Delivered to one of my more natural psychological states (buoyantly floating under the indigo expanse), I found myself again in the graces of the Goddesses. My vision of the world around me rolled with the gentle waves that cradled the nondescript vessel that held my body. Countless sparkling guides wove myths into my hair as I witnessed their life paths as stardust strewn across Nuit’s naked canvas. I was far from alone in my reflective solitude.
My diamond-rope hair jingled as I sat erect. Salty floral notes stuck to my face from Nuit’s warm sighs. The bubble in which I traveled was clear though still enchanted. The distant shore, on the other hand, was dressed in a tenacious haze. I heard the music faintly on the breeze, more of a distortion to my ears than pleasant vibes. Two circular objects overlapped in the Western sky: a ghostly Ferris Wheel and the “Nightly Sun.” Free-swinging carts moved mechanically, stopping and starting independently of the riders’ Wills. The bottom half of the Wheel seemed to disappear into the haze around it. In front of this apparition hung “the Sun” of the Night. Rarely seen, it is a circular image, an optical illusion, comprised of two disjointed, curved lines of precise, searing blue that cut through the sky like unapologetic lasers. There is no center or substance between these lines; it is an image created solely from the outline. These two images, of the Ferris Wheel spectre and the blue-beamed illusory Night Sun, co-localized within the haze of which I was no part, close to the shore to which I was not venturing. I watched the machine Wheel move slowly through the Sun’s absent core for several moments before turning back to my preferred view of the sky: a beautiful wash of indigo and violet dusted with shimmering Dakinis.
It is no secret that the act of bathing has ties back to ritual and spiritual expression (1). The ritual bath, before rites, worship or significant events, acts not only to cleanse oneself physically in preparation, but also to cleanse oneself psychologically and spiritually. The bath is in preparation for an event or act, but it is also an event/act itself. Attention is directed to the body as one experiences the graces of Water. Tension is eased, warmth is delivered, and a kind of release is found. As the body relaxes, the mind follows. This helps to shift our brain waves from attentive beta to receptive alpha.
The pace, purpose and psychology of the bathing ritual can vary greatly depending on the time of day it is performed. In the West, typically people bathe in the morning, in preparation for their work, visitations or leisure. Those that do not engage in the morning ritual of bathing can be viewed as lazy, unkempt, or unmotivated. The purpose of the morning bath or shower is to prepare ourselves for productivity and interaction with others. It is often quick and efficient so we can arrive on time to our destinations. The ritual coincides with solar concepts of waking, presenting and acting. The bath may ease our transition from sleep and alpha waves to wakeful beta waves as we continue the morning ritual by gathering clothes, eating breakfast and getting our tools for the day in order. It is, in essence, a solar life ritual.
Many Westerners seem not to enjoy the pleasures of the evening bathing ritual. There is a distinct psychological difference. In the evening, the pressure or motivation of the day and productivity is not ahead of us. We are free to take our time in the bath, to relax and unwind. The mental shift here is from the wakeful beta to the dreamy alpha. We prepare our minds for dreamscapes that we will find in sleep. We are not preparing ourselves to meet others or to perform tasks; we are preparing ourselves to meet ourselves and reflections of our psyche and to simply be. Time, in this ritual, is hardly a concern; Time has no place here. The bath is preparation for sleep, dreams and/or nothingness. By bathing in the evening, we shift our attention to focus on the significance of these concepts and experiences. Sleep, dreams and nothingness are MORE than just something that happens or we do, they are experiences worthy of preparation and reverence. It is easy to see how these concepts can be akin to the concept of death, an unknown experience where Time has no purpose. In this sense, the evening bath/shower is a lunar death ritual.
By switching our routine, we can experience the different psychology of the morning and the evening ritual. Depending how we approach and regard these rituals, our experience of them can greatly change.
To live in perpetual morning-
with the changing sky: a palette of visible passage
with the quiet murmurs: dreams escaping lips, songs escaping beaks
with the subtle scents: hot water passing through ground, roasted beans
This morning, I did not shower. It is the first day in a long time that I did not feel the need. I decided to allow my own oils to coat my skin rather than rinsing them away in micelles formed after the common usage of bars derived from the fat of other animals. My hair is malleable, not dry and flat. My skin does not raise an inflammatory response to enhanced fragrances. It feels more natural this way.
It’s been 4 years since I left central Pennsylvania. In my final adios without grand gestures or a carload of tears, I sped off thinking that I would not miss the place. How could I miss the landscape that accompanied me through the awkward and tiring years of premature, rapid, reckless transitions? In the 5 years during undergrad, I felt like I was rushed through a handful of separate lives. College may be the best time of many young people’s lives, but for me, I don’t really regard 18-23 as a ‘fun’ time. Perhaps you may think this is a shame, or maybe you pity me in some way for not enjoying my youth. I’m not too concerned about it though; I have far much more fun in my adult years than many of my peers.
Anyway, back to my point: I never thought I would really miss it. There were a scant number of bars and clubs nearby, and most of them were not impressive or exciting. Nightlife was slow. We’d have to drive an hour to go to a chain that blared country music as the half-naked waitresses as young as I was served watered-down fluorescent beverages to drunken wanna-be cowboys. If we stayed on campus, it was almost a ghost town on the weekends since half to two thirds of the students were either commuters or termed ‘nontraditional’ (i.e. real adults with jobs and/or partners/families). Of the portion of the students left on campus for the weekend, most partied elsewhere with their senior friends and slept during the day. I was not interested in the partying as much as others were. I’ve always freaked my peers out a great deal with my preference for mornings. During college, it was difficult to find a work-out or breakfast partner. Consequentially, I sunshine-surfed on my own, and by the time the girls down the hall were singing and dancing as they dressed for a frat-tastic black-out, I was in my pjs watching Adult Swim. Like I said, I did some of the partying and late-night Denny’s run, but that is not what I miss at all. I miss what I took for granted: the space, the quiet and Nature.
Living at a campus not within walking distance of anything but residential developments and the woods, and having only a small portion of students with whom to interact, it forced me to entertain myself with what was available. I exercised, read, wrote, sketched, studied, and meditated. My memories of the campus on weekends was a big chunk of empty land for me to roam and explore. I got used to the space. I liked the lack of cars that drove by and the quiet of the air.
I visited the woods a lot, sometimes by myself, sometimes with a few others. I found solace by the river and among the trees. What was wonderful was that for the miles I walked in that forest, I never saw more than a couple people on the trails on any given day The golf course nearby was barely seen from the lower riverside and trails, and the golfers never had a reason to venture into the woods. I could feel as if the woods were mine. That is what I miss terribly. I miss having a forest to go to whenever the mood takes me, night or day, summer or winter, fall or spring. I miss being able to walk undisturbed at night by the river and skip stones or talk to spirits. I miss not being able to set up blankets on the green in the golf courses and watch meteor showers. Where we live now, the woods are guarded and watched at night, as are golf courses. They are also not within walking distance like the woods at the edge of my old campus were. I have had so many fantasies about venturing out at night to explore these woods in this area. However, cops seem attracted to my car, and there are not many good places close by to hide it.
I miss land, space, and freedom of wandering, exploration and movement.
Camping is a necessity, but it holds me over for only so long. My ideal is to be hidden from the eyes of humans, safe from the interruptions of cars and businesses and to have the open sky, green forest, and babbling brooks at my doorstep.
I know the place. I’ve come upon it time and time again. Within the last couple years, its occurrence has coincided with the presence of a close friend.
Did I wake up in the old, burnt-out school? I’m still unsure why I’m called back to it so often. Perhaps the eyes that opened in its windows a decade ago still have me in their sight.
It is night and I am looking up at vast skies with quickly condensing and shifting clouds over pinpoint stars and a last-quarter moon. The air is chilly. It must be Fall. The school stands in front of me, with its hollowed innards breaking before me. Open purulent wounds reach for a way to fill the school’s gaping soul.
The experience of it, being near it and in it is hazy… the inhabitants, the spirit, the time loops… all a seeming fabrication of a drugged mind.
And then I am out. I am in another Haus, one filled with young people joyously intoxicated, dressed in bright colors and hemp jewelry. I savor the twilight, the cotton-candy clouds bleeding into the sky as it phases out from red to blue.
Music is playing. People are dancing and laughing. The time stop-starts as images and moments are stretched and condensed, whisked and revealed, made inconsequential or marvelous. Conversations whirl around my head as I float from room to room, landscape to landscape. I cross open fields as I hop discussions. The sky changes before my eyes as my friend stands close to me and we say some words. Something begins to unfold… another world, the sequence of time disrupted and re-established so that one world is a few seconds ahead of the other. The sun had set, but stopped before whirling around to a noon-day position. I see it frozen, not emitting light or exchanging gas, just stationary in its position. A second sun, completely identical except for the position in time and space, meets it at the -2 position. Time elapses before me, accelerated to meet the point in time that my friend talks to me. It is night and both the suns have set.
The Haus and the school blend, and I am unsure what sun I am following. Perhaps I cannot handle the -2, 0 (or 0, +2) positions simultaneously. Perhaps I can handle it all too well, colliding realities into a superimposed collage of shifting opacities. He is with me in the Haus, in the school, in the -2, 0 and the 0, +2. I watch the suns move under my eyelids with my eyes open to catch the transgression of events and people. Two houses, two suns, two times, two of us to move throught them all. 2 on 2 on 2 on 2… I get lost in the multiplication and grin like the Chesire Cat.
I love the sounds of the sleeping world. The darkness before the dawn gives me comfort before the magnificent transition.
Sometimes I am convinced that I’ve had many past lives as a farmer given my internal motivation to start the day while the day has not awoken yet and my taste for buttermilk. Perhaps I romanticize the life, never having experienced it in this life (something I may still want to do some day). The draw is strong.
I imagine eating breakfast in the dark,
starting work before the sun comes up, f
inishing most of the day’s workload by noon,
napping or relaxing mid-day while the sun is beating down on fields,
talking without interruptions from cell phones or televisions,
letting my muscles relax after pushing my body,
having a dinner cultivated by my own hands,
feeding the animals and stroking the horses,
yawning as the sun sets,
returning to my natural rhythm.
For now, I take solace in my mornings alone with the sky and ground. My spirit flutters in the bird songs and fresh breezes. My mind still weaves dreams into the fabric of reality until the sun stains the sky.
The few that cater to the morning wanderers watch the dream dial turn as the masses caffeinate. The clouds fall back with the gossamer images and wish-filled succor of night.
As the buzz begins, I stick addictive electronics in my ears to hide within the music that keeps the dreams revolving.