I am nearing the end of my novel, a story of spiritual rebirth that is the gift of pilgrimage, the treasure found by the hero who risks all. I began the novel as part of the NoNaWriMo 2014 challenge. But somehow, that challenge became a subscript as the story emerged to tell itself to me. I have a few more chapters to write before going back to bring unity to the pieces. I am as surprised as you might be at what has arisen from the depths. This is a story of light and hope and honesty. The following is a part of Chapter 23.
The next morning, the sun was about to make its presence as René walked behind the rest of his small company of pilgrims. Already the path was busy with others making the final surge towards Santiago. Ed walked just ahead of him with Frieda and Maria just in front of Ed. René took a photo of the group then checked his viewfinder in playback mode. Strangely, he had a recognizable Ed, but in front of him were others that weren’t part of his little company of pilgrims. Shaking his head, he faced backwards to get a sunrise photo with the long line of pilgrims walking towards him, almost as silhouettes against the merging light of day.
“Ed, hold up a bit!” called René to the American pastor.
Over the next two and a half kilometres which took almost three-quarters of an hour, René struggled in silence with the thoughts that raced through his head. What was real, what was illusion? As they passed through a Eucalyptus forest, René saw a likely location for meditation. Pointing out the opening just off to the left to Ed, he veered off to engage in the last meditation before Santiago. It was as if he didn’t even have to tell the others as they were already moving to the spot. Obviously there was a level of communication that was intuitive and non-verbal that connected him to the others. In the privacy of the trees, clothes were neatly placed beside each pilgrim before all took their seat facing Sid.
Once they had rejoined the throng of pilgrims heading west, René began to tell Ed his situation, how these others who were in the group were manifestations of his unconscious, that they weren’t real people. When they reached San Payo, seven and a half kilometres closer to Santiago, they stopped for coffee and toast.
“René tells me that you guys aren’t real,” Ed told the others in their group. “I think that he is getting quite stressed about the Camino coming to an end.”
“Well,” began Moe, “it’s not as simple as that. We are real, but in a different kind of way. You can see us and touch us and talk to us and we can do the same thing back to you and René. Reality as you define it, is the problem, well the definition part is the problem.”
“I don’t get it,” frowned Ed in confusion.
“I think I have to tell you who I am and then we can go from there. My name is Moses, Moe for short. Yes, the Moses you have studied about and preached about for so many years. I exist in you, Ed as I exist in René. That’s the thing about what René calls archetypes. I am the eternal pilgrim in each of us, always walking to the holy land but never quite getting there. I guess you could call me a guide through the wilderness.”
“Mary here, is Mary of Magdalene. You may have noticed that when we pass chapels, churches and markers that bear her name, she seems to glow. You may have also noticed that she is good at taking care of us like a good wife and mother. The wife of Jesus and the mother of his children. You know of her story as a harlot, a shameless woman who had little use for clothing in her trade. She knew men before Jesus, and after him as well. That’s the thing about her that is eternal in each human, the inner harlot and saint.”
“Sid? He is Siddharta Gautama, sometimes called Buddha. He would be the last person to accept that title as Buddha isn’t a person, it is a nature or state of mind-being. He is the source of all enlightenment that is wrapped up in generosity and compassion within all humans.”
“Akka is a saint, a saint that praises the purest of the pure without shame, the Eve from the Garden of Eden who resides within the deepest depths of soul. You likely never heard of her presence as the Naked Saint who praised the Lord in poetry and song. You might want to look up her name, Akka Mahdevi.”
“Joe is a story teller, a presence within us that shows us the map of our journey if you would trust him. His story is both old and new. He is known by other names such as Homer and more recently as Joseph Campbell. Ah, I see that rings a bell for you, Ed.”
“Karl? Well he has been around a long time as well, a man who dances with darkness like Faust. He is the link, a portal of sorts through darkness into light. You might know him as Carl Jung.”
“There was another man that René met for a few days when we weren’t with him, David. Yes, the biblical David. Who put in an appearance to both explain and to redirect René onto the path before he could be swallowed by the path.”
René then interrupted Moe, “Thank you, Moe. These eternal presences are something I can understand, have understood intellectually. But now, I am coming to see much clearer as not being dependent upon me. I was struggling with a conceit that I somehow created you, that you were illusions not the universal presences with every one of us humans. But what about James? I don’t see his archetypal role.”
Moses smiled and then answered, “James was as you are, a man. Of course archetypes don’t generally run around in control of human bodies, at least not in sane humans, but that’s another story that you might explain to Ed at some point. James is James, the man you have met a few times before. Call it serendipity that he was here walking with you, especially at a time when you needed his counsel.”
“So, Ed,” asked Moe. “Is that any clearer?”
“A bit. But why the nudity?”
“Ed, what have you been blogging about for these past number of years? These experiences are in accordance to your need which parallel René’s needs – another neat coincidence don’t you think? – part of the agenda for your validation as a minister and as a man in God’s image. Remember that man and woman were conceived as naked beings in the Garden of Eden. The only way back to the Garden is by the light of awareness that Sid and Akka represent, a light that cannot be hidden behind clothing. One has to risk everything to gain the garden.”
“Uh, one more thing, Moe, I mean Moses,” asked Ed. “You didn’t mention Frieda.”
“She is the vital force in every man, the inner queen, the créatrice, the lover. Each man must eventually unite with this inner woman to achieve the state of wholeness, holiness. If she is not acknowledged she becomes a terrible destroyer as she becomes projected on human females. This is called loss of soul, a deadening of the human spirit.”
“Anima,” whispered René to Ed. “I’ll explain it later if you want.”
It was only two kilometres after San Payo when they stopped again at a small river by Lavacolla. Moe led the group to the bank of the river which looked somewhat brackish and foul. He removed his clothing though in plain sight of the passing line of pilgrims, walked into the water and washed himself. Without asking why, each of the others did the same. To enter Santiago, tradition demanded that one becomes purified in the waters of this river.
Putting their clothing on, not paying attention to the stares and odd photo being taken by voyeurs on the path, the rejoined the line walking into Santiago.