Hindu Gods and Goddesses

Thursday, August 30, 2018

"Collusion . . . er . . . Conclusion" Conclusion to Memories and Musings of a Post-Postmodern Nomadic Mystic Madman

Collusion . . . er . . . Conclusion

I would like to conclude these true if difficult to believe tales, these mad short story accounts from my crazy wanderings around this land, with something of a denouement. I would like to, but it seems the story persists, the odd occurrences continue, the mysteries maintain their grasp on my day to day, and often of late less lighthearted or playful than during most of my journeyings. Though I certainly hope to experience other adventures and explorations of this wonderful and sometimes terrible world, for now I am at rather an impasse and the longed for conclusion continues to elude. One cycle, to some degree represented in these accounts (though with much of the subtler and esoteric insight left unrecorded), seems to have come to an incomplete or at least ambiguous close. What comes next, I do not know.

I have been living (if that’s the proper term for one who has been murdered on multiple occasions) in Laramie for just about one year, and have been psychically and otherwise vying with what might be called “metaphysical” critics (though there is likely a more accurate Sanskrit word than said Greek term) of my adventures, and of my renderings thereof. It may well be I have “metaphysically” or otherwise stepped on someone’s toes by seeking to uncover hidden truths or by pursuing a romantic dream with such fervor, else I have been facing the assaults of some mad muse improperly assigned to my service and intent upon prodding my mind with mischievous intent. Whatever the case, I have been languishing in Laramie, dealing with a milieu of mind and spirit (or spirits) that seems to be something not unlike a judgment of my critical response to the lila—“divine play,” or facsimiles thereof—that I have lived through over the last ten to twelve years. I suppose whatever vicious critique this work might receive from whatever book reviews in whatever newspapers might deem it worthy of mention will seem trifling in comparison, so perhaps I shall try to transform these subtle-plane assaults by receiving them as “good practice.”

Since I returned to this purported23 place of my birth and for some months previous I have been forced into a rather confused retrospective, encompassing not only the mostly happy years of my travels, but also everything I have memory of from this life, and seemingly some other’s (and perhaps a number of others’) memories and twisted versions of my memories appended to my own remembrances. This rather skewed review of my days and nights has been forced under the scrutiny of any number of lenses, from the purview of various dogmas and interpretations thereof, to perspectives at least represented as representing the points of view of various people I have known in this life in whatever capacity, to various portrayals of the purviews of various mythological constructs and mythical figures, deities and the likes. In addition, seems tricks and manipulations of illusion whether playful or mischievous in intent have found no cessation.

An old doorframe on the side of Jeffrey’s Bistro which should be ashed and trashed, back in place where ought to be a replacement, stands as but one example of the temporal anomalies and inconsistencies in the makeup of the reality I’ve observed upon returning to my “hometown.” Regarding this mysteriously unburned door frame discussed in the last chapter, by the way, I have consulted others who were present here during the same span of time, and even one fellow employee who was there when this incident occurred, yet no one seems able to offer a reasonable explanation for how such a thing could be.

As another example of my uncharacteristic malaise and the unusual characters seem to idiosyncratically materialize as if actors on cue, on my way to a morning (er, mid-afternoon) cup of coffee the other day, I encountered a Brahmachari fully clad in ochre pants and kurta and scarf walking past Daylight Donuts in downtown Laramie. I was feeling a bit put off in general, and the unusual sight of a shaved-headed Hindu monk in Wyoming seemed exemplary of the sort of bizarre manifestations I’ve been experiencing, regardless of affiliations or affinities, so I raised my open hand in the mudra for blessings and growled in a rather gruff voice, “Hara dharma! Haaarraaaa dhaaaarmaaaa!!” This rather startled renunciate raised his hand likewise in the Abhaya mudra, staring in disbelief as I then proceeded across Third Street.

Indeed, mind and illusion manifest ‘round me have grown more than a little insane, super-synchronistic and dreamlike, else at the least I’ve a manic and mean muse either prodding me to finish or to not finish writing and revising this text, and who also happens to have the ability to significantly alter the illusion of this reality. Needless to say, this has pushed me to the edge of my sanity, or at least to the margins of collectedness. Thus, if these last pages seem a little disheveled and a tad confused, this is because thus are my thoughts. I returned to this high plains valley expecting some good culmination or fruition, to begin some hard work for some semblance of tangible returns, and not to face further intrigues, deepening riddles and increasingly absurd lila.

Indeed, were I to endeavor to record all of the intricate and complex strands of the absurdly interwoven interpersonal mesh (and sometimes mess) of relationships and synchronies and causalities I have perceived or been forced to consider related to these tales I’ve written herein, the work would necessarily be comparable in length to the Vedas, and would likely still miss certain salient factors amongst those my mind’s meandered through like transiting some ethereal gauntlet. If I recorded every odd occurrence or curious coincidence that evinced the strange or paranormal, the resulting journal would be constantly writ from day to night, and then I’d need start again to pen these revelations as soon as I wake from dreams the next day.

Were I to write a thorough account of the mystical visions and subtle constructions and deconstructions have passed through my mind and exterior field of view and hearing and perception generally in the past few years, this account would likewise require a compendium nigh the breadth of the Vedas to record and explicate and consider. These short accounts of a rather surface reading of a few true to life experiences from my bizarre and beautiful adventures are what I might easily relate to a wider audience. A more in-depth critical analysis of karma-dharma, causation and philosophical explanations of the inexplicable shit and wonders I have experienced would leave this work rather wanting as a fun read, as well.

Whatever you might imagine of my sanity or honesty from what you’ve read herein, I do solemnly swear that what I have recounted in these passages is a true telling of my (mostly) quite lucid and self-critically considered and reconsidered perceptions of certain unusual life experiences and events. These tales are true, as much so as is the truth of my own existence . . . though perhaps I ought once again note, if anyone who reads these accounts has inside information, a clue or an informed alternative perspective on these evidences recorded herein, I’m always willing to revisit certain conclusions already considered, reconsidered and contemplated over-and-over in mind and in conversations with skeptics and believers alike. I’m not one to hold faith in well-debunked myths—not even my own, should they prove errant.

What means these odd occurrences within the broader context of what “Western” thought has termed metaphysics, ontology and epistemology or from the perspectives of theology or sectuality, I cannot begin to express within the bounds of this work. Had I a mastery of Sanskrit, I might be able to approach a taxonomy of these phenomena. I am just a beginning student of that more precise language, however, and so shall be forced to leave you, dear readers, to consider these whimsical true tales with only the rather limited commentaries and sometimes imprecise subtle analyses I have provided. And myself, now left to sift through the preceding pages to perfect sentences and paragraphs and simultaneously to exist outside text and past times in spite of questions begging and other coherent and contending plots pressing some point or theme or other upon my mind.

Dark and light reflections of varying hues in far faster than sound bite progression proceed before my visions outside and in self and story. Important themes I’ve in mind even sometimes simultaneously appear as surreally acted-out skits performed by seemingly random characters observed in my day-to-day, at the coffee house or library or marketplace. Else I might see someone’s doppel walk by whilst I am revising a sentence about him or her, experience the synchronous manifestation of a word typed and simultaneously sung over satellite radio and through the coffeehouse’s PA, etc. Such things are more constant these days than I’ve ever known before, and not always the fun they once were.

Once again, I would make no claim of uniqueness by these experiences, nor make presumptions of being “chosen,” holy or inimitably gifted. Rather, I would proclaim that these sorts of experiences ought bravely be recognized for what they are by any who might experience similar anomalies, accepted as containing potential and significant meaning and not merely reflecting psychiatric symptoms, despite the comfortable categorizations psychology might try to impose to suppress any “supernatural” content within any given life story.

Though the twisted intrigues portrayed and then deconstructed in this sometimes perverted retrospective forced upon me (only scarcely eluded to in the latter parts of the preceding narrative) would indeed drive most to madness, and far beyond whatever degree of crazy it is I’ve been driven, I’d still encourage others to challenge the lies of politicians and preachers, professors and pundits and other perceived authorities. Plays of words and memes and mythemes, memories and misrepresentations and machinations have been forced upon me like a flood or firestorm or volley of bullets (figurative or otherwise) as I have endeavored to make presentable sense of these bizarre happenings on my pilgrimages and other trippy pathways trodden, and as I seek to comprehend encounters and conflicts and communions with so many others, with past and present and future (if not necessarily in such a succinct sequence), with life and death, the in-between and outside-of, karma and dharma, all considered. Still, I believe it is well worth it to live life as a heroic quest for what is true and beautiful and good, and would encourage others to unabashedly seek and question the status quo in favor of freedom, purity, justice and honesty—if not without a cautionary note. Revolutionaries end up dead at least as often as not, after all.

I have plans to build an amphibious-psychedelic-peace-presenting-pleasure-cruising-wind-and-biodiesel-powered-dharma-conveying-fun-mobile, something I have contingently dubbed “the sailbus.” I have a want to purchase some land to create a haven, a sanctuary space for myself and other weary pilgrims, something not unlike an ashram, but by no means of the traditional sort, nor precisely a commune, etc. I have a wish to find my true beloved, my eternal consort, a woman divine and human, gracious and beautiful and kind, fierce yet compassionate, fun and wise and properly matched to me.

In the meantime, supposing my dharma permits and assuming I do not experience some breakthrough in the milieu in which I am currently mired, I may soon wander into the wilderness, only carrying whatever tools I’ll likely need as I part ways with the contemplative overload of recent times, and taking whatever time I’ve need to practice and meditate away from the confusions of so many other minds and the so often senseless chatter of society’s various neuroses. Nature is nigh always the best healing.

Supposing this book is published and proves popular, I suppose I’ll find the means to accomplish the aforementioned material goals, though I intend to carefully weigh whatever consequences might exist, to cautiously contemplate whatever dharma might accompany said karma before I proceed. With much (er . . . whatever degree of) understanding comes much responsibility, and I have no intentions of foregoing due consideration of what consequences might accompany even those humble wants. To make the transition from even dilettante ascetic to even dilettante householder is no small step.

There is indeed much more to life than material possessions and comfort, though given the choice, all things considered, some humble share of home and hearth and happiness seems not at all a bad thing. Whether those things are indeed forthcoming or whether instead I shall embark on other mad meanderings “off-the-cuff”—or perhaps a bit of both—remains to be seen. Until accounts of those (mis-) adventures find their way into printed accounts or other medium, I hope you have enjoyed what you have read (or shall, if you skipped to end before reading the beginning and middle) in these mad meandering whimsical pages, these difficult to believe but true accounts, these memories and musings of a post-postmodern nomadic mystic madman.



Monday, August 27, 2018

Dvesa bhakti, Hass-liebe and Social Transformation

Dvesa-bhakti and the power of inversion . . . the transformation of discursive violences by owning those vehicles of discursive violence, owning the words used to unjustly abuse you or your group to take that power back to heal both the injured and at least inadvertently the injurer . . .

Humor, even baudy humor, has a place to play in these righteous, kind and playful transformations, especially as we are transitioning into the Gauri Yuga, a figurative 10,000 year span to last so long as we choose good practice and devotion to the Divine and do maintain sanAtana dharma (literally "eternally keeping things together").

Black people taking the epithet "nigger" and turning said term into a term of endearment as "nigga," and gays and lesbians turning the term "queer" into a term of empowerment, and "fag" and "dyke" into playful terms of endearment are examples of this method of social transformation effected through discursive inversion.  Such means to whatever degree reprogram the discourse, and thus transform those intonations and vibrations formerly used to injure into instruments of empowerment and playful healing.

Though such modes are tenuous at times, such are the indeed to whatever degree effective in turning such energies of injustice into useful and playfully transformative means of transforming venomous words into personal and group empowerment . . .

Shanti Shanti Shanti

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Vision and Manifestation of a Mescaline Pushing Owl in the Shadow of Elk Mountain, Wyoming

Excerpt from Chapter 7 of Memories and Musings of a Post-Postmodern Nomadic Mystic Madman:

One particularly succinct and poignant instance of a prescient vision manifesting very overtly before my eyes occurred at the edge of the mountains in my home state as I was driving the Miraculous-Beast-Shanti-Mama on a dirt road on the south side of Elk Mountain. The Snowy Range was in front of me to the east. As a bright orange-yellow October moon rose above the peaks to the fore, framed to my vision by a cracked windshield, I thought of the “medicine” that sat on the shelf on the door of the icebox in the camper on the back of the pickup truck I drove. I thought this might be an auspicious time to take some of this medicine, which consisted of a few feet of San Pedro cactus skins sliced off with just a thin layer of flesh included to ensure the majority of the mescaline contained therein would make it into the brew, then boiled down to a concentrated fluorescent green tea.

I decided such a decision ought to be ceded to divine deliberation, and thus to some sign to say it was the proper time to take this essence into my body. I knew I had to work the next day, though I also knew my employer would hardly mind if I was a little under the weather for having partaken of said medicine. I was setting up a drip irrigation system for a medicinal herb company, and my employers were, of course, all about the botanicals. As I continued to cruise around the mountain I contemplated what sign to ask, and immediately concluded it must be an animal.

Not a deer nor an elk nor a pronghorn, too common. Not a coyote, not quite appropriate. Not a cougar—I think I saw one a week before sprinting away from my headlights late in the night. Two cougar sightings in as many weeks would be too much to ask. A bird? Yes, but not one of those tiny little roadside fluttering night flyers, darting out across the beams of light preceding the potential threat of the fast moving and large projectile of an oncoming vehicle.

Then I saw it in my mind’s eye, this sign of certainty, assurance from whatever transcendent something had sway over psychedelic journeys, and specifically mescaline—perhaps “Mescalito,” as the appropriate presiding deity is called by some Native American tribes whose rites include the use of said psychedelic substance.

That’s it! A great predatory bird, with wings three or more feet in breadth, whose flight brings him or her from the left side of the truck, accelerating and then veering to directly in front of the windshield, about 15-20 feet ahead, then after leaning one way, then the other, the large owl or hawk cuts off to the right and out of view, thought I as said apparition proceeded before my inner eye.

I forgot about my deliberations and this vision and rolled a smoke with a pinch of herb mixed in, enjoying my still relaxed body, freshly soaked in the Saratoga Hobo Pool, a healing hot springs that bubbles out of the ground at somewhere between 110˚ and 120˚ Fahrenheit. I was savoring a drag from my mixed-cigarette when suddenly from the left, precisely as in my vision, a large bird with white and brown feathers flashing in the beams of the headlights soared to pass the pickup truck, then slid upon the air to directly ahead, maintaining the lead for a moment or two more, leaned to the left, then turned off to the right to disappear again into the night.

I am fairly certain this was an owl, and likely a great horned one, though from my venue I couldn’t tell for sure. Regardless, this manifestation was a perfect copy of what I envisioned several minutes before. No clearer sign than that could I have asked. After I returned to the ranch where I was working on an experimental osha root garden, I sipped a few swallows of the bitter green brew, built a fire and watched a mild show of colors and fractals and visions reformed, yet felt that the sign was indeed the greater teaching of this trip.


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Part 5 and conclusion of "In Search of the Beloved," Chapter 7 of Memories and Musings of a Post-Postmodern Nomadic Mystic Madman

The main problem I discovered with hopping trains out East is that due to the proliferation of lines—a complex web of tracks and yards that densely covers the better portion of the eastern states—a train you hop in one town may only take you fifty miles before it is broken down and switched around. Out West where the cities are spread thin, a train is likely to take you hundreds of miles before you need disembark.

Greensborough is a university town, and I found a nice population of hippies and punks and others I could relate to a bit better than those young people I generally encountered in Virginia Beach, who were mostly the sort that sport sweatshirts with school or popular-brand logos and blue-jeans. Not to stereotype, mind you, but what one chooses to wear is generally meant to convey something about the personality and social intensions of the wearer (though of course inversely, to immediately judge an individual based upon such indicators is clearly and likewise an error, as books are only sometimes to be judged by covers).

I spent a good portion of my time in Greensborough hanging out outside Tate Street Coffee House by a large planter where the hippies and punks and other freaks young and old would often congregate to smoke and sip their cups of black brew, and 12 Steppers would likewise get their nic and caffeine fix. Also often sat to write and sip my dark drink of choice at the Green Bean downtown and at another little bakery/coffee house closer to the tracks. I often laid out my bedroll in a little stretch of forested land on one edge of UNC property in the undergrowth next to a lazy little rivulet that flowed through that part of the campus.

I made a few friends, or at least became relatively well acquainted with a number of the regulars on Tate Street. The further I wandered south, however, the more alienated I began to feel. Perhaps a significant factor was that I was sleeping outside when most of the people I encountered were insulated from nature by right angles, brick and shingles. Perhaps it was the harassment I regularly received from the police. Perhaps it was that begging was my only means of income, where whatever peers I might meet were working or supported by trust funds or college moneys from moms and dads or the government. Maybe it was the preponderance of psychic battles I found myself forced to fight, as well as the dark and foreboding dreams channeled to my mind by whatever malevolent entities or fearful realities of this world. Perhaps it was that I had been endeavoring, to no avail, to find some way back to the Rocky Mountains and my regular stomping grounds out West ever since shortly after I had decided not to work at the Omega Institute and had parted company with Leslie.

Nothing overtly extraordinary occurred during my sojourn in Greensborough, though one instance comes to mind that might have some poetic meaning in relation to the broader aesthetic of my journeys. One day on Tate Street I encountered a fellow trying to avoid the cops who was ranting on about a woman named “Coreena.” As I sat and smoked a cig with said lamenting fellow on the lamb, he continued to rant rather randomly and abstractly, ending his convoluted soliloquy with his oft repeated refrain, “You know, Coreena! Everybody’s got their Coreena.”

After a couple of months or so in Greensborough, I hopped a train that seemed to be heading west, but then ducked south and ended up in Atlanta. Big cities are not my thing, except for brief visits and when I have cash to spend. Nonetheless, I decided to venture into the urban jungle to see what I might find, as I’d never been to the Big Peach before.

In Atlanta I discovered a fairly hip coffee house not too far from the railyard called Octane Coffee Bar & Lounge, which I found served as quite a decent spot to sit and write and smoke and sip. I made my way deep into the city only twice. Once to an area called “Little Five,” a pretty cool hippie/Rasta district where I was able to acquire a small bag of herb—the first I’d had in some time, and a second time to try to find some footwear to replace the pair that were rapidly disintegrating from my road-weary feet.

One phenomenon which has rather vexed me for quite a number of years but was particularly taxing to my already stressed psyche by this point in my travels and travails is randomly overhearing what seem clear references to myself, and even noticing my name spoken in sentences that seem clearly to indicate personal knowledge about my person. This may seem a bit ego-centric (if not further fitted to other, more narrowly definitive psychiatric designations). Nonetheless, after much self-critical analysis of my perceptions pertaining to these particular instances of audible synchronicity, I could not deny such occurrences if I wanted to, and indeed I would often prefer to believe such things are figments of my imagination for the startling implications they might imply.

As I sat on the patio at Octane Coffee, three complete strangers were conversing whilst I was writing and thinking out loud, but without my audible voice being engaged. I overheard a comment which, as I recall, seemed to indicate some direct reference to my immediate thoughts, and which was followed by the response, “Oh, that’s just Jeffrey,” spoken by one of the three as she looked my way. The speaker was a rather short and sexy young African American woman with patterns shaved and died upon closely shorn hair who worked the counter at this coffeehouse. She reminded me rather startlingly of a once upon a time friend and lover, Jessica/Star, and I sat and pondered the meaning of this “coincidence” for some time thereafter.

As sort of an aside, one of the last times I spent time with Star we were at Trinity Coffeehouse in Laramie. As I stood at the counter, a beautiful barista from Montana named Tara handed me my cup, and she commented on how beautiful Star appeared, six or seven months pregnant and sitting at a nearby table (not with mine, mind you). It suddenly occurred to me how the two looked very much alike—both wearing mid-length dark auburn hair and summer dresses and both quite gorgeous—except that Star stood at somewhere around five-feet tall and was pregnant, and Tara only a few inches shy of six-fit tall and quite slender. I have since discovered that the name Tara, Hindu Goddess and consort to Siva, translates simply as “Star.” Tara wore a gold bracelet around her wrist that bore the Devanagari letters spelling “AUM Namah Shivia.”

After a week or two or so in Atlanta, I attempted to hop a train out. Already once caught by a “yard-bull” (hobo-speak for railroad security guards) and cuffed and escorted out of the yard, I was especially cautious as I attempted to board a hopper, first with intentions of Florida, though that train only took me to another yard south of town, where a worker then directed me back to a boxcar that returned me to Atlanta. Second time I got as far as Nashville, where I boarded another train I was told was heading north to Indiana, where I figured I could catch the main line towards the west, but awoke to find I had instead been railroaded back southeast to Atlanta. Third attempt got me only as far as Chattanooga, where I was held seeming captive for over one year by fears channeled from some as yet unascertained source, weariness of the road and rail and general malaise, and because of the fact that the small city was fairly welcoming despite a few unpleasantries.

A number of months before arriving in Chattanooga I had a rather dread-filled dream wherein Zunaka and I rode a train that ascended an exceedingly steep incline. Shortly after unexpectedly arriving in Chattanooga I discovered there is an incline railroad that leads from the valley to the top of Lookout Mountain. I didn’t try out this steep train ride whilst I was in Tennessee, in spite of the curiosity to discover how the dream and the corresponding reality might coincide and the temptation to determine what wonder or terror might await at the top-end-of-the-line.

I should note that I have never felt so much “not myself” as during much of this journey and since, and the more so the further I progressed. Indeed it felt as if some other consciousness or consciousnesses were constantly attempting to psychically influence or usurp my thoughts and dreams and intentions. As already noted, I do not subscribe to the notions of secular psychology that attempt to describe all instances of “hearing voices” or certain other seeming indices of “insanity” to merely physiological factors—nor did I accept APA dictated guidelines as aptly applicable for defining human experience even before such “aberrant” experiences were made personal, mind you.

Even at those moments where I felt most influenced by another and least in control of my immediate thoughts and actions, however, I have nigh always maintained a keen awareness of self, and of Self (Atman), and the ability to discern potentially self-generated delusion from illusions manifest by an entity exterior to my person, and thus to maintain mostly reasonable judgment. And indeed, hearing voices and seeing visions of the ordinarily unbelievable has been a trait of saints, gurus, purported avatars, seers and mystics generally throughout the span of world history. If Jesus or Mohammed or Moses or Mahatma or Yogananda or Joan of Arc can hear voices and have visions, should you not be also given leave to hear voices and have visions? Not that these should always be believed or obeyed, of course.

I am convinced that scientific-rationalism has made a mistake, or at least has omitted veritable factors worthy of consideration by denying what has in recent centuries been delineated, separated/segregated from supposedly rationally discernible, dissectible, and quantifiable “reality” by the term “supernatural.” These attempts to minimalize and cast contempt upon what cannot be controlled in a laboratory setting are in fact clear evidence to the insecurities of much of what has been propped up as “pure science.”

Though I do have respect for much of what has been accomplished by these relatively recent ways of knowing and categorizing or managing knowledge, said attempt to divorce spirit/mind and matter is unmistakably incomplete and wanting, as indeed, too many so called “supernatural” phenomena remain outside the ability of at least the generally assumed premises of “modern science” to explain. Life-lived cannot be reduced to scientific maxims, as this world is too great and variegated to fit entirely into mathematical equations or chemical formulae.

Scientific explorations have failed, for example, to explain the Tibetan Buddhist practice of tumo, wherein the practitioner can raise surface body temperature to upwards of 117˚ Fahrenheit by means of a particular meditation. Similarly, many yogic feats of “mind-over-matter,” such as the ability of some sadhu to munch enough cyanide to kill an elephant or meditatively manifest other states of seeming superhuman tolerance to extremes of heat or cold or pain have yet to be explained away by so called modern science.

I do understand the want of early modern scientists to escape the often-stultifying nature of what they deemed “superstition.” And yet, has not that science which intended to replace such beliefs become equally stultifying by its endeavor to reduce the variegated experiences of human life to electrical impulses and chemical reactions, thus seemingly devoid of meaning? Indeed it seems, as is so often the case, revolutionaries fall prey to the same faults as that which they sought to replace. Too often the oppressed have become the oppressors.

In America’s colonial history, the Puritan pilgrims seeking religious liberty soon set about persecuting Baptists and Quakers. Many Baptist groups, one of the most persecuted religious sects from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries in Europe and New England and in fact early proponents of religious liberty, have in the last century or so endeavored to attack nigh any other sect they came across, and often as not in recent times have sought to restrict freedom of religion and speech. The French Revolution ousted one oligarchy only to become more violent and bloody than the oligarchy they ousted. The Bolsheviks likewise matched the severity of their predecessors.

And across much of the world and especially in Europe and America, the scientific revolution has largely replaced diverse mystical worldviews with materialist dogmas that can become as confining to freethinking as any set of religious maxims. Proselytization by both religion and culturally-loaded education and the rigid methodologies and dogmas of modern science have undoubtedly depleted the plentitude of viable and valid ways of knowing, sustainably maintained over eons by so many indigenous peoples. Perhaps before we conclude “science-takes-all,” we should take some time to remember and meditate upon the beauty of our ancestors varied ways, to recall the lore that held true through many, many tellings, and grant a respected voice to others not so much a part of the money driven, materialistically-minded mega-culture and its presumptions and purportedly refined opinions about the nature of things, conveniently called “modern science.”

Where might we find a shift of consciousness and society that matches compassion with transformation? change with mercy and a just integration or at least acknowledgement of what was good from the past? science that recognizes spirit? a state of revolution that welcomes challenges from previous paradigms, acknowledging that these may maintain certain valuable features lacking in the succeeding? This might be described as attending to the oscillations of the socio-cultural vibration manifest in the interactions between those supposed binaries of said dialectic, culturally, economically, socially and ideationally, then responding to tune the vibes through many modes of experiencing, from music to dance to romance, meditation, contemplation and honest discourse scientific and otherwise. “Herein is Yoga: Yoga is the alteration of the range of sense vibration, that therein pure consciousness might abide” (Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra).

I did feel mostly welcome in Chattanooga, with the most notable exception being the treatment I received from the local police. I had grown somewhat accustomed to be randomly asked for my ID, in spite of the unconstitutional nature of such an action. On one particular occasion during this sojourn in Chattanooga, however, I decided I had had enough.

I had just left a coffee house downtown in rather a rage, as I had read an article in the New York Times telling of yet another unconstitutional violation of civil liberties made law by the current criminal regime. As I walked down the sidewalk, a fellow I had met at another of Chattanooga’s quite decent selection of coffeehouses stopped me and asked if I could bum him a buck. I had just been given a twenty, and so gladly obliged. As this transaction transpired, one of Chattanooga’s stocky bald-headed pigs20 stopped his squad car beside the curb, rolled down his window and yelled at the fellow I was handing a dollar.

“You don’t have to give him that! You don’t have to give him that!” he hollered, his face and shiny skull turning bright red.

“No, I asked him for a dollar!” said the fellow I’d handed the green piece of paper with a picture of a pyramid and a dead president who reportedly was want to smoke “Indian Hemp.”

Ignoring this explanation, the cop got out of his car and swiftly approached me, demanding to see my identification. My acquaintance once again extolled my innocence of any crime, but as I was the one with the backpack and unshaven face, he continued with his illegal course of action. At first I tried to explain to the enraged officer that my passport and license had been stolen and lost, respectively. As he continued his rant, I decided I had had enough, briefly explaining to Herr Gestapo that he had no reason to see my ID, and that his actions were unconstitutional. I then turned and started to swiftly walk away through a small passage lined with shops and restaurants that is called “Jack’s Alley.”

As I reached the end of this alleyway, I decided the wisdom of my actions was questionable, and thus thought I might try to reason with this unreasonable man. As I turned and started back down the alley, the approaching officer yelled out, “Tie up your dog, I’m gonna taze you! Tie up your dog! I’m gonna shoot you with my tazer!”

Now of course I did what was instinctual when faced with such an imperative and threatened with a potentially deadly projectile with no means of defense or retaliation: I turned and I ran. Across the busy downtown street I ran, and as luck would have it, a female city cop followed by a sheriff’s deputy were rolling down the hill from the direction of the courthouse. At first thinking to evade, I instead turned to speak with the female officer as she stepped out of her car, hoping for a just exchange. I assumed that she might be a bit more reasonable, as female law enforcement officers often are, and that the added presence of the deputy might afford me a better chance at fair-dealings. In Chattanooga, it is the city cops who are most often the perpetrators of unjust practices, or so I had been told by a number of locals.

After briefly explaining my stance, the skinheaded pig showed up (an epithet I do not use to describe the cops generally, mind you. So long as they are protecting and serving and not harassing or violating I got no problem with the police). Shaking with a scarcely controlled rage, he proceeded to handcuff me, barely refraining from slamming my face into the hood of his car as he pushed me down to place shackles on my wrists. I continued with my correct assertions that this action was illegal and unconstitutional, and I suppose he may have realized the truth of my statements as I was soon released without charge.

On two or three other instances I was unconstitutionally harassed by the police in Chattanooga, who were probably the least civil cadre of cops I have encountered in all of my travels. Indeed, I was told that said department is among few in the nation that, at least at the time, had no external oversight.

In addition to these instances with the police I had one other overtly negative experience with some semblance of “authorities” during my stay in Chattanooga that I want to mention. Whilst walking through a parking lot on the North Shore side of the river, I was interviewed by a television reporter regarding the issue of homelessness in Chattanooga. I proceeded to offer an intelligent critique of the socio-economic factors that leave people homeless, and then explained that many who have no home are indeed living closer to the example of the man who a majority in the southeastern United States claim as their teacher and god. When the interview aired, every bit of this social critique was cut, and the remaining interview framed myself and the homeless in general as nothing but a bunch of worthless social undesirables and dangerous criminals. Oh yeah, and the mayor was rather a creep when once we met in the same parking lot.

I ought to also mention that I awoke early one morning, whilst sleeping face down on a hill, to what felt quite like a shotgun or high-powered rifle blast in the upper-middle portion of my back. Not the first time I have been murdered—if that’s the correct term to use when I seem to yet live—so I decided, based on experience, that the best thing to do would be to go back to sleep, thinking that chances were I’d have no injuries upon reawakening. Sure enough, I awoke a few hours later, not necessarily feeling so great, but alive(?) and with no gaping hole blown in my back.

Think me insane if you will, but at least take the time to read the account of my initial realization of having been murdered before you think me worthy of institutionalization.21 Incidentally, I later concluded that this incident probably relates rather directly (or backwardly) to the account Sarah (“Soulo”) in Ithaca told me of her boyfriend Charles having been murdered by a shotgun blast to his chest. Synchronicities such as these leave me longing for the (at least seemingly) innocent magic of my earlier journeys.

I could continue on about my captivity in Chattanooga, but I have tired of telling this tale, so I will merely say that I found the riverfront area and its coffee houses and cafes and parks pleasant, that I met some nice kids at one of the coffeehouses, and had a very difficult time leaving. I was forced to leave Zunaka in the care of some kind women I met at a coffeehouse there, as his hind-quarters had become paralyzed, apparently due to eating macadamia nuts from the sprouted fruit and nut bread I would eat almost daily. It was later reported to me they put ol’ Zunaka (formerly known as Zeus) down. May he find rest and peace and happiness in whatever doggy afterlife or rebirth.

Despite what some folks back west might contend, the experiences I had in over two-and-a-half years out east left me with a decent impression of most easterners. Though my psychic life became increasingly characterized by constant battles with subtleties of samsara, mixed-up maya, twisted karma-dharma and psychic crap from who knows what ill source, my experiences with people were generally pleasant. I suppose there were a few overtly unpleasant instances involving embodied humans—mostly with the police in Tennessee.

I certainly presented rather a poor and pitiful sight, most the time not dressed like a hippie so much as a hobo, and was thus without the benefit of even that layer of partial respectability—depending upon who you ask, of course. And yet most folks were still kind, and even generous. A 6’2” big-bearded un-bathed “hobo” (if that term properly applies to all who hop trains) wearing a well-worn backpack with bedroll attached and accompanied by a large wolf-dog is going to draw some sort of attention in all but a few locales—perhaps excepting certain mountain towns and the northern-half of the West Coast—and the majority of the consideration I received was overtly positive.

I never quite fully got used to being arbitrarily asked for my ID by the cops, despite the fact this seems to have become a customary greeting granted many who arrive to any given town on their own two feet, and who are then seen wandering the streets without an apparent home or hotel room. This despite the purported “freedom” of this land. The Fourth Amendment is still law, if any of you weren’t sure, and even applies to homeless vagabonds, to tie-die clad freaks who almost certainly have some weed amongst their effects, to black leather jacket wearing punks or protesters with anarchy symbols freshly spray-painted in black on their hoodies, and even (gasp) to folks of obvious Middle-Eastern or Arab descent, regardless of religion.

Just a few closing statements about my experiences east of the Mississippi. This might be called an “overview” of personal signification, both literally and figuratively.

I realize that despite my explication towards the beginning of this tale regarding geography and sacred (or at least symbolic) significances, I have scarcely touched on said subject since. So just to catch you up to the particular point where I am now narrating, allow me to offer a few interesting observations that came to my attention whilst wandering about in the eastern states, whether you find these worthy of pondering or no.

The Adirondacks and Appalachians were the only significant mountain ranges I encountered during this journey, and of these elevated places I’ve only a few limited observations to make. First, the names given these two aged and worn gatherings of peaks, promontories and weathered hills among the oldest on earth, seem to hold clues that at least in the context of this journey seem to make some sense, if only by some rather odd associations.

The Adirondacks and the name “Adi” is the first association that stands out to my personally opined esoteric analysis. “Adi” in Sanskrit means “ancient one,” and refers in myth, as previously mentioned, to either Sakti, the feminine source of life energy and consort to Siva, or else is found in reference to the story of the penis munching demoness with sharp teeth where one would expect soft labia. Though the actual mountains of the Adirondacks are relatively young, the rocks recently made to rise to make these mountains are indeed quite ancient. As to which of the metaphoric analogies I might surmise the Adi-rondacks might aptly be poetically or metaphorically associated, I shant decide within this writ work. Recall also that Dan, one of my hosts in Montreal, had a girlfriend named Adi.

The actual name comes from the Mohawk word ratirontaks, a derogatory name said tribe used to refer to the Algonquin tribes which means “they eat trees,” referring to the practice of eating buds and bark in times of hunger. Though I’ve some personal and complicated if not nigh inexplicable esoteric associations which might meet with the meaning of the native term, I shall leave those unwritten.

The Appalachians, obviously not a far step or leap etymologically from “appellations”—names. Indeed, many names I learned or encountered as signs during this journey seemed to hold no small significance in the mixtures of meanings informing my appraisals, and as clues to the confused constructions of this “play.” Though indeed I’ve yet to draw any succinct conclusions even with the sum of so many coincidences of names and faces and places—sometimes even lining up perfectly on a map when plotting people I’ve known to the places I knew them in an endeavor to make sense of the greater story’s plot—I have noted that some strange order or other often underlies the arrayals of people, names and places.

Also of note regarding said mountain range, I noticed from a satellite photograph that the “leg” of the southern Appalachians which extends to the edge of Chattanooga seems to end in what suspiciously—even startlingly—resembles a foot. The other leg, rather swollen and misshapen, extends through the Carolinas and into north Georgia. I couldn’t really make out any succinct torso, arms or a head above the waist of this behemoth body, but the foot is unmistakable. The Shawangunk Formation which sits just east of New Paltz is a northern extension of this aged mountain chain.

Of inland waters I encountered, the most obviously significant in a general sense and perhaps in my personal associations regarding this journey is the Mississippi. This river is the largest and longest in North America, and as already mentioned, divides this land on the order of no other geographic feature, except for the Continental Divide. I crossed this great river (which bears a name which actually means “Great River,” from the Ojibwa words misi-ziibi) twice on this journey, once traveling east and once upon returning west, once on foot and once in a Greyhound bus.

This crossing is a well noted symbolic passage, and indeed seems the most significant geographic demarcation noting the transition from my usual stomping grounds to an “other side” and back again. The source of the Mighty Mississippi is a body of water named Lake Itasca in Clearwater County, Minnesota. This starting place for the mighty Mississippi purportedly derives its appellation from the last four letters of the Latin word for “truth,” veritas, and the first two letters of the Latin word for “head,” caput. Though perhaps a spurious etymology, in many respects this journey to the other side of this nation-dividing waterway proved a trial of the truths in my own head, as well as heart, as both beliefs and devotions were tested as I embarked on adventures beyond its eastern banks. Indeed, the relative clarity of my intensions at the first crossing, from Iowa to Illinois, had given way to a sullied mind and wearied heart by the second crossing, far downriver and after both the Mississippi River and myself had become rather more polluted than was the case just after I’d hit the rails and road, and as I walked over the waters from Dubuque to East Dubuque.

The Saint Laurence River (or perhaps more properly, le fleuve Saint-Laurent; or more proper still, Kaniatarowanenneh, Mohawk for “big waterway”) encompasses Île de Montréal. Indeed, I was an island dweller for the duration of my stay in Canada, and whilst I was with Leslie on this isle very little on the mainland mattered to me at all.

St. Laurence was one of seven deacons of Rome martyred during the reign of Emperor Valerian, and was purportedly a custodian of the Holy Grail. Once again, myths of King Arthur are referenced. Indeed, my quest was to find something not unlike a holy grail as I sought source of life and wellspring of feminine perfection, like unto the yoni chalice of Devi worshipped (along with linga-stones) on Sivaratri, wedding anniversary of the Divine Couple in Hindu myth. I sought nothing less in this quest than the company of the Feminine Divine source of beauty and love and bliss, in and as the beatified Leslie—even if only to share her company for a cup of coffee or tea—and on the North American continent few places would seem more fitting by at least one mythological lens than this island amidst a river named for a caretaker of a sacred chalice.

The Hudson River, Muh-he-kun-ne-tuk (Iroquois), River Mauritius (“River of Mountains”), the North River. This river and its valley was central to my stay in New York upon departing Montréal, and correspondingly it’s crossing might be seen as symbolic of the dissolution of my relationship with Leslie. The Hudson’s source is a lake in the Adirondacks called Lake Tear of the Clouds, and the waterway leading from this lake to the Hudson River proper is the Opalescent River.

The next river that comes to mind on this journey is the Wallkill, named the Palse River by early European settlers (after the town of New Paltz through which it flows), and known to Native Americans as Twischsawkin, which means “the land where plums abound.” This river idiosyncratically flows to the north, where it idiosyncratically flows into a creek, called Rondout, before meeting with the waters of the Hudson. Oddly to an English speaker, quite a few place names in New York have “kill” as suffix. “-kill” is a Dutch suffix for creek, and does not designate homicide. Of not quite random associations I might make, whilst often sleeping on the shores of the Wallkill in New Paltz I felt as if my heart, rather broken upon my parting with Leslie, was starting to beat once again. In actuality Paltz is derived from the German word for place and not pulse, though the proper denotation does imply new beginnings. Indeed, in the midst of seeming loss, finding meaning, however spurious, is often vital for getting one’s bearings and back on one’s feet.

Lake Erie—well, the name speaks for itself, except that in the case of my experiences, it mostly did not. Erie is the fourth largest and fourth in sequence of drainage of five Great Lakes, is the tenth largest freshwater lake globally, and is named for the Erie tribe. The conglomeration of these five massive lakes is unique in the world, and my time spent with Erie gave me a bit of time for reflection whilst gazing over its waters. My summer along this Great Lake’s shore was a time of pleasant respite, a time of healing before once again—if not according to plans—resuming a clockwise journey ‘round the eastern United States. I should note, Buffalo and Sandusky were both a tad “eerie,” but Port Clinton was a very pleasant and welcoming place, and my slumber and dreams on Erie’s beaches were quite peaceful.

Though I stayed in Maryland not far from the Potomac for a few months, I saw this capital river only fleetingly. The Rappahannock was next in a series of flows upon whose shores I lingered. In Fredericksburg whilst sleeping by this now tranquil river’s banks, I dreamt of the soldiers of two wars whose blood had in fact fallen and flowed so heavy as to turn the waters of this river red. The Rappahannock was more or less a boundary between North and South during the Civil War, and similarly served as something of a dividing line between my wanderings North and South. The hippie crew I came to know in this colonial town sometimes called themselves the Rappahannock River Rats, and it was here I first considered constructing a bamboo boat to drift down to the big waters, to float away from cares and sorrows and to the Ocean’s healing waves crashing, though sailing away was not yet to be.

My first and thus far only encounter with the open Atlantic’s waters was a bit of a disappointment, as a statue of Poseidon—misappropriator of three-pronged spears and Greek deity generally represented as amongst the meanest—and kitschy commercialism characterized my experience of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Though the Ocean is beautiful from almost any venue, military jets and tourism did more than moderately detract from my first ever encounter with this Ocean named for a lost Mediterranean civilization. Virginia Beach was rather different than the idyllic visions of the Atlantic’s shores I’d held of quaint New England coastal villages or of those grand and flowered Southern cities that survived the civil war intact.

The Tennessee River, once known as the Cherokee River, was the last great river of the east I was to see on this adventure (I don’t recall noticing crossing the Mississippi on my way back west whilst on the bus), and I spent more time with these waters than any other on this journey. The name possibly translates as “meeting place” or “the bends”—as in bends of the river. Both banks of this broad river in Chattanooga are beautifully arrayed with monuments both natural and manmade. High above the flow on the south shore is Chattanooga’s Bluff View Art District, where modern, Victorian and classical structures sit atop a cliff, and on the other side of the river is the North Shore District, where large parks and a strip of coffeehouses and cafes and boutiques offered pleasant distractions and places to sit during my stay. Some of my ancestors, both Cherokee and Choctaw, lived in this region before force marched to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears, and I feel as if my long sojourn here was somehow related to my long deceased relatives, some ancestral homing beacon that held me along the banks of these waters longer than anywhere else during my wanderings out east.

Insofar as any esoteric significances related to this place, the only myth or story or construct that comes to mind is reading a tale of a waterfall not far from Chattanooga where a Cherokee princess purportedly leapt off the falls to follow her Choctaw lover, who her family had summarily thrown off to perish on the rocks below. Whilst visiting Niagara Falls with Sarah when I was in Buffalo, I similarly considered the lovers’ leap theme (though I should note, Sarah and I never attained any such intimacy).

Waters are both life and death, love and loathing. Without water, we perish. Too much and we drown. Goddess Ganga is the Goddess of Rivers, and Her love with Siva is a source of conflict with Parvati in various myths. In perhaps the most well-known Hindu myth regarding the mighty waters of the Ganges, and thus of the whole world, fall upon the jata (dreadlocks) of Mahadeva so that the planet is not destroyed by such an unimaginable deluge. With so much time spent along so many rivers during this epic journey, I have to ponder whether devotions to both of these Devis may have led to some of my angst and internal discord whilst endeavoring this quixotic quest for love,22 else that I am both part Cherokee and part Choctaw.

One last note on waters, few are aware that Laramie sits on one of the, if not the largest island in the United States. I discovered this some years ago when reading James Galvin’s The Meadow, wherein he tells that the waters of the Laramie River and the South Platte both begin in the same lake, high in Colorado’s mountains, and meet again hundreds of miles downstream on Nebraska’s plains. This unassuming island that is my current home—shared with more pronghorn antelope than people—encompasses many, many thousands of square miles of sagebrush plains and pine and aspen covered mountains and alpine peaks, lakes, and creeks, and despite not looking very much like an island, definitely fits the technical parameters. I suppose my anxious return to this island hideaway on the high plains was to find certain harbor from the Ocean of Worldly existence and the uncertainties, the gamble of love and romance and the road.

A while after completing this journey, I decided to trace the paths of my meanderings to the east coast and back on a map of North America, and upon gazing at the lines drawn realized that the dot-to-dot created by this most odd of journeys I’ve endeavored created a rough outline corresponding quite startlingly to the shape of the continental United States! What this doth mean, I cannot yet say with certainty, though more than a slight symbolism was obviously at work, and perhaps a mystical meaning far beyond the scope of a simple journey of a man from place to place to place . . .

Disheartened and nigh broken after somewhere near three years mostly on the road, I boarded a bus to escape back to the Western U.S. and the high mountains. After a long ride through the south with a long layover in Dallas and on to Santa Fe, a hitchhiking trek to Taos and a much needed respite at some hot springs deep in the Gorge and next to the rushing waters of the Rio Grande, I continued up through Colorado and on to the closest place to any I have known as “home” over the span of this lifetime, the high plains and mountains of Wyoming, and to this great island between the South Platte and the Big Laramie Rivers’ flows.

Today I am sitting on the back patio of the very coffee house where I first encountered the woman who was the inspiration for this insane journey to Montreal and back, and for much of my searching and practice and devotions over the ten years preceding. Here I sit, wearily and warily typing an abbreviated conclusion to this epic adventure, with so many subtler implications and interpretations and long occulted secrets and esoteric fragments recently revealed spinning round my conscious and unconscious mind, mythemes and memes madly meandering my neurological and spiritual pathways. And with yet some slim hope of some reasonable conclusion or culmination of events and memories recent and ancient, with some semblance of trust in the certain transformations or the destruction of darknesses and confusions sown by some as yet undisclosed source, and with faith there is still some mode to manifest a healthy integration of information derived from historic and esoteric studies and dreams and odd experiences, all whilst yet maintaining the stubborn intention to do whatever I might in this world to help and heal, and to maintain proper devotions, divine and human and otherwise.

Despite the trialsome times and psychic assaults I increasingly experienced after parting company with Leslie, and the rather soured sensibilities I’ve been left to digest and injuries I’ve yet a need to heal from events and experiences mostly manifesting thereafter, I do not regret embarking on this quixotic quest to find the beautiful belly-dancing barista and yogini who had so entranced and inspired me years before. Indeed, I might well read the resistance and subtle and psychic treacheries faced as an indication that my absurd heroism and extremes of devotion have had some certain effect, if perhaps not to bear overt fruition for now or at least not in the precise manner I might have imagined.

I still think about Leslie, though we have not maintained communication, save perhaps at some subtle or psychic level. I hope she is happy and healthy and fulfilling her good potentials, delivered from whatever sorrows and suffering, dancing and doing yoga and continuing to be an inspiration to those who happen to cross her path. I doubt I shall ever fully abandon my visions of this beatific dancer as inspiration to my own personal growth and practices embraced since my first pilgrimage on the road, as envisioned object of whatever appropriate degree of devotion in practices of bhakti yoga, and at least remembered as a near approximation of an avatar of Devi, the Divine Feminine incarnate, the Beloved.


Part 4 of "In Search of the Beloved," Chapter 7 of Memories and Musings of a Post-Postmodern Nomadic Mystic Madman

New Paltz is not entirely unlike Rhinebeck. Both are quaint colonial era villages with old homes and churches and particularly cool old graveyards, urban populations of deer and a nice assortment of locally owned restaurants and other businesses. Being a university town, however, New Paltz was much livelier, and had a history that included regular and sometimes unscheduled appearances of the likes of Janis Joplin and The Grateful Dead at a place on campus known as “the Tripping Fields.”

I was first conveyed to New Paltz by a young woman I met in Kingston, across the river from Rhinecliff and north of NP. She and I met at an uptown Kingston coffeehouse, and I felt a quick resonance develop as she told me of having recent experiences that were quite like mine, i.e., in the psychic-weirdness sort of way. Her eyes were an amazing mixture of blue and green and brown and various other shades, and were more than mildly reminiscent of an exterior view of the earth. She convinced me I ought to come to New Paltz where she attended the SUNY school, and I readily agreed. We arrived at her parent’s home, and I soon met her two sisters, who were also interesting women, each in her own manner.

I must say, my suspicions were raised by the apparition of “three sisters,” a partnering more than occasionally present in myth and story. As soon as this lovely new friend offered me temporary lodging, assuming her parents agreed, a vision came to my mind, and of a sort I had been increasingly experiencing that arrive with a feeling not unlike déjà vu and that had been proving startlingly accurate, if not unalterable. I saw my form laying awake and aroused upon the couch, then climbing the stairs in the darkened house and cavorting with one or more than one of the sisters in her/their respective bedrooms.

Not that the thought of sex with any of the three was in itself the least unpleasant. Rather, it was the potential implications of a possible union with a member (or especially more than one member) of a potent threesome of unknown identity—goddesses? fates? witches?—that caused my reticence. One of the three I later encountered at a show at a club on Main Street (a Green Party benefit, if I’m not mistaken), and if I recall she greeted me with a warm embrace, and definitely and most memorably bore the strong scent of yoni—in a pleasant and potent and possibly even sacred way, mind you, evocative of an elevated or concentrated feminine sexuality, and not of a lack of hygiene. Too much potential intrigue to expose myself to at the time—i.e., to sleep just downstairs from this intriguing and enticing trio, as tempting as the offer might have been. I slept in the patches of forest in and around town, and my only bedfellow (at least for the duration of this visit to New Paltz . . .) was a large furry dog who kept my feet warm.

In addition to other attractive features of this quaint college town, there was an active group of Green Party activists allied with local and transient hippies in a cooperative located on the main drag in downtown New Paltz that was combined art-space and coffeehouse (which only served the drip-brewed sort) and site for music and activist sorta stuff. I was impressed with the community in general, and was treated quite kindly by nearly all the citizens I happened to meet.

Zunaka and I would join the hippie kids, gutterpunks and hipsters who would sit in front of the co-op building on “the stoop,” smoking cigarettes and drinking whatever was in various paper bags and talking shit about the cops or other happenings, and occasionally forming a contingent to march to the edge of the ‘haunted woods’ to puff a bowl or a joint. I encountered various figures amongst these and others I met elsewhere in this town (as elsewhere is oft the case) who later seemed to remanifest in like forms—or like spirits at least—in various others in various other places over the course of travels to come.

Indeed, on numerous occasions over the duration of the continuation of this journey others with similar appearance as distant friends or other figures from the past, if not near doppelgänger’s and sometimes even bearing the same names, began to appear more regularly than I was already accustomed, often after a mere thought of someone I have known from elsewhere. I have experienced this to some degree for quite some time, and have considered or envisioned that perhaps some invisible or psychic chord reaches out far beyond one’s physical presence to find an analogous person who has the like “receptors” to the remembered faraway friend or significant figure from elsewhere, drawing this other with familiar visage or energy to answer said subtle psychic call, else drawing one to said other (an analogy borrowed from Carlos Castaneda). On this trip such phenomena increased exponentially beyond the scale to which I was accustomed.

To frame this phenomenon from a slightly different perspective, imagine the popular figure or metaphor of the mysterious person or likeness presenting him-, her- or itself just visible in the background in precisely the proper scenes to create a sense of intrigue. Is this multiplicity of a shadow-veiled figure sign of a friend or a foe working behind the scenes? Do the repeated glimpses of an archetypal form manifest from one far-flung site to another, a fleetingly familiar yet not fully known someone often seen just out of the foreground—does this “other” perhaps portend “a friend on the inside,” a friendly spirit, else perhaps the figuration or manifestation of an actual assassin, even? Is this a “good-guy” or “bad-guy” (or –girl, respectively) in the trench-coat with the derby pulled low over brow and dark sunglasses waiting to hand off a briefcase or attaché of secret documents or an ancient scroll or to offer some secret advise, else sitting in the corner trying to appear nonchalant whilst watching the scene (and possibly watching you) whilst half-obscured in the shadows? What exactly is one to make of the recurrence of a number of like figures accompanying or randomly appearing on one’s journey, people popping up sometimes phantom-like with only slightly different faces in a series of places coinciding with contextual precision, as if on cue? These sorts of things feel natural when watching a film, yet rather strange when living what most folks like to call “reality.”

This practice of vision, recognitions of the Divine and various archetypes writ in myth and meme and popular culture and past experiences manifesting particular memories or spirits or energies of various traditions new and old, these collections of consciousness revealed or constructed as gods and goddesses and echoes of ancient and recent heroic figures and so forth can and do indeed animate life lived and experienced, whether noticed or no amidst the purportedly mundane, and even in these days of the prominence of so many technological wonders and the attempted segregation of magic to books of fiction, movies and TV and tabloids. Those figures lauded as pinnacle of things good and true (as well as their supposed opposite), Gods and Goddesses in mythic arrayals and portrayals indeed do present figurations of every-person’s reality, leastwise if those persons are willing to meet any semblance of their personal potentials. Third eye vision shows, among other views, that each figure in any given scene is at least a partially realized expression of forever stories, if generally without an immediate awareness of the particular myth or story’s plot foretells the play being lived. Each is a dancer in the Universal song and dance, however poorly- or well-practiced; all are players in the eternal theater, if not always playing a starring role.

Thus a stranger passed on the sidewalk or on the bus might be the fulfillment of the proverbial pop-music question, “What if God was one of us?” And indeed this is true, and of Goddess, too, at least from the one most important venue of vision to keep in mind. Namaste, namaskar, or however best pronounced to convey this eternal truth, also roughly expressed or translated or transliterated through whatever means of transmission by the phrase, “Love thy neighbor as thyself (or better, Self)”—for Atman is there, too. We are all living lila. Whether consciously or no, we are the Divine at play.

I should mention that in mentioning certain individuals I remember from this or that place I may not make note of various others present on the given stage, and indeed may not mention some who might in fact play a more pertinent role than those who do make these pages, had I either a more complete purview to appropriately recognize an unmentioned figure’s importance, else the inclination to reveal something more than I deem appropriate in this moment as my fingers press the keys. Some keys to the plot of this narrative (told from a perspective admittedly not immediately omniscient) are thus left out quite intentionally, and others likely omitted by some other’s wish, consciously or unconsciously registered and respected.

I do hope to write with utmost sensitivity to those others who are involved in this story in whatever guise, with like due respect to whatever other narratives exist interwoven with what storylines I have been made privy to or experienced directly, and have no intention of penning any semblance of a slanderous script. I would hope, however, to be excused if some friend present at whatever point in this history being told goes unmentioned, lest someone I love is left feeling slighted, else if I miss another important parallel or intersecting narrative by some sort of subtle vision myopia. To chronicle each event with such exacting detail would tax my patience and yours, dear reader, and would make for a work far too voluminous to carry in your pocket or purse.

A tributary to the Hudson flowed gently through one edge of New Paltz, and I often camped by its shores. Never really established a set campsite, here or elsewhere on this trip, but regularly shifted both where and in what direction I slept, with careful attention to all available senses. I had a rather dark and disturbing dream life during much of this journey, and felt as if some other or others were accessing my REM experiencings, as well as other portions of my mind at times, and thus I quite thoughtfully selected my site to bed down each night.

On numerous occasions while sleeping under the open sky, especially whilst in New York, I would awaken from a strange dream, roll a smoke then roll onto my back to gaze up to the starscape immediately above to ponder what I had dreamt, and then notice that one of the “stars” would suddenly dart away, from stationary to faster than the speed of sound in an instant. As absurd as this might seem, I believe these were someone or thing from “above” invading/interacting with my personal dream space—whether actually of extraterrestrial origin or no. Once you open your eyes to see, you will see. Not that what you see will necessarily always make sense.

In New Paltz is one of the oldest still extant roads in the United States, with equally aged tombstones residing and subsiding on a hill on one side, and on the other a field with a community garden and nearby aged stands of trees alongside the river’s banks. There was a large fallen tree in the midst of one of these groves that often served as a seat for smoke sessions. Beyond this was a grouping of trees that bore rather grotesque faces sculpted in burly knots upon twisted trunks. This part of the forest was thus called “haunted”—though there might have been other reasons. I never camped here, not desirous of any further supernatural weirdness than was already a constant.

As example of said weirdness, on one occasion as I sat on a bench near the bakery in downtown New Paltz I observed a man with dark curly hair wearing a striped jogging suit walk past, and then up some stairs suspended on the side of what I believe was a toy store, then entering the second floor apartment. A couple of minute later another figure that appeared identical—same hair and face and same mafia-style leisurewear—followed the same path past my seat and up the stairs and into the door above the toy shop. A third time the seeming same man walked past, this time turning to offer a rather creepy grin before proceeding up the same (and only) set of stairs into said abode.

Now either this fellow was going to a great deal of trouble to startle me, jumping out a second story window on the other side of the building, then rounding through the alley or some such to pass my vantage thrice, was a set of triplets, else this was some sort of bend in time-space or what in the movie The Matrix is dubbed “déjà vu”—i.e., when the black cat twice saunters past and twice utters the same “meow” whilst the film’s heroes are climbing some stairs.

These sorts of experiences experienced too frequently can add up and tax one’s mind’s ability to maintain a grasp on what (nearly) everyone else pretends reality to be, making it difficult to keep a figurative foot in the door between some semblance of third-eye vision or extra-sensory awareness, and the realm of consumer-fixated media-mesmerized zombies and 9-to-5, the seeming state of many folks’ consciousness these days.

To the defense of the latter, however, I must admit I have sometimes found solace from the confusion of other sensory inputs by viewing mindless media, vegging to the tube and so forth, as evidenced by various movie references interspersed throughout this narrative, and must confess I’ve sometimes found comfort in the stability of regular employment. When meditation is not practical, trite entertainment can sometimes expediently empty the mind of unwanted chaff (though perhaps merely by replacing it temporarily with other chaff), and offer an otherwise pleasant distraction, and the workaday can become mindful practice.

There is at least one other odd occurrence of note I might mention of my time in New Paltz, as it related to a string of coincidences to come. An o’er friendly and rather effeminate fellow of Asian descent I often encountered in New Paltz would generally greet me and others with a high five, followed by the proclamation, “You’re It.” I would have only taken this as a quirky habit, were it not for the very darkly tanned woman I soon met at a pool party in Ohio who very seriously stared into my eyes as she, too, tagged me as “It.” A few months later I would discover that the weekly paper in Fredericksburg, Virginia is It, too. Said sometimes surreptitiously ambiguous and overtly androgynous personal pronoun has indeed been haunting me since, though I’ve faith I shall recover.

After this initial stay in New Paltz, I caught a ride north and west with a woman named Margaret I had met early on in this sojourn. She had a friend named Meredith who was a startling doppel to a friend of mine named Mary (who is sometimes Miriam—or the other way around). She was staying at the hostel (Margaret, that is), a three story colonial house with a statue of Poseidon posted in the garden perched above a fountain and small pool.

Greek and Roman mythological figures were showing up rather too frequently for my taste (please pardon the possibly politically incorrect assertion). Though I recognize the various mythologies of the world as unquestionably interconnected, often harboring tales in texts and traditions that are chapters in the greater story or at least fragments containing clues, I have both an instinctual and aesthetic dislike of the aforementioned paradigm, and to some degree lament the extent to which this tradition has been employed in the construction of the “Western tradition”—a construction that is designed by its very geographic designation to selectively exclude the mention of other influences, to mistakenly categorically deny those strands of the narrative which are “Eastern,” despite however important those influences actually are to an accurate history of European peoples.

Those who’ve adopted said traditions as representing some sort of ideal would have done better to venture further east for insights on ancient truths, closer to the most ancient extant sources of our history, rather than lazily settling for the handiest dissemination and distortion of the earlier wisdoms, slothfully unearthing or “rediscovering” the near-east near-ancient mere-emanations of the depths of India’s wisdoms, accepting a third- or fourth-hand telling buried just under the surface of Europe’s only briefly forgotten past issuing from Rome and Greece rather than admitting it was dark-skinned peoples in India who first developed those strands of civilization much later manifest in the so-called “West.” As an example, Mohenjo-Daro in the Indus Valley had running water and sewers nigh two-thousand years before Rome, and regionally variant versions of the Indus Valley Seal have been found at least as far away as Northern Europe.

Having already seemingly settled for these “sources” of civilization only half-way traced to the truer sources of those traces of past thought, Western culture then granted comparably scant attention to the very oldest extant versions of the oldest tales and philosophies yet available whilst the British held colonies in India. The racist mindset of the colonialists could scarcely see the light of Vedic lore, apparently deeming the dark skinned people and apparent polytheism of India more “primitive” or damning to those earlier strands of thought that are in fact closer to the roots and closer to the truth of the beginnings and wisdoms of civilization’s most recent stories (i.e., last 10,000 years or so).

With many Greek and Roman and Egyptian appellations appearing as place-names in the United States, Sanskrit words are surprisingly more often and more closely echoed in Native American place names than in those granted by the narrowly schooled and shallowly rooted newcomers’ geographic vocabularies. This, despite widely admitted Sanskrit/“Indo-European” roots of European languages generally, as well as said tongue leaving imprints upon various native languages of the Americas (which is not widely admitted), lands colonized by real Indians—i.e., from the Indian subcontinent—long before Europeans decided to invade.16 The Vedic timescale posits the Earth’s inception at around or just under four-an-a-half billion years old, by the way, surprisingly close to the figure posited by modern astrophysics.

Only in recent years have America and Europe begun to grant due recognition to the most intact ancient tradition in the world as worthy of sincere attention, mostly arriving as yoga and meditation practices, though also by influencing a departure from o’er simple binary thinking to a more integrated recognition of the greater spectrum of what is, artifacts redeemed from the closet of the “Western mind,” and reintroduced from over the Pacific and on the Hippie Trail. And yet, consider what Columbus was purportedly looking for when he set sail towards the setting sun: none other than India.

All this said, I found I was being rather bombarded with specifically Greek and Roman mythical references, both in names and effigies encountered, and in various experiences where these figures seemed to whatever degree manifest in the expressions of illusion presented in the lila of my life experience in the Eastern US. If you look at a map of New York, for example, you will note numerous appellations of Greek and Roman (and Carthaginian) origin as place names, from Ithaca to Utica, Rome and Carthage, Medusa, etc. (though I should note, there is a Delhi, NY). As a rather more fleshed out instance of the lila that matched these themes, soon after leaving New Paltz I met “Fortuna” at a gas station on the south end of Syracuse. Fortuna is the Roman goddess of fortune. She was hitchhiking to Chicago to see some jam band festival or somethin.’ I should note, said encounter was not at all displeasing to my aesthetic sensibilities.

Margaret took me to her “parents” house in the farmland southeast of Syracuse. We arrived and entered the old farmhouse and Margaret introduced me to her parents, who she then told me she had just met . . . weird. She made a bed for us in the living room, as most of the rest of the house was being renovated. I shall just say that our night was odd. No, we didn’t fuck. That’s all I’m saying, out of respect or due to remaining confusions on my part. Margaret and her parents(?) dropped me off at the edge of Syracuse near a convenience store with a McDonald’s grafted to the side on their way to the airport. I sat with Zunaka at a picnic table flying a sign requesting conveyance to Buffalo. I called my friend Sarah who had recently moved to Buffalo to tell her I was on the way, then waited . . . and waited.

I wandered around to the front of the McDonalds, and immediately noticed a beautiful woman with a very short dress sitting by an open portfolio of her artworks. She was attending to a small black cat, and hoping to make a few sales of her fantastic sketches of naked faeries and goddesses and other buxom nudes done in colored pencil, paint, and various other mediums. She introduced herself as Fortuna. We immediately took to each other’s company, and I rather immediately noticed she wore not a shred of cloth under her very short dress, and was not ashamed to grant a rather full view of what loveliness did lie between her thighs. I will not lie: I rather immediately entertained hopes of more than a casual acquaintance with this fellow wanderer.

As the sun began to set, we made our way through a nearby field to a small clearing next to a channel of water and under a twisted tree with large low branches extending every which way. I laid out my tarp and blankets, and we proceeded to puff a bowl of some kindbuds Fortuna presented. Her little black cat climbed into the tree, and Fortuna and I talked at some level I cannot easily represent. One comment she made I will report, however: “It’s nice to meet someone who is my equal,” stated she after we had had a mild bout or dance with words and subtleties beyond the normal exchanges of mere mortals.

The greatest oddity of this interaction with Fortuna was that when we several times began to raise desire’s fire, kissing and otherwise exploring intimacies, else finding strong resonance in intense conversation, or some combination of these modes of raising heat to kindle flames in both mind and body, she would stop and place more layers of clothes over her sensuous form. As soon as the heat dissipated, she would again remove layers. I concluded that she had some particular “key” or “button” or other such something that would reverse her inverse response to desire and almost certainly set her off into an unbounded passionate frenzy, but only realized what I believe were “the magic words” as she loaded up into a ride the next morning (of course!!), leaving me to wait for Sarah to pick me up.

As I bade Fortuna farewell, I made a complement of sorts to an otherwise unmentioned feature of her accouterments. Offering an adieu to her sweet pussy . . . cat, I immediately noticed a fire ignite in her eyes, just as the van’s door was shut from the outside and she was conveyed away. As the light blue caravan conveyed her away and towards the highway Fortuna’s gaze was fixed on me like a lion or a leopard about to pounce, or as a hungry tiger wantonly staring at people as easy prey from inside a cage at the zoo. Of course! I would untangle the riddle guarding her chastity as she was leaving! Oh well, who knows what would happen if a Roman goddess and a sadhu got it on. Almost certain troubles, I’m sure. Nonetheless, she would’ve undoubtedly been a great lover, and my concerns about inter-pantheonic sex would’ve certainly lost out had her desire been loosed to meet mine. Regardless, I do recognize this as an oddly auspicious meeting that ought not be the least depreciated just cuz’ I didn’t get any (much).

On past and less trialsome adventures, I lived harmoniously with the understanding that my encounters with serendipity and synchronicity were almost wholly encounters with Devi and her entourage. Durga was the playful lover and teacher, and in whatever series of beautifully strange events or encounters with a new lover, it was but some facet of Maha Maya I understood stood behind the scenes of whatever lila, or was somehow manifest in whatever woman with whom I was engaged in love play. These are certainly aspects of tantra, a less physically expressed manifestation of the typical images of a curvy devi-yogini sitting on the lap of her lotus-seated lover, linga deep in yoni.

Among other things, I suppose embarking upon this journey was making a statement to whatever powers that be, whatever aspects of Divine being might have sway, etc., that I was ready for a woman who’d remain with me as a steady partner in practice, a tantrica with whom I might share in mantra and asana and bhakti, a lover with whom this practitioner might find resonance in practice, and who’d likewise find me good teacher and student and lover and friend. Though I left Laramie with in mind a particular person as envisioned manifestation of said possibility, I would neither confine Leslie nor myself unduly to a particular storyline or writ role. Stories about Deities are meant to empower, and myth is meant to guide, not to confine either the deity represented nor those “mere mortals” who contemplate, revere, and sometimes imitate depictions of the Divine delivered through whatever temple or sacred text, tradition or mythology or iconography.

Among other challenges subtly posed on this journey was the introduction or interjection of other mythologies presuming to take space in my perceptual reality and conceptual constructions, as if to confuse (else to force some mode of synthesis with) my already well-formed practices. This is yoga, too: the integration of global history into the grand and beautiful love story it really is. Regardless of my distaste for certain mythologies, there are bits and pieces, or at least emanations or vestiges of this grand (if sometimes twisted) tale to be gleaned in myths and collective memories from every corner of the globe.

Sarah arrived in a small sedan. We cruised west to Buffalo. Sarah was an avowed skeptic—she even worked for an institution that overtly promoted said state of being in the title of its primary publication. Annie DiFranco owns an old church building in Buffalo, as I have been given to understand. Ani is a skeptic of another sort, or at the least has expressed a fierce rage against the status quo, patriarchal abuse, and ills in the relationships of men and women and gender power relations generally. Obviously Ani is an optimist too, ‘cuz she tries to get people to listen, become aware and assumedly to change for the better.

Sarah lived in an apartment north of the downtown Buffalo. Ani’s church is in downtown Buffalo. Sarah is fairly tall and quite hot. Ani D. is sorta short and of a certainty both lovely and sexy, despite her claims that she’s “not a pretty girl.” Sarah and I went to a coffee house downtown on the first morning of my stay with her. I was sorta hoping to happen to run into Ani D., as I am given to understand she frequents such establishments. I had questions to answer about a mystery that had unfolded mostly on the West coast over the course of several years that may or may not directly involve said female singer/songwriter. I didn’t see Ani at the coffeehouse, though I did meet some construction workers who were coworkers with the son of a friend of mine from Laramie named Mike who’s a dead ringer for Wild Bill Hickok (the friend, not the son that is), works at a tattoo shop and pierced my ears, though said son of said Wild Bill lookalike from Laramie was not with his coworkers at the coffee house.

Sarah and I went to the falls one sunny day, my second time to view these grand tumbling cataracts. I stayed with Sarah for a few more days, then departed to the south then west once her boyfriend from NYC came for a visit.

After a depressing meandering jaunt through the barren neighborhoods in the southern part of Buffalo, an experience that rather reminded me of my underworld dream in Montreal, I found my way to a highway that led into Ohio. I caught a ride with a couple who told me they were conveying the ashes of a man named Jeffrey to Columbus. The purportedly incinerated was brother to the male occupant of the soft-topped Jeep, and lover (husband?) to the woman (widow?) in the driver’s seat. I immediately recalled having met a man who was driving out from a hot springs that sits east and over the ridge from Santa Barbara who had just spread his friend Jeffrey’s ashes somewhere around the springs and the creek that flows by said steaming, scorching geothermal pools. We smoked a bowl (I instinctively knew he was carrying), then I drove the rest of the road and went for a soak.

The couple in the Jeep driving from New York to Ohio handed me some herb to roll up into a joint as Zunaka and I sat in the back of their Jeep CJ (come to think of it, the guy near the hot springs was also driving an old Jeep or some similar vehicle). The couple dropped me off at the edge of Cleveland. I headed towards the heart of the city, recalling that I knew a couple from Laramie and thereabouts that I’d heard was now living somewhere in this metropolitan area.

I walked into a bar that I soon realized was of the sort that mostly catered to gay men. I glanced at the phone book, which bore no trace of the names I was looking for, and then hastily made my way back onto the near empty streets, not quite comfortable with the fellows donning leather biker caps and sleeveless T-shirts seated at the bar checking me out a little too much. Now mind you, I don’t take offence at a gay man finding me attractive, just not so hot about being looked at as a piece of meat for the skewering.

Zunaka and I began to hike south. As we stopped to rest under a road sign by an intersection a couple of girls just over or under twenty stopped to chat with me, and ended up giving me a lift to an all-night coffee house. The place was filled with the sort of patrons expected to inhabit a smoke-filled late-night caffeine-pushing hangout in an urban setting. The ratio of black to other hair colors was far too high considering the ethnicities represented, and eyeliner was employed liberally all the way around. Tattoos were amply displayed, and skinny black-clad teens with glasses played chess in the corner. I sipped some coffee, wrote a bit, then shortly hit the trail again and within a day arrived in one of the purportedly more enlightened centers in Ohio, Oberlin.

As I approached this liberal college town, riding late at night with a fellow who’d stopped for my extended thumb, some strange musing or channeled information told me a tale that involved Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun (obviously triggered by the place name, minus the “O”) and reincarnation or a bardo journey, all whilst the driver went on about the town and region. Granted, sometimes such thoughts are self-generated, but other strands that have presented storylines or other information directly into my thoughts are so foreign to my own consciousness that I am quite certain they derive from some other sources, vis-á-vis a muse or dead people or something of the sort. Again (and rather eerily) these sound-bytes with an internal feed sometimes tell startlingly accurate truths.

My stay in Oberlin was short, but not particularly unpleasant, if surreal in a way I can’t easily describe. I liked the park in the center of town. Someone in this central park asked to take my picture, and oddly my form came out quite blurry, though I had not moved and another in the picture appeared quite clear. This phenomenon repeated on a few other occasions hereafter as random strangers wanted to photograph me and Zunaka (I suppose some folks haven’t seen a hippie with a dog before, er something . . .). Perhaps I was experiencing some bizarre passage in space-time or inter-dimensional flux, the lack of clear outlines seeming evincing that I was truly in transit.

From Oberlin, Zunaka and I wandered north to the nearest of the Great Lakes, Eerie. We walked west along the shore, or alternately along the shoulders of roadways paralleling where beaches were posted “private.” Upon arriving in the city of Sandusky, I was almost immediately met by an outgoing hippie chick in a short dress who burst out of a downtown bar to greet me and to lavish abundant affections upon Zunaka. She invited me into the bar where she and her boyfriend were drinking it up with the locals. Cara (Kara?) and Paulie were from Chicago, and were moving into a trailer house just a hundred yards or so from Erie’s shore in a smaller town just to the west of Sandusky and next to the lake's shore. They immediately invited us to move into the vacant back room.

I stayed in Port Clinton for the next few months, occasionally attempting to hitchhike out from either there or Sandusky, but each time I tried to leave I ended up running around in circles or hitching rides that did no more than return me to Port Clinton from Sandusky. Biding my time between attempts to move on, I did enjoy being near a large body of water and mostly slept on the beach, though I sought other places to bed down during the intermittent periods of deluge or drizzle.

Rather randomly met a rather attractive woman at the bar in Sandusky who took me home with her, hoping I could cure her headache (ehem), which turned out unnecessary by the time we got to her place, though she let me sleep on the couch anyway. Met another pretty woman in Sandusky who offered me couch space, and informed me she had been stabbed seventeen times by her x-boyfriend and was fighting cancer. Interesting town.

On one occasion I took the ferry to South Bass Island, and spent a while wandering amongst golf cart-driving drunken vacationers. Bought a coffee and sat outside a bar where a band played oldies. Rather randomly a bachelorette fell at my feet, as her celebrations had led her to expire just there. I helped her friends help her back to her feet. I recall that some exchanges that went along with this incident were particularly ironic if not literarily clever, but as I lost my notes and journals a few times between there and here I cannot currently report anything more of this incident.

I met another woman at another bar on this odd little island where a pretty decent band led by a rather attractive female vocalist was playing. This woman was a few years older than I and quite sauced, clad in a mid-length skirt, white frilled blouse and a suede cowboy hat, and after the bar closed she told me she was lost and couldn’t find her way to where she was supposed to stay with her friends. She ended up accompanying me to a patch of forest to spend the night. We didn’t quite fuck, by the way. In fact the extent of our sexual encounter was quite similar to my night in bed with Margaret, minus one or two quirks. We smoked some herb, and maybe rolled around a bit before the sun rose. I think I stayed on South Bass another day or two, and one night drank myself to a slight puking drunk. I should note, my tolerance was far from those peaks maintained in my past, which I had developed to a very respectable level by much exercising of my liver and stomach’s limits in the high altitude and thin air of the Rocky Mountains.

Oh yeah, I also met a fellow named Dan at that same bar that night who wore a striped black suit, and if I recall correctly wore a red button-up shirt and slicked back hair. He sat next to me at the bar and asked me if I knew “what this was,” as if he were asking some sort of existential question. In my immediate and contextually informed perception, this figure, bearing the name Dan, seemed supposed to be interpreted as in some guise connected to the Dan I had stayed with in Montreal, and the Dan who was Leslie’s former lover, and a Dan I knew in Laramie who, according to a mutual acquaintance, had once taken a meaningful journey to Montreal, and perhaps another Dan or two who have played roles in other plots further back in time and who may or may not tie directly (in an esoteric sense, that is) into this story. Names are often cues, or at least offer clues.

For some reason I felt my life was in danger on this island, and later followed a premonition to keep my distance from a stage where a guitarist who bore a striking resemblance to Jeff Bridges was playing rock & roll ballads for a crowd sipping beers and soaking in whatever sunshine might show through the layer of dull gray clouds. As I listened and watched from a distance, I had a picture flash in my mind that the singer pulled a pistol as I approached the stage, said something, then shot me. I realize the likelihood of such an absurd vision coming true would seem beyond calculation, but I’ve experienced many visions coming very true to the represented “internal screen,” and many events as odd, if not so public. And I believe I have in fact been shot on various other occasions, though did not return to consciousness with the resultant wounds on any of said occasions, so who knows?

One particularly succinct and poignant instance of a prescient vision manifesting very overtly before my eyes occurred at the edge of the mountains in my home state as I was driving the Miraculous-Beast-Shanti-Mama on a dirt road on the south side of Elk Mountain. The Snowy Range was in front of me to the east. As a bright orange-yellow October moon rose above the peaks to the fore, framed to my vision by a cracked windshield, I thought of the “medicine” that sat on the shelf on the door of the icebox in the camper on the back of the pickup truck I drove. I thought this might be an auspicious time to take some of this medicine, which consisted of a few feet of San Pedro cactus skins sliced off with just a thin layer of flesh included to ensure the majority of the mescaline contained therein would make it into the brew, then boiled down to a concentrated fluorescent green tea.

I decided such a decision ought to be ceded to divine deliberation, and thus to some sign to say it was the proper time to take this essence into my body. I knew I had to work the next day, though I also knew my employer would hardly mind if I was a little under the weather for having partaken of said medicine. I was setting up a drip irrigation system for a medicinal herb company, and my employers were, of course, all about the botanicals. As I continued to cruise around the mountain I contemplated what sign to ask, and immediately concluded it must be an animal.

Not a deer nor an elk nor a pronghorn, too common. Not a coyote, not quite appropriate. Not a cougar—I think I saw one a week before sprinting away from my headlights late in the night. Two cougar sightings in as many weeks would be too much to ask. A bird? Yes, but not one of those tiny little roadside fluttering night flyers, darting out across the beams of light preceding the potential threat of the fast moving and large projectile of an oncoming vehicle.

Then I saw it in my mind’s eye, this sign of certainty, assurance from whatever transcendent something had sway over psychedelic journeys, and specifically mescaline—perhaps “Mescalito,” as the appropriate presiding deity is called by some Native American tribes whose rites include the use of said psychedelic substance.

That’s it! A great predatory bird, with wings three or more feet in breadth, whose flight brings him or her from the left side of the truck, accelerating and then veering to directly in front of the windshield, about 15-20 feet ahead, then after leaning one way, then the other, the large owl or hawk cuts off to the right and out of view, thought I as said apparition proceeded before my inner eye.

I forgot about my deliberations and this vision and rolled a smoke with a pinch of herb mixed in, enjoying my still relaxed body, freshly soaked in the Saratoga Hobo Pool, a healing hot springs that bubbles out of the ground at somewhere between 110˚ and 120˚ Fahrenheit. I was savoring a drag from my mixed-cigarette when suddenly from the left, precisely as in my vision, a large bird with white and brown feathers flashing in the beams of the headlights soared to pass the pickup truck, then slid upon the air to directly ahead, maintaining the lead for a moment or two more, leaned to the left, then turned off to the right to disappear again into the night.

I am fairly certain this was an owl, and likely a great horned one, though from my venue I couldn’t tell for sure. Regardless, this manifestation was a perfect copy of what I envisioned several minutes before. No clearer sign than that could I have asked. After I returned to the ranch where I was working on an experimental osha root garden, I sipped a few swallows of the bitter green brew, built a fire and watched a mild show of colors and fractals and visions reformed, yet felt that the sign was indeed the greater teaching of this trip.

I occasionally sought shelter with my two friends from Chicago whilst I lingered on the shores of Lake Eerie, but found their frequent late-night parties not befitting my tastes in light of my mood at the time. And besides, the female of the two had a habit of dressing not unlike Fortuna, sans underwear, and in short skirts. Not that I don’t like . . . just a little much to be constantly and sometimes rather provocatively exposed to such a view of something and someone so lovely I oughtn’t touch, out of respect for her partner and so forth. Mostly I slept on the beach and tried from time to time to roll-on.

When finally I resolved to head to a rail hub east and a bit south of the circles I’d spun in for the past few months, I walked along the highway towards the east to find a train going west. As I trod the four-lane’s shoulder, a white work-van pulled over ahead. As I approached, waddling with heavily loaded backpack whilst I ran to catch-up, I noticed Oregon plates and Green Party stickers, and felt a sense of relief at the sight of these signs of the familiar and endeared. I loaded packs and dog aboard, then climbed in.

The driver was an Oregon-style anarchist, earth-protecting, migrant farm-worker type. His comrade in the back of the van was a card carrying Athabascan Communist from Minnesota. They were on their way to Maine to pick blueberries. In spite of my resolve to get back to the west I decided to ride with this odd couple on to Rochester, where the driver’s brother and his family lived, and then on to somewhere near Herkimer. I had considered a trip to seek out some of the high quality quartz crystals to be found around said town when I was in New York previously, and decided I might as well while I had a ride goin’ thataway.

From where this interesting pair let me out I caught one short ride then hiked the remaining 15 or 20 miles to where I ended up camping, just outside the small town of Middleville at a nice site by the river. I quite savored this respite from cities and concrete, and managed to find a couple-dozen respectable Herkimer “diamonds,” as these super-hard quartz crystals are called. Had I demanded market rate for these finds, I might’ve made a grand or two. Instead I mostly gifted and traded these shiny stones once I arrived in Ithaca and then at the regional Rainbow Gathering in the forest to the north and saving a few to send to friends, after the tradition of the tribes respecting the earth’s gifts.

I won’t be too specific about where I searched for the shiny clear crystals, but suffice it to say I found a spot where layers of rock and dirt were often disturbed to reveal quartz crystals up to three inches in length. I walked to the peaks of large piles of rock and rubble to scan one-hundred feet or more in a swath of ground between my vantage and the sun. Reflections from clean surfaces of these “diamonds” would sparkle brilliantly, showing me the location of stones from a centimeter to a couple inches in length. I quite enjoyed this treasure hunt, yet felt it was not the pleasure it would have been if I’d had companions likewise experiencing the joys of chasing sparkly treasures in the intermittent beams of sunlight.

I thought a good deal about Meghan Ann during this endeavor of seeking sacred stones. My traveling partner and lover for eight-moons or more, Meghan was quite enamored with shiny pretty supernaturally endowed healing gems from Mother Earth. I would’ve done good to come in a distant second to her love of colorful and sparkly rocks. She did natural stone beadwork, had some silversmithing skills, and could tell you the metaphysical potencies of whatever semiprecious or precious stone you might name.

I imagined the giddy joy Meghan would certainly have felt upon finding these most precious of clear quartz crystals to be found. I looked around me at the barren red dirt, dusty red cliffs, and pale blue sky, and recognized my displeasure with the brand of solitude I’d been offered. I do often seek to be alone in wild places, and yet I’ve never quite found more than a semblance of a full-blown hermit in myself. Now mind you, if I had the right tantrica with me, a beautiful yogini-devi appropriately matched to me who wanted to practice for long hours on a rug in some dark cave, I s’pose I might give up the city’s thrall and cadres of comrades once and for all. In the meantime, I do favor the company of friends at least part-time, and especially when there’s good fun to be had.

After I had gathered a sufficient quantity of Herkimer diamonds, I returned to my campsite. There was a car in the parking lot at the end of the short dirt road, a Subaru wagon embellished with peace signs and Rasta colors and the likes. A short while later, after I had started a small fire, a company approached crossing the river barefoot, and I could just make out careful twistings or carelessness knottings of follicular growth protruding from at least two of four heads, and a tie-died shirt or two. “Family.”

The group was heading to a Rainbow Gathering in the small patch of National Forest north of Ithaca after a hunt for some of the Herkimer area’s gems. I told them how to find the location where I’d had good luck, a spot to which I had been directed by a kindly local, though decided not to join their foray as I felt I’d gathered my share. After a successful search, this crew gave Zunaka and myself conveyance to Ithaca.

Before endeavoring to get to the Gathering, I decided to explore this beautiful and progressive bastion of freethinking and traveling hippie/anarchist-hub, set amongst gorges that drain to one of the watery gashes (or scratch-marks made by some ancient god or goddess) that are called the Finger Lakes. Cornell University sits on a plateau above one side of downtown Ithaca, and Ithaca College resides on a hill on another.

I had applied to grad school at Cornell years previous, and was summarily rejected. Instead I ended up at the University of Chicago, where I enrolled in an interdisciplinary Master’s program. Never quite finished the thesis part of things, which was titled, “Non-Essentially Occidental: Heteroglossia in the European Discourses on Islam,” and have nothing to show for my graduate studies save for an obscenely defaulted college loan debt. Think I might’ve fared better at Ithaca, as I am no city-boy, and there’s hippies there, a very strong progressive community, and beautiful natural places quite nearby.

I met quite a number of interesting and significant persons in Ithaca and at the regional gathering. I cannot recall with certainty which of those I met in Ithaca and thereabouts were first encountered before, at, or after the gathering, so I’ll begin with the gathering. Sarah, aka “Soulo,” first arrived into my realm of experiences when I was sitting at my campsite, which was just off the path to main circle, only a couple dozen yards away under a tree. We chatted for a few and she ended up camping with me for the rest of the gathering.

We didn’t quite end up lovers, which was fine. It was nice to share tarp and bedroll with a beautiful woman regardless of degrees of further intimacy. She was twenty-two or twenty-three, if I recall correctly, had short auburn hair and a well curved-form. We shared a camp and bed for a while in Ithaca as well, and had plans to travel west together but got separated just before our planned departure.

“Soulo” was rather composed considering some of the trauma she had encountered in the previous year, including viewing the murder of her x-boyfriend Charles, who she told me was dealt a blast from a shotgun in the chest in Chesterfield. She’d sit with me and spange up means for a meal or coffee with a calm and repose that reminded me of a Buddhist nun I met during a march for besieged elders on the Diné (Navajo) Reservation. Said nun could split apples into several well-proportioned wedges with her bare hands, then distributed these sections of red delicious to her impressed audience.

Speaking of the Diné, I encountered a very unusual Diné woman in Ithaca with whom I shared some rather unusual exchanges. She had black hair highlighted with some tint or other, red or purple I think, and she told me she was a practitioner of “skunk-magic.” Her name was Sylvia and her nickname was “Skunk.” She was smokin’ hot, and as sincere an educated anarchist-activist as I’ve met. She told me she was in a heavy metal band, which was inactive, with her brother and some others.

One night whilst sleeping up one of the gorges that proceed outward from the center of town, I awoke to a small black and white animal to one side of the foot of my bedroll casually strolling towards Zunaka. Zunaka backed up to the length of his leash, but the three to five pound beast kept coming. In a behavior I have never before heard-tell nor seen in all my time in the hills regardin’ said species of critter (‘cept’n f’r one had the hydrophobia), that polecat leapt on that seventy-pound dog like it wanted to brawl. Well now, that hound didn’t want nothin’ to do with fightin’ one of these feisty fellas, maybe havin’ met the wrong end of one once or twice in his days. Soon as ‘n I figured out what was a’ happnin’ I hopped up likewise, and started lookin’ f’r stuff ta’ fling at this likely rabid critter. After nearly bustin’ that skunk with a thrown stick, it high-tailed it for the creek. Stayed up all night frettin’, then strolled on down to the Health Department next day, and they almost put ‘ol Zunaka (formerly known as Zeus) down.

Well, I don’t remember if’n it was the day before or the day after, but I happened to run into that Diné princess-rocker one-or-the-other of them days. Three other nights, if I recall correctly, I had brushes with skunks either directly proceeding or the day after I met Sylvia/Skunk at the coffee shop or, on one occasion, as I happened to encounter her struggling with her van’s passenger door. I ended up holding her door closed while she drove her van home on that particular day, then that night had a striped (not stripped) caller well after bedtime. On one night my black-and-white visitor flirtatiously woke me by brushing her (assuming . . .) tail against me face. I rolled over to watch her saunter away, swishing her tail, and I swear said skunk had sway to her hips. Gotta say, I would’ve much rather “Sylvia” had come for a midnight visit than “Skunk.”

KC (or Casie?) was a spike-haired punk-ass girl I would often encounter at one of the coffee houses in town. She was a sassy and precocious, if sometimes coming-on-too-strong kinda chick, though in a rather endearing sort of way. Just mentioning her because she seemed to often pop-up at various and sundry places I happened to habit in Ithaca.

And then there are the “Twelve Tribes” folks, a cult of sorts that draws in a lot of hippies, and which is supposedly run by some former carnie who decided women should wear dresses and be subservient—and somehow free-spirited hippie-types get drawn in? Weird world. They own a large mansion in near downtown Ithaca where they live communally. By some accounts I heard that breaking company with this group is a rather hazardous affair . . . though at least I haven’t heard of forced marriages to kin amongst this odd manifestation of religion Americana, and hearsay’s just that. Did attend a free dinner there, where stories about the backwardly subjugated place of women were indeed evidenced to my eye. Not my kinda scene. I left before dessert.

Anica or Anika or Anaka (?) of Ithaca was another notable woman I often encountered whilst wandering between downtown, Cornell’s hilltop environs and various coffeehouses and cafes, the lake at Stewart Park and the creeks in the gorges. We rarely stopped to chat for long when we met, usually walking in different directions, yet she seemed familiar. She rather reminded me of Chloe, for one, except she had nearly black hair instead of blond. She was tall, delightfully curvy, and was a student at one or another of the universities there at one time or another, and that’s all I can really speak of her. Our not infrequent encounters seemed notable, nonetheless.

There was a fellow with a white kitten who also seemed a figure of note (mainly for the obvious contrasts: a blue-eyed blond hippie with a white cat to a brown-haired and eyed hippie with a white dog) who’d often show up for the feeding at “Loaves and Fishes.” This is the local feed-spot (“soup kitchen”) where carnivores, vegetarians and omnivores and even vegans can get a free meal several days a week. A broad variety of folks usually show up, from dirty hippies to well groomed hippies, gutter-punks and hobos, unemployed or unsuccessful hipsters, anarchists and activists, the lonely looking for fellowship and various other generally less-than-wealthy figures from the community. During good weather, the lawn is littered with hippies and other random freaks and dogs and cats sharing a picnic and rolling smokes and so forth.

A number from amongst those I met on the lawn at Loaves-and-Fishes would hang out at a site just up one of the gorges where a small circle of seats was arranged in a small clearing. I’d occasionally approach whatever gang was hangin’ here, sharing some smoke but generally not lingering long amongst this conglomeration of gutterpunks and younger hippies, where 40’s and bottles of liquor were more common than bongs and bowls smoked. The only figure who immediately comes to mind of those often encountered amongst these circles was a young woman called “Honey.” She was a wild-girl in her late-teens who would wander with these wilder Ithaca residents, and I think she said she was from California. She camped up one of the gorges with her boyfriend, and she reminded me of a line of others I’ve known elsewhere.

Oh yeah, and one night I ended up having a pretty cool conversation with a rather voluptuous woman named Jade who took me to her house, along with some seemingly gay fellow, to swim in a private pool. I don’t recall if I swam at all, but I did get a shower, had a beer or two, and ended up in bed with Jade.

From Ithaca, I traveled again east, with intentions of turning south. As I noted, plans to journey with Soulo didn’t come to fruition, so I hitched and hiked with Zunaka to New Paltz, where I remained until mid-December. I camped again amidst the forests at the edge of town, except for on the coldest nights when I would find some shelter or other, and on the one night I spent with Emily. Lila, lila, kama.

Emily was perhaps the most beautiful woman I came to know on the streets of New Paltz, and was quite intelligent. She engaged me in deep conversation one night as rain was beginning to turn into ice. I was eating a slice of pizza at the pizza place on the corner of Main and Chestnut. We conversed rather intensely and intentioned, and she told me about a book she was reading that was about “Snakes” and “Spiders” fighting an inter-dimensional war, an absurdly if interestingly symbolic something she later gave me to read entitled The Big Time. Emily let me stay at her apartment that night, which was in the basement of a house that was above a lake as I recall, or at least above an open field or river. The rain became a sheet of translucent ice then snow. I showered and ended up in bed with Emily.

A few days later, Emily told me she decided she wanted to see someone else, even apologetically. She said she liked this guy who sort of ran the co-op. I had, of course, made no presumptions that our night together meant she wanted to permanently shack-up with a hippie-cum-hobo passin’ through town, though I’d likely not have been at all disagreeable if she had decided she wanted to see more of me. Yet what more might a sometimes smelly hippie-cum-hobo hope for, save even one night in the bed of the most beautiful young woman in town (after a shower, of course)? Such is the life of a rambler, I suppose. Emily gave me her phone number and family’s address (which I’ve since lost), which was in some New England town I can’t recall, and on a street called Leslie Lane.

From New Paltz (or perhaps just before, as I can’t recall the precise sequence of these visits), I decided to stop by the Omega Institute, as I was indeed inadvertently in the neighborhood. I had not received any responses to recent emails sent to Leslie, and so felt obliged to check-up on her. Perhaps a bit of presumption on my part. She wasn’t particularly happy to see me, explaining that she was attempting to sever many ties (detachment . . .?) and wasn’t really communicating with anyone except for close family and one or two others. We’ve communicated only little since, unless by some means other than material. I admit I’ve “Googled” her name since she last sent an email, and even searched for her current whereabouts on a people-finder site or two, though with no intention of further seeking her out beyond such minimal and non-invasive means, unless she beckons me. I hope she is happy and healthy.

I hopped a train in Kingston, NY, to get south and to where it wasn’t so cold. I awoke from a dream on the back of a container carrier to a dreamlike rhythmic melody vibing through the night. I awoke to what sounded like a rave, or whatever they call them these days, going on in a warehouse district just off the track. The music carried in the otherwise quiet of night sounded exactly like a DJ my Montreal hosts would often spin on the house stereo. I was too tired and too ready to get south to follow this queue or call, however. Didn’t really feel like getting stalled in the industrial labyrinth I could make out while standing tall on the train-car and gazing into the orange-yellow glow of floodlights and gray shadows, assorted neutral colored warehouses and soot-stained factories’ smokestacks not quite inviting me to adventure despite the call of familiar trance tunes.17

The freight train stopped again and I disembarked at the north edge of Philadelphia. Rode a commuter train to the other side of town, and kept going till Media. I immediately found a coffeehouse, and there met a beautiful young woman who had nearly black hair that reminded me of Leslie’s at the time I first encountered her, wearing the sort of straight-cut bangs Uma Thurman wore in Pulp Fiction (Leslie used to play the soundtrack a lot when she was a barista at Coal Creek). The woman in Media had a long Arabian sword at her side, and whilst contemplating the length and edge of blade I imagined the seemingly sharp scimitar applied to my flesh, for whatever odd reason. She gave a belly dance performance at the coffee shop, and she asked me if I knew or was “Hamsa.” I told her that I am not any such person, and that I didn’t personally know anyone by that name. Leslie, by the way, had a similarly shaped implement of dance—a scimitar, though I think the woman in Media had a sharper blade. I’ve already mentioned the thing with “hamsas.” The woman in Media was with a fellow, if that’s important to tell.

I called Lisa and Marc’s home, and Marc agreed to pick me up in Media. Oh, yeah . . . also might mention that one night on the path to Media from Philly, if I recall correctly the location, I had a strange dream as I slept next to a creek and not far from a populated crossroad. The sky was threatening to rain, an intermittent light drizzle inclining me to draw the tarp over my bedroll as Zunaka curled at my feet.

Whilst I slept I dreamt a dream in which I was hangin’ out in some hall and adjoining kitchen with Prince Charles (the British royal, ya’ know) and seemingly others—perhaps one or another or both of his sons. I went out into the large dining hall, then attempted to re-enter the kitchen with Zunaka through a different door. As I opened the heavy hardwood door, a large white wolf-hybrid in the kitchen started to snarl viciously, held back by one of the heir-apparent’s sons. I think there was another dog or two there, both smaller and less intimidating. Of course Zunaka started to snarl and strain at my restraint, ready to leap upon the other seemingly unneutered male wolf-dog. Zunaka was a very intelligent being, but not one to keep his cool when it comes to fighting—if the other dog had balls, that is. Anyhow, at that moment someone grabbed my arm from behind and stuck a syringe-needle into my flesh.

As I immediately started to wake from this dream, perhaps into another “dream,” I recall someone grabbing my arm through the tarp which covered me, and had the distinct impression said person assaulting me whilst half-sleeping and covered by a tarp stuck a needle into the arm I raised to fend off the assault—just as someone had injected me with something or other through a hypodermic needle in the previous dream, upon which I fell into a dreamless sleep. Indeed, it seems if one chooses to live to fullest potential and to challenge the status quo, you shall not fail to attract the attention of others who maintain pretensions of right and might, even in the dreams of night.

I’ve since tried to locate photos on the internet of kitchens and dining halls at the Prince of Wales’ various residences to see if any match the location in my dream, but have yet to locate any. I have had dreams that occurred in locations I’d not yet been, then later found said locations corresponding quite astonishingly to what I’d seen in the earlier dream, thus I shant be surprised if I find a photo of the kitchens at Birkhall or Highgrove to match the scene of the near dogfight in my dream.

I might add here that I had much considered (whether of my own accord or by suggestion) the myths of Camelot at times in my musings upon the first train or two going east, and then the more as related signs began to appear. Beth and Dan lived in a second floor apartment on Rue Prince-Arthur Ouest. I stayed with Arthur and Jordan for a short while before moving into the studio with Leslie. The river surrounding Montréal is named for a man who was purportedly a keeper of the so-called Holy Grail, a central story in the myths of Camelot. Other assorted signs and suggestions related to said mythic tales appeared in other places and instances in addition to these through the course of this journey, though I shall leave the topic at what’s writ above.

Questions of royalty tend to surface in one’s spiritual quest when, accomplished in practice, intentions are drawn towards bettering this world, towards taking authority over those ills one wishes to see healed, and to confront those ailments needing destruction. Yogis often bare titles pertaining to kingship, such as “Maharaja,” which means “Great King.” Whatever these passages pertaining to monarchs might mean in relation to some broader plot revealed (or obfuscated) within this self-told narrative, I cannot fully represent. Am I somehow a perceived threat to the House of Windsor? Just in my mind’s meeting with some muse or other?

Mind is complex, and the differences between dreams and waking and life and death are sometimes more arbitrarily defined than most would want to maintain, as even the division of “self” and “other” can be. These lines can become blurred, especially as one seeks to press the paradigms and common sense realities we’re trained to believe.

As amply noted, I have seen veritable and verifiable examples of the existence of much cannot be as well fitted into a modern western-scientific paradigm as fits well a mystical, fantastic, and mythical worldview. Indeed, I believe one ought to live life heroically, beautifully and true, and ought strive to better the experience of life for all, to heal unjust injuries and vanquish evils, and to strive for justice, regardless of whose toes get stepped on. Even if living life as a householder, family man or woman, I believe each of us has the responsibility to respond to the gift of life with intrepidness, strength and a passion for justice and truth.

Most presumptions of “Western science” do not allow for these sort of factors to fit an equation. Life longs for such aspirations, for the least childhood dreamer to aspire and to become a great hero or heroine. Science, or at least the immature variety (spiritually) that has gained prominence in the past few centuries, does not allow “love” or “heroism” to be considered in an equation related to Unified Theory (save perhaps in the theorizing of individuals on the razor’s edges of this science). Yet it may prove that these sorts of words come quite close to describing what holds it all together.

Just to clarify, I am not so deluded to claim that I had some “real” encounter with these British royals, though I did also see a nigh exact doppel to Prince Charles in a three-piece blue suit walking the opposite direction to me on the sidewalk in Ithaca whilst quite awake, as well as having the odd experience of this (these) dream(s). This figure gave me a rather cursory if rather loaded onceover as we passed each other on the sidewalk as I likewise considered said odd apparition with a curious glance. It may be I shoulda let Zunaka battle that rather scruffy-looking canine in the royal’s kitchen, in that dream. I rather think he woulda kicked that mangy mutts royally pretentious arse!

Stayed with Lisa and Marc for month or so, rested and once again gratefully gained back a few pounds, watched TV and smoked herb and sat on the back porch rolling and smoking cigarettes and attempting to provoke Zunaka to play with Kaya, Lisa’s coy-dog she found stray on a rez when caravanning with me near Chaco Canyon. I didn’t make it much further south than DC on the next leg of this journey. Ended up staying in Fredericksburg, Virginia, for several months.

Met some kind local hippie kids all around twenty to twenty-five or so in Fredericksburg whose names I shall not mention due to the presence of certain substances in some of their lives. A number of them liked to poke holes in their veins (speaking of needles), something the cops take much more seriously than weed—and also, by the way, not my kind of poison.

Cannabis is one thing, an herb humans have had an intimate relationship with since time immemorial. Opium, though not a good thing to do habitually, is still right from the plant and not, in-and-of-itself and only smoked once in a while, an unmanageable or generally life or health threatening spirit/substance.

Once you start poking holes in your body to get a headchange, else take a substance too far away from its natural context and content by chemical processes, you’ve stepped over a line across which there isn’t generally anything good to be found. Sorta sums up my sentiments regarding much of what comes with the title “pharmaceutical,” too. Closer to nature is nigh always closer to health and happiness.

LSD might be the one exception I’d make to the “pharmie”/overly refined guideline, and possibly DMT, as well (i.e., when used with exceeding respect and ritual appropriate to this more potent plant-derived psychedelic which I don’t quite even consider pharmaceutical). Heroin (not the feminine version of the term “hero” with an “in” and an “e” at the end), however, is something I’ve never seen better a life. Not so noxious in my book as meth or the likes, but still a thing that drags down the lives of too many people I could otherwise trust unequivocally with, say, a $50 or a CD collection when there’s a nearby place to pawn them for a few bucks a piece, and who might otherwise live happy and healthy and productive lives. Never met anyone who’d be more likely to do you wrong after they smoked a joint than if stone cold sober.

I ought to report, however, that I had no experiences of the loss of property or trust whilst sometimes staying at the Fredericksburg hippie hovel (where heroin was sometimes used by some of the occupants). Yet I must wonder how much cooler and more fun these kind friends might have been if junk had no place in any of their lives. Somewhat inversely, I might add, I have often considered how much more fun I might have had with so many people from my past, had the mellowing medicine of marijuana been a part of these people’s lives.

Mountain climbers and cyclists and professional basketball players smoke marijuana. The “founding fathers” of the United states seem likely to have smoked the “India hemp” the likes of George Washington grew.18 A large portion of functional professionals have smoked or still do smoke herb. I’ve puffed with lawyers, professors, accountants and even a law enforcement officer or two in all of the smoke-circles I’ve been party to over the years. Heroin pretty much just brings people down, with the exception of a few notable authors and artists of the last century, perhaps.

There is a coffee house in Fredericksburg called Hyperion. Here is, yet again, a place named after Roman deity, who was in fact derivative of an Egyptian. Hyperion, analogous to Seth in Egyptian lore and almost certainly traceable to the Hindu Surya, guides the sun across the sky in Roman mythology. During spells sitting at this coffeehouse I seemed to attract the attention of more than a few attractive and young women, especially considering my rather shoddy appearance, having mostly spent my nights in a bedroll on whatever suitable patch of ground and rotating through but a few changes of clothing. I was hardly trying to get laid, though likely could have found my way into a few young women’s beds whilst hanging out in this Virginia college town. Young being a key word.

I have lived three-and-a-half decades this time around, and have decided from experience and otherwise that somewhere around twenty-three is about minimum age for a lover considering my years of life lived, though I could imagine myself going so far as to accidentally fall into bed with a twenty-one year old that drags me home from a bar after I’d had a few to drink. Below that, she’d have to be pretty damn close to an avatar, else a genuine incarnation of a goddess to get me to drop my pants—and even then, still there are obvious bounds to what’s appropriate or acceptable. Still, rather puzzled me that I was such a magnet in spite of feeling quite unattractive during those rather rough days on the road.

Whilst wandering ‘round the country on this occasion, I was more stressed and scrawny than I’d ever been, underweight by upwards of twenty to thirty pounds at certain points. I was living off spanging, and was fighting psychic battles more intense than any I had faced before. Though I had a tad of gray in my hair and beard previous to this journey, the count of white hairs on my head had increased significantly since my departure from Wyoming. And to be quite honest, with only minimal access to a place to bathe (the hippie-house was a good ways outside of town), I often stunk. Nonetheless, for whatever reason I seemed to attract even more positive attention from random college women than I am generally accustomed to (with the exception of not getting laid so much as usual). Goes to show the nigh impossibly complicated task of understanding women.

Suppose I was a pleasant and amusing distraction in some cases—an unusual sight in those parts, and perhaps in other cases an object of some sort of psychologically complex patterns of desire, though I must note I’ve often experienced times as a younger man, well dressed and healthier, when I seemed less prone to draw the company of beautiful young women. Perhaps there is simply some sort of mystique to the wild and weathered traveling sort in the imaginations of young women just beginning their explorations of the world. I suppose not even the most in depth of scientific or psychological inquiry shall ever unlock the subtler mysteries of attraction and desire.

To be honest, had I been a bit less burdened with subtle and esoteric riddles, dharmic burdens and karmic responsibilities, and less hobbled (traveler-speak for poor and without wheels), I might have pursued one or another of these romantic possibilities proffered by whatever deity or saint, benevolent spirit or phenomenal excretion, as a few of the attractive women I met were college seniors. Did spend one night on the couch at the apartment of a couple of college girls, Joanna and another whose name eludes, after a night at the bar. Nothing happened, however, other than a warm night’s sleep on a cushiony couch.

Though I took advantage of offered floor and couch-space from time-to-time whilst in Fredericksburg, I also often slept upon the banks of the river, sight of significant bloodbaths in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. I awoke from a dream one night whilst seeking shelter underneath a concrete embankment a bit above the Rappahannock’s flow that left me a bit stunned. This dream in fact transpired at the precise location where I slept, making said nocturne the more disturbing and leaving me to wonder whether what I had just dreamt was still going on in a dimension only slightly out of phase with my waking reality.

In this dream, grayish phantoms in tattered antique military uniforms attacked me in the darkness. One after another they charged, faces scarcely discernible between collars of threadbare and torn uniforms and bills of dusty caps. My defense against these assailants was grasping them around the throat and rather effortlessly popping their heads off. As one figure approached, apparently noticing my dismay at the violence, he looked at me and stated rather matter-of-fact, “What do you expect? It’s a battlefield.” I believe I then popped his head off as he proceeded to attack, then awoke.

As I lay in the darkness I pondered that perhaps my response to the assaults in this dream may have been related to something my younger sister had once told me regarding a tactic our father’s father had employed as a recon and intelligence soldier behind the lines in the Pacific during WWII: piano wire. Also came to mind, a former girlfriend telling a tale of having been abusively choked by her father when she was a teen. Odd how suggestion and odd and random memories might affect the unconscious mind and the formation of the future, how waking words might manifest in dream and how dreams sometimes bear fruit in life later lived.

Finally departing Fredericksburg, I caught a ride with some of the Rappahannock River-rat hippie-crew to Virginia Beach. We were supposed to catch a Reggae show, which we were unable to locate. I was happy to see the ocean, to sleep on the beach and breath the salt-spray saturated air (pollution from nearby centers of industry and military, notwithstanding). Despite my relief and gratitude to see the open ocean, I ought to be honest and note that Virginia Beach is far from my ideal of an oceanfront paradise. Hotels line the beachfront, and storefronts selling plastic beach baubles and sunglasses and oversized towels, arcades, restaurants and bars dominate the next street up.

Cheap commercialization and commodification of life dominate what was certainly once a beautiful stretch of oceanfront. In addition to this, the military has a significant presence in the area, and fighter-planes constantly fly over the otherwise pleasant sandy beach. The one most redeeming quality of the city, as far as places of business go, was the one coffee house I could find: Bad Ass Coffee. And I must also admit, I did appreciate that a couple of the hotel restaurants along the beach had fairly reasonably priced breakfasts.

A statue of Poseidon stood at the center of the beachfront, and as I had been continually barraged with images and names of Greek and Roman deities over the course of my journey, I took this as something of an ill omen. The trident which this figure carries is, after all, derivative (a bastardization) of the much more ancient and authentic trishul, sign of the presence of Siva. This symbol’s misrepresented use in Western mythology, from Poseidon’s trident to the pitchfork held by the devil, indicate yet again the rather myopic perspective Western culture has so often taken on the earlier themes and symbols, still faithfully represented in the traditions of India known as sanAtana dharma, that are in fact our collective global heritage. Indeed, these metaphors matter in the construction of those subtle collective consciousnesses that help direct the balance of human life—and every society has it’s sacred or sacrosanct and vilified icons, most often designed to direct thoughts and inspire culturally appropriate behavior if sometimes proffering accurate information historically and spiritually. Often enough these symbols hold secrets—if oft to be read between the lines—that afford clues to the real stories of world history, true accounts and histories not generally sanctioned by the academy that make conspiracy theories such as is depicted in The Da Vinci Code’s plot seem but anecdotal, and secret societies such as the Illuminati and Free-Masonry, mere social clubs.

Though I’ll not go too deep into my theories regarding the subtleties of the story I perceive as underlying the transmission and twists of culture and symbols and the stories that began with migrations (expulsions?) and emanations out of India towards the west, suffice it to say Abraham and Sarah and Hagar, who according to the Torah came from a place on the perimeters of Indus Valley Civilization, were preceded by and likely representative of the Indian figures Brahma and Saraswati and Ghaggar,19 Christ by Krishna, and Islam by Siva and His consorts, all maintaining respective analogies to degrees that cannot be denied, except by dishonest scholars bent on making “the West” look better or more rooted in antiquity in comparison to their truer forbearers. Likewise, ancient Greece derived much of the framework for their culture, if second- or third-hand, from India, and as noted elsewhere Native American Indians are actually descendants of colonists from the Indian subcontinent.

Similarly, the term “devil” seems likely to have been derived from a Persian language alteration else desecration of the Sanskrit word for God or Goddess—Deva and Devi. Quite interesting and amusing to note, the English word “God” is derived from the Sanskrit word go, which translates directly as the English word “cow.”

By the way, the Aryan invasion theory—i.e., that much of the sophisticated culture of India derived from pale-skinned-blue-eyed invaders—is being proven quite errant by modern scholarship and archaeology. These revelations generated by academically sanctioned methods are being accepted only reluctantly by many “Western” scholars, some in fact fighting tooth and nail to save their faltering myths. European scholars of the nineteenth and into the twentieth century who studied the more ancient and sophisticated cultures and arguably greater wisdoms of “the East” were often quite intent upon proving “Western” superiority and propping up various racist theories. Some noted “Orientalist” scholars have been shown (by scholarly scrutiny) to have even intentionally lied regarding the antiquity and sophistication of early civilizations in India and other regions of eastern Asia in order to bolster their case, claiming later dates for the Vedas and Indian epics than these works internally proclaim of their own dates of origin. Thus my contempt for the fascination and reverence Europe and America have held for the relatively young and derivative cultures of Greece and Rome, or at least for the European and American fixations on these relatively recent cultures to the detriment of attending to roots to those more ancient and sophisticated cultures of Asia. More than a little revision is indeed due.

Upon deciding to depart from Virginia Beach, I considered a hike down the beach to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but was dissuaded by the fact that a significant installation of military-controlled property was in the way. Instead I headed inland to a fairly hip neighborhood in Norfolk, where I found a very cool coffeehouse called Fair Grounds, a two-story hippie hangout where I felt much more at home than anywhere else in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area. From the Seven Cities I hiked the majority of the way to Peters I thinkburg, then hitched a ride to the southern border, where I hopped a train that only carried me a bit further south, disembarking in Greensborough, North Carolina.

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