Monday, July 23, 2012
I often have evenings in which I'm fervently looking forward to my dreamtime, wondering what messages might be revealed to me after a long week of frustration, or after moments of startling serendipity. Moments when I know there is an altogether greater force initiating contact with myself, coordinating chance happenings and dispatching dreamtime architects who can best employ the proper use of symbology to speak with me. We dismiss a lot of mysterious events and dreams as coincidence and random downloads of infomation, little novelties that break up the boredom of static reality, tidbits we skillfully place inbetween mundane small talk with coworkers. I had a series of interesting and prophetic dreams after playing Silent Hill 2 for a week straight, and although the nighttime data firing through my cortex wasn't necessarily pleasant, it did a lot to inform me about the nature of fear and the misunderstandings between good and evil. Fear can contaminate, can taint an experience so immediately, seducing us with fight or flight, distracting us to such a degree that our only focus is on survival, that we see nothing else but patterns of escape. It is also a necessary element, and it played a large role in the earliest of The SpiritChasers investigations, attempting firstly to break through it, to put it in its proper place, then how to summon it, greet it, and listen to what messages it had for us.
I thought about fear a lot this past weekend with the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, as James and I were attempting to aquire tickets for a midnight Dark Knight Rises screening ourselves. We had been to the Century Theater previously, where the shooting had occured, and Batman has always been one of the primary archetypes I have drawn on since childhood. I have a shrine to him in my home, where he continues to inspire me with hope, empowerment, the will to act and a desire to fight injustice. Batman is a super hero that doesn't have any real super powers. He's a normal man born out of tragedy after witnessing the shooting of both his parents. He became something greater in order to fight injustice. He's as real as any archtype from our collective unconscious and we've been drawing on them for as long as recorded history. Myths make up our lives and we follow and reenact their stories whether we're conscious of it or not. They are far more than simple comic book characters, they are todays modern commentaries on how we live and act against injustice in our times.
Earlier last week I posted a video on my Facebook page just days before tragedy struck, which expressed my bat fandom, featuring a trip James and I had taken to the Orient Land Trust bat cave in Moffat, Colorado, a few years back. The bat is also my main totem animal, the symbology behind echolocation and the means to see in darkness assisting me time and again on my spiritual path. The video was also a comment on duality, and featured a photoshopped image of myself as The Joker, which shooter James Holmes unfortunately modeled himself after. I created the image in 2008, for a MySpace profile picture, in anticipation of the then upcoming film The Dark Knight, just before Heath Ledger, who brought its Joker to life, passed away. Prior to filming, Ledger had secluded himself in a motel room for six weeks in order to tap into the darkness his role required. Before his passing, he admitted he had great difficulty detaching himself from his character. The Dark Prince isn't something to be summoned lightly, reflections of which can be found in any villain. For me, The villainous Joker would always seem a necessary element, an uncomfortable mirror of any evil and madness in Batman, and inside each of ourselves. Never one to shy away from darkness, however, from that which is hidden, from mystery and the forbidden, I also took time to peer into my own dark well.
In one of the aforementioned dreams, in January of 2008 to be exact, I drempt of the devil, hitchhiking near my neighborhood Walmart. He was disguised as a vagrant, slouched, damp and dark, holding a cigarette, hiding his fire behind its smoke. I recognized him immediately, driving past him in my carnivalesque dream car, his coal-black eyes quietly waiting for some response. Two nights later I passed this very same intersection in the "real world" to witness the very same man standing there, the cherry from his cigarette casting a dull red glow about his narrow eyes. It was one of those things where you have to mentally stop and ask yourself if you really saw what you thought you saw, but he was there, his thumb in the air, his dark eyes waiting for a response, and I knew not to stop for him.
That night, I dreamt of him again. He was sitting where I left him: cold, lonely, misunderstood and heartbroken. He was almost childlike in his hurt, like a schoolboy I wouldn't play with, his sorrow deep and yearnful. In that desperate emotional exchange, I knew instantly that I had allowed fear to betray this messenger, and myself. He had a gift of knowledge for me, he was only playing his part in a spiritual test, one I had failed. There was no way to go back and retrieve the information he would have given me. He had put on the tattered clothes our culture had chosen for him, displaying symbols cast upon him, like the people who have to dance humiliatingly about outside of establishments with signs bearing their sales. He was sad for me, and when I drove by the next night looking for him I was devastated to find him gone.
When meeting, observing or dreaming of someone, I pay special attention to the archetypes they represent: victim, warrior, healer, sabotuer, pirate. We are each playing out a story, and how we interact with the cast of characters can help inform us as to our own role and destiny. Many of the characters I admire are seekers of hidden knowledge, from Indiana Jones to Fox Mulder to D'anna Biers from Battlestar Galactica. The occult simply means "that which is hidden", and as children we naturally gravitate toward the same, whether it's hidden Christmas presents or adult content. I had a higher tendency for such in elementary school when I could always be found in the occult section of our library. I'm still as curious and inquisitive as to how things work, but I have since broken through many barriers of fear in my search for fruit-bearing experiences. I've always been worldly, then otherworldly, as I had to bend my perception in order to make sense of the inexplicable stories playing out before me. We don't know exactly what we're dealing with when instigating contact with anything outside our safe and cozy realm, so many simply choose not to. They will view their God as benevolent, grandfatherly and just, and anything beyond this perception will be summarily demonized. I can't afford to be so strict when peering into the unknown. During those times inside and outside of the dream world when I have had exposure with the Divine, they have mostly been benevolent, loving and graceful experiences. But, because I want to see beyond my conditioning, I know there are many more facets to the great mystery, and in order to understand more of the phenomenon, I have to look with a different pair of eyes. Partaking of adventures outside my comfort zone and stopping to meet individuals placed before my path, ones I'd otherwise shy away from, means I'm making it that much easier for the Divine to commune with me anywhere. It means more opportunities. It means I'm not simply expecting the extraordinary and miraculous to meet me in a safe and comfortable Tuesday afternoon coffee shop.
After dreaming of the Devil, I understood that a lot of the blame cast upon him came from individuals who could not take responsibility for their actions. "The Devil made me do it" became a mantra for those who would not face up to their own skeletons, whether they were adultry, alcoholism, theft, or slander. There are very real and very malevolent forces at work in our universe, but I believe we create most of our own demons here on this Earth. It's very easy to brand something with a generic title that makes sense: devil, demon, witch, psychopath. Not long ago, a Facebook user with nothing to do decided to inform us that ghosts are the Devil's work, that we were being fooled by the Dark Prince and that there are only angels in Heaven, no spirits. Julee had some choice words for this person, which she retracted afterward, but I understood where this woman was coming from, motivated by fear, conditioned by years of generic symbols her ancestors had left her. Some symbols we use for protection, sometimes we withhold information in order to protect the emotional state of another. This is acceptable. We each have our own versions of sanity and order and those were hers. When I was given an Indian name in high school, I honestly didn't see how it fit into my own reality, which was at the time simply trying to graduate while dealing with various crises and a full-time job. The tribe I belong to is Oglala Sioux, but instead of participating in sundances I was dancing with a goth crowd on the weekends at after-hours clubs and I didn't understand how an eagle feather and a bundle of sage held any personal transformation at all. I lacked self-worth, and I was too humbled by the honor and responsibility of an old ancestral ritual. That is, until I noticed a complete restructuring of my dream state.
The first lesson came in a dream where I was being driven down a dusty road in a busted-up pickup truck which I knew was a symbolization of my own body and state of mind. The sun was bright in the barren desert landscape I was being driven through, which represented my life up to that point. Because of the glare, I could not see the driver, but I could make out the faint outline of a smile. Coming up on the right side of the road was an enormous sign, like the "HOLLYWOOD" one in California. I couldn't make out the words until we had passed it. Looking through the rear windshield I was stunned to discover the sign read, "GOD EXISTS". As I turned my head back I saw that what I thought was an intense glare of sunlight on my driver was something else entirely. He was made of light, and that's when I knew who He really was. In that realization, I was instantly jarred awake. I wrote it down due to its magnitude, never having journaled my dreamtime before, then dismissed it as we often do.
A week later, I dreamt of my body floating in and out of a nebula. Physically, I could feel my body hovering over my bed. I was surrounded by stars and could sense the entirety of life coursing around me. I woke myself up saying, "I am the universe." Those words continued to echo throughout my rational mind as I reached for my journal. Again, I recorded this extraordinary event, deciding to make a log of them as I began to suspect something powerful was attempting communion. It was during this period of discovery that I happened to be listening to an instrumental composition one afternoon when a particular chord struck some nerve in my brain, like a deep bell in a part of myself I hadn't previously been aware of. In that moment, time dissolved, and there was no beginning or end to the song. There was no linear structure. It was as if sound was placed in a liquid environment, floating in and out of an audible spectrum. I wasn't dreaming, I was linked to a higher perception, and I remember being crestfallen when everything went back to "normal". Afterward, I began to notice a synchronicity occurring in my travels, a strange pattern, evidence of Divine alteration with no way to prove it but to relate my stories in writing. I do have physical objects I have aquired which have come to me via chance happenings, from bottlecaps with messages written underneath to cards I have always happened upon at just the right time. These have been the breadcrumbs I have followed, connecting the dots and clues of synchronicity in order to see a larger picture. They have led me to people and places I'd otherwise have missed had I not had the foresight to pay attention. Still, as the "supernatural" relies on one's own belief system, I find it difficult to prove my experiences as having actually happened. This, however, began to change after I founded The SpiritChasers, and began to capture photographs and voices of the inexplicable and strange. Are these the devils I was warned about? Are they demons hiding in someone else's clothes? I can imagine the great disappointment if I didn't attempt communion with them, so I do, and sometimes they answer.
"I'm fine, it's OK", said one voice, who I believed belonged to a woman I was looking for who died more than a century ago. But then nothing really dies. If energy cannot be destroyed, only transformed, then I think these postcards from the paranormal we keep receiving are evidence of that. I never disregarded this woman as a demon, or believed she was in hell. I simply called out her name, wondering if she was at peace. Another time I asked a particular spirit if she was nearby. "I'm coming out of the wall," was her response, recorded digitally and captured in a photo we took immediately afterward. It may have seemed the natural inclination to run, but as a male I'm bound to different expectations of bravery, even though we were in a dark underground cave at the time which was rumored to lead to an entrance to the Underworld. Regardless, fear can find you anywhere, and James and I were both feeling it during last Friday's Imax premier of The Dark Knight Rises. Before the film began, wide beams of light suddenly appeared behind the screen. You could feel the tension of those in the audience who didn't understand this was due to the flashlights of the increased security looking for any signs of danger. I spent the entire movie at the ready, jolting at every gunshot, cringing at every explosion. After walking out of the theater and into the sunlight we were greeted with an outdoor benefit concert for the victims of the shooting. It was a celebration of life, after a movie, however cringe-inducing, that dealt with hope and perseverance. The prayer vigil that followed two days later was highly emotional and joyous, with yet more messages of our struggle to overcome fear and to embrace the heroism inside each of us. I thought of those spirits, of angels, of guides and my Creator. I had been crying, a perpetual lump in my throat all weekend finally released, when I began to hear the refrains of a particular melody which had at one time brought me great comfort and brought me face to face with an entity I knew as my author.
It was during Christmas a few years back, and I was doing nothing more than sitting on my bed, lamenting the fact that James and I would have to drive two hours through a dangerous blizzard to be with my family. I had already been in two severe car accidents which had scarred me with fear as it was, so I was upset, and distraught, but I agreed to face this fear in order to spend the holidays with my loved ones. At that moment the instrumental song I was listening to switched itself to a different sound filter. I looked up at the stereo and was overcome with an unmistakable sensation that someone had just sat at my side, but I kept my eyes forward, not out of fear, but out of respect. Again, time dissolved, and I had the physical sensation of sitting in a cone of light. I was instantly at comfort, and knew the presence sitting to my left was the familiar father figure, the man who had driven me through the desert nearly two decades ago. It is difficult to explain, but He was using music to communicate with me. It was a poetic, sonic, structured language I could not only hear but feel in my heart. The rising and falling melodies of the music perfectly matched with the dialect of His voice. His final message, as the music crescendoed, concerned His love for me, as well as His protection, and the fact that He was always near me. I could feel His warm embrace as the light faded and the song came to a quiet end. I played the song back immediately, then again and again, trying to get back to that state, but the way in had dissipated, and I was only left with gratitude and wonder. I remember racing up the stairs afterward, tears in my eyes, stumbling over myself to tell James I just had a spiritual experience. He asked what happened, his eyes full of the same concern I had just been wrapped up in, and I hesitated. How exactly does one tell another that God just spoke to them? "The music turned into a voice...He said he knew what I was feeling...the chords of the music aren't just chords...Oh, God, I know I'm not making sense...I can't prove it, but..."
I listen to that song on a consistant basis, but I have never been able to recapture that same feeling or experience I did that Christmas. I even contacted its composer, Richard Gibbs, to thank him for it, wondering where it came from, informing him that it was like a sonic postcard of a place I had also visited. He responded with gratitude immediately.
Originally I was to write about gods of fear and what cultures have done to appease them, how fear plays a large part in constricting ones perception during dark ghosthunts at deadtime. How there can be nothing without an element of danger, how thrillseekers find themselves addicted to it. Basejumping, spelunking, mountain climbing, hang gliding, ghost hunting, living. I'm sure such an article has already been featured in Men's Fitness. I was to write about more of the dreams in which I found myself in places dim and backward, populated by artificial people delivering artifacts of fear, but perhaps another time. I have confronted all of the darkness I wish to after this weekend and right now I find myself craving sunlight and simply watching an inspirational movie in peace. A candle burns in our home for all of the people affected in the shooting and I know with my every cell who is sitting next to them at this very moment.
The following link, copied and pasted into your browser, features the aforementioned melody I was listening to on the Christmas the Divine decided to pay me a visit. It proves absolutely nothing, but if I can offer but a fraction of what I felt during that experience, perhaps it can inspire others to reevaluate the extraordinary they've dismissed in their own lives.
- Christopher Allen Brewer, July 2012