Blog Title Photo

Blog Title Photo

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

With the help of this Path

-:::-

I made an off-season journey to the Yucatan in late September of 2005, knowing it would be hot and humid, particularly during the day.

The second rainy season was just beginning. There would be morning showers. Things might cool down. Mushrooms would sprout from cleared land across the peninsula. Many of these would be Psilocybe, containing the famous psychoactive compound, psilocybin.

I'd been having dreams about Mexico. In New York I met a young woman who had changed my life, even in the very short time that I knew her, and I was embarked on a journey that I knew had something to do with the notion of guidance. Her name was Rainbow and as a result of our friendship I had researched the mythology of rainbows, and the physics behind them as well. The rainbow iridescence of airborne blood, from sacrificial rites at the apexes of Mayan pyramids, was viewed by the early Maya, as a manifestation of their God Quetzalcoatl. I researched the physics of light, and of color, all the time being tortured with having dreams about Hermes. I visited sweat lodges smoked other plants besides tobacco and marijuana. Artemesia, Mullein, Barberry.

Most of all I was having intense dreams. Many of my dreams were taking the forms of phrases that would pound in my brain until I wrote them down, and subjected them to analysis.

I needed the old culture of the Maya, to help me sort things out.

-:::-

On the first night my third trip to this part of the Yucatan coast, I ended up somehow by the beach, in a small round hut of vertical branches stuck into the sand and nailed together, topped with a conical thatched roof. It was actually very well constructed, though not at all spacious. The hotel bore the auspicious, yet somehow foreboding name, Copal.

The bed was rectangular, a brand new queen-sized box-spring and mattress that left less than a foot of maneuvering space between the bed and the wall. I wished there had been a hammock. Walking around it one finally reached a small bathroom attached at the rear of the hut. A concrete floor had been poured, to secure the vertical stick wall, and tiles stuck into the concrete.

The slow footed surf seemed to chase the waxing moon. The bright moon beamed three-quarters full. I walked the dark strand at high tide, then headed back for a night's sleep.

I had to lock myself inside with the padlock. This was awkward.

Earlier I had brought a stash of fruit from the market. I ate a few of the small bananas, then slipped beneath the mosquito netting, which festooned to a knot at the peak of the thatched cone.

I lit two conical sticks of incense. The vendor insisted it was the best to use against mosquitoes and though I didn't understand his Spanish, I was pretty sure it was Copal. Mexico was famous for Copal resin, initially used as sacred incense by Mayan shamans during pre-Columbian times, but Western industry found uses for the aromatic red hardwood, after the tree was bled of its precious sap.

I recognized the odor immediately and connected it with Copal varnish, the fast drying varnish, and drier that is added to artist mediums for oil painting. My father, a painter, had used it.

My wife Ami had tucked some clove cigarettes in my bag! She was concerned I might try to take other substances through customs. I lit up. God bless her! An Indian mixture, tobacco and cloves.

In north Mexico, tobacco and other herbs, were smoked as part of the sweat lodge ceremony. The smoke moved through the body, and cleansed it of poisons. Was tobacco used this far south? The deep amber scent cast a spell. It was hot. I threw off the sheet. The breeze from the sea wasn't making it through the stick wall and into my hut. I was sweating miserably.

There wasn't much to do in my little dark room except sleep. I readjusted the netting, chanted 'Ohm' three times, tucked the netting behind me as I crawled again under the light sheet, and turned out my light.

The waves worked rivers of sand beneath me. I drifted onto a long series of dunes, endlessly beckoning  . . .

I would drive to the center of the peninsula to gather mushrooms after the rains. The middle of the Yucatan is cattle country, Psilocybe cubensis grows where there are cattle. The jungle had been cut, the forests were in pain.

The thing that heals, grows in a bed of pain .  .  .

During the darkest hour of the night I awoke in a flash. The moon was blocked by clouds. Even the sea was deathly quiet.

There was a flapping and scuttling noise above my head.

A very large black moth was fluttering around my enclosure!




The moth was dazzling, though a little sinister. I watched it for a few minutes, then switched off my light and went back to sleep.

Hermes invites us to a porous world. Wildness seeps in, and across boundaries. Copal #11, was wild!

I drifted to sleep. Then again I awoke, to a louder clattering that seemed much closer. This was no moth!

I switched on the flashlight.

Above me, circling endlessly in the narrow space around my bed, and the protective layer of mosquito netting, flew two very large black bats!

Terror of bats is something genetic, or primal. My genes memorized the fear, probably of the rabies they sometimes carry. This phobia may be in a good portion of human genome.

Could these be vampire bats, trying to find a way through the netting for a little nighttime drink?

Vampire bats exist in great numbers now in Central America, due to the clearing of land and the increase in livestock herds. They feed mainly off the blood of cattle, goats, dogs, and to a lesser degree, wild mammals and birds, though occasionally humans.

Their saliva contains an active anesthetic, draculin, which makes the incision by their razor sharp incisors in the flesh, painless. The bat laps up the pooling blood with its tongue. The risk of rabies is small, but does happen. Claude Levi-Strauss, in his classic work 'Triste Tropics',  a memoir about his years as a field anthropologist in Brazil, mentions being preyed upon at night by vampire bats. When he awoke and saw blood, the natives laughed: "The night-birds have been feeding!"

These were beautiful creatures. Their blackened shapes pulsed cutouts of impenetrable dark with magnified shadows from my tiny beam across the conical heavens above my head.

It was galactic bat night.

The first experience of something wild, seen up close, and when not expected, is profound.

Beauty is an experience, not a fact. The natural is at first always beautiful, it suspends the categorization of experience. Bertrand Russell said the perception of beauty occurs when one's critical faculties get shut down. We can't find anything wrong, or spot a flaw. Beauty short circuits the brain, we trip through the catalogue of criticisms, knocking over all the dominoes, because not one little fact can answer the king's question.

Beauty stops thought.

I was amazed that two creatures with wingspans of 14", could fly in such a tight space between the two stacked cones, the thatched hut, and mosquito netting within. There was hardly two feet of maneuvering room, and in most places less.

They slapped their wings against the walls, and the netting, yet they weren't getting fouled up. Impressive flying!

I ceased being in awe; it was then that I became terrified. 

Since beauty comes before fear, fears may be unlearned, simply by appreciating beauty once again.

To be locked in this prison, surrounded by flying bats, with nothing but a pencil-sized flashlight, took fear to a new dimension.

I tried turning out the light and listening. I heard them land a few times over by my stash of fruit.

The fruit! They must have come in for the flies that were beginning to hatch around the bananas that I had bought! Whew! If they were after the insects they were fruit bats! I shuddered at the alternative.

I had to force myself to climb out of my protective mosquito netting, crawl at ground level into the narrow space where the bats were flying around, use my flashlight to find the fruit, get my keys from my coat pocket, un-lock that stupid padlock, then let the bats and the fruit both pass outside, so that I might get a decent night's sleep.

I did this, hyperventilating the whole time. "Insect bats, not vampire bats, insect bats", . . I kept chanting.

I lost consciousness of the two creatures. They seemed to meld with the night. I wanted to see them fly out. But they were gone.

They seemed to have evaporated.

I located the first cause, the fruit, and ejected it. The sticks of incense were still burning - there weren't many fruit flies at all. Not many flies, they could have been vampires.

I returned to bed, but left the door ajar.

And then I dreamed.

-:::-

Let me say that because I have been recording and analyzing dreams for nearly twenty-five years, there is a system to the way I've been dreaming. They come to me with a consistent vocabulary, that I am well used to.

If I awake early enough in the dream I may remember the whole dream. If I sleep later, the dream boils down, almost like maple candy, until it becomes an irreducible lump, usually just a phrase combined with an image, that seems like it can't be reduced any more. It becomes like a crystal, and reflects all sorts of meaning. I usually can make a simple sketch and write a few words or letters to record pretty much the whole thing.

I dreamt I saw a coffin.

The top of the coffin held some brass letters, fastened in place with small brass nails, with just two letters, S. C.

Above the brass initials, was another brass decoration, this one was the cutout of a mushroom, in brass, closely resembling the Psilocybe cubensis I hoped to find in the interior.

That was the image of my dream.

The phrase that I heard accompanying the image sounded like the word "Marketing".

Marketing? What was I marketing? And who was SC?

Then it hit me. Marketing didn't mean marketing, but rather "Mark eating!". Oh no! Was this coffin spelling out what would happen to me if I ate the mushrooms I found? But what of the initials SC?

Who was SC?

S and C are are the 'sound initials' for the psychedelic mushroom species Pscilocybe cubensis, if it were spelled 'Scilocybe cubensis'. I've always remarked in my studies of dreams and psychological content of all kinds, that our inner dreamer cannot spell. She thinks with sound. Spelling, or the use of letters, is an extreme effort for her, with the alphabet she's primitive at best.

There's another close relative to Pscilocybe cubensis, the mushroom Stropharia cubensis. There! That gave me exactly the meaning of the two letters, SC.

So wasn't my dreamer being literal? Wasn't she telling me exactly, in so many words, "Don't eat Stropharia cubensis, or any Psycilocybin mushroom here in Mexico, or else you'll end up in a coffin!"

'SC' may also be pronounced 'see!'. Was I being urged to see something?

Psycilocybin is a beneficial fungus. It makes you stronger. It makes you smarter. It makes you see who you are. But it will not poison you.

A mistaken identification however, could lead to being poisoned. One has to know one's mushrooms. So, it seemed to me that my dream was counseling, 'Don't go out there start eating mushrooms if you're not absolutely sure!'

     Galerina autumnalis with the vaginate cap,
     Could seal your doom, with a flavorful trap,
     A delicious brown mushroom might not tell,
     If it's psychedelic, or a Funeral Bell.

The dream seemed so direct as to be almost uninspired. Yet it weighed heavily on my mind. I still planned to go mushroom hunting, though perhaps not mushroom eating.

-:::-

Sure enough morning came and the bright horizontal rays of the rising sun shone through the slats of the cabin. I was awake and feeling like the interior of my little cell of confinement was suddenly very public, and on a well trod beach. It was impossible with that brilliant light to imagine the black hell that I had lived through just hours before.

I swam, changed, then went out to the reception area of the hotel. There was a huge table cut from a giant round of an ancient Copal tree. I knew such trees were extremely rare now in this part of the country. The jungle around here is second and third growth. Almost all the big trees, the valuable woods, Copal being one of them, have long since been destroyed. I realized that this slice from the trunk was probably all the local people had been able to save as this last giant was cut up for export.

Two very nice kids working the place brought me coffee and juice, and toast and tea. I wrote a little in my journal.

I would begin the day in Coba, the archaeological ruin about forty miles to the west. A weekday, it would still be fairly quiet. In the early morning, I could make drawings of trees without attracting attention. Some large giants still remained in the protected woods surrounding the pyramids.

Everything I've written thus far is background. What you are about to read is what's most important.

As you read, keep this dream in mind. Keep the Copal tree in mind.

Keep in mind the fact that I burned incense that evening, and that it might have been Copal incense.

Remember that a huge sacred tree had been taken, and indulge me for a moment by considering the cutting of such a tree, as a crime. Remember also those two bats, . . . because they do seem to have vectored in some other bits of experience.

As you read this, also think, 'How you would I have read these signs?' . . . 'How would I have reacted?' . . . 'What would I have done?' And also ask yourself, Were the events in this day random?

I shall keep you in suspense no longer.

-:::-

At about 8AM. I threw sketch-paper, watercolors, and brushes into my day bag and trundled out to the car. Thirty five minutes later I was at the archaeological site.

At seven promptly I was there to be the first through the gates of the preserve. It's a walk back in time. The massive pyramid Nohoch Mul , and structures erected for the maintenance and honoring of the rituals that took place between the years 500 and 900 AD when the Pre-Columbian Maya held the place. I jogged quickly along the ruins of the ancient Sac'be, or 'white way', a 62 mile-long raised road, straight as an arrow, connecting this place with Yaxuna, another ancient site to the west. Rituals were performed by all those who used, or crossed, the Sac'be.

To the west, a slight depression in the limestone shelf had allowed a lake to form. It was rich in bird and animal life. The damp jungle resounded with the calls of monkeys and mynas. Mexican red-headed parrots shook the primeval air, A heavy mist hung over the lake, and ropes of water weed and lilies formed a tangle at the water's edge. There were crocodiles. The waiter at the small restaurant open early for coffee, told me some of them reached twelve feet.

The place held power for me. It gave me strength. I flew knowledgeably to a favorite spot, along a deserted trail, opposite a massive tangle of fig trunks, and sat to make a sketch.

A year before I'd photographed my son next to one of the big trees along this trail.



I was propped on the other side of the small trail from my tree subject, with my back against the trunk of a leafy Ceiba pentandra, deliciously shading me from the rising sun.

Comfortably propped against this massive hardwood trunk, I drew a tangle, of a much younger tree, of the ficus, or fig family.  Widely spread, there are many names for this genus, and even more for the hundreds of individual species. This particular one, called Banyan in India, starts out making many young trunks. As the tree grows, and branches move out, they drop 'air roots' to the ground, which thicken and become new trunks. Eventually all the trunks grow and fuse with one another. In this way banyan trees become some of the world's fattest trees.


So if there's one tree that's super prolific, grows like mad, and is not in danger, that's Ficus. On the other hand there are many hardwoods that take hundreds of years to mature, have a single trunk, and develop very hard woods. that are coveted species for timber and other industries. Copal and Ceiba are two such examples.

Dresden Codex
fr. Wikipedia
Unexplainably as an artist, I was showing more interest in the common, faster-growing weedy 'pests', than in the venerable old giants. In Northern terminology, I was preferring Alder to Oak. In this case, as in every case, the newer weedier tree also has a noble history . . .

In Mexico ficus fiber was used to make a kind of paper, called Amatl (Nahuatl: āmatl, Spanish: amate or papel amate . . . which was named by the Mayas huun [fr. Wikipedia], made from the inner bark of Ficus glabrata, or wild ficus. It was sacred stuff. All the Mayan codices that have survived until modern times were written upon it.

Gautama Buddha achieved bodhi, enlightenment, while meditating beneath a ficus. And of course Adam and Eve covered themselves with fig leaves, once they had tasted the fruit of wisdom at the center of the Garden of Eden.

The Ceiba has a equally long story, But, I'll present that at another time. But for now, I'm on the trail resting, with my back to it.

-:::-

Suddenly, a tiny, brilliant emerald green lizard, with a bright red belly, darted towards me from the other side of the path. It had run out of the same fig thicket I was drawing. Oblivious of my presence as a large living creature, I let him dash towards me, where sure enough, he ran up and over my trousered pant leg like it was a log, and headed into the forest behind me, to my left.

Transfixed, I spun around, looking behind me to see where he went.

Quetzalcoatl was near! I almost heard it like a voice . . . .

The quetzal is a popular, though extremely rare bird of these parts. Brilliant green, with iridescent feathers, and long long tail plumage that it drags with it through the tree canopy like a never ending green plume, the quetzal is nearly extinct, hunted for it's feathers by both the indigenous Maya, and the Spanish settlers that came later.


Quetzal-coatl . . . was a Mayan God.

He took the shape of a man at times, but his origin was as the union of a brown river serpent, with a quetzal. The quetzal was his head and top of body, and the serpent brought up the rear. He was, if you like, a union of heaven and earth. The serpent had access to the waters and the deep dark below the limestone Terra firma, and the quetzal took charge of the air. Both were long creatures, with long tails.

They moved mysteriously, but they could be followed easily. They left a trail with their tail. He was a god of pathways, like Hermes, and Raven, who could move through any medium, guiding anyone, from one place to another. From misfortune to fortune, across the Berlin wall, through the battlements at Troy, or in pursuit of game to hunt, and so to live. He also brought people to answers, to realizations, and to psychic unity.

Quetzalcoatl functioned as a 'spirit guide' to the Mayan people. He was what Raven became to Native Americans further north, or the Indian Elephant god Ganesha is to nearly everyone on the Indian subcontinent, deities who could remove all obstacles.

They could become obstacles as well. If not appeased they were Gods of Obstacles. If you've ever wandered a narrow Indian city street, and come upon an elephant, you know what obstacle means. Raven was notorious for misleading a percentage of hunters. He was treacherous at times, and so had to be appeased, through ritual.

The elephant moves about the jungle of the Indian subcontinent as easily as the brown anaconda navigates murky waters of Mexican rivers. Elephants can go anywhere, and do. They are found at the tops of surprisingly steep mountains, at heights of nearly ten thousand feet, feed on leaves budding from stunted growths. They literally pull themselves up the steep slopes, with the help of their trunks, and limber bodies. They are incredibly surefooted.

A park ranger in the BR hills of South India told me, "The elephant is everywhere. There is no place an elephant cannot go."

-:::-

I looked for that trail as this small, brilliant green lizard ran into the leaves and forest litter behind me.

He disappeared with a scuttle.

I turned back towards my tree, then bolted upright in shock!

-:::-

Barely three feet in front of me, stood a tall, slim young woman, in an extremely short black leather dress. She wore brilliant purple eye shadow painted in a swath, from the tops of her eyelids up to a point midway between eyebrows and forehead. Her hair was pulled tight, and fastened behind her head. Her wrist was adorned with a tattoo. But she carried no handbag, nor wore any jewelry.

The moment was very strange.

Slowly, imperceptibly, she raised her left hand and offered it as a gesture of friendship.

"I didn't see you." I stammered. "You scared me." I didn't say that her facial paint had scared me most of all. What was she? This is not typical dress for a Western tourist.

"Yes you were looking at something very closely weren't you! I just came down the path and there you were, looking at something."

"Really I just turned for an instant. How did you get here so quickly?"

She laughed.

"I actually saw you a long way away. I kept coming closer but you didn't move for about ten minutes. I thought you had hurt your back. You were twisted around looking, . . . that way!" She gestured in the direction the lizard had run.

"Wow," I had no idea that time had stopped so. "Sorry. Yes I saw a beautiful little creature. You surprised me."
We introduced ourselves. Her name was Stamena. She had arrived on a bus from Merida, and was staying for the day to explore the site.

"I'm from Yugoslavia," she said. "I work for the airline, JAT."

We talked a bit about the awful war Yugoslavia had been through. I had a feeling she was Serbian, and I was having a tough time not displaying my displeasure at learning this. The genocide in Serbia had been extreme, and it seemed Serbs were the antagonists in that bit of history. I hoped she was clear of it.

I counseled myself to stay calm. One always gets a chance to meet real people coming from clans or groups you disagree with for some reason or another. Yes, Stamena was Serb. She was 28, and a stewardess for JAT Air. She remembered the conflict well. She was a teenager. She and her family lived in Belgrade.

"Do you always run around Mexico dressed like this?", I asked, after we'd spent some time talking.

"Yes," she said. "I like painting my face. I never have any problems!" 

I confessed her makeup had startled the hell out of me! Behind it, I could see she was quite lovely. The purple paint would be scrubbed off Saturday night, and Sunday morning she'd be on her way back to Europe.

We roamed the site, reading in our guidebooks about the history of the various structures. Her English was impeccable, though accented.

At one point she left to go climb the big pyramid, and I returned to finish my drawing of the fig tree. It finished quickly. I felt I had accomplished something with the day.

We and I met as agreed, by the gate to the park. She was there, shielding her pale face from the sun with a newspaper.

"Feel like some lunch?" We sauntered over towards the cafe where I'd had coffee earlier.

We ate a special meal of beans and slow simmered pork, with roast vegetables and chilies. At the end of our meal we sat back with cups of coffee.

"What's your full name Stamena?" I asked her. The memory of the dream 'SC' was haunting me still.

"Cutkovik," She answered.

"You're kidding. K-u-t-c . . . ?"

"No," she explained. "With a C, then a K."

I drew a deep breath. What should I do?

I felt duty bound for some reason to tell her.

"Stamena, take a deep breath, and listen to what I have to say. I have dreams, and all dreams mean something . . . "

I told her everything, starting with the bats, the fruit, the incense, arriving late, and that I had dreamed powerfully, without mentioning yet the image of the coffin or the brass initials. I skipped ahead to my breakfast, the slice of the sacred copal tree, Copal rhyming with Coba, my fascination with the Maya, this site, trees in general, and my background experiments with psychedelic mushrooms, trips with my friends Chris Martin and Peter Acheson back in the States, where we'd ingested quantities of the fungus Stropharia cubensis, SC.

Then I told her the image of the dream. "It was a coffin, and it had some brass lettering on it."

She paled.

I continued. "There was a cutout of a mushroom, Stamena. I'm sure it was an image of the kind of mushroom that I"ve been trying to find, Stropharia cubensis, that happens to have the same initials as your name. I also heard this very loud phrase, 'Marketing' but pronounced 'Mark-Eating' as if I were eating the mushroom depicted by the brass cutout. I'm sure this dream is about me, not you, but I have to tell you, to warn you.

"The coffin also bore the initials SC, Stamena. I feel I should tell you this. Be very careful. Use your instincts. Fly carefully, be careful in cars while you are here in Mexico. This dream happened for a reason I know it."

I stopped talking, and then I realized she had become pale as a ghost and was shaking uncontrollably. 

"No," she cried. "No! It's not you! It's not me!"

She lurched to her feet and hobbled out of the cafe, her face buried in her palms. I bounded after her. The waiters were concerned I was trying to give them the slip. I turned, paid them, then ran.

She was halfway up the hill to the bus.

"Stamena, Stamena. Wait! Tell me. What's wrong?"

She stopped. Her body heaved. She sobbed. I put my arm over her shoulder and tried to embrace her. Eventually her tears stopped, and she looked up.

"Come, lets' get some cold water," I said.

We walked back to the cafe. The waiters were intrigued. They brought us some sodas, and Stamena caught her breath. Then she started to talk.

"I have a sister. Her name is Saskia. She has the same initials as me, SC. She is much younger than me. Right now she should be about 15 years old . . .

"Saskia and my parents don't get along. Saskia is, how do you say it, punk? She has many tattoos and piercings, and she listens to punk music. My parents hate this. They are always fighting. She does not take care of herself. She doesn't have many friends. The people she likes, my parents think are evil.

"Saskia had this little box, where she kept her piercings, and her jewelry. These things that she puts through her nose and ears. This little box was plastic, but it was shaped like a coffin.

"One night two years ago they had a terrible fight. My mother went into Saskia's room, and found her little coffin box, and took it and broke it into bits. Saskia went crazy. That night she ran out of the house. We never saw her again.

"So you see, your dream tells me Saskia is dead."

Stamena buried her face in a napkin and cried for another minute.

"I'm okay," she said. "It's good to know. It's been two years."

[This is what I want to say to you now, Stamena. This is something I've learned since this happened to us. Dreams don't end. They keep dreaming. Keep your dreams going, keep life going, Live your life, and live the life of your beautiful sister, . . . for her . . . 

-:::-

The days and hours for the rest of that day, passed in a blur. We drove about the Yucatan backwoods, stopping in small towns to drink cool Colas under the pitch of the sun, beneath short trees draped with advertisements for batteries and tires. Stamena went inside somewhere and washed her face, and I saw that with her war paint removed, she was attractive, but now seemed quite plain. I'd gotten used to the purple paint. I thought to myself, why is she painting herself in this way?

We were having a grand time talking about all sorts of things. Interpretations of dreams, the war in Serbia, the drug trade in Mexico, the reunification of Germany. We spent quite a while talking about the Berlin wall, and what it meant psychologically for the minds of people everywhere. She agreed to spend the night at the hotel where I was staying, but had to leave early the next morning. 

On the drive returning to the beach resort where I'd been staying, we stopped at a small roadside shop, draped with woven goods to sell to tourists. There was a large selection of fired white earthenware ceramics, placards of Mayan Gods, and images borrowed from the vast repertory of Mayan imagery, from the sides of pyramids, ball-courts, and palaces. The Native Maya were the perpetuators of their own mythology, from a bygone era. The white man had taken their trees for varnish, their religions to replace with Catholicism, and their native language to bury in Spanish speaking schools.

All the goods produced here for consumption by tourists referenced the vast Mayan iconography from pre-Columbian times. I felt something was being kept alive.

The little place was quite empty. I walked beneath rows of metal corrugated roofs, hung with serapes, small rugs, and scarves, and all manner of items for sale to 'Los Nord Americanos.'

Out of the shadows glided a grey-haired Mayan gentleman. "May I help you?" he asked in surprising English.

"Yes, " I said. I'm looking for a sculpture of Quetzalcoatl. You know the Mayan . . "

"We do not have Quetzalcoatl," he interrupted me. "But we do have this."

He held out a closed fist.

"What is it?" I asked.

"Take it." he said.

I reached out my hand. He opened his hand, it held a small figure of an elephant, modeled of the same white clay that the placards were made.

"An elephant?" I was confused. "Why are you making elephants? There aren't any elephants here in the Yucatan."

"Are you sure there are no elephants in the Yucatan?" he asked.

"Well, no. Elephants, mammoths and close relatives, mastodons, and some other smaller relatives, walked across the land bridge some 50,000 years ago, just as humans did. They made it to Central America. Most were killed off soon after. Others the Woolly Mammoth, lived until about 10,000 years ago."

"I mean are you sure there are NO elephants in the Yucatan now?", he demanded.

He delivered the words with deadly seriousness. I was hesitant.

"Now." The store was pin drop silent.

He seemed to have a power, that had bolted me to the floor. I couldn't argue.

"No, I'm not sure." I said. "I'm not sure at all."

"Good," he said.

At that moment he released the small elephant into my palm.


"There," he said. "Keep it. To remind you of elephants." And then as eerily as he had arrived, he slipped between the hanging fabrics, and disappeared into a rear room.

Stamena, who had watched the entire proceeding, moved with me silently towards our car. "That man was very strange," she commented.

"Very powerful," I added. "He knows something, and is trying to tell me."

We spent our evening at the beach. Come to think of it she didn't swim. We ate dinner at a small seaside place near the hotel. She rented a separate bungalow for herself, and went to bed quite early. By daybreak she departed, to rejoin the skies that brings everyone to places like this, from around the world.

-:::-

Two days passed. I went to the pyramids one more time, and spent the whole day drawing alone. On the return drive, I stopped by the little shop again. The old man wasn't there.

Outside the shop I beckoned to two hitchhikers, who turned out to be German, who wanted to move along the main road in the same direction. They were headed to Tulum, to the bus station. Though not on my way, I volunteered to drive them. We talked about Germany, and the reunification of East and West. Heinrich was East German, he worked for a TV station. He and his girlfriend and were busing around Mexico.

I thought it odd that I was having this conversation again, this time with people who would not have been able to travel to Mexico, if the Berlin wall had not come down.

As we approached the bus station, I noticed the traffic starting to slow considerably. We were caught behind some kind of commotion. A vehicle ahead of us was moving very slowly.


I looked in front of me. There was a red pickup truck. In the back of the pickup truck sat a baboon.

The baboon was drinking from a plastic coke bottle, and was leaning against a red wheelbarrow. Perhaps he was an old ape, or someones pet, and couldn't walk. He looked young enough though, his fur was impeccably groomed. Maybe he was a baby. Maybe someone transported him around in the wheelbarrow, when it was time to get out.

Then, ahead of the red truck, I noticed a trio of camels. That's strange. I thought of the Three Kings. What is going on here I wondered. "Ahh!" Heinrich burst out loud. "It's a circus. Park the car and we can walk. I'll take some pictures."


Then, behind the tall heads of the three camels, I noticed . . . 


Two Elephants!

-:::-


There is no conclusion to this story. Out of it you must rescue whatever you can, as I have done myself.

I'm no longer afraid of bats. I believe in leaving doors open. I do write poems about vampires though. As a result of Copal power, and the dreams I had while Copal scent was burning, and my experience along the path near the Coba pyramid, a confluence of psychic events and occurrences started.

They became a pathway.

I dreamed the fate of a stranger from another side of the world, and it had made more sense to her than to me.

What had guided me? A green lizard? Quetzalcoatl himself?

Or Ganesha, whom I was more familiar with. I held in my hands a small figure formed in a place that has no elephants, other than animals from a visiting circus troupe.

So I thought.

I had been shown those elephants as surely as I had been led there. I have not seen a flesh and blood elephant anywhere in Mexico since, nor a white clay elephant in the Yucatan since that visit.

But elephants are there.

-:::-

The old man displayed power that was his to use, as he liked. He steered me towards an elephant when he wanted. He could have me doubting science when he wanted. He had presented me with a gift, and if anything, tried to deter me from taking anything else. Why an elephant? Perhaps he knew the elephant, as Ganesha, would reverberate with me. Perhaps because, in Mayan time, the elephant is a recent cohabitant of these parts. Had he read my journal? Did he know I had dreamed of white elephants, repetitively over many years?

Perhaps the whole pathway was mine, my dream, my realization of that dream, and everyone in it an unwitting player, of my drama.

What about Stamena and Saskia?

What of the Copal tree?

Copal, and Coba as sound-alikes, is this just Mayan culture talking, to anyone that will listen? I had come to Mexico for answers, but left, with more questions that I could write down.

Had the coincident events of a night spent burning copal incense in a round structure, approximated a sweat lodge ceremony, with an offering of fruit? Had sweating in a dark place at night brought on my dreams? Had I inadvertently duplicated a Mayan sweat lodge ritual, at least the key points of it, unconsciously?

How else might I explain the transcendence, the rapid succession of linked events. If so why? It clearly warned me against rashly picking and eating strange mushrooms. But why were Stamena and Saskia the facets of this dream out of all the people in the world? How did the dream know she was there, in Mexico, and how did it manage to place us together along the path?

The only answer to any of this has to be light. There's no other way to explain these things. Light times our existence. Light makes us synchronize with each other.

Was the green lizard a little piece of Quetzalcoatl? If what Quetzalcoatl stands for is as powerful as I believe, then his light feathers must extend everywhere. That lizard was just one sliver of him, nearby.

So the lizard, and the elephants, and the dream and the brass letters, even Stamena herself . . . all of it was a pathway!

How is this universe held together.? What holds it together? And once held together, who tells the stories about the holding of it, that matter?

Doesn't the light from those stories become the Universe, and guide everything else, thereon after?

Shouldn't I give "Thanks to this path"?

-:::-

Notes:

When I returned to the US, I looked a few things up online:

"The Common Vampire Bat feeds mostly on the blood of mammals (including humans) . . .  Once the bat locates a host, . . . it lands and approaches it on the ground . . . Another unique adaptation . . . is the sharing of food . . .  the bat's brain is well adapted to detecting the regular breathing sounds of sleeping animals . . . Vampire bats are very agile." [fr. Wikipedia]

"Copal resin, which hardens over thousands of years to become Amber . . . the JAT-oba [pronounced jet-over!] tree . . is one of the hardest of all woods . . . also called Brazilian Copal . . . " [fr. various sources]

"Fig, [ficus] was used in Ancient Egypt, to make caskets for mummies." [ Wiki]

". . .  Copal is still used by a number of indigenous peoples of Mexico and Central America as incense  . . . during sweat lodge ceremonies . . . [Wikipedia]


 . . . the etymology of the word 'copal' from the Nahuatl copalli, means . . .  'with the help of this path' or, 'thanks to this path' (Corzo 1978)."


-:::-


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