The journey’s into the senses are long and I may abbreviate the next one – may not! I have my second meeting with Jean tomorrow and in the interim I have finished Brian Swimme’s “The Universe is a Green Dragon” new creation myth of sorts for the 21st Century. I have also reread Joseph Campbell essays – Transformations of Myth Through Time. I keep asking myself what compels me – why not take up tennis or golf. I have no answer.
As I sat in the cool darkened room surrounded by the Unicorn tapestries at the Cluny Museum in Paris, a young woman approached. Oddly dressed, I thought, rather bohemian but a lovely smile. She asked if I would like to go with her.
“Where” I asked. “Let me surprise you” she said. As I had all the time in the world, something I had never had until Paris, I agreed.
“You have to close your eyes” she said. How strange I thought, was I willing to trust a bohemian girl in a strange country take me somewhere with closed eyes? Why not, what could happen in this ancient church in the middle of Paris in the afternoon.
Eyes closed, I heard a soft whisper not in my ears, around my body. The girl took my hand, it was cold, small and delicate. Keep your eyes closed she said as she took me down a staircase, our steps echoing until we reached an opening, a door perhaps as I heard a creaky hinge. Open your eyes now!
Hand in hand, we entered a field of a thousand flowers and in the light I saw she was no ordinary girl. She was oddly familiar though dressed in a long luscious blue velvet dress with red brocade trim at the hem. I was dazzled by her jewelry a gold broach necklace that reminded me of my grandmother’s brass locket that had held her baby hair. The girl released my hand and walked over to an instrument that looked like an organ though quite small. A tall, radiantly beautiful woman was playing it. She glanced at me and smiled but it was the lion next to her who beckoned.
My young friend winked at me as she took hold of the bellows on the organ and I heard music that I had never heard before. I wanted to immerse myself in the sound but the lion grunted. As I approached him, I saw from the corner of my eye a reclining unicorn, half hidden behind my friend. Her eyes were closed as if in a trance from the music.
The lion was quite anxious for me to come talk to him. He sat upright holding a long staff decorated with half-moons. “wow, you’ve come” he said. Wow, you talk I said.
Did you know I was coming?
Kind of he said.
I am quite confused by all this. One minute I am sitting in a cool room in a museum and the next I’m inside a story.
I noticed you’ve been here three times, so why did you keep coming back, he asked. I told him that I had a strange feeling that the tapestries were woven for my time on earth – six hundred years after they were made. I had seen so many from the late 15th Century tapestries yet nothing, not a one was remotely similar to these.
If you have a moment, he said I will tell you an interesting story about it. He put down his staff and lay on the carpet of a thousand flowers and told me that the man who commissioned these tapestries had a beloved daughter who cherished the stories that her grandmother, his mother, had told her. He too had grown up with the stories as his mother had put him to bed every night as a child with stories of other-worldly places. She would have him close his eyes and imagine flying with her on a wonderful magical white horse with a huge horn in the middle of her forward that lit up with the power and light of the stars as they flew past earth into inexplicable places that his mother told him were places in future time. He didn’t understand future time but he loved the places that they would go together.
His daughter also had the good fortune of night time adventures with her grandmother before she died. Her grandmother told the girl that she would always be able to imagine her with her which gave the girl great comfort. The grandmother also told her that time was irrelevant and that everything important always happened in dream time as she had told her son.
The son had become quite wealthy and advised the King. He was well-known in the country and admired by most, feared by some and hated by a few. It was important to show his standing and wealth through magnificent tapestries created in Belgium as symbols of his outward importance. He didn’t want to create what everyone else had – scenes of war and glory on horseback. He wanted to honor his mother and his daughter which was highly unusual in his time. Women were possessions who bore sons and carried on the lineage or they were discarded and forgotten if they failed in that mission.
These tapestries honor the stories of his mother and love for his daughter.
But why the five senses and the sixth – “mon seul desir”? By the way, I don’t agree with what I have read about the sixth. I believe they have it wrong.
Perhaps you’re right he said it will be your task to find out. Why did you enter through hearing? – not the one I expected.
I have no idea. The girl brought me here.
She brought you through your desire and intention so I am curious, why hearing?
Mmm, I guess because I believe we hear the physical world before all the other senses. We hear it in the womb. We feel sound vibrations. We hear ourselves cry once we have entered the world and before our eyes have been cleaned. We hear the mid-wife or doctor. We hear first. I wonder why I’m not talking to the Unicorn or the beautiful woman playing the organ. I wonder why the girl has left me with you. and why are there four trees in each tapestry different size and position in each?
Wonder all you want but it’s time for you to go. Here she comes to take you back. I wonder if you’re the grandmother who has returned to live ever so briefly in her own story, her creation.
Interesting idea but why now? Why am I so struck by it all? And why is a lion talking to me?
The girl took hold of my hand before he could answer. As we walked past the radiant woman, she glanced inside my soul, the Unicorn opened her eyes and I saw the lion pick up his staff and sit upright once more. I asked the girl her name and she said next time.
I read this to Jean on our first session. She said “the young girl represents my youthful longing for understanding. I had missed out on the play and encouragement instilled by good parents and she is the element that fine tunes my life. She is a parallel life.” She asked what Goddess I resonate with – she thought it might be Athena because of my Owl but I told her I wasn’t sure. She listed the Goddesses and when she mentioned Demeter/Persephone I said that was it. Of course, she said, as it was the wise woman looking for the lost soul. I am both/and she further explained. Persephone ever the curious girl was taken into the underworld where her life was revealed to her.
Fascinating, I thought and something I needed to really think about as Goddesses, perhaps rather judgmentally on my part, imply a new-age trend. I was soundly put to right by Jean as she informed me that Goddesses are the ancient archetypes that can bring restoration to one’s higher self. She insisted I begin to bring new metaphors into my life and journey.
A week has gone by and I finally ventured back into the hearing tapestry as I wanted to finish my discussion with the Lion and I wanted to find out the young girl’s name before moving on to what I think is the next one for me – Touch.
We entered more quickly this time – down the steps and into the field of a thousand flowers.
The Lion smiled at me, flicking his tail as a gesture that he wanted to see me, now! I held up a finger suggesting just a moment as I needed to find out the young girl’s name. I asked her and she coyly smiled telling me it was “Ariadne.” It took just a moment for me to realize that of course it was the only name she could have.
I told her about an incredible meditation/journey I had years ago that I can still access if need be. It was like Indra’s Net. I had traveled into a huge eternal web of lights – each cluster seemed to be where souls went when they died or preparing to be born. They were immensely peaceful places connected by long dark tunnels that I traveled through. I didn’t get very far into the web but I could see beyond the clusters, through the tunnels into what seemed like a peaceful forever-ness.
Pleased with the synchronicity, I went to the Lion who was all atwitter at what I thought I had learned.
I wasn’t really sure I told him. I knew this was a kind of mythic healing journey as Jean had suggested. Ariadne was taking me back in time to heal a disrupted part of my web, but I told the Lion I think there is so much more. It’s not just about me and my past although that is a part of it.
So I am still confused I told him. And by the way, what do I call you I asked?
Plato, he said
Are you kidding me, you just can’t make this up I said or perhaps that’s exactly what I’m doing. You are Mr. Anima Mundi – the soul of the world, and that is exactly what Jean said was my journey into the tapestries.
He laugh/roared at me. Where are you going next he asked?
I think it’s Touch
Because I experienced something after my last visit. I was with a friend who kept touching me and I was disturbed by its frequency. Have I always been disturbed by touch I thought? Have I been denying it? If this journey with you is about wholeness, then the senses are the key players in my creation story. I heard first. Touch must be second. Touch in my baby world was limited. I hated when my mother touched me at times. I never trusted it, she was so erratic – so touch is next.
Interesting, but Ariadne is beckoning he said.
Before I go I have something to tell you. I am not sure yet how the tapestry five senses are an expression of what we scientifically know now about the earth. I read something recently in connection with earth as a living being that we now call Gaia, the author writing about the earth’s five major components. I can only remember atmosphere and noosphere, maybe geosphere. When I read it I immediately thought of this overwhelming cosmic connection between the tapestries five senses and earth’s five components and Indra’s Net and how we are now able to see the light from the “big bang” from the beginning of time, and that my personal mythic creation story seems to transcend time, and how Einstein said that all time is simultaneous. My brain is exhausted. By the way, I already know what the sixth means for the Tapestries and for Earth. I always put the cart before the horse.
Maybe I can help he said but I’m not sure I know either. I will see you in Touch.