Sahara Vision 2010

After C’s passing it became clear that I needed to devote myself to grieving until the winter solstice. Only then, I intuited, would it be possible for me to open again to new life. To facilitate this, I needed to go on a journey that would take me somewhere I had never been but particularly wanted to visit and which would offer opportunities for establishing a new Passion to replace the one which been so radically interrupted. When I learned of a Vision Quest that was due to happen in the Sahara through January 2010 I felt immediately drawn. To join it, I would need to leave Dublin on January 1, a perfect symbolic date. I applied late but got a place nevertheless.                                                                     

I was still tired from all the processing work I had done with regard to C’s passing when it came time for me to leave. The weather was atrocious and I looked forward to better in the desert. As always when setting out, especially on journeys which I must make alone, I experience nostalgia for the predictable routines of home and just want to stay put. A greater part of me realises, always, that new experiences in new places will extend and refine my awareness of Home. This feels particularly true of my Sahara venture since it will include a Vision Quest in totally unfamiliar settings.

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Despite not arriving till the early hours, I hardly slept during our first night in Tamanrasset. My intuition was to surrender in any case, whether into sleeplessness or sleep. We leave for the desert early the next day. The weather is intensely hot and dry but turns cold quickly at sunset, soon after we have reached the camp of our Tuareg guides. We now number ten questers, three facilitators, nine Tuareg and thirty-something camels. Tired, we settle together for our first meal around a wood fire.

I have never known a sky as clear or prolific as the one which greets me when I retire to my sleeping bag on that first night. I am away from the fire: isolated and receptive to news from a hundred billion stars. I sink to my knees and connect. Immediately, I am overwhelmed by energies that pour in unremittingly. I am charged beyond all possibility of sleep and observe my ‘surrender’ guidance of the previous night. I alternate between contemplation of a slowly revolving sky and, when cool winds blow, sinking deep into my bag as if it were an amniotic sac.

Sealing access points, I drift endlessly in an expanded sense of cosmic consciousness to which I have just been reborn. I have no explicit realisation except that many old star connections in my soul have been renewed. I don’t sleep at all before morning but this again seems to make no difference through the day. In fact, while our camels are being loaded, I have a strong need to ‘ground’. Waves of soft grateful tears flow gently through me into Earth, bringing relief and anchoring my renewed identity into the Heart of my Mother. More integration follows through our morning travel. After a lunchtime meditation, the process is largely complete.

I remain hyper-sensitive throughout. When I am introduced to my camel, for example, and first walk by his side, intense waves of energetic communion bind us without any intention whatever from me. When I first ride him later on, new impressions well up in my Heart, causing it to open like a flower, responsive to beauties of the moment and deep, deep echoes that arise (of travelling at the rear of a merchant caravan, for example, or the head of a migrant army). This continues till the end of our first week.

For our second desert night I again choose a sleeping place that is vulnerable, exposed and in the centre of a wide open plain. The stars are again spectacular but my primary connection is now into Earth. My Heart and hers become one. I am infinitely, immediately held in a state of deep communion that far exceeds all meditations I have ever known. At several points I sing out of this state – inaudibly, as I imagine – hermetically sealed in my bag, warmly nourished and protected from the freezing wind outside.

My song is one of gratitude and hope. Several people speak of having been moved by my ‘chanting’ through the night. I realise that I was not expressing then as ‘John’ but rather voicing a (shared) consciousness of communion into which the being of John as separate had dissolved. Again I get little sleep and again I have lots of energy the next day, requiring further cycles of integration which happen easily under the spontaneous direction of my soul.

That afternoon, when I have walked my camel over rocky terrain, my foot starts swelling as it had before Christmas. As before, this links with waves of alienated warrior consciousness that continue to pour in, seeking to dissuade me from my course while investigating possibilities of being healed by it. This mostly happens through the night. My pattern has been to process them consciously through waves of morning meditation. I then let them enter my Heart and circulatory system, moving them through at home by means of dance. The swelling first arose as an effort to prevent my coming on this journey.

While in the desert, I maintain my meditation process, letting circulation happen through our morning travel cycles and completing work of integration/release through lunch-time rest periods. This happens at an accelerated pace through the first five days. It usually culminates in a flow of tears and swelling reduces as a result. I expect this pattern will continue till my solo begins, at which point I will be moving much less and it will be too late to thwart my quest.

In the mornings, however, it is hard for me to walk so I need to ride my camel all the time. At first we are tethered to the camel of Uhata, the caravan master. For this period I have to relinquish all control, consistent with my practice of deepening surrender into whatever experience may bring. It also gives me an early opportunity to observe and absorb Tuareg energies. By the afternoon I have had enough yin immersion and ask to ride alone so I can come back into a sense of my own power.

I soon find that my camel is very strong and independent compared with the rest. No doubt there is mirroring involved here. This is appreciated and I am left, thankfully, to process matters arising in my own way. I work strongly with the White Rose (healing symbol) through this period to maintain a sense of my own innocence with regard to deep unconscious issues that continue to arise. These have a collective significance beyond my personal biography although they also resonate with aspects of my past.

They concern im/balances within fe/male psychology and, particularly, the apparent inability of (certain) males to be on Earth without affecting an attitude of domination and control. This type of ‘holding’ contrasts with surrender and is reflected in a symptomatic swelling of my right (male) foot. I expect the whole cycle to complete as a result of my Quest, whence the extensive inner opposition to it. Pending resolution, grave issues of shame, guilt, fear and mistrust continue to arise. I had previously been working on these issues with C. Now I must continue alone, at least in this dimension.

We make camp late in the afternoon of our third day. While the Tuareg prepare food, we set out on our first desert medicine walk. Our instruction is to head for a nature being to whom we feel drawn and communicate with it. I am drawn to a hilly cluster of naked rock and one upright slab in particular. I greet this enormous being and sit by him, exchanging energies via my Heart and seeking permission to approach. When this is granted I move closer, easing myself into soft contours, singing love songs through a crack that appears before my mouth. This brings me into a mode of communion that transcends dialogue (which implies duality and is not part of what I feel). I slip into a mode of shared consciousness from which I awaken some time later with the words: ‘I am reborn of Sahara stone’.

Back in our circle, I am moved to sing a Gaelic song which describes the perpetual dance of Lover-Beloved, evoking a non-time before this split in Love occurred. It starts with the line ‘You are my love’ but knows from depths of Mystery it summons that any distinction between ‘you’ and ‘me’ is ultimately a matter of grammar and illusion. To respect this Mystery I don’t translate on the night but will do so now, since the vibration is not otherwise available: You are my love/ you set me free/ for my sake/ for your sake/ and I pray/ that we will come together/ like fresh flowers/ under a new tree/ you are my love. I sing in three rounds, progressively deeper, approaching levels of loving communion recently shared with Sahara stone.

I also sleep that night. In dreaming, I hold a new-born baby boy of immense potential. I talk to him in advanced ways, explaining many things. He responds quickly in a kindergarten-type setting where children of many different ages, all apparently male, play happily in the background. My son, a fiery warrior, aged 6 in the dream, approaches and complains that I’m pushing the baby too hard. He thinks the whole process of development is happening too fast. This gives voice to my ‘swelling’. It also confirms that prodigious (masculine) development is imminent and in need of close attention.

Related themes of innocence are highlighted the next morning. Two Tuareg help me mount my camel, who rears irritably and rises suddenly, emitting anxious sounds and nervous energy that spreads rapidly to others nearby. Uhata smothers this panic with an outburst of his own, directed at me. I have seen enough of this not to be surprised. His invective passes right through, leaving ‘me’ unaffected. There are no hooks in place to engage. I am thankful for this reflection.

That night, group talk is of ‘loyal soldiers’. These are ‘defender’ figures which arise in childhood with a view to protecting the (conscious) self from repeat experiences of early hurt and humiliation. As I recall, the notion of the loyal soldier first entered psychology via case studies of Japanese veterans stranded on remote Pacific islands who didn’t know the war had ended and so remained disposed to continue fighting long after a need for this had ceased. Our ‘loyal soldiers’ are also stuck in time warps because they remain fixated at the developmental phase they were in at the time when the hurt which engendered them was first experienced. They stay stuck at that age and emotional level until something happens to release them back into the flow of present awareness.

Mostly, this never happens and such ‘soldiers’ become accessories to our wounded ego histories, acting to control experience by sticking to safe predictable ways rather than opening into new, more daring or visible ones. They surface as voices which whisper things like ‘Don’t be stupid. You can’t do that!’  They serve to keep us small, limited by the cumulative impact of old wounds. While all this is being introduced and people are offering examples of their brushes with loyal soldiers, I have an unprompted vision of a Cheyenne warrior, a dog soldier, aged 26, who has returned to the place where he experienced his first vision quest twelve years before.

His body is painted for war, as is his pony. He will fight a battle later that day in defence of his people. He doesn’t expect to win it or survive. He has come to this place to reconnect with the energy of his life’s purpose, so that he can face death without bitterness or hatred, even for his enemies. I share his consciousness as he sings a medicine song and calls down blessings of the Sky Father on his people. This experience is very moving. My Heart opens and I start to cry. I am being shown another aspect of loyal soldiers. The warrior asks me to ‘Tell them that I acted out of love’, referring primarily to the majority female members of our circle (ten out of thirteen). I do as he asks, honouring my vision. Later, over dinner, the warrior’s death song comes to me. I sing it, experiencing a tender (male) energy of love.

                                                                    *

My colleagues continue to walk and ride their camels. To spare my foot, I ride my unruly candidate (Tony) all day. I generally start off at the back, trying to box him in. The other camels travel placidly, synchronised easily with those before and behind. Mine is always looking to accelerate out and away. It is a battle of wills to contain him and a test of hastily acquired skill to keep him in formation. I improve gradually, noting the need to balance yin receptivity with yang assertiveness. I am learning to control his power, which mirrors mine as I build towards my solo days.

We go on a medicine walk that evening to seek clues regarding our purpose for the quest. I am heading for an open horizon when my legs are stung by shoots of wild grass. Perceiving a call, I drop to my knees and embrace the prickly clump. It stings for a while, then peace comes and eventually communion. The words ‘What is my Passion in this moment?’ come to mind. This is exactly why I came to the desert: to reconnect beyond grief with the interrupted flow of my Passion. I stay with the grass a little longer before rising. I then move very carefully, consciously, in a stylised way, through the brush, favouring my injured foot. I keep my eyes closed, opening them only on impulse to see what may be seen. Each time I am met with a new revelation of the Sacred World.

I dream that night of being in a TV studio in Heaven. I am dressed in a tuxedo (black and white), as are all the characters in my dream. Each one is an exact replica of me. I have a choice: I can return to Earth and complete my mission or stay here and be interviewed on a chat show about what has already been accomplished. I can even have my own chat show! I choose to return and immediately find myself back in 3D, awake in my sleeping bag, looking at stars through which I have rapidly descended.

Cutting through spiritual humour in the dream – tuxedo/black and white: polarity; all the characters are me: only One Self etc. – I perceive that Spirit is offering me an option to withdraw from Earth at this time. This relates to the pain of losing my Twin Flame after such a brief liaison here. There is much to learn about human psychology through sharing details of my grief. When I decline, I am restored promptly to full awareness of my 3D circumstances. I had not anticipated special hardship with regard to continuing my mission, despite still missing C. I sense that if I can reframe this in some way what has been an agony can become something else instead. I set myself to find out.

The next day we journey to the physical site for our solos. I ride the whole way, feeling more comfortable on Tony than on any of the previous days. My Heart opens repeatedly as we go: at the beauty of certain vistas, the love between the camels, the catalysing influence of vast, empty silence all around. I accept all impressions innocently, calling on the White Rose to keep me clear. I am surprised, approaching the Hoggar Mountains when I am invited to continue riding alone rather than be led and enjoy negotiating tricky gradients with an unusually cooperative Tony.

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We arrive at a valley where, it seems, no humans have lived for a long time. The Tuareg only found water here last year so we have a very pure space in which to work. Despite this, there is a poignant image of a camel cut into the rock directly above where I lie, tired from the long ride. It is very hot as we sit together for the first time in what will be our home for the next week, receiving directions as to how we should search for our solo spots and behave in them. I make some notes but feel that the whole sequence has somehow been preordained on my behalf. We are advised to conduct ceremonies, enact dreams, stage dialogues and the like.

Then T speaks about the Inner Beloved, whom I know intimately since C walked into my Heart at a recent Goddess Rising celebration. We are then asked to go on another medicine walk and address our Inner Beloved in the form of a stone or some other nature being. Already as T was speaking a pale pink energy has suffused the left side of my body and filled my Heart so that when I rise to follow the instruction, I am already seeing with new eyes. I don’t perceive hard edges as I set off up the valley but gently flowing lines that merge and meld, sunder and regroup as I pass.

I walk again in a vision of Sacred Earth, kinetic and alive. The whole landscape feels enchanted, not because someone cast a spell but because it has been born of a Song. This is the kind of enchantment you wish not to awaken from but into. By the time I collect myself in the midst of such reflections I have already walked much farther than intended. I climb a nearby mound of stone. This offers a commanding view and inspires me to wonder how it might be to focus in my present altered state. I attempt to follow the instruction given in addressing a particular stone with the words ‘You are my love.’

The outcome feels like revelation, triggering a quantum leap in my awareness. This statement ‘You are my love’ is no mere subject-verb-object affair! I am not saying ‘You (stone) are (the object of) my love’ but rather that ‘you’ are an expression, a projection of it. Moreover, I could say the same of the ring of mountains by which I am now encircled, or the greater range which fringes the plateau on which we have arrived, or the whole desert, Earth or Cosmos – exactly as Creator might address Creation, saying ‘You are (the expression, projection, fruit, blossoming, creature of) my love’. A drum sounds and I find my way back down the valley to our camp.

The next morning I go to find my solo place. An unlikely area beckons from afar. There seems to be nothing there, just a bank of sand gathered by strong winds against high rock. Drawing closer, I see a crack in the shade that opens into a defile maybe two metres wide, leading to a narrow passage which I can barely squeeze through. I know then that I have found my spot, the birth canal in which my life will be renewed. I am already fasting, having taken a last meal before my solo the previous evening. My light head feels deeply addressed.

That night, the last before my quest, I dream that I am at a concert. The audience is in place in a circular arena. The stage is at the centre, empty and white. This will be a concert without performance, in which things come together. Stephen Gately (a recently deceased member of the Irish pop group Boyzone) and Michael Jackson sit beside me, Michael to my left and Stephen to his. He fades then, leaving Michael in a spotlight.

This ‘concert’ involves a flowing together of my soul parts around the central focus of an empty stage, not my ego-identity. Since no other information is given, the names and characters that figure must be important. Gately, I know from my new Swiss-German friends, implies a little gate (‘li’ being a diminutive). This recedes in favour of a greater gate associated with MJ. Stephen is what I would have been called had I been born a few hours earlier, after the first martyr of the Church. So a little gate is closing, associated with issues of martyrdom and tight, out-moded spiritual forms. A new gate is opening in its place, much larger and associated with the attributes of MJ.

I remember years of working with dissociated warrior energies and how they entered through the little gate of my injured foot, levying a cost of suffering on me and on themselves. I have sensed for some time that this can heal after my quest and am encouraged in this by the indications of my dream. I realise also that even the loving service of a loyal Cheyenne soldier is governed by a form of servitude which entails martyrdom and opposition. This is how it has mostly been for male warriors over thousands of years, on Earth and elsewhere. If the expression of such energies could leap from Solar Plexus consciousness into the infinite spaciousness of Heart, vastly different possibilities would open as a result.

My ‘greater gate’ has to do with a new wave of Heart-opening, and inspiration linked to MJ. I had seen the film ‘This Is It’ just weeks before in Dublin and been profoundly moved, not just by the beauty of Michael’s movement but also by the sincerity and devotion of his commitment to manifesting a vision fully on Earth. Unlike his routine public appearances, where he presents as a kind of shrinking violet, nervous, incoherent and withdrawn, Michael is shown in the film rehearsing top dancers and musicians to bring his vision alive exactly as he wants it to be, in a way no-one else can realise. He assumes full responsibility for authentic manifestation of his genius. All concerned soon learn that his judgment is unerring and defer accordingly.

Michael is completely unaffected in terms of social prestige. His devotion is entirely to his art. He knows its truth from within, since he is the source of its arising, the vessel through which Source works in giving it form. His purpose is ‘to take (people) where they have never been before’ regarding experiences of beauty and love. Michael was a Hathor from Venus. These beings are the most intelligent in our solar system. Their nature is pure love and their purpose as incarnate is to manifest this love by creating beauty on Earth, despite abuses they suffer in the course of their human formation.

I know this energy well from C although, as a female embodiment of Goddess, her relationship to creativity was very different than Michael’s. His was expressed early and universally acclaimed, despite the hardships of his life offstage. Abuse led him to crave evidence of love that he could never trust because it always came mediated by imprints of celebrity. Thus he doubted the authenticity of affection he received but always kept trying. By contrast, C’s expression was inhibited at core. She never got to manifest her immense feminine creativity in public. Apart from me, no-one ever truly witnessed or acknowledged it. She doubted herself and her lovability on this account.

My reaction to Michael’s film was governed by this relationship and so is the sense of his appearance in my dream the night before my quest. The most obvious theme I can identify for now is the necessity of stepping out to take responsibility for delivering my gift on Earth. I also have a later dream which shows that a new wave of shamanic power greater than any I have known before, is gathering in me. I don’t need to do anything for this to happen. I have only to trust, surrender and allow. It is in this spirit that I set out the following day.

                                                                    *

The first thing I do is arrange my space. I rattle a little to honour local spirits and bring it alive. I then make a small medicine wheel which I use to connect into the Heart of Earth while praying for regeneration of the desert and our planet. Otherwise I have no purpose circle, death lodge, altar, intention, dialogue or deliberate practice. Rather I behave as a bird might, building a nest out of instinct. I know that I will get weak physically and arrange my sleeping bag and other necessary materials in clefts in the rock so that everything is conveniently accessible in my tiny space. I also do several meditations that first day to ensure that my light-body is well balanced and composed. I succeed in this and surrender then into whatever impressions/experiences are waiting to arise.

Over the days, my consciousness sinks deeper and deeper into this process so that I come to have direct, almost immediate access to my spiritual essence and need great effort to rouse the physical mechanism of my body to action. I economise around this by drinking as much as I can every time I need to pee so that my body’s welfare becomes self-regulating and requires a minimum of conscious resource. Thus I am left wholly available for the adventure of deepening into my journey.

There is not much difference between night and day in this respect, except for the governance of sun and stars, heat and cold. I am in shade almost constantly, being in a narrow crack between adjacent rock faces. I can also slip easily into clefts and so have a continuing sense of relating to the intelligence of stone. I doze a lot by night and day while I am simply lying but this is not a matter of escaping into sleep. Indeed, even when I’m in my sleeping bag at night the vision process is unfolding through me. I wake as if by prior arrangement to note impressions consciously as required.

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The meditation I use to order my light body is the Mer-Ka-Ba sequence which I learned from Drunvalo Melchizedek, complemented by other forms developed over years (see ‘Meditating Worlds’). There is a part in this conjoined sequence where I raise an Inner Sun from the level of my Solar Plexus up into my Heart. Realising this inwardly helps connect Earth peacefully back into a network of Cosmic relationships from which she has effectively been disqualified due to human violence and her response to traumas which that violence has induced. Irrespective of us, she has her own schedule to fulfil. This is evoked by the Mayan tradition, which refers to our ‘Shift of Ages’ in terms of the birth of a ‘New Sun’. We can facilitate this Ascension (Earth’s appointment with her cosmic destiny) by allowing the birth of a New Sun to happen in us. Each time it does, Earth’s consciousness is illuminated from within and her vibration rises, drawing attention to her availability for peaceful integration back into the consciousness of cosmic community.

A vast, strong sun fills my Heart as I realise this. Its colour is a blinding yellow-gold. I project it before me on to the disc of our actual sun and through it an awareness of Earth’s highest dream (which is to ascend in Beauty). I then send this image deep into the Heart of our Galaxy. The whole process is motivated by an experience of pure love, now integrally associated in my consciousness with an image of C’s lifeless form held tenderly in my arms as an embodiment of our stricken Goddess Earth. I sense that the import of this image will elaborate significantly over the coming days, in tandem with shamanic powers which are to manifest through me.

Strong singing into the Heart of our Sun and the Galaxy beyond it animate this sequence. I feel very tired when it is done and sit on a stone ledge to rest. I am not to be concerned about anything that has happened before, about what I have done and not done. What is coming now is new, brand new, and specifically empowered by the nobility of C’s sacrifice and my part in it.

The day gets warmer although I am in shade. I drift deeper into a kind of meditative haze, the abidingly altered state in which I will spend most of my next three days. A woman comes to me out of the desert, voluptuous and sensual, offering to make love. I am appreciative of her gifts but aware that this is not a time to indulge them. I thank her for her generosity and, instead of thinking to be rid of her, invite her into my Heart. She accepts at once, without rancour.

Wishing to pace myself I consult my watch for the first time and discover that our days and nights are of roughly equal length, from 7 am to 7 pm and vice-versa. My time spent in darkness will equal in importance that spent under the sun. I sleep and dream of a huge man who tries to kill me with steel balls suspended from lengths of chain. He hurls these at me and then, drawing closer, swings them at my head. I hold my ground, dodging his efforts until he tires.

I invite him into my Heart but his place is taken by a giant metallic figure – an archetypal armoured (unfeeling) warrior type – who also tries to kill me by the same means. He roars intimidatingly and makes several swipes. Again I sway to avoid impact. He assumes an even more menacing posture. I say something like ‘Please come Home. Life is too short for any more of this.’ Immediately he comes into my Heart, dissolving in a sudden rush of tears back to the flow of present consciousness. This wakes me. I welcome his integration joyously. Perhaps it will mark the final end of a long journey Home for many loyal soldiers whose only purpose has been hanging on to their minimal existence.

Further dreams that night mark the return of soul elements who believe it’s necessary to maintain the disposition of a ‘soldier’ to gain acceptance and others who believe that showing signs of weirdness will lead to persecution, ‘corrective’ treatment or outright elimination. I welcome both streams equally back to present consciousness. Having reviewed these dreams and seen to required energetic integrations, I lie again on the rock of my rebirth place, mindful of words from my first desert medicine walk: ‘I am reborn of Sahara stone.’

My vibration gets slower and slower as I sink ever more deeply into Consciousness. This process continues without interruption but is punctuated at intervals during which I find myself bursting spontaneously into tears. These episodes serve as stage-markers and are accompanied by two levels of imagery. The first specifies the layer of rock to which my consciousness has descended. Each time, promptly, I see its solid form break open and water pouring out. At the same time, or directly after, I also see scenes drawn from my life with C, poignant evocations whose significance burns ever deeper into deeper layers of my Heart, causing them also to open in absolute, helpless love. Rivers flow from me as this happens.

Two stages stand out in the sequence. The first acknowledges the great depth of soul from which C was living when she refused her doctors’ suggestions of physical treatment. The second runs even deeper, triggering awareness of great depths of soul from which her life as a whole was lived. I feel, by virtue of this realisation, that depth becoming available to me. The process continues thereafter, as if some fundamental wellspring were tracing its own origins, deeper and deeper into dark recesses of Earth and Heart.

I persist through the afternoon, sitting in sand and propped against stone. The opening continues also, to a degree where it moves past the vanishing point of my personal Heart back into the centre of Cosmic Heart, which is also the Heart of Creation. At every stage, the sequence is marked by further tearful eruptions in the depths of my being. Finally, it takes ‘me’ (‘my’ consciousness) back through the Point of Creation and into the Heart of Void, which is everywhere (Void being infinite). ‘I’ experience Void then from within its own consciousness as a boundless field of pure love and pure creative potential.

I know this corresponds to C’s first nature and also, now, my own. This consciousness underpins the being of the entire desert, world, Cosmos, All That Is. I bear witness from within as this Void compresses in a gesture of pure loving intent. Compression produces a pure tear, a first drop of the Water of Life. This expresses Love’s inherent longing for greater love and more abundant life. Such longing is of the Divine, not for it. Existence expresses the longing of Divinity for greater love and more abundant life. This first tear expresses compassion in advance for all cycles of loss and grief that will arise as the Divine intention ‘Let there be Light’ is realised, projecting out as our Big Bang of Creation.

The Void of Darkness is the Mother of Love and the Father-Mother of All That Is. Before its first mandate was enacted, before there was Light and the Light Show of Existence came into Being, Love Is, void and teeming with potential. The first drop of pure love is a mythic image which reminds us that the great flaring forth of Light in the Big Bang was already comprehended by a dark feminine power of Pure Creation, before the masculine Logos uttered ‘Let there be Light’. Before there was Light, Love was; before there is Light, Love Is. Following C’s trajectory through visible Source back to its dark origins has brought me to realisation of this awareness in my self. The Heart of Darkness is also the Heart of Love.

I continue lying on the stone ledge long after this point. It is late afternoon. I feel a deepening connection into the Heart of Earth. This gets stronger and stronger until it reaches a peak. I see swarms of faces appearing in the rock above me. These represent a promise of coming ET connections (the imminence of which is indicated by current phases of the Mayan calendar). Higher dimensional beings then manifest through cloud formations passing overhead. This display includes a perfectly formed Apollo driving a chariot drawn by splendid steeds across the sky. The day ends with the bestowal of a stronger energetic link with my Higher Self. Weak and hungry then, I crawl into my sleeping bag for regeneration. I am rewarded with a night of deep, dreamless sleep.

Already at the start of the third day, I feel spectacularly weak. I lie out on stone again to resume my practice of sinking deeper. A brief, lucid stream of inspiration surges through, clarifying in compact detail how the God-spark in each of us is expressed by our essential creativity. This concerns beauty and abundance and far exceeds concern with adaptive functioning. I begin to doze while also feeling a deep, deep wellspring rising in me, like a recap of the sequence yesterday which led back through the Heart of Creation into Void. I realise in this moment that C has not only become the face of my Inner Beloved but also that her deep feminine awareness and creativity has become part of my consciousness, linking me instantly back into the Heart of Void. Balanced by Michael’s example of taking responsibility, I am asked now to manifest its promise in the world!

It feels as if an ever-deepening realisation of my absolute love for C – the Divine Love we acknowledged as such through her final days – is drawing me into an ever-deeper realisation of Pure Love at the Heart of Void, which is everywhere (including behind appearances). After a while, all content drops away and I am left only with a sensation of soft persistent drilling that goes deeper and deeper into the core of my spiritual Heart (chakra). Periodically this drilling stops and then, after a slight interval, I feel energy radiating up and out from the newly accessed level. This deepening into and out from the Heart of my Heart continues as darkness falls. I even feel it as I am drifting towards night sleep.

Somewhere towards dawn, I dream of being a military scout in another desert. I am high on a mountain overlooking the vast armies of Saladin on behalf of Christian crusaders. Then, turning, I espy crusader forces on Saladin’s behalf. I feel no pangs of disloyalty through this reversal. On the contrary, I know that the antagonistic play of rival armies is part of a unitary developmental process, in truth the sound of one hand clapping. Scouting with the eyes of my Heart I see only false opposition. There is no separation. Raising our visionary powers from Solar Plexus to Heart level will be the substance of the New Sun of a New Consciousness. My Passion as Scout is to spread awareness of the Compassion this awakens in us all.

                                                                    *

We break our fast in carefully graduated steps on returning, make brief presentations of our stories and prepare to move out the next day. The first stage of our journey back is a long walk in which we lead the camels without mounting them, so all can get used to transformed energies which are now in play. I could have ridden but it feels important to leave this place under my own power. (The ‘little gate’ of my swollen foot has given way to the Greater Gate of my wide-open Heart so I have no problem.)

Catching our lighter mood, the Tuareg play music (guitar and improvised percussion) at our campfire after dinner. Our women, enthused after their solos, are keen to dance. So am I but dare not yet on my still bruised foot. Instead I watch, savouring the music and longing to take part. Retiring early to my sleeping bag, I cry. I don’t know why but am certain that this expression, at least, is warranted. Joining in the dance around a Tuareg fire is something I would have always longed to do. Now the opportunity is only yards away and I can’t. This feels like a bitter twist but there is more involved. Tears illuminate my way past bitterness and into sleep.

All through the night I am shown images of the Michael Jackson/Concert dream I had before my solo. Focus now is on the empty stage and not any of the characters. I see that it is being offered as the model for a new organisation of my soul. The empty stage is central, which means it’s not occupied by ‘me’ (ego) or other aspects of my self except transiently, as necessary. The first thing ‘I’ must do is get out of the Way. This puts me in the Way of energies of Divine Creation which stream constantly through when the Way is not blocked by ‘me’.

The centre ‘stage’ is a higher dimensional (Greater) Gate, in time but not of it. This means that normal constraints of space-time don’t apply and, hence, that all parts of my soul – including those from ‘past’ and ‘future’ as ordained by the illusion of time – are available to be expressed on this stage NOW. Moreover, when personality and soul are properly aligned, all parts support whichever one is currently on ‘stage’. One way they do so is by not contesting right of access. There is no competition. No time means all time, for all. In concert, All is One.

Ego occupies the stage simply to facilitate 3D access for other parts which may be unused to it or are unable to make arrangements like buying plane tickets etc. Ego is a servant, not master, of this process. It can also help to integrate disparate elements, chiefly by not prohibiting access and encouraging them as they step into Heart and on to stage. As this happens complexity dissolves and Ego becomes free to assist realisations of I AM consciousness in time. It can also summon energies of pure Creation by aligning through the Power of Love with the Heart of Void. (These energies need to be further coordinated with the Heart of Earth to achieve effects of manifestation in 3D. I am still an apprentice of this process.)

Centre-stage is a metaphor for the Heart of Heart, from which all integral expression arises. This space, emptied via clearing practices, allows opportunity for all parts of soul to express into Earth Consciousness. Allowing energies of Pure Creation (Void) to be drawn by the Power of Love into our world greatly increases the range of possibilities available in it. When Ego is not required to facilitate actively, it is best advised to withdraw and let Soul unfold according to its own intrinsic wisdom.

Thus my personality comes to be remodelled according to the remodelling of my soul. The emptiness which is then found at centre connects directly to the Heart of Creation, the point at which Existence manifests out of Being/Void. All energies which have ever streamed forth from the Heart of Creation, as well as new ones which we can (potentially) elicit, thus flow through ‘me’ into our world. They afford the means by which our dying planet can be miraculously transformed.

This knowing is transmitted through what feels like hours of focusing on the empty stage in sleep. I graduate then to an ‘ordinary’ dream: I am walking in Temple Bar (a bohemian quarter of Dublin). Hired actors are on the street, calling people into a room too small for the scale of a performance which is waiting to unfold. The door is locked to stop more people getting in. Two boys kick against it violently, seeking admission, but are chased away.

I awake realising that I must maintain an uncluttered, fluidly circulating space at the centre of my Heart, spacious enough for disparate and newly emerging parts to gain access. I must work to establish this space, beyond the cramped exclusive provision of early conditioning. It is time for the ‘Greater Gate’ to manifest.

                                                                    *

T engages me in conversation, saying that wholeness and longing are different things. Wholeness is complete unto itself while longing presupposes an Other. This doesn’t match my experience. I experience wholeness and longing simultaneously all the time, especially since C’s passing. To say that longing demands an Other presupposes an intrinsic lack which obliges us to look outside ourselves for fulfilment. It restates the essential premise of Original Sin, namely that we are born without (the germ of) our own integrity. Against this, the Tao does nothing while nothing is left undone. But there is no desire, no longing in the Tao, and thus no Otherness, I am told. Certainly there is no Otherness but there is motion. Where does this motion tend? Why is there motion if there is no motive (longing) for change?

The bodhisattva – enlightened with regard to Unity consciousness – longs also for others’ release from illusions of separateness. If we can find stillness within the agitation of our ego-centred personalities, and empty the stage at the centre of our beings, we can feel the power of Divine Intention streaming through, carrying us wherever we need to go and creating whatever experiences we need to have. Such longing doesn’t divorce us from knowledge of wholeness but rather intensifies our commitment to it. In my recent experience, culminating in events of my solo days, the longings of grief have given way to blissful participation in unfolding All That Is. This entails direct experience of the inherently transcendental and self-transcending nature of Divine Love, which is dynamic in its stillness and vice-versa.

Divinity (Love) is not a matter of lack but of abundance and overflow. It ordains  paradox, entailing that stillness can never simply be still nor love ever finally complete for its very nature is to transcend (itself), to reach out more and draw closer, to appear to go beyond (become other than) itself so it can know joys of remembrance and reconciliation. This is why Love splits into Lover and Beloved, initiating cycles of grief and loss, so that God(dess) might behold God(dess) in the nooks and crannies of Existence. Daring duality, Unity knows better and loves more.

The pain of this freedom was foreseen. That is why a teardrop, signifying Divine Compassion, was first secreted at the Heart of Void as a gesture of Universal Love before there was even a Universe to (be) love(d). When God(dess) says ‘Let there be Light’ the teardrop explodes, setting the stage for patriarchal images of a Big Bang, flaring fireball and Creation as a ‘violent’ process. Backstage, God/dess (Mystery) is forever saying ‘Tell them I acted in love’. Behind our Light Show of Existence is always the tender Heart of Void, of Darkness and of Love. Accessing this in consciousness, we realise from within that longing is of the Divine, not for it. Existence is the Dream of God(dess). There is no Other.

                                                                    *

We travel that day to a magnificent site at whose centre is located an ancient serpent temple. The Tuareg associate their ancestors with this site and say they came from Atlantis. This would be about 13,000 years ago. My sense is that the primary structure here is at least 100,000 years old, belonging to a civilisation which predates by far the great Earth changes responsible for the demise of both Lemuria and Atlantis. Equally amazing is that the power of this temple – although dormant – is also completely intact. The reason for this is that it remains under the guardianship of a celebrated ‘Tuareg’ queen who is buried on site. In an ultimate gesture of soul sacrifice, all her spiritual power – accumulated over many lifetimes – is concentrated here, dedicated to holding in trust all the gifts and promise of a high cultural flowering that once happened in this place, evidently over a long period.

We kneel quietly before the Queen’s tomb, offering our presence in gratitude and service. I am directed to do nothing but stretch out and relax. The Mother will acknowledge, hold and love me without condition. I lie out peacefully and wait. A few dissonant warrior strands that remain wary of such strong female presence balk but are held and dissolve in my Heart. Then ‘I’ – all of ‘me’ – is strongly held, dissolved and gently remade. This takes some time. When I come through, X is the only family still present, also being introduced to mysteries of Mother-beyond-mother. I gather myself to honour this unfolding and leave when my part is complete.

I find myself pre-tuned to vibrations of the local stone over lunch. As I sit before it, it ‘sings’. We will visit the temple structures later. My Heart rejoices in this news. It portends another moment of high destiny that John had not the slightest inkling of but now ‘I’ do. I wave enthusiastically to our lounging Tuareg guides as they rest in shade while we set out on another punitive expedition under strong sun. They wave back heartily, gracious and amused.

Our hike is not that demanding. We pass first by what feels to me like an observatory but, if it is, it is different from any other I have seen. Its structure is minimally shaped, outwardly, from a natural landscape formation. I have no doubt that close inspection would reveal inner pathways and recesses, especially underground. Our attention is directed to old engravings of tropical animals which suggest that this whole area was once fertile (as it is known to have been). The temple was already ancient at the time of engraving, however, and the engravers had most likely already forgotten how to ‘work’ it.

We come next to an initiatory centre which is also externally primitive and adorned by etchings. What is truly remarkable is that it seems to have been recently used! I ask about this indirectly and am told, again indirectly, that this is indeed the case. Mystery builds and is consummated at the third focus of our attention – an authentic, perfectly preserved ‘serpent’ temple which forms the energetic Heart of the whole complex. Several undulating rock formations, all apparently natural, converge on a single point where a stone canopy hangs over a formally elaborated antechamber. This is raised above ground level and dressed with ritual inscriptions. Some are recognisable variants of a language known to the Tuareg. The rest, cut into a central plaque, feature a mystical wave-like code. As I feel it, the display images and contains a balanced harmonisation of Earth and Cosmic energies at this point.

Amazingly, energy still flows in the array. My sense is that it represents the work of Atlantean initiates, who may well have been the last people who were able to ‘read’ the temple and so left this key for later generations. It seems likely that their knowledge was transmitted through esoteric initiations, at least down to the time of the Tuareg queen, which is said to have been ‘very very long ago’. As I am sensing into this, clearing energetic debris with my left palm, a colleague stumbles on the energetic centre of the matrix, takes my right hand and tries to place it on the stone at this point. I forbid this sharply (and apologise without explanation). The surging energies of my active hand would upset a balance that has somehow been maintained in a steady resting state, like an engine set to idle for millennia!

I continue feeling my way around the display with my left (feminine, receptive) palm, absorbing a lot of vibrationally-encoded information at its nodal point. This promptly overwhelms my nervous systems, triggering a brief wave of tears. I shift into another altered state as a result. When it comes time to ‘give thanks’ I feel what must be done to raise the temple to a next level of functioning. I rattle over the inscription as we drum, sensing the power of intuition translate by resonance into the consciousness of stone, activating it in a way that takes me by surprise. There is a water font to one side of the raised front and beside it what I sense as a fire pit, where a sacred flame constantly burned. There is also a third depression where I ‘see’ a pink flame burning steadily in pale aquamarine liquid, reminding me of the fire-in-water motif from my solo vision.

I am mesmerised as we emerge from this process and rush around eagerly mapping primary energy lines within the complex. A key to its interpretation is given on one side, where a graphically symbolic serpentine stone formation mimics the pulsing of energy lines under Earth and suggests how they are brought to harmonic focus under the frontal plinth. The temple also serves to coordinate this autochthonous flow with surrounding cosmic energies. To my dismay, we are called to work of psychological integration in the lee of this pulsing dragon. Thankfully, it requires no effort and I am able to continue working energetically with the temple throughout.

Fully pursued, this might entail a sublime energetic dialogue, or perhaps outright fusion, with powers of egoless intuition gradually awakening inert potentials in the stone and vice-versa but I don’t have the time or privacy for this. Indeed, the second phase of our human exercise requires partner-work, filling awareness with self-talk and details of personal stories. This serves a point until people are ready to let such stories go. Right now, it blocks opportunities for trans-personal awakening which abound in this place (by harnessing its energies to amplify subjective processes). I adopt a line of least resistance, wishing neither to disrupt the harmony of our group nor the small but significant effect of recalibration which our presence has brought about so far.

Later, in keeping with my Michael J resolution, I seek and obtain exemption from further exercises of this type. Overall, I am greatly encouraged by the presence of such a power site in the Desert. The fact that a being like the Tuareg queen should devote her soul power to its maintenance is for me a source of great hope into our human future, at a time when indigenous and modern luminaries from many traditions are predicting various forms of global disaster. The Divine Plan, it is apparent here, hasn’t given up on beauty yet.

That night I am again drawn to sleep in the centre of an open space, above an energy line that runs from the Queen’s tomb to God-knows-where-else. When I approach this spot in darkness, a wave of apprehension rises and I know it will be a challenging place to ‘rest’. It has just been said in our circle that this place will offer peace or challenge as requested. I also heard myself saying – totally without premeditation, although understandably given the afternoon’s events – that I was feeling ‘very pregnant’! My ego is not making any choices here so, following my soul’s impulse, I lie down to see what will be seen.

Waves of abject terror rise in me through the night. These have little to do with my personal consciousness and my spiritual consciousness is entirely content to let them be. Despite this, radical fear surfaces persistently in my body, as if from unplumbed depths of collective memory. It manifests as a kidney infection, instant and severe. I need to cope physically with this through a long, cold watch. Consciousness simply bears witness, advising patience. It is not clear to me why this is happening although I know that it concerns healing ancient dissonance between male warrior energies and the principle of matriarchy (Mother rule).

Core tensions to do with male individuation and fear of its reversal are involved. The conditioned tendency of a man always under such circumstances is to withhold and not surrender, whereas my instruction remains exactly to surrender into sleep/lessness. Physical discomfort hampers this. It is only as first light gathers that I intuit what the outcome of the process is to be. A New Sun will be born through me this day, whence my pregnancy announcement of last night! Shortly afterwards, as dawn breaks, the stricken muscles of my pelvic area uncoil. My lower chakras open and a golden sun rises from my solar plexus up into my (spiritual) Heart.

Excited by this, I rise early and climb a nearby hill to greet the outer sun, seeking to celebrate externally a process that I have now experienced definitively within. There was a kind of sacred marrying happening through the night, and a transmuting of root fears which prevent males from surrendering completely to Goddess power, although it is only by virtue of such surrender that we can be reborn. (A parallel challenge faces women who would access their Goddess power.) I track the energy line clairvoyantly with a friend after my return to Ireland. It links the Queen’s grave to a corresponding male point elsewhere in the region. The purpose of my transmuting was to facilitate new balance between them. This process is now under way.

After breakfast, I excuse myself from group practice and make my way back to the serpent temple. I am astonished to find on the way that I am pissing blood. This is a residual symptom of intense fear. My ordeal of last night was real! It will take a while before my body recovers. Against this, I feel a new vibrancy as I approach the temple. It no longer feels remote and closed. I head straight for the energy code, kneel before it and sing my altered vibration deep into its nodal point. My forehead rests on the stone, which opens so that my third eye peers into a dark, vertical corridor, seemingly endless. This closes as my sounding fades.

I hurry back and come into view just as our group is forming in its reduced circle of twelve. I project the renewed vibration of my Heart into its centre and drink a lot while the Tuareg prepare our camels for departure.

                                                                    *

The wind is high and the animals are nervous so we are advised against riding. Because of my foot, Adem proposes to lead me. I try this but it feels inappropriate. It is necessary for me to be travelling under my own power so I get down and walk after a while, leading an excitable Tony myself. By the time we arrive at our lunch spot, the temple energies have integrated and my body is working better. I lie down after eating to consolidate this and, when I get up, don’t know who I am or what I’m for. I feel estranged within myself, restless and vulnerable without explanation.

Then I remember the ‘empty stage’ of my personal/soul reconfiguring. I am now in an ‘empty’ phase, when the issue which was occupying the space of consciousness is in abeyance and nothing has yet arisen to take its place. The stage of ‘presence’ is vacant. Consciousness dreams that stage and every manifestation that unfolds through it. ‘John’ is a late inflection, realising this now but not yet sufficiently familiar with the awareness simply to let it be. It is not the same as ‘John’ being quiet but rather of there being quietness without ‘John’. Missing myself, my habit is to go looking. I centre in my Heart and seek peace with regard to this new pattern of awareness.

Then, addressed by friends, I speak of getting down from the camel in order to reclaim my sense of power. I later hear ‘my’ voice saying ‘It’s boring to be led’. In doing so, I perceive an adolescent echo which I must admit and express without censure. This too is part of the adjustment required by my remodelling, so that every part can be expressed without fear of judgment or repression. Once it becomes present by this means, it is then accepted, taken to Heart and rendered amenable to flow. All parts support each other thus, becoming whole-hearted and ‘one’ in the process. At first it takes a bit of getting used to.

The wind dies down that afternoon and we are able to ride. Tony looks back as if to say ‘I grow weary of this continent’. From the moment we start he sets about proving this. Even our hundred metre honeymoon is suspended. Eventually, I see that he’s picking up on my temple accelerations and mirroring them energetically, leaving me to cope with the challenge of ‘driving’ newly rampant energies.

I feel exhausted after 15 rounds with this manifestation of Oneness and beg absence from group exercises. Facing the setting sun, I enter a deep grounding meditation, followed by another to rebalance my light body. This second practice is again the Mer-Ka-Ba procedure learned from Drunvalo. In the midst of it, a New Sun rises in me, unbidden and unannounced, while our actual sun sets over low mountains in the west. With a start I realise that this may be the first time in thousands of years that the protocol as taught to Drunvalo (by Thoth of Atlantis) has changed. For some reason, I start to cry. My Heart, filled with golden light, continues to radiate long after.

Despite this, sleep is difficult. My kidney is troubled still and I am processing deep issues of sexual shame. These are collective rather than personal and arise out of fear-processing that started in the temple precincts last night. My sense is that they represent a further wave of clearing that is required if a deeper marriage between male and female principles is to be possible in our human world. Later, when I sleep, I receive further instruction regarding my ‘empty stage’, not just as a new model for my soul but also as the Source from which its whole drama arises.  Relating this to my transcendental experience of the phrase ‘You are my love’, much falls into place. I have no problem with John’s absences from centre-stage thereafter.

Next morning we trek over a mighty mountain pass, at least in my imagination. This brings us into a valley close to well-worn tourist-trails. There is a sense for the first time of our adventure winding down. Our guides assign an exercise where we meet with future versions of ourselves and use this reflection to consolidate unclaimed potentials indicated by our solo days. My guidance is to be present NOW, realising again that the empty stage at the centre of my experience is timeless and thus admits whatever aspect of ‘me’ needs to appear. Actually, all aspects of ‘me’ are quiet as I sit blissfully on my elevated site, half-human and half-mountain, watching shadows fade.

                                                                    *

Our next stop is a spectacular desert location of undulating dunes surrounded by old stone. Tony again mirrors power that I feel surging in myself so I again need to keep a tight rein. I dislike doing this but manage well, acknowledging it as an important aspect of my journey. As usual, he has me exhausted by the time we arrive, around mid-day. After lunch and relaxation, the group settles into more work of integration. My sense of not knowing who I am or what for returns so I ask ‘What is my Passion in this moment?’ and am drawn immediately to a shaded rock-face in the distance. I must go there, it seems, to engage new levels of Mystery.

I set off with a rucksack to cover all contingencies, taking note of landscape features as I go for orientation and feeling a renewal of animal intelligence in my body for the first time since my solo. I enjoy straddling the sharp ridges of high, rolling dunes and breathing in the energies of distant peaks. I arrive at a sandy embankment piled at the foot of a steep gradient. The sun has vanished behind this although the rest of our valley is still bathed in its warmth. I draw a line in the sand and mark its extremities with my rattles. Then I kneel and prepare to follow a simple instruction which occurs. I must summon all my Passion and express it through the power of sound to break through to a new level. I begin a preliminary meditation, gathering all my parts for the effort required. What escapes my lips at first is a low paean of soft yearning, Heart-felt but inchoate. Then a mighty call erupts. I am so immersed, I don’t reflect that it must be heard for miles.

As I am sounding, a wall of stone appears before my inner eye. It cracks under my passion and rolls back like a curtain on both sides. I fancy then that I am looking into the Land of Heart and many dimensions beyond. It feels like looking through the empty stage at the Heart of my dream. All possibilities are born here. I gather that with practice and care, I can learn to move between these realms at will. I absorb vibrations from the rolled back stone, now mirrored by the emptiness of my thrown-open Heart. When this trans-action is complete, I close and come away. That night, sleeping in the dunes, is the most peaceful I have known for weeks.

The next morning brings the final ride of our camel caravan. Tony agitates for independence until its bitter end. There might have been a flicker of respect in his imperious eye as I thank him for bearing me through so many landscapes. I break etiquette and hug him anyway. Relieved, he hobbles off to munch acacia. We have reached another beautiful location where we will later be joined by Tuareg women who will join us in a closing festival. Before this, they drum and sing while our Tuareg guides – newly costumed – stage a ceremonial parade, followed by an all-out camel race. (This event is called a tindi: rhymes with Hindi; spelling uncertain.)

We are all to beautify ourselves before the event. Female genius comes to the fore. Our guests arrive. Greetings are exchanged and blankets laid. Our women gather around the Tuareg women, whose drum becomes the centre of a dense formation. I kneel at its fringe. Slowly, after the skin has been wet and stretched several times, they begin to play. The most ancient of sounds fills our awareness. I am transported as the drum beats out, as if from the very Heart of Earth, deep, deep rhythms of the Mother, calling her children to awareness and greater life. Despite my maleness, soul memory is immediately stirred. Tears are rolling down my cheeks even before the chanting starts. I am too overcome to participate, although my rising feminine soul would surely qualify me.

The effect of overwhelm is impossibly enhanced when the men appear, dressed in fresh gandoras with their camels immaculately groomed. These are not the hosts of our last weeks but legendary figures evoked by magic incantation. Men and camels preen above the rhythms of the seated women, riding energies generated from this still dynamic centre. It is an occasion beyond time, trailing echoes of nobility and promise, stirring traces of a remote but ever-present past. The men grow in pride and stature as they pass, towering over the tight nucleus whose pulsing binds them to Earth, never tiring of endless, carefully orchestrated returns in which each seizes every opportunity to exhibit some slight distinctive flair.

Apart from the visible female presence at its centre, their display has all the solemnity of comparable preening in Washington, Moscow or Beijing. I cry at the unself-conscious dignity with which Lili parades, a knight of the desert, the living embodiment of his ancestors’ dreaming, and mine. How much longer will there be an audience to bear such beauty? My question needs no answer. There is one now. L, my youngest friend, has also been radically moved by this primal mirroring. A spiritual collective, one soul, lost ones masquerading, brilliantly disguised, we gather in remembrance of One Love, Lover-Beloved, endlessly calling, searching, finding, losing again. Not for the first time, we are pregnant together.

Shy, gentle Ibrahim wins the race and blossoms unrecognisably as a result. Restored to the power base of his sacred feminine, distinguished by his triumph, he knows who he is and what for. He becomes vital and confident where before he was retiring and shy. This is particularly evident in his role after our meal. For the first time, we eat at separate fires. We join the visiting nomads. It would, I am told, be a gesture of premature intimacy for two nomad groups to eat together on their first day of meeting. Sharing and disclosure need to be regulated in an environment which lacks visible boundaries. Eating, linked to survival in a harsh environment, is a sacred function which can only be shared after access rituals have been carefully observed.

After dinner, in any case, the women play again, elaborating further trance-inducing rhythms out of a narrow set of originating forms. I pay close attention to how they build the underpinning rhythms of their songs. They start with simple drum-beats, which ‘take’ or don’t. If they do, a base tone is introduced to consolidate the rising energy. If a rhythm doesn’t take, it is simply abandoned and the women start over. The same thing even happens a few times after a base tone has been introduced. Once it is established, however, individual voices rise over this base tone. Only then, it seems, can men add their wild calls and flourishes to the mix, which is indulged until the wave it rides has been exhausted. Then the process starts again.

Anyone can clap once a base tone has been established. Eyes closed, I play my part repeatedly through many songs about camels and love. I even call on my afternoon experiences and Celtic magic to assist fledgling rhythms on their path towards flight. A better metaphor, it strikes me, would be the process of starting a fire. The first drum beats are like rubbing kindling sticks, waiting for a spark to ignite. If it doesn’t come, you pause and start over. If it does, you nurture its presence by other means into an offering which brings life and warmth to the community. After material fire has yielded its gift and the group has eaten, fires of spirit are stoked and their gifts also given. The land and the people in relation to the land are held in mutual embrace by this enchantment. I feel privileged to witness such essential culture-building.

After a while, our circle breaks up. The Tuareg women move away from the fire and begin to play in nearby darkness. As I recall, there is just a drum beat and base tone involved. Tuareg men approach then in twos and threes, arms laced around each others’ shoulders, offering their answering call, a raw vocal assertion of male power punctuated by a staccato dance that moves in a powerful jump-fall pattern from foot to foot, lurching back and forth as it attempts to hold its own in face of the women’s generative power.

The other men of our group are drawn by this rhythm and join in. I stand at the end of our female line, experiencing complete access to both waves but belonging fully to neither. Before coming here, I would have relished the idea of joining such a primal declaration of male erotic power but now, for reasons which go way beyond injury to my foot, I can’t. I feel this more as a source of wonder than disappointment. It’s true that I don’t belong fully in either camp. I feel it as a consequence of complex threads of inner sacred marrying which I have experienced since my arrival, especially to do with my incorporation of C’s spiritual power. In any case, I hover unnoticed on the edge, feeling the power of two fires burning to be One.

After the visitors leave our group reassembles around the fire of our Tuareg guides, from whom we will be parting tomorrow. By a quirk of repositioning, I find myself again left on the fringes, outside the main circle. Fresh music-making has begun and my friends are already yielding to its spell. I don’t feel excluded, nor do I have any wish to participate physically. I close my eyes and experience the ‘concert’ happening in my Heart, as if it were a dream of my soul presenting there, inside me. I wait a while to see if this will change, allowing nostalgia a chance to have its way. When it doesn’t, I leave to sleep, sensing that some other order of belonging will be required.

My sleeping bag is less than thirty metres off. By the time I am ready to zip myself in, Ibrahim is leading an innocently sensual dance around the fire. For me, this is a consummate image of beauty, something an earlier version of me would have died to participate in. Now I feel only that I can’t and cry alone. My tears are not of sorrow or of joy but of reconfiguring. I have experienced initiations today that are too vast and subtle for me to comprehend or name. Yielding to ignorance, I fall into a deep and peaceful sleep. When I wake hours later, the campfire chorus is still ringing in my ears.

In between I dream of visiting the Netherlands. I am outside an esoteric bookshop. People are afraid to enter because they fear being unable to get out. I go in and am conducted through meandering aisles to a stairway, by means of which I ascend to an upper room. This room is run-down and in need of decoration. It is painted pale green and has a mirror all along one side. C is present, sitting in a chair with a radiant, new-born baby boy who is already talking. She hands him to me and I know he represents the still-growing promise of our shared journey. His potential must still be expressed on Earth. It is my task to cultivate it towards that end. Also, this ‘upper room’ of humanity’s integral creative potential needs renewing, beyond the stand-offs of ritually contained fe/male displays. Before leaving I catch a reflection in the mirror. My face is painted and made up, much like Michael Jackson’s before a concert.

                                                                    *

It is poignant to see the camels moving off without us the next day, disappearing in the haze of their own dust. I am grateful for all that has been given and ready now to go Home. The gifts of this journey can only be fulfilled in the context of our troubled, modern world. Yesterday I saw the hope of humanity in a twelve year old boy who exuded fiercely the pride of his people. Great change will happen in his lifetime. This is inevitable. We are part of an evolutionary process whose pace is accelerating still. The best we can do is help to orchestrate it beautifully, in the spirit of this journey. A new synthesis is in preparation. Tuareg meet westerners and neither group is left unchanged. ‘We’ are reminded of the depth and nobility of our Earth origins, of what it means to radically belong. ‘They’ are assured that what they hold is of inestimable value, and opened to new creativity and love.

This is what ancient, ‘traditional’ and modern ‘progressive’ peoples have to offer each other: opportunities to honour constancy anew, remembering old songs in new ways. With such mutual reorientation, we can negotiate Earth changes through our Shift of Ages graciously; with the beauty and dignity that befits a species of such high variety and calling. I am a stark example of this, who dreamt of visiting the desert to dance with Tuareg and now, finally arrived, find myself subject to such rapid transformation that old notions no longer apply. I came with residual dreams of aspiring youth and go home (come Home) wearing the robe of an elder, filled with a sense of all that I AM (for). Youngsters can now dance by fires whose flames burn brightly in my Heart. I dream them alive, remembered as essential notes of a new old story.

                                                                    *

We drive next day to what will be our final desert resting place. After settling, we visit a landscape where water runs freely in the desert, out of stone. Its flow is steady, its song uplifting, its persistence an occasion of reverence. The stream emerges on to a sandy plain from a rocky cluster, most of which is obscured by its own geometry. We are drawn in, further upstream, deeper into a company of living stone. Spirit guardians peer down from on high. Some of us are disturbed by trash and graffiti left by visitors with low awareness. The spirits are not angry. They operate with longer cycles and know a shift is imminent. Defacement is an effort of the estranged to neutralise what is sublime, to make familiar that which calls them out, and us also. We are here to do some calling of our own.

A ceremony is proposed, a gesture of evocation and thanksgiving. We move sun-wise, like a waterwheel, powered by the flow from above and behind. Then, mindful of the openings of my solo days, I ‘see’ a fissure deep in the Heart of Stone, behind which an abundant power of regeneration waits. Impelled by resonance I sing a song of new communion, evoking a shared consciousness. The spirit of water answers, released by willing stone. In the Land of Heart a wave arises, a great watercourse wave that fills us with gentleness and strength; flows in, through and around us, empowering us to become bearers of its message to all our distant lands. Wastelands can be regenerated through conscious invocations of Source. We need only remember our standing as co-creators for this to occur.

                                                                    *

That night I again retire early and dream my final desert dream. I am back in Dublin, my birthplace of this lifetime, a youth preparing to play football with well-bred peers. A troupe of rough boys gathers on the far side of our park. Intimidated, my group withdraws. Then I am with my newborn Son/Sun, travelling through the city of my birth on a red bus, signifying ‘Passion’. The baby asks many questions which I, grown up now, answer and resolve. Later, an angry youth steps out from Shadow, intent on murder. He strikes at me fiercely with a knife. I block his strike and, pinning his arm, propose playing football instead of prolonging ancient conflict. He accepts eagerly. I will dance with his dark power on my return. His passion represents a final bridge between my Little and Greater Gates. It is time now to go Home. Gifts of Vision can be unveiled only in relation to community.

                                                                    *

A new Son/Sun is born in me, out of radical marrying with my (now) Inner Beloved. Perpetual stand-off through the oscillating fortunes of ‘archies’ – matri and patri – is no longer enough. The New Sun expresses a higher synthesis of formerly contending human powers (male-female, Queen-King, Arab-Crusader), entailing a higher balance that is more receptive to Shadow elements. A fondness for Divine Parents must no longer keep us small. We are the ones we have been waiting for, children of Cosmos and Beyond, of Heaven as well as Earth.

We saw it in the desert: an indefatigable force of male power, hypnotically bound, tilting against an immovable phalanx of female generative substance, threatening to engage in ecstatic transcendence but always stopping short. This is an impasse which we are destined to outgrow, risking as men dissolution by the power of great queens, and as women penetration to the core of our Goddess sensibility, such that nothing of us remains inviolate, or our own. Dying is prerequisite for rebirth.

The power of the Goddess lives in a woman only by virtue of her absolute surrender to it. The power of the God is reborn in a man only when he surrenders utterly in union with his Beloved, the Goddess. His journeys to the edge are then fulfilled by returning to the Sacred Fire she tends. What is most interesting about post/modern cultures in our time is that men and women are daring the perils and potentials of both roles, confirming that it is primarily an inner, symbolic marrying we crave, in pursuit of a human integrity that we co-create as we remember. This means we have to change traditional cultures we go searching in.

                                                                    *

Back in Tamanrasset, showered and re-modernised, I pass on a chance to visit shops. Stepping out on the dusty street, I am asked for money twice. Ascending to the flat roof of Camping 4X4, I am ringed by poverty and beauty. An orange sun sets over stately mountains. Barefoot youths play soccer on waste ground. I come down to find O in the courtyard. Together we pluck strings of eternity in time. Space is being set for an evening meal. Three Arab men approach, intent on worship. One asks ‘Why aren’t you guys consuming?’ I think, reading between inter-cultural lines. He wants silence for his prayer. O says that we are tired. This satisfies. The Arabs kneel, then bow. Our silence echoes their devotion. Experience that might have been complex is simple and clear. I am still and know that I AM God. I AM movement also and know this Passion as Compassion. In concert, all manner of things will be well.

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