HALF SHAMAN, HALF STATESMAN
Dreamed 1986/4/21 by Chris Wayan
I'm sitting in a waiting room, uneasy. I have to tell my therapist Don the dream where he interrogated me. It's time. I sweat black aura stuff. Motor oil. See, it's my first real criticism of him. Oh, my conscious complains, but that doesn't go deep--I have to resist some, this is therapy! It'd discourage him if I didn't--like a gamefish that won't fight, lying passive in the surface glare. A dead fish, ugh. No fight implies your shrink can't reach you--it's rude.
(Rude? Only now do I notice that Silky, my spirit guide (she appears as a black mare in my dreams) is saying this. She's using feminine flirtation etiquette! "Resistance is interest... it invites."
"I didn't realize you played those games." I say. "You're always so direct with me."
She chuckles in my throat. "I learned in high school by watching the girls you sat near, and touching their auras. You were too shy to, so I did. Some of them felt me, but they didn't connect me with you--wrong gender. I use their stuff sparingly--they often used it to hurt, and I can't: we'd get sick. But you need to encourage Don right now, and slapping him with that dream will help. He's off track--feelings aren't the key to you."
"Feelings aren't the key?" I repeat amazed she came out and said that. I sense that myself, but it's so heretical to my hippie subculture that I want reassurance.
"Come on. I'm your body and I want to be free--to play and fuck and feel good--and not get sick! You know perfectly well I agree with you about giving in to your feelings. You did for years til you were a catatonic doormat. He'd let your feelings take up all our time here, when your body's health and accepting your psychic dreams are top priority. But you need to show him some real fight, to teach him your issues matter!"
"Thanks. I think. You are sneaky."
"No, sneaky people work at subtlety. I just am subtle. I am a genius like you." Says a black mare in my head.
Well. Even if she was joking a bit, I'd better criticize Don. I do feel grilled and reduced to banality. Can I make clear what my deep self felt he did? Or did I do it? Ripping and stripping a psychic, a unicorn, looking for plain talk about a sexual object, the earthy simplicity of my underlying feelings. When feelings aren't even what attract me in the first place. Bodies and auras do. (As if those are two things! Stupid culture. Who built this language anyway?)
So I read him the interrogation dream. I play it out, with voices. Just before the climax I realize I'm not going to tell him all the ending. Rising in me is another teller. The Centaur delivers the punchline. "And the Detective pushed the psychic again and in a flash one image got through. It was a horse's ass!" Boffo. End of monolog.
"Ah, you're horsing around" Don laughs. He likes the Centaur's humor and masculine ease with crudity. But that lets me hide from Don the private side of the dreamjoke--that the image was not a refusal to answer a jerk, but a wickedly specific sexual answer that went over his head. Pointing to issues I suppress with Don still: I want a unicorn. Not a fantasy, but real magic that I'm building dream by dream. And sexually, it hides what he'll see as bestiality, a perversion--when she was no animal. Unicorns (and I write from experience; I've met a few) are people. Healers, in fact, rather like shamans. I want a girl like me. Not a human girl. A unicorn.
Who my interrogator didn't even recognize as real. I'm realizing that despite all the goodwill in the world I can't trust Don. Not that he's dishonest... just limited. By his science, his masculinity--his humanity.
That evening, I drive south to...
My friend Belle Orinoco and her au pair Nicole invited me to see the Violent Femmes. Nicole says they're big in Europe; she can't believe we could see them for ten bucks. I'm amazed to find Rob Whiteson is also coming. I didn't know he was into this kind of music! But then, I'm going just to see the circus.
Parking lot of One Step Beyond. San Jose industrial desert, romantic as deserts are. Barb wire for cactus, jets across the warm, muddy moon. The line is a punk costume carnival. In at last. A matte black cave. Crepe vomit décor. The hanging refrigerators are cute. Where's the band? Ear-piercing disco.
An hour later, my ticket is rolled into earplugs. Where's the band?
Management comes out at last. "Sorry folks, we hadda bomb threat from the Moammar Kadafy Liberation Front."
"Yeah, sure!" yells the crowd.
"The cops hadda search blah glub. Crackle band delayed fooba foobah nothin' found. If you wabble leave, we'll refmmmm yer ticket. Or you can stay, and FUCK THAT BASTARD KADAFY!" Cheers and fists and whistles as the punkers boo the tyrant who blows up rock and roll. Or is that Khomeini? Who cares? The kids without tickets who did it and the owners who lied to us for over an hour are off the hook. Blame the Arabs! I thought punkers saw through this kind of shit.
Oh well, here comes the band.
Rob's eyes bug up big as the machinegun rhythm and garbletalk ricochet around him. Appalled. I laugh. What else could they open up with? People have to dance off some of their anger. I do.
Dance. Free to be ugly. Oven heat. Smear ice cubes on my head. Exhausted, at last, I find Belle's table in back. She introduces her shy cousin Rocky. He's on the staff. Her relatives call him crazy, but his aura is just terribly fragile.
The girls look wild, intimidating me till I see they're mostly high school kids playing dress up. They dance on the tables like sixties gogo birds. I feel no inner pressure to talk to anyone or to be shy for once. Just fun to watch, and realize I feel safe in this environment, as Rocky does. I feel solid here: not unicorn but Centaur! People get so mad that American tolerance creates such scuzzy culture, but they have it backwards. Scuzz creates tolerance.
How cheering the low quality of the band is! Says "You can do this too!" My ideas are better than theirs and with synths you don't need hand skills so much any more. They prove that! Their best numbers aren't hard to do. I can get my message across as a musician. And I may! Shamanism to a punk beat, why not?
It's 2 A.M. and I danced my brains out and I was in smoke and noise and heat and strangers and as I fall asleep I feel great...
I come from Safandsania. They still call it a democracy. The repression was so gradual we all took it for granted. All the crazies, all the random killers... it seemed so necessary to monitor mental health. Now you dare not look eccentric--your neighbors'll turn you in. The strain of feigning "normality" is what drives the crazies crazy, but then, psycops, like anyone, can learn to like power.
I'm in the shaman underground, fighting for the abolition of the Sanity Law. But we lack experience as guerillas, and history's no help: guerilla wars and other inSanities of history have been Sanitized--they don't want borderliners to get unhealthy ideas out of library books!
So the Shaman Elders sent me worldhopping, through the Gates of Possibility, to learn how other groups fight totalitarians, and how free people live--how we could structure a post-sane society. If we live to.
Not too far from our time-branch is a Tree-crotch, a junction, a bus station world. Gates everywhere! Society here's not so repressive as mine, but still ramocentric: the doors to Maybe, under every rock and eye, are denied. They think time is a line. A single lonely line.
Glad I'm just passing through--heading for a clandestine Gate to a placetime called Shaman's World, where I'm scheduled to do some advanced study.
A bright sky over the Steep-Hilled City. Driving over and down fierce terrifying grades. Carved wood facades, painted pastel colors like cakes. A Bay shimmers to the east; the gray, whalish fog clouds to the west hide the sea. My friend's driving. Eight feet tall, in a monk's robe. I don't know his true name; I call him Robe. The hood hides his face. I can't really mind his secrecy, given my own job. Besides, I trust his aura. Shamans have to. It's what's real.
I follow my friend's silence down to the City docks. The Bay ferry to Little Willow is revving its engines, a buffalo sort of sound. We rush through the ticket gates and barely make it on. It's sunny, a slight white haze from former morning fog, and Impressionist light is everywhere. I and my friend Robe see a huge coffiny steamer trunk on the starboard deck next to a snowbearded little bald man in a full lotus. Into my mind creeps the word "Nosferatu"... Could it really be a vampire coffin?
The bald guru is reading the Chronicle comics page. He laughs and laughs at Farley, where Baba Rebop's conning a couple of tourists in the City, and Doonesbury, where Uncle Duke is being shipped back from Haiti in a crate to be de-zombied.
Folks in white loose pants, purple sashes and green socks appear from the forecastle, embarrassedly ignoring each other, pretending rather ineptly to be colleagues of some related sect. Hoppers or agents from many branches, by their looks. They hover around trying to get a peek in the coffin crate.
But the little man's not so easy to con. He says "My coffin's upset you; I'm sorry. Didn't mean to remind everyone of death on such a fine Impressionist day. I'll cover it up." And he does, with a big opaque tarp. And sits on top, giggling at the funnies, while gulls spin round us all like bits of newspaper in the City winds.
A big cue card appears. Scene change! Oh. Okay. Dumb scene anyway. Someone else's journey. (Much later I wonder if it was just that--someone else's dream I blundered into.)
The card, though, is in the script used on Shaman's World; I wish the management had the good sense to use letters I know. It's my dreamlesson, isn't it? They're like Gothic capitals: decorative tangles. Printing must still be rare there: typesetters would go crazy, or smooth them out fast. A few squiggles repeat in patterns that match common words, and my bloodhound brain, lured by its favorite scent, starts chasing meaning. A minute or two later, having deduced 'scene', "the', and probably 'letter', I notice a change of light, and mist beads the characters.
I'm squatting in fog. The wood signpost leans up out of a damp sandbank littered with brown shaggy bark like bear hair. Strawberry runners of red and green wrap the sea-dunes around me like ribbons around Christmas gifts... small bursts of strawb-leaf bows. At the edge of my fog-radius, columns of slate-blue shadow twist, solider than the skinny pines that cast them. The unseen sea booms faintly under all, like a distant jet. Unmistakable. This is Teachers' World! Made it.
Leaving my shoes--here we bare our soles--I follow the steep trail down into the trees to stable ground, Robe's feet behind me shushing through the sand. White canvas pyramids of students' tents appear, and the the Lodge.
Miesel, the head Teacher, is old, with a broad face, a loud voice, and frizzy white Einstein hair. I'm shy with her because I've never read her famous biography of the founder of our shaman's resistance. Copies of DREAMRIDER are hard to get--all worldhopped. Forced Therapy if they catch you with one!
Soon I settle in. My class schedule's heavy:
- Dawn: A Shaman's Responsibilities, with Master Miesel
- Mornings: Look and See with Master Dillard, under the Tree With The Lights In It
- Afternoon: Facing One's Power, with Raederle and Morgon McKillip
- Night: homework. I must try to lucidly shape my undream life. Lucid undreaming.
I find it hard. I'm a natural time-branch hopper, but self-taught: in my culture, the tradition's suppressed.
My Teacher is shocked at my ineptitude. "What are they sending me these days?" Each of the others was a shaman's top student; any of the Australians or Tibetans can hop rings around me. I struggle to remember her experience is filtered: she's taught no beginners in years. I can learn, and I am--I just started way behind. And I don't need to be a virtuoso; my goal is hybrid. These specialists can't do what I'll have to, back home. I was sent because I showed some grasp of politics and science, and some talent in spirit journeys. Politics and truesight don't intersect much in my world, alas.
Scene card! Hey, it's clearer. The letters are streamlining! The more they use them, the more functional they get. "Just as dreams do for us!" I think. "It's nice to see their branch can learn from ours too." This sign begins with a quote from
From the x-y-y-x patterns inside both name and date, I finally deduce it's "Jefferson" and 1771". Author of the Bill of Rights, of course they'd love him! Wonder what this quote is? I can't untangle it.
Again I lose myself in the patterns, until I notice they're solid now, a wood structure like a jungle gym. Or the framework of a small stable. I think of that because I hear a horse neigh out in the mist. I lie in the crook of Jefferson's J (actually one of the four curlicues it still has in Otherian) about eight feet off the ground, my arms and legs dangling, like a lazy cheetah on a hot day. I wonder if my friend Robe has mastered his assignment: to overcome his phobia of horses, and learn to ride.
His mare coalesces, sleek coalblack, from the mist. Robe lounges on her back, as lazy as me on my Jefferson's J. The invisible sun nearly burns through as we talk in the white warmth of noon.
He's returning to his world on assignment soon. Feels sad that he'll probably revert to his phobia, though. Dream riding takes regular practice, and he says he can't take Nightmare along.
"Why not?" I say. "Besides, you can find one there."
"There is no mare there." he says, mangling some Earth writer. Oh, that dyke from Oakland, what's her name? A rose is a rose... "No horses in my world at all. That's why I can't bring her along. They'd know right away our shaman society's been worldhopping."
"What'll you do with her then?"
"Give her to you, if you'll take her. Your assigned world has horses; you're in an American West, right?"
"Well... yes. Not the century you're thinking of, but close enough I guess."
"Well... all right. I'm honored that you trust me. I'm not sure how to care for a Nightmare. I'll try."
It'll be soon. We've graduated. Though I'd be happy to train forever in the mist, it's time for us to go home and do our jobs.
Safandsania, Late 20th, American West, Palo Alto. The café complex on California Avenue, a block from the office of the shrink I see in undreams--not a cop, they're nearly powerless freelance healers on that branch.
We rent one of the little shoplets here, open the first franchis branch of Shamanetics, Inc. The fact it's next to a fro-yo parlor, a singles' network and a weight-loss center is a big plus. We're bourgeois, fatuous, harmless. Really. Don't pay us any attention.
I'm excited. My Teacher is leaving her misty world to come visit us! It's dangerous; the government can and will crush us without any constitutional qualms if they find we're a panchronic guerrilla net, not the mallish bottomfeeders we seem. And my teacher's not used to operating in territories under materialist occupation. She may get us all cured!
At last she appears from the Graffiti Grotto, the drippy tunnel under the railroad tracks that links California Avenue with the rest of town. She wobbles along on her one-speed bicycle, her customary mode of interworld perambulation. I pace alongside as she slides slowly by several cafés and extension classrooms. We talk; I'm hushed cautious and whispery, and she's loud and easy. She worries me. Two high school girls in a doorway straw-sucking Cokes eye us and whisper. They may overhear shaman talk! If they gossip about us, the authorities might...
"You seem nervous." says Miesel, mildly.
"We have to be careful, you mustn't..." and then I hear the Safandsanity in my voice. They get to you!
We pass the girls and I notice--I wouldn't have, a minute ago--that Master Miesel speaks privately enough when others really are near, but reverts to her carefree roar as soon as we're past. She's practical, but unlike me, she won't let them inhibit her permanently!
The smaller girl watching us has a big magenta scarf that trails down and tucks into her waist, pulling in her shirt so her little pointy breasts stand out. She looks me up and down, and in the eyes, and murmurs to her friend. My ears redden to match her scarf. (Silky says "It's not just the scarf, her bangs make her stare so sexy--you could try that style." Thanks for trying to give me a sense of control over her power, but I really feel naked! "Of course you do--she's awfully cute and she's looking at us not old Weasel Miesel, and I want to go lick her even if you're scared.") Magenta Scarf pokes her tall friend in the shiny green jacket--together they look like a tropical bird with a double straw-beak. Their auras are sort of bleary though: I think it's from too many food additives. They've got to quit eating mall food!
"You're embarrassed." giggles my Teacher. "Think I laugh like a horse's ass, eh?"
"No, no, it's something else..." I say, but I don't tell her what. I still can't. ("True" says Silky sadly. "But you can work toward it. Play with smaller fears?" I laugh. She's right as usual.) So I tear apart the psychology of our local dictatorship for Miesel. To my surprise, sharp bon mots pop out. Free speech! My usual invisibility has a price: I lose me, too.
I'm looking forward to seeing my Teacher meet her first Animal People here--my friends and colleagues in the underground. Teacher's World was all humans, surprising me. I wonder how she'll relate.
Later that afternoon, while she's with the Branch Office people, I'm having a siesta in the little garden behind our Center. Banks of moss, red hot pokers. A rubythroat hovers in its metal-green jacket, sips the columbines, little black eye staring at me. As with the girls sipping sweetness, iridescent-breasted, I'm shyed by beauty and don't breathe. It roars straight up, VVVVVVVV! and is gone... Sleepy. Garden needs work... salt water intrusion from the Bay Slough will stunt the roots if I don't irrigate better. Sloughs of despond. Salt tears. I kneel between tomatoes and plan fresh water channels.
Ariane slips up between the pokers and the four o'clocks, the little magenta clock flowers woven in her hair like a Queen of the May. She beams "I want to give you this... I really like you!" And hands me a glowing yellow... Frisbee.
But--it's mine, from the shed! Or just like the one I never use... I force a smile and a "Thanks." Damn nonunicorns, giving me what I already have... Now, wait! Is she my body thanking me for our date at One Step Beyond? But--a Frisbee?
The garden fades. Oh go ahead and think--too late now! I'm undream bound.
The difference between unicorn and horse... I don't fear unicorns--women with the same unworldly third eye or whatever that I rely on--it's all these just-plain-horses that scare me!
Learn to ride mares? Sex. To care for horses? Love. Scary--but I do love Arianes! They just feel so awkward... when they give me warmth that feels... like a substitute. A toy I have, instead of the spirit gifts I need. The Frisbee I already own... but don't use! What IS that Frisbee?
Is it playfulness she tried to give me?
I'm starting to wonder... did she, do they see my disappointment? How I must hurt people!
Horses can also mean body instinct, and riding, trusting that wise beast that carries me to and from the material world and... the others.
Hmmm. My caution with sex and power does have the same root! The two notions have guilty squeamishness in common--worry about misusing that horse.
UNICORN TAG is a set of dreams of hoofed animal teachers who dragged me (kicking and screaming!) past simple dreamwork into shamanism. 1: The Deer Party 2: Ariane's Honeymoon 3: Everest Marathon 4: Who'll Be My Love? 5: Dreamrider 6: Half Shaman, Half Statesman 7: 8 To A Horn 8: Black Magic 9: Misfits On Mars
LISTS AND LINKS:
my anima/spirit guide, Silky - therapy - music - Silicon Valley - letting go - world-hopping - other worlds - school dreams - shamanism - mentors - McKillip, Patricia - Miesel's Dreamrider - a 2nd dream influenced by Annie Dillard: Cosmologist - horses - I'm married to Ariane - love - giving - play - pure digital art
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