Waiting, consoling… I’ve been here the whole week, with the bereaved, comforted only by song, mind drifts betwixt speeches… Considers childhoods, soiled and cleansed with myths and other tales of fantastic beasts and magic. Life beyond the now, anything but this reality of no more. Little bearded men from deep in the earth, amazim’zim, devourers of man, higher up in the food chain and dusty white faeries flattering about and ghosts lingering in smoke and mirrors, perhaps. The influence from Disney wrought with Nordic myths layered into stories about princesses, princes and slaying dragons…but dragons don’t exist, except as underwhelming giant lizards in Komodo. Unicorns… what of them? and magic spells… with the ability to make matter vanish as the words… abra ka dabra. Perhaps they are just words, representations and symbols… meanings ciphered into layers designed to discourage scratchers of the surface. Could it all mean something else?
The prized unicorns as hunted persons who had activated their pineal gland…and dragons, the beginnings of desire whose fires would bring fear and death to a people (or hope according to depictions by Game of Thrones). I sometimes wonder how our ancestors used to speculate without Google… what a pleasure it must have been to imagine without the possibility of being wrong, existing without the need to dissect and tear to pieces how the creations worked, for curiosity’s sake. Bi-cameral minded, an imagining people, they had access to ancient spirits of the elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and other grander delusions. These combinations in varying quantities caused all there is. Apparently.
Religion and scientific materialism seek to kill off our imagination. It is possible to know what is not known, but the problem is the seeking of certainty…Artists of old understood, that part of the functions of art was to bring new forms of thought and understanding of the human condition from the spirit realm. It is also for this reason that artists over the ages became misguided and inclined to altered states and may have succumbed to substance abuse.
Township drunks are famous for mumbling church hymns. A cleansing sometimes followed by tears; a purging of sorts. But this alcohol is a sacrament I had learned. Much like the Ganja of the dreaded Rastafari it can be used to induce spiritual experiences. Mind wandering, I seem to have logged off from my surroundings, here but not available, disengaged. We get the signal from the most spiritual of us, to take our seats.
Us seated, him standing, “Take this wine,” he said, lifting up the sizable glass with a confidence that seemed to suggest he was about to consume the holy grail itself…Three times he tilted his head back and each tilt preceded by a cheer to the departed who is here with us – he took three gulps for all of us.
In the other church, yabaZalwane, the ushers walk around and hand out a tot glass and a provita as the body of Christ. There, at that church, yabaZalwane, they know brotherhood. True brethren must all drink together, the body and blood shall be shared equally among the people. I thought this while he was praying for us. He finished and said, “Today we shall speak about reincarnation, do you know the concept, Bagayetsu?”. “They don’t tell you because they don’t want you to know, but today I have courage bestowed upon me by the authority of the highest heavens. These are not secrets, but revelations available to those who listen more than feel. Available to all who can think, but spiritually.”
“We are spirit bazalwane. Our purpose here, on this earth is to learn and remember the lessons, so we can move on amongst the heavens, being purified until we unite with the god force. In doing this, we need to detach regret from our memories of the past and rather reflect on the lessons.”
Yes, I agreed. We can only save ourselves. People, of course there is grace but, “what can you do?”, is a crucial question in these times where people expect the government to save them, “…they want the church to save them,” he scoffed…”Some even commit suicide hoping death will save them…save them, from what? Desire, that dangerous dragon that consumes character, whose fires create smoke that blinds us to the realities of essentialism? It was revealed to me brethren, for that breakthrough to happen, you need three things.”
Wait. I sat there and hoped one of the 3 things needed was not my hard-earned money. I had come here for a funeral to hear last rights intended for the deceased.
The deceased, a previously very practical and jokey young man, had asked prior to his death that communion be held at his funeral. Cool gimmick. Whatever…but this pastor seems to be taking long to get to the point of his sermon, or perhaps, to get there, the words needed to swim across the inebriation. “Three things,” he said…” Meditation, effort and grace.”
Our lives – and whatever this is – is seemingly dependent upon these three things. Meditation, effort, grace.
“Before you lay down dead before us and we’ll to have to bury you…” – Yeah, he said that, as a matter of fact. He continued, “The meditation and effort are in your control. Control your thoughts, plan them; control your actions, plan them; but respond to the present…this is what they call consciousness. To know oneself in relation to one’s environment…An awareness of the who you are to everything seen and unseen.”
Now I was listening, intrigued where this may end up.
“Why do you think the world is as it is… he asked.
I answered in my head – it is precisely because people seek to know themselves without regard for environment, looking for self in things and in the process gathering possessions. But we cannot take these things with us upon death, for we have become possessed by earthly things and our desires for them need to get torn from us.
Our animal spirit allows us to navigate our environment, familiarise ourselves with it and attach to it a subtle stamp. Familiarise is the keyword – to create or understand relations between and about a thing. The trees have spirits, so do the rivers and the seas. “You can never claim to know who you are when you forget who you are to others and act accordingly, this applies to things seen and unseen.”
“Allow me to say it”, the preaching man dared to ask permission from us, but old men say what they want anyways.
“What i’m trying to say is, this boy is going to come back…”. And before he could finish, the audience failed to listen without burdening the message with their own understanding. The gathering of mourners gasped and held small caucuses to discuss the pastors claim. He tried in vain to silence them to explain his utterances.
A cloud of white noise rose. Suddenly there was a wailing, a long siren piercing the inner ear. It’s a cry, I do not recognise its source, but I knew that cry, a more dramatic version of peeling a scab on the heart.
Maybe it’s a relative, or a lover not acknowledged, or the inconsolable member of the mourner’s brigade. Professional mourners crying, lubricating the ethers as the soul ascends. Deceased.
The mutterings continued to critique the preacher, now accused of turning his drunk to delusion. Pastor and inconsolable wailer and tears over-flowing. The thought of the return of this young man… And a person cried.
It was heartbreaking. I couldn’t finish waiting for the return of the sermon, I needed some air, a breather from the disorderly spirits. The deceased is a spirit now, I think deeply without certainty, having a chuckle as he had known his wishes to not be buried in the church would be disregarded by his family. He never burdened them with this strange philosophy he found himself subscribing to because of the damned 3rd floor of the university library. A foreign scientific materialism tried to convince him there is no god, just a conglomeration of coincidences. Meaningful coincidence from a colliding of atoms. A very material position for a science founded on a atom that is mostly space.
Largely immaterial, those white-coated ones in labs tell us little pieces of nothing bind together to make up all of the natural world and built environment around us. And perhaps it is a lack of imagination from me.
I carry a spirit with me, usually the clear transparent kind to match my conscience. Also for times such a this…when I do not need a hangover…Vodka usually fits into a 200ml canister – today its Gin. No, not the Jinn spoken of in Islamic teachings. Not the spirits that inspired the Arabian night fantasies of Aladdin and genies in brass cans that grant wishes…
I rub my silver pocket canister in anticipation, looking around to detect any potential for judgement of my, I’d-wish-to-imagine, intoxicating spirit and its affinity for other inebriating spirits.
Right now at half past ten in the morning, “already having a drink”, the judges will say…
The deceased and I joked once, in that other tone that borders blasphemy, that if wine is the blood then hard liquor is the spirit. You see he loved wine, to him it was both question and answer. Both sacrament and cleansing, and of course there are those things that may not be certain. But certainty is poverty, with nothing more to offer…Wonder is the thing to be possessed by, not by disembodied spirits who roam the earth. Disembodied spirits I have seen in what appeared to be delusions of a spiritual kind.
Though I’m still not certain.