February 21, 2024: The Pearl Beds

 “The Pearl Beds”


Today was a reminder that not all entities take kindly to a white boy mucking about in the Imaginal realms.


I was meditating and became aware of a winter forest. The hillsides were steep and the trees were quite beautiful. The sky was leaden gray and blue, also quite beautiful. The forest, however, was deathly silent; there wasn’t anything moving. It felt empty.


I roamed up and down the hills as night was falling, eventually spotting a campfire in the distance. As I approached, I recognized the figure seated by the fire; it was Coyote, the trickster god of various Native American tribes. He appeared as an anthropomorphic coyote with a coyote head and furry but mostly human-shaped body. He was not happy to see me and I could feel the hatred rolling off of him like black poison.


“Welcome, White Man,” he spat, voice filled with sarcasm. “I’ve been waiting for you.” He gestured toward the fire and the flames lifted upward toward the sky, a dark portal appearing in their midst. It was a doorway into blackness and I knew he expected me to enter.


I did so, finding myself standing upon a charnel mound of corpses. The dead bodies were piled high in enormous mounds as big as hills. Over the crest of one of these ‘hills’ emanated a white glow. I looked down and, in the dim light, could see the faces of the dead. I gave a start. These were the bodies of indigenous people and I knew without anyone telling me that they had died either directly or indirectly at the hands of white people. My people.


Curiously, though, their souls were not present so, just like the forest before this, the place felt empty and silent. It was, however, very gruesome. I climbed over the mound of dead bodies and peered over the crest. The Woman in White was down below, her robes and hair filled with white crystals. Her features were indigenous and her raiment was traditional. She appeared to be standing on a white marble floor.


She motioned for me to join her and climbed down over the bodies to stand beside her. Unlike Coyote, however, she was not mad at me and certainly didn’t hate me. In fact, quite the opposite, she seemed almost happy to see me despite the gruesome surroundings and context. I understood soon that this was because she was there to teach me something important.


She was carrying a staff and tapped the marble floor at her feet. “Look at this floor. What do you see?”


As I gazed down upon the floor, I knew what it represented: The extracted wealth from the Americas used to enrich the lives of Europeans. With the natural and human resources of the Americas, the colonial powers had amassed vast fortunes, building opulent mansions and living lives of ease and excess. This wealth had been attained at the cost of the lives of innumerable people and animals. It had killed entire cultures and laid ruin to societies.


The bodies of the dead were heaped over this opulent floor. I realized I was standing in a vast hall and beneath all the bodies were rich furnishings and artwork. It was jarring.


I gazed down into the floor, seeing the hardness of the marble and the streaks of black. Our subtle senses are pretty amazing, though. Sure, seeing is much like the physical sense but the capacity of inner seeing is greatly enhanced. As I stared, I felt drawn into the marble, zooming in until I could see the individual ‘atoms.’ The marble was like an entire cosmos, filled with shining stars of all colors. Moreover, each tiny, atomic star was like a grain of sand and shone with a pearly quality. This grain of sand was like the grit inside an oyster shell upon which the pearl forms.


The Woman in White gestured towards the heaps of bodies surrounding us. “Each of these people experience almost unimaginable hardship and suffering and yet this suffering also served them. They have formed the grit, the resolve, necessary to develop. This grit will become and, in some cases, has already become the shining Pearl Beyond Price.” She turned to face me. “This is why I have been teaching you not to interfere with the suffering of others. Their suffering is their own and does not belong to you. You should never touch it. You can feel it, of course, but don’t take it on as your own. As difficult as it is to witness it, you must know that it is valuable and should never be taken away because to do so would be to rob them of the most precious thing in Creation.”


I understood more completely the value of suffering. I admit that I have a hard time staying with it and find the weight of collective suffering oppressive at times. Further, due to my childhood circumstances, I felt compelled to do something to alleviate the suffering of my family so I could feel safe and held. It’s a hard pattern to overcome.


It was clear the Woman in White was not telling me to cause suffering or even to allow unnecessary suffering to continue without intervening. She was telling me that the suffering of others is their own precious gift, something that they need to work with and feel and heal their way through. Only by taking responsibility for our own suffering can we truly heal and therefore develop as human beings. So, as awful and terrible and hideous and cruel as colonialism is, it’s also a complex thing. In a strange way, it is a source of hope. The hope is that beautiful things will bloom out of the death and tragedy. The Black will take the suffering and hardship and digest it into its components as we engage in our suffering, transforming the evil into rich compost from which abundance will arise. This is the cycle of life and death, suffering and rebirth.


I eventually found myself back at the campfire with Coyote. Coyote had not changed and was no more welcoming now than before. He narrowed his eyes at me with malice and I understood then a little more of his hatred. Colonialism had depopulated this formerly rich land, robbing it of people and animals and resources. He’d been left behind to gnash his teeth and plot revenge. When he looked at me, I could see him scheming, plotting revenge and destruction.


“I see the doorway in your soul,” he said. “You open into blackness. You can bring forth great evil if you just allow it out of yourself. If you will just allow it to come out.”


As he spoke, I could feel the approach of very large, very powerful and very destructive monsters. They were on the other side, trapped into the blackness, but Coyote was calling them forward, calling them to freedom by way of my soul.


What could I do? I can’t close the doorway of my soul because that won’t solve anything and doesn’t do anyone any good. As I sat there, feeling the malice roll off of Coyote and the approach of these monsters, I heard the voice of the Woman in White.


“Coyote’s hatred has blinded him,” she said. “You and I both know that the doorway of your soul is no simple portal because anything that passes through it will be transformed. That is how the Absolute works, the price of entry or exit. Anything that goes through will be stripped bare, dissolve into nothingness, and be reborn anew. You don’t have to worry. Just let the monsters approach and move through you if that is what they want. They–and Coyote–will be surprised by what emerges.”


***


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