The world starts to spin, a kaleidoscope of colors dances around her. Star-beams trail from above and bathe her from every direction. “Oh!” Everything begins to melt together around her. He waves his fingers in the air in front of her, she laughs at the waves of colors that dance across her vision.
“Everything is melting.” she laughs.
“I know” He leans way in so that his face is right next to hers.
“You’re melting too!”
He laughs, “And then what?”
“A gypsy… ”
“No, a sailor. No, a captain.”
“Follow me.” She does.
Inside the tent with Slim the world starts to spin around them, she collapses into his arms.
“You’re a rainbow fairy.” he tells her, taking the barrettes out of her hair. She looks at them and laughs.
He unzips her dress.
“Whoosh!” She giggles.
He runs his hands along the skin on her arms.
“Oh!” Her eyes widen into saucers as she suddenly looks into his eyes.
A tunnel of light opens up. Suddenly they are holding hands and flying through the cosmos, riding waves of colored light from one Galaxy to the next, passing a deep purple-blue planet, a corona of golden light surrounds it. She inhales in awe and amazement of this beauty. Further they travel, through a gold and orange nebula, the waves of color flowing from where they are across the great expanse of space and time.
They are kissing. Wrapped into one another, light waves flowing in every direction. Her heart is a rosebud, that rapidly unfolds it’s petals. Arms legs hands wrap around each other entwined, then separated. She is dancing, spinning freely. Laughing.
The Hospital was confusing. She kept getting lost, no matter how many times she’d been there, it all looked the same. The cold grey floor, sea of Green clad staff. As she was making her way to the room she ran into her brother in the hall. At 6 and a half feet tall, he was hard to miss. His hair was wild as usual, this time he had a beard. He was stoned.
He smiled broadly and magnanimously opening his arms, “Hi Sis!” “Hey” she hugged him back. “I think it’s this way.”
When they entered the room, their mom, Lucy was talking to one of the Doctors. She was intently quizzing her about all the details of the medication, the course of treatment and what to expect.
The Oncologist was a tall, statuesque blonde. She looked like she belonged on the Swedish ski team. “So, then the second round begins, you’ll need to be prepared for the mouth sores.” She looked over at the siblings.
“Oh, Dr. Linden, these are my children, Cosmo and Skye.” Dr Linden shook their hands and met each of their gaze evenly and earnestly. Skye wondered if she noticed that Cosmo was stoned. She knew that even if her Mom noticed she wouldn’t say anything.
Lucy was scrolling through her little electronic organizer, inputting dates and schedules.
“…You’ll be admitted to the East Wing for the duration of your treatments…”
She knew her mother was dying. But Lucy insisted she was getting better, and Skye wasn’t about to argue with her about it. She kept her mouth closed, even though it had been clear to her that Mom had decided to die over a year ago when she didn’t have the aggressive treatment that the Doctors suggested. OK, fine thought Skye, then at least try something alternative, like Acupuncture, herbal treatments, something. Instead it was affirmations all over the walls about how she was getting better. This tore Skye up. One one hand she agreed with all the fluffy positive thinking stuff, but she knew a gloss job when she saw one. This was a surface show of force, not the deep inner kind. Not the kind that made Skye wake up in the middle of the night sweating and twisted up in her bedsheets. But there was no telling Mom that.
“…and that’s when your father built the camper we all lived in…” Skye was drawn sharply back into the room. “That was after your father and I met at Timothy Leary’s ranch in Woodstock.” She had heard this story before, her mind was carried on Eagle’s wings back to a place and time before she was born.
There are tents everywhere. Hand decorated fabrics, tyedyes, stings of beads hanging loosely here and there. The whole atmosphere is relaxed. One long-haired girl stands and paints the face of another long-haired blonde girl with flowers and abstract designs. She is topless, her whole chest is painted in the pattern and color of peacock feathers. One white feather floats down from the sky and lands on her shoulder. The other girl laughs and picks it up, putting it behind her ear. “Far out! Feather! That’s what I’m going to call you from now on.” A third girl sits beside them, she is wearing an A-line mini skirt, go-go boots and barrettes in her hair which is parted straight down the middle and curled and sprayed into a perfect flip. A sharp contrast to the hippies around her. “What do you think of that Amanda?” Feather asks her. “Oh, well, it’s, um, very striking.” she says in an English accent.
The sun starts sliding down, spreading it’s red-orange glory across the sky. A murmur starts from the house, as a soft-faced man who gestures eagerly whispers from one person to another. The whisper gets louder and makes it’s way to where the girls are. “Tim is here!” “Leary’s back” “He’s got Sunshine.” Just as soon as the murmur passes one group, they get up and move towards the large house. Once the word reaches the three girls, Feather and her painter jump up and follow. Amanda straggles behind, “What’s going on?” The other two laugh.
As they get up to the back deck of the house they see a group huddled around one man, it is Timothy Leary. Everyone listens intently to every word he says:
“We must take the evolution of our own consciousness into our own hands! This is a one-way ticket into the skies and beyond, your rocket ship of personal evolution, a stairway straight to enlightenment. It is every American’s constitutional right – no, their DUTY to consciously evolve themselves, to unlock the potential hiding inside each and every one of our brains.” He taps the foreheads of several of those closest to him.
“For too long, society has cruelly relegated the role of ecstasy, the role of the shaman to the dark shameful corners of society. Let’s return it to it’s natural state, to OUR natural state. The state of conscious, the ecstatic state of being that opens us to exceed our limitations, be become MORE than our hypnotic programming. Overthrow the rules! Release your wild, passionate experience of pure consciousness!”
The crowd surrounding him erupts with cheers, “Yeah!” “Right on, man!” “That’s what I’m talking about!”
Leary starts distributing little hits of acid around the crowd. He speaks animatedly to a straggly man with wild eyes to his left, who’s hair falls in his face as he nods and quickly runs off.
People start dancing and laughing, tracing trails through the air all around the three girls.
Amanda asks “What exactly IS this place? What’s going on here?”
Feather is dancing and twirling in a slow rhythmic manner.
The painter is laughing and talking with a blond man who is laying on an oversized pillow.
The straggly man that Leary was speaking to is standing next to her. “Did you take a wrong turn back there? The Catholic school is on the other side of the lake.”
Amanda is taken aback. “Hello? What’re you talking about?”
“This just doesn’t seem like your scene…”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Really? Do you want to take the wildest ride you’ve ever been on?”
“What do you mean?”
He laughs and grabs her by the hand, “C’mon school girl. It’s time to blow your mind.”
“Excuse me, we haven’t even been properly introduced.”
He puts out his hand, “Slim.”
She shakes, it, “Well, that’s better. I’m called Amanda.” Slim and two of his friends start laughing. “What’s so funny?”
“Nothing English invasion, come on.”
Timothy Leary joins them.
“Are YOU ready to consciously evolve? Do you want to break the filters that have forced a version of reality on you that you never subscribed to?”
“I don’t know” She answers.
“What if you could be anyone you wanted to be? What if you could go anywhere in the Universe with your mental passport, get stamped at every star, tour the galaxy and beyond? What if you’re already there, and just waiting for this pretty little english girl to catch up?”
“I don’t understand. What do I have to do?”
“It’s all very simple.” He produces a small tab of acid. “This is your ticket to ride on the magic bus. Are you ready?”
Slim grins at her.
A long haired guy with glasses has been watching them, amused “That’s what Slim is here for. He’s an experienced guide, he’ll make sure everything is just fine.”
Slim is still grinning at her.
He holds out a tab of acid on his index finger. “Are you ready to experience a whole new reality?” She nods. “Then put out your tongue.” She hesitates a moment, then does. He drops the acid on it and stares at her intently.
“What now,” she asks. “Wait.” he says.
Bound, gagged and trapped beneath the rocks in a shallow stream. She could still feel her heart racing, and the thrashing to get to the surface for air. Straining, pulling against the delicate, innocent flow of the gentle water, the surface just beyond reach. So close, she could see the air above, but couldn’t free herself from the chains that bound her down. Above her loomed the tall figure, looking down, grimacing.
She was sweating when she woke up. And gasping for breath, but breath didn’t come. Now she felt like a fish out of water, unable to calm her fiery lungs. Unable to fill or be filled. She thrashed around in her bed, seeking relief, any kind of relief.
Skye. She was named after a place filled with air, but there was none to be had. This emptiness, this need, the air leaking out, as if there was a crack in her lungs. The faster she took it in, the faster it went.
Finally, on all fours she doubled over and began to feel her breath return to her.
Her mind was blank. Just breathe. That’s all. Just breathe.
Her heart was a smashed window. She struggled to bring the air through the shards. It whistled and hissed. Down, down, down, deeper and deeper she dove into the blackness. Into the pain. She had been running for long enough. Whatever it was, whatever awaited her, she had to face it.
She was standing on a high desert cliff. The Red Rocks surrounding her. At first she thought she was standing in the shadow of the rocks, but the Mountain in front of her moved. She could make out the long silhouette of a feathered headdress that trailed behind the enormous figure. His dark eyes had coals inside them. They burned right through the heart-shards and breath returned to her. With a deep inhale she fell to the ground and sobbed. Her heart filled with water, it poured out of her, washing away the shards of glass, clearing, clearing. She shook silently, releasing her pain in waves, giving it back to the soil, asking the Goddess to take it and heal her. The Great Mother washed her heart, cleared her soul. Poured compassion down upon her.
Around the edges of her heart-pain she could feel the rawness where the feelings were returning. She could feel herself allow the love to enter. To soothe. She didn’t feel deserving, and this set off another round of the grief dance. She sobbed until she had no more strength to resist.
And then the love poured in. She found herself standing on the edge of the cliff, arms open wide, light streaming down from above, into her heart, filling it, overflowing rushing, glowing, outward.
As she looked at the great Red Mountain, he waved his hand towards her, and a white feather danced through the air in front of her. He called her “White Eagle Feather” and then disappeared. She caught it in her hand and tears of gratitude washed over her.
When she opened her eyes, she was upside down in her bed, sheets in a ball, her whole body, her whole being felt electrified and alive.
She could breathe again.
The music went off, reminding her to wake up.
Staring at her reflection in the mirror, she splashed water on her face. She looked herself in the eye, bracing and encouraging herself to face what lay ahead.
Hippies, Yippies and other Misfits
“Hi, nice to meet you. My name is Skye.”
“Oh, that’s an unusual name, where does it come from”
“It’s my real name. My parents were hippies. They met at Timothy Leary’s ranch in Woodstock New York, dropped acid and conceived me. When my Mom was pregnant with me, she had a “Dream” where these beings told her what my name would be.”
This is an exchange I’ve been through thousands of times in my life. It’s a good way to meet people and break the ice, but it’s not actually totally accurate.
The LSD part, the Timothy Leary part and all that is true. But my Dad wasn’t actually a Hippie, he considered himself a Yippie. Most people don’t know who the Yippies were, or how they differed from the Hippies. To the Yippies, the Hippies were just a bunch of idle hedonists. Oh no, the Yippies were far smarter than the Hippies (or so they thought). They were intellectuals, extremists calling for revolution and the overthrowing of the Government – through violence if necessary.
No, these weren’t your garden variety ‘Peace & Love’ types. This is why nobody can understand when I describe the vicious, cruel and poisonous way with words and actions that was a rare talent my Father possessed. The man was a vinegar soaked hornet, in the middle of a black tarmac on a scorching July day in the Arizona desert.
He belonged to a group called ‘The Brotherhood of Love.’ This title is best said out loud with a heavy lacing of irony and your tongue planted firmly in your left cheek. You see, these guys were famous for being the heaviest drug users on the scene of the entire counter-culture hippie movement. It is common knowledge now that people on drugs abuse kids. It was a fact of life for me. Poison. I grew up soaked in poison, like the venom of the Diamond Back rattlers that my Dad used to collect.
It ran through my veins, choking my voice, freezing me from the inside out, paralyzing me into numbness. But not death. Never the sweet relief of absolution, never. Still, stiff, solidified in the icy oceans of frozen tears. But not dead.
This is the voyage of the Shaman. This is my story.