Art by Norman E. Masters
for the whole of humankind and that the entire purpose of life on Earth
was about to be revealed to me if I were but able to understand it.
I deeply sensed that the Realms of Dream were far more than most people imagined, that they were fully as Real as the World We Know, that so many of our dreams are windows into alternate lives in alternate realities, other dimensions. They provide glimpses into infinite layers of reality that most people remain wholly oblivious of... perhaps mercifully so. Perhaps a fuller realization would be far more than most minds could deal with.
But I was no longer satisfied with just fleeting glimpses thru windows of Dream. I wanted the windows to become doors; and I wanted to pass through those dream portals as never before...
And now, more than ever before, there was a Reason to do this...
I could not remember ever having spent such a lengthy time in the Realms of Dream, like last night. It had been days... but no more than an hour in The World We Know... The temporal transitions were so very strange... It could become weeks, months, years... even lifetimes, I realized -- SomeOtherWhere -- and still be only short hours in what we called the Waking World...
But how to find HER again -- amidst that infinitude of worlds, dimensions and time...
That fleeting wisp of the delicate scent of heather that she wore, crossing my path in the ghoul tunnels, lost into the darkness; captive, I knew, to creatures whose fleshly desires were far more reprehensible than my own could ever be...
How to get back to there, then... that dimension, that time -- in time...
I desperately needed some kind of Dream Key, to take me where I most wanted to be. But I knew of no such thing -- lest it be some sort of unknown secret, some mysterious power, like esp, locked in the brain, a node of possibility, undiscovered, untapped, but surely not utterly unknowable...
I found myself like a child, again, in the Face of the Great Unknown. I knew nothing beyond what I'd been taught as a child -- praying... and a bit of what I'd learned as a man -- probing into the various religious traditions... chanting...
Could simply the repeated evocation of her name work as a Dream Key, taking me to her? If I focussed on nothing but the repetition of her name -- like a mantra -- over and over again, hundreds of times, thousands, if necessary, perhaps that would open the Dream Portal to where she was now!
Yet the child-in-me whispered that a prayer or two couldn't hurt, either, before beginning the mantra of Her Name...
So first I prayed, like I hadn't prayed in years, with all the entirety of my deepest longings. I knew not what God, or Goddess, to pray to since every realm of Dream has a different one. I was sceptical that the Christian God even existed -- at least in the sense that Christians believed in Him; but just in case I was wrong, I prayed to Him, too. And to Jesus. And to every god and goddess whose name I knew... Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu, Venus, Jupiter, Ahura-Mazda, the Great Spirit, Osiris, Isis, Hecate... on and on... I didn't want to neglect any of them -- just in case... So I threw in a prayer at the end for all the gods and goddesses whose names I had forgotten, with apologies, and all the Unknown deities whose existence I was yet unaware of.
Art by Norman E. Masters
I called upon every one of them -- in all the Realms of Dream, in the entirety of the outer universe, throughout all space and time -- to hear my prayer and give me the guidance I needed to do what I must to find Norea again, and reveal what must be done to be able to remain with her...
I had not even begun chanting her name before the strange transition began happening.
I ended the prayer with "Ah-men" -- but not in the (long A) amen tone Christianity used -- rather, more with the deeper realization that that word, too, is the name of yet another pagan deity!
Previously, in my life, when I'd prayed, most religiously and believingly, to the Christian God, I can't say I ever observed any real answers and fulfillment of any of those prayers taking place, if I'm to be totally honest about it. Perhaps this very lack of answers to all those most sincere prayers, beginning from childhood, was the basis of my rather agnostic scepticism at the age of thirty, and my tendency towards being more taoist and zen than anything else at that time (if not still yet).
But after praying to all the gods and goddesses in existence, including, finally, the Egyptian god, Amen, I received an immediate answer to prayer -- like I had never received before in my entire life!
I had been lying on my back on the bed, eyes closed, hands folded above my breast... like a child... and then I felt myself levitating, higher and higher. There was no sensation of bumping into the ceiling of the bedroom or passing through the roof of the house, just a very joyous and free-floating sense of ascent into the Heavens.
I did feel my body rotate -- to the extent that I felt like my feet were pointing down to the earth, and my hands, palms still touching, raised up above my head, pointing towards the stars.
It was an exhilarating experience; but mystifying, too. I was afraid to open my eyes, fearing I might begin falling or break the spell so that I wouldn't end up where I wanted to go -- to where Norea was... ghoul caves, if it must be; but I hoped for a better place for both of us...
Certainly moving towards the distant heavens, in this fashion, did not seem to be taking me towards the ghoul caves below. But -- how could I know? Were those ghoul caves a part of this dream dimension of Earth; or mightn't they exist on some other world around some other star? How could we know how distantly far some of those dream portals might transport us?
Perhaps our entire world -- and all of us -- are but the dream of some alien being off in some distant galaxy; and all of humanity's names for God are but a feeble attempt to incant the True Name of that alien! And perhaps the final name in my prayer -- Amen -- was the closest that human language had ever come to that True Name! But maybe Amenbraxherus was even closer!
What does any of us truly know beyond what we believe to be so, or beyond the variety of religious falsehoods we have been indoctrinated into believing are "divine revelation" through those who profit most from those beliefs?
For a period I felt the rush of air against my skin, cooler and cooler, the higher I ascended. When I could feel it no longer I knew I had risen beyond the atmosphere of Earth...
That was not the only way I knew... for I began to see the stars -- through my closed eyelids. So very many more stars than I had ever seen from the ground, even on the darkest, clearest nights. And so much brighter and more distinctive in the variant colorings of their light...
If they were this brilliant, now, I wondered how much more brilliant they would become if I opened my eyes, no longer viewing them through closed eyelids!
I took the chance of opening my eyes -- to absolute Nothingness! The stars disappeared, everything disappeared, including my own body. I was adrift in an infinite Void, blind, where the very cosmos had ceased to exist... But still there was a sense of movement, bodiless as I had become, falling into Forever...
I hastened to close my eyes again, grateful that the Nothingness I felt I had become even responded to the mental command.
Simultaneous with the urge to close my eyes came the unbidden command, "Let there be Light -- again!" and the stars returned in all their galaxies and universes of glory.
Then the stars started moving, converging *towards* me! That's when the experience began getting really "heavy" -- and universal in its implications...
It was a thrilling kind of thing to see happening; I couldn't help but experience a rush of excitement and an awe-filled sense of mounting suspense.
What would happen when they drew near? Would I become nothing more than obliterated atoms, the scattered dusts of dreams? Or would it be a transfiguring experience for me? Would they explode like Fourth of July fireworks when they got too close together? Or would it be something wholly unexpected? What would they look like -- up close?
Strangely, I felt no fear at that time. I was filled, rather, with a sense of uttermost wonderment...
As the nearer stars drew closer I could see they were grouping into clusters, rings and spheres, spinning and whirling. Soon they took on a definition in detail beyond being radiant light... It was like they were becoming Living Flesh; and I was wordless before the strangeness of that Flesh,. for each of the stars of the universe had transmogrified into a single living Eye. And I sensed each Eye was the living I AM of each god and goddess who had chosen to answer my prayer...
Never again would I be able to deny the power potency of Prayer, as I hovered there, myself, powerless and impotent, in the face of all those Powers converging upon me.
The nearest Eye was a singularity. At first it had seemed to be a part of a threesome -- but then the other two had lagged behind and joined a ring of seven eyes, which maintained their distance while the single Eye drew nearer.
It was much like a human eye; but one felt mesmerized by it as it drew nearer and nearer, looming larger and larger until it was a large as a building, then as large as the horizon; and I sensed that it was larger, indeed, than our entire world!
Though it emanated a vibe of warm compassion, of deep understanding, its singular gaze stripped me naked in the flicker of a moment between two heartbeats. I knew that nothing about me could be hidden from it; but I sensed no judgment, only an uttermost knowing.
The iris of that singular Eye was, itself, a universe of stars... or, more exactly (I felt this thought from beyond myself, correcting my first impression) the Universe of all universes, or the Universal multiverse, however one verbalized that ultimate totality.
And the pupil of that singular Eye was the portal leading to its inner depths.
I felt my naked essence being drawn to that portal, irresistibly.
But it was not something I even wanted to resist. I felt a resonance within my naked self with whatever was tugging at me from within the depths of that singular Eye. I felt, for a moment, as if I were a representative for the whole of humankind and that the entire purpose of life on Earth was about to be revealed to me if I were but able to understand it.
Art by Norman E. Masters
Passing through what one would consider the "skin" of that pupil was like passing through a hymen of Light; for as my naked essence penetrated that layer of vibrating energy it simultaneously flashed as pure Light across my consciousness while this deep harp-like note of singular quintessential beauty vibrated though me, sounding like "Aummmmmmmmmmm......"
Before me stretched a rolling plain of vibrant light, quivering into scintillant growths in resonance to the vibrations coming from the celestial sounding notes of that distant harp.
It was like atoms of light suspended as minute particles of sparkley energy, colored every kind of color one could imagine, coalescing into tree-like, fern-like, flower-like forms, continually transmuting with the music of that distant harp. More flowing than kaleidoscopic... transmorphifying...
The path I felt I was being led down was a shimmering rainbow; only instead of arching, it curved and wound around gentle rollings of living light growing through intricate living patterns, blossoming, seeds exploding out like multi-colored fireworks, falling to sprout anew. The rolling contours of that plain of light were not as pronounced as hills; it was more organic in its form, like the gentle swellings of breasts and buttocks and navels and groins.
The air, itself, danced with golden particles of light, not nearly as condensified as in the rolling plain or organic growths. They were like the tiniest golden snowflakes, suspended in space, shifting slowly, as with the gentlest of breaths, but never really falling. One breathed those golden particles of light in and out, like the light of life, and it energized and heightened one's awareness, making one feel more intensely alive than ever before...
My own body of Light was a pale yellow in color -- except for the heart -- which was a very bright, iridescent shade of golden-yellow. It was a bit denser in its configuration than the golden atoms of the air that I was passing through, but not nearly as dense as the rainbow path wending river-like through the rolling plain, or the ever-changing growing life on the rounded swellings and hollows of that breathing plain.
It was as if the Living Light, itself, were dreaming this ongoing metamorphosing magick of Life; and I, too, was but the dust of that dreaming, scattered atoms of dancing luminescence momentarily taking this bodily pattern; and my consciousness was the inner music of that individuated dance.
But, simultaneously, there was this larger dance of a more universal consciousness going on all around me, morphing these blossoming configurations of growing and evolving living light, all of it different patterns of dance to the harpnotes of the cosmos. And the golden motes of air were dancing interactively with all of this. I felt a tingling sensation, almost like carbonation on the tongue, but all over the outer perimeter of my body when the golden motes came into contact with me. Breathing them in -- it was like bursts of scintillating energy, little super-novas, popping-off all over the universe, or like miniature climaxes happening all over inside one's body.
All these energy explosions culminated in a sense of warm ecstasy permeating my entire body of dreaming light; and I realized that this was one of the ways the Divine makes love to all these variable extensions of its own essence when any of them draws nearer and nearer to the Heart of the Universes.
As I progressed further and further along the rainbow path, enrapt in wonderment before the endless variety of permutations that light was growing through, to all sides of me, the source of that ethereal harp music was drawing nearer, its enchantingly evocative melody heightening a mounting expectancy.
In muted, bass-like counterpoint to the glissanado of the harpnotes, was the throbbing beat of some immense heart; and that, too, pulsed through the dance of all life around me. I realized, dimly, that it had always been there, only I hadn't been consciously aware of it -- up to now. And my own heart, in its tiny fashion, throbbed to that same pulse, as if the heart I called my own were but a tiny filament, or molecule, of that larger Heart of hearts...
As I drew nearer to that Heart its throb intensified and the radiance of the air, itself, became like an ascending waterfall of rainbow motes of light, showering up and out, as if into the larger universe.
"These are the Seeds of Light, the Seeds of Life that shower into every realm of the Dreaming Universe," this tinkling-tickling little voice whispered into my dream-ear. "Every child, each living soul, all living beings are the growing of these seeds, drawing sustenance from the realms of matter they are borne into."
Art by Norman E. Masters
From a distance, that upward showering of ascendent Light, in all its rainbow intensity, was like a veil around the Source of that Light. But as I drew nearer, the distance between those up-raining lightmotes widened so that I could see through it.
The harp notes ascended towards peaking crescendo and held me quivering there in the ongoing climax of that ecstasy as I began to see the crescendently divine Heart within that rainbow veil of light.
I saw, in awe, that the harpstrings that were making the music were the strings of that celestine heart, each string differently colored, so that each color of the entire range of shadings of all the colors that exist was captured in one of those rainbow strings. And with each pulse of the outer layers of that Heart the shading of the color of the entire Heart subtly changed from lightest to brightest yellow to deepest gold.
As I drew nearest I was finally able to discern what was happening on the strings of that harp. There was a shifting shimmering of virtually transparent dewdrops quivering those strings into this divine music...
"The tears of God -- for all the pain in the Universe is transformed into this music to birth new life, new light -- which ascends to shower all living worlds," think-plinked that tiny voice in my ear.
As I stood in the flow of those rainbow motes of light, ascending to spread throughout all the worlds of space and time and lifedramas and dreams*divine, they passed right through me! But I felt a lightness to my naked feet as if gravity were barely holding me down, that at any moment, I, too, may well ascend out of sight of all I had been beholding.
"This is the alpha of every being's conception; this is the omega each seeks, in its innermost essence, the soul*life's ultimate Home, where every ending becomes a new beginning," whispered that tiny voice, like the chorus of a dozen playful Tinkerbells, chim-chiming time's ascendent delight.
"But attachments, desires, borne of the thought-lock-in's of the environment of their planting, binds them to those places. Each soul's alpha and omega is the purity of their own inner essence; but that essence grows a body around it, taking on accretions from the matter it is planted into, taking on mental accretions of beliefs and expectations and desires that it is taught in the mental field it is raised in; and these blind the soul to its own essence and separate its awareness from the alpha and omega of its ultimate destiny...
"You, too, have these attachments to desire's illusions. Compassion has answered your prayer, for as long as you can be held here; but your own body of desire calls you back -- to the heartache and pain, to all of time's flight into vain pursuits and chimerical quests and fleeting beliefs' maya-enchantments. All the shadows of your ego's longings are pulling you again to that alienated home of wandering delusion and wondering why -- beyond the skies of knowing...
"Go, now; your re-coalescence with the grim gravity of all you have been weights down your memories so that you can stay Here no longer..." tinkled that tiny voice.
My feet no longer touched the ground-of-being, There; and I felt myself being swept upwards in the current of those ascending motes of light.
And yet a deep gratefulness welled up within me, for having been allowed, for even this brief span of timelessness, to see what had been revealed to me. And inside me, still, I reveled in that seeing.
Silvery-sparkling teardrops of light descended from my eyes; and moments later I heard them plinking against those harpstrings, sounding forth heartharp's notes of uttermost longing for all that has been lost and not yet found again...
Art by Norman E. Masters
Blinking away that last lingering tear I found myself suspended, again, in that Universal Void of nothingness -- or of stars and eyes -- depending on whether my own eyes were open or closed.
The singular Eye was gone; and drawing near to me, now, was a slowly spinning ring of nine eyes. They settled like a humongously living and bizarre ring around the still and minute point of myself in the center; then every third eye rose to curve up and above me; and every second eye of the remaining six moved to curve below me, closing in so that I was in the center of this sphere of gigantic eyes, slowly rotating around me.
These eyes had a feminine quality to them -- soft eyes, nurturing eyes. Also playful, mischievous, dancing eyes, almost daring me to look more deeply into them. I realized they had an enchanting, entrancing quality to them and I barely had a moment to wonder, "Entrances to what...?" when they began whirling faster and faster around me, slowly enough that they did not seem a blur; but so rapidly that there now seemed to be more than there were!
Then they all blinked (or, perhaps, more accurately: winked!) simultaneously and I was instantaneously ElseWhere...
I was back in the body I would expect to see, were I to look in a mirror, dressed in my grungies (gray workpants and workshirt, worn, black slip-on boots, like I'd wear to Pontiac Motors or working on the house) with the goatee darkening my face and 2" longer than shoulder length hair in need of brushing. The old hat I always wore, back then, except when sleeping, was atop my head, painted black with amoeboid-like yellow squiggle designs, each with their single to multiple eyes.
Beyond any doubt I wasn't so much a sight for sore eyes -- than a sight for making eyes sore! It was the "me" of 1972 that John Merkel loved to stroll the malls with sheerly for the entertainment of watching the strange looks that would cross people's faces in response to this weirdo in his normal get-up. For me it functioned as an automatic weeding-out factor. People I'd rather not waste time with steered plenty clear of me.
The bizarre aspect about my situation, however, was that I was totally surrounded by water -- and it was salty-tasting at that! There was not enough water to actually swim in; but I was wholly immersed in it. Strangely I was still able to breathe with no difficulty.
Initially the water seemed globular in shape, until I looked down, & then up, & I realized it was really a teardrop in shape, a bit shimmery with reflecting light on one side. I could extend my arms out fully and not quite reach its edge. Trying to shift myself to the outer edge I discovered that I was unable to break through its surface tension. Like a fly in amber, I was encased in this single teardrop!
When I looked up I was able to see giant eyelashes looming above me -- longer than my own height. The teardrop I was enclosed in dangled from a few of these. To my immediate right was this -- from my perspective -- maybe fifty foot absolute cliff of a nose. To my back and below me was this lengthy slope of a cheek that extended precipitately far enough that one could toboggan down it!
I immediately felt a strong sense of kinship to Gulliver in the Land of Brobdignag.
Then that humongous eye looming above me (that I was not yet in any position to really see) obviously blinked; and I and the teardrop began sliding down that gigantic cheek. (Thank Goddess she didn't reach up there to rub that tear away from her eye!)
"How very strange!" reverberated a Voice from beyond the cheek I was sliding down. "I've never seen anything like it before! Hold still, dear, while I take it from your cheek..."
Then this gigantic fingernail (it would take four of me -- spread-eagled -- to cover its surface) slipped under the teardrop I was encapsulated within and lifted me away from the plain of that cheek.
"See, Norea -- it's a little man, inside one of your teardrops!"
"That is strange, Mother! How did a man enter our realm?"
I was turned in the direction where -- held out at folded-arm's length upon the fingernail of this giant goddess who had me -- I could see only the face of the mother of the one whose teardrop I was enclosed in. But already my heart was doing somersaults of hope from the very mention of that name.
The mother's lips pursed pensively. She had a very beautiful face, classically Grecian in her agelessness.
Art by Norman E. Masters
"It might amuse the Muses to do something like this. They have transported a few men here before, whimsically answering one of these creature's desperate prayers or to fulfill some fondest dream of some especially sensitive poet or musician. They gave Orpheus glimpses of many of the Goddess Worlds, once; and he shaped many a wistful song, remembering that experience, afterwards. And Euridice was born here..."
"He hardly looks like an Orpheus, Mother! So strangely dressed, so scruffy, so unseemly!"
"You must look deeper than the disguise he wears. He wears that for a reason... Kithe his heartbeat... and feel your own..."
"How very strange! It beats in total synchronicity with my own!"
While this conversation was going on I was swishing myself around a hundred and eighty degrees so I could begin seeing the face of the one I had come in quest of, of that incarnation of Living Dream into Living Flesh that spelled-forth, for me, all the meanings of what love could become...
Heartlurch before that sight, her very face like an unscaleable mountain before me, rising to divine heights.
"And both of your hearts missed a beat at exactly the same time, for the same duration..." spoke the mother.
"I have seen him before! His image troubled me in a recent dream. I was going to ask you about it; it was very disturbing. I have never dreamed into such realms before..."
"What kind of realms, dear?"
"The realms of men -- violent and shadowy, savage and violating... Disgusting realms -- where the living dead stalk and walk. And I was trapped there! Something about him held me there so that I could not rise out of those realms, again, and return Home. His need... his longing... something... I couldn't understand how he could bind me there -- nor his intense desire to find me there..."
"Something in the connection works both ways, dear. Through you he came here, and is bound in your tear! And that means there is a deeper validity to the dream than simply being a fleeting vagary, or an attack upon you from the Lower Realms, trying to plant their seeds of destruction and disintegration into the Eternal Realms..."
"It disturbed me so deeply because I sensed it was a premonition of something that was really going to happen! A forewarning, to help prepare me. And I sensed that that same dream was going to repeat, again and again,- taking on more detailed and concrete reality around me, until it became the Reality, and this the Dream! Mother! How could that be! What unholy Power does this tiny man exert over me? Aereea is where I was born; Aereea is where I belong! How could one such as he pull me away from here, out of Paradise, itself, into those shadowed realms so far below?!"
"He has no such power over you, dear. But the Fates weave their tapestries of Destiny and neither gods nor goddesses are entirely free of their unpredictable designs. However, it runs deeper than that, for your heartbeats are the same. It is as if a single heart were beating in two different bodies... He is the other half of your self, lost into other realms..."
"Closer still. In a way, you are his salvation; but he is your completeness, your fullness, your maturity. Without him you can never fulfill your own fullest potential..."
"But how can that be, Mother? We already live in a world of perfection, of incarnate beauty... Our lives, here, are all that lives can become -- the highest realms of divine creativity."
"But perfection that knows not imperfection is incomplete! Eternal pleasure that knows not pain can become aloofly heartless, lacking in compassion. Why do you think I have spent countless centuries -- millenia -- in the realms of humanity? Dear -- if you were allowed to remain here for all eternity, you would remain forever an innocent child! You would never become a mature goddess. He is the seed of your own growth, which can only come through loss and pain! You serve a similar function for each other, that what was lost might be regained."
"But I don't want to lose this, to only have to regain it!"
"Such a human response! But he is you -- who wants what all of this means -- as intensely as you do! Would you condemn him to never attaining it because you refuse to help him?"
There was a lengthy pause while Norea wrestled with her feelings and thoughts. Finally, "Of course not, Mother! How could I say 'yes' -- to that?"
"You were free to say yes Norea; but I am glad you didn't. For that would have condemned you to a deeper fall, now that the time of this choice is upon you; and it would've taken you so much longer to have possibly regained these realms again."
"Does this choice come upon all of your daughters, all who are born into the Higher Realms?"
"At some time each must descend to the lower realms to help those condemned, by their very birth, to attain the higher realms. Yes. But those who would condemn the inhabitants of the lower realms forever out of the higher realms beget their own deeper fall thru that selfishness. In their rage and sense of vengeance, these become the dark gods and goddesses who seek blood sacrifice to their Name, like Hecate, Ares, Kali, Yahweh, who required the blood-sacrifice of his own son!, Baal, Allah, Belial, Shiva, the fallen deities who claim to be the Highest of the High! It deeply pleases me, Norea, that you will not become one of these!
"Essence of my essence, in your love you will come to your wholeness, your maturity!"
And there were tears in all of our eyes, then; for not only humans, like I, but even the gods and goddesses cry...
It was heart-wrenching -- to me -- to witness those further tears issuing from the wells of Norea's eyes, knowing now that I, in some strange fashion, was the ultimate cause of them.
Rebellious pride rose within my own bosom upon that realization. "I don't want to be the cause of Her loss of all this!" I protested. "I've gotten thru thirty years without this kind of sacrifice having to be made for me; I can certainly make it thru the rest of my life similarly. I renounce whatever hold I've been given over her destiny... let her be free! -- and certainly -- of me!"
I had finally begun to look beyond the two giant women in whose looming presences I was less than the size of an ant. It seemed inconceivable, and utterly disproportionate, that a midge like I could in any way affect the life of someone like this -- so huge, so far above me... And yet... yellow fever, the black plague... malaria, caried by mosquitoes... It was not pleasant to think of oneself as a disease... or a disease-carrier into the Realms of the Holy!
Indeed, this realm, as much as I could see of it, appeared to be a paradisical garden, a veritable Eden, with a Grecian-style temple-like building in the distance... And I was the worm in the otherwise perfect apple of Her life!
I did not for a moment think that what I had said would be heard. I had only spoken what I could not suppress saying. But the response from Norea's mother made it clear that I had been heard.
Her tone, with me, was sharp, cutting to the core. "Your masculine vanity and bravado,, masquerading as noble renunciation, will be of no help to her, nor to yourself. It will only cause greater problems for both of you. Resistance that becomes impedence, to yourselves, only worsens the circumstance."
"That's not what I meant --" I protested.
"You don't know what you meant. Your meaning was a self-deception that begets your own entrapment; and every thought and action grounded in that kind of defensive vanity defeats your own ultimate goals."
That was hardly what I wanted to be hearing. Rebellious resistence mounted in automatic response within me; but I said nothing more. Feeling I had been falsely interpreted, I turned in upon myself, sulking.
"Increasing the resistence doesn't help either. Nothing changes, then; and the sense of separation maintains, and deepens."
It seemed she could read my mind. ~Who'd she think she was anyways?~ I thought, sullenly, feeling more and more sorry for myself. Here I'd done what was right; and look how she'd twisted it all around!
"You see how he perverts my own meanings to justify and intensify his own pain?"
"But he comes from a realm where the delusions from that kind of pride are taught from birth -- or so you have taught me, Mother! They are taught that that pride, itself, is one of the highest values!"
"And that particular disease makes them worse than the animals they devour and lord it over."
Nothing like being dissected, and hearing every word of the evisceration!
"Beyond the self pity there is goodness in him, Mother..."
"I'm glad you can see that, dear. Behind the shadowed roilings of his mind there is the golden vibration of his heart... It gives you something to work-with..."
"But for now -- "
"For now I will adamatize the outer layer of molecules of this teardrop and we'll mount it on a golden chain that you may wear. It will be warmer than a jewel."
"I do prefer its shape -- over the facets of a jewel, anyways."
While Norea held the thin links of the golden chain into the tip of the teardrop, a kind of radiance issued from the tip of the left forefinger of her mother -- as it came within a fingernail-length's distance from me. The outer surface of the water quivered and firmed into a perfect tear-shape, dangling from that chain.
It was a vertiginous kind of experience, then, as Norea's mother took the golden chain from her daughter's hands to unclasp it and reclasp it around Norea's neck. The sky, the trees with their fruit, the blooming flowers all whirled kaliedoscopically... those giant -- so heart-leapingly beautiful -- faces so intent on the moment... all mixed in with the strangeness of that attention being, in a way, focussed so bizarrely on me, this misicule insect now nestling down between those mammoth breasts, rising like mountains of snowy-white flesh,- their nipples like earthen hillocks where the snow has melted back...
Nestled there, between Norea's unbelievable breasts (from my perspective like gigantic mountains thrusting out into vertiginous space, defying gravity, her chest like the whole world breathing beneath me, and beneath it all, the throb of her heart, so synchronically attuned to the pulsing of my own) I was able to see that her immensitudes were lightly covered with a diaphonous light blue filigreed smock reaching to her knees, capriciously teased by a wayward breeze. (Her mother was draped in a semi-transparent light yellow-colored version of the same.) The gossamer quality of their gowns highlighted rather than making secret the rondures of their delectable curves...
Art by Norman E. Masters
It was a moment that was unbelievable in its implications and import, and yet utterly magnificent in the awesomeness of the view! And as she bent her head down to see how well the teardrop pendant hung between her breasts, her eyes were like mammoth lakes in a sky whose depths I felt I could dive into forever.
My feelings were the contradictory simultaneity of feeling so utterly small, and yet, so very large, in the same sense that She would even be taking notice of me! And tho the truth of the disproportion between us was doubtlessly being revealed during these moments of my presence in her own realm of birth, I knew I would far prefer rejoining her in other realms where our respective sizes were more similar...
Awesome as the view was, it was more than a bit intimidating...
"It is strange, Mother. Here he is so small; but in the dream he was taller than I..."
"Here he is a seed-of-possibility, both his and your own; but you are the catalyst that sprouts that seed, the promise and the dream, the hope of its fulfilment. See with what reverence he gazes upon you..."
"Certainly none has ever looked upon me in that way before!"
"Among your sisters -- no!"
Indeed, at that particular moment I was kind of mooning over that upsidedown face looming like a kind of sun in the sky of all my longings. And the vision of that upsidedown smile, tweeking the corners of her lips, the inner lights twinkling warmly from the depths of those planetary eyes, were begetting a lurching arrhythmia to my heartbeat.
"Maybe it won't be so bad..." mused Norea, reflectively. "It'll be different... exciting, adventurous... maybe even exhilarating -- the lower realms..."
"If you live through it, my dear. Don't underestimate the dangers," warned her mother, soberly.
"Norea! Mother Aphrodite! Come quickly! The transformation of the alyx is beginning!" came an excited voice from within a nearby grove of trees.
At last I had learned who Norea's mother was; but what was an alyx?
Both Norea and Aphrodite began running towards the grove. For me, while it lasted, it was a dizzying experience, jouncing around between those bouncing breasts, more than my sense of lost equilibrium could handle. (I've never been one who actually enjoys a roller coaster ride; twirling round and round makes me literally sick...)
I closed my eyes, tightly, to shut out the reeling sights, fighting the motion sickness that this vertiginous, earth-quake-like sprint was begetting for me. Then all was still about me, again.
When I opened my eyes I was once more in the outer void, the nine eyes gone. Closing my eyes again, a configuration of seven eyes began drawing near.
Abruptly another living constellation of eyes darted in from the side -- almost like a swarm of bees or hornets on the attack, usurping the place of the seven that had been nearing at a more sedate pace.
Art by Norman E. Masters
I counted thirteen eyes in this group. Judgmental, sardonic eyes to whom your living essence was something nasty that was beneath contempt. They seemed to know your darkest, most shameful secrets, making you something dispicable in their sight. Religiously zealous eyes who knew theirs was the only true way. Eyes of the Inquisition, accusing and tormenting...
Maelstrom of eyes; and I was trapped in their whirl, sucking me down, down, into endless abysses, litten with flares of bloody flame. Petrified forms, hung on crosses, twisted in agony, lined the walls of the pit I was falling into. Only their eyes seemed still alive, glaring and tormented; but about me I felt the chill of millions of silent screams.
"And to think! -- a wretch like you could have saved them!" spoke a voice inside my mind. "And they know it! That's why they hate you!"
"You lie. They are strangers to me. How could I have saved them?"
"You lacked the courage! You lacked the faith! That is why you are ours.
You have always been ours. You are the seed of our seed. We are you beginning and your end. We are the true Elohim. We are your salvation! Thru our Amazing Grace, even a wretch like you can be saved!"
I did, at that moment, begin to feel like I was a worm, a nerd, a piece of dried shit hanging from the anus of the cosmos, needing a helping hand, some "amazing grace"...
"Just believe in the Name of Jesus and you will be saved! Teach these tormented souls the same, and you can save them. All you are asked to sacrifice is the pain and the chains of your unbelief, and you will be free!"
"Idolatry of a Name or of a belief only enchains one further; it does not set one free."
"That is your pride speaking. You must become humble! Confess your sins! Follow, in meekness, and begin to work good in the world. You can teach the Word to set all these captives free!"
"These are the captives of your Word, who have learned the deception behind it; thus their rage and torment." The thoughts were not even mine. I knew not from whence they came; the retorts were immediate, but from some unguessable Beyond.
"The devil inspired those words; you must submit to the Lord to be free of those deceptions."
"Only your devil and his legions claim to be Lord -- and King of kings!" the protective Voice speaking thru me answered.
"You are too despicable for words! You mock what is holy! You pervert the Divine Truth. Bow down and submit! Let us circumcize your heart and castrate from your body and soul all those despicably sick and demented desires; and the holy fire at the bottom of this pit will burn away the last traces of your sin and shame, that you rise again, upon the third day, as did our Lord!"
"Look what you have become," spoke another voice. "Nothing more than a maggot in the corpse of what you once were, squirming in the graveyard of all your dead dreams... when you could be so much much more! All you have to do is take the Lord into your heart!"
"All you have to do is receive the gift of His amazing grace! It's totally free!"
On and on those voices bombarded me, promising paradise and eternal life, while flashing in and out was the feeling that I was an old man lying on my deathbed. But the eyes behind the promises belied every one of them; and I... lacked the innocence to be deceived by them.
In time the voices became impatient and angry, the eyes glaring nails at me.
"Thus saith the Lord your God: 'You are vomit in my throat; and I will spit you out into the outer darkness where there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth!"
Indeed, at that moment, my direction of descent changed to one of ascent; and the faces lining that pit were allowed to turn from the stench of the vile putridity they considered me to be.
Art by Norman E. Masters
But halfway up the pit, again, the faces became faces of supplication; and those hands which were not nailed to crosses reached out, beseechingly. And their voices, in chorus, sang the strains of "Amazing Grace" with all the longing of souls in chains.
Three-quarters of the way to the top the song changed. No longer forlornly, pleadingly grateful, the new song was very forceful and celebratory, as those higher-up sang, "There is power, power, power in the blood -- in the blood -- of the Lamb!"
Then I began to notice the rain of blood that was falling from further above, and how their tongues would reach out to lap-in that sacramental flow. This was followed with jagged shreds of meat falling as the hands of the captive bodies were given just enough temporary freedom to reach out and snatch them, to partake of their sustenance.
At the very top of the pit I saw what I had missed, in my initial plunge into the depths below. There was Jesus Christ, Himself, nailed to his cross, spread-eagled across the pit, dripping that blood as sacrament to his believers below, vultures tearing at his flesh, which eternally renewed itself by growing back, dropping it into the prayerful hands of those below... And the vultures were dressed in ministers' robes!
As I continued to ascend (as the vomit of the Lord God) to reach the level of Jesus Christ, hanging on that cross, his tormented face turned to me in bleak agony, saying, "This is where my worshippers are keeping me, eternally! This is their paradise for me! I cannot get free of where their belief entraps me! I yielded to that Last Temptation only because I wanted to save them! Please -- believe me!"
And the tears that ran from his eyes were tears of blood, not water.
"After this," I muttered, "How am I to know what to believe?!"
Then out of those depths of unending pain, tapping into some unbelievably deep wellsprings within, those agonized eyes became most compassionate. "Just don't believe, as I did, that you can save them. Thus the Deceiver deceived me -- claiming to be the Voice of my Father. Not one of them has been saved; and each of them becomes a link in the chain that binds me here; and the more who believe, the more I am bound."
"Don't believe him!" spoke a sardonic voice in my ear. "He is the deceiver! He lies to you! You need only believe in Jesus's Holy Name! That is all that is necessary!"
Taunting, threatening, savage eyes... Bestial, sneering, sly eyes...
But I paid that voice no heed. and was spat. like phlegm. into the outer darkness... wherein the seven solar-sized Eyes closed around me.
These were very peaceful eyes. Gazing into them was much like gazing into a placidly clear pool.
Wise eyes, deeply knowing; but, still, conveying a sense of deep-questioning. These eyes were not claiming to know all the Answers -- nor, even, all the Questions!
Eyes with a hint of mystery within them... enigmatic eyes... sibylline eyes...
I found myself within one of those Eyes -- or the Eye within me -- o paradoxical and chimerical simultaneity! In another sense it was like being inside a crystal ball -- but, at the same time, being the crystal ball -- with six feminine hands holding it aloft.
Two of these were the hands of a child, perhaps seven years old. Rippling blonde hair flowed to her waist. Her pellucid eyes were those of innocence, but with a depth of suggestiveness that hinted at mysterious knowing...
Two of the hands were those of a woman who was, perhaps, in her mid-thirties. The third's were wrinkled enough to be in her 90's... All three were dressed in chaste and identically-styled white chemises, hanging from shoulders to toes, a bit of gold trim at neck and hem.
They could have been child, mother and grandmother (or great-grandmother). But somehow I knew they were not... They were the same person -- in this discontinuity of Time -- the same sibylline Seeress... who had held up the Crystal Eye that I now was, at three widely-separated times in her life; and my appearance within had generated this simultaneous criss-crossing of the timelines, tying a kind of momentary knot outside-of-time.
Art by Norman E. Masters
They withdrew their hands from the crystal-ball-Eye that I was and it floated there, suspended in space, amidst them. The elder manifestations were seated in a lotus position while the youngest remained standing.
"I am Mirothea," each of them said, simultaneously. "Your prayer has called to me -- out of the Crystal Mystery. This is what I see -- gift of the divinities."
"In your beginning is your end; in your end is your beginning," chanted the girlish voice of the youngest of the three. "Regain the treasure of the memory."
"Anger begets sorrow; compassion has unforseen consequences. When the time comes, you must be more than what you are," intoned the middle-aged manifestation of Mirothea.
"Separately there's no hope. Suffering and sacrifice are required," warned the crone.
"Your strength is in your persistence; your power is in your will and your willingness; ardor sets you free; and in hope you are reborn," chanted the child.
"Everything is in a state of flux; new possibilities reshuffle the cards of deposed Destiny. All the DreamWorlds are merging. The pattern is changing; will you change it -- or will it change you? Or both?" spoke the middle Mirothea.
"Beware the dark twin, the one hidden within. He is the seed of Soldas, the Metamorph of Shadows," warned the crone. "Chaotic fire is borne of the womb of Darkness; power is his, from the ruptured womb of wrath. He will behead the Woman who is Perception. His blindness is his honor; from his honor comes the oath, the lie and the loss. The blind wisdom, borne of jealous ignorance and willful pride, baptizes corruption. War, famine, desolation... Deceived by the fire of darkness, the five races will devour their own children..."
"Time is a whimsical variable of the mind," offered the youngest Mirothea.
"The unformed potential, the substration of reality, can be affected by the mind," added the middle-aged Mirothea.
"Whatever resists limits is unlimited. The enigma is resolved thru the fusion of catalytic time with ambiguous eternity, made possible thru the whimsical variable. The direction of solution is within the contradiction. The ultimate solution lies in the heart of impossibility, itself. In the union of these three -- life is no longer what it was purported to be," the eldest finished, cryptically.
Art by Norman E. Masters
The three pair of Mirothea's hands-across-time reached out to lay themselves, again, upon the crystal globe that contained the pulsation of my dreaming consciousness. Pudgy young hands... graceful hands with pianist fingers... wrinkled, knobby hands, clenching towards arthritic claws... Eyes in the hands... mystic eyes... shimmering into pure white light, flowing together, fusing into a single intense glow, penetrating towards me, into me, through me, explosively shattering the crystal membrane surrounding me...
I clenched my eyelids together tightly and covered them with my own palms to protect them from the blinding brilliance.
When I removed my hands the light was that of the sun, shining thru the bedroom window.
The eyes were those of Katey, glaring at me. "Well -- are you going to go to work, today?"
Eyes of pain. Accusing eyes...
Feb. 10, 1995 - Jan. 14, 1998, revised Dec. 12, 2002