In the eye of a fierce storm I came face to face with God on fire. Well, almost face to face. God burned Holy, and I didn’t even realize it at the time. Michael Meade and his mythopoetic work have weighed on my mind since I first encountered him over two weeks ago here in Washington State. I signed up for his intensive workshop on Saturday, December 5, 2009 over on Vashon Island, “The Holy Thread of Dreams: Mythic Imagination and the Dreaming Mind.”
My friend Michael Scott Brooks turned me on to him earlier this month, and it’s been a ride ever since as I’ve discovered this extraordinary mythopoetic teacher and storyteller literally right next door. Soul and Spirit danced and battled with each other beneath the sweeping glare of Science and Reason.
I awoke from a dream this morning, this dream:
“It felt long ago into the future, and it was past midnight on a cold autumn night. The Salish Sea was dark and stormy with chop. Our boat carried us through the waves across the waters. I sat in the boat with other people, others who felt familiar but whose faces I could not see in the darkness. Our boat was an old-fashioned rowboat, a dory, with an oil lantern fixed high upon the bow.
“We swung around the peninsula out of the wind and all was quiet. The waters were suddenly still and smooth as obsidian. Massive shoulders of blackness loomed off to my right – rocky bluffs thick with trees standing in the gloom.
“There in the shadows, floating in the bay was a massive temple glowing from the inside out as if lit up by inner bonfires. It was an enormous Native American lodge constructed from logs. This temple resembled a mountainous log cabin, rectangular, open on one side, and in some odd way reminded me of a Pagan Greek temple and in other ways a log version of a Native American tipi. Then I realized “tipi” wasn’t the right word, but “box.” The lodge was a gigantic medicine box. The entire structure floated upon the water and was anchored by ropes tied to huge boulders rolled overboard. We were about to go inside a huge medicine box.
“Fires blazed deep inside from a huge fireplace, so bright I could not peer directly into it. As if it was the Fire of the Divine itself. God on fire. The smoke of smudging filled the air with sage and cedar and yet the place didn’t feel smoky. People moved around and stood about in different indigenous garb. There were benches and levels and platforms, with everything designed to steer one’s attention toward a King upon a throne in the middle with steps leading up to it – except there was no King or Chief or Empress even and certainly no throne.
“Where one would expect to see a throne was the blinding fire blazing full out from the massive fireplace. The fire was so huge yet so contained as if all proportions were perfect in their design. Outside the lodge-temple all was black and cold. Inside a warm, reddish-yellow light played upon the log structure with the light of God blinding white. All these thoughts, feelings, observations, and opinions raced thru my mind in seconds, far less time than it takes me to recompose these dream images into written words.
“We rowed up to the lodge and drifted inside to dock – the front of the lodge was open to the water and cut out so our boat could moor under the high timber roof. We got out, all of us. I stood there upon the wooden platform in awe. There was complete silence other than the sound of the storm beyond the bay and the loud roar of fire. It all felt otherworldly and yet as real as holding a hot mug of coffee in my hands.
“There was deep, masculine energy emanating from many of the men I felt standing in a line before us. They lined the steps up to the fireplace. This masculine energy felt solid, silent, purposeful, clear, conscious, and they were in service to all the rest of us. Against the distant walls I saw female forms, women, and they appeared busy and full of hustle and bustle. No faces were clear to me. All faces were in shadow. I felt a deep sense of wonderment, awe, and a sense of mystery. I prepared myself to face the Divine. Deep inside the unity of fire I felt or rather sensed there was more than one, a collective. Within this dream I remembered an earlier dream that was more of an out-of-body experience into the Afterlife.
“What happened next? WHUMP! WHUMP! WHUMP! WHUMP! WHUMP! WHUMP!
“Damn! I woke up and turned off my alarm. It was 6:00 AM. Being hard-of-hearing I use an alarm clock with a pillow thumper, a vibrator placed inside my pillowcase against the mattress. Beats having a 100-watt light bulb plugged into a timer going nova above me and my beloved.”
A wave of disappointment welled up, and I cursed softly. Aw, Man, what a dream! This dream was going somewhere, too! Now I am contemplating this dream. A very rich dream. What does this dream mean? Was I awakening into being my own medicine? And God appeared liberated from all the shackles of human religion. And then I was awake, back in my body and back in my bed. What would have resulted, I wondered, if I had climbed the steps to face God burning?
I shared my dream in an email with the men in the current group facilitated by Michael Scott Brooks. We called him “Scott,” and he was an art therapist, counselor, storyteller, wilderness trip leader, and reader of poetry. As a member of the Mythsinger Consortium, founded by Daniel Deardorff another mythopoetic giant over on the Olympic Peninsula. Scott heeded Daniel and the Mythsingers’ call to restore “the wisdom of myth to culture and community.”
Scott wrote back, popped my ego, and challenged me to reconsider certain aspects of my dream.
From his email:
“Thank you for sharing your dream with us William,
If you like, you can bring it with you to the group tomorrow. But first, two things before you do: 1) the dream was for you. You are the dreamer, so be sure to consult yourself before you ask anyone else what the dream means. And, 2) rather than saying that the dream “was going somewhere,” I would suggest you consider the possibility it already went exactly where it intended to go. Don’t miss the point by focusing on what you think may have been missing.
Remember, dreams deal in the imaginal language of symbols … and this one has gifted you with several rich archetypes to contemplate. In that sense, the dream did its job well. The question is: what is your unconscious self trying to communicate to you through the use of these images? After all, they are the images you chose to give yourself in your dream. That is an interesting thing to ponder.
See you all here tomorrow evening. We still have a ritual to discuss … and who knows what other mysteries await?
Love and blessings,
(From his email sent “Tue 11/17/2009 11:29 PM”, quoted with his permission and edited for minor errors.)
And the drum beats on. Tomorrow arrives and we follow our souls into the darkness where light shines.
P.S. Nearly two and a half years later on March 9, 2012, I attended the Memorial Service for Kanucas Ken Littlefish Durant, Road Chief of the Native American Church, a gentle, fierce visionary of great depth, who welcomed my family and I into his NAC meetings and ceremonies. The service to honor him was held in the new longhouse built for the Suquamish Tribe on the Port Madison Indian Reservation. This sad but uplifting service was my first time inside this huge, 6,200 square-foot longhouse. It’s a majestic and expansive structure, beautiful, and integrated into its environment.
The longhouse sat at the head of a little harbor on the edge of Puget Sound, down from Miller Bay and up from Agate Pass. It opened to the public on March 10, 2009, the first Suquamish longhouse in 139 years. There were ramps that led from the water up the banks into the grass to the longhouse where gigantic gates could open up to allow passage into and outside the massive lodge.
Inside looked strangely familiar as a dim but growing awareness dawned upon me. Then I realized I felt as if I was back in that dream, the rectangular building with the rows of benches, so close to the water as to be almost touching it yet surrounded by trees (beyond the parking lots). It was an eerie synchronicity, especially as we honored the passing of a man broken in body but transcendent in spirit, a man who didn’t talk about God as much as he talked directly with God and with the spirits of all things.
One can read more about this longhouse and Suquamish history by at: http://www.nativevillage.org/Archives/2009%20Archives/APRIL%20News/April%202009%20News%20V1/New%20Longhouse%20Opens%20for%20Suquamish%20Tribe.htm, and in greater depth at: http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2009/mar/10/new-building-puts-tribe-in-touch-with-old-ways/. Both articles versions of the same by Kitsap Peninsula journalist Derek Sheppard.
My dream recedes into the past, leaving even more mystery in its wake. A few months after this I had an out-of-body experience or OBE, somewhat similar to NREs or near-death experiences except OBEs tend to be trauma-free. After a quick trip through a tunnel of sorts I found myself in the realm of what we call the Afterlife. There I encountered God.
My experience of God was unlike anything I’ve been prepared for in all my previous studies. Outwardly God was a gigantic whirl of blue-white fire swirling clockwise. It spun in such a way with jagged flames racing along the edge I was reminded of a spinning, circular saw blade. Inside or behind this whirling veil arose the sound of many voices. They were directed at me. Telepathically, too.
Instantly I got the message: God was a collective, a Divine Collective beyond human sexual gender, and as such “They” informed me while indeed blessed with powers beyond my comprehension, God had nowhere near the level of power and control attributed to It. In fact, they even laughed out loud, not at me but at the very idea God was all-powerful and all-knowing and aware of every thought and feeling arising in every living entity in every moment throughout the multiverse. They didn’t even want to be bothered with such tedium.
There was enormous emphasis placed by this Divine Collective on emanating and being extraordinary love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, grace, and mercy. It was strangely liberating. In less than a second I was back in my body and wide-awake.
I’ve yet to discover the meanings within the synchronicity of these events. My dream remains unforgettable, however, and perhaps I try too hard to discern meaning instead of simply surrendering to the experience experienced. The Gifts of one integrated wheel of spiritual fire unfold as they do. And so I sit and meditate, or kneel in prayer, or walk mindfully with all eyes present to the Gifts possible in every moment and my heart open with gratitude. Not all of the time, as I forget, but some of the time and more often as I practice the practice.
In the Spiral of Fire God burned Holy. For us.
William Dudley Bass
17 November 2009
29 March 2012
Daniel Deardorff and The Bridge of Breath at You can find out more here at: http://www.mythsinger.net/.
Daniel Deardorff and The Mythsinger Consortium at: http://www.mythsinger.net/.
Michael Meade and Mosaic Multicultural Foundation at: http://www.mosaicvoices.org/.
Michael Scott Brooks and Insight Art at: http://www.insightart.org/about.
From my Mythic Awakening period.
NOTE: This dream prose from my Mythic Awakening was originally published on my earlier blog, Cultivate and Harvest, on Tuesday 17 November 2009, at http://cultivateandharvest.blogspot.com/2009/11/dreaming-in-quiet-of-storm-as-god.html. Later it was revised and reposted here this March of 2012. Thank you.
Copyright © 2009, 2012, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.