So here I am, standing on the moon in the flesh with two of my best friends; we are so close they may as well be two aspects of me. I couldn’t be happier. The three of us are mesmerized by the scenic view we gaze at through the visors of our space suits. We’ve been marveling at the mountains of the moon, silhouetted against the half-earth, the bright blue ball of home, a stunning vision, stark and surreal, surrounded by utter bright blackness. We’ve been talking about the memories and longings that this sight of cosmic proportion elicits as we try to make out what looks to be a wispy white hurricane swirling on her blue surface, memories, and longings for what we miss most of all: atmospheric disturbances, wind and rain, thunderstorms, fresh nitrogen-charged air in your lungs, green grass, boundless seas, and countless trees.
But we are tired. We’ve seen enough of the Armstrong museum and its faded flag centerpiece. It’s time to hop on the moon scooters and make our way back through the crater, across the Mare Tranquillitatis plain to the near-side moon base and our underground sleeping quarters. There’s no telling how long we’ve been awake; the sunlight has been perpetual for what seems like forever.
In my home moon-pod, I have an antique voice recognition printer where I’ve been chronicling a story that begins and ends here. I need to get back to it and finish it before the memories fade, as it takes an unrelenting, concentrated effort to keep them intact. The story lies beyond the grave, so to speak, or beyond the funeral pyre. It is being told by my spirit on the other side of this life, retrieved from the wormholes of all. Yet I have been recording it, as I am now, in the flesh, on earth’s moon, in an age of nonwar harmony, roughly corresponding to the year 2525, although we don’t use the Gregorian calendar any longer. However, I’m not really here, or there, not permanently. That is to say, it’s not my body; I’m just visiting, occupying the body of my host, who is nonetheless an incarnation of me. I am here, or there, temporarily so that I may accomplish a few worldly tasks, chiefly: to relay this tale.
Alright, allow me to explain further now that I’m back in my pod safe and snug. I attain better flow and harmonious writing habits when I can open my “window,” feel the fresh pumped breeze of artificial atmosphere, and watch my beautiful bluebird of happiness chirping in my holographic banyan tree. Word recording technologies have evolved, but the art of telling a story hasn’t changed.
My specialty is the afterlife. I spend most of my non-time there in Elysium – heaven, the Axis Mundi, that which cannot be named, the realm of spirits – time traveling through the timeless grid. Of course, time and travel are only meaningful as concepts to the incarnated souls who are slaves to gravity, living lives on solid earth inside skin and bones. Once out of body and into the spirit world, there is no actual time, as you know it, only simultaneity of everything that is was and will be. Also, the unfathomable distances of endless space are no obstacle, since travel, as you know it, requires time, so where there is no time, there is no need for travel, just be there now, and you’re there, then you’re here, now, and everywhere at the speed of thought. So I use the terms – time and travel – loosely so you mortal earthlings might understand.
I sometimes serve as a guide assisting other soul travelers to find their incarnations through the navigation of wormholes. Entrances and exits are tricky, gathering quantum information. But having been a soul traveler for countless eternities I’ve learned quite a few tricks and mastered the multiverses. I’ve learned how to hover next to humans like a ghost and read their minds or enter them as I choose…if I sense they are open…to see through their eyes, feel their pain and joys.
These words have been transmitted, extracted from the Axis Mundi, through me, to you, a feat which is not supposed to be possible by any known laws of physics or metaphysics. Indeed, translating stories of ink and flesh to a language of spirit traversing through the void and back again to one of ink and flesh, is difficult to say the least…but not impossible. I have learned to cheat metaphysical law with concentrated intent, retaining memories through the wormhole transitions. For now, and only with extraordinary effort, I remember this one narrative, crossing several life spans, because I chose to chronicle it for you and because it is compressed into me like a fossil that traverses the ages, a time capsule revealing, once discovered, a buried timeless tale.
Just as bodies are born from the earth and then die returning to dust, souls are born from the ether and they atrophy and die if the will is not strong. In general, spirits have free will but without intent, they may simply dissolve back into the ether from which they came, the all one. In the process of reincarnation, inserting a willful soul into the appropriate physical frame can be problematic, especially with animals. Sometimes the souls don’t match and the bodies die, rejecting the spirit. In my countless transmigrations from epoch to eon on earth and her sister planets, one thing I’ve noticed is that the same exact combination of cell structures tend to repeat every thousand earth years or so. Amazingly, certain rare spirits tend to follow the DNA of their previous host so that they end up dwelling within a virtually identical twin, a clone of themselves, the same face to express with. Notwithstanding epigenetics, the influence of nurture and environment on genes and chromosomes, an old soul feels at home in this familiar genetic frame, as they grow together accumulating wisdom. This is the divine connection between spirit and flesh. Incidentally, a spirit may split in two and occupy two or more different people, as we will soon find out. In fact, a soul is much like a single tone composed of a family of overtones all related to the fundamental frequency.
Since in all my incarnations my worldly deaths are violent and premature, I never really get to know myself or find out who I am, as they say, so I prefer to remain mostly in Elysium, a name for that which cannot be named, and I experience life vicariously through my living friends by hovering unseen, but sometimes felt, and traveling along with their journeys. One of my favorite people to visit in this way is a certain Pythia. She is the prophetess at the temple of Apollo at Delphi who lived in the axial age of earth, centuries before the myth of a man-god named Jesus Christ. There were several Pythias over the millennia, but I have my favorite. She is Delphica. She was one in a long line, groomed from the sisterhood of Sibyls who were appointed to the position to make prophecies for the entire known world.
The first time I visited Delphica, she was stooped upon her tripod, inhaling fumes from the subterranean earth, fumes that, along with a psychotropic brew, served as entheogen to bring her in touch with the supernatural world and give her powers of divination very few can attain. Her red eyes were dancing with firelight, as she pondered a vision she had just intercepted from the void. This was no ordinary, singular prophesy at the temple of Apollo to influence a general’s war, pronounce a king’s kingdom or predict a pauper’s turning fortune. The matter was more universally urgent, I learned later: something to do with saving the world – or more to the point, humanity, from itself. I can tell you this now because I could see her vision clearly enough to identify the main characters in it, to my utter surprise, as friends of mine, fellow soul travelers it turns out, those above-mentioned friends so close that I always thought of them as my own anima and animus, the two parts of me. Delphica had never known my friends until eternity caught up with her, and the vision was a cloudy mystery, yet, the intuitive prophetess that she was, she knew the importance of this farsighted dream, felt it to her bones.
Alerted, intrigued, and inspired by this vision, she sent me on a mission with a thought command, to travel back, or forward, as it were, in time, to find the story of how my two friends became an integral part in saving us from ourselves.
I will begin with the story of my friend Jason, in the flesh, on the planet, at the dawn of his adventure:
An Unpleasant Message
Jason was sitting on the couch playing his guitar next to Chaucer the family cat when he saw his mother opening the day’s mail. He could sense some anxiety in her manner when she gazed upon a single envelope, and he had an instinct of what it might be, what it surely was. But he chose to immerse himself in a zone of musical trance, laying down virgin arpeggios and overlapping scales in a genesis stage of development still barely understood in his young musical mind. Chaucer consumed the improvisation and purred contentedly behind enigmatic eyes.
Grandma had bought Jason his first guitar for Christmas when he was ten, a nylon-stringed acoustic, like a Spanish flamenco guitar. He had learned folk songs from a songbook, innocently entertaining himself, and then one day he was playing Red River Valley and Goodnight Irene in front of his sister’s girlfriends and they started to cry, entranced by the adorable cuteness of a ten-year-old boy singing love songs. That defining moment seared its way into his heart with this epiphany: Wow, this is like having superpowers! Later he would see Elvis work his magic and then later still, the Beatles, and the force had implanted the seed - this is what I want to do! Sadly, the desire would prove to be a curse as well as a blessing. The emotions this expression stirred up tormented him; perfect masteries always teased him, perpetually out of reach.
Nevertheless, today the improvisations soothed him. He still had his tattered work clothes on, his high, black leather tree climbing boots stomping lightly to the loose rhythms of his music. Shirtless as usual in the summertime, the guitar body hid a long bloody scratch from his right nipple down to his belly button from where the severed tree limb had reached out and grabbed him. He was constantly aware of the often-unbearable conundrum that this rough profession presented when juxtaposed with his dream of playing music. The two occupations seemed diametrically opposed, not compatible one bit, and he was burdened with angst because of it. Every single time he played, whether solo on guitar or playing the bass (they needed a bass player) with his fledgling band, Night Train, he thanked his lucky stars that his fingers were still intact.
Today, he had yet another of those near-death experiences that he was learning to face, like going to war every day, scared of a looming rendezvous with a tree. At sixty feet up, an unruly behemoth of a limb had careened unexpectedly in the wrong direction and pinned him against the trunk, knocking the wind out of his lungs. It could have been his head, and he’d be dead; one ton of hard-ass oak butt would crush your skull. Or, a fate worse than death, a mangled hand, losing the use of his fingers forever, never playing the guitar again, which would crush his soul.
His ribs were so bruised it hurt to breathe let alone sing, but the effort - to make music - was worth every wince, a sad mixing of pain with pleasure for every delicate fret he pressed his bloody fingers on, forcing the bruised left hand to obey. Rambling on Mixolydian modalities somehow seemed to ease the aches.
Waking him from his trance, his mother’s voice was suddenly in his ear. “Dear, you have a letter from the draft board. You better open it and see what they are saying this time.”
Reluctantly, he grabbed the letter from his mother’s hand and tore open the envelope, annoyed at the interruption:
Dear Mr. Greenwood. This is to advise you that the classification you requested has been denied by the local board. A new status Card reflecting your classification is enclosed. The reason(s) for denial of the requested classification is set forth on the enclosed Report of Information (SSS Form 119) which you may wish to retain for your personal records.
He glanced at SSS form 119:
REASON FOR DENIAL OF REQUESTED CLASSIFICATION:
The information which the registrant presented to the board has not sufficiently proven to us that his objections to participation in war are strongly based on religious, ethical, or moral beliefs. Instead of expressing his beliefs along these lines, he has expounded on hate for established order.
The registrant has been classified 1 A and has been scheduled to report to the induction center, local board no. 113 Professional BLDG. Rm. 612, 65 East Elizabeth Avenue, Bethlehem, PA. 18018 on August 18th, 1969 at 6:00 a.m. Failure to report to the induction center on this date will result in further charges and the issuance of an arrest warrant pursuant to Federal law…
Jason threw down the letter, and then the guitar with a bang and a twang. “Hate for established order? Where the hell did they get that?” Chaucer jumped off the couch and scampered away to a safe corner. “I didn’t say a damned thing about hate; I didn’t mention the word! All I was trying to say is my order doesn’t jibe with their order. Okay, maybe I do hate it. There’s nothing to love about it, damned war machine!”
His mother reached for him, hugging him awkwardly; she could sense his fear and outrage, her arms bounced off his hard, tense shell, flailing helplessly around him, struggling to comfort him with her hands. “Dear, dear, we’ll work something out about this. We’ll fight it; we’ll get through it somehow…we’ll find something to get you out of it…damn them. Oh lordy, I don’t know. Why don’t you go take your shower and we’ll discuss it over dinner?”
On his way to the shower, he had the thought. That’s it, I’m outta here. That’s the final push I needed!
Unlacing then pulling off the big black boots was a chore in itself, eliciting groans. Finally unclothed he stared in the bathroom mirror sizing up his wounds. Contemplating his bloody navel he suddenly found himself feeling guilty about smashing pumpkins when he was a kid. Didn’t matter that he was not the instigator but had been coaxed into it; it was somehow cool to be bad, stealing meticulously carved jack-o-lanterns right off front porches and smashing them without mercy, gleefully on the street. But pumpkin smashing was not a federal offense. Egging an Army induction center could be, smashing the plate glass window, surely. Conspiracy to blow up a federal building most certainly was. He was feeling somewhat relieved at having unloaded fifty pounds of nitroglycerin dynamite to the Black Panthers. He’d washed his hands and hoped it could not be traced back to him and his cohorts, members of the Resistance. Great dangerous fun being an angry young revolutionary - exhilarating! He felt guilty about the pumpkins. Not about the window smashing; that was an anti-war statement he was proud of. Now his rebellious nature was up against the establishment wall, face to face with Uncle Sam himself. He had to flee, fold his hand, and forfeit the game.
His father, the elder Greenwood, who taught classes on architectural design at the college on the hill, had designed a façade of colonnades leading to the bathroom and a shower stall resembling a Grecian bathhouse, with frescoes of Hermes and Aphrodite and a frieze of nymphs, satyrs, and maenads inlaid in the tiles around the top. Jason studied these while soaping his sore body and suddenly a strange tingling sensation came over him, along with an erotic surge in his loins. It seemed, briefly, that he was somewhere else, somewhere incredibly familiar, like having a déjà vu but different. An ephemeral wraithlike woman was there, hovering like an angel, and other half-naked bodies covered with mud. The sensation was loving, warm, kind, and friendly, like some imagined heaven. But the strangest thing about it: it seemed second hand, vicarious as if he were experiencing it through someone else or more than one person, two times over, and repeating in layers.
The impression was fleeting and left his body as quickly as it came, too surreal to believe. Wow, not even in my wildest acid trips…! But he left it alone and dressed for dinner and a night on the town with trouble on his mind and rumors of trouble brewing in the streets. Jeans and a tee-shirt would do tonight.