In my head there is an English garden in which wander all the people I loved in my past but who are no longer alive.
You see, I do not believe people ever die and neither will I. I will simply waste time and space in the head of somebody unfortunate enough to have loved me and will probably bring with me all the people who are currently walking around aimlessly in my brain.
This is how a robust collective unconscious is built.
I woke up in the middle of the night last Sunday, got up and saw the moon peeking through the window as my maternal grandfather was idly strolling between my brain cells.
My grandfather did everything according to the moon. By looking at the moon, he knew when it was time to get a haircut, to start haying the fields, to slaughter the pig. The moon also told him when the snow would fall, when the cow would calve, and when the maple tree sap would start to flow in the spring.
For my part, I notice that a full moon or a new moon bring with them colder or warmer temperatures.
|The Moon is Earth’s only natural satellite. Anaxagoras (c. 500-428
BC) reasoned that the Moon was a gigantic rock that reflected the light
from the sun. All who believed the Moon was made of green cheese were
bitterly disappointed by this discovery.|
Sparks from a huge bonfire rose upward into the night sky while people walked around carrying torches. Gregorian chants that the DJ played on a background of “drum and bass” added a mystical feeling.
I started talking to an old Inuit from Nunavut. I told him that my grandfather lived according to what the Moon was telling him.
“The Moon has nothing to say,” the old man replied. “The stars hold all wisdom.”
Then, Natalie, the old man’s granddaughter – 30 years old and sweet as could be – offered me some of those dried mushrooms that take you to another level.
I do not approach psychedelic drugs casually. As a teenager I viewed drugs, rightly or wrongly, as the key that opened the door to the gods when one needed a special revelation. Since the gods are very powerful and very busy, I always thought they should not be disturbed unnecessarily.
|Hallucinogenic mushrooms are found everywhere in the world in more than 200 species. The psychoactive element of this fungus is called psilocybin, an alkaloid with pharmacodynamic properties. As you can see from what I just wrote, to truly understand what they are doing, drug users should hold a degree in pharmacology or chemistry. Many thanks to WPClipart for making this public domain image available|
.That night, I felt the time was right for revelations. I accepted Natalie’s offer and she poured a few grams of dried mushrooms in the palm of my hand. It seemed to me like a lot but Natalie took my arm and said:
– It’s only residue. Nunavut mushrooms are very mild, don’t worry.
I chewed conscientiously and then swallowed the mushroom crumbs. Natalie and I sat on a downed tree trunk looking at the bonfire and people dancing, and waited for the mushrooms to work their magic.
We talked a little and I was feeling good. Natalie’s grandfather was standing nearby. He slowly raised his head and hands to the sky. He was different: he was now dressed in deerskins and was quietly singing in his language, shuffling his feet on the ground.
He was talking to the stars.
I watched him intently. I was no longer hearing the DJs’ music: only the soft song of the old Inuit was filling my ears.
My nose was itchy. Maybe it had been stung by a mosquito and now it was wet, probably because I scratched it until it bled. It was beginning to swell.
Actually, it was not swelling: it was GROWING.
I thought this was peculiar but interesting. I did not know where I was anymore. Everything started to waver rapidly and I fell on all fours. My face was turning into a snout and I was shivering as my skin was being covered with some kind of grey fur. I did not feel uncomfortable at all and strangely I was not afraid: this metamorphosis seemed to me absolutely in order. I began to howl gently.
The old Inuit was chanting and dancing by my side, beating on a drum as an accompaniment. For my part, I had turned completely into a coyote and my howling harmonized with the old man’s chanting.
|Coyotes (canis latrans) can be found everywhere in North
America. They are related more to the jackal than to the wolf. Coyotes
are not an endangered species and sometimes mate with housedogs. In
Germany, I’m told, coyotes have been crossbred with poodle dogs,
probably to annoy the French. Many thanks to WPClipart for making this public domain image available.|
A few days later, back in town, I told my story to my friend Aaron who told me:
– Obviously you saw your totem...
– My totem? No, no, It was not a carved pole of scowling beasts with protruding eyes. I really turned into a coyote!
– A totem, you simpleton, is a protective spirit in North American Indian folklore. In your case, it seems your totem is the coyote. Unfortunate. You could have chosen better...
– I don’t understand...
– My poor friend, you never learned anything. The coyote is a deceiver, a trickster, a bit like Papa Legba in voodoo. The coyote stole fire from the Gods to give to mankind...
– Like Prometheus in Greek mythology, I wondered aloud to show that I had some cultural knowledge after all.
– If you say so, but the coyote keeps breaking rules, playing tricks even if his tricks have sometimes positive effects.
On my own after Aaron left, I thought about his last words and about the unorthodox path I had followed in life. To free myself from the constraint of rules, I often downgraded them to simple guidelines or mere suggestions, never hesitating to ignore them to achieve a goal I felt was more desirable.
“A wild dog as a protective spirit: I could have done worse,” I thought.
|Totem poles carved by Pacific Northwest American Indians are
monuments sculpted from large cedar trees representing the protective
spirit of their tribe but also to serve as witnesses to major historical
events or even as tombs for their ancestors. Totem pole carved by Mr. Henry Hunt (1923-1985) of the Kwawkewith Indian Band, British Columbia, Canada.|