Chapter Ten


Part II

Chapter Ten


imagination, reality, myth incarnate, PERHAPS, to salvific effect

…involves an unexpected visit to Luxor in Egypt, where omens of great benevolence are met. Then, we visit the Sinai desert and 3rd century Christian monastery of St. Catherine’s, home of the Hesychasm. Next, we fly to Yemen where they confront terrible violence, are drugged, exposed to mystifingly Celtic and sexual experiences with a very surprising result. We are advised to leave for India.

Getting to Yemen required flying first to Cairo to obtain a visa from the Yemeni consulate there. The airline sent our luggage to Paris and took a week to find it. It took that long to get our visas anyway. Once, while waiting for all this, we went horseback riding across the Sahara to a particularly ancient pyramid. We made friends with the family who owned the horses and stayed that night in their house. My window looked out directly into the face of the Sphinx several hundred yards away. The moon was full that night. We returned about three in the morning. I stayed at the window until sunrise, watching. However many times one sees these monuments they maintain a unique and powerful presence in my imagination.

Still our visas were not ready. So, we decided to take a couple of side- trips. The first was up the Nile to Luxor and Karnak. As we started out, I realized that I had been traveling to this destination for a long time. I had waking visions of an elephant, of a great elephant lumbering slowly but determinedly along the shore of the ocean. I remembered that I had been having these visions all during our trip, but had paid no attention. The elephant knew unquestionably its destination. The destination had something to do with a wonderful golden light that I had first seen while doing some energy work with Chris several months previous. Now the elephant seemed to be nearing the “place” of that Golden light. Luxor. The Hindu Elephant God, Ganesh, is the aid of pilgrims. He is also the Vedic mundane-divine integration. In Africa, the elephant can be the shaman’s ‘spirit guide animal’.

We arrived in Luxor and took a hotel just south of town. Our win- dows led out to a balcony that looked across the Nile to oasis like farms on the other side and the vast barren desert beyond. The Nile here is ran- domly embroidered with a negligee of floating plants: cities of lilies; no islands, populations, continents of lotus, moving as if carelessly choreo- graphed; pushed and pulled, eddied and twirled by that ancient current.

We visited the usual sights: Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, the Karnak light show, the rest. It was hot. Very hot. What would one expect for August in the Sahara? There had been for such a long time a barren sense of waiting. Long, tedious, often lonely waiting. Now, the heat and more waiting. It all seemed endless. No great affair. But some- where inside it, I felt a great sense of arrival, completion of the prepara- tion. I saw the elephant/god enter the realm of golden light. I identified completely with the god. Wonderful, wonderful, joyous light. I don’t know what this means for the journey, for Yemen. Is it preparation? Is it conclusion? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. If it is conclusion, then I’m ready. If that is what it is. It is peace, absolute peace and mean- ing. I made a medicine bundle and threw it in the river. Then we left.

The Sinai. The drive was long and uninspiring. But the valley surrounding Moses’ Mountain is ignited with wonder. The White Fire was there. The shamanic presence was there. The surrounding mountains brood and nurture in a way nothing short of the maternal. The ancient monastery at the foot of the mountain is dedicated to St. Catherine and the Virgin. The whole area throughout history has been named for the moon Goddess, “Sin.” The “Wilderness of Sin” it’s called. The air at this altitude is cool, the breeze fresh and strong. The sense of the place is gentleness, care. Here, one does feel preparation. I was happy to be there and felt ready now for Yemen.

After Stephanie threatened the Yemeni consulate with a complaint to the U.S. Embassy, they finally granted our visas. We completed our dusty stay in Egypt and flew to the capital of Yemen, Sanaa. Leaving the airport, I was invaded with a feeling of dread, of sickness, of regret, almost of despair. I couldn’t localize these emotions. It was simply my sense of the place, its dragon. I couldn’t indulge such sensations though, since we had to locate someplace to stay and deal with all the rest that accompanies arrival in a new place. Actually, I like the people of Yemen that I met and enjoyed the mud brick skyscrapers for which Yemen is famous.

But my sense of the place is violence. There was a movie out in the U.S. not long ago called “Blue Velvet”(1986?). The sexual violence of that movie expressed something of the malicious aggression I sensed when first in Sanaa.

Soon after arriving, I began to have a series of spontaneous visions. These occurred unexpectedly and continued throughout our stay. They were of myself in a “great monk’s robe” with a staff of steel. I’m striking the ground over and over with the staff. It is some kind of shamanic action. There are leather straps hanging from the top of the staff. Sometimes I used these to help strike the ground with greater force. I seemed to be challenging something. I was completely intent on what I was doing. I was on the Plain of Sanaa. There was no city there. I was alone. Toward the end of our stay in Yemen, I, in the vision, was becom- ing exhausted. Then two Saint/bishops came to aid me. One was St. Augustine. The other was unidentified. They act to console and strengthen me.

We checked into a room at what was once a posh hotel, now decrepit. Then we all went for a walk in the marketplace. Chris and Stephanie went off to look for antique Arab jewelry, and I went to find the incense shops. Yemen is the ancient, famous source of frankincense and I wanted to get some. I met, in this process, a young Italian man. He was an international salesman. He seemed friendly and helped me with these transactions. We hit it off pretty well. He spoke some English and Arabic. We had chai in a little tea shop, then determined that we wanted to try out the variety of incense that we had just purchased, so we went back to the hotel. I had earlier set out some pictures of the Theotokos. We had brought some lit charcoals and proceeded to arrange all this on a table in the room. We put on the first incense. A wonderful, full, resin smell drifted through the room. It was late afternoon, warm but not oppressive. The young Italian burned some substance that he had brought with him. I don’t know what it was. Sticky sweetness filled my mind. The room was becoming dark. The furnishings vague. I became very tired. I was sad somehow. Somehow, I could no longer quite grasp where I was. I lay down on the bed. He lay on top of me. I passed out of consciousness. I came to consciousness firmly in the embrace of a pow- erful man, not the Italian. We were naked. I resisted. But he simply over- powered me. He took me. I don’t mean just sexually, but some other way. It seemed like my father, but wasn’t exactly. He took me. And I have never been the same after. I passed out.

Not out of consciousness. I dreamed I was laughing. Next it was Stephanie. She was in the room. We embraced. Lay together. For hours. We were one… Dreams… She a goddess, I, a god. I was a king. We are in a palace long ago somewhere on the Mediterranean. We are in a room with a window over-looking the sea. In one corner of the room. She and I kneel before a niche that contained her image in the form of the snake. It is a very positive, light-filled ambiance. But then through the window, one could see our harbor filling with enemy war galleys. Our palace is in a panic. We have only a small navy. They send out a small ship to test the strength of the enemy. It is overwhelmed. The enemy takes the harbor. The goddess disappears. The palace is taken. I am taken prisoner with a group of other men. The enemy warrior prods me in the back with a spear. We see distant mountains. Some in the group of prisoners are planning to escape there. I debate to join them.

That vision ends. I am with Stephanie again. Our embrace is of divine duration. Then she was the man. Such profound fraternity . Closer than brothers. Closer than family. Extensions of one another. Excursions into one another. Were one, the same. Then it was Chris and Stephanie. Then blinding white light seemed to explode from our loins. The pain in my body, first in the perineum, then all over was excruciat- ing. The light, like liquid, enveloped our bodies, our being. Invaded everywhere, filled us, filled the room, exploded and disappeared as the real… as someone rushed frantically into the room.

The Italian was gone. The room was clear of incense smoke. There was only the harsh glare of light from the neon in the hall, that filled the room with the ugly shadows of a cheap hotel room a long way from home. It was three in the morning.

The person who burst into the room was another guest. He and Stevie had gone to visit the local market place looking for gifts. I didn’t really know him at all. But now he was desperate. He pulled me up. Tried to explain something, but had to stop, calm his breathing. Then he got it out. Stephanie was gone!

Gone?! What do you mean? Gone. Disappeared. Taken. Kidnapped. What are you talking about? Don’t be crazy. What’s happening?

He explained: “We had been walking in the market looking at ethnic wares. We were approached by a youngish Italian man. He knew the market well and showed us the best shops. Then he took us to a tea room. It was very beautiful. Carved wooden walls, heavily embroidered curtains across the windows. Beautiful lush oriental carpets. We drank the usual Chai. It was drugged. Stephanie slowly faded out of my vision.”

Then I remembered. It was from my own drugged experience. Like a dream. I seemed to be in a forest, I was running naked. It was twilight. I was chasing deer. One in particular. A stag. It would sometimes stop, turn to look at me catching up, then bound ahead. It was like that all afternoon. It seemed to go on for days. There was nothing for me but the chase. Then I became the stag. And I laughed, as if I finally under- stood something very subtle but very important. I don’t know how to describe how a stag laughs. But I laughed inside that powerful, swift body. And I ran. No longer pursued or pursuing. I ran for the exhilara- tion. Then it was twilight, I found myself standing over the stag. It was killed by my spear. I was bathed in its blood. I went to Stephanie cov- ered with blood. She was waiting for me. She was prepared to receive me. I came to her. It was more than love. It was like the copulation of two universes. White stars exploding. The earth created fecund all over again with all manner of living things. Our embrace seemed to last for- ever. I couldn’t stop. I seemed to be dying. Then she was like a spider, withdrawing from me. She was still in human form but carried the energy of the spider. I was limp and dying on that web of oriental car- pets in the room.

I came to consciousness. I could see Stephanie struggling in the grip of two amazon-like women. The Italian man was with them, but he was dressed like a woman. Now he looked like a woman. They took her. I called out to her. She screamed to me. But I could hardly move. I tried to rise but fell back unconscious. When I finally came to, I ran back here to find you. I didn’t know what else to do. I was desperate. All my train- ing to protect people, to defend, and I couldn’t even move.”

I notified the authorities, went through endless paperwork and inter- rogations. Did not tell them about my visionary experiences. A search was mounted. After several excruciating days, nothing was turned up and I was invited to leave the country. I didn’t want to go, until I had this vision/dream. I saw myself and saw a vision that I had in the dream. A dream within a dream. I was once again the Great Robed Monk strik- ing the ground with his steel staff. But this time he planted the staff in the ground on that plain of Sanaa, leathers trailing in the wind. The challenge is made. Whatever great being or ‘power’ dwelling there is roused. That is why we came to Yemen.

I wake from the dream slowly and know that to find Stephanie we must go to India. I don’t have any other lead. I decide to follow the dream. We will go to India. I will speak to my Tibetan friends there. I will find these women who have taken my friend.

I board a plane. I fly to India. To a place in the north. The last scene of the dream is in a mountain place. A place of great power.

There was something else in the dream. Something that I only remembered later as we were on the train from Delhi to the mountains above Dehra Dun. Something that I did not tell before. It came unex- pectedly. I knew that Stephanie was pregnant by both of us. (?) Twin warriors. Grandmother spider was there. It was in the dream. But I had- n’t remembered. That baby is what the women want. But why?

Why does birth always have to be surrounded by death? So much death and disaster as you shall see.