February 23, 2024

 Today I wrestled with my American puritanical guilt around the sexual nature of my interaction with the Woman in White yesterday. It’s inevitable because I’ve been steeped in the same bullshit around sexuality as every other American. It’s quite tedious. In any case, it didn’t take long for me to recognize the object relation for what it was and shrug it off. When I did so, I found myself in a desert canyon. The sky overhead was cloudless blue. Steep, rocky walls towered over me. I didn’t have much time to appreciate the stark beauty of the place, though, because a rabbit-man appeared before me, his face torn and bleeding. The poor rabbit had been attacked and was quite upset.


I’m not exactly sure what he was but I have my suspicions. I think he was a dude–probably a white dude–who was tripping on some sort of plant or fungal medicine. I suspect he fancied himself a shaman or was at least dabbling in shamanism. Further, I suspect that his spirit guide was a rabbit and that’s why he looked part human and part rabbit. (I’ve noticed that shamans tend to blend with the characteristics of their spirit animal.)


He flung himself into my arms, sobbing. “Don’t let him get me!” he cried. “He’ll kill me!”


“What?” I started to ask and then looked up in the sky. The shadow of something black and menacing fell over us and I recognized it as a black hawk…of sorts. Staring at it, my hackles stood up. “What the fuck is that?” I wondered aloud. Despite its hawk-like form, I could tell it was more than just a hawk. Was this another shaman? Something else? Whatever it was, I knew that it was out for blood, specifically the blood of the rabbit/man currently clinging to me.


I took the rabbit’s bloody head in my hands. “I’ll help but you know there’s a price you’ll have to pay, right? Nothing that passes through me remains the same after doing so.”


“I don’t care!” he cried. “Just save me! I trust you! You won’t hurt me!”


I shrugged, looking up at the hawk as it began its descent. My appearance had briefly confused it but it seemed to have recovered and was determined to attack. Hugging the rabbit/man to me, the entry into the Black became my body and we moved inside. 


We were standing inside a cave. The rabbit was shaking in my arms. I hugged him, realizing he had a slight frame covered in downy fur. (He was kind of cute in a bunny sort of way.) Looking past him, I saw the hawk had followed us, his shadow blocked out the daylight in the mouth of the cave. He radiated malevolence but I got the sense that he wasn’t a spirit or demon or god. I’m pretty sure he was a shaman and therefore a human. He seemed to be more at home in this realm which made me wonder if he was indigenous and part of the reason he was so pissed off had to do with the rabbit/man intruding in a sacred realm. Was the rabbit/man a white dude engaging in spiritual tourism? Perhaps on an ayahuasca trip?


Placing myself in front of the terrified rabbit, I confronted the hawk. “You and I walk the same dark paths,” I said, “so we’re kin. Why are you doing this? The rabbit doesn’t deserve this. Why don’t you open your eyes and see him as he really is?”


The hawk stared at me. It was difficult to tell exactly what he looked like but I got the sense he was very identified with this particular spirit animal. By this point, though, I was pretty sure he was a human on a shamanic journey into the Imaginal. He was clearly more experienced and better prepared than the hapless rabbit. (Part of me wondered why anyone would ever choose a rabbit as their spirit animal, although perhaps you don’t have any choice. You just get the animal that shows up. I don’t know much about shamanism.)


As I looked at him, I could see his human features emerge out of the dark feather surrounding him. He appeared quite wide-eyed and youthful, although it’s difficult to tell a person’s age in the Imaginal. He looked back at me with a startled expression.


“You’re…human? Here? But…how?” he asked.


I looked down at my ‘body’. Yup, fully human. I understood from his reaction that he’d never met another human in the Imaginal who was in human form. Probably only deities, spirits and other non-embodied entities show up as human but I really don’t know. All I know is that he was surprised that I appeared fully human.


“I am what I am,” I said. I don’t know if he understood what I meant by this but could I really explain the Pearl Body to him? Probably not. I guess the important part is that he understood that it was possible for a human to be here without a spirit animal or other guide.


I looked behind me to the cowering rabbit. He was staring at the hawk, apparently understanding for the first time that his attacker was another human. I suspect he thought he was being attacked by a malevolent spirit. I still don’t know how his spirit body could be injured in the Imaginal because I’ve never encountered anything that I worried about harming me. Maybe this is another quality of the Pearl Body? It is a body of Being which means it is probably unable to be harmed. But what do I know?


I looked at the hawk and rabbit. “You’re both here now and there’s no going back. We have only one choice and that’s to continue into the blackness. Follow me.”


I knew the hawk wouldn’t hurt the rabbit now that they saw each other for what they were. I led them downward into the depthless darkness. After a while, I saw a soft white-purple glow that seemed familiar to me. Sure enough, around the bend we encountered Grandmother Spider weaving her web of the Cosmos. She appeared like a mostly kindly old woman with white hair, though. Her spider form was merely implied.


She turned to greet us as we approached. She looked at me and then sighed with resignation when she saw who I had brought to her. “Leave them with me,” she said. “I have work to do with them. And they have things they need to sort out with each other.”


What to do but leave? I faded into the blackness, eventually finding myself back at the Crossroads in the company of the Woman in White. The forest around the Crossroads had changed and was more foreboding than yesterday. A heavy fog shrouded everything and there was a deathly silence pervading the place. It wasn’t inviting.


The Woman in White was different, too. Not quite as sexy and seductive as she’d been yesterday. She wasn’t ugly or threatening, though. If anything she seemed amused to see me.


“You’re back,” she commented wryly. “I was sure I wouldn’t see you again after yesterday. It’s good you’re here, though.”


As she spoke, her face changed, growing older, skeletal and less human. Her red lips looked bloodied. She looked down and the ground at our feet was littered with bones. Indeed, bones, bones and more bones were all you could see. The trees grew atop piles of bones. The bones were dry and brittle, crushing into powder beneath our feet.


“Come,” she said, walking forward. “We have business to attend to.”


As she walked, her body continued to grow more and more skeletal. It also became more and more bestial, eventually becoming the skeletal remains of a horse with bloodied teeth. I didn’t find her at all menacing, though. I knew it was her and felt comfortable. I trust her completely. If she needed to take on the form of a skeletal horse, who was I to complain?


I could tell she was still amused about yesterday but didn’t comment further. We walked onward over the bone piles and through the forest. Ahead, I saw a black river. Its waters were thick and oily and completely dark. Liquid darkness. This was like the River Styx, I knew, a boundary between lands. One side was the Crossroads and the other was land of restless souls and dreams. The diffuse blue mist, blue enshrouded trees, blue earth, blue everything kind of gave it away.


For the first time, the Woman in White and I forded the River Styx together. We sank into its impenetrable blackness and were swallowed by it. The Absolute devoured us but in the most loving way possible. And then it let us go again and we moved onto the bank of the other side of the River.


It was very misty here but I could hear singing. The song reminded me of a siren song. Somewhere in the mist were a bunch of spirits singing and their song, I knew, was meant to attract wandering souls. They were, however, quite pissed when the Woman in White and I appeared instead and tore off, shrieking in frustration.


“His minions,” the Woman in White explained.


“Whose?”


“Morpheus,” she said. “We’re in his lands now.”


(She didn’t really say Morpheus, though. She said something more like ‘The Lord of Dreams’ but isn’t that who Morpheus is?)


It wasn’t long before we met him. Apparently, his minions had warned him that we were coming because he wasn’t surprised. He wasn’t happy, either. He appeared as a tall, regal man with blue skin, blue hair and blue eyes. I wouldn’t call him friendly but I also didn’t feel like I was in any danger from him.


Raising an eyebrow, he commented, “The two of you together? This must be important.” He sounded both droll and sarcastic.


The skeletal horse beside me inclined her head. “We’ve come to retrieve a dreamer. He doesn’t belong here anymore. He’s dead.” Turning to me, she said, “Go find him. He’s waiting for you. I’ll keep Morpheus company.”


Where was I supposed to find this dreamer who had died? I didn’t know but I figured it out soon enough. Moving into the blue mist, I came across a stream and, lying face down in the stream, was the mostly decomposed body of a man. His hair drifted in the trickling water and his corpse was quite grotesque. Nonetheless, I stooped down and lovingly cradled his body in my arms. I carried him back to Morpheus and the Woman in White.


“Put him on my back,” she instructed. I did so. Somehow–I don’t know how–the corpse stayed on her back and didn’t slough off onto the ground.


We bade the Dream Lord goodbye and started back toward the River Styx. It was interesting; as the Woman in White entered the water, her horse body became enfleshed once again and so did the body of the man riding astride her. When they emerged from the water, both were fully enfleshed and looked alive and healthy. The forest of the Crossroads, too, looked less foreboding. It was once again a misty forest covered in snow.


Now that the man was no longer a rotten corpse, I saw that he was actually quite corpulent. I mention that without judgment and mean it merely as an observation. He looked quite happy to be riding a magnificent, white horse, too. Based on what the Woman in White said to Morpheus, I can only imagine that this man had died in his sleep and never woken up to the fact that he was dead. This required that we go and retrieve him.


I have no idea why we both needed to go. Perhaps Morpheus wouldn’t have allowed me to enter his realm alone and I needed the additional weight of the Woman in White’s presence. That seems like the most logical reason. Whatever the reason, though, it was fun performing an act of service as a team for once. I’ve had the Woman in White intervene before but this is the first time I can remember that we have set out together on a shared mission.


***


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