processing what happened the last time and also because I had a cold. When I’m sick, I just have enough energy to meditate and that’s it. Today, I feel better and therefore perhaps it’s not surprising that I had another encounter in the Imaginal.

These are such strange experiences! I am fed images that often don’t make much sense until afterwards. First, I became aware of bats. Thousands of them were flying past me, buffeting me with their wings. There was a full moon. I was at the entrance to a cave. I was on a ledge overlooking a vast wasteland that was covered in mist. Next to me on the ledge was a figure of pure black except for his eyes which glowed red. He was grinning. He was also leaning with his back against the rocky wall with one heel lifted against the rock. It looked like he was smoking a cigarette.

This sounds kind of ominous but I don’t think he was evil and I didn’t feel like I was in danger. Rather, I supposed that he was a guide, sent to fetch me for a purpose. So, I just sort of stood there on the ledge overlooking the wasteland with the full moon shining silver upon us and bats flying past.

The figure’s red eyes caught my attention and I was instantly pulled into his utter blackness. Inside the blackness, the only light was from his red eyes. I realized, however, that I didn’t need his light to see. I could see just fine in the pitch blackness. It was like seeing both the blackness and everything else, almost like having two pairs of eyes. One pair saw only black and the other saw just fine.

First, I became aware of a regular geometric pattern on the ground before me. Soon, I realized it was the architectural plan for a house. As I saw the plan, the house filled in around me. It was a nice house, well-built and more or less modern. As the landscaping, lawn, trees and everything else filled in around me, I recognized it as a house in the suburbs.

The overwhelming feeling here was of sameness and sterility and depression. I know these feelings well; they’re the feelings I have every time I visit the suburbs. I find them oppressive and don’t understand why anyone would want to live there. They also tend to be overwhelmingly white, or have been white historically. That’s changing now, of course. But they’re still oppressive.

The day was bright and sunny. The lawn was green. The sky was blue. It was so perfect that I found it smothering and I think the other whom I led to assist did as well. I found her easily enough on the second floor of the house. She was seated at a desk in her bedroom and sat staring straight ahead, a vacant look on her face. She was a child of perhaps eleven years old and was obviously African American. She was dressed conservatively and her hair was in neat braids. Depression and despair and hopelessness emanated from her.

At the same time that I became aware of her, I became aware of the other. This other was the exact opposite of her. He (at first I thought he was a girl but learned later that he was indeed a boy) was raging where she was inert. His hair was wild where hers was precisely neat. He was naked where she was clothed. He glowed an angry red whereas she was all white. Sterile white. He was also stuck in the blackness whereas she was stuck in this unnaturally sterile whiteness. He could see her but she couldn’t see him. He was desperate to reach her, beside himself with agitation. It seemed that he’d been trying to reach her for a long time but they were stuck in this place, neither able to reach the other.

I don’t know what the connection was between them. Perhaps they are soulmates, perhaps siblings, perhaps just good friends. What was clear was that they cared for each other and something tragic happened and both were now dead. I don’t know but it seemed like the girl may have either committed suicide or simply died of despair after the boy died. I got the sense that the boy died violently, although I don’t have any clue how I knew this.

When I still believed the boy was a girl, I was reminded of the movie, Us, by Jordan Peele in which a Black family is tormented by their doppelgangers. The angry red boy and the placid white girl (who was actually Black) were like inverse mirror images of each other. I was also reminded of Beloved by Toni Morrison where the spirit of a murdered girl somehow makes it across the boundary between the dead and the living to haunt her birth family. There were definitely some shared themes.

The implicit theme–that of white racism–was also present and I guess I’m the stand-in representative for that theme. I, like white racism, was not a main character in this story but my presence, like the presence of white racism, imbued everything. Even the history of the suburbs of the United States is one that is grounded in white racism. Everything about this experience felt touched by it even though white racism may or may not have been the direct cause of the boy’s (or girl’s) death.

Given this implicit ambience of racism, it’s perhaps unsurprising what was required of me to finally break through the barrier separating the two children. It took me a while to figure it out and even then it wasn’t like I did anything; it just happened.

Let me explain.

When I realized that neither the boy nor the girl could reach each other, I realized that I was their intermediary. In other words, they couldn’t see each other but they could each see me. When I realized this, I was hit with the full impact of the tragedy surrounding them as well as their immense sadness and grief. It filled me and touched me deeply. The part of me that was touched, of course, was my heart.

What does the heart do literally? It pumps blood.

As I felt the pain and suffering and grief, my heart started to bleed and this blood–white blood, the blood of white sacrifice–turned out to be what was needed to help both children break free. It’s poignant and fitting that it was the willing gift of blood, the sacrifice of blood, from a white person that helped to bring down the prison walls between the two.

Everything happened quickly after that. Suddenly, the girl was no longer trapped in the sterile suburban existence but was awash in blood. She rose up gasping from a pool of it to find me seated beside her along with her beloved brother/friend/lover. He was likewise awash in red blood but no longer frantic. Both were fully human, fully alive, living once again in full color.

Where were we, though?

I looked around and realized we were in the belly of a great beast. I took the children by the hands and led them up the beast’s throat until we were looking down upon the same misty wasteland I’d been looking down upon at the beginning of this journey. We were in the mouth of a giant white dragon.

The dragon landed and we exited its gaping maw to stand at the Crossroads. I looked back and saw the white dragon was now the Woman in White. She was, of course, dressed in white as always. This time, however, she wore elegant, modern clothes and presented as an older African American woman. She took the hands of both children. Before leaving, they turned and waved goodbye. They walked off down the road and were soon swallowed in mist.


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