Friday, July 22, 2016
Catharsis, Synchronicity, and Eternity
Yesterday I had the opportunity for a nap. I try to take them when I can because I don't sleep much. Even now, I should be sleeping, I have to be up in four hours. But naps don't come often as I keep rather busy.
When we don't sleep it takes a toll on us, we don't allow the opportunity to regenerate from the damage we do daily. We don't have time for our minds to unravel the information they process. We don't have those occasional natural moments of touching the limitless.
Those of us who don't sleep often don't take time to take care of ourselves in other ways. We don't address our health, physically and mentally. We don't prioritize our own existences or problems because there is always something else. Other people's problems, other people's needs, our responsibilities and duties to the world around us all of these are vast and looming and more important than ourselves. Or at least, many of us feel that way.
So the occasional stolen time for a nap can be a treasure, even though the loss of time for other needs feels vexing. Today though my nap did not get the opportunity to vex me.
When I lost my father I spent a lot of time focusing on making sure things were good for my family. I did not take much time to process things for myself or to rest within the experience of my own situation. This led to a few problems which swelled dramatically about a year later. Much of that year involved bad stuff happening so eventually I got to a pretty difficult place mentally. There are a lot of things in my life which go back on some level to trying to straighten out stuff from the point I got to at what seemed to be a low point.
All in all though I have things pretty together and am very successful in a lot of ways. But there is still stuff that hangs out there. One of the things that has been helpful is magic. At my dad's funeral several people noted how my take on death reflected a comforting view about the continuity of things through transition. This is because rather than just accepting stories or philosophical speculations and allowing them to comfort me I get the pleasure of experiencing an array of things, in terms of initiations, spiritual journeys, and interactions with Gods and spirits that inform my view in a direct and perceptible way. So there is not wondering, fearing, and hoping so much as "yeah, that place isn't easy to get to but I know it's there, and I've talked with the management."
Soon after my dad passed I found that dreams were an easy way to talk with him. Some dreams are just processing thoughts and memories and those are fine. But growing up I often had dreams that dealt with reality in a more engaged way. My parents were aware of this and helped me with it. Understanding the difference in a dream, and a DREAM, was something that was important early on. So, when my dad shows up in a dream, I can usually tell pretty easily when it's my dad versus when it's a memory.
Sometimes he comes to tell me things to reassure me, or to remind me about stuff for my family or to help me understand a problem or think about something differently. Sometimes it's just a visit. These days it's not too often, but I don't need it as often now.
About a year after he passed I did a pretty elaborate very Classical necromantic ritual to achieve katabasis and go into Hades to talk to him and some other dead folks. We chatted, he urged me not to do it again because it wasn't the safest way, and to just meet him in dreams. He explained that a part of dreaming occurs in your mind, but that there is a part that enters an in-between space, a place that connects your mind to the soul of the world, and that that in between space, being neither here nor there can allow communication between different places. Liminality, it rocks.
The tough part about communication in that space though is also based on its liminality. There is no time. There isn't a clear presence of mind. There isn't a grounding in space. So things are pretty disjointed. In the experience there are often moments of "shit what are we doing, you're dead how are we out shopping?" "Well, I'm dead there but here isn't entirely there so I'm not quite dead here." It's never straightforward. It's always this answer about blended time and space and atemporality making chronological events like dying less relevant. A regular dream answer would probably be something like "No I'm not, silly, hey look, the dinosaurs are painting a mural."
Today's dream was different. It was basically a set up to unpack that confusion and the emotions tied to it. We hung out and then I had this freak out moment. "Dad, you were dead before, now you're not. But when I go back to that time you'll be dead again, but not in this other time. So you can't help me with these things that we're planning. Because I'll be back in that time where you're already dead. This happens a lot where you're dead but not dead, I don't know what to do about that." An interesting element of this is that in the dream instead of a vague sense of the familiar or of memories, in these dreams I have very specific coherent memories and thoughts irrespective of the disjointed space of the dream.
So he walked me to a door, because we were suddenly on the porch of the house I was a child in. He takes me there a lot. I went in without him. And I found my mom there. My mom is still alive. She was laying on a couch on which she used to sleep. I saw her and thought how much I needed support from someone who was there in the world and asked for a hug and then broke down. After this the dream took this turn where my dad, pretending to be someone else, talked with me about my life and my feelings and going back into my childhood addressed issues and feelings I have and tied them to my current experience. He basically gave me this really thorough therapy session.
When I woke up I felt pretty good. Kind of like after a really good work out where your muscles have that weird state of energized exhaustion, or like after doing an extended pranayama session where you've purged out so much. Like everything tensed and released. So I laid there for awhile, trying to get a little more normal rest and also just enjoying feeling safe and comforted.
I did wonder though why this kind of happened out of the blue. I wasn't dealing with anything to draw up these issues. I hadn't done any recent libations or ancestor work. Hadn't reached out for help. I've been doing more work at making my sphere more holistic and right. Aligning forces properly and thinking about ways to straighten out impediments that I place in my way. I guess this was a way for my spirits to help me with those impediments.
It was odd timing though. Later in the day scrolling through Facebook I saw that it had been the anniversary of the death of the father of a friend. She wrote a beautiful post about her dad's spirit leaving feathers and coins to let her know she wasn't alone, and about very specific findings that showed up when she'd ask for a sign from him. It was really beautiful and it was great seeing someone able to find that kind of connection and assurance.
Then just before bed, I saw an acquaintance posting in memory of another acquaintance, who had passed away earlier that evening. I knew he had been sick, but I hadn't seen him in a month or two and had thought he was doing better. Not being Facebook friends with him or his family I hadn't initially seen any posts and couldn't post condolences. But it still gave me pause because despite only being acquaintances he was such an amazingly nice guy that thinking of him felt like thinking of a friend. He would always greet me with so much friendliness and happiness when I would see him. He always spoke to me about people as if I knew everyone in his life because he always spoke as if we were people who were old friends. I think he was probably like that with most people because he was just such a wonderfully friendly person. I remember the first time I met him, at a fencing tournament. I lost to him in a round I very much wanted to win, it was a bout I should have won. But despite that being the situation of our first encounter I still feel like I have nothing but positive memories of him. One of the last times I saw him, he drove hours to my club for a tournament on the wrong day. He was sick from the illness that I imagine caused his death. I apologized for the confusion and he was still happy and friendly, he fenced with my student, and then hung out and chatted for a bit, and didn't complain at all.
So in sitting there remembering him I asked myself, what do you do for someone who isn't here? The answer is easy. Pause and think about them, wish them well, pray for them. Take a second and reach out to that piece of them that is infinite and tell it you hope for the best and feel happiness for it. Wish peace upon it, and for it to achieve whatever end is right.
This was probably easier to do and to take in having gotten to unpack some of my own death related issues earlier in the day.
At the end of it all, I remembered that this guy has a daughter. I don't think I ever met her. He was super proud of her and always talked about what was going on with her. She is sadly pretty young to be experiencing the loss of her father. Thinking about that, about the loss others experience is one of the worst parts about death. I hope she is able to find some connection that brings her comfort. I hope everyone who reads this is blessed with such connections when they experience loss. So as much as we pray for those from whom the veil of life has fallen, we should pray more for those who are still engaged in the dance of the veil of life...and hope that the veil between the two allows for whatever connection and closure they both need.
Posted by BJ Swain at 12:27 PM
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