“Warriors of Light: The Labyrinth, was a great story to read with my daughter. From a young age, she was aware of the suffering of humans and our disconnection from Mother Earth. Recently, it has been more palpable as we had to leave our beloved homestead because our water was contaminated by application of forever chemical (PFAS) filled sludge on our neighbor’s farm. When I asked her if I should have shielded her better from what is going on in our broken relationship with Earth, she told me that she was grateful that I talked about these things with her and what we do to be transformation because she could plainly see that the relationship with Earth is out of harmony. Initiation is a personal path that leads to the universal story, and seeing that there are guides and paths to healing, it is not an easy or straightforward journey. It takes grace, forgiveness, acceptance, courage, honesty, bravery… There is power, too, in that we are not the only ones on the paths of the labyrinth, but others are making their way and our stories interconnect.“
When I showed these words to a friend of mine, she told me she wished there we more dads in the world like this one. I replied, “If there were, the world would be a vastly different place.”
After I read the email from the father of a young reader, my heart filled with hope, and my eyes, tears. We are living in a world of extremes as we individually and collectively struggle to control the chaos that we have co-created. The irony is that, for the most part, we seem to have forgotten that we have, indeed, created the hatred, violence, anger, injustice, and degradation of life that we so desperately are trying to find a way out of. Instead of kindness, compassion, and empathy, we too often point the finger in blame. We rage. We fight. We struggle for control.
And, we and all life on the planet suffer because of our actions (and inactions), including the living planet itself. Our struggles to be right. To hold onto limiting belief systems and ways of living are inhibiting us from living in harmony with life. How telling it is that a 9-yr-old child knows this innately, but somehow the vast majority of us have forgotten this Truth.
What we reap, we sow. Years ago, I made a vow to “find the light behind the story.” We are all bodies of stories, and together we share the stories of our history. We are long over-due to change the narratives. Read the words of the father in quotes once more. Feel them in your bones. What are they saying to you?
For me, they are a reminder of why I write what I do. The only way to change the narrative is to rewrite it. By rewriting it, we Do Not erase. Instead, we dig into our shadowland and find the light, and the light is what we grow. Our very lives depend upon it. If you are in doubt, ask a child who has not yet forgotten.
The other day, I found myself chatting with a friend about our writing aspirations. While I was talking about my visions for the Warriors of Lightbook series, the conversation veered into the subject of magic. I mentioned how most books that use magical elements are placed into the category of fantasy because they are beyond the realms of the realistic. They entertain and enthrall us by encouraging our minds to play with the fantastic in the form of the impossible or unreachable. They stir our imaginations in a way that leaves us wishing for something we will never obtain. Fantasy, though, can also remind the imagination that there is more to life than we often allow ourselves to notice…
How frustrating it can be to feel as though a magical life is illusive and always beyond the realm of possibility. When I mentioned that a few readers of The Labyrinth had compared my book to one of the most popular fantasy series written, our conversation began to explore the definition of magic and how much it differs in my series vs. the one it had been compared to. The young “warriors of light” protagonists are not wizards or witches, nor do they use wands or attend a school that teaches spells and potions. Instead, their teacher is the labyrinth, a magical maze they journey through individually and together to bring back the light where it has been broken by darkness. Sure there are somewhat fantastical elements. The six young protagonists learn how to shapeshift into their spirit animals. Some of them see ghosts and all of them converse with beings in other realms, but is there really so fantastic?
Magic Can Be Extraordinary
Those how have traveled the shamanic journey will probably tell you that shapeshifting, or communing with spirit totems is not so fantastical. And, I’d wager most of us have had communications with spirits or beings from other realms, whether we realize it or not.
The hidden realms of life reveal their wonder as we open ourselves to the inherent magic that resides in all life. Like young children who have not yet lost their connection to inherent magic, our inner sight and senses re-expand beyond the ho-hum of the everyday routines. A mere walk in nature can stir the cells into a state of blissful union. Glimpses, or perhaps more, of the extraordinary become common, but no less magical. The more connected we feel, the more interconnected we feel as joy arises from our sense of being a part of an infinite web of light.
The Magical Inner Journey
While adding truly fantastical elements to a book of fiction can be fun, the magic of a hero’s journey arises out of self-discovery. It is an inner journey as well as outer journey. This is magic that is not only sustainable, but grows with awareness. The state of joy becomes accessible, achievable, and sustainable unlike a material treasure that is not easily found and can be lost, or stolen away. The gift of inherent magic can only be robbed by the self as it resides within the self.
Magic is an opening to and not a manipulation of energy
True magic arises out of the very essence of life. It does not manipulate the forces of the elements, but opens to the inherent magic that already exists. Herein lies true wonder. The state of joy is accessible through the opening. When we allow ourselves to open to life’s mysteries we find connection, truth, and re-union. Although most of us are not trained in shamanism, or have the ability to shapeshift into our spirit animals like the protagonists in the Warriors of Light series, we do have the ability to connect with and glean wisdom, inspiration, and a sense of union with the animal and plant communities around us. Many of us experience an aspect of this connection with the animal companions that live in our homes, but we can also open ourselves to connecting with the wildlife outside of our homes. Sitting in the presence of a tree and bearing witness to its enduring strength and flexibility, or watching the transformation of an earth-bound caterpillar into a near-weightless butterfly can bring profound insight, peac,e and awe to the observer.
Magic is Living in Wonder
This is magic. It is opening to life and all of its wonders that exists and unfold in each moment all around us. It is the knowing that not everything can, or will be known, in one’s lifetime, because life is filled with such complex and intricately balanced beauty that no mind can truly understand creation.
We left the eye with more questions than answers. Inside my mind’s eye I could still see the figure of white light standing over the pyramid stone. Waiting for our arrival. Waiting for the white pillar of crystal I had promised to seed at its base.
It was a short walk, through the tangle of roots and moss, to get back to the stone that had filled my thoughts for two months. I dropped my backpack nearby, and began digging through the contents for the wrapped selenite and Sophia’s small pyramid of rose quartz. As I searched for the pink stone, a noise rustled the forest into alert and we knew hikers were approaching.
Worry set in a bit as I wondered if we would be interrupted when it really matter most, but I soon discovered that our visitors were, in essence, just what we needed. A heaviness had set in after leaving the guardians and the white boulder. I, personally, felt a bit of an unease as to whether we were really meant to be near the “eye,” or had tried to “look” too closely at what was not meant to be observed. But there had been the wren, and I had to believe there was a purpose to our visit, even it if was not wholly revealed.
The wolf-dog appeared before his human companion. Later, Deb would remark about how even her appearance seemed more than accidental. A tall blond with blue eyes filled with an ethereal light. She and her rescued husky brought a joy that was much needed. That had somehow dissipated after our climb.
Ari and his caretaker had lightened our collective mood, and after their departure we decided to take a few moments to ground ourselves with some food and water. It was clear, through our visitors, that we were not meant to rush.
Trusting the inner guidance I was receiving, I suggested we form our own pyramid to seed our offerings and then join our energy with the energies surrounding us.
It was a natural unfolding, the white pillar slid into darkness, settling well below the base of the mighty stone above it, while Sophia and Deb seeded their stones at the points of their calling. No one else appeared from the trails as we gathered together again to extend our arms into three sides. Each voice, in turn, opening to words of gratitude for our presence being allowed. And, our offerings being received.
Our work soon felt complete, and a quiet fatigue settled in as we began to make our descent down the mountain. Although we shared words, we were also individually wrapped in the processing of our experiences. I, wondering if the lines might shine a little brighter than when I had first arrived on the serpent mountain two months prior. And, perhaps, a little more opened. Lines rejoining as the crystals settled back into the body of the Mother.
“It’s a snake!” Deb announced, as I shrieked and jumped back into the arms of Sophia.
“Oh gosh,” I apologized. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to scare it away.”
A garter snake, well into adulthood, its brown and tawny body blending with the earth, slithered away from our path and into the underbrush of the forest.
I thought of Shesha, the snake-boy from my book. The fourth character in the six to appear that day. And we all thought of Isis. It seemed a fitting guide for the end of our journey.
The small blue car coasted down the mountain with more ease than it had ascended. As we turned the corner to join the main road, a bear arose from the wooden face of a store placard. There, before me, was my sign from Sula, the bear-girl. All that was left was Dell. The otter girl. I realized the chances of seeing an otter that day were slim, but still I wondered if the hexagram would complete itself.
Less than twenty-four hours it would. Opening the screen of my computer, an otter would appear. It was time to await the next journey. Wherever and whenever that might be.
When we arrived at the pyramidal stone that had caught my eye during my first visit, I found myself worrying a bit about encountering other hikers. The stone is not far from the intersection of three trails, making it likely we would not be alone. Yet I need not have worried. All beings we met seemed to be messengers even when they were not aware that they were.
I pointed the stone out to Sophia and Deb, who could not deny the significance of its shape. It also seemed to mark the entrance to an area that pulled us into a desire to explore, and so after paying our regards with the knowing we would return, we ventured off the beaten path.
I immediately had the sensation of entering into what felt like the body of the dragon. Dimension began to slip away, and the mind softened as the inner sight opened. I knew my companions were feeling the opening too, but I would not know until we rejoined how similar our experiences were.
As I walked, past dreams and visions started to knit together, as worlds folded into each other. As strange it all seemed, it also made sense. At least to the degree I was meant to understand that day. I soon discovered the land here holds its secrets tightly guarded and a trust must be earned to enter into their mysteries.
An other-worldly presence was undeniably evident, it turns out, to all of us. The face in the pyramid stone that had appeared during my trip in July, along with the large stone head at the beginning of our walk that day, could no longer be claimed as mere coincidences. I am a skeptic by nature, but I could not deny what I was seeing once Deb and Sophia revealed that they, in fact, had seen the same.
Yet it wouldn’t be until later, after I had some time to digest the experience, that I would begin to connect the dots and wonder how lives past and present were weaving together for a purpose just beginning to be defined. “Ammon Ra!” I was nowhere near Egypt, but the pyramids were everywhere, dimensions had collapsed the stars into Earth, and one tiny messenger was about to lead us to a mysterious eye.
I believe it was Deb who first spotted the tiny brown bird flirting among the shadows of the trees. It flew just beyond our reach, and difficult to detect. Were it not for its voice, we may have lost it. Yet despite its illusive nature, the bird seemed to beckon us to follow, and so we did. It was, in my mind, without a doubt, another messenger. Perhaps our most important one.
“I think we need to go there. In fact I know we need to go there,” I announced as I pulled my companions into the undergrowth of a path that wasn’t marked by human footsteps. The energy of the beacon had an undeniable force, yet there was a point when I knew we must stop.
Surrounding us were guardians staring out from the trunks of trees, peering through the visages of moss covered stones, and leering up at us through darkened holes. I was beginning to feel rather like I was in some Tolkien novel and the words, “Thou shalt not pass,” echoed through my mind.
We gathered between the grumpiest “troll” and the wooden head of a dragon guardian, forming a makeshift triangle on the uneven earth after we placed offerings of herbs and corn near the watchful eyes.
On one side of us was the alpine forest, on the other, an immense white stone. If I had any doubts it housed the treasure being guarded, they soon disappeared.
Soon after our eyes closed in meditation, the serpent appeared. Its body emerged from the white boulder just over the head of Sophia and quickly wrapped the crown of our trinity. There it held us until we were finished.
“She’s standing in wait,” I whispered, eyes still closed and fixed upon the pillar of white energy waiting by the pyramid stone. Who she was, I still cannot say for sure, but she knew we were coming, and I was pretty certain I had seen her before. I recalled the “white goddess” who appeared in England at the foot of my bed years before, pulling the bedclothes back, urging me to surrender to the fey queen’s bidding. I thought also of Sophia, who had pulled the card for Isis before we had left. Was this her serpent energy that wrapped us tight?
It was after we rose from our mediation that I really looked at the white rock we stood beneath. “It’s the eye,” I don’t know how I knew it, but I was certain of my words.
Sophia, drawn to the curious markings that crisscrossed its surface, tried to get closer. The soft earth of the lid pulled her back and she lost her footing. “I don’t think we’re meant to go any nearer,” Deb and I both declared.
After a taking a few photographs, it was clear the “eye” had given has all of its gifts for the day. It was time to complete the mission of our journey and return to the pyramid stone and offer up the white pillar from Mystery Hill.
There were at least as many pyramids as there were hearts along the journey that led us to one particular stone pyramid at the crown of the dragon. Too many to count, and probably a lot that were missed by our eyes. It seemed, though, like the hearts, more than a coincidence… Pyramids carved into the faces of stones, stones opening to their portals such as the one above, and rocks that had somehow fallen from Earth’s openings into perfect pyramidal shapes.
Guides continued to appear as we ascended the mountain. Soon after the chipmunk, a call rang through the canopy above. “It sounds like an eagle,” Sophia remarked, “I was told an eagle would be here today.”
We did not see the eagle, but days before I had seen an eagle twice in my travels. Three times in total this summer.
Followed by the eagle, was a yellow butterfly spotted by Deb. It was becoming a little uncanny. Not only were these common guides in my personal life, the eagle and butterfly are two of the totems in my Warriors of Light series. And it would get stranger from there…
Worlds started to collapse as the mountain watched us walk its body. So many watchers, I would later remark that I was grateful I did not take this journey alone.
After that rather shocking encounter with the rock face that looked like the head of a galactic being, we were constantly aware of being observed. Ents appeared in the taller trees and trolls below them. Some seemed happier than others about our presence and it was clear we were walking in a land that did not really belong to humans.
A land, we would feel every-increasingly, that was guarded with a purpose. And, was alive with forces that, well, seemed other-worldly. Unlike in many of the places I have visited in England, where the magic of the land was enhanced by an ancient sophisticated society that moved and placed stones with deliberation, here mighty stones formed uncanny alignments by the forces of Earth.
Yet there were so many similarities. The feeling of dimensions collapsing and realms mixing. The feeling of forces dormant and waiting to be reawakened…it was more than obvious a dragon lines ran through this land, and the three of us could not help feeling and seeing that the stars also had a special alignment with this serpent mountain.
And, even though we had not chosen to walk the path of the water lines, the feeling of the element was present. It was held in the body of the stones with whale beings seemingly embedded into the body of the dragon. Fire and water. Alchemy. I couldn’t help but think of how the magical hexagram was here. And I could only hope that the lines were still alive here, even though there were obvious disruptions. Most notably, the towers of metal we could not bring ourselves to linger near for too long (much less photograph) that several feet (thankfully) away from the crown.
Memory and intuition brought us to the crown even though we were walking an unfamiliar path to get there. The increasing pulse, pulling us to our destination to place our offerings and heed the land’s calling, whatever it may be. And if it were not for the wren, we may never have seen the eye…
During the May series, when Eva and the kids will be exploring the magical world of The Labyrinth, I will be making special author appearances.
There is no purchase necessary to join the Book Club. Kids and their parents are encouraged to explore the book’s companion site, Warriors Of Light Club, for an introduction to its metaphysical teachings and the six young protagonists, Aponi, Shesha, Lupe, Dell, Ari, and Sula. While exploring, visitors who have not yet read The Labyrinth can try to guess what each character’s power animal is.
The hints are in the names…
The thirteen-year-old protagonists in The Labyrinth have a lot in common with the children and teens who attend Dancing Jaguar’s camps and events. Although the six teens do their best to blend into their outer world, each harbors gifts that are not easily embraced or understood by those around them. In the magical world of the labyrinth, though, the rules of the outer world break down and the teens learn to become empowered warriors of light. Here in this strange and mysterious realm, the nature of their true selves are revealed, as the warriors learn to embrace the strengths of their power animals, work together to repair the broken lines of light in Earth, and save Aponi’s mother who is trapped inside the shadows of her mind. But first they must save each other…
To learn more about the book club, or Dancing Jaguar Inspirations, and Dancing Jaguar Spirit Camps and events for kids, please visit Eva’s website. Here you can explore the wonderful and nurturing environment Eva has created for kids and teens who are seeking to understand and embrace their true selves. I’m including a brief description from her site, which describes the essence of Eva’s mission and the wonderful opportunity for enrichment she has created for youth through her camps:
“With a holistic approach to integrating mind, body, and spirit, this camp teaches children how to nurture their inner world. We live in a modern society that places value on nurturing the mind and body. Dancing Jaguar’s Spirit Camp teaches children how to nurture their heart and spirit. When children are encouraged to trust their intuition, honor their truth, and speak from the heart, they can develop their inner compass and trust themselves to make choices in high school and beyond that will sustain them.”
I have known Eva for years, although we only met in-person last summer, and have had the honor of following her vision and see it grow and flourish. She is a kindred spirit, with a strong passion for empowering and nurturing young minds and bodies so that they can grow with confidence in a world that can sometimes seen harsh and insensitive. I could not be more grateful that she has chosen to share her wisdom and the beauty of her light while she offers to explore the magical world of The Labyrinth with young seekers.
If you know a child who might be interested in the book club, or in Eva’s spirit camps, which have expanded into the virtual world at this time of social distancing, please share.
It was yet another fitful night in the realm of dreams. Back to school I went. This time to a peculiar college with a new roommate/dream guide. She sat before me, on the opposite bed, after I had tried to parcel out the pieces of her enormous puzzle into boxes on the floor below. Each one containing a jigsaw assortment that somehow went with the one beside it. Three, I believe in total, of interconnected scenes.
She seemed amused by my earnestness. Although she wore the face of teenager, large brown eyes framed by blond tresses, she was clearly wise beyond the years she showed me. Around her neck wrapped a red panda. Her pet? I wasn’t entirely sure how it had gotten into our room and why it was around my roommate’s shoulders like a living scarf, but I was fascinated. It was as though an old friend had come to visit me.
Let me return, for a moment, to the realm of daytime, and set the clock back about four decades. Imagine a little girl with blue eyes and dirty blond hair staring up at a caged enclosure where two red pandas are on display in their zoo-home. The little girl is about seven years old and she has declared those two curious looking pandas her absolute favorite animals in the entire zoo. This zoo that she visits often each summer because her father works there as a landscaper.
The red panda on the upper branch stares back at her, its brown eyes soft with understanding. The little girl is sure the animal can read her mind. She is sure a connection has been formed. Her love for the creature is sealed inside her heart. They share something beyond words. This soft, gentle being who looks more like a tiny bear crossed with a fox has become the girl’s chosen totem, at least for awhile.
The little girl never forgets her love for the red panda, but she moves onto other loves, and other beings fill her heart as she grows. The more visits she makes to the zoo over the summers she flies west to see her father, the more secrets she traps inside of her throat, which becomes wrapped in her growing confusion of truth.
Let’s leap ahead to last night and the return of my quiet and almost forgotten friend who is wrapped around my roommate’s neck. Before I can inquire why it is there, the red panda is suddenly around my own neck. I unwind it carefully, and hold it before me in my hands where I start to examine its soft body. Although the soft animal appeared well and healthy before, it now seems ill. In particular, it’s throat. As I hold it, the red panda coughs and I can see the damage incurred to its throat.
What have I done? Has my own, damaged throat, somehow damaged my beloved childhood totem?
I am filled with despair and worry, but before I try to solve this puzzle, let’s explore the nature of the red panda:
Red pandas are native to Asian countries such as Nepal and China. They make their home in high altitude forests where they are endangered due to human encroachment from deforestation and poaching. Quiet creatures by nature, red pandas are “soft spoken” and introverted creatures. They are closer to the size of a large cat than they are to a panda bear. Like their namesake, though, they depend upon bamboo for their survival. Red pandas are solitary creatures who are most active in the between times of dawn and dusk. They are, I am realizing, an awful lot like me.
Which brings me to the curious puzzle that was now before me on the floor of my dream. Where’s my water dragon? I wonder as I gaze at the head of the wooden dragon held together like a puzzle with interlocking pieces.
I am a water child born under an Earth sign. These two elements drive my nature, but as in all forms, they seek to be balanced. Wood is one of my weaker elements, so perhaps my dream self should not have been baffled by the head of the wooden dragon that now lay at my feet.
Often when we wake from the realm of dreams we must knit together the pieces of our night travels as best we can to make sense of the strange landscape of night. Before I fell into slumber last night, I had been thinking about Elan (often knows as Elan of the Leys or Keeper of the Dragon Lines as she seems to have appeared for my story) and how she made her appearance on the pages of my book, but had left me hanging for weeks as to where she was going to lead me and my characters. As I
drifted into sleep she came to me, finally stepping out of the shadows of the trees to stretch her antlers to the stars. She was showing me the way, if I chose to follow the path beyond the foothold of Earth…
I discovered a fun little competition called “Cover Wars” from a fellow writer and blogger, Ritu Bhathal. The Labyrinth is in the running for this week’s competition of book covers. Take a look if you’re interested. Please vote for your favorite. It’s okay if it’s not The Labyrinth. 🙂 The true credit for my cover goes to Danielle English at Kanizo Art
It’s been a strange couple of weeks, but then again, strange seems to be the new normal. Barely a minute goes by when the POTUS does not make some angry outcry or ignorant blunder. It’s so common, most of us barely bat an eye. Others rise up to toast hatred. Rage is infectious. For some strange reason, it’s now normal to be inhumane. Which begs the question, what are we striving for?
Last week, I posted a brief notice on Facebook in support of a teenager in town who is championing an environmental cause. She is seeking signatures to bring a petition to the legislature. And, like so many young and not-so-young environmental activists who are actively looking for ways to save our planet in crisis, her only M.O. is altruism. Imagine my surprise dismay when 9 out of 10 people who chose to comment, did so from a place of anger. When did altruism become a bad word?
Also last week: a senior in my children’s high school banged a teacher’s head against the cafeteria wall because he wasn’t happy with her, and three men armed with machine guns robbed a house in my town. My children are wondering if the world is going mad. They don’t know how lucky they are. Things like this aren’t normal around here. But, are they becoming normal?
A few weeks ago, school officials in neighboring towns came together for a common cause. Teachers are living in fear. Elementary school teachers. Children are acting out in anger and rage on a daily basis, and no one knows what to do. Yet, thousands of years ago, a group of people discovered that they could calm young and restless bodies and minds through the practice of yoga. The end result, peace. The answers are more ancient than time itself. Five minutes of silence everyday in inner city schools where crime and violence used to be the daily norm, have resulted in dramatic shifts towards harmony. Yet, many of us still resist the doorways within.
Two hours ago, I was wrapping up my walk with my dogs when I saw two of my neighbors across the street from my house. I thought I’d stop over to say “hello,” but on my way I followed their fingers to a stray dog hanging out in my front garden. After hurrying my agitated pets inside, I went back out to see what I could do.
The dog in question was a gentle spirit, and I was pretty sure I’d seen her on my walks before. As one neighbor pointed out, she had no identifying tags, so while she leaned into the other neighbor, I photographed her to post on FB. I was certain she’d soon be identified. She was a pure-bread, and someone had probably spent a pretty penny on her.
Seconds later, a car zoomed around the corner, and, suspecting the owner, we waved it over. Instead of relief and gratitude, we were confronted by an irate man filled with accusations and blame. Blame not for himself for losing his dog, but for the dog and its dog-nappers rescuers. Alter, my neighbor told me she was sure there was another dog in the car. I was certain there was also a child, in a carseat.
The entire scene played out in mere minutes, and all I could manage to do, as well as my neighbor (the other neighbor had gone home) was to try and help corral the dog as kindly as possible while her owner yelled and raged at it. It was distrubing at best. Yet, it also seems strangely like the new normal.
If you follow the POTUS and his army of supporters (which I try my best to avoid), all of the above will seem like mild day in the land of the good old USA. We are a nation gone mad. Or, were we always mad, but just did a better job hiding it?
Six or so years ago, I decided, or rather it was decided by some unseen muse, that I would write a book about six teens who would travel a labyrinth filled with darkness to bring back the light. Thinking they are on a mission to repair the light in Earth and heal the planet, each teen is faced with the discovery that the darkness inside the labyrinth in Earth is also inside of them.
The outer is a mirror of the inner. Always. We all know the saying, “peace begins within.” And, to get to that place of peace, we must travel the darkness within. We must face all of its ugly and fear-filled forms. We must confront it. Untangle it. And above all else, we must love it.
In one of my first yoga classes with preschoolers, there was a young girl who troubled me. She had blue eyes and stringy blond hair she’d often twist into knots with her fingers. She could be cute, but during my classes, she most often wore an ugly face twisted by inner turmoil. Some might say she looked possessed. And, in a way, she was. There was clearly something that was eating away at her happiness and ability to share joy with others in the class. And to find her own joy with the class. Sadly, she made it through one 6-week session, but never returned.
In some ways, I felt like I had failed her. I was not able to give her the individual time she probably needed, and was instead often looking for ways to ensure she wasn’t pestering her fellow classmates. I shared concern with her parents and teachers, and it seemed to be understood.
Even though she is no longer attending my yoga classes, I still see her in passing most weeks. She stands in line when I arrive, waiting to head outside for recess while some of her peers wait for me on the rug. Each time I see her, I make a point of catching her eye, as I do with all children who are waiting. And each time she catches mine, I smile at her.
In the first few weeks, after our time together had ended, my former student would look at me with the eyes of distrust. As though I was perhaps mocking her, or in some way had an intention other than kindness. I continued to look for her eyes and smile. About two weeks ago, amidst all this recent chaos, I caught those two blue eyes looking at me and my smile was met with a smile. A smile of trust and friendship.
I can’t say what this little girl’s demons are, or why she was more tormented by her darkness than some little kids are, but I do know it exists inside all of us, in various forms. We carry the fears of our own lives, and the lives we lived before this one. We carry the fears encoded into our DNA passed down to us in our genes, and we absorb the fears around us. We are solitary beings intricately connected with all life. When one of us is in pain, we all are.
I know that man who collected his wandering dog was acting out of his own deep seated fears, even though it presented itself outwardly as hostility. Our POTUS is doing the same thing. As well as his devoted followers. What troubles me is not their fear, but their unwillingness to travel inside of it. To follow their own labyrinths of darkness to find the light. A light that is filled with the core of love that feeds joy. What troubles me is that so many seem to be okay with, and even embrace, a life fueled by self-righteous anger and hostility, rather than choosing the path of darkness in search of their own light. Granted, it’s not an easy path to take, but unlike with anger and fear, we don’t walk it alone. The POTUS and his followers, and the many others around the world who are choosing hatred as their M.O., may think they are united in a cause, but there is no union with fear. There is only destruction, of the self and the community.
I think perhaps that little blue eyed girl with blond hair who used to take my yoga classes has already discovered this. Yoga may not be her M.O., but kindness now appears to be. I’ve noticed she not only smiles at me, but holds the hands of her classmates eagerly on her way out to recess. I image the fresh air and being close to nature is a balm for her, as it is for all of us. I embrace her choice to find joy in her chosen way. And, more than anything else, I am happy in the knowing that she seems to know, in her five-year-old self, that joy is her birthright.
“Dear boy you are inside a crypt. Or, to be more precise, you are inside what once was a tomb. But, before it was that, it was something more.”
As Lupe’s eyes adjusted to the absence of sunlight, he realized the earth around him was glowing. He no longer felt fear, only awe. Tiny orbs of silvery gold speckled the ceiling and walls, and for a moment Lupe thought he was gazing up at the stars.
“They brought the above into the below, as you can see.”
“It’s so cool. But why? And what is it made of, a special paint?” Lupe reached out his fingers.
“Don’t touch it. Don’t touch anything unless I tell you to. You’re walking on sacred ground. Remember that. Those stars you see are made from pyrite and quartz. They’ve been there for thousands of yearsOn.”
Lupe let out a low whistle of air, “Geez, that’s kind of amazing.”
“Yes, it is, isn’t it? No other human now living, aside from you, knows about this place, as far as we know. They’ve found some of the others, but not this one.”
“What’s special about it? The dead bodies? You said this was a crypt, right?”
“Yes, and no, but you won’t see any bodies here. The tombs are still preserved. Untouched by man. We’d like to keep it that way.”
“Fine by me. I’d rather not trip over some dude’s femur if you know what I mean,” Lupe paused. “You said they are untouched by man. Do you men just men, or women too?” He wasn’t why he asked the question, but it suddenly seemed important.
“Ah, they did say you would be bright. I meant men. Women, you see, once held a place of honor. As the sacred bearers of life they were revered as holy beings. Only women touched the bones that lie here. We are inside a woman’s chamber built to symbolize her womb. It is a place where only women walked.”
“Oh, wow! I thought you had said tomb,” Lupe felt his body fill with the weight of the truth. “Are you sure we should be here now? I mean you’re a ghost, so I suppose you are okay. But I’m a dude.”
“It’s just an expression. You know, for a person. Anyway, why have you brought me here and not Aponi, Dell, or Sula? I mean, they’re, uh, women, or almost women.”
“Those must be the three females who have been chosen for other tasks. Your friends. Well, you see. There are rules that are now allowed to be broken. But, not just by anyone. You, alone, were chosen to come here, Lupe, because you have proven your love for Earth. Your roots are here, and it’s important that you are not female.”
Lupe felt the weight of these words sink into his mind. Have I really proven myself, though? he wondered.
“You have honored Her with your actions and the reverence you hold inside of your heart. You understand the need for balance, both of the inner and the outer, although you have not yet wholly discovered it. This is why you are allowed to enter this sacred place. There is no force striving to control within you. You do not seek to dominate, but to balance.”
“I see…” Lupe replied, even though he was not sure he did. He let his eyes wander back to the walls of the cave, “Why’d they paint the ceiling like this if it’s a graveyard. I mean, why go through all the work?”
“Ah, but it is not a graveyard, it is a place where life begins and moves on. Look closer at it, perhaps you will be able to figure out why.”
“Hey, is that the Milky Way?” Lupe pointed to a wavy band that held more densely packed crystals of light than its surroundings.”
“I believe that’s what you call it now.”
“Now? You mean it used to have another name?”
“Oh, it’s had several.”
“The River of Creation. The Great Mother. Plumed Serpent…Your ancestors believed that it was the gateway to where the light of the individual souls are formed, and to where they returned after death.”
“Oh, you mean like the rainbow bridge?”
“Some called it such.”
“Well is it?”
“Is it what?”
“The place where we all come from and where we return when we die?”
“That is not for me to reveal. You are here to observe and discover for yourself. You are here to walk the path of darkness back into the light. Just as your friends are doing.”
Lupe felt himself weighed down by his ancestor’s words. He let his body fall against the cave wall then lower to the ground. Instead of landing on the floor, though, Lupe came to a seat upon a bench he had failed to notice before. It was not large, and appeared to be part of the rock itself. Jutting out about half a foot, the stone seat looked like it was a part of the wall and could comfortably hold three people, side-by-side.
“I see you found the waiting place.”
“Yes. Where those who were chosen would wait to be called.”
“Called for what?”
“To do the work of the Great Mother.”
“But why would they wait here?”
“Because this is where they were tested. The initiates. Here, where the dead lie in wait to be reborn is where the chosen ones from the living come to birth their true selves. It is a place of power and of self-discovery. Some found they were called here only to return to what they were doing before they came. Others awakened to gifts that had been hidden inside of them. Many healers, prophets, and seers emerged from here. Many Earth Keepers like yourself.”
Lupe felt a rush of energy descend from the crown of his head. The heat flowing inside of him ignited each of Lupe’ cells with a knowing that felt like truth.
“You are not so very surprised, are you?”
“No. I guess I’m not. I mean, somehow I’ve always known I was here, in this life, to help protect Earth. This place,” Lupe paused, “in a weird sort-of way, feels like home.”
“Well, my boy, it should. Come. Let me show you the rest.”
“There’s always more.”
This is a chapter from my WIP, book two of the Warriors of Light series. When I saw Sue’s photo for this week’s writing prompt I immediately thought of my characters, some of whom find themselves in similar looking places to what we see here. Lupe is one of them, a young teen tasked with a mission to repair the lines of light inside Earth and save the life of his friend’s mother. To participate in Sue’s #writephoto challenge this week, click here.