Today in the woods I tried to do a little quarter-moon watching but it was overcast and she was popping in and out, so to speak. So I got off the Bench and lay down on the ground next to her, which put me almost completely under Holly's sway. This too is a very good vantage point and since it wasn't real cold this morning, I could lie there without much discomfort.
After looking at Holly for awhile, I actually started getting drowsy and thought I might be able to doze on the ground on a forty degree morning, but I remembered your admonition so I resisted that impulse. Instead I was just looking at Holly with half-closed eyes like some meditation schools advocate. Within a couple of minutes, the leaves began to darken and the spaces lighten. This was so magical that the analysis only came ex post facto. In other words, I lost temporary awareness of what were leaves and what were spaces. Instead the leaves went black and the spaces became almost bright leaves, brighter and more "real" than the "space flowers" I had seen before from another spot. This is almost as good as arboreal moon gazing.
Then at Mt. Reston I discovered an alternative. When I'm through hanging, I don't pull myself straight up because the incline is too steep and I would surely hurt my back, so I swivel around so my feet are pointing down and then I get up. This time instead of getting up right away I just lay back again on the ground and found that it was also interesting and still proprioceptively ambiguous—that is, even though my feet are angled downward, I still feel that I am looking down when actually I am looking up at the trees around and behind me on the ridge. This is an effect of the steepness of the ridge, I think. So the upshot is that now I can do what Yoga instructions say—gradually go from an inversion to standing upright.
Moon Over Me Again—12/8/04
The Crescent Moon was up this morning. I might have one more viewing tomorrow if the sky is clear. I noted two interesting things today. At several points, the Moon and I hollowed out a black halo and then the photons disappeared down this black, funnel-like cavity as if it were a Black Hole. It really looks like the real thing, minus the stream of photons coming out either end that you see in some representations. But the black circular hole and the last remaining photons dropping in are both there. Of course, it doesn't stay that way for long because she's always on the move. As you know, vision is basically circular. The eye is a ball, the head turns, the sky is a vault, and the horizon an arc. When I go into a trance all that is enhanced so I see things like circular, vaulted buildings. Today I was looking at the Moon behind a facade of trees and then it seemed to me that the Moon was the pupil and I the optic nerve of a giant eyeball.
Holly’s Tightly Woven Tricks—12/9/04
In addition to oozing stars, crystallizing light, and manifesting space flowers, I have just now discovered that she can bring forth an entire Space Forest. It wasn't too cold this morning and some clouds blocked whatever remained of the Moon, so I lay supine in the duff and looked up at Holly. Then I sat up and meditated for a while, finally moving to the Bench where I also can look up at Holly as well as through the "oculus" at the top of her canopy. As I was admiring the space flowers, the light began to change and I noticed that a solid bank of clouds had moved in and because of the ambient light, they were glowing kind of gray, white and ghostly. Then as I continued to stare, the spaces somehow changed or linked up (I'm not exactly sure) and looked like spectral trees trunks instead of leaves or flowers and these trunks receded into the "distance," making the whole scene look like a dark (because of the "blackened" leaves) yet internally glowing forest. I said: "Holly, Baby, you've outdone yourself this morning. Some people can’t see the forest for the trees, but you’ve helped me see the forest for the leaves. Muchas gracias!"
It rained most of yesterday and last night. When I opened the door at 4:30 a.m., the rain had stopped but there was a nice fog hanging around—not pea soup but pretty thick. I was pumped because I had yet to walk in the woods in such conditions and because I suspected the fog would be a good conductor of Space Forest light. So off I went like Heathcliff over the misty Moors to see my Holly.
The Bench was wet but I was wearing my walking boots, winter coat, and two pairs of pants, so I lay down on it and didn't get very wet. At first I had a little trouble manifesting the Space Forest but after a few minutes of panoptic staring it appeared. And once it does, it doesn't require much effort to keep it there. I am relaxed and can even move my head around. Eventually, however, it decays.
The second time I did it, I noticed, just to the right of Holly, what appeared to be a big thick tree that looked like some kind of Polynesian idol. This was neat and just a little bit spooky under these fog-bound conditions. This giant "idol" was actually a big space that, under the influence of Holly and her tightly woven trickery, had been transformed into Matter. Space into Matter, Matter into Space—that is the double conversion that takes place in the Space Forest.
The third time I did it, I raised my head a little from the Bench and then it was as if I were seeing really big trees like Douglas Firs arrayed in a large grove. This was the most amazing sight yet, made even more surprising to me because I had raised my head and was rotating it while not disturbing the vision. And it seemed almost "real".
Then I flashed back to 1967. I was going to Eugene to enter graduate school but I stopped off in Berkeley to visit an old High School and College friend. I stayed with him a day or two and then took the night bus to Oregon. I fell asleep and woke up in a groggy daze but I wasn't sure I was really awake, because through the window in the very early light of predawn I saw the biggest fog-enshrouded trees I had ever seen. For a minute or so I thought I might have died or had been transported to Oz. Then I realized these were Douglas Fir Trees and I was in southern Oregon. "Wow, this is going to be great!" After that, arriving in Eugene itself was a bit of a downer because I was half-expecting a college environment like I the one I had seen out the bus window.
This was also my reaction when I saw the Big Trees of the Space Forest. Where did they come from? Behind Holly is a grove of medium-sized eastern trees, mostly oaks and maples, but under her influence, the trees become dark space and the spaces between them light matter trees. So that produces a "forestscape" of Big Light Trees separated by small dark spaces, which is kind of like the real estate situation around here where land is at a premium so “McMansions” are built chock-a-block, which can really make a community look out of scale and ugly. But not in the Space Forest! Those Light Trees could be separated by a few inches and they would still be beautiful.
Upside down on Mt. Reston and the dock were also great. When I got to Lake Audubon, I saw that side banks were casting ghostly reflections but in the center it was just one undifferentiated non-dual mist. I inverted and just as I was thinking about how great this looked, I heard a chorus of "Honk, Honk, Honk," and although I couldn't see anything yet, I knew a flock of geese were approaching and then they suddenly shot into visibility—two long files of geese—the ghostly ghost (reflection) geese on top and the mere ghost geese on the bottom. I think that's worth a Haiku if I can come up with one.
Lake Inversion Lake
Fog honkhonk appear
ghostly ghost geese above
ghost gesse below
I was right the first time. In the case of the Space Forest, I'm flipping “space and matter.” It's like a reversible Gestalt picture. Today I looked up at the highest Holly and got Black Sky (Holly's leaves) with Spangled Leaves (the inter-foliated spaces)—neat. Energy and matter convert in a nuclear reactor, space and matter in an arboreal reactor.
Head Over Heals Over Holly—12/12/04
Holy Holly in the Dark
In the woods look up
flip space and matter
space leaf spangled black sky
I was hoping it would be clear this morning for a change, but it was still cloudy. I wanted to see if I could also manifest the Space Forest on a cloudless morning. Now I know what the Space Forest looks like. It's a tropical Banyan Forest, with the trees arranged chock-a-block. I think it's the "real" trees that help give it that effect, but whatever it is, it’s sure beautiful and weird. Once I brought it up and then I looked around a little, raised my head a bit and still it didn't go away. I got a little worried: "Have I permanently flipped space and matter?" But then when I sat up all the way on the Bench, it finally flipped back. Is that what they mean about flipping out? I don't know what is better—that or the Space Leaf Spangled Black Sky. I'm really having too much otherworldly fun in this little Grove. What do you think the town Fathers and Mothers would think if they knew what was going on back there? When I hung over Mt. Reston, it was already dawn but the darkness of the tall trees and the spaces between were something to behold. I even tried to flip space and matter there, but I'm afraid I need a darker Holy Holly environment for that—at least for now. But slit-scanning them is another matter. They blow up in my mind better than anything else so far.
Sightings from the Grove Observatory—12/14/04
Today was the tail end of the Geminid meteor shower, so I decided to leave the house even earlier. It was in the lower 20s and the wind was gusting. I was layered for cold lying.
Walking on Glade, I saw two big meteor flashes, but they were not as good as the one Kenny reported seeing a few days ago in which the meteor was so close that it seemed to sizzle and give off sparks. Later in the Grove, I saw one skirting among Holly's leaves and that was even better because for some reason it looked like a "Mother Ship." Interfoliated viewing even works well for meteors!
In the grove, I lay down on the ground under Holly but I wasn't seeing much there so I went to the Bench, which was actually a bit colder, presumably because the ground still retained some heat from the recent temperate weather. There I started to look for stars in the canopy. I would pick out one here and find another nearby to match it. Then I would turn my head a bit and repeat the process. For some reason in this less than fully star-spangled suburban sky, I was seeing in two's, so I concluded I was viewing Binary Stars. Then I would link them up and form an ad hoc abstract constellation. This is another good thing about arboreal stargazing. It forces one to look at individual stars and opens the mind to little games of linkup and make-believe. Also, there is even more twinkling going on because of the leaves and, especially when "Binary Stars" are involved, it seems that the Heavens are sending some kind of Morse Code message. I don't know Celestial Morse Code so I just went along for the ride.
Then I remembered that I was interested in seeing how the Space Flowers and Forest would react to a cloudless sky. I looked at the appropriate spot and soon the big "Polynesian Idol" came up, which I now realize resembles a little Tiki carving my father had when I was a kid, which meant that the Space Forest would be right behind, and it was, and this time I was able to sit up and rotate my head all the way around for at least a minute. This gave me a better chance to observe it and proved to me that a cloudless sky was even better at evoking it. The Space Trees did look like Banyan Trees but as I rotated my head around it seemed to be more like they were painted or maybe sewn on the canvas of a giant circular Lodge or Yurt. Or I could imagine them as trees (with “bark” and circular shape) forming the superstructure of a giant Lodge. By giant I mean maybe two hundred feet in diameter for that is about the distance of the rough circle of bigger trees that surround the grove. And here's the best part. The "real" trees look like two-dimensional black shadows cast on the canvas—Plato's Cave meets the Mother Earth Lodge! This is a real "I-don't-believe-it" sight. And in today's light I could bring it up almost at will. This is even better than the Pantheon because it's bigger and almost 360 degrees around. This was truly a wild makyo vision. It's still hard for me to believe that it wasn't "real" somehow.
Then I moved to the tall "dead" tree where I first encountered the space flowers and looked through some holly leaves that were only two or three feet from me. Not only did they ooze me some stars, but they did it so slowly that they turned them into black and russet rotating vortices. This is so trancendental that the Space Leaf Spangled Black Sky immediately appears.
By the way, I hope this dead tree or “Adoration Rampike,” as I call it, lasts long, not only because it has three upper branches of which two on each side look like hands and arms upraised in wonder like St. Francis receiving his Stigmata and the middle one like an abstract head done by somebody like Max Ernst, but because if it crashes down, it might take Holly and me with it! Now I am waiting to see what a snow grove will look like.
Magic Banyan Tree
you seem so solid
why does a star pass through?
As Above So Below—12/16/04
It's been cold and the lakes are freezing over. The skies have been crystalline. When I stepped outside this morning, I saw the stars that make up "The Great Celestial Arch" and realized that the night sky is really beginning to grow on me. Today reminded me of the first time I went to Chicago's Adler Planetarium when I was a kid and ooed and ahhed with the rest of audience when the impresario turned off the lights and turned on the machine.
When I got to the Grove, my first impulse was to go to the Bench, but I had so enjoyed looking at the full, though greatly denuded, starry vault while on Glade that I lay on the ground in front of Holly where at least half of the sky was open, except for tree trunks and leafless branches.
At first I focused on the stars that are the "keystones" of the Arch and watched while all three disappeared almost simultaneously behind different branches. Then I went panoptic and experienced another kind of Music of the Spheres. I would sense something flicking in or out or darkening or brightening and turn my eyes and realize a star had passed behind a trunk or branch. It felt good to sense this before seeing it because it seemed further confirmation of a growing sensitivity to the night sky.
The ancients and medievals believed the heavens to be formed of different crystalline spheres that held the planets and stars and that those farthest away from earth and thus closest to heaven made the most ethereal music. My subtle synesthesia can also work something like that. The brighter a star or planet's "lumen" the lower is its "tone" and vice versa. This is not in my consciousness unless I directly focus on it, but it may subliminally influence how I perceive things, especially peripherally. I believe many people share this condition but are just not aware of it since it took me sixty years and two months, plus some accidents, to discover it myself. My back was getting cold so I moved to the Bench and found that the Space Forest was coming up even faster and staying longer than yesterday. Once it's there, I expend no effort or concentration and then after a minute or two, it just decays, and I start all over again.
Then I went to the Adoration Rampike and looked for Jupiter within Holly but he wasn’t being very cooperative so I decided just to fold my legs and meditate while looking at the ground. I must have been doing this for fifteen minutes or so when the forest duff began to darken and what seemed to be reflections of stars appeared in it. Some kind of delayed afterimage, photism, or projection to be sure, but still it was pretty cool. This can’t be what they mean by “as above, so below,” or can it? No, it’s just a good case of Starry-Eye Syndrome.
Dennis, Dennis, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Space Forest Grow? –
With Banyan Trees and Holly Leaves, If That’s What You Want To Know.—
Today I was reminded of a movie, Master and Commander, that I recently saw on TV. It's about a duel between two warships, French and British, during the Napoleonic Wars. In the first engagement, the out-gunned British ship barely escapes total destruction by hiding in a fog bank. Later on, some seamen on the British ship come to the captain with a small-scale model of the hull of the French ship, which one of them had seen being constructed in an American shipyard. This gives the captain an insight into how he might trick and defeat his stronger rival, which he finally does. This morning I saw how the space forest is constructed. My goal, obviously, is not to defeat it, but to see it flourish.
I lay down in the same spot as yesterday, planning to forego the Space Forest for a more extended viewing of the sky on this not so cold morning. For a while I looked at the stars, particularly those of the Great Celestial Arch, and then for some reason I noticed dark Virginia Pine Trees in the Western Rorschachian Portal. I detected an interfoliated star, quickly got caught up in it, and zoned out. The scene darkened and the tree I was looking at became a painted shadow that looked like a clownish leprechaun. Thus I knew the Space Forest must also be lurking nearby. I delayed looking for it, hoping to increase the intensity and excitement of the coming rush, while at the same time thinking that maybe Holly wasn't so possessive after all since she was now letting me fly solo.
Then I turned my eyes and there it was in all its glory, but even better than ever because parts of it were only fifteen or twenty feet to the right of my prone body. Not only that, but I could look up into the treeless sky and return my eyes to an unchanged vista, at least for a couple of minutes. By looking at the nearby Banyan Trees, I confirmed what I had already suspected. They were given depth and shape by the architectonic space created by the "real" trees, now become shadows. But where did the “bark” come from—projection, imagination? So all the playing around with "scrims" and "portals" during the summer had come down to this. The Banyan's "seed" is focused concentration (or trance), but the soil and nutrients that allow it to grow come from awareness of space and light—the kind that sculptures, painters, and other artists are always trying to show us.