I can only keep up with him by becoming him. When I come home from our travels, I am not quite myself and no longer him. When we part company, I am left to pore over scraps of memory like the things I find in my pockets and on my phone after a regular plane trip: a boarding pass, a bus ticket, a foreign banknote, a scribbled love note, random photos of far-away cities and beaches and train stations.
It is now one of my ongoing undertakings to track the Traveler through my journal reports. Here he seems to be very like my present self, just two days ahead of me, on my present probable event track. Sometimes he is much further ahead, or on a different – mildly or radically – event track, or he is in another body in another time or another world. Is the traveler sometimes in a different body in this world, like the kids in the Japanese film “Your Name”? Perhaps. I think back to the body swapping dream of many years ago when the Traveler tries on at least three different bodies – of a black athlete, a rich Republican country club type, and finally an older, eccentric scholar much like my current self.
I think of the dream in which I am dressing up in a blue satin ballgown, excited by the prospect of turning on my boyfriend. I wake wondering whether I have been in a woman’s body. This doesn’t feel quite right. My excitement in the dream is surely male arousal, within a man’s anatomy. Confused, I look out the window and see a tall black transvestite, gorgeously attired in a long blue satin ballgown, teetering down the steps on stiletto heels on the arm of her boyfriend.
I like to play with words in English. The Traveler plays with words in many languages. One morning I was left with an unlikely phrase in French, on acccable par les hochements. This could be a newly-minted saying with the sense of “yessing someone to death”, or a commentary on the storm surge of Hurricane Irma, or both. Now I remember the Traveler’s effort to find the right words to greet Stalin at lunch in Ufa in the midst of World War II. He sought an edge of humor while trying to avoid getting his throat cut. He managed, in the Georgian language.
I am beginning to think that the moment of lucidity, in a sleep dream, is often the moment when the self that has been dormant in bed – or somewhere else altogether – catches up with the Traveler. It may be a moment of self-possession, of taking control of a vehicle that has been traveling under the direction of an autonomous self, like the captain of a ship coming back on board and taking over from a junior officer or crew member. However, the person in the wheelhouse may decline to give over control, and a sudden rebuff may result in falling out of the dream (for the person who wakes in the bed) and the Traveler’s disappearance from radar. So it could be like a horse bucking a would-be rider.
Just as I now seek to track the Traveler, I now watch the person who is writing these lines. I see him fumbling with his nautical analogy. I like the bucking horse analogy better, though we lose the notion that there may be a second rider. I am not going to play editor or critic. The writer’s attempt to model and understand what is happening in his many lives is part of his story, the one on which I will put the name we use in the ordinary world.
When I am the Traveler. leaving my body consciously on astral excursions the journey often begins at a certain threshold, a gap between the worlds, in a twilight of the mind. I may find myself floating upwards. I roll over and as I do so I feel something pulling loose from my physical body. Lights flash at the top of my head and I find myself being drawn up into a cone of light, like a pyramid with an opening at the top.
There are days when, flat on my back under a tree, I fall upwards into the bowl of the sky, like Rumi. There are nights when I feel I am about to blast off like a rocket, or be blown from the mouth of a cannon, through circles of red within black. Or I find myself stripping off, shedding the body like a snake skin, dropping it like an old overcoat. When the travels begin, I often find myself looking at geometric pattern. It may be a glowing energy grid. It may resemble the weave of a carpet, or the strands of a net.
I find it soothing to study parallels for my dream travels, and my relations with the Traveler, in reports of anthropologists and mythographers. I find again, in A.P.Elkin's Australian classic Aboriginal Men of High Degree, conformation that the projection of a dream double was a primary skill of indigenous shamans in my native country.
Among the Aborigines of Walcott Inlet it was believed that the high god Ungudd summons potential shamans through dreams. Those who had the courage to answer their calling faced a terrifying trance initiation in which they saw themselves killed and dismembered. The potential “man of knowledge” is reborn from this ordeal with a new brain, filled with inner light, and a new body, filled with shining quartz crystals. He now has the ability to send his dream double, or ya-yari, outside his body to gather information. His shamanic powers are described by an interesting term, miriru. Elkin explains its meaning as follows: “Fundamentally it is the capacity bestowed on a medicine man to go into a dream state or trance with its possibilities.”
In a book of paintings by Father Arsenie Boca, a celebrated Romanian Orthodox priest and mystic whose church I once visited and who rises from his grave to visit Romanian friends in their dreams, I find clear depictions of an astral double operating beyond the physical body. In the mythology of Egypt, I find the belief that the god Ra has no fewer than fourteeen Ka souls, or astral doubles. I must have further conversation with the Traveler about these matters. I am sure he has first-hand knowledge of how things are done in Egypt, and among the casuarina trees, and in the mountains of Transyvania.
For many related adventures, see my book Mysterious Realities: Tales of a Dream Traveler from the Imaginal Realm.
Photo "Tracking the Traveler at Ratibořice" by RM