Friday, 29 April 2016

War in an age of innocence: 10

Link to Chapter 1

All the elation that he had felt about finding the stone circle was gone. Even worse was the realization that he had been wrong. He had focused so much on finding the right way and had never worried about the possibility that Kala would not be there waiting for him. He felt truly lost. It was not the circle that he been seeking, it was Kala. How could he have been so wrong? He remembered again what Vara had told him; that the answers lay in and beyond his fears, but he had no fear of not finding Kala, so how could he face what he had not experienced? He thought about the other thing that Vara had told him: “Trust in the Oneness”. There, in front of him, was the stone circle. It was the nearest point to the centre of the universe, the Oneness from which they had all come.

He walked into the centre of the circle and stood there. He did not know what he was supposed to do and found himself just lamenting his situation. This could not be right, lamentation can take place anywhere, and he did not need a stone circle in which to feel bad! He felt angry with himself for wallowing in his own misery and tried to drive such thoughts from his mind. He remembered something about the quietness that he should experience in the centre of the circle. He remembered something about the original pairs. Could Kala be the other half of his pair? This was no good, he had stopped feeling sorry for himself, but now he was just trying to figure things out by remembering all that he had been told. This was not experiencing the quietness.

He walked out of the circle. He felt that he had no right to be there and that he was perhaps doing damage to this sacred place by filling it with his rambling thoughts and doubts. He just had to pull himself together. Facing his doubts, yes, that would be the first step. He walked around the circle and thought about how he had no doubts that Kala would be there, waiting for him. He knew that she would be there, that was why he had no doubts. What room can there be for doubts when one knows. Feeling this sense of certainty, regardless of what his eyes had told him, regardless that his calls went unanswered, he entered the circle again. Kala will be there!

He stood at the centre of the circle again. He had no thoughts but he could feel. He felt as if the wind was passing right through his body. He felt that the space that his body occupied was getting bigger. He seemed to fill the circle, then the plateau. He felt as big as the universe itself. Suddenly, he knew he was at the centre again. It was if the universe had just pushed itself inward upon him. Although the space seemed to have contracted all around him, the source seemed to come from one direction only. He turned to face it. There was nothing but the stones, the plateau, and the star-filled sky above. He looked up just above the horizon in the direction he was facing and noticed a star that shone with a slight rosy colour. This would serve as a marker for him. He started to walk toward it.

The plateau was much larger than it had appeared from the path through the cleft in the rock. He had assumed that the stone circle was at the centre, but it was actually very close to the path. The plateau was very long and he seemed to be walking across its longest span. The light from his torch did not travel very far so he found himself mostly staring at the ground, glancing upward at his star once in a while to make sure that he had not strayed from the direction that he had felt.

Some time had passed before he became aware of the fact that if this were going to take a while, then the position of the star that he was following would have moved. He felt rather foolish that it had taken him this long to realize this, and he imagined how his aunt would have chastised him for forgetting that the heavens moved. The Oneness was the centre. The sense of direction he felt was only relative to this, not to some wandering star that just happened to be at that place at that time. He stopped walking and thought about this for a few moments. If this stone circle was closest to the centre of the universe and the stone circle back home was also closest to the centre of the universe then all this meant was that a person that stood in the centre of any stone circle was close to the centre of the universe. It did not matter where the circle was. The circle, then, had something about it that enabled a person to get better in touch with the centre that was within themselves!

He had an idea. He remembered the circle game that he played with the other boys when he was little: one person would be blindfolded and turned around and around while the other boys stood in a circle. Then the blindfolded boy would try to walk in a straight line and touch another boy. That boy would turn him around again and then move away, and the rest would form a smaller circle and the process would be repeated until there was only one boy remaining. That boy would then be the next to be blindfolded. He remembered how some of the boys that were very good at that game had said that they could sometimes “feel” the right direction to pick whoever they wanted to eliminate next.

Closing his eyes, he turned round and round until he lost his sense of direction. Then he pictured the stone circle again in his mind. He felt himself growing larger, just as before, and then the space collapsed on him again and he felt the source from one direction, just as before. He opened his eyes, and although still a little dizzy from spinning around, he saw the star that he had started to follow, but it was just a little way from the direction that he now faced. It had worked! He wondered about that game. Perhaps someone like his Aunt Vara had invented it long ago to teach children about the Oneness!

He set out once again, and tried to compensate for the movement of the stars as he went. Every once in a while he would check his direction again in the same way. It did not always work, but then he would try to clear his mind of thoughts and try again. Once, he had to do this four times before he found himself facing the direction. The relative position of that star was the test. Each time it would have moved very slightly. So pleased was he with his newfound ability, that he almost forgot what he was doing there other than following a direction that he had felt. When he came, at length, to the edge of the plateau, his original purpose came back to him. He was not sure what he would find there. He had hoped, when he set out, that Kala would be waiting for him, but he was still alone. There was nothing special about this part of the plateau. It looked much like the place he had entered on the other side. He looked over the edge and held his torch high to get a better view, but saw nothing but rocks. He walked a little way along the edge, checking for a path, and finding nothing, he walked the other way. His doubts were starting to bother him again when he saw a small trail leading diagonally down a very steep part of the plateau’s edge. It seemed too small to be a trail made by people, and he wondered if it might be just an animal trail and lead through places he could not pass. There was only one way to find out. Without pause, he started down the trail.

It zigzagged back and forth until it reached the edge of the forest and then travelled straight down through the trees. He was relieved that it was a human trail, it was probably very little travelled, but it must lead somewhere. He felt no fear as he entered the forest again. He knew that if he got lost, he could always go back the way he had came, and he had left a marker to find the village trail. He smiled to himself about his bravery as he walked through the forest. The boys back home would not have entered their tiny forest in the middle of the day. Yet, here he was, in the dead of night, wandering along a trail through this giant dark forest without any fear whatsoever. A thought crossed his mind. Was he really being brave? If he felt no fear, then what was brave about that? The old Kiri would have felt fear. The old Kiri would have been brave if he was walking through the forest with all of that fear. What would scare the new Kiri? Would he be brave in the face of that fear? He didn’t know.

The trail crossed a small stream and he was glad to see it because the water-skin that he had brought with him was getting low. He tried the water in the stream and found it sweet-tasting. He filled the water skin, then drank a lot of it and topped it up again. There was a mossy bank nearby and he realized how tired and hungry he was getting. He knew that he would have to sleep sooner or later, and this spot looked perfect. He found some driftwood that had washed up past the bank during some flood and he was pleased to find that it was dry and brittle. He soon had a good fire burning. He used his axe to cut some large logs from a dead tree. He was glad that they split very easily, for he had little energy left. He looked at the green stone axe that his father had made and felt homesick for the first time. He wondered if his parents were worrying about him. Just as well that they didn’t know what he was doing at that moment! The fire would last a long time with those logs, and any animals that happened to be wandering through the forest would keep far away.

He ate more of the bread and the meat, and then some of the honey with more bread, drank some water and lay down on the moss. The fire crackled and the sound of the little stream was comforting. He thought about Kala. He was sure that he would find her eventually, but he didn’t know why. His aunt would not be expecting him for many hours, so she might not be worrying about him too much. He thought about the stone circle and how he had learned to use it. He thought about the forest. Earlier that same day it was a place of terror for him, but now the floor of the forest was his bed and the trees were his blanket. He closed his eyes and he slept.

In the middle of the forest was a Great Tree and around this tree curled the Great Serpent. Its head swayed side to side to the rhythm of the universe and its tail lay coiled on the ground at the base of the tree. In the middle of those coils lay a small figure. It was Kala. She was sleeping, and the rhythm of her breathing was the rhythm of the universe. 

[Chapter Eleven will appear here on Monday. Have an expansive weekend!]

John's Coydog Community page


  1. In this chapter the reader recognizes the inner transformation of Kiri. He has conquered his fear of the forest by being able to move through the it In the dead of night. When he was not able to locate Kala, as J.Campbell tells us Kiri has reached the point of darkness and with this comes the light. The light being the determination to continue on his quest to locate Kala.
    Kiri has discovered his inner feeling by realizing that there is a duality between the two of them. By asking this question "could Kala be the other half of his pair?". The writer further confirms thus feeling by writing "What room can there be for doubts when one knows?". This statement came very close to home for me since I understand the feeling conveyed in its from a personal experience.
    Finally, the symbolism of the Great Tree an the Great Serpent representing the power of life as they care for Kala by keeping her safe.
    What is the relationship between the Great Tree, the Great Serpent and Kala?
    When and where will Kiri find Kala?

  2. Excellent analysis, Tannis, and I think many people might be able to relate to the improvement that can follow that point of darkness. It doesn't have to be part of a quest it can be something quite mundane and ordinary, too. You see that expressed in the yijing and in Taoism, but it also exists in movie plots where things have to get pretty dark before everything gets resolved.Of course, going on a quest is usually a lot more exciting than experiencing it second hand at the movies, but excitement isn't everyone's cup of tea!

    I actually followed some trails today at Fish Creek Provincial Park when leaving. Saw a white-tail deer on one of them. There was no heroine at the end of my quest, though, just a bus.