The Dream of the Ancient Tree
From A Temple of Memory
WHEN I WAS LIVING in Miami in 1999, often I would fall asleep playing an unmarked blue CD that was left behind by a friend named Ramona, one of many visitors to my momentary life there who dropped in from unusual places. I lived alone right on the ocean in a little white-tiled hotel room with a big window that did not open. The room was cheap and it seemed to manifest effortlessly, like the space itself had invited me to come visit. It seemed to invite many other people as well.
The CD must have been from a musical genre called Trance. At the time, I did not follow electronic music, and I never looked into it, but playing it certainly put me into a kind of trance, and I found its sculpted sounds, its warm, complex rhythm and its narrated voice deeply reassuring in what were some of the more displaced days of my life. The music began from something close to silence, and then, gradually building on a rhythm, faded into existence. Then the rhythms and tones would develop and transpose until a kind of sonic dream had arisen.
Then, a man’s voice would speak like it was projected through a veil of water: Meet me on the other side.
I don’t remember how or where Ramona and I first encountered one another in the psychic ocean of the Internet, but her presence approached me with directness and invited a direct response. The next thing I knew, she was sitting with me in my small white room on the Atlantic. We spent one weekend together. I never heard from her again, and immediately after she left, her email address, our only form of contact, stopped working. There were times, after that weekend, that I wondered whether the experience had actually happened.
She was in fact blown in on a storm. Her flight, from Bermuda, landed on a Friday afternoon one hour before Miami International was closed for two days by Hurricane Irene — a fine storm which, later that afternoon, came on furiously, taking out electricity, phones and briefly, bringing all of exterior life to a halt. It left 14 inches of rain on the city. The only reason her flight was not turned back was it didn’t matter what airport it landed in; Miami happened to be closer than its point of origin.
Ramona’s taxi left her in the parking lot near my room, and she showed up at my door with food, wine and flowers. And the CD, which we played the entire weekend — made possible because I happened to have a few sets of D batteries that I kept in a clean, new plastic trashcan filled with hurricane supplies. I’m one of these people who prefers to be prepared for all possibilities, or at least most of them. A hurricane in Florida is not a stretch for the imagination. For some reason this was the only music we listened to — we just set the player on repeat. So this particular music became fully infused with the rich, unusual memories of that weekend, the journeying quality of our discussion, the half-sleep and half-dreams we experienced, and the feeling of absolute privacy brought on by the storm.
We spent the weekend talking in the near-darkness, accompanied by the muffled sound of wind and the building vibrating. I don’t remember what we said; only how it felt, and how it felt was limitless. At one point early the next morning, the eye of the storm passed over us, and for about 45 minutes the world was transformed into magnificent daylight. The eyewall looked like a tunnel up to the clear blue morning. Then the stormy darkness, the rains and winds returned for a while longer. And we resumed our conversation.
Rather than talking face to face, we met facing one another in the wall-sized mirror on my closet door. For some reason we started talking this way and it seemed natural and interesting and so that’s what we did, for many, many hours. When we slept, we slept separately, and when it was time to talk, we faced one another’s reflections. Everything we did, we did facing one another in the mirror. And continuously, this CD repeated, through the nights and the mornings and the days with the message,
Meet me on the other side.
Each time he said it, no matter how many times I heard the recording that weekend or in the weeks that followed, that statement took me by surprise. By Monday morning, the weather had cleared, the phones were back on, and Ramona booked a flight up to New York and then to Paris, a city I had never visited, where she said she had friends and family. I took her to the airport and resumed my life.
On a Friday night some weeks after Ramona left, I fell asleep earlier than usual and dreamed I was in my own room. Ramona was on the floor in front of mirror where we sat most of the weekend we spent together, surrounded by six candles. I remember counting them.
In my dream, faced the mirror and looked into one another’s eyes. Her eyes were washed in bliss that I can only describe as perfect contentment, as she gazed at herself, then she glanced at me. She was naked. We were doing something very deliberate and specific in this process, something that she had come to show me. It was similar to during her visit, but something I could not see then was suddenly obvious.
With each look into her own eyes, she seemed to go further into her awareness, deeper into her peace with herself, and her placid face would melt a little more. Then she would look at me, guiding me to where she was. And I would look back into her eyes, which was difficult at first, but became easier. And yet each time her face would melt, it would seem that it could not be any warmer or more fluid. Then she would look at me again and then look back at herself, and somehow she would go deeper, leading me inward. Even in my sleep, I was aware that this was the logic of the dream.
Then she spoke. “Let’s go there.”
She said it with such a magnificently warm expression on her face, and her softness conveyed a kind of authority. Then she stood up. I could see the shape of her reflected in the mirror. I realized I was kneeling next to her at this point; for the first time I was conscious of myself in physical form. She extended her hand. I took her hand and stood up. She slid open the closet door. I tried to protest, explaining that it was a closet. She laughed.
“Let’s go,” she said again, and stepped into the closet, really, through the closet.
I thought to myself: “Oh, you’re having one of those dreams of an expanded space in your house, like an extra room or an extra part of the building you forgot about. It’s that kind of dream.”
Then I had this momentary surge of paranoia that the closet was messy, and she would see that. But there was nothing there.
She led me, firmly clasping my right hand with her left. In a few steps we were outside, no longer in Miami. The strange part was it barely seemed strange. We were in a forest like none I remember. The forest was green, it vibrated and emanated green, and the sunlight that penetrated through the leaves came down in green rays. Not a detail of the old world was anywhere to be remembered, but the contrast and the natural quality of the new world was tangible and felt delightful.
We looked at one another. She raised her eyebrows a bit and smiled, and then we walked. I cannot remember how far. She held my hand delicately, and her feet took careful steps on the forest floor, every step seeming to bring a profound revelation or experience. She barely touched the surface of the world. We seemed to be on a mission. In fact the moment I acknowledged this, the more real the mission seemed. We were approaching something. I could feel this empathically.
Then we were standing in front of a tree that Ramona was bringing me to see. She seemed to gesture at it, extending her hand and turning her body, but it was her small, brown breasts that made the gesture, and that showed me what to look at. I looked at the tree and I could not believe that a tree had such a strong presence.
It seemed human; no, like a god. I knew the tree-god was 5,112 years old.
He or she…vibrated and emanated green, the green of pure love, the green of the natural world. We stayed there long enough to feel this, to meet this being or get its blessing. This seemed like a small eternity in itself as we watched and felt.
And Ramona led me onward, into the dream-forest. There was something else she wanted to show me. I knew this was her forest, her world, or rather, a world to which she had access, and with which she was familiar.
She looked over her shoulder at me. “Come,” she said, “let’s go and meet the others.” This idea seemed to echo as wide as the world, penetrating into the deep woods and the thick green daylight. We walked on, further into the deep green woods.
Planet Waves by Eric Francis
Oct. 21, 2005 – Weekly Horoscope 581
Happy Birthday Scorpio!
This is the print edition. The extend birthday report appears Mondays.
In order to feel your luck or your good fortune, you may need to push both. In fact, for as far back as you can see in your rearview mirror on life, you’ve been protected and sheltered from some of the worst possibilities you’ve encountered — and from some of the more damaging effects of your fear. While relationships continue to feel unduly complicated, the more boldly you face your own inner shadows the more free you will become. The more honestly you face the self-deception of years past, the happier you will feel. The more you feel, in general, the more you will trust the wisdom of your intuition.
Aries (March 20-April 19)
Mars retrograde is likely to be bringing up every doubt you ever had about yourself. I wouldn’t be surprised if fears that obsessed you at the age of 4 or 14 were coming up now, in fully tangible form. But they are coming to the surface so you can see them and let them go — not to torture you. At the end of this process, you will be able to see the extent to which you’ve been driven forward by your insecurities rather than by your creative process — and you’ll be able to make a choice as to which you want to guide you into the future. The decision is not as obvious as it may seem.
Taurus (April 19-May 20)
You need to be more negotiable, which in one respect means playing your cards face up. There will be no gain in holding back your desires, needs and intentions from people who actually have a right and a need to know what they are. The quicker you admit them to yourself, the sooner you will be able to express them in so many words. You may be taking issue with certain ways that the truth has a tendency to change, but if you have the courage to offer yourself and others daily updates, you will appreciate the value of ongoing communication.
Gemini (May 20-June 21)
Your ideas about partnership seem to be changing rather fast, or perhaps deeply is the more accurate word. Whatever the situation seems to be, the underlying theme is taming your emotions like a lion tamer works with a big cat. To do this you need to respect that your feelings are a kind of wild animal, and never really assume that you’re entirely under control. The idea is to apply enough energy so that control is not really necessary. Start with understanding your own psychology well enough that you don’t project it onto anyone else. Take responsibility for the impact people have on you.
Cancer (June 21-July 22)
It seems that lately, your good fortune has done little other than keep you safe. In our particular world at this particular time in history, you can be glad of that. But life does need to consist of more than feeling like you’re going to live to see another day. Soon it will become apparent what risks you were not taking on the way to finding your own contentment. In truth, it really will come down to daring to have the experiences that have the potential to create a rich experience of life, rather than a safe one. That does involve change, but change of a kind you have not considered lately.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
Many things that have seemed to exist in theory are about to manifest physically, particularly where certain emotional investments or involvements are concerned. Until then, it would be unwise to push matters any faster than they are going at their own pace. The improvements and developments that are working their way into your life will be long lasting if you cultivate them gently rather than strive to make them something they are not — or not yet. You have known for a long time what would make you happy, but you have yet to experience it fully. Take it easy and let it come.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
Mercury in Scorpio has been stirring up what may be your deepest fear — that the world cannot be quantified or even assessed with any precision. Matters of truth and lies have lately seemed to slip around in a frightening way, and it’s been difficult to assess where certain individuals are really coming from. I suggest you respond to both yourself and what seems like your outer circumstances patiently. The two are far more closely related than you can see now, though this may still take a few more days to figure out. You might want to make up your mind about what role anger really plays in your life; not the role you want it to have, but the role it really has.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
Why certain individuals appear to be lacking any compassion or the remotest desire to cooperate is a good question, and part of that involves really understanding what is important to you. There is no aspect of this situation that you can fully ascribe responsibility for to others. You play a part at every turn, and you will regain your sense of confidence as soon as you understand what that part is. Once the Sun and Jupiter leave your sign this week, you’ll have a lot more clarity, and I dare say, objectivity. Until then, give up the power struggle and you’ll feel better.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
I doubt if you’re able to make heads or tails of the rather strange mix of energies currently pelting the Earth like so many golf-ball-sized cosmic hailstones. But with the Sun finally dipping into your birth sign and Jupiter close behind, you’ll at least be sitting under a thick umbrella. One of Jupiter’s main jobs is to use its gravity to attract stray objects that might otherwise collide with the Earth. So while you can count on a few close calls in the coming weeks, you’ll come through with your skin intact. But part of what protects you is treading carefully on that seemingly fine line between truth and lies; between sober and stoned.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
What you may not have noticed is that the tether you seem to be at the end of is not connected to anything. Pause and notice how your presence within a community, circle of friends or in specific personal associations is both voluntary and beneficial. The whole situation is leading to something — a creative and personal breakthrough that could only have come as a result of being so steadfast and dedicated to those around you, which you still are. Meanwhile, when you take the space you need, you will notice that friends and loved ones are more than willing to give it to you.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
After what we can reasonably describe as an unusually political phase of your life, you have a chance to feel the power of the friendships around you. But other activity suggests that you may be feeling equally insecure, and one definitely has the power to subtract from the other; you are only as safe as you feel. So you would do well to raise the bar on how you feel, which will change the way you perceive the world. It would help eminently if you could give up on an old grudge that is doing little other than burning holes in your head and making your house feel like less than home.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
Most Aquarians are too practical to be ambitious, but this is a fine time to start doing a little upward stretching. Some doors are about to open, particularly ones in the glass ceiling you’ve been living under for a while. It’s true, you didn’t mind so much because at least the sunshine would come through. But frankly it’s been getting stuffy, has it not? Anyway, you’re a lot more shrewd and enterprising than you give yourself credit for, and your unconscious mind has not been sleeping while you’ve been attending to other matters that have, for the moment, been more pressing than your own individual success.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
Get ready to leave a whole lot of what you don’t want behind you, where it belongs, and to trade it for more of what you really do need. Particularly the after-effects of what has been, in truth, a challenging test or ordeal that goes back about a year to when you did actually manage to sink some roots down into a new way of life. However, young critters are vulnerable and there is often a struggle at the beginning of a newborn life of any kind. But you’ve survived; you are established, and the environment is in the process of changing favorably enough not only to notice, but also to actually be helpful.