The Watershed stories were written down long ago, around events which are more or less done and dusted. But as they were dreamed, they have a tendency to reverberate, and they come to me as teachers, past, present and even future. This tale underlies my emotional landscape of the last week or two – somewhat bumpy, but beginning to settle; to acknowledge, and let go. It is another tale of incarnation or birth, the parental mystery from womb through tomb. Mastery of any art is again, a spell-thing.
“The Witch” – Dreams, No.270 October 1976
I SAW a great roll of sea race into the bay and up the beach. My father dived into this witchy wave as it turned to race back out to sea, and I saw him rapidly carried by the current very far out from the rocky beach. He swam and shouted in the distance, his head could hardly be seen. “He’s too far out!” my mother shouted “The current’s got him, he can’t swim back to us against it. Oh! He can’t get back. We’ve lost him …”
But I began to get ready. For yes, I am going after him, to follow him out into the wondrous wild grandeur of that surging grey sea. It pulls every fibre of my body, I must be there in that music, else my life ends in envy. There is no more after that in my memory. There is only the tug of the boundless white element, the wave.
But there is also a huge house in which I lived for a time.
In this house were hundreds of rooms. Many of them were bedrooms, as in a hotel, but they also were clustered to form large apartments loosely interconnected by corridors, kitchens and utilities. The living spaces communicated with each other like a grapevine. The bedrooms were large, the beds in them wide and neatly made: sometimes there were two or more beds to a room. They were extraordinarily inviting.
They tugged my body. I wanted to sleep in them all. I couldn’t make up my mind. I felt also intensely sad and deprived, because none of the rooms, beds or clusters belonged to me. Others lived in and occupied them. The rooms were redolent of the warmth, the pain, the sensual expectancy of those lives, sweet poignancy, my heart filled with an anguished longing and envy. I wanted to be with a man on those beds, to have sex, to have affairs. Dark, close, divinely rotting is the fruit, so thick the air, and intense the waiting. How to possess any of those rooms? They were allotted to people there, haphazardly by the management; to my sister and to my brother; both of them were in this place. They knew their place in the music of adult providence.
In the kitchen a stout jovial woman cooked meals and looked after people. Is she the owner, or the mother of them all?
Within the walls were a musty honeycomb of dark staircases and passages. I went quite often to the kitchen to talk to or watch Queen Bee the jovial woman, to blur for a few minutes the sharp edge of my anxious loneliness. Her kitchen had, I think, no windows. She was always busy there, and she was not a tidy cook. The electric light was strong, and her stoves, airing cupboards and hand-me-down furniture were massive. Dishes piled up briskly by the sink and vegetables upon the table and newspapers on the chairs. She kept her recipes on scraps of paper within the leaves of the great philosophers, and lost them from year to year. She strode on large legs, voluminously aproned, and tied her dark hair in a knot. The walls of her kitchen were painted an old fashioned yellow, and the wainscoting was chocolate brown.
In the walls were yielding places. By the broom-cupboard, a small area yielded to deep channels of shadow in the “fruit” beyond the wall; yielded to an ancient breath of corruption.
This very small aperture in the kitchen wall frightened me. It was stifling and rather hot. I might get stuck. A thick flap or curtain covers it almost to the bottom. It is uncomfortable to submit my body to the slanted twisting plane of this confined space. There might be claustrophobia, cannot breathe. But I crawled through it into a passage that led upwards for some way, like the chimneys in Tom Kitten, and then down a steep flight of stairs, narrow and murky, to the door of a closed room which was a witch’s hole.
A cloth hung over this door. I removed the hanging cloth and pushed up the screen to open it. An appalling square of darkness rushed out at me, paralyzing my memory. I took the body of the witch in my arms – it was hanging on the door mummified, long preserved and undisturbed, wearing a petrified cap encrusted with jewels – switched on the electric light into the room and walked across it. I think I laid the witch down on a box bed at the other side and in the corner. The room was empty, fusty and full of dust. It was redolent of petrified spells and latent powers.
Having opened the door, I have returned many times to that room.
Many times I crawled through that disagreeably small aperture into the passage and the murky flight of stairs. The woman in the kitchen did not prevent me from doing so. But in her genial way she was anxious. She warned me to be careful, making almost a joke of it. I was a little afraid she might become severe and forbid my access.
During my visits to the room, its atmosphere became tangibly charged with ions (condensed from aeons) of purpose. Awakened feelings and influence throbbed up from the bare worm-eaten floorboards, making me wish to do strange things with my body, to burst out of it, to abuse, to copulate with the air, to leap around, to fly upside down. These things however I did not do. For I must not dissipate the serpent force. I am playing in this place with an ancient danger. I am very frightened, but I do not think my fear will overcome me.
What did I set out to do? I cannot quite see. To the limits that I’m allowed, I am an observer of the ancient danger. I am its explorer. I renew the life-force of the witch and the spell that she herself placed under seals in time gone past.
Water flows from rock, from life and thought, from fossilized bone. The seals were cryptic diagrams and stars to trace with my body in the dust of the floor. And I am their release. They in that room had no speech, no form. They were perhaps evil. Their current was an increase of power from fancy to substance, getting hotter.
I am the serpent that awakens in the shivering land. I am uncoiling from sleep, and the room is a solid flying creature like a rainbow, earth broke open. Night is devouring light. Every tree under the moon is a vipers nest of lights whip-lashing earth. They penetrate my body like severed conduits of current. They spark, they writhe. I can’t get back, I’ve lost them, I the spectrum of all precious stones, I a prism for pure light into the rainbow, into coloured fog, night to devour the light, go back, go back, pour the oscillating pulse back into the trembling equipoise of stillness, yes, stop it moving, stop the circling thought. Pour its iridescence back into the floor-boards, mischief is the excess of things.
Again and again I would leave the room and creep through the little opening back into the kitchen where the jovial woman reigns among her kitchen stove, sink, steamer-pots, pans, peas and parsnips which she baked in sesame oil. She – her sympathy with me is cooling. I am beginning to lose her alliance, she turns her back on me, she looks perturbed, she’s bending over the oven, its heat is all around. “Wait, can’t you,” she snaps “It isn’t ready. In this house are hundreds of lives to feed …”
And then I must return again to do whatever it was that I was doing. “What are you stirring up?” she asked suddenly.
A time came for final retreat from the room where my body lay. It was full now of elementars, and of vaccuums of a viscous grey entity whose force was stronger than I, and frightened me very much. Last time I went in, a shrill twittering and shrieking greeted me. I saw a live horned bat hovering outside one of the windows. There are windows to this room, windows to some further degree of night that cannot be uttered. This bat was hungry. It was attracted by the light. It would come in and sweep its dubious soul through every dark dream in the house at the other side of the aperture. But into light the bat flies blind. The light makes it stupid, it cannot see. So I left the Light on in that room. I closed the door and pulled the green cloth screen down over it and escaped back to the kitchen and to the company of the genial Queen Bee.
“There’s a bat there now,” I told her, trying not to shake too much. “I left the light on in the room. For a creature of darkness, light is a Black Hole. It extinguishes the night vision. It makes the creature’s sight collapse in on itself, it is gravity sort of, in reverse, so it’s alright isn’t it? to stop the bat at the window? Otherwise it’d just go on and on, find all the dark that is in the world …”
But the jovial woman was very alarmed. “On no account must you go back there!” said she. “Yes, it is well that you left light there. That bat is eternity. Eternity is looking in. Eternity is wanting to belong in, to own just one little room of time. Eternity is you and your curiosity, you foolish child.”
“But,” I said “I made a barrier of light, the illumined room of the witch. It bars the bat from flitting through the room and the door and – and into where people are living in all the bedrooms – oh – what if I left a crack, an opening? I’ve got to – go back, haven’t I?”
The woman said, “Yes, you’d better. To be sure within yourself.”
I went back. One more time, to make sure all is safe and secure. I had forgotten one thing in my haste, which is to cover the door and the green screen with the cloth.
So I crawl again through the stuffy aperture in the skirting-board, up through the passage of night and down the murky stairs. The staircase now is full of horror. Hesitating at the top, I steeled myself. Now I am plunging into an abyss, entangled in a grotesque cobweb from the bannisters, ropes that grope to strangle me. At the bottom I pull the cloth covering right down over the door, over the green screen that covers the door, tucking the edges of the cloth closely in all round to leave no gaps. The screen yields to my touch as if it hangs free and is alive. I pull it down closer to the ground, hoping there is no way through for the bat. The Light will stay on always, as a lure to the whole force of the bat. It will curve its particles of will inward, how can it go anywhere else?
Then I escaped up the stairs. I looked back. The cloth hung still, quiet and pale over the door, with a great rose coloured cross designed upon it, which reached to its height and breadth. And when I looked back again, there hung upon the rose-coloured cross the witch, who has apparently been put back in place. But this time no cap hides her head. It is a human head, sorrowful with drooping eyelids and long brown hair combed as if for some ceremony.
In this house are hundreds of rooms.
They are the honeycomb of my sad soul, soul of the world, for “being” is transcendent, measureless through all the rooms. “Being” is you and I and the fields that we know and the seas that we don’t. In infinite depth or series of transparency, I look out through every window of history. There is no floor. The gleam of light that is realised in consciousness within, through and beyond this house of hundreds of rooms deeper than the Universe, is a key to the world.
The passage back to the key-hole – aperture to the kitchen of the jovial woman who reigns in and feeds a house of hundreds of rooms – intersected another passage on the way. I discovered this passage opening out to the left. It is a big and open flight of stairs descending towards the basement, to the nether regions of the house. I can hear people, the voices of men down there. Perhaps they are working, or repairing something. I seem to hear the percussive ring of tools.
I have been down that great staircase a little way, but not to the bottom.
Here is a song of the Earth and Sea. I painted it many years later, while listening to Cesar Franck’s joyous Symphonic Variations. “Crevassemoth” is a meeting of the elements in my soul, where waves break into Earth, atoms interact and shadow spills Light. It is an alchemical transmutation. The sun glints my golden path in the waters’ embrace.
More dream stories in this series, are in the Watershed Tales Category on the sidebar.
WordPress make it great fun to insert a mosaic gallery and wonder what order they will show up in. This post was intended to be “pictorially restrained” with a small gallery at the end – even so, a surprising number of ideas popped up from my files; I discarded about half of them, so this is what is left.
My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.
This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.
All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/