with Easter coming up, and all the hubbub about Gibsonís Jesus
Christ: Beyond Thunderdome, Iíve got resurrection on my
Iím not a Christian and I didnít see the movie, so itís more
amateur philosophizing than any kind of theological investment;
but however daydreamy it may be, itís sincere. See, Iíve undertaken
a vision quest and itís had interesting results. Though I
donít think Iíve been fully reborn as a more highly evolved
being, Iím making progress. My mystical experience hews pretty
closely to traditional accounts of spiritual re-creation,
but I contend that religion is more-or-less based on plagiarism
(Osiris, this is Jesus; Jesus, meet Osiris), so I feel like
Iím in pretty good company. That being said, Iíll allow that
my own journey was pretty heavily informed by two books, The
Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, and Meditations
by Shakti Gawain. And, in all honesty, I probably owe
a shout-out to sleepiness and Cockatoo Ridge shiraz, too.
Iíd been reading Campbellís masterwork of comparative mythology
on and off, and slowly because I was actually taking notes.
And it seemed to have been settling in: I think the process
was actually opening my mind, in the sense that I was becoming
more, colloquially speaking, open-minded. I am geared toward
skepticism, but Campbellís work is so comprehensive and so
plain-spoken as to present an acceptance of all cosmological
approaches as a fait accompli: Whammo, instant universal tolerance.
I was in a receiving mode.
So, when Meditations arrived at my office, I looked
more kindly upon it than previously I might have. In part,
itís true, it was because I assumed the slender volume to
have been penned by an Indian, and expected, in narrow Western
prejudice, it to contain one-hand-clapping-style mindbenders.
But that I didnít chuck it instantly when I discovered it
was written by a Western woman and consisted of relaxation
techniques and guided visualizations shows how far Iíd already
Random annoyances forced me to quit Campbellís book for a
while, and further softened my reserve against New Age self-help
techniques. Relaxation rituals were suddenly enticing. And
I guess I figured, ďIf enlightenmentís the price I gotta pay
for a decent nightís sleep, Iím willing to risk it.Ē
So, I cracked the Meditations and found the exercise
I deemed least witchy. Basically, itís a muscle-contraction-and-release
procedure coupled with a waking-dream scheme in which you
imagine somebody showing up to tell you how to live your life.
The get-lazy-and-stay-lazy aspect appealed to me instantly;
as did Gawainís pointer that your guide could be anything
from your spirit animal (Iím not taking advice from something
lower on the food chain than me, thank you) to your Grandpa.
I liked that: I pictured some crusty old Yankee in flannel;
Robert Frost as shaman.
And, in a way, it worked like a charm. For consecutive nights
I fell asleep within 20 minutes of hitting the sack and slept
like a rock, as had been my goal. So, itís funny how ripped-off
I started to feel. Whereís my freaking spirit guide? Iím well-rested,
but what about, you know, the answers? I resigned myself
to giving in fully, calling a spade a Goddess-blessťd spade,
and actually meditating.
So, one evening well before bedtime, lights dimmed, candles
lit, wine poured, I went off to meet my mythic mentor (who,
certainly, is no teetotaler). I pictured myself rowing a kayak,
which is awfully relaxing. Slowly, though, it dawned on me
that I had imagined myself in too small a boat. Iím the only
person for miles. Iím putting myself in danger of a spirit
fish. I had to visualize a land mass, pronto. Done. A mist-shrouded
isle on the near horizon. I beached, and headed inland into
the woods. My controlling mind yelling at me, ďYou should
have landed closer to a coffee shop. Weíre in the middle of
nowhere!Ē Accordingly, the woods opened up around a
small, spring-fed pool, beside which a young Indian woman
sat on a stone garden bench, writing in a journal.
this water good to drink?Ē I asked.
Without a word, she lifted a battered tin camp cup and doused
me with the contents. Then she handed me the empty cup, with
which I dived into the pool.
How cool is that?
The vision then just sort of fell apart. But it was amusing,
and I was as relaxed as ever, even invigorated. I poured another
glass of wine, and pulled Campbellís book out from beneath
a pile of more-easily glossed books. I found where I had left
off by following the underlined passages, and began reading
After a heavy morning of hunting, Actaeonís companions wanted
to rest, but Actaeon himself ventured out into unknown parts
of the forest. Beside a pool, he viewed a nude female bathing,
the goddess Diana. Furious at being so beheld by a mortal,
Diana reached for her bow, but it was beyond her; instead
she cast water on him, transforming him into a stag. He fled
from the goddessí anger, only to be scented by his own dogs,
tracked by his own friends and slaughtered back in the known
parts of the forest.
Whoa. I hadnít read the book at all in two months and I didnít
remember reading that passage at all, so the coincidence of
it all freaked me out. The fact that Campbell then goes immediately
on to discuss Kali, the Indian destroyer-goddess, who resides
beside a pool in the woods on an island nearly gave me a heart
attackóhowever obvious the rational explanation.
I havenít quite worked up the nerve to give it another shot.
On the one hand, Iím optimistic that I wasnít turned into
venison; but, really, Iím a little concerned about how Iím
going to come out of that poolóplus, Iím out of wine.
But we usually have some on Easter, so Iím hoping to get my
sequel out before Melís.