The Healing Temple ~ a prophetic dream, a memory or wishful thinking?

 

The Temple of Healing

 

 

 

Following a dream on one Sunday night about having healing power filling my hands like light or like electricity, I thought that might be it as far as powerful BIG dreams go.

 

I was wrong.

 

I was tired from my morning of teaching, and still recuperating from my operation on Friday 13th, I decided I would go and lie down and try to sleep. I don’t sleep well, generally and in the daytime, I usually fret too much to doze off. So I put on a CD of relaxing sounds and music(Wind-chime Waterfall, it’s called) and snuggled into bed.

 

I had my eyes open for a while and noticed as I became drowsy a growing number of shapes and lights in the room. I see things at times, hypno-gogic and hypno-pompic visions of strange unearthly but wonderful things.

 

I slept but so lightly I was aware I was sleeping, and that I was dreaming.

 

The first part of the dreaming I found myself fairly high up in what at first seemed very like a vast stadium for sports, but when I looked closely it was quite different. Different parts of the stands were separate from others, looking down onto different areas. I’ve also had a sense of vertigo in big football arenas like the Stade de France, but here, even though I was maybe much higher, there was no sense of it. It was less precipitate and sheer, sloping much more gently.

 

There seemed to be a kind of organ, but that is the only word I can think of, inside a kind of room, and I knew that the music I could hear was coming from that, dispersed and not direct like birdsong but not like the sort of Musak you hear piped into shopping centres. I understood that both playing this instrument and hearing it was somehow healing in a profound but gentle way. There were climbing plants growing freely everywhere and flowers of varying types nodded overhead, and added their scent to the air.

 

I must have walked further down the stands because I could see another vista, this time of pools. They seemed a little like swimming pools but while some were occupied by people who were lying in the water, there was a calmness and a stillness. The people were not splashing around or playing; they were just lying in the waters a little like invalids and I remembered I had been there before, years ago. I had been in those waters, when I was recovering from my death in the first world war; my comrades were also in the waters.

 

Looking around I saw other pools that had no people in them but had fountains and lights and other things I have no idea what they were, but it seemed to put a sort of display on that was healing for those who watched.

 

I cannot convey the vastness of this complex, or the fact that though I tried to see where everything was and how it worked, I simply could not. It seemed as though there was a combination of unknown technologies so alien to me I can’t even describe them at all. I do not have the words for it. There was also a great deal of simple loveliness and natural beauty, and a sense of it being familiar and utterly new all at the same time. There was a clarity of air and of colour and sound that was like being on a high mountain, with the morning light.

 

But the oddest thing of all was the sense that however new it seemed at that moment, I was in the right place, and that I somehow belonged there.

 

Death by Water, revisited

 

Death by Water, Revisited

 

The haves with their gilded lives,

Who turn the wheel

And gaze to windward,

And the have-not,

A fortnight dead in the world’s eyes

Exist side by side

Seldom ever touching

Rarely really seeing

Never imagining that

Like Phlebas the Phoenician,

He was once as handsome

And tall as you.

 

Written for Stories without words, 16th December 09

(in homage to The Wasteland, by TS Eliot

The Hero

The Hero

 

Once upon a time- that’s how fairytales begin. Or it might begin, in a kingdom far, far away. In days of old when knights were bold… but how old is old in a time when last season’s clothes are absurd antiques and doubts are cast not just on the courage of those bold knights but on everything else as well? The jury is out but the evidence is that they were anything but gentle, and the average modern football hooligan probably has more courtesy and honour. After all, even in today’s allegedly lawless times, it’s not considered honourable or even legal to strike the head from another man’s shoulders. There are some, I admit who practically beg for such treatment but I doubt politicians have ever been popular; the high king’s advisors have ever been known as lickspittles and toadies, and are so today whatever names they bear.

   The age of chivalry was in fact a brutal one but pictures are painted and poems penned that portray it in the glowing pink light of artificial nostalgia. But that romantic world has grown brighter than the shadowy one that was real. We don’t want to know about the sweat and the dung, the short brutish nasty lives; we want mysterious ladies in gowns of floating silks. We want a hero whose armour shines and whose sword is never red with the blood of the innocent or of the incidental casualty. We want those rules that can never be kept, to have been kept: a code of impossible honour, a world of justices and joys. And we seek it not in our world now for we know deep down it can never be. So we seek it in the past: an ancient shining past where our dreams might once have been true. Atlantis and Camelot are both children of the same yearning dreams.

   There is a Jewish proverb, better a live dog than a dead lion, and it sums up the kind of practicality we have deep down and yet are somehow ashamed of. Running from a defeat is never seen as sensible, practical or even right; we prefer death-or-glory stands to the canny retreat. In cinema, literature and in our view of history, our preference is always for the glorious defeat, the captain going down with the sinking ship, the king dying on a bloody battlefield surrounded by the slaughtered heaps of his faithful bodyguard. We don’t laud those who saw which way the wind was blowing and left before disaster struck; it’s not memorable, it’s not honourable and it certainly isn’t romantic! History and literature are littered with the bodies of lovers who said, “If I can’t have you, then I shall have nothing.” A myriad Miss Havishams wander the corridors of our consciousness, clad in wedding rags and one silk slipper like an elderly Cinderella who never got to go to the ball in the first place. We don’t applaud those who survived, moved on, thrived and found new love. The star-crossed lovers are not Darby and Joan, celebrating sixty years of happy marriage. No, they are the teenage Romeo and Juliet who died at their own hands rather than lose that one bright moment of perfection.

  Let’s face it, when it isn’t us, we adore tragedy. I hesitate to say it but that’s why piles of flowers and teddies materialise at the site of an untimely death. That’s why Diana will always hold a place that Camilla never can. Live fast, die young- one way to achieve a kind of cheap immortality. Surviving, moving on, rebuilding simply don’t hold the same glamour. Rags to riches stories only really appeal because secretly we all hope for an equally meteoric fall back to rags. We say. “Oh how nice,” but I’m not sure how often we mean it. There’s almost always a secret shiver of spite and jealousy that quibbles, “Why them? Why not me? I’m as good as they are.” It feels better when we can say from a safe distance from a tragedy, “What a shame! Oh how sad!”

  Arthur lies sleeping, our once-and-future king, but we should take great care we never wake him. There’s too much blood-and-guts reality in the true Arthur for us to stomach these days. We’ve grown beyond true monarchy. I’d rather we had our rough approximation of democracy than have the tyranny of the old kings back and tarnish and fray our romantic visions of the past.

   But we need heroes- no I shall go further and say we are desperate for heroes. And so we try and create them out of what material we think best: film stars, models, TV celebrities, pop and rock stars, and God forgive us all, footballers. And they fail us and we vilify them for merely being ordinary fallible venial human beings. They disappoint us and yet we create more.

  Are there any real heroes left? Any lantern-jawed Lancelots left to charm and enthral us, fallible enough to be likeable but heroic enough to still command our respect and even our love? There are worthy men and women, heroic ones even but they lack that certain something, that magic ingredient that makes them special like Arthur, Gawain, Percival and dear old Lancelot. So I shall have to create my own heroes, spinning them out of my own yearnings and dreams like gold from spun straw. Arthur can live again, a modern Arthur born of this our real world but with some of the glitter and glamour of the Round Table, and his knights and ladies can dance their graceful steps around him. We all need heroes, but these days I prefer to make my own. I’m sorry, but there isn’t a pattern. It isn’t like painting by numbers or knitting. It’s more like freestyle climbing- massive risk taking, surges of adrenaline that might rocket fuel an elephant and the sense when you’ve completed it that you have done something hardly anyone else can do. I admit that failure doesn’t result in a plummet to the death but emotionally it can feel a little like that. And at the end of that creation process, there stands blinking in the sunshine a shiny newborn hero, fresh for a new world but with ancient genes that stretch back into the oldest memory, the oldest stories. We’ve all changed since our first ancestors told tales round the fire at night-so why not the hero too? Because there is something eternal and unchanging about an archetype- the hero simply adapts and grows with the generations but remains in all essentials the dream we all dream: the Hero.