Alice was back in Los Angeles. Carlos was back in Mexico. The children were still away. All was quiet. Alice and Clara sat in the enclosed garden eating a leisurely breakfast. Clara, still in her blue robe of bamboo fiber, was very quiet and somber. Even Alice’s presence in her angel like white Lanz nightgown did not seem to cheer her up. Clara sighed…a lot. Silence and sighs covered troubles of the heart.
Alice, finally tired of dramatic silence, asked “Well?” Clara looked at her startled and frozen like a deer caught in the headlights of a car. Her mind was focused on a time a few days ago when Carlos burst into her room. She had felt the intensity of his angered and passionate presence before he pushed her to her bed shouting “How could you…. you know that I love you. Isn’t that enough? Surely Ricardo told you of my situation.” His mouth covered hers. And Clara and Carlos melted into a turbulent oneness.
The present moment in the garden with Alice re-asserted itself. Poised, Alice continued “Did you read the stories I left you?”
Troubles of the Heart
“I looked at them briefly but with Carlos there, I was not able to have time to myself. He demanded my total attention. When we weren’t fighting, we were making love. There was almost nothing we did not do together. I felt joined at the hip and at the soul. I still feel that way. It’s a perfect co-dependent relationship.” Clara said unhappily.
“Not my favorite kind either,” Alice smiled a half smile filled with empathy. “I like the notion of inter-independent relating not to a symbiotic or co-dependent one. There is nothing like the freedom to be your own self and have time for yourself even around those you care about.
“Perhaps it would be best if I gave you an energy clearing when we are finished with breakfast. You appear to be in a karmic holding pattern. You and Carlos, no doubt, have had past-lives together. That possibility did not occur to me when you two first met. This is clearly not a casual affair.”
“No, it is not casual, nor like anything I have experienced so far in my life. My ex-husband and I met in University. We were compatible in temperament, we never argued. After the first six month the hot sex was over, never to return. By then I was pregnant and had our first child just before graduating with a B.A. from U.C.L.A. He was finishing up his MBA degree in business. By the time I was pregnant with my little one, Janey, it was apparent our life values were different. Nonetheless he has been very good to the children and me, as you know.
“I seem to be a bit of a throwback to the 60’s in terms of my environmental concerns and artistic interests. Do what you want from the heart is my philosophy. But Carlos takes the cake in the passion department. I am lost.”
“Not so lost, just still discovering yourself.” said Alice as she sipped her café con leche or was that café au lait, mused Alice. “Perhaps I better do that energy re-balancing now.”
Alice raised her hands, her palms towards Clara and closed her eyes. She saw the cloudiness above Clara’s head and sensed energy that was not hers around and attached to Clara. Alice called on the higher powers to clear and cleanse Clara aura of all that was not her. Then Alice continued bringing in all that was needed for Clara’s highest and best.
“How do you feel now, dear?” asked Alice. Clara was smiling, “Like a big grey cloud is no longer hanging over my head. I feel like myself, only more light filled. Will you teach me how to do that?
“Of course, I will, Clara but we must start again at the beginning with my work. You have been training with Ricardo and Pablo and now we must begin anew. Some of what I do will be familiar from the work you have done with them, other aspects quite different. It’s like two styles of drawing if you will. Two artists might paint the same tree differently. Modrian’s tree inspired abstract paintings look nothing like trees. You get my drift?”
“Yes, and your work, if I understand correctly, is about enlightenment? What does enlightenment mean?”
“Good question. I don’t know anyone with a concise answer. I will try…Enlightenment is about lightening up. In part, it is an on-going or unfolding process. You might say it is a never ending story…but of course it is the ‘story’ you must give up.
“Just as you were contracted emotionally and have been overly concerned about your relationship story with Carlos, you were just able to let go of it at least for a moment. This is an example of lightening up. “
“With your help…” murmured Clara
“Enlightenment is getting in touch with that which is permanent in you as well as everyone and everything else,” continued Alice, even as angelic energy and a sense of expanded consciousness enveloped both she and Clara. “It is the Oneness. The experience of this can be quite intense. But enlightenment is not an experience. It simply is.”
Clara sighed, “It sounds so mysterious.”
Alice closed her eyes as if she were receiving information from an invisible source.
“So many people go searching for enlightenment in the hopes that it will solve everything and give them everything they want. It does not quite work that way. What enlightenment gives you is enlightenment, a deeper, broader awareness. It can begin with a more internal consciousness of your body and/or levels beyond the physical.
“Some paint enlightenment in glorious colors,” glimmerings of stars seemed to appear in Alice’s now open eyes as she said “totally enhanced states of consciousness beyond what I would call social reality. Awakening experiences of this nature do happen.” She smiled. “They are not permanent. Some people chase these so called spiritual highs, going from guru to guru, lover to lover.
“And yes, sexuality is a doorway to the Divine. It is only the doorway. Enlightenment happens when you no longer exist. No one there; the ego, the story have disappeared. The dancer becomes the dance; the finger points to the moon.”
What Alice shared sounded even more mysterious and enticing to Clara. Though she had heard some of this before, Clara still did not quite get ‘it’. ‘Maybe I never will,’ thought Clara.
“Enlightenment is impossible to understand with the mind. Yet most everyone have had self- actualized moments in their lives. Moments, when looking at a flower or perhaps a cabbage, becomes not an object but simply something beautiful. One merges with the beauty, just as looking into the eyes of your beloved allows you in some way to merge”
Alice closed her eyes again and spoke the words of an invisible voice.
“Language is a barrier…at times. Yet when you hear the truth, it is palpable; you know…yet again no-one there, simply the truth.
“We live in paradox. The world is real and also does not exist. Yet we must live as if the world were real and know that it is also not real, that other dimension and levels of reality also exist and are impacting us.
“What we believe determines how we perceive and how we react emotionally. You might as Carlos said feel the reality of his love for you but for the moment it does not fit your picture of what a love relationship looks like.
“If you were aware that nothing lasts forever except the no thing of enlightenment you might be quite happy with Carlos. And also I am not saying you should look at the situation any differently than you are doing in this moment. There is no ‘should’ in this….”
Clara started crying and laughing all at the same time. It was as if the hearing of what Alice said cut to the core of her being and another level of release was taking place. Years of conditioning seemed to shatter and fall away from her psyche. And suddenly she was the moon to Carlos’ sun.
Alice let Clara cry…and went and made some camomile tea.
Later that day as the evening darkened into night, Alice and Clara sat in the living room. Alice began to relate the stories of her younger friends and students in Montreal. “Doesn’t seem you will have time to read the stories so let me tell you about the women my Montreal coven if you will. You may one day meet them.”
“This first story about Anna, I will call it ‘The Alley’, it goes like this….”
She was walking down a back alley in the middle of town. One street lamp illuminated the fall of glistening snow. Anna could barely see beyond the blur of snowflakes. She trudged the dimly lit alley; the wind blew a small scrap of paper against her parka. It was an old flyer announcing psychic readings. Anna, muffled against the snow and wind, clutched the flyer in a mitten. Under the street light, she read the contents which seemed to waver before her eyes: “Madame Jeanne tells all,” it said in French, “Introductory Offer just $25!”
Anna arrived at home. She checked her voice mail but there were none. Anna fed the cat and made herself tea in her favorite blue chipped cup. She sat in her bed, the duvet piled like soft snow around her. It was warm and comfy but something in her felt sad and anxious. “It’s the same old thing,” she thought to herself, “my lover isn’t in love with me; I’m short on cash and my life is going nowhere. And this keeps happening,” she prayed for guidance. There was only silence.
The telephone rang, it was her friend Carly. “I went to see this psychic, Madame Jeanne. You have to see her. She mentioned your name and said she had a message for you.”
“That’s odd, I found a flyer this evening with her name on it when I took a short cut home. I don’t know what made me go down a dark alley at that time of night but Montreal is usually safe. Guess, I felt the call of darkness, my life seems to have hit a real stuck place…perhaps I should go see her.”
Madame Jeanne gave her readings in a building on Mount Royal, several doors down from an overpriced greasy spoon called Beasties or Les Betes in French. Anna went up to the third floor of the warehouse space and found a grey metal door marked 302. Her knocking was answered by woman in her fifties, long black hair and hooked nose. “Well she looks the part,” thought Anna.
The shapeless woman with the dark intense eyes looked at her. “You’re late.”
“Isn’t it just five past one?” This wasn’t the greeting Anna expected.
“Why don’t you come in.” Madame led the way into an almost empty room, sunlight flooding through the large rain and dirt marked windows. Two folding chairs were set up next to a small wooden table covered by a piece of white fabric. “Please sit down. You are Carly’s friend, a very nice young woman. What can I do for you? I sorry my English not so good.” The woman paused waiting for Anna to respond. Anna, however felt anxious and just wanted to take in the situation for a moment.
“Is this your studio? Do you paint?” She asked buying time.
“Yes,” said the psychic without disclosing anything further. “How can I help you?”
“Carly said you had a message for me and I have been feeling stuck. So I came to hear what you might have to say.”
“I tune into my guides,” Madame Jeanne closed her eyes and then said “You have a deep capacity for essence energies but also you holding ideas, judgement which not serving you. You need to let go of fear because that how you create it. You need trust life.”
“But I don’t know what I am doing,” answered Anna, “I keep creating the same pattern over and over.”
“It not about doing, it about being. You ask yourself, what is life asking me?”
“I don’t understand,” said the bewildered Anna. She thought she was here to get some positive information like a lucky lottery number or told a tall dark stranger was coming into her life. She did not expect a sermon.
“It not much about understanding; it more about experiencing and trusting whatever happening to you, is perfect in this moment. And confusion is good. Not knowing excellent. There are no certainties. Future never certain that I help you find what is possible if you willing. Let me clear aura.” Madame held her left hand above Anna’s head while right hand radiated light energy which sent shivers up and down Anna’s spine.
Anna the found herself closing her eyes and feeling a vibrational shift her being.The tension at the back of her neck released.
“How does that feel?” asked Madame.
“I feel much better, thank you, as if my problems are less serious, less overwhelming.
“What was your message for me?”
I sensed through your friend Carly, you in trouble.You need to trust, god has a purpose for you. And it will be known. We look at cards.” Madam unwrapped a deck of Tarot.
Anna’s long fingers shuffled the cards, feeling a tingle as if the cards were alive. She chose six cards.
Madame took them and laid the cards out. “You chose ‘Queen of Swords’ to mean yourself. It signify wise person but one often alone. Accept aloness, it necessary for art. You are artist?”
“Yes,” murmured Anna
Madame continued, “What challenges you is ‘queen of cups’ or some say hearts. You have many desires, longings and feelings you want to fulfill, perhaps too many. But true issue it is six of disks, fulfilling your destiny as artist.
“In past you have three of swords.” Anna looked at the image of three swords piercing a heart. “This disappointment and therefore cause sorrow. It time to let go and let new energies in. You worthy of love. First look to loving self.
“This means taking care of your body, what to feed it, exercise to take, and being playful, and fun, must have fun! It also mean be responsible for thoughts and emotions.This most difficult because you feel anything you think or feel is OK. That it real. What you no realize you identify with your thoughts and feelings, you creating mood. Child in you is having tantrums and needing attention. Need to learn to nurture not indulge.
“Take care of self and also grow up. Identify with awareness, that part is always well. It is part connected to spirit, the invisible way.
Madame paused for a moment, “My English little better now,” She smiled and almost alien grimace, “Perhaps guides helping.”
Madame looked again at the tarot. “Influence of moment is ‘sun’ which means creativity. It is positive card. Much will be accomplished at this time.”
Immediate outcome is ‘moon’, meaning revelation through dream states and events you are yet unaware…. solutions coming. Trust in god and go on with your painting. Let life live you. Truly have faith. Madame closed her eyes when she opened them she glanced at the clock sitting on the table. “It late now past 2: 30pm, we finish.”
Anna was startled. The time had moved so quickly.
“Is there anything else?”
“No, I don’t think so.” Anna’s mind was blank .
Anna walked home as yet another snowfall began, the world had darkened yet her steps felt curiously light. The answering machine was blinking when she arrived, there were messages waiting. Her cat, Puss came to greet her. Her heart was lighter though outwardly nothing had changed.
Alice sighed…then Clara spoke “Madame sounds like you in East European clothing.”
“Well, I did learn a lot from Madame Jeanne. And I am telling the story. And it is true,” Alice’s eyes sparkled “There was a time when I was into shape changing, however Madame Jeanne was real. She and Neelam taught me a great deal about the Tarot Keys.”
“What do you mean keys?”
“The Tarot are keys to consciousness. Each of the major arcana, picture cards, represent a Hebrew letter. Each letter in the Hebrew alphabet represents a state of awareness. The same is true for Sanskrit; each of its 52 letters represents an aspect of consciousness. You can unfold your spirituality by embodying and meditating on the letters of these languages or the Tarot.”
“Oh! I did not know that.” Clara delighted by this revelation clasped her hands in childlike happiness just as her daughter Janey might. Alice pulled a deck of Tarot from her pocket and flipped over the first key, the Fool, the image of a young man seemingly about to step off a cliff. “This is letter Aleph, it represents Ruach, the life breath. Gaze at the card, this is a kind of meditation, in the East they call it Tratack. There aspirants meditate on pictures of their spiritual gurus. Take a few minutes just to be with this card and then when you are ready close your eyes and see what happens.”
Clara drank in the colors of the key. She had never seen a deck quite like this one. It was hand painted much like a child’s coloring book. The image was clearly one from the early part of the last century. Clara barely closed her eyes as a vision subsumed her. She found herself floating off the cliff into the emptiness beyond. The little dog in the picture barked from high above as her mind chattered ‘this can’t’ be happening’. Down and down she floated through clouds and rain, and streams of sunlight penetrating through the dark emptiness. She landed with a thud back in her body.
“What happened?” asked Alice, although she clearly already knew. Clara described her experience. “What does it mean?”
“What does it mean to you?” replied Alice
“The whole experience was like watching a movie only I was the awareness perceiving it and also not wanting to believe it. Also I felt a lightness of being beyond anything I have ever experienced.”
“Very good! Why not take this Key and meditate on it when you wake in the morning. More will reveal itself to you. You have just begun your esoteric studies in Western Mysticism. It too is a path to enlightenment.
“Ricardo and Pablo have had you traveling in the astral plane, perceiving other places and events happening elsewhere.The Tarot is also another type of traveling but up the planes of consciousness or in this instance down into manifestation, the world of matter. This is all happening on the screen of consciousness. Pay attention to the awareness of consciousness.”
“I don’t quite understand and also I will do what you ask,” sighed Clara. She sat back on hot pink velvet couch. Then she turned to Alice and asked “So how did you meet Anna?”
“She came to study with me not long after her meeting with Madame. In fact, Madame referred her.”
“Anna is a well known artist and a part of my inner plane coven.”
“You used the word coven to describe your group. Are you a witch?”
“No,” responded Alice, “though some have called me that. We just needed a name and since we are all women traveling on the pathless path, we decided on Satsang Coven, or coven for short.” Alice smiled and angels of light surrounded her on the inner plane.
“Tell me one last story and then I will go to bed. I feel just like Janey wanting a bed time story,” Clara laughed “When you tell these adventures, I see all the images like I am watching a movie not quite as intense as my vision. It feels like I am almost there…and yet as you would say I am only the awareness of the movie and always here.”
“Very good, again my dear! You are a fast learner. Ok, I will tell you a story about a woman I thought of as the Princess of the North and save the magical ones for later.”
“Magical?” Clara’s ears and eyes became alert.
“It goes like this” said Alice ignoring Clara’s interest in magic.
Marie-Andrée was a dancer who embodied the goddess but in those days was not so lucky in matters of the heart. I remember Marie-Andrée telling me how she sat in a small café, tears running down her cheeks. The man beside her ignored her tears. Finally, Marie-Andrée gathered up her coat and said “Perhaps we will talk later,” though the dark lump in her belly said “no…not ever.”
She left and walked to her dance studio where she could set aside her vulnerability and once again feel like the Goddess incarnate. Here she could be a dark haired Kali/Tara, a Buddha, come alive, breathing new meaning into mudra, the spontaneous dance of the Divine. She enveloped herself in the archetypal passion of the dance. She became warrior woman taking large and lunging steps, body bared in the thinnest of leotards.
Marie-Andrée was a woman of skill, intelligence and uniqueness; underneath the power was a little girl. “Are women always little girls beneath their competence and Art?” Are we, am I going to eternally pretend to need a man to take care of me. Is there no growing up?” mused Marie-Andrée as she felt her hurt and insecurity. “I don’t know,” she answered herself, moving her hands delicately and sensually across her lap. She looked into the mirror in the dance studio. She was alone but the voices inside her, like the energy which moved through, pushed her to the limits of her research, her art, her life.
Marie-Andrée did Isadora proud; she traveled the city streets in her fake leopard skin coat and towering conical hat, booted and piled high with scarves. A symphony of wind and snow swirled. Marie-Andrée walked and dreamed, such is the way of artists.
She dreamed that she was young again, a child and four or five. Marie-Andrée remembered wearing a pink tutu, nothing could be further from her attire today. She remembered how she’d love to watch rain drops and motes cast by the sunlight streaming through the window of her childhood bedroom. It seemed to her that she passed through the window of consciousness to another dimension as if the raindrops made this possible. She became the child always watching within her, the child who moved with the elements, a princess of light and sound who today was trudging through a landscape of snow. It was always snowing in Montreal, city of Winter.
Marie-Andrée came back to herself. She remembered feeling so inadequate and ugly as a child, a child was never able to please, to make things right. She could never make the mother happy when her father left and she could never make her lover truly happy. “Can anyone make another happy,” the voices whispered. ”One needs to want to heal oneself and let the love in. You were not responsible.”
“But I felt responsible”, Marie-Andrée thought.
“How do I hold the love away from myself ?” she asked.
“Now that’s the real question,” the voices said and the wind blew snow tornadoes down the street.
Suddenly Marie-Andrée stood before her house. The window was open, the snow blew inside. She climbed through the window. The house had been robbed. The goddess cried to lose her lover and her belongings in one day. And still the window of conscious hung open. “Let go,” said the voices. The wind swept through the house. Marie-Andrée called the police and a carpenter from down the street. She went through the house a witness, remote and numb, pencil and paper in hand. She noted the losses, they were small electronic equipment easy to pawn. The robbery was probably done by a junkie. It wasn’t her lover of the past year gone with her heart but not her possessions.She was glad he was gone and it hurt.
“Relationships, do they always resolve into pain and co-dependency? Will I always want to make it better for some man who can’t feel his feelings except when he is angry?”
“Who loves but is too trapped in himself to really care about you?” the voices said, “such is the paradox of life.”
“Aren’t we all trapped by our limitations?” asked Marie-Andrée.
“A few have other possibilities,” chimed in the voices.
The doorbell rang, the police arrived. Drawn back into the present, Marie-Andrée answered their questions. The doorbell rang again. It was the carpenter.They were all gone within an hour.
Marie-Andrée sat by her kitchen window, the one which was not boarded up. She hugged herself tight. Marie-Andrée knew she was beautiful, bright and alive. She valued herself. And she knew she would love again, just not now.
A dance unfolded in her vision, of lovers wandering a desolate field, meeting and leaving without meeting. She saw herself appear on the stage, goddess, weaver of fates. She wove threads of connection between the dancers with her movements, bringing them closer into a dance of life, into a rite of rebirth. It was snowing outside the kitchen window, her heart was frozen. She sat there a long time.
The Whole Truth
The next morning as they had their coffee and Clara waited for her children to return, Clara commented “I love your stories Alice. When you speak, it really is like watching a movie. The women you spoke about last night, they seemed to have essentially the same issues…and they both were losers who picked themselves up.”
“It’s true. One needs to lose in order to find, the deeper truth, the truth about Self.”
“What you said about enlightenment. That wasn’t the whole truth…?”
“How can anything be the whole truth. It was the one that needed to be spoken in that moment.”
“Alice, you live in many worlds. Are you fully self-realized?”
“I don’t think anyone is fully self-realized. It is a matter of glamour. The Glamour of what others believe. Although there aren’t levels of enlightenment, there are degrees of call it insight. In a way it can be anything you want it to be.”
“What do you mean?”
“There is a level of pure awareness where everything is perfect as it is. Where nothing need change, yet change is always happening.”
“You seem to be speaking in riddles.”
“Everything is truth, the all is in everything. And also we live in paradox.
“And you Ms. Alice are a magical creature, unlike anyone I have ever met or perhaps will ever meet.”
Alice smiled and the angel’s danced around her eyes.
A horn honked outside and the children came running into the house. A chaos of sound ensued as both Janey and Kevin proceeded to talk at the same time, hugging and kissing their mother and Alice. Pedro came in with them and hung back with a smile on his face.
“No problems?” asked Alice. “None at all,” responded the bronzed skinned young man.
“Hmmm,” responded Alice suddenly sensing danger.
“You know Clara, it might just be the right time to travel to Mexico with the kids. There are three weeks before school starts and this would be just the right time for a visit South to visit Ricardo and Carlos.”
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