Copyright © 2011
The River Mermaid
The presumption of my fairy tales is that there are a few born in human form whose souls are from the Other Side. There is no User’s Manual lying next to the crib when they are born that warns them that their dreams are different from human beings.
They have a sense of life being strange in a way that other human beings do not. A few may turn this strangeness into success through art, music, or dance. They may become famous writers because they sit down and write their dreams into fairy tales and mythology.
Perhaps there is more than meets the eye with Peter Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, McKillip’s The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea, Rowling’s Hogwarts and Harry Potter, or Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Anyone who writes genuine fairy tales or mythology is in fact creating their own User’s Manual for how to explain to others the kingdoms they have found hidden within them.
In the process of interviewing others, I have them tell me their first memory and everything else they can remember about their lives. I walk beside them as they share their memories. Their memories become my own and together a story is the output.
The story is not biography. The story is one person’s life seen through the eyes, mind, and psychic abilities of two people working together to create something that can be shared with the world.
Hopefully, the pain and darkness, the paths followed, the happiness, love, and joy are transformed into a tapestry of beauty that others can gaze upon and perceive clearly the way wonder has touched all of our lives. In a sense, then, my stories record how two separate realms come to know each other better.
Let us imagine, then, that each person has his own inner landscape of heart and soul. We have an inner kingdom where our dreams at night roam.
In the real world, nations and kingdoms are marked on maps by natural barriers like mountains, rivers, and seas. And history too designs national boundaries. There are battles won and lost, negotiations--territory bought and sold--and marriages that establish what flag flies over a piece of land.
So it is with each of our souls. Certain fears and terrors are declared off limits. They belong to foreign territories and we are denied access. We also avoid feelings and sensory experiences. Catholics do not shape change in their dreams into a crow or a deer. They do not move through the woods at night in state of exaltation free of fear.
The homeless person or the prisoner can
easily enough dream at night of owning a mansion in Grosse Pointe or a beach
The wiccans and druids do not dream at night of a formless god nor of rising to the point where they shine with his light; nor do they wrestle with him to obtain a blessing that shapes the destiny of many nations. It just never happens. We stay within well-defined boundaries. To cross over our limitations we would have to pass by a clearly marked sign that says, Do Not Enter or No Trespassing.
For good reason, then, we remain who we are. Our dreams, whether we awake from nightmares, night terrors, or wistful bliss are still ours. They support who we are.
It is true--we may want something that life denies us. The dream then comes reminding us of what might have been, how much we are loved, or the love that touched us and then left. The dream speaks with the voice of our instincts. Hungery, prowling desires lurk in the darkness at the edge of our consciousness.
The dream can speak with the voice of conscience. What we deny the dreams declares we still feel inside--guilt, ramose, sorrow, and loss. Occasionally, the dream speaks plainly--happiness is right here inside you if only you would only let your conscience guide you.
But not all play by these rules. Their souls more malleable and flexible. Some have kingdoms within their dreams where entire regions are shrouded in mist and fog. Here definitions of good and evil, of light and dark, pleasure and pain change. A few individuals have these non-conforming dreams. Indeed, the rules of psychology, theology, anthropology, and even our mythologies do not apply. The sign at the border reads, You May Enter If You Leave Your Human Identity Behind or Enter At Your Own Risk But Only If You Can Endure The Bliss.
Of course, we may all catch a glimpse of these other worlds at times. We may have a premonition. We may speak in a dream to someone who is dead. We may be visited by a spirit such as the ghost of Christmas past, present, or future in Charles Dickens story, A Christmas Carol.
Or, the animals that appear in our dreams may be a little too real. It is okay to meet familiar and even strange creatures in our dreams. But they must not be too inviting or try to persuade us with enticing longings to become something other than what we are. If they did, we might wonder if what has appeared to us is perhaps our own self in a different guise. To wander too close to the boundaries of our kingdoms may make it difficult to return to where we were when we fell asleep--getting up in the morning, we might be carrying with us something unseen from our dreams.
Some may wake up from sleep and the room is filled with the smell of a flower they held in their hands when they slept--though this dream is rare indeed. Rarer still for someone to pause and examine that scent to see if it contains a message indicating that something wonderful is about to happen.
Many fly in their dreams. Chinese consider this to be a good thing, a positive omen. For some the flying is so real and graphic in every detail that they can no longer tell if they are awake or still asleep and dreaming. Even when they test their hypothesis that in the real world no on can fly the dream can still fool them.
They try to fly and can not and so conclude they must be awake. But then they wake up. This uncertainty about reality causes no one confusion or doubt. You need only shrug your shoulders and laugh at your own foolishness for questioning the nature of perception. Some say, however, that it is hard to read a book while lucid dreaming. That is something to keep in mind next time you wake up inside a dream.
Some occasionally stumble into a no man’s land between sleeping, dreaming, and being awake. The mind wakes up but the body remains asleep so the individual feels helpless. The brain panics and imagines all sorts of monsters and horrors have caught us in a trap. But there are no monsters or traps--only our imaginations grasping desperately for an image to explain our
There is also what is called false awakening. This occurs when you are dreaming and in the dream you imagine you have just woken up. You get out of bed. You do things as if you are fully awake but usually something is not quite right--the light won’t turn on, the door knob won’t turn, etc. And then you are back in bed dreaming again that you have just woke up again so it may repeat itself.
In the false awakening there may be an ominous or strange feeling present as well. There is a sense of the uncanny, experience lit with a strange light, and feelings that are uncomfortable or suspicious as if something is not right.
This feeling of things being "off" or "not right" might be generalized. If someone feels strong ties to fairy or the astral plane, the Other Side, Sidhe, the Next World, etc., then the “false awakening“ might seem like a permanent state--the entire world feels like a “bad dream” because inside there is a feeling of belonging somewhere else.
For some, there is not just one kingdom where they go to sleep at night. The kingdom within the soul is not shaped from the usual array of instincts, desires, needs, longings, fears, and terrors. For some, there are two kingdoms.
One kingdom belongs to our everyday life. In our world there are written records that pass knowledge and history down to us from other ages. Our world may have slaughter, wars, massacres, natural and unnatural disasters, ruin, famines, plagues, and all manner of destruction. Still, we try not to call life a “bad dream.” We get on with things. We cope. We manage. We survive. It is all we have. And in spite of the upheavals and change, the human race has managed to do well.
We have acquired wealth and to produce all manner of things. We have science, technology, and industry. We are in fact constantly innovating. It is truly amazing in spite of the fact that while some of our inventions are wonderful, others are insidious and insane. But there is no need to comment further on the obvious.
And yet there persists this other world within our dreams. Some say it is the astral plane which is not completely unknown. It is perhaps best expressed in the fanciful images of fairy tales and mythology.
But regarding fairy tales, who can really declare with certainty their origins? Who would dare state conclusively that the sylph or gnome or the bard who can cause an army to put down its arms upon hearing his songs is a fabrication? Do we really need consensus on this? Must we infer that it was a poet with a little too much drink in his bloodstream or perhaps an senior citizen with a faint touch of delusion who invented these quant and charming images?
Two hundred years ago we were riding horses. Now we trample the surfaces of other planets leaving tracks and footprints in the dust. We have finished nature mastery 101 by simulating in our mathematical physics and our biochemistry labs many of life’s mysteries. We have made a decent beginning.
But in knowing the self we have little more knowledge than the Dark Ages of superstition or even Stone Age magic: We have not eliminated wars. Negotiators from two different countries can sit in front of each other and not have the faintest comprehension of what the other is actually feeling.
And our political commentators and politicians act as if they never attended college. They speak as if their minds can not comprehend two separate, opposing points of view at the same time. Perhaps in regard to the kingdoms of the soul we as yet have had no Renaissance or Reformation; there has been no Columbus, Magellan, or Captain Cook charting quadrant by quadrant the oceans of the soul hidden within us.
Our scientists are like children who fear their own ignorance--they are afraid that if they look inside they will find a monster hidden in the closet of their minds. And so they have not yet opened the door to see what is inside. They wait for another age whose dawning illumination will free them from fear of what is hidden in the dark.
But a few have no choice. Fairy tales invade their lives. All manner of creatures familiar and unfamiliar appear to them. These are creatures from fairy realms--the Sidhe, the sylphs, gnomes, salamanders, undines/mermaids, and hordes of other beings.
Even so, the ancients offer us reassurance. We can turn to scripture and literature and find these beings in the encyclopedia of fairy tales of mythology where they have already been described. There are those who have recently departed from this life like the Prophet Samuel who spoke to King Saul in the Bible. Ghosts may on occasion fade in and out and haunt. But the ghost is part of traditional story telling. And this genre of fairy has spawned an array of movies and TV shows. Yet ghosts like the ghost of Hamlet’s father may not always limit themselves to appearing on stage in one of Shakespeare’s plays.
There are creatures too who have a survival instinct and want to exist for no other reason than to feed on the life force of any living being. And there are the demons--both of low and high rank like Mephistopheles who was assigned the task of negotiating a contract with Faust.
The authenticity and authority of a demon are always slightly in doubt. It does not help that the major religions of the world habitually declare that the gods of the preceding religions are demons. It is not just politicians and military who engage in wars of propaganda to describe the enemy as a bad guy.
The Buddhists declared Kama, the god of love, to also be the god of demons because Buddhists do not like desire. And Christians take the horned god from the Neolithic age of the pagans and give his horns to the Jewish devil in order to eliminate grey from their color spectrum because they prefer that the colors of theology be black and white.
A curious, more discerning student of fairy will attempt to define a fairy tale’s traits--the rules by which its landscape of the soul operates. In fact, every single writer of fairy tales or mythology knows full well that as long as he is consistent and tells a story well he can follow whatever rules he wants. That is the nature of the fairy tale genre--the writer designs the operating system.
Still, if we want a truly challenging fairy tale we will need to have the rules of fairy operate to some extent in our world as well. We will want empirical observations and carefully recorded interviews with individuals. We will want sufficient data on hand so we can draw our own conclusions about whether a gate to fairy opens to our own world.
For example, if you should stray to the Other Side, the Next World, or to the astral plane when you dream at night, you might notice that the sense of time is different. In our world, time is linear.
In fairy or the astral plane, time is not a stream; it is more like a sea of motionless time. Here one may drift—there are no shores to this sea. It is rather one unbroken circle encompassing past, present, and future. What has been and what shall be are just as present and as real as what is right now in this moment. The astral plane has a totally different feel.
In a dream, individuals may cross to the Other Side and return. But when they awake at dawn they forget that they made the journey. They get up. They dress. They eat breakfast. And nothing is different. They do not want to consider the consequences of what happens when you go past that Do Not Enter sign.
False awakening, then, has a sister. It is called morning forgetfulness--you wake up from the dream and forget what you have seen. Or else you push it as fast as you can out of your mind.
Forgetting can be justified. To leave part of your soul--your feelings and aspirations--on the Other Side is to invite the destruction of your personality. It is to be swept away by some emotional riptide that takes you out into depths where reason has nothing to cling to when it gasps for a breath or wants a moment to rest.
Exhausted or confused, even after returning to our world, the five senses and the mind may not fully align. The emotions are still lit with dazzling sights. Our friends and lovers may then appear as our enemies because our emotions of fear or hunger do not know where to go or to whom they belong. What used to give us comfort and satisfaction may appear dim as the pleasures we used to know no longer can take hold.
And then too we must consider worst case scenarios that, if true, would be too much for the rational mind to endure. Might there not be a few born in human form whose souls are from the Other Side? As I have mentioned, there is no User’s Manual lying next to the crib when they are born that warns them that their dream kingdom is different from other human beings.
At last, the introduction is over. I can now begin my brief story. I present you a woman I know.
I have listened to the details of her life. I meditate on what she says. I walk among her memories as if they are my own. I meet her in my dreams. I enter her dreams and within the dream we walk and fight side by side.
I am not her. And the story is not biography. The story is rather what happens when the notes and cords of two lives for a few moments become one song. Isn’t that what a well told story does?
For me, there is no other way to destroy the ancient loneliness that haunts the human soul--for ages and eons it has stole our joy and our happiness with its riptides and its whirlpools as our emotions crash on its hidden shoals. Perhaps it is time we make better charts when we sail at night through the darkness that marks the boundaries of the kingdoms within our dreams.
She is not one but two. And these two parts of her have not yet found a way to be with or near each other. I have seen this before. It can happen this way. A man of great will takes hold of a mermaid binding her to him in such a way that she can no longer remain true to herself. It happens over and over. There are remedies in this situation.
How do you retrieve the soul of a mermaid who has strayed and lost her way as she journeys between the worlds? What words must I write? What ancient word of power must I speak that creates a path so enticing, so full of delight that she will put off her human identity and realize suddenly and exclaim--“I knew it all along that only love is real; this entire human enterprise is like a ship that sails without a destination and without a home port. Human beings may be lost, but I am not.
“Right now in this moment I know what I am--love is my home port and my destiny; it flows through me in every moment of every journey I take.”
When she can say that spontaneously, the mermaid queens will turn their gaze upon me. They will smile with those smiles that banish loneliness from the innermost recesses of the heart. And then they will say, “You have once more returned one of our sisters who lost her way. She is most precious to us. In return, you may ask of us for any gift that we have.”
I mention their offering a gift not because I am after one. Rather, I would point out that unlike the human race, the mermaid queens embody the purest love on this planet. They know that love is an unending flow, but they also know that the best love is an equal exchange--both give wholehearted of all that they are without holding back. When they offer me a gift, they are just following the laws of love as established by the divine world that rules over all realms--nature, human, and divine.
As I now write, my room spontaneously fills with watery blue green energy. Waves of water flow around me. Yet this water is not just a flowing, undulating sensation. It has feeling and life. Its touch is affection, acceptance, and love.
There are times in life when a dream, as thick as a cloud, comes down to the ground and surrounds you. Others may not see or sense it. But for you it is more than a day dream. More than being awake inside of a dream.
Rather it is the tell tale sign of what happens when two separate realms come together, overlap, and unite. Then there is one stream of life that again is like two lovers whose two lives flow into each other and join as one.
I can speak aloud, type, and write. I can present you with metaphors that flair, shine, and entice. Using these luminous trail markers, others who wish can follow a path through the dark. But the mermaids perceive differently. We look at each other and no words or thoughts are necessary.
Instead, there is a direct sharing heart to heart. The life within one is felt and sensed as the same life within the other. For mermaids, we are all immersed in one sea of love. They have great difficulty in imagining any other kind of reality.
But what happens when a mermaid enters a human body at birth? It is easy to forget who she is. It is easy to stray.
To summarize her biography in a few paragraphs, distilling and condensing her journey among us into a few brief images. Whether awake or asleep, she has been surrounded almost on a daily basis with creatures from fairy and from other places even more strange.
Their forms are quite clear to her eyes. These beings can interact physically with the real world. And with only a few exceptions, the creatures are unfriendly, cold, and even hostile.
When she tries to talk to human beings about her experiences, no one understands. People can offer no advice. And if she were to persist in demanding answers, they consider her crazy.
Everything else in her life is familiar to us. They are the typical experiences of a young woman growing up. There is the normal level of failure and success; there is the typical loneliness and friendship, rebellion and learning to fit in.
What do I see when I look at this woman? I am sitting in a pool with a small waterfall
The present moment is your home.
The water is pure and clear.
Everything you hold dear is here.
The water flows.
Your blood flows.
The cloud, the river, the sea
The earth and the sky
Are you home.
To feel what I feel is to feel free.
The image shifts:
We are sitting in the
I look into her eyes and feel the flow of the entire river--its waves and shores, its rapids and the pace that moves fast and slow.
Her eyes never lose their tenderness, their innocence, their purity, or their newness even as a million years pass by in her mind, two million, there million, four million years go by.
Gazing into her eyes, I am hypnotized, mesmerized, for I have become like her--beyond the reach of time.
She is the mist
A soft, wet caress
On my chest her fingers drift
I am her song
The world is gone
Her breath, her lips
All that exist.
I ask, Tell me about your self?
I am still in the mountain
My waters are soothing, serene, and cool
I am turbulent,
A rapids, a waterfall, a flash flood
Crashing and smashing against canyon walls
At times I lie down and sleep
This life is one of my dreams—
My incarnation as a human being
Yet I remain part of nature
Pure and innocent
Should I fulfill a purpose like human beings?
Does the wind have places where it must be
Or the sea have plans for tomorrow’s activities?
The river and I share the same soul
Feel what I feel—
In this moment
Million years of time
My waters splashing, laughing, singing, and dancing
Vermillion, citrine, and violet
These buttes and cliffs
Are sculptured by my fingertips
Inch by inch
The work of my heart
Yet hold and daring
Tell me more of your journey in becoming a human being. She replies,
I love Human beings barter and trade
I dream They make and shape
I flow They use thoughts to think
I know They analyze and conceive
I am They do and believe
I flow for millions of years
Without thoughts, decisions,
Negotiations, or beliefs
I am complete
Human beings strive to create a fate
If I touch my dreams
Then with them I am unable to speak
If I speak to them
I take their pain into myself
Which continuously overwhelms me
It is impossible for me
To be mean or to feel hate
Yet this is what they share with me
In the end
The sea shall find me again
And I shall be free
I address myself now to the girl and not to the mermaid. I say to her, “Imagine if you and your lover could offer to each other a cup of golden light from which to drink. And this gift contained the essence of your souls and spirits. And in receiving this gift, this cup of golden light that you can drink, or a radiance that radiates from him and flows into you and that you absorb totally into your own being—how would you feel different after receiving it? Who would you have become?”
She replies, “To receive such a cup of golden light would be the kiss of two souls becoming one. It would be a marriage, a union for eternity, of two souls entwining together in an eternal dance, laughing, loving, lovemaking, with eyes only for the other. We would be together, and even separate, we would not be apart. We would be independent and individual, but complimentary to the other.”
“I would be more whole then I was before receiving the cup. It would be finding and merging with my male counterpart, and he with his female counterpart.”
One last comment to wrap up this on-going story. The mermaid inside of the girl now speaks to me,
You are not as other human beings
Speak the ancient word of power
That in whatever form I am
I might know and perceive
That love is the essence of who I am
And in this knowing, this being
I shall always be free.
Like I say, this is an on-going story.