Diary: Imagery of Heaven

olympus.jpg

Feeling very grateful to be living in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Reflecting on what heaven on earth would really be like: an eternal spring – a passion of wildflowers – lying on a grassy bank, feeling completely connected to the earth, being in love with the sky up above – kissed and caressed by the breath of the wind.

In another dream, I am in the centre of a lake on an exceptionally still and clear day, meditating in an old rowing boat – the sun is at the centre of your every thought, approaching dusk, without ever disappearing – a return to the land of Hyperborea, where light is inescapable and eternal.

I long for the light, as I long not to be so darkened, so demon-plagued, so wrested from my own self-control. To be blessed with an easy consciousness – to have a mind that is all forest, mountain, and wood – that is rooted in the very essence of serenity, and has slayed and subdued the teaching demon called PANIC.

To be a poet is to be a prophet, and the act of putting pen to paper can be so intense, so thrilling, and so dangerous, that it can be a horror and a wonder to behold your own words; especially when you’ve had the experience of writing things in mystic cluelessness, only to have them realized perfectly later – to predict the words you will spontaneously utter, as you scream in an empty field.

And at our most weak, terrified, and vulnerable, everybody longs for a great cosmic mother – for some warm and undying essence to inject us into its arms, when we call out “That’s enough – I can’t take it anymore – o, please, o please, just give me some rest!”

And she comes then, that mother, that Tara, that Virgin Mary, that Shekkinah, that Prajnaparamita, That Ground of all being. She comes, and she bundles you into her arms and says – “It’s all right – I’ve got you – you are safe, warm, and protected – nothing awful ever needs to happen to you again.”

Is fear the gateway to that mother? Fear can be a gateway to many things, and the presence of The Divine Mother can be experienced in a myriad different ways. Hecate and Venus are one. Kali and Lakshmi are two sides of the same loving and destructive coin – pacifying you and terrifying you in accordance with the motions of the stars.

And while I am not of the kind to shun a fear that can teach me so much, I still request that I be granted a leave of absence from The Palace of Anxiety. I do not want to be reduced to a fit of tremors and screams anymore. Grant me some warmth, some peace, some friendly bosom to lay on; for while I am a Child of the Universe, this child does not want to be a burden on anyone – he wants to be blessed with the tranquilized peace of mind to chase butterflies in the woods.

 

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Short Story: Spengler and I

clownfish

Old Spengler and I – my 7 foot companion with orange afro and gingerbread beard – had gone into London for a pleasure outing that very quickly turned squiffy. It had been business as usual, only, minus the business, when, after one too many left turns and margaritas, we found ourselves in circumstances that really would rather not have had us in them. But circumstances can’t always choose their inhabitants. It’s a tricky business being a circumstance. I should know – I’m a very circumstantial fellow, as all but Old Spengler would agree – but I’m not here to arouse your sympathy for circumstances. I’m here to relay you a story. The Case is as follows:

 

It all started with a wet dream.

Wet dreams have a way of sneaking up on you. You can be there in bed, dreaming as usual, following the same old avenues of reified thought, as old and as stale as movie picture cave paintings, when, out of the abysmal blue, up crops an image out of the despicable archives labelled ‘SELF INDULGENCE’, under the subheading ‘Ejaculation’, reminding you that you aren’t quite as clear of conditioning as you thought you were. I’m strictly off the porn, you see, as celibate as they come, if you’ll excuse the pun; but that was not always the case, as my mind so gleefully likes to remind me, assailing my sleeping self with stray images of thighs, breasts, buttocks, and other arousing body parts disassembled sporadically before me in an orgy of anatomical dissociation – only the choicest cuts from my ejaculatory history, you understand, the ones always guaranteed to give – and here I am, in a right old sticky mess, in between sheets whose snuggle percentile has markedly dipped in the last few seconds.

Fortunately, I lost little of my vital essence. I’ve been practising non-ejaculation for a while now, and my pelvic floor muscles are so tight, that my urethra can close-up on any escaping semen with all the might and finality of a descending iron gate.

It’s not my favourite way to be woken, but it got me up just the same, and just in time to find an old flame of mine, bikini-clad and unconscious, lying on the ceramic floor of my hotel shower, eleven stories above ground.

But things had gotten weird much sooner than this, so forgive me while I meander.

 

We got into London two days ago. But the London you think of when I say London is not the one we’re currently inhabiting – this is InterLondon – an undemarcated, unplaceable domain that exists between, in, and around London, but not exactly within any specific region, manifesting whenever you’re not looking, and disappearing just as quickly when you get wise to it – it is a plexus, a network, a slender framework of spectral constructions available to all, but accessible only to a few – it’s not your choice, nor anyone else’s – the only thing that counts is whether InterLondon think you’re a right fit for the place or not.

And, you have to be the right fit for a place like InterLondon, an insidiously enveloping breeding ground where the cream of the crop and the dregs of society come to romp, coerce, and comport themselves, contorting through tunnels and supersonics railways that wend around the city like public service rollercoasters, built for your daily travelling needs. Thing about these ‘coasters is that they circumnavigate orientation in the same way that they circumnavigate the city, and even the most honoured and slandered of patriarchs and gun molls couldn’t tell you where any given line will depart to next; it’s very much the luck of the draw – though anyone who would bring luck into an equation as inauspicious as this, seriously needs their algebra examined. No one has to pay for anything in InterLondon – the whole place pays for itself. The only price is your acquiescence; your willingness to surrender completely to a place where danger is tattooed into the very matrix of the zone itself, and hardknocks come at you as quickly as the testicular balls of a poor man’s lottery. I do not use this allusion lightly. On former visitations I have literally witnessed poor men being castrated en masse and their detached testicles being used as lottery balls in some far from gnarly application. After a lengthy spell of tension accumulation during which the balls are juggled in the machine for the tediously-chilling time duration of twenty minutes, the first six balls to be removed – and the owners to which they once belonged – are spared; but those whose severed testicles are not so forthcoming get killed on the spot, and have their remains fed to oversized Dobermans who get fed steroids in liquid form from their waterbowls. But to die this way is the preferred choice. Those who survive must last out a life no man would want to endure. There’s lives are prolonged needlessly to the point of comparative immortality, so that the abuse that can be inflicted upon them is not limited by either their life-spans or innate frangibility. I pity such souls. But Pity does little good in hell, where it only serves to fan the flames.

I always like to have Old Spengler with me on a case such as this. He’s one of the few people I’ve ever known to be born in InterLondon, and actually possess a desire to go back there. There’s just something about the guy. Someone could spit the guy right in the face – provided the wind was on their side, which it seldom is here – and he would just smile benevolently down on them, like they’d done him a favour, given him the name of a great restaurant, or a terrific new band on the scene or something. There’s plenty of good music here, mostly Jazz and Psychedelica, and Spengler could always be found somewhere near the front, nodding his head copacetically, digging the vibes, and casting a huge pall on all the audience members behind, many of whom, despite getting egregiously pissed off, somehow seemed incapabable of starting a fight with him: the penumbra of delighted unconcern it cast was just far too effective a palliative – and any that didn’t need to be injected or sniffed in a place like InterLondon was considered a bonus.

That’s not to say that Spengler’s rap record was a clean slate, no mama – mostly just minor infractions he joyously admitted too – one time he stole my watch, and then gave it back three years later, never did understand why, never liked that watch, think it was his idea of a prank, funny sort of humour he has sometimes. A couple of people in the herd had bandied about the word ‘rape’ a couple of times, but I never believed it, not Old Spengler – who could help but be delighted by the gentle promiscuity of a clown such as him?

 

So, you may be wondering what we’re doing here. A vacation in The Yellow Springs is not a popular destination choice; but, neither Spengler nor I could be considered popular people, so who are we to pick and choose?

Spengler had really wanted to come and see The Oil Slick Lakes. If you could avoid having your tie and your Rolex wrenched off you by the caged baboons near the entrance, then visiting these squalid wetlands was as good a pleasure outing destination as any. Piles of clownfish were all hustling as close to the shore as they could get, as though they were flirting with the idea of becoming land-based animals, but hadn’t quite yet developed the determination to commit. We poked our fingers into their tiny, suction cup like mouths for a few hours before moving on, and everyone in the streets looked at us like we were gods. Oil Slick Lake fish are considered some of the best eats in the world, and I’ve seen gang lords and Yakuza Kings turning themselves in, on the offchance that a policeman’s bribe to give them one of these fish in the hoosegow might turn out to be less than bullshit.

They were best eaten as a sort of sushi, with the skin kept on so you could still appreciate their inverted colours of albino white with orange stripes snaking like copper-soaked seaweed around them, as though that might have been the thing that squeezed them to death, and not the strange instruments the fishermen used to catch them. They looked halfway between vacuum cleaners and pneumatic drills, with only a passing resemblance to the function of either. For nights passed now I’ve been haunted by the dream of a man trying to vacuum inside an infinite void – but that’s the thing about InterLondon – here, life and dreams get reversed – you do all your office hours and work while you sleep – real living is for demoniacs.

To be served an Oil Slick Clownfish is a major occasion: one of both deathless solemnity and Dionysian fervour. There’s a reason criminals with a tyrant’s command of obedience are willing to get locked up just to try them, for eating one in public is as good as signing your own death warrant.

You see, though rarefied, the public taste for Clownfish is high, superlatively psychotic, and if anyone sees a man have a piece, then everyone wants a piece of that man, literally. First, a Bacchanal is thrown. Everyone drinks wine to surfeit, and vomits it up as freely as it formerly entered them, joyously dancing, and swinging barstools around for salsa partners, upending pinball machines, and writing letters home telling their deceased mothers how much they missed them, and then burning them immediately after, because in an in-between metropolis like this, you could never be too sure who had killed their own mother, and who hadn’t.

After this, an Asiatic gong is sounded. The chef comes out dressed to tens as a Chinese emperor, and places a golden platter before the incumbent consumer. Everyone turns completely silent, and no one makes a single sound nor belch as the customer, slowly, and delicately, consumes every last flake and morsel of the fish with as much as care as they can. There is no time limit to how long a person can take to fully consume an Oil Slick Clownfish – filleted or not – some reckless souls polishing it in hour; but most doing their utmost to draw it out for a day, weeks, and – in a few famous cases, recounted from restaurant to restaurant – months. Some golden fellow was once reported to have spent a full nine years eating the clownfish: but only the most earnest of devotees believe this legend, though few eateries would be seen without a statue of the figure, positioned somewhere very noticeable and eminent within their establishments, usually near the entrance or on the cocktail shelves to usher in good luck. As for the audience, people will often give up their whole lives, going from restaurant to restaurant, just so they can always be there to participate in the glorious waiting of this festival – for, as soon as the meal is over, and the last shred has been sinfully swallowed to everyone’s satisfaction, then the audience let rip – the honoured customer is torn apart in a riot of deranged connoisseurs, all plunging straight for the eater’s stomach or bowels in the hopes of even getting a smidgeon of the flavour of the fish that once passed through them – or was still passing through them, depending on the swiftness of the meal. Sometimes an observing customer, driven rabid by the waiting, would shout “WOULD YA HURRY UP ALREADY?!” at the eater for fear that all morsels would be digested and shat-out prior to his actual evisceration. But there was an etiquette at these occasions; and sifting through the customer’s toiletries was strictly verboten, as was a fellow customer’s right to interrupt the sanctified silence no man may break. Of course, there was a small black market of sewage marauders selling bagged shit they claimed had once been pre-digested Oil Slick Clownfish – but only fools bought these, and no one lent much credence to their supposability, or to their proffered delicacy.

Most of the time, people obeyed the rules. An orchestra of Tibetan dungchen players was kept close on hand; and, as soon as the (purely functional) cannibalistic riot was in motion, the players would blow, and blow hard, filling the violence-sequestered rooms with their cacophonous flatulence. So esteemed is the Oil Slick Clownfish by these peoples, that it is the patron animal depicted on every InterLondon flag; and its mystical, benevolent, but wily character is the subject of many myths and creation stories and children’s cartoons.

Old Spengler is the only man I know who has ever tasted an Oil Slick Clownfish and lived. I remember his Consumption Festival well. After the Bacchanal, every one simmered down to silence, as Old Spengler slid himself into his royal booth, and sat before the fish. He looked at the fish long and hard, as though he were somehow willing it to start flapping about on his plate, unmindful of the audience members looking at him with an equal rapture of rapacity. I just didn’t understand his behaviour. I had tried to talk him out of it fiercely and persistently. But he just did not comprehend that to submit to this indulgence with tantamount to signing the certificate of his own murder, and just kept on assuring me what a tasty fish it was going to be.

I should have known better, and expected something of this sort, given how well I know Spengler; but, when he picked up the whole Oil Slick Clownfish with his right hand – the insult hand in InterLondon – I just could not believe it – what was the motherfucker going to do? Surely he wasn’t going to eat it whole! Who would throw away an opportunity as hallowed as this! I could even hear folks around me, falling for the same racket, literally sharpening their knives at the prospect of consuming what must have been, undoubtedly, the freshest Oil Slick Clownfish anyone had ever eaten vicariously.

But when I saw that big old Zen Monk grin impale itself on his face, I knew my man hadn’t quit on me just yet.

Sticking out his tongue, and spinning it in a circuit as though to warm it up, he pointedly applied his tongue to the fish’s tail, and licking it as slowly as any man would gurglingly dare to do, he covered its whole length and breadth, taking extra care to lick around its eye sockets three times; and then, before we knew what was happening to us – (because, to be honest, I had been just as ready to tear him to pieces as anyone else, if only out of deference to both custom and our friendship: I knew it’s what he would have wanted) – he flung it down disgustedly on his plate, belched out a proclaimatory “YUCKK!” and stormed out of the restaurant. Apparently, a few kids did follow him, and pester him into cutting out his tongue and giving it to them; but I don’t know if this is true – (Old Spengler has always claimed he has ability to regrow his tongue at will) – and, how he ever got away with it, I’ll never know. Spengler says it’s because no one ever remembers his face.

“But you’re seven foot tall for Fish sake! And you’ve got a ginger beard – and an orange afro to boot! How could people forget your face?”

Spengler shrugged.

“Anyone could have those attributes. Like I said, it’s my face that people don’t remember.”

 

So, in honour of this anomalous event, it was customary for us to visit the Lakes whenever we had time off from work to take the chance.

Earlier in the day we had stopped off at a shopping mall for a McDonalds. (They sell battered imported Clownfish for the kids’ Happy Meal which is kind of cute. I guess they have to learn about these things somehow). Not that I was eating; I was engaged in other things. But once I was too tired to continue and went looking for Spengler so we could go back to our respective ensuites, I found him leaning against a non-drive thru window, talking to a little girl of about six. I had no idea what they were talking about at the time, and it escaped my mind to ask him later when I got the chance. But the thing that struck me was that Spengler looked serious. Spengler never looked serious. The only time he did was when he farted or took a shit, and it was generally a convention of his to do neither in front of children. I was concerned to say the least.

When our fingers were numb from being sucked on long enough, we were going to head back for the night and call it quits. But then Spengler called out:

“Hey, what’s that?”

I looked in the direction his voice implied, and saw an enormous black tadpole the size of a squashed submarine.

“Shit, man!” I exclaimed, “Look at the size of that thing!”

We looked at it in wonder and disgust for a few moments before we attained the same chilling realization as eachother.

“If that’s the tadpole . . .” Spengler began.

“Then what the fuck is it going to grow into?”

We both took a few moments to let this digest.

And then something happened.

I thought about the wet dream I was going to have tomorrow morning.

And then everything came full circle.

***

It wasn’t easy getting Catherine to come to. She did not respond to verbal commands whilst unconscious, and – given last year’s arm operation – it was a bit of a drag getting her out of the shower and into an environment a little less hypothermia-inducing. I did what I could to warm her up and get some clothes on, which all made me feel a little too close to being James Stewart in Vertigo. Believe me, I was not feeling sentimental. I just wanted to get some answers and resolve this madness as quickly as possible, so that Spengler and I could resume our pleasure outing as though it had not been interrupted. It had not been an easy year, and we needed this time to come back to our senses.

As she clearly needed to rest her brain from whatever trauma had driven her into this state to begin with, I left her to it, and began to idle around. Sure, there are plenty of things in InterLondon that could have this effect on a girl – that was no surprise to me. But getting here at all? That’s the bit that did. Cath knew nothing at all about InterLondon – or even Spengler for that matter – and though I had had a couple of cases here while we were together, none of my files on the place would’ve made much sense to her, as I write them all in a tiny, coded, shorthand even forensics experts have been unable to disentangle.

So how did she get here?

As I said, this isn’t a place you can get to, even if you want to go to it or know about it. The only certified admission pass is being the right fit. And Cath isn’t. I’ve never known a broad to be pure-minded and free from sin or confusion, but she was the real deal. It’s no wonder we didn’t make it.

But, then another thought crossed me.

Just because you can’t come in by your own willpower, that doesn’t mean someone can’t get you in by means of theirs.

I reflected on this a spell.

Was there any precedent of anyone being smuggled or kidnapped into InterLondon?

None that I knew of from my own limited experiences, but that’s not to say there’s wasn’t.

I was going to have to do my research on this one.

I would have gone to the library right there and then, but I didn’t want to leave her alone, just in case she woke up, flipped out, and tried to hurl herself out of a window or some other crazy activity. I had never heard of any outsiders coming to InterLondon before, and I wasn’t sure of what the side effects might be – how could I be sure she wouldn’t immediately start screaming on arousal, and go straight to with the heart palpitations and skin blemishes. I cast a glance over at her. At least she looked fine now. She can’t be hurting too bad. But adding consciousness into any equations is always a bit of a wild card, and I did not want to try my chance by being negligent and leaving her here alone, so the library would just have to wait. So I called up Spengler, asked him to come over at his earliest convenience, and just waited it out.

 

 

The Tea Chronicles: Chapter Three

green-hills

I enjoyed whooshing along through the long Grasses on the back of The Dragon Queen. I won’t deny that I got an erotic thrill from it – for an immortal, she was quite a fox! – but I was quick to redirect the flow of this sexual energy, as I knew she would immediately sense it – as she must have done already – especially as such a fantasy could be precisely the verboten thought that could set off the afeared response in the grasses that she had been so guarded and cryptic about.

I must admit, I also felt slightly envious. I have always wanted to be able to change my form instantaneously, like a cartoon character; but, while I have been able to warp my thought body during meditative experiments, even during lucid dreaming, my body has always remained rigidly in form, and I’ve never quite been able to fly. But I knew, as my dragonian reflection in the water had already proven, that it would not be long before I was shapeshifting with the best of them, and able to fly, crawl, and dive at my leisure.

Just as I was beginning to day-dream, and drift off into my desultory thoughts, The Dragon Queen landed abruptly but softly, and changed into her fully humanoid form again.

“We’re here,” she said, sombrely.

I looked forward, and I could see a prominent mound, protruding regally before us. The land we had travelled through had been almost invariably flat, with the exception of the sense of a barely perceptible escarpment in the distance. So, seeing this sudden swelling was quite stimulating to the geography of the mind. Both The Dragon Queen and I could sense its prodigious retention of energy.

“Is there anything in particular that I should say and do; or not say and not do?” I asked, suddenly aware that this was likely to be a portentous encounter.

The Dragon Queen smiled and said:
“Just be yourself. You will learn Immortal Etiquette – and how to go beyond it – along the way. Be your fully authentic self. That is why you are here, after all!”

My fully authentic self felt pretty uncertain at that moment in time.

But The Dragon Queen, reading my thoughts, mollified me, saying:

“If you are feeling uncertain, then be uncertain, and make no decisive movements until it has passed. Decisions are thing to be accepted and acted upon – they are not to be rushed, or forced into existence.”

I breathed in the wisdom of this advice, and we walked lightly and solemnly towards the mound.

As soon as we ascended it, we saw The Master of the Long Grasses, sitting placidly on the ground, his tea set laid out before him. I could see the tea steaming perfectly in the gilded, simple, china cups, and could not wait to hold it lusciously in my mouth. It smelled slightly sweet, and I suspected that it was some type of oolong, supplemented by an additional herb.

The Dragon Queen bent on her knees, and genuflected before The Master.

“I am sorry for our tardiness,” she said, humbly and sincerely.

“It does not matter if you are late in keeping appointments, so long as you are prompt in following The Way!” Quipped The Master. “The tea is still warm, so please! Drink!”

I settled down on a mat, sitting on my knees in the Asian fashion, and slowly picked up my teacup. It had a golden edge around its rim, with a fascinating design comprised of many ornate balloons floating through the sky. It was a beautiful design, and, when looked at closely, gave the impression of enormous depth.

The tea was still too warm to drink, so I just enjoyed inhaling its sweet steam, feeling the heat of the cup in my hands, and admiring the loaded potentially of the deep, clear, golden elixir.

“And how did you get along with my grasses?” asked The Master of the Long Grasses, smiling mischievously.

“No incidents, so far,” I said, in a way I hoped sounded winsome.

“Good, good!” He responded, good-naturedly. “Never can tell what that raggedy bunch will take to, next!” Winking. “But you’ll have to excuse me if you find me coarse. It’s been a long time since I’ve had visitors!”

I took this statement as an opportunity to examine The Master properly. He had a long wispy beard, tied up hair, and emanated immense purity. There was nothing ‘coarse’ about him.

“Speaking of time,” I began. “Since we’ve been in this realm, I’ve observed that, although we’ve been travelling for several hours now, the quality of light in the sky hasn’t changed at all. Why is that?”

“Why, he’s a very canny fellow, isn’t he?!” said The Master, turning to The Dragon Queen, and raising his thick, cloud-like eyebrows in comic fashion. “The answer, my boy, is that time moves very differently here from the way you’re used to. That’s why I chided your elegant proprietor for apologizing for her tardiness- a side effect of spending too long in lower realms, no doubt. You could no sooner be late here, than insult a Buddha, and get a beating for it. You probably can’t make it out, due to the somewhat infinite, and mirage-infested, horizon we have here, but it takes the sun no less than fourteen million years to set on this planet. For that reason, it has become known as ‘The Planet of Perpetual Dusk.’ Of the length of the days, I cannot speak. But suffice it to say this: It has been a long time since I’ve seen the night-time.” And, with a slightly crazed look in his eyes, he urged us. “Your tea should be cool enough now. Please, drink! Go on – drink!”

I needed no more encouraging. I took a sip, and was instantly refreshed by the tea, which caused my whole being to shudder with relief. Being without tea for long is like being without love or oxygen – it is always a cathartic and seismic response when you taste it again. The tea tasted clear, and sweet, and had a delicious, ineffable quality to it, that I could not readily describe.

“I know it’s an oolong,” I said, “but why does it taste so unique?”

The Master of the Long Grasses looked pleased.

“It is a Premium Ginseng Oolong,” he said. “After the leaves are steamed, withered, oxidized, and rolled, they are coated with powdered ginseng and liquorice. Here! Look!”

He offered me a small tub of the tea in its unbrewed form. It looked very strange, a mysterious green colour, flecked with gold, like a rare, but volatile rock from a distant moon.

Reading my thoughts, he said:

“Distant Moon Oolong – that would make a remarkable name for it, wouldn’t it? I may start calling it that from now on,” and then, standing up, and directing his voice out towards the grasslands, he shouted “DISTANT MOON OOLONG! DISTANT MOON LOONG!”

We both looked at him quizzically.

“Just letting the grasses know,” he said, sheepishly. “They’re very into that sort of thing. But it is very important that you drink up. I do not give you this tea, arbitrarily. A long and dynamic journey has been arranged for you by the heavens. Ginseng is an immense repository of celestial yang energy, and so is this mound. As such, it nourishes the vitality, and increases the strength. But not all of the places you will be travelling too will be quite so nourishing, or accommodating, with their energy reserves.

“As a human, you have been habituated to living in a solar system, and that relationship to the sun has informed a good deal of your understanding of the astronomy of the cosmos. But there are many different types of planetary system in the universe, not all of which could be said to possess such a unifying, and radiant centre. In fact, much of the cosmos is littered with Lunar Systems – in these, an enormous moon serves as the centre, around which all the sibling planets orbit. Unfamiliar with fire or solar energy, these planets live in a deadened, haunting twilight, beset by interminable waves of hallucination and delusion. There is no mediating ego or waking consciousness here – only the mystery and danger of darkness. It is quite a thing to look upon whilst voyaging through space – all of these bewildered planets moving slowly around a watery, tyrannical moon, in a slow, and sluggish procession. The planets are all deeply bewildered and imbalanced, and, thus, often collide into one another, sending shockwaves throughout the galaxy. We refer to these Lunar Systems as ‘The Nodes of Yin’.”

“Will I ever have to go to such a place?” I asked.

The Master of the Long Grasses nodded gravely.

“On this Moon, called ‘The Floating Pit,’ there is a network of caves. At the bottom of this cave is a chamber of frost and snow. If you can melt this snow, and turn it into water, it can be used to make The Broth of the Illumined. Of course, you will meet many dangers and guardians along the way, but isn’t that always the case when apprehending something profound? You may even have to die before you drink it.

“But let’s not dwell on such things, right now. Such travails are a long way off, and you have not even finished your first cup of tea since leaving the planet Earth! Settle your mind. Leave danger for later.”

With that, The Master of the Long Grasses ceased speaking, and we drank our tea in silence, the whole planet enshrouded in peace, as the sun continued to set at its own impenetrable pace.

The Tea Chronicles: Chapter Two

Dragon woman

Once we had passed through the miraculous vortex of the tea tin, we found ourselves in a beautiful field of swaying, long grasses, the whole region doused in a perfect smattering of lambent sunshine. The Dragon Queen, who, at first, had a dragon’s tail for a bottom half, quickly absorbed her tail, and exchanged them for a sleek, pair of velvety legs. She wore white imperial robes, and had long pink hair.

“You didn’t have to get rid of your tail on my behalf, O great Queen. It didn’t make me feel that insecure.”

“Different realms are more amenable to different forms,” she said, smiling at me softly. “It is better to be all things in all circumstances, than one thing in every circumstance – though, the highest masters make no distinction between these. But, sometimes, these changes and alterations cannot be helped. Like you cannot help getting wet in water, or being set aflame in fire, so you cannot help changing into different shapes when you go into different realms. Check out your reflection. You might look pretty different yourself.”

Doing as she instructed, I moved towards a small pool to the left of us, and checked out my reflection in the surface of the water. I was shocked to find that I, too, was dressed in imperial clothing, though mostly in black; but, more shockingly, I found that my face had taken on a slightly fearsome, dragon-like aspect, my beard, moustache, and hair billowing goldenly, almost like fire, so much so, that I made quite a scene, and began swatting at myself to try and put it out.

“You do not need to be disturbed,” assured the Dragon Queen. “One of the reasons I chose you as my tea student was for your fluidity and malleability. I have seen you take on and cast off many identities over your short life as a human, and your longer one throughout the cosmos. Just because your changes were usually internal, it does not mean that you should be affrighted now that they have leaked outside as well.”

“But why am I so dragony? And what is this ‘longer life throughout the cosmos’ you speak of? Just how long have you been watching me?”

“In order to be taught by a dragon, you must become as a dragon. But don’t worry, that appearance is not permanent. The first principle of being a dragon is that all appearances are illusory and subject to change, like the quality of smoke being influenced by the fire it is exuding from. But there is always something beneath the fire. Always something beneath its beneath-ness.

“As for your longer life in the cosmos, I shall not trouble you with that now.  The more you traverse these strange and myriad realms, the more your natural memory of them will return. It is quite an organic process, and you need not dwell on it now, for we are late in meeting ‘The Master of the Long Grasses.’

“Alright, I’ll bite – who is The Master of the Long Grasses?’

Before she had time to answer, we heard the distinct, sharp call of a heron, which, having stood silently on the other side of the pool, now took off grandly into the air.

“That was The Master’s Envoy,” she said, biting her lip. “The heron is flying off now to inform him of our imminent arrival. We must be off. We had better not disappoint him.”

I took this as an indication that our question and answer session was over. But as we were journeying down a perfect path between the long grasses, with a silent rustle of her white robes, she said:

“It is advisable that you keep thinking to a minimum as we travel through these long grasses.”

“I’m sure that advice is generally applicable to most things,” I concurred, “but why here in particular?”

The Dragon Queen looked like she was struggling to answer this, but finally she got it.

“The consciousness of these grasses is, ugh, very sensitive, if that’s the right human expression. In the same way that someone lightly touching the hair on your arm can send shivers all through your body, or the millions of nerve fibres that all contribute to the joyous delicacy of the clitoris, these grasses could be said to possess a similar refinement in terms of their sensitivity.”

“What would happen if I thought too much?” I asked, feeling curious.

“It’s not so much a matter of ‘thinking too much’ so much as what you think about.”

“So what is it that I shouldn’t be thinking about?”And concerned that this might exasperate her, I added, “Just so that I know not to think about it.”

“If I told you what not to think about, it would happen immediately..”

“What would immediately happen?”

“The thing that we don’t want to happen.”

“Which is?”

“Again, if I told you, it would immediately happen. So it is best not to talk about it. Quiet your mind, and centre your awareness. I can hear The Master of the Long Grasses pouring a cup of tea for as we move.  So we must hurry, or else it will be cold when we get there. Which would be a considerable blow to our progress. So, hurry, hurry!”

With that admonition, she unleashed the full, glorious flowing dragon tail of her underparts, and, straddling my legs around it, we travelled at enormous speeds, through the whirling long grasses.

And, if you want to know what happened once they met The Master of the Long Grasses, you will have to wait for the next chapter!