Traffic was endless. I was at risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
Los Angeles has always conjured up the words in the darkest recesses of my mind: Camelot of the Damned. So as I was leaving that dark gothic necropolis on an afternoon of no particular significance, with the rapidly setting sun in my rearview mirror and a stream of red tail lights stretched out in front of me like an artery bleeding out of the inner city, I began to experience a feeling which is virtually impossible to describe. Some might call it a longing such as one experiences when looking up at the stars and wondering who might be looking back. That was the kind of longing I felt as an eleven-year-old girl longing so desperately for those stars which seemed so very far out of reach, that all she could do was shake her fist at the sky and shout, "If I can't come to you, I'll bring you to me!"
It was something like that which came over me in the car, only darker, and carrying with it an intensity that made me instantly want to turn away from it. I could sing. I could count SUVs. I could turn on a CD and lose myself in someone else's lyrics. But even as I was having that instinctive "run away from this" reaction, it occurred to me to ask: Why did I so want to turn away?
Impossible to categorize, except to say it was an ache from deep in the soul – like the pain one experiences in unrequited love. Bittersweet. Some ancient link to some ancient memory – like waking up one morning with a sense of being in love... only to realize that the object of one's affections died 30 years ago, when you were both still in high school. This feeling had elements of silver winter, a faded photograph that hangs innocuously in the hall for years, until one morning it simply hits you that this is some part of life that is no longer reachable.
Heavy, dark – and yet strangely alluring at the same time. I felt I was looking through time, yet there was no single event or memory I could point to. And then I realized I was looking through the worlds, seeing and experiencing something for which no words exist. The lure of the nagual man, and the pain of knowing I will not see him again in this physical lifetime. The call of the siren he has become – a cold and lonely wind blowing fierce over the icy expanse of eternity. The cry of the muse, beckoning me to follow, but at the same time making it altogether clear that the mortal human never really catches the muse, and the goal therefore is the chase rather than the capture.
Still, knowing all of those things didn't lessen the sensation. Quite the opposite. How is it possible to say that the feeling was energy unto itself, and that by going into that energy, I found myself being pulled out of body right there on the I-10, in the middle of rush-hour traffic, surrounded by gang-bangers in dilapidated death-traps, semis spewing diesel fumes, and the distant screaming of emergency sirens that reminded me of some frightened animal finally driven mad by its unnatural environment.
Years ago, very early on in my journey, I had looked at that mountain, feeling a presence from it that I could not identify, and heard the words through gnosis, “You have to meet the immortal world on its own level.” At the time, I took those words to mean that it is up to the mortal self to climb the mountain, because only in doing so do we stand any chance of becoming the thing we seek to become. Over time, those words have become something of a personal mantra, whose meaning has grown and evolved along with my own understanding.
At any rate, I suddenly found myself on top of this snowy mountain with Orlando. Normally, when he appears in visions, he might be wearing jeans and a t-shirt or occasionally with nothing but a loincloth and his hair in long dark dreads. On this day, on this inaccessible mountaintop, he was wearing a fine tuxedo, though somehow managed not to look like a stiff jackass in his finery. Top two buttons were undone, and the traditional bow-tie had been left at home.
And there was that feeling again. Looking at him as if he were dressed for a wedding, I knew intuitively that this was not the time we would exchange our final vows. Death had not yet tapped me on the shoulder even though I was standing face to face with my own double, in defiance of one major aspect of the rule of the nagual.
He opened the conversation without preamble. “You humans have no concept of the nature of time.”
I couldn’t very well argue that one, so I challenged him as he has so often done to me. “Then why don’t you tell me?” I invited.
He only laughed. And then he did something completely unpredictable. He made a small cut on his left wrist, but his blood wasn’t red. Instead it was shimmery gold-silver-copper-bronze. Liquid light. Time condensed. Essence of the ancient future.
He gave me that look – the one that ended my world when I knew him in manifestation. Half-smile, half-sinister. “To taste eternity is to understand it,” he said, holding his wrist out to me.
I stood there like some pole-axed schoolgirl, though it shouldn’t surprise me that he would behave like a vampyre – feeding me his lifeforce to make me like himself. That’s long been one of my favorite fantasies, and the nagual man is a master of knowing exactly what will lure the nagual woman into the Infinite. And yet…
I found myself not knowing whether to trust the bastard. Had I miscalculated? Was I already dead? Had the Suburban gone off the road and was this, then, just the rehearsal dinner before the darkest wedding of bones to the earth?
I know myself well enough to know what I’m capable of as a stalker. Would I trick myself into going willingly into the arms of my own death if it meant I would simply walk out of one world where my body was still stuck in a traffic jam, and into the Otherworld where my Whole self was waiting to welcome me with a loving embrace?
“When it’s time, I won’t have to trick you,” he said, reading my thoughts. “You’ll come to me willingly, and then we’ll dance, because that’s the way we both want it, no?”
He knew I would succumb to his charm. The snow was cold beneath my feet. I could feel it as surely as if my physical body were there. The dusk-wind was blowing through the crack between the worlds.
I took his wrist and drank, and then I simply Knew. In both worlds, I felt my body spasm – like a seizure that occurs when the body is exposed to some massive jolt of electricity. I understood it all – the nature of time, the dance of the immortals, the evolutionary two-part migration of the soul. To taste eternity was to understand it – right down to a molecular level.
It. Was. All. There.
And yet… when the nagual man pulled his wrist away and I returned to a state of semi-ordinary awareness, the Knowledge left me as quickly as it had filled me. It could not be held, it could not be brought back to this world – no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I was willing to surrender or let it go. This was simply the way things are, for there was a Truth in his lifeforce that told me we simply do not possess the preceptor organs in first or even second attention to process or store direct memory of events in third attention.
I could taste it and Know it, but it would forever remain the nagual – the literal unknowable – for as long as my organic awareness was housed in the world of ordinary affairs.
The only words that escaped my lips were spoken aloud in two worlds, for I heard the echo of my physical body speaking in unison with my astral Self. “I am here with you.” What I was trying to convey to myself was that the experience was real – valid. More than just a hallucination or even a vision. Somehow, what I had tasted of eternity had shown me that, and it was all I was able to bring back.
As I spoke, Orlando just laughed softly, maybe even a bit sad. “Exactly.” Then he shrugged and brushed a snowflake off the lapel of his tux. “It’s about remembering on the bridge between the worlds. Humans have forgotten how to remember the other self, so they get lost in the little dream down there in the traffic.” He jutted his chin toward the freeway which was nothing more than an unmoving line of light, lightyears distant, and for a moment, I had no idea what he was talking about – for I had forgotten that dream.
“Will I ever be able to remember what I experienced today?” I asked. “Will I ever be able to bring it back to ordinary awareness?”
He looked at me for a very long time, then reached out to pull me against his chest. He was real in my arms – far more real than the endless river of taillights and the heartbeat of some vicious rap song on a passing radio. It had nothing to do with time or otherworlds. It had to do with perception and awareness – with Knowing it is real instead of only believing it.
“Now that you’ve tasted eternity, all you have to do is remember,” he said.
And then I was back in traffic. A funeral was in progress at Forest Lawn, and just as the sun slipped below the horizon, a flock of white doves was released from somewhere near the coffin that was being slowly lowered into the ground. On the CD player, Amy Lee of Evanescence was screaming out a plea to the cosmos, to her own double: “Bring… me… to… life.”
And so I go on, struggling always to remember.
Copyright 2015, by Della Van Hise
All Rights Reserved
Excerpted from Quantum Shaman: Diary of a Nagual Woman