Sunday, September 20, 2015


Path of Daleth, Venus

     (Note: Somewhere along the line, the word "peace" in paragraph eight was changed to the word "peach," twice, which, in the first version,, made the whole paragraph sound absurd.  I almost decided to keep it that way....)

     Once, when I was in second grade, my class took a train ride through Los Angeles. I found a seat away from the other students, and while the train was rattling through a junky industrial section of LA, an adult male voice informed me that I was not coming back. The voice startled me because I knew that no male adults were in the compartment, and I realized with a shock that it had not originated from a human being. After rebounding from my initial fear, I found the premonition comforting even though I had no idea what it meant. I suspected that I would have to wait until I grew up to comprehend its significance, a situation with which I was only too familiar. As the train rushed onward toward its destination, a trance-like peace enveloped me, the sounds of the train gently lulling me and the other passengers, and I had an unexpected insight: The voice meant that I would not be coming back to live another life.
     I had never entertained the notion of reincarnation before, and I
knew that I would not be able to share it with anyone. I was seven years old, growing up in a fundamentalist Christian household. The idea was unfamiliar to me and more than a little unsettling, so I had a gut feeling that it would make everyone else I knew uncomfortable as well. Even so, I felt deep down that it was true. I sensed some higher being or aspect of myself had spoken. This, as you know if you have been following my blog, occurred several other times when I was growing up, and in all other cases, the predictions came true.
Path of Lamed, Libra
     I knew one thing: The voice did not mean that I was never going
to travel on a train through LA again. Sure enough, forty years later I rode on Amtrak through the same blighted region, which still looked as if bulldozers needed to push it into an abyss before any renewal could occur, and as the train was zipping along, I suddenly remembered the strange male voice, and I realized that it might have meant that I was free of the wheel of birth and death. The memory of the premonition, however, raised more questions than it answered.
     If, as my experiences seem to suggest, we each have a higher self, or daimon, that transcends space and time, surely my daimon would have known when I was seven that I would end up a deeply flawed adult who has encountered more than a fair share of challenges and who is easily distracted from spiritual pursuits, which suggests perhaps that the soul's completion of an evolution through the accumulation of experience, not the attainment of spiritual perfection, is the key to release from the wheel of birth and death, if indeed that is what the voice meant. Or perhaps the voice suggested that I would reach a point in this lifetime that would require the complete regeneration of my soul on some other plane. These were only the ramblings of a confused brain, I mused. Maybe the voice was simply wrong, and I hallucinated when I was seven and all the other times that I thought I heard the voice of my daimon, yet the voice was so clear, the feeling of peace so profound. Other spiritual experiences continue to place the premonition in perspective: As I grow older, more and more pieces keep fitting together, as if key moments in my life, interrupted by long periods of the mundane, form an association chain like symbols in a dream.
     After I found my spiritual path during meditation in my early forties, I also began to find myself more and more in circumstances where I recollected the predictions of my higher self in childhood. I have to admit that time remains a mystery to me, but based on my experiences, I believe that our conception of linear time is an illusion, and that we are not limited by the five senses. Something in each one of us can know things about other times and places that cannot be known through the processes of “normal” brain consciousness.
Path of Tau, Saturn
     During meditation recently I experienced traveling rapidly toward a great light. In my vision, I knew that I had the choice of plunging into the light or remaining outside of it. Once inside the light, I sensed the movement of majestic forces, and I heard a voice say, “This is the dance of the Gods.” I experienced a sense that these were great archetypal forces dancing through the cosmos and through each life, and that each human being can know them if he or she chooses. Then the light completely engulfed me, and I heard a reminder that I can contact these forces through the Earth Soul, which I interpreted to mean that we can know the archetypal forces, which have formed the basis for myths and religions and folklore from time immemorial, because their energies manifest on the physical plane. Communion with the Earth Soul for me has opened up an understanding of what archetypal forces are at work in my life. These forces, I've realized, have greatly influenced my life, if not controlled my destiny.
     When my family lived in LA, I never had the desire to venture beyond my street, but after we moved to Fresno, CA, in 1971, I developed a passion for bicycle riding. When I was eleven, I would ride my bike all the time, not through the neighborhood, but to the vacant lots and orchards near our house. We lived just a few blocks away from the north edge of town, and some of the fig orchards were like parks, with well-worn paths and mounds that I used as ramps. Instead of remaining with friends after school, I preferred riding my bicycle alone. I sensed the Earth Soul in these vacant lots and orchards, and I never felt alone even though I was rarely with another person.
     In vacant lots full of weeds and trash, where squirrels and rabbits scurried away from me in absolute terror, the Earth Soul drenched me with a peace beyond understanding even though I was usually near busy streets. Over the years, I have recovered this sense of peace within little weedy lots as well as within the vast Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Only recently have I come to realize that I have gained far more spiritually from a few hours in vacant lots and fig orchards and campgrounds than from years with the most learned professors—or from interminable sermons.

Tiger Lilies

     Thanks to weedy lots and pristine forests, like Plato, I feel an intrinsic connection within all living things on the planet: “This world is indeed a being endowed with a soul and an intelligence...a single visible living entity containing all other living entities, which by their nature are all related” (Timaeus, 29-30).
     In nature the experience of the anima mundi, or World Soul (also known as Earth Soul), often begins with a sudden, almost imperceptible shift from the “monkey mind” to a deep feeling of peace that grows more profound. This peace is often accompanied by a feeling of exaltation because the Earth is like a magnet for spiritual forces. Once in tune with the Earth Soul, my soul begins to sense archetypal forces, and I experience as well a sense of freedom from the petty distractions and illusions of my own life. This sense of freedom has helped release me from the destructive aspects of social conditioning while at the same time making it possible for me to feel a deep sense of harmony.
     As I was driving by a trashed vacant lot recently, I suddenly felt the same sense of regeneration that I experienced as a boy, and I understood the voice I heard so long ago on the train. The voice intimated the attainment of a profound archetypal state: the regeneration of the black Isis, the dead sleep from which one rises completely renewed. A soul that still clings to illusion hesitates to fall into this slumber of annihilation, but the soul sick to death of illusion falls easily into the Abyss where the personality vanishes and the spirit wakes to a sense of oneness and harmony, a condition, which, in its most radical state, is the ultimate spiritual attainment: union with the Source.
Path of Gimel, The Moon
     If my brother had not found the plastic toy camel in the garage (see previous post), I would not have remembered my train rides through LA or a vision that I experienced almost a decade ago. In the vision I was walking in a soft blue monk's habit on a stone path through an enclosed garden. From a distance I could see a stone statue, which I suspected was religious in nature. As I approached, I saw a statue of Jesus on the cross and knelt down, but when I looked up, to my surprise the statue changed into the Virgin Mary.
     This vision occurred while some friends and I were “chakra toning,” a New Age technique for opening the energy centers of the aura, which consists of singing the note associated with each primary chakra for an extended period in turn. In theory, this technique opens the chakras to spiritual vibrations. The toning session begins with the note associated with the lowest chakra and proceeds up the scale without interruption to the highest chakra. By the sixth note, after singing nonstop for about thirty minutes, I had achieved an altered state of consciousness through hyperventilation and experienced the vision.
     I was surprised by the vision for several reasons. First of all, I have never worshiped Christian icons, and before then I had mainly experienced visions of symbols associated with the Tree of Life, the sacred glyph of the mystical Qabalah. Even more surprising to me, in the vision I was a monk in a monastery garden. I had entertained the idea of becoming a pagan priest but never a Christian monk. Moreover, I was wearing a hooded robe of the purist soft blue, which both intrigued and confused me, because I thought that monks only wore black or brown or white robes. Before then, I had never imagined kneeling or humbling myself before the Virgin Mary, or an other feminine deity, an act which I interpreted as show of willingness to sacrifice myself in some way. The very act of becoming a monk, of course, requires sacrificing a worldly life for a spiritual one. Donning the robes proclaims detachment from the ornaments and distractions of the world.
     I told my friends about the vision but soon forgot it since the symbolism seemed boringly conventional. At the time, I did not know enough about the deep symbolism of the Tree of Life in the Western esoteric spiritual tradition. Finally, after many spiritual experiences and over ten years of study, the meaning of the vision, which is more Qabalistic than I had initially imagined, has grown much clearer.
Path of Teth, Leo
     Without even knowing it, for most of my life, I have manifested the archetypal energies of the Goddess, no matter the circumstances. In the vision, I was worshiping the celestial Goddess, the feminine principle of creation, revealing my devotion to Her. Though strange, the vision seemed appropriate to me because of my devotion to the arts and the natural world from childhood on, but the vision revealed a deeper level of meaning that can only be understood in the context of the Tree of Life.
     There is an old saying in the Mysteries: “All the Gods are one God, and all the Goddesses are one Goddess, and there is but one true initiator.” In terms of the Tree of Life, that means that the feminine principle shows up as different Goddesses on different levels, or “paths.”
     The Tree of Life reveals the evolution of the cosmos from the finest spiritual energy to the densest physical manifestation through ten primary states of being known as sephiroth (plural). Each sephira (singular) within the cosmos emerged from the previous state of being and eventually emanated the next. The first three states contain the basic principles of creation, for instance the duality of masculine and feminine and the existence of unity within multiplicity, but remain outside of manifestation. The Virgin Mary is symbolically associated with the third emanation, a supernal sephira on the Tree of Life known a Binah, in a dimension above the Abyss.
The celestial Virgin, the archetypal feminine principle outside of manifestation, therefore experiences immaculate conception, and gives birth to a savior God, the “Son” of the Trinity manifested on this plane. Binah, the sphere of the celestial Virgin, is the primal womb of manifestation from which all form originates, hence its association with Saturn, with stone, and with the sea. The third sephira, though outside creation, ushers in the lord of all terrors. The word Mary comes from the Hebrew word marah, “bitter” or “bitterness.” Binah, the great sea of evolving life, is bitter: Whatever is born must die.
Path of Tzaddi, Aquarius
     The feminine principle, as I mentioned, is associated with other Goddesses on different paths on the Tree, most notably with Netzach, the seventh sephira ruled by Venus—the sphere of nature, beauty and the arts. I was born under the sign of Aquarius, which on the Tree links the sephira of Yesod with the sephira of Netzach, each sephira representing different aspects of the Goddess. In my vision, though, I was worshiping the celestial Goddess. I had already manifested the energy of Venus through my art and adored Demeter through my love of nature. I had found the energy of Luna through meditation and had worked for Ma'at through my struggle for truth and justice. In terms of the Tree of Life, the vision made perfect sense: I have sacrificed my personality, not to manifest the Christ force, but to manifest the energies of the Goddess on different levels.
     Several connecting paths on the Tree of Life, including the Path of Gimel, the Path of Daleth, the Path of Teth, the Path of Lamed, and the Path of Tau, also reflect aspects of the Goddess, so the adventurer on the Tree of Life has the opportunity to meet the Goddess at many points on the journey. In the archetypal hero's journey, the meeting with the Goddess represents a stage in the adventure when a person experiences a relationship that has the power and significance of an all encompassing, unconditional love. Also known as the sacred marriage, the union of opposites, the “meeting” may take place on a purely psychological level, representing the unification of the self during which the hero begins to see himself in harmony with all creation.
Two of Wands
     A psychic, about a year before my vision, told me that my aura is soft blue, which may partially explain why in the vision the monk's habit is blue. Renditions of Mary portray the Queen of Heaven and Earth and the Great Sea in blue also. My monk's garb in the vision is, on one level, an emblem of my adoration for the Goddess. Pure, soft blue is also a symbol of the spiritual level in Chokmah, the sphere of dynamic, masculine energy opposite Binah, which connects the primarily masculine energy of the celestial God with the energy of the celestial Goddess.
     According to Dion Fortune, an authority on the modern Qabalah, the bible, which is essentially a Qabalistic book, contains God-names that pertain to the different sephiroth on the Tree of Life. For instance, all references to the Father concern the Source in Kether, the crown of creation; all references to the Son apply to Tiphareth, the Christ-center; and all references to the Holy Ghost, the feminine principle within the trinity, relate to Yesod, the Foundation, the state of being out of which the physical universe has evolved. The Holy Ghost, which I understand to be the Goddess, the Earth Soul, attracts archetypal spiritual forces like a magnet to the Kingdom, the physical world. The dance of the Gods, feminine and masculine, is the dance of the archetypal energies of one God through different dimensions of the cosmos, energies which ultimately manifest in the physical world.
     The paths of the Goddess bring peace and harmony and a sense of oneness with all creation. The energies of these paths counteract the exploitation and alienation and brutality of a left-brained, male-dominated world. Living in Fresno, CA, I have never received any reward for my art and have occasionally been kicked in the face for speaking truth to power, but I have always felt compelled to manifest the energies of the Goddess anyway due to a crying need for them in this community and this society as a whole. My lower personality, so woefully limited by my five senses, longs for the simple, powerful connection with the Earth Soul, despite any sacrifices or doubt. I don't know what the voice on the train meant exactly so many years ago, but I can't help but feel that it was telling me about regeneration through the Goddess, a renewal resulting in a radical sense of harmony and oneness with creation. At least I know now that all I need to do is find the Goddess again in a weedy lot or a pristine forest to get in touch with my core and with cosmic spiritual forces.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Toy Camel

     My father spent much of his adult life gripped by the desire for a better life, so he kept getting slightly better jobs, and we kept moving every few years to a slightly larger tract house. When I was eleven, my family escaped the racial tensions that pervaded Los Angeles after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy by relocating to a small town in the San Joaquin Valley. The day after we moved in to our new home in Fresno, I was unpacking boxes on the plush orange carpet of our family room and discovered a zipper bag stuffed with miniature plastic toy figures, soldiers from different wars mixed with exotic people and animals from different continents. All were smaller than the average toy figure, which made me feel godlike as I positioned them on the furniture or the floor in some dramatic scene, such as an ambush or a battle.
     When I opened the bag, tempted to play with the toy figures again, I found a tiny camel, pale lemon yellow, which came with a flat plastic stand resembling a puddle of desert sand. As I searched through the bag, I experienced a premonition that the camel would have great significance for me in the distant future. Flustered, I searched the new house for someone to talk to about it, knowing that I might not be able to find the right words. I couldn't find my father or mother or grandparents but eventually discovered my brother in the garage.
Path 28
     “You're full of it,” he sneered after I told him. I wanted to explain that I was simply trying to understand a bizarre premonition but then realized that I was once again suffering the fate of a younger sibling, irritating my brother merely by my presence.
     Forty-four years later, my brother and I had to sell the house to pay for my mother's long-term care. While living alone in the house, she had experienced bouts of dizziness but didn't complain about them to anyone. She eventually fell face down on concrete and ended up undergoing a craniotomy for a subdural hematoma with a mid-line shift (in other words, serious bleeding in the brain). After the surgery, she lived with me and my wife for almost two years. Then she fell and broke her hip and spent two months in rehabilitation.
     Two weeks after she came back to live with us, she suffered a severe stomach flu, which led to dehydration and infection and a serious spike in blood pressure when she attempted to sit up. She could no longer get out of bed, and I, believing that she would recover like she always had before, hesitated to take her again to the emergency room. I soon realized that she needed someone more qualified to care for her. I had, despite my best intentions, made an error in judgment could have led to tragedy.
     While she was living with me and my wife, her house was, for all intents and purposes, abandoned. I checked on it every other day and did what I could to maintain it, taking care of termites and filing an insurance claim for mold and fungus. I also had to file several insurance claims for burglary and vandalism. Because burglars shattered a window pane in her front door as well as her back sliding glass door, she ended up with new carpet for the front room, family room and hallways, but enough was enough.
     When my brother and I were clearing out the house, getting it ready to sell, my brother found the tiny toy camel on a shelf in the garage and smiled as he handed it to me. For a second, I hoped that we would find the sack full of other toy figures, but then I recalled, as though suddenly recalling a vivid dream, the baffling premonition that this camel would at some point have great significance for me. I don't think that my brother remembered what I had told him, and I didn't want to remind him of it because I knew that I would probably just irritate him like I did forty-four years earlier.
     When I pulled the camel out of the bag so many years ago, I foresaw the future. I can recall at least four other times in childhood when this happened to me. In each case, I either heard a voice tell me about the future or felt a premonition—I didn't just suspect or imagine that something was going to happen, in other words—I knew with unshakable certainty. In each case, I only remembered when the event came to pass many years later, as if each premonition were meant to be forgotten and unexpectedly recalled so that I could place the experience in perspective. I doubt that anyone can provide an adequate scientific explanation for these experiences, but I suspect that in the physical dimension, the five senses limit us so much that we can only experience linear time, but in some other dimension all time exists at once, and a higher or deeper aspect of the self, a daimon that transcends space and time, can access knowledge about what we in our dimension can only know as the future. If true, this would make the already knotty issue of free will even harder to untangle.
     Since I foresaw the future at least five times while I was growing up, I must conclude that these premonitions are more than mere coincidence. These episodes of precognition tie the future and the past together for me in a way that most memories do not, suggesting that I am meant to place the experiences into a larger perspective.

Path 13, the Path of Gimel

     About fifteen years or so ago, I became obsessed with the modern Qabalah after a series of visions during meditation introduced me to the symbol system known as the Tree of Life, and I immediately associated the camel with the Path of Gimel, the thirteenth path on the Tree, which connects Tiphareth, the Christ center, with Kether, the Crown of creation. (See previous posts.) The Path of Gimel is the central path that travels across the Abyss between the planes of manifestation and the spiritual planes (from which comes intuition). This is the path of the mystic who escapes the wheel of birth and death to live in the spirit. The Hebrew letter Gimel means “camel,” suggesting that something other than intellect or conscious determination is necessary to travel across the Abyss, the way a camel, through sheer primal strength and willpower, crosses a desert.
     I stared at the camel for a few seconds, suspecting that some greater significance related to the Path of Gimel would soon unfold. The camel, I realized, was like a symbol in a dream. Coincidentally the Path of Gimel is associated with the moon and dreams. The reappearance of the toy camel suggested to me that sometimes symbols are embedded in events as they unfold in linear time to help us understand their significance the way that symbols are embedded within dreams.
     As I stared at the camel, I realized that I was as old as I had imagined I would be when I foresaw the future, my beard gray and my head bald, but I felt pretty much the same as I always have. Most of the people in the neighborhood had died or moved away while the camel had waited alone on that shelf. My mother was eighty-nine years old and getting frailer even as we emptied her house, but she seemed pretty much the same as she had been when I was a child. At that moment, I believed that people feel pretty much the same their whole life, which comforted me, but I was saddened by the inexorable black hole, never visible but always near, that kept sucking everything, like my other toys, into it.
     And at that moment, in the house that I had not lived in for thirty-seven years, the only thing that held much significance for me was the toy camel, as if the rest of my childhood was irrevocably lost due to a lack of anything tangible that I could touch, but oddly, at that moment, I was happy. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but I sensed that the camel confirmed everything I secretly believed.
     I placed the toy camel on the dashboard of my car, and in the Valley heat three of the brittle plastic legs broke off one by one, leaving little stubs. If I were to speculate about the symbolic significance of the one-legged camel, I would interpret it to mean that on the spiritual journey across the Abyss, legs don't matter, only the spiritual will to continue, against all odds, on the journey.
Ithuriel's Spears
     It took me a few days to figure out why at that moment I was happy, but I wasn't always in an upbeat frame of mind during that time. I felt that I was slowly emptying all memories of my family from the house as items departed to the dumpster or storage or the Salvation Army. My grandparents and my uncle, my father and mother, and my brother and I had comprised the whole of the family that settled in Fresno in 1971. By the mid seventies, my grandparents had both passed away. Then, in 1977, three days before his fifty-sixth birthday, my father died of a heart attack. I moved out when I was eighteen and my brother moved to a different state soon after. My mother remained alone in the house. My brother and I became busy with college and jobs and families of our own and didn't stay in touch, and I didn't see my mother that often even though I lived down the street. By the time my uncle died in the early eighties, what was once a family unit seemed more like a mirage. 
     After a week of helping me clear out the house, my brother and his wife had to return home to resume their daily lives. During the process of dealing with my mother's house and belongings after they left, I dropped her car off at the repair shop and took a shuttle bus to my mother's house. I asked the driver to let me off at a corner so I could stroll through my old neighborhood, past the house near my mother's that I had rented for twelve years.
     Strolling by my neighbor's house, I remembered that several of my cats had disappeared. One cat showed up after a few days and came tearing through the house with a pellet from a gun lodged in his throat after we let him in. While my son and I were playing electric guitars one day, our neighbor, uninvited, barged into the house, dashed to the back bedroom and started screaming at us. His sister said he died a drunk, and he died alone, his body discovered several days later surrounded by cages, in which, I suspect, he imprisoned neighborhood cats and tortured them.
Six of Swords
     I ambled by the house of my daughter's friend, Jenny. At one point when Jenny had just turned eighteen, the police found her in suspicious circumstances. She had somehow suffered damage to the frontal lobe that would make it difficult for her to function the rest of her life. She woke up handcuffed to a bed in a hospital and could not remember what had happened—the police initially believed she had stolen a truck, only to discover that a man who owned the truck had drugged her and kidnapped her. A few years earlier, Jenny's brother had also suffered a similar type of brain damage in an automobile accident and had fallen victim to a child molester.
     Steve Watson had lived across the street for awhile. I was a year older that Steve. He had been in my fourth-fifth combination class when I first moved to Fresno. We were also on the same little league team during middle school, at a time when I was losing all interest in sports. He had turned into an amazing athlete who could throw the most mind-boggling pitches, one of which, I remember, always wove unpredictably past my bat. He ended up in the minor leagues on his way to a career in professional baseball, but health issues interfered. I had just recently encountered Steve on a gurney in the hospital around the corner from my mother during her bout with the stomach flu. He had driven a bright red corvette when he had lived across the street from me, but in the hospital he was shaggy and dirty as though he had been living on the street for quite some time. As I passed him on my way out of the hospital, he asked if I remembered him. Oddly, his name popped out of my mouth even though his face was almost unrecognizable under long gray hair and a beard, and we had a short chat.
Path 24
     I past the house of a portly man whom my wife and I had called “The Mayor.” He had retired many years before and often stood in his garage monitoring the neighborhood. Once he nailed yellow ribbons to all of the liquid ambers on the public easements along the street in support of the troops in the Persian Gulf. He died soon after we moved away.
     Many of the people of my parent's generation who had lived in that neighborhood had also died, and I recalled their names as I strolled by their old haunts.
     Two houses down from my mother's house a shy girl named Shayla grew up. After her father died and her mother was moved to the memory care unit of a nursing home, Shayla continued living in her parent's house. Shayla once had a crush on my brother, someone told me, and I had spread the rumor throughout the neighborhood. She later raised two children in that house and died in her early forties from breast cancer. I had no idea where my other neighborhood friends were now.
Seven of Cups
     When I reached my mother's house, I felt alone. Each of the people in the neighborhood who had passed away, I mused, had lived only a little while to clothe their dreams in flesh. When I stepped into the house, I pulled two heavy key chains out of my pocket to place them on the kitchen counter, and the toy camel fell out of my pocket onto the floor. The camel could only have great significance for me now: As a child I could not possibly have known such a heightened sense of flux and impermanence. I should just let go, I thought, as I gazed mournfully at the camel, just let go of all of it. Strangely I did not need to try: I felt no desire to keep the camel or anything else that was once in the house. 
     As I entered my mother's empty kitchen, I remembered my first day of school after our first night in Fresno. Early in the morning, my mother took my brother to sign him up at middle school and left me alone for at least a half an hour before she came back and drove me to my new elementary school. When they left, I was free, I realized; I had never been left alone in a house before. Strange noises terrified me though. Forty-four years later, I felt almost the same, aware that I am free, not lonely but alone, aware of all the pops and creaks in the house but not afraid. I had the strange feeling that I was eleven again even though I am now the same age my father was when he died of a heart attack.

Eight of Swords

     Her empty house made me unexpectedly happy because I felt free of anyone else's expectations, free of social conditioning. All of the relatives who had gathered with us over the years were gone or had lost touch. My eighty-nine year old mother now barely remembered any of those gatherings that were once so important to my father, who spent his life getting a better job every few years and buying a better house and bigger car, finally settling in a neighborhood at the northern edge of Fresno, CA, not far from one of the first malls in the Central Valley. Soon all the fields and orchards north of Shaw Ave. would be plowed under; the northern edge of town now is miles away, bordering the San Joaquin River. A town of one hundred thousand has grown to half a million since my father passed away thirty-eight years ago.
     The camel in the carpet, even more diminutive after the loss of its legs, was so small that I hardly noticed it as I surveyed the empty room even though I knew where it was. It would no doubt be overlooked by most of the people who came to view the house if I left it there. The camel, alone in a vast desert of brown carpet, was free.
     For many years, I lived my life as others expected, afraid that losing all sense of social conditioning through rebelliousness or cognitive dissonance or separation from the herd or trauma might lead to insanity or bestiality or dissolution or worse. I know several people who crossed that invisible line at some point in their lives; they kept up appearances while secretly plotting and carrying out heinous acts. (See previous posts.) It struck me as I stood in the empty room, rememberng the time I was eleven, that I have always had the spirit of the camel in me. I have had enough premonitions and intuitions to develop faith and enough challenges to understand the value of it. I have never been a great success at anything, but I at least developed a deep love of nature and the arts, experiencing an exaltation of consciousness that has led to the Vision of Harmony, associated in the Qabalah with the state of being known as Tiphareth, which instilled in me a sympathy for all things, a connection that some people would no doubt consider naive or insane. 
     The camel in the carpet was signifying that I could proceed now on the Path of Gimel. As I stared at the camel, I knew that I at some point had crossed a line and couldn't turn back. The Path of Gimel leads from Tiphareth across the Abyss to the first swirlings of the Source, the Crown of Creation. I must travel across the Abyss alone, with only my sense of adventure and exaltation and connection with divinity to goad me on despite everything.
     Instead of the dinner table under the small chandelier, where I had gathered so many times with aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins and friends, there was only a tiny one-legged camel in the sand-colored carpet. I imagined it still plodding away on a journey into the unknown, drawn only by a powerful, invisible force. All desire to remove myself from divinity for the sake of appearances or to expend energy accumulating the stuff of the tribe had vanished, as though blown away by desert winds. I softly shut my mother's front door, and with only a faint moon path to guide me, stepped into my next adventure.