The full moon rose majestically, stealthily into a night sky peppered with blinking stars, worlds currently beyond physical touch, and dying suns cutting fleeting, white slivers in the black sky. The moon wailed a mournful cry that pulled me and my worm brethren from the moist ooze that keeps us comfortable, fed, protected. The call drew us forcefully from the underground as if there was a finely braided, silk rope connecting us, pulling us, tugging at us with a force irresistible. I couldn’t resist. We couldn’t resist. We scurried though our burrows, wriggled free of the underground almost jumping with excitement into the moist evening air then raised our voices and sang, sang long, sang loud, sang songs groaning from our souls taught to us by our ancestors.
Soon we burst into dance in the dazzling blue light of yonder moon. Our voices helped us find each other, drew us one to another. We sidled up and rubbed our dancing bodies together. We dance mated for long minutes, dance mated for the entire duration the moon hung in the sky, dance mated until she ceased wailing and disappeared below the earth. With the moon gone, we realized we were naked. We reluctantly separated and hurriedly squeezed down our burrows as hungry bird descended on the wings of first pink light and feasted on a few unlucky souls forgetting to flee because they were still drunk from the night of heated lust.
This was my dream, an experience through the eyes of an earthworm. Well, worms don’t have eyes so I can only conclude that my dream was through the consciousness of the earthworm, a journey within an experience of instinctual DNA where actions are governed by deeply ingrained patterns instead of choice, or the illusion of choice if one is inclined to believe in predestination or fate or foreordination none of which I am an adherent, predominant in the human experience.
I have had similar dreams over the last few years, dreams not so much with a reoccurring theme but dreams which I would have to classify as a genre. No, not all are of me inhabiting worms body. Earthworm dreams have only been acquired once. In my dreams, I dream through the eyes, the souls of animals. They, the dreams, come to me at random, sometimes they guide my artist spirit struggling to see beyond the banal to the beautiful, sometimes when there is a question pressing in on me for which my conscious mind has not yet found an answer floating on the solar winds, occasionally when I come to a fork in life and must chosen which branch to choose, many for no apparent reason I can discern. They come to me not only when I’m sleeping but also during the day when my mind slips into a supra conscious lull. The day versions are particularly interesting because people have caught me moving in seeming involuntary muscle spasms as when a dog legs spasm as it runs in his sleep.
I’m not sure these are really dreams such as those regularly sourced involuntarily in the unconscious, sleeping mind. More and more, I feel they are an alternate reality…a parallel existence that pulls my consciousness into an adjacent truth, a truth percolating in some other dimension of time and location waiting for a place to perch that I must understand to complete my growth as a spiritual being.
However, for the sake of a better term, I will call these experiences dreams as they tend to be ephemeral, emotive sensations, fleeting, kaleidoscopic soap bubbles floating on the whisper of the winds breathed by my spiritual mistress of artistic expression. They feel like birds on the wing tossed to and from by the ethereal ocean of air forever rolling over the earth in silent waves of thought.
I am poked from slumber by the begging, pleading eyes of my hooked beaked, fluffy brood suffering the hunger pangs of last evenings meager regurgitated insect meal. The suns rays peak over the horizon in the silence separating night from day as I take to the skies.
Oh, what freedom to feel the wind ruffle my feathers and take me aloft, carry me into the receding dark purple sky being folded back by the fingers of the sun. With first pink light, the birds, joy filled, singing rainbows break into voice that at once caresses my heart until I bleed joy into the universe and, simultaneously, arouses my hunter blood to a boil for sustenance is on the wing. The dichotomy of bliss and death woven into the same delicate being, beings with voices warbling as if they were silk scarves shimmering on the gentle breath of trees.
The bats are gone, that warm, squealing bird more agile than the most erratic of insects has taken to roost in the dank caves where sounds from primordial ages echo from blackness to infinity connecting past and future into one contiguous moment in time, time without time, time without space, space compressed into a singularity of time. Such a sumptuous meal that would have been for my down covered babies.
Higher and higher I rise. It feels as if God is carrying me to the sun gilt heavens. Paradise. Oh to soar over this lush land on thermal waves, nary a wing beat required to hold me aloft. This is heaven on earth. This is where heaven and earth are united and life is itself a singularity with all beings connected into a unified organism with neither beginning nor end where heaven is earth, earth is heaven.
Floating over the green giants I spy movement, a momentary flash of yellow and again. Food on the wing. A flicker. It alights on a tree at the edge of a single shaft of light, poking at the insects running through the deep valleys of the bark after a long night of regimented foraging.
For the first time in an hour, I move my wings, hover to ensure the flicker’s gaze is diverted, it’s focus ensconced on its prey. I fold my wings and dive. Oh how I love the descent, love slicing head first through the sky at ever increasing speeds, zooming past the upper tiers of the branches where the yellow green buds of new leaves kiss the sunlight, crossing the zone between light and shadow, shadow and light, dappled light. The shadow which exists only because light births it, gives it meaning.
As the speed increases, sound becomes a tunnel then disappears only to reappear in the gurgling rush of blood through my eyes as focus sharpens. I can see every vein in bird’s feathers, see body contract and expand in rapid succession of breaths, see the glint of light in its eye, see that it has just one leg, a yellow leg.
And then the moment of truth, I perform kestrel acrobatics and shoot out my talons.
The collision, our collision cushioned by the feather soft body of bird that absorbs heart piercing talons. For an instant we are united a single being, predator prey, then separate. The chalice empties of life. Limp, flicker tumbles to earth, a wilted flower and comes to final rest in a bed of purple flowers a touch of red growing on its breast. The perfume has lost its scent.
I follow. A perfect kill. My razor beak voraciously tears through the feathers before ripping the warm flesh from bone and swallowing chunks whole. I eat. I inhale flesh and blood and brain and organs. I over stuff until I can’t squeeze another warm morsel into my stomach. My babies will feast today.
I dream through the eyes of animals, engage in a soul bound existence of the animal people. I feel as though I have shape shifted, like the Coyotl joined with the sun worshiping Aztec soul, and am living the actual dreams of a living, breathing animals. I, somehow, appropriate its dream and see through the eyes of wolf hunting a caribou with my pack, circling, communicating with twitches of tail, cresting of fur, wolf song as we make the final approach.
If I am dreaming dogs dream, I wonder, what happened to my human dream. Does dog also live my dreams? Does the animal through whose dream I am living switch dreams at that moment and experience life through my eyes? Or, does the animal also acquire a random dream and so on?
At first, I thought I had broached secret, inner chambers of my subconscious, chambers man best leave hidden lest he learn purposely hidden secrets of existence, secrets buried by creator to guide us but never to be seen in the full light of consciousness. I feared I had breached those secrets and the knowledge had me flirting with madness. Was I crazy? Am I crazy? If not crazy, had I found a way to unknowingly merge with the great singularity linking all beings to the sentient source?
Since matter can not be created, can not or destroyed it is fully possible these dreams compromising the sentient soul I am dreaming are the dreams of animals that have long since made the transition from living. If that’s the case, it’s entirely within the realm of reason that I can dream the dreams of people long since passed. Who knows, I may stumble into the dreams of the ancients, the dreams of the Christ, the dreams of the Buddha. Or, God forbid, the sick dreams of Hitler, Stalin, of other twisted souls that have plagued human society as rats the size of cats plague cities. To date, I have not experienced the dreams of other humans or, if I have, they have seemed so much like my own that I was unaware. Unlike the many dreams I have had when I became the dog known as wolf.
It’s been a long night of hunting, many miles covered as we followed caribou through the lichen lined canyons in an attempt to corner a few. They moved to the upper land where the rocks melt in the dancing green light of the aurora borealis and, as always, we follow hoping to catch one unawares, catch a weakling. We make the nightly trek for our screaming bellies and the bellies of our pups.
We smell the blood of a tender calf, a newborn struggling to come to grips with glorious life, to life marked by existence on the run, an existence eluding predator. Eat or be eaten. Caribou’s ability to run minutes after birth was forged by wolf’s teeth. Wolf’s cunning was birthed by caribou’s speed. The scales of existence perfectly balanced, perfectly ordered. Designed? Evolved? Doesn’t really matter anymore how we became. For we are here and we live our destiny.
This calf has yet to see it’s first dawn. Steam from it’s still blood speckled body escapes in the unforgiving crispness of the Northern woods night air, night air virtually still in the long moon cast shadow of Mount Denali. It’s as if its entire body is breathing air, it’s entire being breathing life.
We circle, all five of us clan members surrounding the mother and the several heavy bulls forming a protective circle of sword antlers, two per bull, around the calf struggling to find the strength to stand. We snarl bearing our pearl fangs wet with dripping saliva, growl in our ancestral language alerting each wolf to the plan of the alpha. We repeat hackle inflamed, feinted attacks in an attempt to find the vulnerable moment when we can draw blood and provoke the sword wall to bolt into the blackness of the night leaving our quarry vulnerable to our cunning appetite. So difficult it is for fear to overpower love that the furry brown prey holds steady, a solid, breathing fort snorting steam from their nostrils as if they were breathing fire, protecting the vulnerable inside.
During one attempt an antler ripped into the mouth of our alpha female breaking her jaw with a sickly crack that rippled painfully through each of our interconnected bodies spilling hot crimson blood droplets, melting holes into the glistening white snow that sparkled diamonds in the glint of the moonlight. Wounded, she could no longer continue the ancient hunting ritual and, whimpering, crawled, slunk away. We followed for it is required, by the laws governing wolf, that we protect a fallen pack member. We are a family as much by blood as by our dependency upon each other for survival.
We go home hungry tonight, stomachs churning on themselves for want of blood soaked meat. Along the way, we devour a few simple voles plucked while they nibbled flowers poking colored heads through the meager snow pack and snap at the insects circling overhead. The children, too, will suffer hunger tonight.
I tend to be a poor sleeper. I have been this way for as long as I can remember. Even when I enter into blissful slumber, I frequently wake in the middle of the night as if some random, internal bell sounds me to awareness. I envy my friends that hit the pillow and are out for a full 8 hours. Or the ones that can sit in an economy airplane seat and not stir from take off until the plane finally puts to ground in a distant land.
The one blessing of consciousness in the dead of night is that I become aware that my Eve is next to me resting in deep slumber. It is then that I gently caress her curves, breathe in her holy scent, kiss her luxuriant hair and smile deep within my heart at the love that binds our souls.
I can’t remember the last time I stayed sleeping for 8 consecutive hours. It takes me a good 10 hours in bed to get 8 hours of sleep and that’s on a good night. I have lost count of the many nights I waited for my dreams to take me into peaceful rest only to be bounced back to the present by my monkey brain jumping inside it’s mental cage with an insatiable quest to taste thoughts not yet complete, to tickle problems from my daily life in the hopes solutions would laugh themselves to awareness. I routinely find myself wide awake vainly trying to keep the monkey from scurrying along rabbit trails of thoughts propelling me further and further into the wide awake state.
This inability to sleep may be the source behind my seeing through the eyes of other beings. I have come to believe that the bouncing in and out of consciousness creates a metaphysical vibration that synchronizes my dreams with animal dreams giving substance to a reality that plunges me into the animal experience, the animal existence.
Where I almost always forget my regular dreams, the animal dreams remain vivid butterflies resting on flowers, wings pulsing within sight of my mind’s eye available for recall whereas other memories are fleeting specters at the corners of my vision field disappearing as soon as I rest thought upon their color.
It has been many days of pink and blue and white glittery crystals and orange and dark and pinpoints of light on the carpet of black sky since we last set foot on lush lands, many weeks, month, years on the wing. Thousands of miles covered in sun and shadow and rain and night.
I love my long days aloft when the sun plays hide and seek behind the puffy white clouds. Hour upon hour, the hands of wind supports us as we float effortlessly beneath the azure sky, over the soothing ocean with a voice that feels like a caress, that sounds like a heart beat. The ocean extends for as far as eye can see. It is our constant companion while we seek the next shoal of fish for the feasting. Oh how I love to play acrobat, to twirl and swoop and loop in the fresh, lightly salted air. I do this for joy, solely for the pleasure of exercising my wings, to celebrate life on the open sea, to stretch my flying abilities, to see the smiles on the faces of my flying mates. Such fun it is to exercise the vanities of youth.
Ah, ahead the water is percolating, thousands upon thousands of delectable morsels breaking the surface of the water, creating thousands of concentric circles overlapping only to be overpowered and absorbed in the violence of the waves. They are trying to escape a shadow below, morsels glinting in the sunlight, living diamonds and rubies and sapphires and emeralds waiting to be plucked such is the richness of the ocean. Keep driving them to the surface shadow. It is high time for albatross to feast heartily.
One by one, we draw our wings back and plunge into the ocean with our beaks agape, instinctively slamming on the gentlest touch as fish brushes our tongues. I love feeling the frigid waters sweep over my body, a chilled tomb which feels almost like death until I turn and break the shimmery surface and reenter the air, reenter life, phoenix from the ocean. I exist in both yin and yang, the mother and the father, water and sky.
For a few strokes, I flew beneath the waves before emerging from the watery chrysalis and was born back into the sky. I flip the fish and swallow it head first all while rising on the wing, rising into the light, until I back flip so I am again facing the ocean and diving into mother for another morsel.
Belly full, I reminisce to the day I fledged, left the comfort of mother’s white down breast, the warm nest and took to wing. It seemed forever that the itchiness of feathers replacing down tormented me and I constantly scratched myself with my beak, rubbed my body on the sharp edges of the green, moss and lichen covered rocks of home to relieve the discomfort as generations of albatross rubbed before me and will rub long into our future. It was the same with all my newly hatched cousins in our colony, my extended family. Our numbers were larger then, the colony vast, noisy with thousands of voices praising the great albatross goddess flying beyond the horizon. Many have passed into the mouths of shark as they struggled to free themselves from the netting the sordid ape throws into our feeding waters to steal our fish, netting that binds us as shackles bind the dark humans in the large vessels headed for distant lands.
It is said that first albatross left land as a child and spent its remaining decades never again touching land, a life on the wing, over, on, under, in the ocean. Before her we were land locked, tethered to land by an invisible umbilical cord.
She was the one sacrificed at the hands of Billy, the bird Billy had to wear around his neck as punishment. When his punishment was finally ended, Billy threw the great mother, limp, lifeless, decaying into the sea, the sea that is the progenitor of all life. In the water, washed of the fecund stench of man’s touch, the ocean healed her, birthed her back to life. A gift for which she was ever grateful. Never again did she set foot on land, the domain of man.
I have been at sea for 5 years now. Most of that time, I had no desire to return, to leave the never ending expanse of ocean and sky, to continue my quest to finally arrive at the point where sky and ocean meet and all is the same color blue. It is said that is where first albatross still resides watching over the albatross people, the heaven we will all enter when our earth time has passed.
Recently, I began feeling the pull of green earth, a deep hunger to return to my native place, to visit with my relatives, to find my bride. I long to again hear the whispers of trees in the words of the leaves.
It’s getting close now, the mating time. I feel the pull deep within my soul as my mate feels in hers. Soon, I will find her and we will dance the marriage dance that will bind us together the remaining years of our lives. I will have my dancing partner, my flying partner, my traveling partner until death do us part when we finally and forever reunite with first mother.
I look forward to our many adventures, the perfumed flower we will become enriched with scents the world over.
What was I supposed to learn from this dream? Before my move to India, I was struggling as to whether I should stay in the US or make the big move. Was this dream the answer? I knew not then. Time, however, has brought clarity, clarity showing my future was indeed, temporarily, on the wing and I needed simply to live the dream albatross sent into the air which I had plucked from ocean’s breath. It wasn’t until the dream reoccurred a couple times later that I realized my destiny was not only for me to personally explore uncharted lands but to also return to my rookery and marry my traveling partner, to unite with her in a continual exploration of the world, the earth world, a reality created by the force of our spirits. We are two atoms which will circle the earth forever with a soul binding so strong that to split us would cause atomic type damage. My chalice is refilled.
Perhaps I have these dreams because the answers to my questions are at large in the world, answers God needs me to absorb but I have lost the ability to hear the small still voice that rides the gentle breezes kissing the earth, kissing the animals, kissing human kind, kissing my heart with answers. The animals live in the moment so have not lost this ability. They have no gnawing regrets about the past. They have no hopes or fears for the future. They are in the here, in the now, always in the present tense, ultimate mindfulness.
I find myself wondering, are these really animal dreams, animal experiences? Or, are they the result of an overactive imagination? Are these dreams a soul induced mirage? Is my own life a mirage? If so, the very ground I walk on may be a mirage implying the whole of my existence is but an illusion concocted of interconnected and random dreams wafting on the winds of an imagination of a mind susceptible to illusion. Life as an illusion is beyond my ability to comprehend, something I cannot accept. I don’t believe life is an illusion. I believe my life, all lives have a destiny. I believe, man must fulfill the destiny into which he was poured the moment his life exploded at conception and continues to reach further and further into the future.
It must say though that it seems these dreams of animals have an ability to influence my destiny, that dreaming through animal eyes, dreaming animal dreams means our destinies are intertwined. If we are intertwined in dream, if my consciousness becomes the animal for the duration of the dream, will I always have the ability, the desire, to return from the dream? What if I awake and find myself permanently living the life of otter or snake or fish? If, while in the dream, the animal perishes will I too perish? What is the extent of our intertwined dreams? Is it also interlinked destinies?
I may never have these questions answered. And that’s ok. There are many questions in life to which one never discovers the answer. To know all would to be God like and I, for one, have no desire to be a deity. Life is challenging enough managing one destiny let alone having a finger on the pulse of every being at all times.
For as long as they last, I will do my best to mindfully accept the gifts that are animal dreams and learn all I am being taught. Honestly, I enjoy the super powers I get from my animal brethren even if they are, so far, only momentary, only imaginary. I love having the ability to taste the body heat of other beings on my tongue, to hear the sound of an owl feather falling to the earth in undulating waves, to float on air, to dive into frigid waters and have it slide off my oily fur. I love experiencing life through the dreams of animals.