by margareta waterman
here is the boy on the burning sands. here is the boy on the burning
sands. the ravens have spoken. he will make his vigil. hot dry burning
desert. dry caked dust. powdery earth bleached white. early morning
raven voice fading off in the wilderness.
all day he goes about the usual movements of life. all day he walks
through the usual planes of his life. but today he walks through other
planes as well. looking across the scene of his home, he is suddenly a
mayan priest, watching teams of men and animals play on a rectangular
field. in a jungle. surrounded by large stone buildings. a jungle.
or a boy, younger than himself, watching across a fire into a passionate
darkness made of trees and night. trees. not the space and stars and
clarity of the familiar desert night. trees.
all day he goes about the usual movements of life. all day not quite a
part of the usual life, and not quite away from it. watching his sisters,
remembering their care of him in his babyhood, the way they played with his
baby toes and his baby penis; they still giggle and gossip while their own
babies toddle together. watching the boys he trained with, swift in their
dancing and their games.
it is hot. he is motionless in mid-day like the others. when the sun
begins to relent, he wanders again, still not present, still not gone. he
finds his Elder Brother among the corn.
in the evening, walking quietly into the desert, away from the village and
the ditches for watering, out to the emptiness.
at night something brown and warm and gritty turns cool and silky and blue.
then the luminaries of the sky talk. all meaning is clear, is the simple
exchange of the water of light, clear fluid exchange of essential void.
the lights that dance at night in the eyes of planets and moon, and scatter
and peek from star to star.
deserts differ. in egypt, palestine, saudi arabia, arizona . . .
boy kneeling over his sand-patterns becomes a woman. consciousness that
knows itself woman, looking out of his eyes. he is shocked. the teaching
he received to prepare him for initiation did not prepare him for this.
the consciousness of this woman is more than he can take.
who are you?
i am yourself, wahkepa, in another form.
then he is looking out of her eyes, looking at colors of earth and fire on
a white page instead of the colored earths of his sand-pattern. yellow
earth red fire in colored earths sprinkled on the ground by the boy's hands
and watched by the boy's eyes. the woman's consciousness, present,
watching too. yellow earth and red fire in colored waters from a brush in
the woman's hand and watched by the woman's eyes. the boy's consciousness,
present, watching too. aghast.
and a third voice, male, like the boy, but undisturbed. a man. and i,
wahkepa, i am yourself, too.
this man no stranger. the voice that speaks here, the face reflected in
it, these have been with him all his life. this is the man he is born to
become. his ka.
and so the day begins. he does not know what to do. only the first
morning out of sixteen.
sit out here alone in the desert. slowly it absorbs us. the desert.
slowly, it absorbs us. the air. the patterns of light. the elegant
cactus and the various birds. lizards. desert.
you are lying on a flat surface under the sun. you lie there for many
hours. you do not think. your skin is silken and your muscles are hard.
the cushions of flesh below your hips rest on the ground with a hot
fluidness. the pads of flesh under the tops of your thighs are soft with
sensation. your mind calls for your Great Brother, calls and asks, strains
northwest toward the ray that must fall, because it must, for each human
being. straining, calling, mind unsatisfied, needing its ecstasy. the
visionary craving. you seek a vision because you need a vision.
the boy lies on the flat ground and watches the stars. he knows his life
is changing. before he returns to the village he will have somehow become
someone different. it is a mystery: there is no understanding it. but it
must happen. once the first step is taken, the boy is left behind. he
does not know what the man knows. he is not the man. but he is no longer
the boy. the boy faded into non-existence when he turned away from the
village and the corn-field. now, until his vigil leads him to his vision,
until his vision creates his new self, he is nobody. he lies on the flat
ground and watches the stars.
and the woman? she watches too. she is helpless. she knows, yes, what
the boy does not. she knows. but helpless. she can only keep vigil,
watch a candle flame or the sky-trails the stars leave. watch the young
male body lie on the flat desert ground. his unfurrowed face and innocent
empty mind. watching but not as she watches. waiting but not as she
the sky burns with stars. the moon circles the earth century after
century. it is visible from anywhere on earth. century after century,
month after month, anywhere.
i am not ready to face you fully, my brother. now why should that be?
what could be my stake in such self-protection?
and in ancient egypt, the crypt-cover stirs.
the Great Egyptian Switchboard: egypt lasted for centuries. inside the
temples Time was not master. oh they have twisted my tongue so bad before
they would give me the secrets. i would dearly love to tell them, and
cannot. and yet i know, and would draw a picture.
picture, then, the great pyramid-shaped central switchboard. egypt. each
line going, patched as needed, from anywhere to anywhere. each person ever
initiated, anywhere in this vast segment of time comprising Egypt, has an
individual line. each person ever initiated in an egyptian temple has lain
in the sacred crypt in occult trance and received permanent contact.
lines going into the great pyramid, cable and trunk lines going in and
i lie in my spot in my own egyptian temple. i feel the tones of my own
theme music, i am awakened by this sound like the calling of my name.
from here to anywhere, i can find myself, reach and feel the tone that only
i can sing. vibrate at that frequency and all of me responds. what can
call me this way can only be myself. therefore, i respond, and wake.
faces streaming toward the Great Pyramid from all directions, the boy's
face among them.
an initiation is a connecting-up. human consciousness is intentionally
linked with other, more abstract parts of the cosmic self. linked
carefully and deliberately in exact fashion according to the individual
sacred and unique necessities of the initiated person's own genetic
an initiation is an important part of a person's life. all the forces and
faces that matter, that have an interest, need to be present or in some way
what is the link? what is the theme of self that links some lives, more
than others, together? not personality, let that lie with name and form;
it grew with the body, consign it to the same death. but the sense of self
. . .
if you are me, then i know you. i know you the same as, in your true
emptiness, you know the flavor of your own thoughts.
an initiation is an important time in a person's life.
on the desert, lying flat, hands at his sides. not relaxed. last night he
was quite normal. his mind excited, but his body very normal and ordinary.
now he is beginning to believe.
he searches the sky for suggestion, for definition of the forming cosmic
sense around him. it twinkles, it is alive, it confirms. but no shooting
star or quivering planet calls attention to itself from all the cosmic
multitude. he had not really understood that the ordeal takes place in the
nervous system. he was prepared for mental disquiet. now his mind is
calm, almost bored except for the slight tinge of fear. but he cannot
trust his lungs to breathe unless he tells them to. quite carefully. each
time. so he lies there with eyes scanning the stars, with palms tense and
dry, vertical and tense and dry at the end of arms thick with dead-weight,
and carefully directs the air in and out of his body.
no lack of sun. no lack of light. lack of green, lack of water, lack of
lushness. bare. uncomforted. clear but unsoftened. life with only
two deserts. one on earth. the other in the heart. the desert in the
heart, lack of love, lack of the bubbling fountain that is the cause and
meaning of life. on earth, the desert is sparse, but the grandeur of the
universe displays itself in a thousand touches of beauty. but in a human
life, lack of love
the Great Pyramid, the switchboard.
a wire comes from the top of his head, through another place where the
colors are different, running along, being the wire and only the wire,
running along like a stream, fluid movement of the wire's orange-colored
substance, travelling through changes of color and density, feeling and
light, beyond interpretation or even impression, and lands in the Great
Pyramid itself. no longer a wire but a body again, a human body, lying
comfortably inside a crypt.
there is no panic in this body. its lungs fill and empty evenly, easily;
his arrival makes no impression on its steady breath-rhythm. yet he is
received with every courtesy and warm welcome. emotions are equally at
peace. understanding is not yet his, but confusion is gone, left back on
the desert at the other end of the wire.
the trance of the crypt.
this man is priest in his being. he is at home in this crypt. he is
familiar with this trance. this strangeness is not strange to him. this
is his element. the ground of his being. not infinite. he is a person.
not awesome. he fits so exactly into a human body.
now we are in the Great Pyramid together. three fragments, independently
coherent but parts of this one single self. (define it not, it is simply
so.) we can be separated out of contact with each other's knowledge and
understanding, or brought together for its sharings. as now.
there is no Greater Self, mystress or master, with a greater claim than any
other to the Unity of self, but other fragments than we three, indeed there
are. boy staring across fire in northern forest, awaking to a tiny sense
of irony with almost no developed mentality to support it. mayan priest,
totally developed, looking with love and satisfaction at the life he has
helped create. european countess who almost lost her balance in her greed.
alexandrian courtesan, at any time able to cast a glow of grace and
elegance and sweet cynical simplicity. chinese sturdy peasant restoring
balance to the concept of body. warriors, both rapist and knightly. many
there are who come home to this heart.
and here in this body now, this sweet egyptian flesh, resting in its place,
in deep stone crypt, but oh yes quite alive. this flesh, there is an image
that goes with it, this sweet egyptian priest who holds his body like a
nest for us to come together in. this flesh, this brain. this fellow who
is incumbent in it, here.
initiation, yes. the time/place/condition where we are together. how we
meet. for any of us, there is a time that is the first time for coming to
it. but here, there is no time. all times are real and present, all
places, images, dreams and realities. and the glow of experience swells
and turns. and what we touch is a hint of the inexorable reality behind.
the balance-point of the pyramid is central to the four walls, and
one/third of the way up towards the point of the peak.
i am coming to you wahkepa. it is the only thing i can do. it will help
what has twisted your tongue, my sister? what evil is there to come,
between my time and yours, that brings us to this? what is it, sister,
that stains you?
wahkepa's life is lived for its purity. every day of it, every movement,
is ritually perfect. from birth to death, a walk through the Great
Ceremony, a life. no purpose other than to be exactly itself, with no
flaws. a sixty-cycle note. a standard. a test-pattern. one life. day
by day. experienced, one drop at a time. initiated, yes. fully and with
perfect unfolding rhythm in the correct time sequence. in utter harmony
with all surroundings temporal and cosmic. inner consciousness developed
in perfect order. experienced, and therefore written firmly in akash.
this tribe is secret. it left its mark by its existence. left no messages
except the indelible shape of itself on the stuff of reality.
and he says: my sister, locked though i am in the perfection of my days, i
would join you in our mutual work. i would be as much ourself as you. and
feel in my fingertips the full flow of magic.
astarte, goddess of the rich dark passions, power that turns every movement
into the curves of beauty and the grandeur of love, how can that be myself?
my legs are hard, my stomach, my arms. my hairless chest is flat. no wind
quivers its nipples. the soft pouch hangs against my thighs. how can i
know of lying in a silken bed with flowers on my belly, or smooth cloth on
swinging breasts, sitting on a leather cushion, playing music for a soldier?
the priest speaks too. but myself, wahkepa. you know you can become me.
and she: wahkepa, i don't know how my weakness and failings have to do with
you. how could the emptiness in my life be healed by yours? it is the
life that is here that needs, not the cosmic life. how can that have
meaning to your story? the woman here now is not the woman triumphant.
she comes not in strength but in weakness, needing what it seems unlikely
you could give.
of course it is i who am your answer, not wahkepa. how could he find you?
but i, i can find you, lady. in any of your multi-bodied forms, i know you
too to be exactly the manifestation of my dreams. it is not this boy who
can show you your face, lady. i am who you need.
wahkepa sits back, listens.
all of these are his, all of those are hers: together, we are one. not in
separate bodies, but always in the same body. when the body is female, he
will be within; when male, she flickers behind the veil.
our gods are only what we would become. far enough away to be my lover;
close enough because from the beginning who could you be except myself?
priest, brother, what's this of love? can i define you? are you the
prince to find my sleeping maiden and end the loneliness of her tower? is
there answer to my question? i am the question, you must by all logic be
the answer. yet, do you love me with that fierce devotion i used to offer,
hoping to be met? are you answer? or do i reach, even here, in vain?
some of it is human woman, needs a human man to make her sing. how could
you make her sing in fleshed octave? your song is on a different scale,
and you are in a different key. yes i could sing to you. could pitch my
soul to find you, paint your portrait endlessly, as once i painted goddess.
and will, with less than ever fear. and if a moment touches me and i am
less than lonely in my solitude, will the morning find me humming?
sister, you know me, we are friends. i am not osiris, yet his priest, his
priest i am. and all you know is meant by that. his priest, osiris, his
priest. priest. you know that, by your own knowledge, by mine, by the
priesthood we know our own meaning. osiris, his priest, i am that. his
priest, i can say it, i know it, osiris, he lives. and you, in your isis,
receive him. my sister how could i destroy you, how could there be
conflict between you and me?
ancient rhythms, ancient hymns: i am not osiris, yet his priest/ his priest
i am/ osiris, his priest/ osiris, his priest/ i am that/ osiris, he lives.
now i must remember the boys:
greek boy, growing up in the palace, innocent of politics, seeing the
smooth white light on everything, clear and smooth, like oil.
african boy, with long skinny belly curving out and an illustration of
electricity in his hair. african boy who grew up to be a witchdoctor of
high art. very beautiful tree this man plant in other world for all his
people to use, forever. when boy seven years old until when thirteen, he
learn the joy of life. then he initiate and begin practise. practise many
years, become very good. much joy to all the world for the lovely
magicmusic he creates.
more boys. german. frustrated. fat and unable to cope. class
restrictions very uncomfortable. circumstances exactly wrong for him.
ludicrousness. fat blonde pigtails, a woman seen across a fire in a dark
forest night, and, many rounds later, fat german schoolboy chewing his
pencil, can't understand why he can't get on. he isn't quite smart enough
for his position. not smart enough to see through it, too smart to fall
through it. he's going to have to jump through the hoops. why is it so
hard? he's been tricked, he doesn't have an inkling. struggle so hard
never to gain by it except in more and more struggle. too smart to fall
below the struggle, not smart enough to see above it. trapped fat german
irony. self-knowledge. with the curse of self-knowledge, there comes the
gift of irony. without self-knowledge, one would fail at irony, after all.
irony -- the angle: the woman looks so funny. there is an angle, but no
reflection. she walks, she is silly-looking, toward the fire, with me on
the other side of it, across from her. she looks so silly, woman with fat
yellow braids, large round flesh. she is all circles and lumps. no
striding lines on her. all circles and fat lumps, made for curving and
squirming, sitting, lying, not for long walks through the tall trees. her
shoulders rest heavy on her breasts, her steps are uneven and she lifts her
feet only a little from the ground with each step. so silly-looking,
uneven lumpy rolling movements, coming toward the fire, facing me, directly
across from me, coming head-on in my direction as she walks, completely
satisfied with herself, toward the fire.
haliksa'i "listen: this is how it is!" haliksa'i
the transmutation of brutality and violence into music and dance.
brutality? violence? i have not had need. the boy in the dark tree-land
knows violence. his brothers and uncles hunt endangered and feed fiercely.
our struggles are not with blood, but with wind and sun, earth and rain.
our survival depends on our purity, on our hard work, and on fate, not on
the fire burns fiercely inside of me, yes. i lie under the stars and there
is a humming in my muscles. that is manhood coming to my body. it is
terribly tender and fierce. could that make me a pain-giver? it makes no
and how, between the tenth century and the twentieth, did irony develop?
how did the great bitterness come into me?
the mind before initiation, knowing only one life, could be as simple as
the society the life is lived in. but after, when there is no more
innocence of the world because no more separation from it, when all the
rôles have already been seen and identity includes all civilizations . . .
the bitterness is an error, it must be. there must be a balance-point
neither naive nor despairing. vision of goodness and power that is human
has been given to me. the clear spirit that may wear corrupt humanity and
accept it as self without the twisted smile. so i know that the bitterness
is an illness, something that turns from america to america with ten
centuries of corrupt europe in between. with atlantis and egypt, greece
china and phoenicia standing behind with all the sophistication there could
be, unbitter and dedicated.
and what of the desert? does it wait in its museum-like eternity while i
slowly plod my way through the stupidity of all the centuries between
eleven and twenty-one, trying to find my part of the wound to be healed?
the horn blows in the desert. humanity in extremis raises its face to the
sky. and is rewarded by the voice out of the heavens.
it isn't a dream. he understands that so far he is only being introduced
to these ideas.
the fourth day.
the boy on the desert waits in almost-stupor. presence of purposeful ego
is missing from him. his eye is focussed on nothing, not even the world of
his visions. he is overwhelmed and possessed. nothing in him for
reflecting on it. no way his consciousness can be larger than what he's
been seeing. he doesn't see or seek. he looks not but is only open-eyed,
awake but beyond thought. not processing what has come in, not
contemplating it, empty in the state between not-knowing and knowing.
there is more to come. she touches his shoulder and he awakens from a daze
to put down the stick in his hand.
his day without rhythm is endless and empty. the sun from all angles.
he looks up. the sky is blue. he sits. for several hours the changing of
the day into night absorbs him. he walks a little under the stars.
he speaks in his heart. sister, you have moved me. i am sorry for you.
he feels her response, not even a flicker, the fabric is undisturbed,
communion that displaces no energy. the sky above him, his feet in the
cool night. i will tell you, he promises. i will always tell you the
taste and the color of my skies and the earth on my feet and the
temperature of the airs. the life and visions of the desert. i will tell
you things you don't already know, my sister.
ten centuries of civilization between them. her pain and horror are his
pain and horror at what the world will become. his purity, her fulfilled
knowledge. ten centuries of european anti-nature wreaked upon the world.
the difference between his birth and hers. she has lived with that
difference. he has just received it. in his shock, his identity with her
is proclaimed. the same heart and the same mind fill them both. the same
perception and the same conscience. the priest in his crypt breathes a
drop of the lover's relief.
between the man and the boy there is no gap of identity. the man is
priest, his rôle is in the center of the inner identity. he occupies it as
his own because it is exactly who he is. the boy was prepared for this
relationship, expected it to be the main event of his initiation. the two
welded perfectly on contact. not like father and son, but a true
self-image of the highest soul. no conflict or question occurs.
the woman burns for the priest. he is her self, but she has no body to
meet him in. he is so patient. the boy in the desert is the central focus
of the meeting. the man behind the priest waits, deferring to the boy.
behind him, the pyramid. a block slides into place. a door opens. no
one. but something reaches the man in the open crypt.
another pyramid, another century. blue-covered couch or bench in an open
courtyard. low sides all the way around: a compartment, not deep enough to
conceal the woman lying inside it. comfortable. with dusky red hair and
the two pyramids superimpose, the priest and priestess merge familiarly.
mayan priest breathes-in the presence of his goddess.
the stars of the desert are not the same in upper egypt. no not. egypt is
a paler blue and a grayer midnight. clearer. somehow egypt's air is
thinner than arizona's. the amount of color in the sky is fewer parts per
symbolism is only as good as its function. the range of vision he has from
here is greater than he has any use for. he must find himself a composite
picture, to hold his visions with.
the time of change. how much longer can it go on?
the ritual on the arizona desert is set for sixteen days. four four four
the priest in egypt goes frequently to sleep in the crypt; it is a part of
his life-pattern. each time, he rejoins eternity, but usually for only one
night at a time. mayan priest is less ritualized, his visions are poetic
and he doesn't bother much with the rise and fall of civilizations. in his
time, the joinings take place anywhere within the double revolving circles
of his calendar. woman has spent years of her years walking close by,
pacing to be with the boy in his moment of initiation. now he is placed
properly in his true setting. her meaning is paramount. his meaning is
writ, but its message is still to be given.
the entire vortex revolves. faces appear in various contexts. for some,
perhaps, it happens in a dream.
boy wonderingly. a woman's beauty, even complicated with civilization, he
can understand, recognize, account for. but a woman's need is still beyond
him. his sisters lack the glow of womanhood for him, but he has seen it in
others. his woman will shine with it, making a light for him. of course.
he never thought to be more than man. he thought to become a man, to give
himself strongly enough, to gush forth into existence. he thought, too, of
gods as more-than-men, of the great spirit opening him from above, his
heart swelling while his soul goes among the stars. but he surely never
thought to be more than man by being man and woman.
now he knows. his woman, who will live her life beside him, though he
doesn¹t know yet who she will be, is now no stranger to him. the mysteries
of her body the same as the mysteries of his own. the story of her heart
and soul, that he will have to learn from her. though he be man and woman,
she will be woman and man. another person than himself, a different
pattern in the pyramid. will they be able to discuss their different
the end of the fourth day. basic rhythm is established. four sets of
four, with variation. sixteen days. repetitive patterns. come, children.
there can be no doubt what we are doing here. we are not learning to play
chess. nor do we seek extinction. four times four times four times four.
how many ways must it be repeated? with variations.
oh so many ways the desert opens up the doors. the boy lies blinking in
the night. sixteen days is enough for forever, but it is not enough for
life. a lifetime is enough. he belongs to the desert. he is a part of
it, one of its creatures. he is not alone. his life is not lonely or
each day is a jewel. there is laughter and communion and gossip and
quarrels and so many kinds of tasks and sacred duties and beautiful objects
to make. and the raw desert, sixteen days at a time, four times in his
lying in it under a bowl of stars. an ecstasy unbroken while the world in
all its history revolves inside him. sharing his power, gathering himself
for the next measure. he does not see his death, lying there in his
puberty. his death is not a ritual of power. the ritual of power is the
survival of life. nor does he see his love. the ritual of love, also the
survival of life, does not take place in solitude.
what completion is there? even though we seek only the real, though we
accept the mirrors, what answer could there be to make us whole? our
wholeness is not wholeness. all there is, the whole of it, is not enough
it is only that the interaction of the moon and the sun makes it possible
for us to survive. the interaction, the shifting, the inter-balancing
mutual tuning intermingling of the self and other. passing between subject
some waves are the sun's, they come to us from without: weather, crops.
some waves are the moon's, they show an inner table set with inner food.
who i am, who i need to be. another who that's needed out of me. the
fruit of that. being that, a self i needed, built, and wear.
interaction of the sun and moon. thick with purple clouds. blinding
lights flash down from the sky.
interaction. free-form alternation.
on the desert, silent after many days, hearing every twitch.
the figures are forming, taking shape, but the Grand Pattern is still only
theoretical. all the parts are there, but not the sense of union. this
complex weaving of thematic threads is a person. someone. not just an
aggregation of attributes. the light comes through the prism and is
fractured into the myriad of colors, but what puts it back again? once we
have seen the spectrum, is there nevermore any white light to live in?
clearly, we cannot send a boy back to his tribe in this condition. the
second four days he spends enduring it. fractured, like a piece of white
light, into the rainbow of selves: mayan priest, hellenistic courtesan,
barbarian child, renaissance musician, mongolian rapist: endless images
from the rich culture of the planet.
fractured. sense of self lost, continuity gone, without orientation but
for the purest physicality: down, up, around; earth, sky; lie walk sit.
fire, water, life. eyes ears nose temperature rhythm.
ego lost like the breath gone out, or the knees, and nothingness instead of
air or ground. self emptied. full of selves, without self. quite capable
of ordinary movement. not without thought, not without caring. four days.
fully dyed in all these beings, drenched in them, unseparate from them,
unresolved with their unresolution. awakened heart.
on the morning of the ninth day.
the consummation in the desert. the ninth day. the moon is full. we
watched it wax, all of us, feeling frustrated and disconnected.
frustrated. the moon gets fuller and there is no passion, no depth of
involvement in us to meet it with. unable to accept the moon's invitation.
unfulfillment confirmed in our multiplicity of lives. the mayan priest
walked the empty ball court, holding in readiness his clear gifts til they
should be called for, and unable to find his goddess in himself. the
german schoolboy, rescued from the tauntings of other children, struggled,
still not finding the key to gallic wit. the mongolian rapist howled at
the moon, eating loneliness. an old woman, former countess, trudged to her
cabin, knowing that she may not abandon the search for love, but must
abandon instead her sweet solitude, now gone stale. and waited, among the
others, with the boy in the desert. waited through these days til the full
moon tonight will make wings with the setting sun.
the ninth day. he remembers the raven, and that he was called to this moment.
the afternoon deepens. the boy feels the shiver, the initiation-fear. he
has come so far and experienced so much, yet now that he feels the approach
of the Great Hall, he feels a shrinking, a wish to hold back. fear. fear
and awe. am i bold? do i go where i am not fit to be? not thoughts, but
an animal shrinking.
he is alone on the earth with his gods.
he knows that the sunset-moonrise cannot be forestalled, the moment cannot
the priest-guide in the crypt, his ka and his brother, nor the multiple
faces his mind has been holding, are none of them awesome.
alone, unego'd by the Opening, having forgotten to have his own face, he
stands on the desert in the turning afternoon and seeks after the Great
then sitting, with painted colors on the ground in front of him and painted
colors in the sky behind him, sending his call out. sings and calls.
simple syllables, wide range of pitch. soft soprano and low-stomach bass.
at first, the voice is only his, is his assertion of self, of need for
self, of centering and command for self-existence. then as his vocal cords
are limbered and his heart is eased by touch behind his shoulder of
invisible encouragement, he lets the others in and prayer becomes a paean.
vocal cords limber lungs strong muscles and posture good. chanting and
singing, the range of personalities runs through his throat. silken
pleasure liquid in his throat. pleasure like the hot dry desert air moving
through his spine. heavy weight of testicles in their soft thick skin
under him as he sits. throat cool and wet, triangle seat and rising spine
hot and dry.
the woman who hovers closest feels the approach of her desired lover. not
the boy. the priest. she has known them as one, yet here they are not one.
the sun shines on the desert and rainbows come where no rain has been,
because in the eye that sees, there is a tear. boy signalling his
existence across forever, a tear in his eye. i will wake you, my sister.
i will come to you. i will come to you. as you came to me.
and you did, you did. come to claim me, put your mark on the child, so she
would know you anywhere. you did, and she does.
eyes seeing the desert through tearwater. rainbows glinting on the edges
of things. radiating outward in pulses. crystal center, rainbow pulses.
the sight of everything brighter and clearer. in pulses. rainbows.
clarity. rainbows. clarity radiating outward.
his arms are out. he is transfixed by egypt.
the moon will rise on the desert, the sun will set. sun and moon will have
their harmonic moment, their monthly moment of full confrontation.
now the sun is still in sway, but the shadows are lengthening. the endless
afternoon will end. the boy is beyond fear, beyond awe, beyond ambition or
boredom. he sits where he has sat because there is only emptiness. he is
not tired. he is not anxious. not heroic or entranced. yet these days
have changed him. whatever further revelations threaten him, his metal has
already taken the temper. he has taken the complexity and found his place
in it. he has sent out his call. now he can only sit as the
"i appear in all your couplings. i am your Lover, the man who understands
you. and you in all of mine."
year after year in this woman's life.
how do you say the difference between a man and a boy? surely its not only
sex but surely sex is the beginning of it.
so now the man and the woman are joined. a merging without sensation.
union, but no coupling. joined. one. it is a matter of point of view,
not of feeling.
she is tall, in blue, with red hair. me. they are all me, all of them.
me. not symbols, not this set of selves. red-haired priestess with her
blue perfectly balanced between isis and nuit, when she finally enters,
enters all the way. she is not something to contemplate, she is how i feel
being myself. she is, entering me, how i am to myself. her graceful
movement is my knowledge and wisdom, my natural being. i taste her as only
self of the self is tasted. mere elements of my identity never feel this
way, no matter how fully formed. the forms i make are forms of what is
only me me and again me, yet they are not myself as is this strange
red-haired lady, and all the others in this set and this set only, this
group of images from which all my selves are drawn.
the woman burns for the priest. he is herself, she cannot find him, he
lives in the back of her head. what will he do for her, why does she want
him, what is she craving?
not sixteen days but a whole lifetime devoted to the vision quest. what
could this mean? a whole lifetime, years of pursuit. or, from another
point of view, years of escape. escape from life: pursuit of the unseen.
vision that hovers just above our heads.
so we define you again, brother-who-is-self, different from all other men.
unlike all other men. there is only one of me. i am. oh so specifically
throughout all space and time, my energy in its exact formulations. my
individual self. the style that is me. and each place that i am, he is.
the natural partner to my every move. in my pattern of light and shadow, i
am the light and he the shade on which i rest. it is of the nature of
bi-polar consciousness to be so.
well wahkepa, are you here?
your moon is rising.
a deep blue cup, amphora with icing-white ornamentation. held in the hands
of the red-haired priestess. this work is her alchemy. her red hair and
deep blue emanation hold the key. her dialogue with wahkepa's host is the
crucial negotiation. his time is later than hers, more sophisticated. she
contains what is for him ancient wisdom. he is male, and in a
male-dominated temple-structure. the politics around him does not
interfere with him, but it surely has conditioned his mind to complexity,
multiplicity, implication, and to questions of purity and corruption. she
moves more deeply hidden, far from any power but the true and clear, gifted
with vision and scope, a practitioner of deep and direct perception. she
consults him as her other self, not partisan. "what do we need here?" and
he: "mir'yam. i have missed you" as she slides into the multiple focus of
selves that centers on his body in its trance crypt. memories of her hands
as they mixed her trance-drink, memories of the deep blue cup.
deserts, pyramids, the shape of aspiration . . . long row of steps leading
to a flat place on top. feet one after another climbing the steps. not
inside, where the jade-eyed leopard challenges the aspirant, but out in the
bright blue day, the outside steps. feet climbing and then on top. in
maya, the pyramid is functional, a part of community life. not stylized
and symbolic, as in egypt. in maya one may see but it is not designed in
order to demonstrate. feet climbing feet resting peacefully on the
familiar stone. man standing offered on the altar of his own tending. his
goddess has called him, after much waiting.
the moon is full. there is no doubt. every month this happens, everywhere
all are gathered. there is no more to wait. the moon rises, the sun sets
on the desert. in maya, in the bright sun. in egypt, in the central
pyramid's deepest hidden darkness. in the cool nubian twilight, the
mongolian winter, the countless walks and bypaths that this single soul has
wandered over all its centuries.
how can we say 'it' for what is greater than male or female, not lesser?
the whole is not neither-male-nor-female. the whole is
both-male-and-female. not without sex but richly endowed with sexual
quality in full bi-polarity. all the male and female parts of this one
person come together. each of the parts is male or female. the coming
together happens for all of them. what is it that makes these parts a
single whole? there is no denying it. they are all myself.
the time for self-integration is here. the moon full starts across the
sky. desert bowl of sky, moon that starts and goes across to end itself
with the night. moon and sun following each other exact with day and
night. as sun is gone at end of day so will the slow climb of moon across
til dawn mark the passing of the night. and when its full curve completes
and moon sets into the end of night the sun exactly there in time for day
again. this night is that completion.
we gather under the rising moon.
in the solitude of the self we examine what can be conjured from inside.
one person, all these angles and aspects, all these visions, dreams,
images. can what we find here feed our hunger? in the world of other
people our need is not met. is it met here in this collection of images of
self? the dreams and needs, the visions of a human role or function. the
shapes that move us.
hungry hunters seeking to be fed. the world outside full of people,
tantalizing similar, infuriatingly different from what we need and hope to
find in them.
but turn our minds a different way, a whole new world appears hidden
inside. quite real, quite connected, and just as infuriatingly
independent. this world though quite like our dreams will not yield to our
oh so easily we can deduce the very likeness of ourselves, the ideal mate
that fits so carefully to all our patternings. easily we can deduce and
hypothecate that one.
and truly my shadow and i, we are thus ideal to each other. but does it
make the lonely bed less lonely?
moon across the bright desert sky. moon bright desert night. skies are
clouded and wan. desert skies are never dark. dusky with starlight.
the moon brings completion. desert emptiness gives depth of soul,
complexity of consciousness, enlivens the spirit. the moon brings
. . . that what spirit is and what the flesh is are not different but the
one identical single thing . . .
the moon is deeply full. the bright sky dominates the desert. the stars
and planets have given their presence. the fragments are gathered, the
rotation of the night brings them to their focus. we understand our
selfness with each other. in each part unfulfillment finds its own
occasion. incompleteness, frustration, is everywhere. though we have
each other yet we do not feel whole, not in the least. each angle of the
human heart is painted with the acrid color, desperate unsatisfaction.
and so the desert is crossed. that is the full of the moon. completion.
the parts come together. initiation. self -realization. self-seeing.
self-touching. self-claiming. all.
from every orgasm, there is a descent, from every merging, a separation; in
every meditation, as much time is needed to return to ordinary
consciousness as to go away from it.
the boy stays eight more days on the desert.
at what point do we leave this eternal picture? here is the boy on the
desert. his whole life is illuminated. unseparate from its cosmic rhythms.
eight more days, and then the remainder of his life. walking through his
days in company of all these selves he now has met. whatever incident his
feet may touch upon.
this tribe is secret. it writes itself only on the stuff of reality.
here is the desert. here is the boy on the burning desert. he sits here,
he is initiated; he returns to his tribe, he is a man. what makes the
june 1978 -- september 1985
for my son
Copyright © 2000 by margareta waterman
originally published by nine muses books, seattle
You can go home again.