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"The Secret Wood"


From the Book

DREAMS OF THE MASK
The Secret Life of the Seed


Prologue - The Tale of the Shadow Woman

Viewed from the outside, her life seemed full. She enjoyed the love of husband, and the affection of children and friends. She had the means to indulge her smaller pleasures. She was of that age that best afforded balance between beauty, youthful vigor and the wisdom of experience.
Yet whenever she found herself alone, hiking in the depths of the forest, or floating in the silence of her dreams, without the support of family, of society or friends, she felt a darkness weigh upon her soul. Where once was but light, hope & certainty, she sensed a strange emptiness, a nameless dissatisfaction seeping in. At times it felt like some forbidden hunger was pressing upon her, hidden somewhere deep within.
The only way she could describe this mysterious urge was as a hunger for more... More of what she could not be sure; perhaps a hunger for greater understanding, for more intensity of experience, for some deeper truth to be found within. It was a desire her reason could not quench, nor could it answer.
As weeks went by, the sense of emptiness grew. She began to see more clearly the suffering of others, as well as the hidden pain in her own soul. It was as if the dark weight of her shadow were pressing upon her heart, making demands she could neither answer nor understand.
At night, the weight was the greatest.
When the moon was full, she could feel her womb swell. Yet it did not swell with the weight of flesh, but in the birth of fire. It was as if all the burning stars had fallen to fill her body, illuminating those dark recesses of mind and soul that had never before been seen.
Yet it was this very darkness of the shadow that served to illuminate her nightly dreams.
Her dreams beckoned like some distant country, promising the answer to her hidden secrets, revealing the unknown origins of her birth.
Her dreams took on a reality, a fullness that defied reason. It created confusion in her daily duties and desires. She wished to be freed of all her nagging doubts and wonder. She wanted to be comfortable in her normalcy again. But the doubts persisted, the dreams intensified, confusion reigned.
When she made her face in the morning, she wondered where the false color ended and where the true mask began. She felt the shell of unreality enclose her. She wished to shatter on the rock of memory the mask of Who-she-had-always-been, to don the shining mask of some unknown god, the Knower of secrets untold.
As she walked in the city, the world became full of masked women and men. In them, she also sensed the shadow, as yet undiscovered, asleep to the fullness of wisdom and compassion. Struggling to get to work, they smiled, they grimaced, they frowned with varying degrees of life, wakefulness and conviction. She knew these faces to be simply masks, like her own, formed in the image of sterile comfort, pressed in rubber and steel, imposed by institutions of voracious, animal men. Each mask hid a deeper, freer man or woman who never changed, who created and loved unconditionally, who never felt the bonds of joy or pain.
The force of habit and appearance had shrouded them in the sorrow of limits; all touchless wonders sacrificed on the altar of the thickly seen.
These thoughts & fears she took with her at Night
as she entered the World of Dreams.
Within her, the World of Visions ...
the World of Dreams ...

Here her consciousness rose from flesh, released from the shroud of sullen day.
Here she donned the mask of Eternity.
Here she recomposed the Beauty of First Knowing, that absolute sense of golden Gods, which had been washed away in the dark river of forgetfulness.
Here the Mysteries of her First Life, suckled on the stars of the goddess Nuit, became the fuller fabric of her being, a
dark beauty unknown to ordinary women and men.
Here she drank the Waters of First Remembrance, recollecting the lost limbs
of timeless wonder.
Here she became the Artist of First Innocence, whose refulgent mask she had embraced as a child.
Here she painted her portrait in the rainbow colors of spinning constellations.
Shed of skin, she read the glyphs of starry fables as etched
in the fabric of Night.
The midnight Sun watched over her marriage to the Savior of Creation,
whose luminous eyes bathed her in the wonder of Eternity.
Truth revealed Itself as timeless change, Time as the moving image of Eternity, a blazing mask worn to clarify and enhance an Absolute that never embodied or experienced, that never doubted or died.



THE FIRST DREAM

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"Sun Heart - The Golden Tree"

The Tree, erect, full, bulging with fruit, shimmers golden under the Sun. She touches the flesh of the Tree. It pulses with life. The pulse fills her, feeds her breathing, leads her pulse to race in concordant rhythm. The fire of desire fuels her from below.
She feels the Serpent twist round the trunk at her feet. She senses the golden Eagle above her, rustling leaves, spreading anxious wings. The mask of her love calls from the branches of the Tree. It whispers of love, of flesh, of fruit, of fullness, of wisdom won from years of loss and pain. It sings of Eternity drawn from the cauldron of limits and despair. She quivers under the weight of choice. Which mask should she wear? The Serpent & Eagle enter her, become a part of her, forces of impulse & conscience, will & imagination, thought & wonder, breathing her ceaseless breath, thinking her endless thoughts.
She dons the mask of incompletion which has been fashioned from the bark of the tree, wearing the imperative of being and becoming. The mask of her love is welded to her heart, throbbing, enlarging under blandishments of the Sun. To don the mask is the fruit of necessity, if perfection is to be won from incompletion. She will follow its beating through the course of lifetimes, until laid with ceaseless breath upon the threshold of Eternity.


THE SECOND DREAM

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"Waterfall - Descent of Memory"

The women fall like fleshy leaves from the heights, drawn between corridors of stone. She sees the falling souls reach for their dreams longingly, rushing down the river of masks,
dropping like tears from the sky.
A hidden god cries tears in the form of liquid flesh, unfulfilled desires swollen by years of disappointment and pain.
A silent voice whispers. The presence behind the voice knows the secret of each mask, its every dream yet to be revealed.
She reaches into the silvery water, hoping to satisfy her quenchless thirst, to extract some truth from the illusion of mist.
She stretches out for the falling masks, for she feels that they conceal her lost memory made into wonder. The masks transform as they descend, leading the fallen women to similar transformations. Each mask bears a reflection of her haunting dreams, sharpened to the pain of a lifetime.
Is truth here to be found? Or at the depths of some churning sea?
All she knows is that the weight of water defines every truth, as it circumscribes every lie.


THE THIRD DREAM

"The Secret Wood"

She lifts the mask to her face and stares into the spiral grain, beholding a creation of vast mystery and the promise of powers unseen. She gropes to uncover its hidden meaning, doubting the golden sky, reaching for the man’s dark face behind the mask, the face changing in form and color, the mask receding, arcing beyond her grasp, ascending like a breath of wind amidst listless leaves of change.
The mask is everywhere, surrounding her, in fresh flowers, in dark woods, in the flesh of wild animals, in the song of white-crested birds.
The wind whispers, “look up, to where Sun & golden skies reflect a timeless future, where mask is identified as all matter; not just a husband or society, not just a painting, a dream or a senseless machine.”
The mask, upon reflection, revealed as a dream inside a dream, a world of green meadows living inside the lungs of a demon, residing inside the mind of an inviolate god. Countless gods shape the mask, made of fire & iron, of wood & womb & bronze. Fields of women, unseen, obey the Siren cry, inviting doves & ravens to nest in their hair, before rising sweat-dipped on the wings of swans.


THE FOURTH DREAM

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"Butterfly: A Vision of Hidden Earth"

She dreams of the seeds of hidden Earth. Azure, green & fiery red, they wait to blossom into the promise of first truth and of a beauty beyond decay.
The brazen mask is exhumed, drawn from molten treasure of the underworld, those ancient civilizations now made of myth and dreams.
She returns to the garden of her birth, where first things are in flower. She arises with primal Seed in hand. She ascends on the wings of the butterfly, who winds through spirals of leaf and vine, ascending inexorably to the flower of the Sun.
She hears a voice thunder from the center of the Sun ...
It sings in canticles of silver runes ...
through centuries of golden Stone ...
It sings ...
Here lies our holiest mask, the light of the Sun.
Here lies the ultimate Seed, the First Word of life & nature, here in the heart of the Sun.
We feed from this mask every day unknowingly.
It alternately dons the mask of Dionysos & Apollo, the warring Serpent & Eagle in time absolved, dissolved into the light of the Sun.
We drink its Light & its life, in every act of every day, in the transubstantiation of light into thought & conscience & boundless energy.
Here, within, lies our grandest Mystery, here lies our true Life beyond.
It lies in the mask of death in life, in the secret of Life in Death.
It is the greater Mystery of the midnight Sun.
It is the illusion of midnight in the heart of day.
It is the blossoming of the Butterfly from light, the call of the wazifa from fiery minaret, the chiming of Temple bells, of church bells from golden domes and spires.
It is limitless consciousness fashioned in the shape of stained glass wings.
It is the greatest Mystery of the invisible Sun, whose infinite masks are a dream.


THE FIFTH DREAM


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"The Dance of Mask and Flame"

For countless ages it seemed, she had juggled the weights of mask and flame ... in their endless interplay, leading her to Dionysian excess, then into silent meditations on the Sun ... exchanged one hand to another, right to left to right unceasing.
She searches for peace, for balance between relentless extremes. She reaches for light & a love unceasing.
She finds it above her, in her touchless love, the one whose dark mask was affixed to her heart in the Garden of Ages Past. She senses him above, in the strata of golden filagree. She senses him beyond, leading her on, as light's highest glimmering.
Ascending beyond the morass of the elements, to waves of timeless change, the First Seeds precede her, lead her, linger in her refulgent wake. Balanced hand in hand, the flame trembles, the mask inverts, becomes a vision of two divergent worlds merged into one.
Abandoning every preconception, she leaps beyond the limits of touch and language, into the light of a hundred suns.
She stretches for Completion.
She leaps for love.

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