Can you see me when you’re lookin’ in your mirror?

(Long entry forthcoming. It’s been quite a week.)

I’ve spent most of a week with a belly-up computer (which I can’t complain a whole lot about; it was 11 years old). Say what you will about synchronicity; having to spend the past few days hand-writing my journal did me some good. It’s definitely made me question the value of public venting while things are in process. That doesn’t do anything but make me look bad. Call it part of the healer’s lot — and I had a lesson this week in another part, too — but if you act like a human being, and therefore not perfect, a lot of people react as if being imperfect makes you a bad healer.

I decided that what be better means to me is that I should use my skills and talents as best I can, and through love. With that in mind, I decided to take my first drum journey in quite some time, to see if there was anything I could do for the victims of the London attacks. The great majority of spirits pass into what’s next for them without any difficulty, but sudden and/or violent death increases the odds of there being trouble. I had Alec sit with me so he could get an idea of what a journey is like from a watcher’s point of view; in my case at least, it’s about as exciting as watching someone take a nap. He needs to see that, though, so he has a standard of what’s normal for me to work from.

I crossed without difficulty to my usual borderlands place, a levee along a Rio Grande spillway that has (or at least had in the days when I lived nearby) a flesh-world counterpart. I walked along the top of the levee to a place where a path was worn down over years, leading to the river bottom. From there, I usually follow along the bank to enter the Middleworld, wait for an ally to guide or carry me to the Upperworld, or go across the river to go to the Underworld. Given my mission, I headed for the river.

For the first time in about 30 years of using the levee entryway, the water was too high for me to wade or jump across. While correspondence isn’t one-to-one in such things, there are often parallels, and I’m not a very good flesh-world swimmer; I don’t so much swim as perpetually just avoid drowning. I waited for a while to see if an ally would come to help, but it was clear finally that I was supposed to cross on my own. I did without any real trouble, which was very likely the point all along.

As I climbed the side of the levee on the other side of the river, I saw London’s skyline coming into view. I headed toward it. I hadn’t walked very far when in heard a voice from the trees to my left. “It’s all been taken care of. But thank you for coming.”

I looked over and saw a man sitting on a boulder near the edge of the trees. He introduced himself as Louis and said he was grateful that I’d come, but the only one who’d had crossing problems was one of his descendants, so he’d come to take care of it himself. He invited me to walk with him for a while. As we talked, I realized that I was seeing something I hadn’t ever before. I’ve met shamans who’ve crossed over and come to act as guides and allies, but never one who was actually still working from that side. I enjoyed talking with him; we ranged from frivolity to much more serious matters, especially what can be done for the city’s very wounded spirit. He invited me to come back and talk with him again as he brought me back to the place where I would cross the river; I said I would.

When I got back, I told Alec what happened. His first response was that imp smile of his and asking if he should be worried about this new man. I’ll save the discussion about spirit lovers and spouses for another time; I got no sense that Louis wanted that from me. A friend and maybe co-worker seems more likely.

A few days later, I felt the pull to go back again. I decided to do it the next day, so Alec could sit with me again if he wanted to. The spirits decided not to wait.

It’s been a long time since a gate last opened in my dreams. I went through to find Louis waiting for me. I was happy to see him again, and he said he wanted to give me something in return for my kindness and respect for his family, so he had something to tell me. We walked together for a while, then he turned and said, “You are very lonely. I can see it even when you’re with this man who stood watch for you. You hold part of yourself away from him, and it makes you lonely. Why do you do that, when what you feel for each other is obvious even from here?”

I told him about what’s happened every time I’ve thrown myself fully into a relationship. “Maman says I can’t have a normal relationship. So do the stars at my birth. Why give everything again? Some kinds of pain, I don’t like at all.” Suddenly, I was curious and asked if he knew Maman.

He smiled. “I am one of the dead. I know her. She says you can’t have a normal relationship? That isn’t so strange for our kind. It isn’t easy for a shaman to find a good match, someone strong and confident enough to handle the life. There is one thing to look for, though — someone who comes to you not needing anything but you.”

“Alec came to me needing healing.”

“The first time, yes. This time, he came only seeking you. The lot of the healer is what it is; you can only step outside it, not truly change it.”

“What would that be? Being alone?”

“I have descendants, don’t I? Being alone isn’t unavoidable. But as long as you assume others feel the same way about spiritual intimacy that you do, you’re going to get hurt. The people who come to you seeking healing or counsel aren’t going to stay on to be friends or lovers or spouses. Not for long, at least. They’ll take what they need and move on. It’s friends and lovers and spouses who stay on, not those others. You had to go through that until you understood it.”

“That you’re telling me this means you think I do understand it now, right?”

“Yes. You just haven’t finished grappling with it. Tell me, do you love this man?”

“It’s a little early to be talking about that.”

He looked annoyed. “I didn’t ask what time it is. I asked if you love him.”

“Yes.”

“Then do that. Trust. Let go. Love him. Let him love you in return. Laugh when he sets out to make you laugh. Be brave and explore the darkness with him. All the things that flow so easily between you. You share so many things; don’t focus on the differences. Keep an open mind, and an open heart — especially that.”

I came back knowing there were two conversations I needed to have — one with Kuan Yin, and one with Alec. The one with her had to come first, because I needed to be sure of something before any of this went any further: Is this new friend really a friend? Can I trust what he says? It’s not the kind of question the oracle is framed to answer easily, but I went ahead and tried.

A talk with a friend would really help you now, for you would get good advice.

She found a way. It also counsels asking again for further advice, which it rarely does.

The sorrows of the past are illusions. Let them go and the world will flower. Change your heart and you change your life.

It’s a lot to process, and I’ve spent most of the downtime doing that. I have a new ally and maybe working partner on the other side, if that’s how it all works out. I have assurance from multiple sources that I’m on track in general these days. The talk with Alec, I haven’t approached yet. I need to let my nerves settle a little bit before I open my mouth and let those three little words fall out.

(photo: Osho Zen tarot)

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