Prelude: At Snoqualmie Falls
I was happy to be back at Snoqualmie Falls overnight. I enjoyed watching the peregrine falcons who nest in the cliffs darting through the mist. I have flown with them in lucid dreams and shamanic journeys that sometimes opened into grand adventures. I did not fly with the falcons this time because I seemed to be in the kind of energy body that does not shapeshift as fast as thought, and is not to be thrown around.
I am reminded of a highly instructive experience from a year ago.
The forest is green fire, bursting and thrusting with life. Below the great tree where I am stretched out, the slope of the mountain drops in green splendor for miles, down to a river that is green and small as a grass snake from this height. A bright green vine as thick as my wrist bends in a loop between me and the sky.
My attention shivers. My cheek is on a pillow. My awareness is back in the body I left here, on the bed. Gray morning light comes through a narrow gap in the curtains above the bed. I smell bacon, and my inner dog is ready to go downstairs. But the tug of the green world is deeper.
I plunge back into that world. My body feels stronger and lighter, perfectly toned. I want to jump off the cliff and fly. I have done this so many times before, in other dreams. I will my wings to sprout from my shoulders again. This seems less successful than usual. While my body in the green world feels entirely physical, my wings seem flimsy and insubstantial, hardly more than a notion. This does not matter, surely. When I take the jump, I’ll find myself flying. Flying in dreams is easy. All you have to do is fall, and fail to hit bottom.
I am at the very edge of the precipice. My toes curl over the edge. I notice these toes are much longer than my regular toes, and can curl into a loop, like my regular fingers. Cool. What else can this body do?
I consider a diver’s stance, then spread my arms and start gently flapping.
Stop, says an inner voice, a voice I have learned to listen to. Look at who you are.
I pull back. Now I am outside and above the person at the edge of the cliff. I see him back away from the edge. He is puzzled. He sniffs the air, searching for something he senses but cannot see.
Another hand reaches for him. There is a lovely woman under the tree, the slopes of her body arranged in such abandon that I feel sure they must have been making love before I interrupted. “Woman” is not quite right. They resemble humans, but they are much taller, with those prehensile feet. The male has little horns among his long dark hair. Not horns, exactly. The nubs of antlers. His tawny body is covered with fine light silky hair. Something sways behind him as he returns to the embrace of the female. Is it a tail?
I am no longer observing. I am with him, in him, in his ritual of mating. He seems to be alone with his mate, yet I have no doubt this is a ritual, more than sex, more even than the love-making of two individuals. As he plunges deep in her body, I feel energy streaming from the roots of the great tree. And something more joins him – us – surging in at the base of the spine. The dragon is on him, and in us.
Now we can fly, I tell myself.
Again I hear the caution of an inner guide. This deer-man’s body is strong, and it can perform acrobatics beyond the human range. He can swing down the mountain face on vines, and leap from branch to branch. He can ride a thing like a dragon, the thing with which he is now bonded in another way. But he cannot fly. If I jumped this body over the precipice, it would probably be broken and destroyed on the rocks far below.
In dreams, in visions, in shamanic journeys, we can fly, when we let ourselves go, because we go outside the physical body and are no longer confined by the laws of physical reality. But when we travel in these ways we are not necessarily disembodied. We may travel in a subtle energy body, often called the astral body or the dreambody. And we can take on other bodies.
Dreaming, we not only change states of consciousness. We may change worlds, stepping from one order of reality into a different one. These other worlds may be quite as substantial as the physical world we know in our everyday lives. They have their own laws of physics, and what we do with the bodies we are using can have physical consequences - in these "other"worlds, and, through astral repercussion, on the bodies we left dormant when we took off on our adventures.
There are worlds in which you can ride a dragon, but you can't fly by yourself. So: Before you jump off a cliff, make sure you are in a body that is capable of flight.
Photo of Snoqualmie Falls (c) Robert Moss
Drawing: He Can Ride Dragons, But He Can't Fly (c) Robert Moss