DARK SIDE OF THE SUN Excerpt, Copyright Andrea Hansen 1993 – 2011, FireFlower Communications, All Rights Reserved
In the starlight, parked at the foot of a mass of sandstone not quite mountain yet sheer and inaccessibly dangerous nonetheless, the bus shines indigo. And against the stars, the rock glows a deeper shade of black. Soon a blanket is laid out on the ground, spread with Skye’s abducted bottle of vodka, a cooler of watery beer, the usual tobacco offerings and some very very small tabs of innocuous looking paper. This is it. This is what they’ve all been waiting for. All I want to do is crash in the back of the bus on the purple shag carpet. More than anything I want to sleep. But that would be rude. They’re all wide awake, in party-mode, and I don’t want to be a loser. I’ve already made a less than good impression on the hippie-strangers I’ve been traveling with into nowhere the last three days. Old as Methuselah, I am 23. Almost 24, I’m supposed to be as young as they are. When Haley hands me two small painted squares, I follow her lead, not quite sure whether to chew or swallow. Dutifully, I swallow my fair share.
TK takes his drum and leaves us. Walking towards the massive rock, he settles onto a smaller formation adjacent to the giant mother. Rhythmic, his hands pound out a song that in the desert air is thin and at the same time fills it with a vibration that mimics the pounding of my heart. Haley’s voice echoes round the base of the crag. Everyone has disappeared.
Filled with trepidation, I decide to follow Haley’s call. I step from the asphalt to find the ground sand-merged rock and each footfall uncertain. Haley’s laughter urges me forward, around the perimeter rung with dead trees and cactus.
“Over here-ere-ere,” the answer comes. “Look at the tree-ee-e!”
Gnarled, arthritic fingers reach towards us, the remains of a dried and toppled tree trunk. Haley strokes the shored driftwood millennia old. She speaks softly to it, runs her fingers along an ancient, scored surface that belongs to the complexion of the rock. Then she jumps up and runs down a slight grade, stopping abruptly to let out a yell which flares into the night.
Curious, I move towards her, and freeze. Concealed in the black curves of strange hills and thorn covered dunes of rock, we are at the edge of a canyon. The mountain behind suddenly becomes more solid than at any time in its history and I back towards it, stricken with profound terror. Toes over the ledge, Haley stands comfortably, smoking her cigarette. Just then Skye and Roz appear atop the rock, faces bright with reflected light.
“We’re coming down!”
They are balanced on a sheer cliff yet moments later they too stand admiring the view into the abyss. I cower by the dead tree.
“C’mon you!” Roz orders.
Skye glances over his shoulder directly at me.
“Aaah, death,” he says, and his voice floats hollow between the canyon walls.
He says it as if I am already dead and unaware that I am without life. Undead. A walking corpse.
“Come stand with us,” he continues, coming easily towards me over the stones, his beauty perfect and cold as sculpted rock.
Unreasonably tense, I am on guard. Skye takes my hand and pulls me to the brink. I try to relax. I concentrate on my breathing. There they stand, the three of them, warriors, fearless. Who have they become? This is not the bus, this is not home, this is not my ‘members only’ club. I long for my living-room and my TV but here familiarity is a dirty word. The Fool Bus has brought me to another planet. In the land of dark stars I am a foreigner. ‘Aah, Death…’ Skye’s voice reverberates in the windy caverns of my mind. Back to the bus. I’ve got to get back to the bus. I stagger, the ground rushes to meet my face and I have not fallen and no one has pushed me. The air is fresh, I cannot trace its movement or tell where it comes from. The earth is muffled through my shoes, I know, I know what to do. I pull my flip-flops from my feet and throw them over the edge of the canyon. No more obstruction now, I am connected, the sand is cool beneath my feet, now I can walk, the ground will guide me. I sink to my ankles in sand, I pull out, onto the rock. Fire-needles, pin-pricks of pain shoot through my skin. Fire-walking cactus candles, I walk. I try to find the path, a rift in the darkness, but there is none. I’ll have to make my own. If I can follow the drum, I can make it back to the bus.
But beneath my feet the ground begins to shift, pulsing in long forgotten measure, so new, so strange. Where will it take me, where will I end up… I follow the drumbeat, I stumble past TK, the drummer on the stone. The sound pounds through my body, through my brain, each cell returns its response. I strain to catch the air, it hangs before me, it swings through me. I chase the independent breath, it wants to follow the white lines, white lines painted on the tarmac. Previously stark and straight now soft, shining starlit arrows that zag a jagged path to the horizon, they dance in the darkness and I am more afraid than before. The earth is no longer still. It never was. What once appeared substantial is now viscous, a towering wave of black liquid asphalt sweeps shimmering towards me. A vast reflective opaque sheet, the mirror of the world is about to break over my head. I turn to run. If I can’t see it, it will go away; body-surfing concrete is not my thing. The asphalt swells large beneath me, there is no escape. It hits me from behind the knees and I greet the rippling earth, water-bed of royals and me the princess who cannot sleep, disturbed by the hapless, twirling pea of what turns out to be my third eye lodged permanently in my brain.
I cannot move. Where is the bus, of god, I raise my head and there it is. Out of nowhere right next to me, I anchor myself, fingernails scraping the windowpane. The bus rocks blue from side to side. Laughter and overly loud music flow out the door, laughter and a sky filled with lucys and all I can focus on is Horsey, the mascot hobby-horse sticking out the hood minus an eye. A checkered scarf billows out behind him, Horsey and his mane of blue yarn ride the night. I wish I could run away with him, but I have to get inside the bus. In Pandora’s funhouse the stairs slide from side to side. The purple carpet is made of rubber. I bounce on the purple shag, there is no light. The Fool Bus is one big box, through the windows laughter rains in, everyone is laughing. But now where to go, where to hide myself, amongst the rocks. I lurch across the cement, the parking lot appears an endless curve, it heads towards the highway, I make the connection. There is a bush where the highway cuts the desert in two. Like a wild, threatened animal, I crouch behind it.
My shoes, where are they… Dropped into a bottomless grave, I’ll never find them. The laughter crescendos. This was supposed to be fun. Haley circles on a day-glo bicycle, where did she get it, her legs stick out as the pedals pump without her. Free-style, she loops lazy arcs like a freestyle skater skimming black holes while Roz cartwheels around the bus and Skye watches them both and their laughter bubbles around me. Laughter which to my ears is so raucous and terrible I wish I had never climbed aboard the damn bus to begin with. Faces zoom in from the dark, they come in for a close-up and then they are gone, the Beatles singing an infinite loop of select songs that circle the night. Quiet is what I want, to sit by the bus, but the ground-swells are getting bigger, I am a greedy fly stuck to a mega-bowl of dark, jiggling jello. There is something wrong with this picture, something in the way we move which does not correspond to the original silent stillness of a landscape whose essence I cannot decipher but whose dishonor I sense with a shame so final, so complete…
Buried under concrete and bound with highway, shrine desecrated with fumes of exhaust, and me the perpetrator, transgression unabsolved. Adrift on materialism’s false ocean, there is no further succor on the bus.
I must plead the sand and stone.
I can do nothing but flee, into the wasteland.
Again, the white heat of cactus spines spike the soles of my feet. The cold, dry arms of a desiccated, Paleolithic ancestress await me. Prehistoric amniotic fluid sucked dry eons ago, life’s first waters long reeled away, there is no comfort here. Saltimbanque of the blue bus fades behind me and my absence is not noticed. Safe here, safer on this rock I tell myself. I try to grip my panicked breath, it continues to breathe me, in, out, in, out the balloon of my lungs. Legs tied in the cross-legged knot of difficulty, I face the desert alone. The unrecognized beauteous depths of canyons unconquerable and the supreme mystery of worn peaks in unscaled starshine range in every direction. I am overcome with inexplicable sorrow, a sorrow greater than the sum of all injuries sustained and perceived. Nails pierce my being, nails of grief absolute for the magnificent loneliness before me. Nails driven deep by an unknown executioner, I cannot carry the load of heaven on my shoulders. I cry for help and yet utter not a word. Through the darkness I know that Skye has heard me. I see him coming, behind me on the right, even though I lack eyes in the back of my head. The pain is not mine, has he come to claim it? To my left, Roz appears and sits cross-legged beside me. Sharing the low flat rock with easy grace, they are unable to erase the anguish.
Again I try to speak but speech is lost, and I am caught, for no apparent reason, between the shadow of the stars and a planet of shades and I am not going to cry. No one is going to see me cry. I stare into the horizon to no avail, the levee is going to break under the strain of this new pain, unbelievable and immense. And the tears I have contained for so long spend themselves in a river of mercy whose existence has been secret, a river so deep and so wide I realize I am going to drown, the spear of pitiless compassion stuck in my side, strengthless to remove it. Gazing at the sightless plane, I know where I am. It is the place of sacrifice, my own personal Golgotha. Then Roz speaks:
“Do you know Shiva?”
My heart cracks into a million pieces and I recognize the looming gate, twin mesas of the moon eternal heads raised to the vault of night except this night is numbered thirteen and there is no moon. From the river a seer crawls forth. The leafless tree on its bank springs to life with the wings of a hundred fluttering black birds and the desert calls me by my true name. Looking deeper, I travel into the presence of a being who is not god, a flame colored ball of light, and know that it too waits. Who or what it is I cannot say, but there on the threshold, it dwells and will not be denied. With no retreat, I throw forward the offering of my greeting:
“Take it, whatever it is you want. Take it.”
And with that I cast my glove and fling my soul into the fire.
Stretched out, my body hangs on the windy rock, twelve seconds, twelve hours or twelve days, I am lost in the smoke and mirrors of time’s timeless haze. Desert rock smooth and grainy against my skin, the stone conforms to the contours of my body, eroded sandstone the softest bed I’ve ever known. Rock and wind, wind and rock hollowed to receive my person, my skull, my flesh, my bag of bones and blood. My flesh, my blood, I and the rock are one. The wind sweeps harder, whistling down every crack and fissure, no yielding space unexplored. Boulder crossed with body inert, rock table set for the stranger, I do not resist as it comes close. The hot shadow of its approach, shift, shift shimmers in colorless wind. A caress of warm air hovers around me. An introductory whisper circles the length of my neck, a breeze of frost that carries a lambent flame, the down of my neck a rustling sea of crackling grass. Awakened by this gentle kiss the pain of the ages burns away and beneath the influence of molten breath I pass into the realm of the dark sun…
My eyes are opened and above me the purpled sky is covered by the slow filigreed spin of time and fortune’s golden wheel. Across the universe in ultra-violet revolution, slowly, slowly it spins. And I see with my heart that as it moves it holds me in its center and that each spoke carries the scripted songs of humanity in every color and every form and every creed and every language ever imagined or imaginable. Drawn along the arms of a song to the outer rim and back to the center again, and on and on in direction doubled, I sing each song and can no longer tell which way the music moves. Inward, outward, outward and inward, along radiating spokes of the measureless, whirling wheel of the atmosphere of existence I am first a center, then the center, then a center; and I see that every point is its own and yet every point is the same and every point leads to the center point of centrality. Captured in the morphogenetic field of mind, vortex of memory, future past and present, where the three are one there is nothing to do but regard the symbols of time and listen to the cymbal clash as love holds my hand.
The kiss of awakening lingers. Invisible rays disturb the ether, the colorless energy grows in strength and I witness the centrifugal birth of a spiral wind that explodes outward in the hanging fire of a burst of brilliance that moves faster than the speed of light-time. Snakish tendrils of white heat shatter the bonds of space and time as west becomes east and east becomes west, north goes south and south goes north, and south becomes east and north becomes west, there is no place the winds of my mind do not blow. The whirling mass gathers force and expands ever outwards, it has to stop but there is no stopping it. I go with it and I am the force and it whorls and whorls, a whirling Andromeda flooding creation and the void. Rendezvous with joy magnified, the first energy divides itself in two. A second force joins the first and it spins inwards as the first spins outwards. The double strand of brilliant white light contains the combined force of the universe, the combined force of the universe the total force of mind and the total force of mind is thought. The total force of thought and it is so obvious and I am struck with wonder and I am free of fear because I cannot fear myself.
The body the temple of the spirit, the earth the temple of the body, the galaxy the temple of the earth, the known universe the temple of the galaxy, infinity the temple of the known universe, the unknown infinite the temple of infinity and the temple of the unknown infinite the unknowable void. This is the place from whence I come and the journey is there to return. I am from before the beginning of this trip and will be ever after it is ended.
And the first luminous ring of the many-headed white-fire snake of being writhes outwards without end, joined in eternal dance with the inward spiral of the second. And the first consumes the second and the second consumes the first, heads to tails and tails to heads. The wind of white flame then turns to scarlet. Returned to the body, I part my lips to accept the gift. Engulfed in an inner blaze that fuses the water of my flesh with the desert’s barren rock and limitless air, I waltz with the devil and jump with the lord. Primal essence of the universal force manifested in me ascends, a pillar of internal fire that I know I can stop but at what cost so I let it rise and as it rises it burns to ash the concept of all I am. Lotus of fire, a spinning star flares around my body, seated in yogic posture.
The kiss of the beast, the kiss of the sun one and the same. Annihilating flames of destruction, nurturing ray of creation, burning light eternal, the one and the only indivisible fire, burning without and within. Manifested in the stars, the sun, earth’s hidden scarlet core, and wo/man’s secret hidden spark, inheritance of the many named and unnamed gods who bear the gift of the inner sun, prodigal daughters and their sons, mothers and fathers all, bringing themselves the worlds of their selves and the selves of the worlds into being with the power of their attention. All that ever was or will be exists forever now. And now is not evil and now is not good, now is action and consequence, cause and effect, stillness held in the arms of peace, the point between birth and death’s revolving door.
Increasingly expansive and alternately contractive, the sentient breath breathes itself into being, the sentient breath which directs itself and all the relative realities born of its being. The sentient fire breath of oneness increases in intensity by three, a triangle of gold that fills consciousness. The false mask of ego burned away in invisible atomic blast which foams the waters of my blood and earth’s rock and all air in consciousness directed, I realize the entire mass of the universe in one unweighable stone.
Again returned to the body, at the edge of the canyon’s abyss I stand. There its dark glory waits and the dark of the fall no longer holds terror for I am life itself and with that I outstretch my arms and embrace death’s grinning head. Death, whose toothless smile has flirted with me before. Death, before whose door I quake no more, death whose door is the door of life. I fly into the canyon of the shadow of death and the force of my landing throws me prostrate to my knees. Arms flung forward, palms impressed to the stone, my forehead is bowed to the ground. When I raise my hands there are three lines cut along triple lines of influence, three lines cut red with blood as if sliced with a knife and as they bleed they glow with phosphorescent green light. Healed before my eyes I know then that my blood is my gift to the earth, and my healing her gift to me. Trust long dead sparks inside. My blood is earth’s blood, and our blood has mixed. We are one. And while I live earth dies. If the sun does not rise earth will die, and when earth’s heart stops beating, and earth’s lungs stop breathing, I too will die. For earth’s heart beats with my heart.
The rock follows the horizon, not the stars, and I fall forward. The rock catches me, the mother’s stony skin caresses me. Like a baby, on my knees, the rock flows the way I will it, I am atop the mountain and for a time I wander unaware. Cold, so cold, so dark I cannot see. I must rescue the earth. I must rescue the night. I must give birth to the sun. I must find Skye, before it is too late. He finds me, I raise my hand to his face. Without the sun earth will die. Frightened, he cannot look at me. He does not understand why we must create the sun. Still he does not look at me. Shackled with remorse, I have failed, for I alone cannot give earth the sun. In mourning for a world without life, I have nothing to live for and nothing to gain. The profound uselessness of my sorry garments make me ridiculous. Widow’s weeds, my clothes cannot cover a dying mother and her stillborn son, not warm them. But earth will not die alone. I will die with her, stripped of the trappings of a physical existence made meaningless on a waterless orb of dust and rock. I am cold and the world is dark.
“Be with yourself,” Skye says, gently.
Be with yourself. Command made perfect, I am the word made flesh, the rose risen on the mountain of the sun. Within me I carry the light-filled understanding of a conscious universe. I have the power to bring up the sun. From below my heart the long hidden star comes up, the sun of the spirit that lives inside, and I see the light within and what I see is beauty. Forgiven the fogged indulgence of empty visions and false gods created in the crucible wellspring of my own thoughts, I hear the charge of true love. Life-fire burns in every atom and every particle of energy known and unknown, repulsed attraction the holding and directing force of thought manifested in the dimensions to which I am privy. Yes! To each ever weaving thread in the glorious web of life. The inner light shines and dances before my eyes and I know that if I never again look upon my true self’s face, I know where truth lives. Truth is within. The voice is my voice, the will is my will. Command made perfect, prodigal daughter, I am the word made flesh,
Slowly the sky lightens and a thread of green and another and another emerge from the glowing rock. My finger in my mouth I wait for the sun to come and it is the longest sunrise I’ve ever seen.
There have been many worlds; there will be many more.
And I witness the birth of a new world in a world without time. Face towards the newly risen sun, Earth takes her first breath.
There is a New City.
At last I sit, on a rock on a rock on a rock. Dust-covered naked & shivering cold, lost in exhausted thought, I ask the Divine one last lingering question: What is my mission??
Be. Just Be.
Spent, weak, filthy & shaking, pain from somewhere in my physical body begins to break through. I look at my knee and it is blood and the word is ‘Be’. On a rock balanced on the rock, overlooking the risen sun and the newborn world of canyon and desert and bird and snake, cactus and juniper. No mission. No plan. A practical joke of cosmic proportions… Be. Just be… Grace pours over me. Free of expectation and illusion, the shadow of a smile glisters across my face. I move to stand. My leg is covered with blood from the gash of my right knee. My body is stiff. Oh god. The others. Haley & the nightwalkers. I have to go back to them and what am I going to say? What can I say, I don’t even know where my clothes are. Slowly, slowly, I make my way down the mesa.
It is the first rock I’ve ever seen and my eyes are once again my own. In formation of solid waves the rock ripples, a frozen ocean of red. Over there, Haley and Roz wait together, topless in the sunlight. I try to say good-morning, but I can’t talk. I have to say something but it feels like everything hinges on my first words and I can’t think of anything. Which words to choose when words convey nothing?? “Talk to me,” Haley says, gripping me by the shoulders, concern etched across her face. The words well up. With great effort, I speak.
“I want to laugh.”
“I’ve heard you laugh before. Go ahead.”
Then Haley and Roz are hugging me and I’m surrounded by love and here we are. Just one naked and two half-naked women on top of a giant rock in the middle of the nowhere desert. Near an uranium mine. Laughing, at nothing in particular, the absurdity of it all. They lead me to the ledge of the rock and together we sit on the warming stone. I gaze at the boundless canyon, the distant highway, the parking lot and the bus. My knee is smashed raw. TK brings me a long-sleeved white cotton shirt. I slip it on, to find a red rose embroidered across my left breast. Here, on the canyon’s lip, Skye stands proud in his nakedness, hung at the edge of the drop.
“Aaah Death, he says, and everyone laughs.
Not a day old I am forced to rediscover my body. Each footstep an exercise in agony, I can barely walk. Bent over, practically crawling, I use my hands as extra legs, and make my way alone along the river stones. The coolness of the stream does not relieve the pain. Then the walls of rock come together, and the river’s calm becomes a boulder studded rapid. On a sunwarmed slab, I find temporary refuge. Tired, so tired I absorb the heat… And now I see, the soles of my feet are incised, peppered with the pliant spines of barbed-wire cactus. I hadn’t noticed. With a blind woman’s touch I pull the needles out; soak my ankles in eddying froth; all the time in the world is mine. I follow the circling flight of a hawk overhead. It dives, and there, half-way down the cliff, white lines bleed from the ochre. I read a procession of stick-figured men with wings tied to their heads, some standing, others knocked on their sides, encircled with arrows and luminous filaments. I listen to the record of the longest leap. I hear the stories in the stone, petroglyphic messages from an ever present ancient past.
Alone I move on, till the gully roars in impenetrable impasse. Dead end rock wall split with the thunder of life, I stand mesmerized before a chute of liquid crystal that foams the intense wild gush of a waterfall. Rainbow bubbles bead the aquamarine surface of an overflowing cup focused ever skyward. The catchment pool’s round reflective eye looks upon me and I do not mind its mirrored gaze. Stripped, awkward on the sliding stone, I hazard in, woman on the half-shell. Immersed to the neck in desert water coldly, deeply emerald, the iced water lifts my brain from my body as my skin tightens in the startling chill. With my toes I stroke my way across the floor of the natatorium and glide the distance to nature’s shower. Trembling, I raise myself to the raised rock undercutting the fall. From the waiting throne in the hidden well the pressurized flow sluices triumphant over my head and the dust and the blood are washed away. Pink flesh over the bone of my knee emerges and it will heal and I will walk stronger, farther than before. The passage of water over the rock has sanded it the slick of the ages and my hair becomes as silk and my eyes match the pool and the falling wetness crashes over me and the power of its thunder matches the rush of lymph and blood in my body.
I go to the secret spring, the origin of emanation, a crack between the inner and outer realms. Fount replenished from the pulsating source, I allow myself to be carried. Down the river, along the banks of life, I become the swishing sand. A nugget of gold chaffed to amber by grains of quartz, I hurtle through my self-made runneled bed, I grind the earth to water. And the water turns to wind and with the wind I spin tornadoes and cyclones, stitch the trades and hurricanes, drive clouds counter and clock-wise, sculpt the skies and pummel the mountains back to sand. And when the jungles die and the oceans dry, I will still be clothed, in shifting shades of gold and silver. For after gowns of shining blue and verdant leaf, I will wear the arenaceous desert. Desert that gives the gifts of prickly pear and buttoned peyote. Desert that kills and then kisses you before dying. Desert that buries the rock in thousand foot dunes. Shift shift shimmer in the wind, I dance the dance of sands… Unstoppable shivers rattle me, an unseen spirit lays hands on me… I follow the river. I must find the sea…