I, or the superconscious part of me anyway, for I seemed to be missing my body, hurtled through…what? Space? Death? I was entombed in the deepest, darkest dark imaginable. I felt no fear. No emotion at all. I just was. Then a pinprick of light disturbed the void. Then another. Scattered diamonds sparkled all around in random patterns. Brighter light became blinding and a long tail of white energy surged past me, creating a shock wave. The fiery comet disappeared into the vastness.
Color replaced darkness. A tie-dyed liquid of green, red, pink, amber, blue; every color I knew and some I’d never seen, boiled in a cosmic cauldron that sucked me into its nebula. Silent, neonatal light surrounded and filled me, warm and comforting. I was light. I was the beginning of time.
A deep, almost soundless, humming vibrated, washing through me. Not unpleasant at first, but intensifying to a point I worried would split me apart. Having nothing physical to grab onto, I could only ride the waves of vibration. The crescendo built until I was certain I was about to die a second…death, but then there was a tiny Pop! And the blackness encompassed me again.
Bright green light. Warm. Wet. I felt like a thick, soupy mass. Soft bubbling simmered around me. Open your eyes, I thought. I did and could see, though vision did not come from any ocular parts associated with a human body, that I was a part of an algae bloom, a field of microscopic life forms without form, just mass. My gelatinous form had no individual purpose but understood its function as part of the community of brine whose sole purpose was to create life. There was no before, present or future. Just now. Just multiplying green, organic cells of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. How do I know all this? Then…
Sunlight flooded my consciousness all at once, forcing my eyes open. Heaviness replaced the oozing softness of algae. I looked down at four furry, plantigrade feet. An evolutionary upgrade to mammal was good. I scanned the world around me from a boulder overlooking a dense primordial forest of moss covered trees. The canopy of leaves, stuttered by stone outcroppings, went on forever. A pointed land mass rose above all in the distance, billowing dark clouds with a ribbon of red flowing down its side.
I scurried down the side of the rock and raced along a trail through the forest, my heightened sense of smell leading me to the shore of a brilliant blue body of water. Long, white waves rolled and crashed against a sandy beach. I wandered along the edge of the shore to the edge of a rocky pool. A skeletal crab skittered out of sight underneath a large, spiral shell. Ripples ceased and left a mirror of clear water. The image staring back at her had small rodent-like eyes and tiny ears on either side of a long, sloping head. A flat, whiskered nose twitched erratically. My body was covered in dense, brown fur. I had become an oversized rat!
A tremor ran along the earth beneath my paws, startling me away from the image in the water. Whipping around, I saw a glaring set of long, sharp teeth, set in the mouth of a giant, leathery head, mere inches away from me. I turned back to the water. Death by mangling behind and death by drowning in front. Drowning was definitely preferable. With a squeak and a lurch I dove into the foamy waves. A suffocating airlessness took me…
Surging upward I broke the surface and took in a great gulp of air, not from a rat nose but from a muscular opening in my head. My lungs filled with air before I rolled and dove again, cutting through water with ease, down into dark blue depths. Beside me rolled a smaller version of myself. Gray with long ridges lining the underneath of its body, flippers just behind deep set eyes; eyes full of the wisdom of the ages. A pair of flukes waved gently as the little one rolled completely over. Deep reverberations rolled through the water, and through my brain in what I understood as language. My child and I sang the song of the sea in the vast ocean.
Through one eye, I saw similar shapes ahead. Family. Their song filled the blue ocean in beautiful harmony. I and my child joined the chorus, rolling, rising, breaching in the simple joy of being alive.
An unfamiliar silhouette slid overhead and I rose upwards to get a look. When my head left water for air, I saw the object, long like myself, but with many moving parts. Loud, grating noises came from it. Billowing flags of something noxious floated from it. Small moving creatures raced along its back.
In a moment, everything changed—a dark line shot through the air at me and bit my back. Blue water became tinged with red all around me and I became disoriented, feeling something I’d never experienced. Something unpleasant. My baby swam frantically around me. Something was terribly wrong. I had to go up…up… Giving one final push, I surged up and out of her ocean world and into…
My body was instantly light and effortless. Sun warmed my back. Wind streamed through my limbs, covered with soft plumes of rich, dark brown. Sharp eyes suddenly saw every detail around me and I noticed sharp, golden talons beneath my body and a tail of white feathers.
Far below me lay a village of circular dwellings. Tendrils of smoke curled from a hole at the top of each. Women sat outside, weaving, cooking, tending strips of meat. Men filed rocks into sharp points for weapons. Children chased each other playfully. Pine trees sang their song. The shining mountains rose majestically in the East, the home of the ones with horned antlers. A movement caught my eye as a tiny brown mouse scurried between a moss-covered tree stump and a stone. I bided my time, circling in the air above the village. Patience rewarded me when the mouse left the shelter of the forest for the grassy fields. With extraordinary precision, I stretched out her talons and dove…down…down…
Somewhere deep within me, I felt a bump. Darkness faded into light as I became suddenly and fully conscious, sitting cross-legged on Morgha’s front porch.
What just happened? A kaleidoscope of images is still firing in my brain like neurons jacked up on LSD. What had she put in that tea, anyway? The crone rocks calmly in her chair, watching me with curious eyes.
“I just witnessed the Big Bang,” I say.
She nods and leans forward. “What did you learn?”
I think back to each scene. “Sounds crazy, but I feel like I’ve been here since the beginning of time.”
She makes a small noise as she takes my cup pours the dredges of the Mugwort and Lemon Balm tea over the porch railing into the Azalea bushes.
“Maybe I’ll be here until the end of time.”
She leans back in her chair again with a gentle shake of her head. “You’re partly right. You will continue on, but there will be no end to time. We live forever. Scientists in the mundane world have a saying—Energy cannot die, it can only be changed. Stands to reason, then, that you were part of that initial burst of cosmic energy and will remain a part of it in some form or another forever. Your energy just cycles over and over again, like a circle. No beginning. No end. Did you learn anything else?”
“I’m a shapeshifter?” I say though it comes out more like a question than a statement.
Her silence seems like an invitation to say more. “I was, or am the stars, and the primordial ooze. I was a rat, a whale, a hawk. I guess I shapeshifted into all those things. But how? Why?”
“The how and why are not as important as the what? What does it mean, Sojourner. Think.”
I close my eyes and watched the visions flowed from one to another in a connected series of experiences. Connection. That’s it! “I’m connected to all of those things.”
Bear Dreamers voice startles me. I hadn’t seen him come to the cabin. He leans against the post and concentrates his deep, wrinkled eyes on me.
“Mitakuye Oyasin is a phrase from the Lakota people that speaks of that connection you felt. It means that we are all related, all connected in one family. The stars are your ancestors. The trees and stones are your brothers and sisters. So is that wolf over there.” He points to the Wolf I met when I came here, now laying calmly under a tree, his golden eyes watching us without blinking.
“That’s right, Sojourner. You are not separate from anything you see around you. You are them and they are you and everything has soul, has value. Do you think you might treat the trees and rivers and hawks and wolves a little differently if they are a member of your family?”
I gaze into the Wolf’s eyes. My brother. I see his ability to think. to feel. I feel his soul connecting with mine. A warmth spreads through me. I pick up my journal.
Earth Warriors know they are connected to everything in the universe. We are all one family, from the beginning of time and forever more.