Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Pegasus Flies Past the Sun

Out of the Constellation of Pegasus came a comet. The mane and tail, on fire, comet "NEAT" flew past the earth and around the sun. The most amazing thing happened, the only comet this has been seen doing this: the sun sent out a huge blast which enveloped the flying horse and then the horse galloped away, unharmed.

Pegasus

I watched this, the web site on line that shows the sun at all hours from the sun observatory satelllite, happen. It took my breath away. It still fills me with wonder, looking at it. The vagarities of filming this comet made it look like a flying creature with a truly long tail.

We are One.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

I Leave Kansas

I was packing as fast as possible. Not one more night in Kansas. There was a knock on the door. It was the campus Catholic Priest. He looked around the room and shook his head. "Can we talk?" he asked.

I sat on my bed and put my hands in my lap and sighed. "There is only one thing you can do for me," I said, and I handed him the book I used in the exorcism. "Take this and do whatever you do with things like this". He understood, for he took it from me.

"You did something very dangerous," he said.

"Indeed," I replied.

"What did you see?" he asked.

I thought hard. "I can't tell you. It is impossible. I fear, I saw the future". I shuddered. His grave look deepened.

"I will pray for you, " he said,

"Thank you," I said, sighing again. "It isn't that simple. Trust me on this."

He said. "Maybe we can help." I stared at him. It dawned on me that now I had truly lost my innocence. It was only a matter of making best of what was going to happen, my choices were set. The path of Thorns opened up to my eyes and I had to walk barefoot on it. "It is OK, really, don't worry about me."

He pressed me, "I think it would be best if you tell me what happened."

I stood up. 'I tried to change fate. I failed. I made it worse. I heard, the only reason she climbed into the false ceiling was to prove me wrong! I will have to pay for this. I was at fault".

He asked, "Is this the only time you could see?"

I laughed. "Unfortunately....now I know what the curse of Cassandra really was. The worst thing that can happen is to be believed".

Battle in the Outer Darkness

I dismissed all thoughts of terrestrial matters to concentrate on the coming battle. I could feel IT snuffling around. IT was tracking the victim and suddenly lost the trail. I had little time to waste. So I continued to set up my system. Somehow, I knew that doing things widdershins works.

IT drew nearer and nearer. The thunder was louder.

I remembered the words I heard long ago, when I fell and fell and died. I spoke them outloud...soft is hard, cold is hot, dark is light, good is evil, up is down...as I ran through the opposites, the Oneness increased only this time, there was Other in the room. I became aware if IT. IT was very curious. IT wondered who I was. "Who are you," came the interior voice. I composed my self and said, "I am going to destroy you".

IT laughed. "You can see me?" IT inquired. I admitted it was difficult. Very difficult.

IT sniffed at me and then fear entered the chamber. IT was afraid of me.

"Humans can't kill me," IT boasted.

I reached out towards IT, "I am going to destroy you utterly", I said, staring hard at IT.

"First, you have to catch me," hissed IT.

At that, IT took off, flying through the Portals of the Outer Darkness. I changed and followed. IT looked back and howled. I flew after IT.

We jumped out of the Portals and into a place. It was a terrible place. I felt the walls. They were tile of rectangular shape. The ceiling above had shower plumbing, open, old fashioned. I had a vision of what happened in this room and I ground my teeth. "Your father came to this place once," said IT. Then off we jumped, in and out of the Portals. Each room was unfamiliar yet familiar, I noted them as I passed, for future reference. "You will die," IT said, showing my own death, seemingly, suddenly, I said, "I accept this".

IT paused and looked oddly at me. Hissing in rage, IT took off. Showing me worse and worse things, each time, I said, "I accept this fate". We ended up in a very dry cave. On a large stone laid a body, wrapped in cloth. "Behold," IT said, "This is the person people believed never really died." I looked carefully. "He is dead," said IT triumphantly.

"I accept this, too," I said. "There are things worse than death". I felt very alone and sad. But I had a job to do and getting it done was the only chore at hand. I reached out and took ahold of the slithering, shape shifting creature. "I am now going to destroy you", I announced.

The creature shifted gears. "Don't kill me! Please." IT looked carefully at me. I sighed. "I can do things for you!" IT tried to look friendly and chummy. "I can be a fine servant."

I stared at it, astonished at the change.

"I can grant wishes, just like you hear in tales, "IT explained. "Look!" and I could see previous satisfied customers, all happy to work with this genius.

"No", I said, sorrowfully.

"I can make you rich!" IT claimed.

"No."

"I can make people worship you", IT said.

"No."

"I can help you get great power and rule the world!" IT cried, wringing ITs hands.

"NO". I was losing patience. The lightning was now lashing the dormitory and I could feel the floor shaking. "Now is time to renounce all these things."

"You will be in great poverty!' screamed IT.

"I ACCEPT THIS", I yelled.

"Your loves will be blighted and will suffer", IT thundered at me.

"I ACCEPT THIS," I yelled again.

"You will be rejected by all religions and everyone will turn against you," wailed IT.

"I ACCEPT THIS," I said, sadly.

"You will see everything in the Portal Chambers happen, all of it," cried the desperate killer.

"I ACCEPT THIS, TOO," I said with cold determination.

Then I rose up, and drew about myself a veil of clouds and rain and glittering stars and began the exorcism proper. There was a jolt of lightning and I heard someone cry out in the room, distantly. I became One and IT was gone.

As I left the Chambers of the Outer Darkness, there was this other creature, lounging at the Door. "Make a wish," it said, casually.

"What are you?" I asked, I was utterly spent now.

"I am your Guardian, a Watcher," it said.

"I want nothing," I said, trying to be careful. It laughed and suddenly, in my arms, I saw a baby briefly. All my life, I thought, and doctors told me, I couldn't have children. Yet here was the promise of one.

"Elaine! What is happening?" My roomate clutched at me, crying. She had come into the room and witnessed the end of the exorcism.

"I have to go home," I sighed. "Everything is done. She is safe. I have to get out of here."

My World Shatters, 1967

I was troubled by the visit to the Witch Woman's store. My life finally seemed to be working somewhat. I finally had a group of friends who loved poetry and music and they were all a delight, a vast unending joy, I could hardly bear being apart from them. For the first time, I belonged to something that was mostly humans, not animals or trees. Every day, I left the home, happy, content, looking forward to after school. Free in heart, everything was looking good.

Then I won a scholarship to attend the summer session of the University of Kansas. I was only 16 and I would be allowed to take high level college courses. This made me deleriously happy.

My father and mother went with me because they were going on to Washington, DC on the usual "mysterious business". They decided to walk across the campus with me.

We laughed and walked about. Then I saw It. The Building. Hoch Auditorium. Hoch is German for high and mighty. It stood at the top of the hill. As we neared the building, my skin crawled more and more. The three doors in the middle gaped like the black maw of a beast. Cold crawled out of the building and made me shiver in the hot summer sun.

"I will never go into that building", I said outloud. My parents laughed, nervously.

Later, I kissed them goodbye.

In my dorm was the new roomate from Seattle. She was a ballerina. "Let's go to orientation together," she said.

"Where is it?" I asked as I unpacked. When she told me, I freaked out. "No way! I will never go into that building, never".

Other girls in our dorm heard me and came by to eavesdrop. "It is haunted," I said. "Death lives there". Everyone laughed. Word spread rapidly that a girl was refusing to go because the auditorium was the home of Death. The dorm mother got wind of this rumor and tracked me down.

"If you don't kill this rumor and go to the event, you will be thrown out", she said grimly. I was startled. So I agreed.

This story is very hard to tell, even today. I sighed and went, like a prisoner to execution, to Hoch. I could smell the thunderstorm coming. I decided, this was time to warn my new friend. "Ah, I hate to tell you this, but I get struck by lightning periodically. If a storm comes, feel free to stay away from me".

She laughed. Other girls thought this was hilarious, too. My head hurt. Thunderstorms cause the old wound in the forehead to throb painfully. I slouched down in my chair, clutching my forehead and moaning periodically. The speeches were interminable. I couldn't understand a word they said. The sound of thunder grumbled nearer and nearer. I began to worry, I could feel it looking for me, sending out probes, like tentacles, seeking me. I pulled my feet off the floor and gripped the chair. It was very hot, very strong ozone smell, my teeth began to chatter. I gripped my roomate's arm so hard, she cried out in pain. I couldn't hear her. Everyone now could hear the blasts of the storm and ripples of nervous talk filled the cavernous place.

I was looking at a crack in the ceiling. It obsessed me. It seemed to get closer and closer. I knew we were going to be hit. The feeling of being One was there,

The bolt struck with tremendous force, popping our ears. Simultaneously, I saw a girl hurtle through the crack and smash into the floor and dying. I screamed. It was a lightning vision but it looked utterly real. I ran for my sanity. Ran out into a thunderstorm, something I never do. I ran, screaming down the hill. Along with everyone else.

The next day, the school debated sending me home. They decided to spare me. Guess I was persuasive.

My friends in the dorm delighted telling everyone about my Vision. We even held meetings about this. "Can you stop this?" they asked.

"Yes, we just stay away from there," I said. I put the matter out of my mind and determined to have innocent fun in school. I explored the old buildings, we climbed rotting iron staircases in the former library, we haunted the museum of Natural History. We caught fireflies and held our very own Hippie Be In at the pond. We were pleased many police showed up.

It was a great summer, full of fun.

Then, one day, while standing in line for dinner, I saw a girl ahead of me. I leaned over and said, "Excuse me, hello," and then went into shock. She was the girl in my Vision.

I burted out, "Don't go into Hoch Auditorium. Please. You can't go there". I felt really stupid but I knew she was the one. The girls standing with me all assured the startled girl that I was the one who caused all the uproar on campus. I was so sick, I couldn't eat dinner. I took her hand, "Promise me you won't go there" I begged. I felt very old suddenly.

She laughed, turned to her boyfriend who said, "She is crazy, man". The girl promised me, she wouldn't go there.

Satisfied, I turned aside and left.

The last day of classes. It was oppressive and very hot. July is very hot in Kansas. I had learned, Hoch Auditorium attracts lightning I could see the building out of the window of the class where I studied German philosophy.

The final class ended. I rose and headed out the door. As I walked away from the building and from the shadow of Hoch, I heard a crash. Then screams. I stopped. Rooted to the earth. Unable to move. Time sped by inside my body as I aged tremendously. "Pegasus, please, no", I whispered. I could feel all my attempts at being a religious person leave like the sun setting forever.

A scream behind me. My roomate, clutching at me. "She fell! She fell! She is dead! You did this! You didn't stop her!"

I fell to the sidewalk and put my head down. The roomate shook me. "Why? Why? Why???" she screamed. Other students were screaming at me.

Suddenly I shot up. "She is alive...I have to save her..." and I ran to the auditorium. Just ahead, I could see a stretcher leave the building. Police were everywhere. I ran up to them. "Is she alive?" I cried. A shocked officer said, "Yes". I looked past him, inside. The hole in the ceiling, the blood on the floor. There IT sat. IT was unsated and angry. "Let me inside", I yelled. The police pushed me back. "Where are they taking her, let me touch her, please," I wailed.

Without waiting, I ran to the hospital. In the lobby, I was told, she was in surgery. Everyone was praying. I just wanted to touch her so I could protect her. From IT. My roomate asked me, "Well, what are you going to do?".

I said, "Somehow, I have to do an exorcism". So I went to my room and searched it for things to use.

I cannot describe what I did. This would be wrong. One thing, I have a statue from Sikkim, the Himalayan mysterious kingdom which the king gave my father when he heard about the lightning. The royal emblem of the king is Pegasus.

On each wing is a fish, Pisces. The large, heavy statue goes with me everywhere I live. I set him up in the circle and held onto his perky upright ears. "Help me. I must go to the Gates of Death and touch her". Sitting on the floor, in the afternoon sun, I withdrew into myself until I was gone. As the sun set, a blaze of starlight arked across the darkening sky, a huge thunderstorm rising. I reached out and the star became a figure, dazed, a young girl transiting the boundry between life and death. I called to her gently, 'Let me touch you, you will be safe, may the stars shine on your journey, may you find your home". She sighed and passed by, touching lighter than the lightest breeze. I laid my head down next to Pegasus and sighed.

Barely had I composed myself when the door burst open. My roomate came into the room, crying hard. "She just died."

I sat there silently. My roomate became angry, 'You are the meanest person on earth. You have a heart of stone". She rose in fury. I grabbed her. "Stay away from this room. There is going to be a terrible storm. Horrible things will happen. Light a candle in another room and think good things. Don't disturb me, please. This is life and death".

She recoiled and left in a hurry.

I Get a Palm Reading

Tucson was an exotic place. Years ago, before airconditioning, it attracted odd people because of the strange properties of the place, as I have noted, it is the place to photograph lightning. My great grandfather Pettit came to Tucson back in the 1880s. My greatgrandmother was a fierce Prohibitionist. Even today, walking across the University of Arizona campus, one can find a bronze plaque in the sidewalk by the old former Engineering building commemorating these women's work. Closing saloons.

She wielded a formidable umbrella. When she first arrived in the Wild West, a sheltered young bride from the Hudson Valley, a regal WASP if there ever was one, she took one look at the men in the Calvary unit at Fort Lowell and decided to properly clean their shirts, bleach and starch and ironing and all! So she and the one freed former slave and two native women went to work, using the big iron pot to make the formula for washing shirts. This involved large amounts of lye.

The ladies lit the fire and heated the water as various native men sat nearby under a mesquite tree, watching. She dumped in the starch and the lye. This is very close to what distilling liquor is all about.

She and the ladies went off to collect the shirts.

When they returned, a terrible sight met their eyes! The men who were watching had drunk from the cauldron and were screaming and writhing on the ground, 14 of them died.

My greatgrandad used to joke that she was more dangerous than he but she didn't like this. Her son, my grandfather, thought she was pretty scary, too, when he was a kid...

This turned her into a dragon fighting the curse of drinking.

Tucson had many singular, strong women. They filled all sorts of nitches. One nitch was the Witch nitch.

I heard about such women all during my childhood but they seemed scarce, to say the least. Until one day, my friends in high school went to this queer back alley store in downtown Tucson. It was in one of the oldest adobe buildings there. It was gloomy after the bright outside sun. The front room was crowded with dusty old books and strange, exotic statues and bizarre antique objects. It was like in a story book. One of my friends explained, "The old lady here sells magic books!" We were all interested.

A very old woman came out to see who rang the bell that hung from a curl of spring steel. "Shoo, you don't need to come in here, " she said, trying to make us leave. We respectfully told her we wanted to inquire about buying books. "You don't need magic books," she said. Suddenly, she stopped and looked at me. And I looked at her. We merged.

"Please, give me your hand," she said quietly. I extended my hand. She bent over it. A tear fell on my palm. I touched her shoulder.

"It is OK. I understand", I said. "It is lightning, isn't it?"

My friends hooted. "Elaine seriously attracts lightning!" they chorused.

The lady looked up and said, "Please, go. I need to talk alone with her". She took me into her back room and offered me tea. "Geronimo was hit by lightning twice," she said. I nodded. "You will cross his path someday".

I told her who my family was. She sat back. "Geronimo. Your family already has crossed his path, more than once". I looked out the window at the sparrows in the occitillo.

"You are going to change rapidly now", she said. "I don't want you to visit again."

"I know. This happens to me all the time. I am used to this now. I accept this". I was no longer surprised, just sad. She took hold of my hand again.

"Bavaquivari. You know what it is?"

I smiled. My winter equinox marker, the Vulture peak, home of the Dead. "You will lose many things including your faith", she said.

I was doing my utmost at the time to be not only a good Christian girl, I was trying to become a minister. I thought I had solved the many riddles and challenges of the Church and reconciled them with my own, haphazard existence.

She was sad. "I wish I could help you. Be careful. You are in great danger. According to your hands, you will succeed. But it is dangerous. You will live very long". She then kicked me out of her store.

Why I Never Have To Buy a New Computer

Computer companies, the expensive ones, offer insurance. If I have an APC voltage protection system, if a lightning bolt hits and destroys the computer's electronics, I get a new one. Since computer companies change fast, this means a better, newer computer. Since this is always a possibility, that my data will be toast, I carefully double up the data in various forms including printing up hard copies.

This is actually a nice way to get a new system. For example, I unplugged my laptop and hugged it to my chest during a fast moving, ground striking thunderstorm. I moved away from the nearest windows. Well, as per usual, the lightning bolt used more than one entrance to my home, it hit the window with a violent crash, failed to nail me, so a second bolt hit the powerlines below the house, traveled underground to my basement, set the board which held the phone line connections on fire and raced upstairs, jumped out of the kitchen phone, melting the insides and hit my laptop right in the middle, destroying it.

Explaining this to Apple was fun.

I got my new computer a week later.

I Have a Rival

Every year, NPR would run a story during the summer about this man in the Park Service who would get hit by lightning bolts all the time. I tracked him closely because he was always ahead of me in this race to see who could survive messages from God. It comforted me to know he lived and coped with this. He did get hit outside, something I was careful to avoid. Nonetheless, like myself, he seemed to never be hurt much, just a little rearranged here and there, in the mind, the nerves.

One day, after I had been badly hit yet again, my husband turned on the radio in the morning. NPR announced a sad death. the Park Ranger was dead. Chris said, "Oh, that is sad". The radio announcer gave his final tally: seven direct hits. This is ahead of my tally. I felt sadness for this man who didn't know me. I wished he were alive, for obvious reasons.

Then came the hammer blow: he committed suicide.

His note said he was tired of being hit by lightning and wanted peace at last.

Chris turned to me. I was crying silently. "I'm sorry. Now he is gone." Chris looked closer. "You aren't going to do this too, are you?" he asked suspiciously.

"No," I said. "I am going to live. If I want to die, all I have to do is stop dodging lightning bolts".

Why I am in Some Odd Stories

One day, around 1978, I was hosting a sciencefiction writer. We were preparing for dinner when I announced, "A thunderstorm is coming". Immediately, my family members began the usual preparations. The writer was very amused.

"The building will be hit by at least one lightning bolt," explained my older sister. He scoffed.

No one else could see any sign of a storm but an hour later, a very ferocious, fast moving thunderstorm came bopping across Coney Island, where we lived at the time.

Suddenly, I rose from the table and said, "Excuse me, I am going into the tower room for a minute. Do not follow me". Even my little child knew what was going to happen next. She covered her ears.

Bang. A lightning bolt hit the tower room.

Our visitor hit the floor. Everyone else was relieved it was only a smallish bolt, nothing to write home about. I reentered the diningroom and resumed eating. This was just another day, another storm.

The Future is Now

I decided I wanted to survive. No matter what. This is a strong opinion for a child to hold. It was important to me. I would draw pictures of Pegasus and ask Him for help in this enterprise of living. It was reassuring to know, He existed. At least, as much as Jesus and God, in my mind. I knew, even as a child, this was bad to think if I wanted to go to Heaven, but I thought it, anyway.

"We are going to Yellowstone Park with Mr. Jacob's sister", my father said one day. She was a photographer with the National Geographic. We were all very excited. My father loves volcanoes and earthquakes and other earth events. This was his hobby. So visiting a geologically active area was his cup of ramen noodles.

Mom had to buy coats and other things we needed for the chill up north. This was fun, buying things. Even though, as the younger sister of older sisters, I ended up getting a hand me down. I could never hand anything down. My older sisters were bigger than me and so was my younger sister. I was at the bottom of the clothing totem pole. Rats.

But I wanted to see Yellowstone so badly. We saw stuff on the Disney shows on Sundays and this looked like a great place to merge with many trees and talk to various wild animals. I couldn't wait.

The night before we were to go I lay in bed and then something bad happened. While awake, I had a nightmare. Everything was shaking violently and I was going to be killed. I couldn't get out of bed. Finally, I broke the chains of Lethe and screamed. My parents came into the room. "Oh no, she is sick", said mom, always observant. Throwing up is a good clue a child isn't well.

Running a raging fever, my parents debated finding someone who wouldn't mind taking care of a sick child versus not going. I told them to not go...gabbling in my fever, I was very alarmed. So they cancelled the trip.

The next day, my father came into the bedroom, looking very grim. "We just had an earthquake in Yellowstone. The camp we were going to stay in was destroyed and everyone was killed." He looked at me very oddly. I pulled the covers closer. I wanted to tell him, I knew already.

If I were an outcast before, now it was much more so.

The Power of Prayer

My mother is very religious. For years, she was a church organist and a very good one too. I learned to play the organ from her and still love organ music. But other parts of religion proved problematical for me. Namely, how to deal with a God that likes to use lightning bolts as a communication device.

My mom was aware that I had some significant problems with this and she would try to explain, when I was less than eleven years old, how Christianity works. "You pray to Jesus because he died for you," was her take on the matter.

"God killed him with lightning?" asks the child.

"No. He died on the Cross and was resurrected", mom explained. I thought about this. I think I died, too, and what is more, I came back and wondered if I was going to be hit again.

"Is Jesus the only one to do this?" I asked cautiously. She explained about Lazarus. No lightning in that one, either. I decided to riddle this out alone. The minister of our church was pretty hopeless. He didn't even want to understand this lightning stuff was vital life and death information for this child at that time.

Mom gave me my own Bible when we were in Scottdale, after I survived my million mile march home from that distant bus stop. I read it avidly. After only a few chapters in Genesis, I had serious problems which needed explaining.

"Mommy, why did God kill all the animals except for two of each?" I asked, innocently.

"Because they were bad," said my mom.

"But they are just animals. How can they be bad? What did they do that was bad?" I inquired.

"Go play with your sisters," said mom wisely. This is code for "figure it out, yourself". So I did. God is irritated easily. He lashes out. He likes to use thunderstorms, even to the point of drowning those he doesn't hit with lightning bolts. This made me very uneasy. Surely, there has to be a way to deal with this.

So I asked my mom for help. "Mom, can Jesus stop God from doing things?" I asked, not knowing the hideous implications of this theological line of thought.

"What do you mean?" she asked, blanching.

I got no answer again.

As I read the Bible over the years, my unease grew more rather than less. I kept this up, doggedly, trying to riddle what religon means. This deadly God had to be placated through various means. I tried every one of them. I was a good girl, except when I got into trouble doing things like hanging upside down on the monkey bars while wearing a skirt. Or throwing rocks a boys. Little stuff. Nothing happened to me aside from adults yelling. So I figured, maybe my nightly prayers to Jesus was working. During the ferocious summer violent downpours, I was scared but put on a brave face, knowing I was no longer a target of a vengeful God.

I could then concentrate my spiritual energy on merging with trees or trying to phase out and walk through walls and talking to animals. The talking to animals was very successful. In fact, easy. Talking to humans...much more difficult. Most humans didn't want to talk to me much. I thought adults would love to discuss philosophy and the meaning of divinity with small children.

My grandfather, a well known astronomer like my parents, was the only person who would talk about these matters. He hated Christianity with a passion. When I explained that Jesus was going to save me, he said, "Oh, really? Next time you get hit by lightning, you will see."

"I won't get hit again", I said defiantly.

He snorted. "Quite a few members of our family have been killed by lightning bolts", he said.

Even as an adult, I find that hard to accept, but it is true. In a bookstore in Vermont, I showed a Victorian book from 1875 which was about strange families. I said, "My ancestors are in this book." I looked up some names in the index. Yes, they were there. For example, "The Steeles are very strange people. During thunderstorms, terrible things happen to them."

Grandfather Edison once got mad at me. I was sleeping over at his house in Pasadena and he let me sleep in his observatory. A very fierce thunderstorm hit LA. A lightning bolt hit his observatory. He came outside and went into the dome room and yelled at me. "Can't you leave them in Tucson?"

Tucson. If you ask for "photos of violent lightning in a dramatic setting" you will get page after page, picture after picture of Tucson during thunderstorms. Naturally, when I was hit by lightning in Wisconsin, this is where we moved. My mother told me, "Just sit on the furniture with the glass casters or wear your rubber boots", when storms inched closer. This, I did, most of the time.

My dad's most favorite thing to do in summer was chase thunderstorms. We would pile into the GM SUV, one of the first in America at that time, in the late fifties, and go rambling around the Tucson desert, chasing thunderstorms. "Wow, look at that bolt of lightning", was one of my dad's favorite lines. I loved this. He told us, "We are safer in a car than in a house", and this was certainly true, I was never hit in a car. Only in buildings.

The Arizona desert is beautiful in the rain. The smells intoxicates the nose. The noise of the rain water running over the hard earth is musical. The colors of the desert cacti and the complex mountain landscapes glow with vivid beauty. Truly, if there are gods, they appear when a desert storm passes.

As I grew up, my parents allowed us to come to them at night during thunderstorms. As the one who seldom really slept and who had a very morbid sensitivity to thunderstorms, I was usually the first to seek shelter with them. As the years passed, I began to relax and think, it would never happen again.

Then I turned eleven.

It was a very dark night and there were many thunderstorms roaming around Tucson, bellowing at each other like rival Tyranosaurus Rexes. The landscape strobed with the lightning strikes. I sat by my parents, watching it all through the sliding glass doors to their bedroom.

Suddenly, I felt something walking up my arms. It shivered over my legs. I could barely breathe. The smell of ozone increased. I knew that smell. My teeth began to clack. I realized, my entire family was in grave danger. So I said, "I have to use the bathroom", and I jumped off the bed and ran to the bathroom. I put my hand on the lightswitch when everything exploded and my hand was encased in a ball of blue and white knitted energy. A lightning bolt had struck the power box outside the bathroom wall and some of it penetrated the cement blocks, the cement between the blocks was chemically altered.

I was knocked across the hall.

Nothing my parents could say could make me feel good about things now.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Graveyard Shift

My parents decided to leave Yerkes and go the the Magic Mountain, Kitt Peak. My dad fell in love with Kitt Peak when he first saw it and decided, it was the place to unite himself with the Heavens. He prayed every day that the data would determine his choice was a good choice.

I went with him, took one look at the mountain and we merged. It was hard to tell us apart. One rock, one mind.

While construction of the South Face road began, we lived in Scotsdale in the new AURA offices. My sleeping spot, well, hide out, was under the desk. The wait for the studies to be done, the geological and meterological data gathering, was two years so we moved into a house next to the Goldwater ranch in Scottsdale.

My schooling resumed, alas.

The school was next to a huge graveyard. Excellent choice. The children had various superstitions for dealing with this unlucky happenstance. Crossing themselves, going to the off side of the busses, I thought this was funny. Death. Interesting.

My first day at Kiva elemetary school, I stood next to the gates of the cemetary and waited to be put on my bus. I was still in kindergarden. A teacher waved me aboard and off we drove. We drove over hill and foothill. This was my second day in Scottsdale and I was already unified with Camelback mountain.

"My home isn't over here", I said from the back.

"This is the last stop, kid, get off", said the bus driver. I squinted into the far distance. "But this isn't my home", I said. I got off.

Using the shape of Camelback Mountain and the water tower on the horizon and triangulating with a grove of palm trees, I set out, cross country, heading towards the Goldwater ranch. I walked and walked. It was a long, long hike. Up and down, mostly following gullies, I kept going forwards, climbing hillocks to take measure of my path. Suddenly, as the sun was setting, I noticed strange men moving stealthily through the desert. This filled me with fear so I hid and became a very stealthy person, myself. Carefully eluding them, I dodged every one as I headed for home.

The sun was setting. A bunch of colorful cars were sitting guard at my house. I was footsore, hungry and tired. Here was my home, barricaded by strangers!

I was too tired to deal with them all so I ran past them as fast as possible and burst into the livingroom. My father was sitting there, crying. "Daddy," I yelled, "I don't want to take the bus anymore. It is a LOONG walk home from the bus stop".

The sheriff laughed and laughed. He gave me a licorice stick and I sat on my dad's lap and recounted my journey over and over until he got all the details right.

The bus driver was fired. I had to go back to school. Rats.

Last Night's Dream

I dreamed last night. Over the years, I have built a fortress out of parts of the Dream Realm. So I can exist there, more or less. But this was a dream that woke me up. Such dreams stay fixed in the mind like a photograph.

I came around the corner into another dream, one that I try to avoid. There was a young girl lying naked on the ground. She was bleeding. She was too young to have a menstral period. I wanted to save her. All I could do was tell her, "Run. You must run." She ran.

I hate this sort of dream. Visiting myself. Wish it didn't have to be so vivid.

Remembering the lightning bolt was pretty easy. By the time I was sixteen, I could remember it pretty well. It helped that I was hit again, while indoors. Being wary, I was able to fend it off when it blew apart the wall. The electrical charge that jumped from the wall socket did annoy me. Can't let my guard down! Luckily, wearing rubber shoes means I can laugh at the lightning. But this other matter is different.

June 13, 1964, my first period came,nearly hemmoraging to death in church, my slender white dress black with rancid blood, everyone decided it might be wise to take me to the hospital immediately. My mother was flustered and couldn't remember my name as she tried to register me in the hospital as they prepared me for surgery so I told the staff all the information they needed. This relieved my parents of that burden. The surgeon thought it was very odd, to hemmorage from like that, from a mere first menstral period.

Menes is the moon and man and mental comes from that ancient, powerful, dark word.

When I recovered from the surgery, the doctor visited me. "I need to ask you some questions," he said. Immediately, my guard was up. No one believes me if I tell them the truth so I learned to misguide them. "Go ahead", I said, trying to discourage him.

"Do you love anyone?" he asked.

Nothing human or earthly, I thought.

"No. No one loves me, either", I said, "It has always been that way". He was quite shocked.

Trying again, he asked me if I liked men. What? Any man touches me, dies. I practice shooting for this very purpose. "No".

He sighed and then became blunt. "You are not a virgin".

I stared at him. "I can't remember ever being one", I said. This caused an inquisition which had me very upset because I couldn't understand why I said that to the surgeon. The result of this was a report that my deflowering happened long ago.

Great.

Now I had to find out what happened. Scratch at my mind, nothing would come up except a plane flying very low, in the middle distance, taking forever to pass. This upset me, this droning plane. But that was all.

In 1989, I went to my godfather's funeral in William's Bay where Yerkes is. While there, I visited Lightning tree and saw the huge burn that ran down the trunk and along the arm. The director's wife even told me about the little girl who was hit. I turned to her and said, "Yes. I am Elaine." She blanched. We didn't talk anymore. She wanted me out of there.

I went across the street and rang the doorbell. "Are you the family with the coo coo clock and the wooden rocking horse?" I asked. They smiled and said, "Yes, do we know you?"

Hearing my name, I wasn't invited into the house. This puzzled me. I am a middle aged adult. I look more or less normal.

I then approached another house. It seemed to smell different from all the others, the smell set off my brain as one memory after another poured in effortlessly. I remembered the house perfectly. Curious, trembling, I approached and a woman came out. She asked my name. Warily, I said it.

"Elaine! I remember you well! You were in my kindergarden class!" Shocked, I entered the house for she wanted to reminince. This was a usesful mistake. I was in a vortex of awakening memories. They flooded my mind. I tried to chat but a cold sweat was pouring off my back.

She rose and said, "Here is my husband". Just then, I saw a book about Wittgenstein and Goethe's Faust in the bookcase. I always hated Wittgenstein and Faust angered me. I turned and saw him. His wife said, "I have to go to the store, see you later" and she left us alone. We stood there staring at each other in rising horror.

"You came back", he said.

"Yes, for the first time", I said.

'Why did you take so long?" he asked.

'I came because someone died," I said, hair on end.

"I love you, " he said, moving closer now. I stepped back.

"Get away from me," I whispered.

"I always loved you!" he said harder now. He grabbed my arms and tried to kiss me.

"I was only five years old!" I wailed. Suddenly, I was the mother, not the child. I threw him aside. "I remember you. You raped me".

He said, "No, no, I loved you and they put me in the hospital but I wanted you and you were gone when I came out".

I said, "Oh, this is such a time loop, I have to go," and I ran out the door, outside, I turned, he was crying, "You are going to die soon, I see it hovering over you. I forgive you because I can't have you at the Gates of Death, go!" and I left, he fell to the ground, in agony.

He died four years later. When the third powerful lightning bolt came looking for me.

Remembering Lightning

My mother would once and a while tell me to be careful about lightning. It always puzzled me because her concern seemed so odd. I never had a problem with storms. I had a problem sleeping at night. Everyone would get tired, go to bed and then sleep. I would stand there looking at them, sleeping, wondering how they could do this thing. I would try to lie down in bed and lay there, wide awake. If I closed my eyes and let my mind wander, bad things would happen so I learned to be watchful at night and not let anything happen.

At first, I tried to stay up with my parents and they would send me back to bed. This upset me and I would shed tears that did little. So I learned to lurk. Once my parents were asleep, I could wander about, undetected.

I would stare at walls and try to discontinue myself so I could pass through the wall and reemerge on the other side. Somehow, this was possible. Anything was possible. I started Kindergarden. First day in school, the teacher took one look at me and said, "Oh, it is the little girl who was hit by lightning". I decided she was my enemy. Ever wary, I kept her at bay. She said to us, "We have 'show and tell'. Bring in something interesting and tell us about it".

So I went out with Lassie, hunting. It felt peculiar. It was early Fall, nearly a year later, and the rocks of the rock walls were warm in the sun. I found a slithery silky garter snake. Putting it into my bag, I took it to school the next day. When it was my turn to show the class something nice, I pulled out the snake that coiled around my small arm, gripping it tightly, mouth agape, and said, "This is my new friend". The teacher screamed.

Most of the children ran. I looked around in puzzlement. There are many things scarier than snakes. Like sleeping, for example.

It was my first trip home from school in disgrace. Well enough. I wanted only to roam, anyway, but my mother sent me back to toil in the school.

"Everyone draw a picture", said the teacher. She was wary around me. She hovered over my labors. I decided to draw a crowd scene, many semi human creatures all trying to enter a crossroads. It had many figures in it, my mother kept it in her closet box for years and years.

This is when I got to meet a psychiatrist. He asked me many questions. He asked about the Lightning. I told him it was not possible to talk about it. Didn't have the words, yet. When I did try using words, suffocating cold would freeze my mind so I let it go. He asked me if I could draw for him. I drew a stick horse with extravegant wings and big dark eyes. "This is my best friend", I explained.

He couldn't help me. Despite his sorrow.

Other children didn't like me much. Who would want to play with a girl who is likes to go up to trees, put her hands on the trunk and stare hard at the bark? Merging with trees is not a popular childhood game. Haunting the observatory, I became a living spectre. Scientists would be startled to see me standing there, staring at them. I was studying them. Trying to figure out what made them human. It was an interesting exercise. My parents still let me roam about the place. During thunderstorms, we would go into the Observatory. The thunder would echo in the dome, bouncing off the curved walls. There was a chest that vibrated with the thunder and it was fun, standing on it. The lightning didn't scare me. I had to watch it. Closely.

No storm could approach without me knowing. As an adult, I could be deep inside a building, in a basement, and I could tell lightning was coming. As a child, it spooked adults. "I think a storm will be here in the afternoon", I would say, knowing this would irk anyone but my dad. He was delighted I had this skill. Guess being a human barometer was a blessing, to him. Something to envy.

My older brother, Wally, tried to scare me that Halloween with an ugly king mask. I thought it was very interesting. But my younger brother was very scared by it. So he would hide behind me while I would laugh. This annoyed my mother enough for her to take the mask away and put it in the trash. I thought, everyone was wearing a mask. What was the difference.

The Fall Storm Hits

The leaves were changing color. This happened a year earlier. The greensward became a carpet of glistening dew and the trees which surrounded the park towered overhead, every day donning brighter and brighter clothes, reds and yellows filtering the waning sunlight, Lassie and I would amble about, she sniffing the ripe earth and I looking up in amazement. We often played alone, my mother busy with not only the younger brother but now yet another sister. Avoiding the older siblings was a good thing for me, the middle child. Few noted my presence or absence.

This day was opressively hot, the wind barely stirring. I didn't feel like playing. Somehow, it seemed like too much work. Between two of the biggest oak trees growing next to the Victorian house that the Director's family lived in, that is, my home, was a hammock. I loved it and would play in the hammock by myself. But today, it was beguiling and warm and I fell asleep as the very air became heavy and thick. The sleep was sound, perhaps the last time this was possible, a deep sleep, untroubled.

A peal of thunder woke me up with a start. The sky was nearly pitch black, green swirls as the bottoms of the clouds seemed to sag lower and lower. Another bolt of lightning made me fly for the house as fast as my four year old legs could run.

The wind tore at my cotton dress and my long hair thrashed about my face. Trying to open the front door, I pulled and pulled as the rain stung my legs, the door flew open and out of my hands. The house was utterly dark. I cried, "Mommy, daddy" but no one was there. I ran to the light switch in the livingroom and pushed but nothing happened except a lightning bolt lit up the room and the roar of the thunder was instantaneous.

The electricity was off.

I ran upstairs, crying. Ran into the West bedroom where my grandmother's quilt covered my parent's bed, but it was empty. So I ran into my room which had windows facing the South and the East. My Victorian iron bed with the paisely quilt was like an island of security so I jumped into it and burrowed under the blanket. My mother had left the window open and it was still open as the rain poured in and the huge oak tree shooks and groaned outside. The leaves tore off the branches as it sang to me, the tree sang of water and death, rocking back and forth, the lightning making a shining path along the great limbs that reached out to me. I hid under the blankets and cried.

Then all became unearthly quiet. Like the storm taking a breath. My quilt lifted lightly into the air and my hair swam about my face, swirling, lifting as my arms rose and I sat up and stared out the window and I and the oak tree and the clouds became one entity. I reached outwards, disbelieving this, space began to contract and everything drew together, the clouds seemed to be very close, as if they were being sucked inwards towards me, time stopped and my heart paused. I tried to breathe but couldn't. Then a thick web of blue and yellow globular pulsing energy wove around my hands and it formed a bridge to the branches of the oak tree which then lit up with a terrible bellow that broke my ears. The tree and sky and I became One.

I died.

Falling. Falling. Falling. Falling forever. Utter darkness. No matter where I looked, eternity was in all directions and I was nowhere. I had to do something. I called for help.

Help.

Something was wrong. Hot was cold and light was heavy and outside was inside out and up was down. Every extreme was backwards simultaneously. I fell through the crack where opposites attract. On this side, were strange creatures that filled me with fear and I wanted to flee.

I suddenly knew how to escape. I called Pegasus, not with a voice but my mind, for I couldn't be heard down here, deep in the Outer Darkness.

A star appeared in the distance. It came closer and closer, it was a group of stars, they took shape and the shape grew until it was the Winged Horse, mane aflame, fire in the eyes, the silver neck laced with lightning bolts. I clutched the neck of the passing being and we lunged forwards. Upwards, the light grew and so did the pain, it hurt, returning, the brighter the light the greater the pain. I almost let go. A voice said, "Feeling pain means you are alive".

My father was yelling at me. I couldn't hear him too well at first and stared at his frightened face in disbelief that he was here, too. Then I saw the ceiling. I was home. The place smelled like a fire had happened. My mother was outside the room, clutching the baby with a look of horror on her face. The oak tree smoldered and curls of smoke rose from it, the storm was over. I was alive again.

Never again, to sleep secure in bed at night. Lightning.

The Storm

Lightning 2000

Yerkes Observatory

Yerkes

Born in the darkest hour before dawn, the hour when death stalks the weak, the hour before dawn stretches and awakens in the East, I began life as a creature of the Night. In the shadow of Yerkes Observatory, my earliest playground, the Victorian Temple to the Stars of the Night. Every night, my astronomer mother would wrap me in blankets and walk over the manicured lawns to the observatory to spend the night, working.

It was my home.

When my younger brother was born, she put me down for good and I learned to crawl, scuddling across the marble floors and playing in the halls decorated with the Constellations. The gladdest one of all was Pegasus. Running my baby sized hands over the mighty form of the Heavenly Horse, Pegasus was a reassuring and familiar friend. My desire for adventure grew as my ability to move grew. My parents would pause in their studies and notice I was gone. So they adopted a collie who followed me about, not that she prevented any adventures, she initiated them.

The grounds of Yerkes is like growing up in Central Park in NYC only this was an empty park which had few visitors. My brothers and sisters and I would run about this great park, climbing the trees and hiding in the forsythia bushes. It was the Garden of Eden. In my innocence, I trusted everyone and everything.

Then came the Fall.

Dreams Intersect With the Stars at Dawn

As the earth turns ever towards the star that holds it captive, dreams awaken and the sleeper stirs, the Doors to the Outer Darkness opens and the inner world rises and takes over and many things are revealed just as the nearest star's shine illuminates the earth.

Where day and night embrace is where Wisdom dwells next to Psyche and Nightmare's red blazing eyes glare, this is where Pegasus grazes. Pegasus, born in blood as Perseus slew Medusa, from her hot blood, spilling across the galaxy, gave birth to one of the biggest constellations, the divine Winged Horse, companion of the Graces, the Ark, the Great Square, the Iku of Ur, the Lightning Horse/Dragon, bringer of Flood, Pegasus changed over the eons as humans tried to bridle and tame this wild creature of the night.

All poets know that Pegasus is a dangerous ride but all poets mount Him to ride to the Heavens and pass through the Portals where words and deeds become one and the same and the Universal Mirror reflects the soul. There are many riders and many languages, each one bringing back a different picture of this infinite creature.

Here is my own tale of Pegasus.

Pegasus is more than a constellation in the sky

Pegasus