Christmas Moon

CHAPTER 5—Christmas Moon


Kant Wouldn’t—12/18/04

I might not be a "stone Druid," as you say, but I am some kind of tree and sky "Druid," for when I enter the Grove and lie down in the duff, I enter a different world, and, barring a sudden event, I am almost totally tadafied and slack-jawed for the duration. Kant said that although the existence of a noumenal Divine realm could not be logically or empirically proven, it could be intuited from the Starry Heavens above and the Moral Law within. What do you think would have happened if the immortal Immanuel had taken off one evening for the Tannenberg Forest and laid down in the duff on a starry evening? Would he have discarded his Critique of Pure Reason as so much metaphysical drivel and become a romantic poet instead? That’s probably moot, however. He never would have made it to the forest on account of his daily schedule, which was so rigid that his fellow Koenigsbergians could set their clocks by it. But when I'm down in the duff, I can agree with his intuition, at least temporarily.
Yesterday, seeing the Quarter Moon in a cloudless sky, I went into the woods in the evening for the first time. Now somewhere along the line, I was given a post-hypnotic suggestion that makes me trance out every time I see the Moon in the woods. I did so yesterday, although her position in the sky was not optimal for viewing, but otherwise the experience was not as good as in early morning—a little too much ambient noise, activity, and lights, plus more low-flying planes landing or taking off from Dulles Airport. Midnight or after would be better. Before 7:00 a.m. there are fewer take-offs and landings and the ones that do pass by are high-flyers that blend in and even enhance the night sky.
This morning was also clear so I left the house a few minutes before 5:00 a.m. I took the same seat as the last two mornings and spent most of the time looking at the stars of the Great Celestial Arch and their interactions with tree branches. In some ways, it might be good that the sky is so diluted. I don't know if I could take the full panoply. It might put me over the Big Top. I hope Holly can handle this, but barren tree branches can also ooze a star and do it very nicely, but just not as well and intimately as the closer, tightly woven evergreen. I really don't know why this affects me so much. It has to do with all the transformations undergone and the sense that I'm seeing cosmological events unfold in miniature. And then there is the gradual, exquisite disappearance of the photons that always leaves behind a dark trancefying vortex. Seeing several stars in various stages of transformation and disappearance can be even better—more spherically musical or musically spherical.
In their book Symmetry, physicists Leon Lederman and Christopher Hill, say of Galileo's first use of a telescope to observe the sky: "It is amazing what nature offers up to the first kid on the block with a powerful new scientific instrument." Seeing stars and planets through leaves and branches is an imaginative instrument. For instance, today I discovered a new kind of star—SSF-BS (Double S F-BS), short for Semi-synchronized Funky Binary Star. As stars were undergoing transformations, I would sometimes start seeing double but because each eye sees from a slightly different angle, the two "stars" are not completely in synch. For instance, at one point I was seeing two pairs of owl eyes, then one owl lost an eye before the other, and then totally disappeared before the other. In other cases, the transformations were a little different in each of the two. More possibilities await, I’m sure.

Pseudo Siddhi Character—12/19/04

Yesterday evening I again went to the Grove and stayed longer because the Moon was better placed. When I got home, I turned on the TV and came across a PBS "Independent Film" program about the famous American guru, Ram Dass, who had a stroke several years ago. As you probably know, he was formerly known as Richard Alpert and was Timothy Leary's psychedelic research associate at Harvard until both were canned when LSD research fell out of favor with the university authorities. There are many interesting and moving scenes in the film. One good one, which I had read about before, is when Ram Dass recounts the time he gave several LSD tablets to his Indian guru, Maharaji, who swallowed them all at once without any effect whatsoever! But my favorite is when he remembers his journey to meet Maharaji. One evening he encountered the full splendor of the starry vault, something he probably had never seen growing up and living on the East Coast of the United States. As the camera focused in on him, he lifted his head and closed his eyes and said only: "Those stars, those stars." My sentiments exactly! I'm sure it was a great experience, but it was probably made even more memorable by its association with Maharaji, who “transformed” his life the next day.
As I left the house today, I realized that since May I have visited the Grove every morning I have been in town. A snowstorm is approaching so that might end my consecutive streak, especially if slippery conditions are involved. Of course, I could drive to a parking spot near the Grove, but that might be cheating. I lay in the same spot as I have the last several days, but clouds soon rolled in, covering the Arch and the rest of the stars. I tried bringing up the Space Forest but it kept frustrating my efforts.
I soon realized that I don't always have to be a Pseudo Siddhi Character. Just sitting or lying in the duff in the dark was enough to evoke the mystery and beauty of the woods. After a while I moved to a spot that put me three-quarters under Holly's sway. I became intrigued with a pattern that looked like the profile of an ancient Greek and zoned out. (Animal and humanoid figures often do that to me.) The scene darkened and the best, biggest and most beautiful Space Leaf Spangled Black Sky appeared, but like Orpheus looking around for Eurydice, I decided to test it by turning to the only quarter still open to sky and it instantly vanished. The lesson, as you always say, is a little more faith, a little less rationality.

Winter Blast—12/20/04

We had our Christmas Party last night and with the Winter Solstice coming tomorrow, I decided it was time to conclude this e-journal, but not our messaging, of course. When I got up this morning, the wind was howling outside in what seemed to be gusts of 30 or 50 m.p.h. There was just a dusting of snow but the temperature was about five or ten degrees Fahrenheit so the wind chill was brutal. I debated whether to go out in these harsh conditions and decided I could if I added one more layer of clothing. (When I got home three hours later, I took off my scarf and felt a large solid object in it. I was perplexed until I realized it was a block of ice formed from my frozen breath.)
When I got to the woods, it actually felt better to lie in the duff because I was protected a bit from the wind, which was clattering, creaking, and cracking the trees all about me. Hearing a gust coming up in the distance and gradually approaching is nice and is best heard at this time of day. But eventually the cold in the ground seeped into my three-layered back and I had to get up and move around. It's harder to get "into" the heavens under these conditions, but I was exposed to one new stellar experience. A star or planet (I actually was observing Jupiter) next to a branch will undergo a dancing, fluttering, transformational ooze as its instrument is buffeted by the wind. Now I really want to see this again under more benign weather conditions.
Of course, I also went to Mt. Reston. In recent weeks this has been an especially great experience because the trees are still dark while the sky is just coming alive in gray and gray blue. As I hang, I look "down" on the tall trees that grow up from the ridge and then if I slit-scan them, especially the smaller filigree of upper branches and twigs, it is as if I am looking through the wrong end of a telescope at sections of a calligraphic pen and ink Chinese nature painting, only better. If I move my hands a little, they are distorted and warped as if in a Fun House mirror. I do that for a few minutes and then open my hands and "Bam"—the best panoptic blast over and over again. An "Ah Ha" moment almost every time. So find a tree-rimmed ridge in your world or in your mind and hang over it.

Dawn on the dock
fast wind dark water
flocks of rippling “birds” flying

Not Letting Go, Not Just Yet—12/20/04

I just came back from an evening (an hour at least) in the woods and did my own Solstice routine. Once again, the Moon had a beautiful prismatic halo so for the first time I slit-scanned the Goddess and she requited my attentions. Imagine the best paintings or photos of the Moon and throw them away because these were better. I first slit-scanned her while she was hiding among Holly's leaves, which produces a distorted, and slightly weird miniature world. Have you ever seen any Pinhole Camera pictures? They're a bit like those. The difference is that when you cup the hands and look through the slit you seem to see into and participate in that little world and are not just looking at a photograph. Slit-Scanning her among Holly's leaves conjures up a strange tropical forest world, which hides a magical, glowing gem. Then I scanned her as she passed through some high oak branches. That was much more "zen" than tropical gem.

Dog Star—12/21/04

When the Space Forest comes up amidst the trees of the Western Rorschachian Portal and is overtopped by the Constellation of the Great Celestial Arch with stars shining through, it's almost too much for my mortal eyes and faint heart to handle. Then a beam from behind. A car or house spotlight? No. Just Jupiter with a sign—Hanging over Mt. Reston, then pink clouds, dark waterice, babybaby blue sky dockside, and finally Kyrie jumped all over me like a one dog pack. Happy Solstice, Bro!


This morning in the Grove I was enjoying my Space Forest and leaves and seeing some rather strange creatures in the Western Rorschachian Portal. One looked like a thirty-foot Bamyan Buddha, maybe angry that the Taliban had blown him up, so I decided not to bring him "to life" with too much trancing. Then as I walked on the path I saw a contrail near some favorite trees and got into a good groove even with my heavy hiking boots on and then I was "off" the ground like Peter Pan— Neverland meets Dada Land. Of course I didn't really levitate, but for a few seconds, it sure felt that way. That’s what very rarely can happen when one is really in the scene and moment. Perhaps it helped that a few days ago I saw the movie Finding Neverland with Johnny Depp.

Cycles of the Moon—12/22/04

Today I biked to the restaurant for the first time in two weeks. I left at about 3:45 p.m. The golden light of late winter afternoon was on the trees and buildings, the sky was high blue, the transmission wires and the spaces between sang with movement, and the almost full Moon had recently risen as I biked the path to Vienna. Even though I didn't see her much of the way, I was BWMI or Bicycling While Moon Intoxicated all the way. How can I remember this, I asked myself as I pedaled along. I'm not Homer or any of the other ancient poets. I don't have pen and paper with me. My recall is puny compared to their prodigious abilities. But then a mnemonic came to me and it became my traveling mantra.

Light Wire Sky Moon
Light Wire Sky Moon
Light Wire Sky Moon
Light Wire Sky Moon
ad ecstaseam

Now this could be a new project. Fit my bike for silent night running and leave for Purcellville’s canopied trail on a moonlit night two or three hours before dawn. But harm has come to several people on the W&OD at night and the authorities caution riders about being alone on it after dark, so it would be good to have a companion or two.


Holly's Reversed Polarities
Leaves black—space leaves lit
Banyan trees rise behind
and sway in the wind

The forecast was for heavy rain all day, but I still hoped to get a little quality time in the Grove. It was cloudy but not raining when I left the house. The walk began auspiciously, with some energetic drum major music set to the beat of walking stick and boots. At the Grove, knowing that there would be no stargazing today, I decided to lie down on the "Orpheus" spot right under Holly and play around with the Space Leaf Spangled Black Sky. It took several minutes for my eyes to adjust and then the scene began to darken and up it came, but this time accompanied right behind, below and between by a Banyan Forest that seemed only ten feet away—a whole curtain of giant trees that I just might be able to "touch." Such simultaneity had not happened before. Had I just been so entranced by the black sky that I missed the forest for the tree? Probably not. And then a gust of wind and for a few seconds the space Banyans seemed to move. The wind and the Banyans never again came together so propitiously, so I wasn't able to get a closer look. However, I found a sweet spot to look at that repeatedly brought up the forest. The last time it was up for several minutes and then began to decay. Everything was gone on both sides but in the middle there remained a black rectangular void and it lingered and lingered. Then ever so gradually the big trunk of a "real" tree began to take shape. This was marvelous—a super dark Arbolita-like effect—and so I prostrated myself before this wooden idol. I think I know why all this happens phenomenologically, but when it is happening, I just drop the "ogically" and sink into the mystery.

The Moon Is a Wondrous Being—12/25/04

Merry Christmas. I have a Christmas story. But first let me give some background. As you know, last summer I became interested in a little “tick tock metrognome” I could start up while sitting or meditating. Recently I have been working with it some more. Now I almost always begin a meditation session with the tick tock, which once I get going, becomes almost an automatic mind/body backbeat. Then after a while it will speed up on its own, becoming so fast that it disappears and is replaced by an awareness of the breath. Last night I went to bed at 8:00 p.m. because I wanted to see the Full Moon before it set. I woke up at 2:00 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep so I got up and ate something. I thickly layered myself against the cold and left the house at 3:00 a.m. Being Christmas Morning, not a creature was stirring, only a Druid and the spirits of the woods.
At the Grove, I chose a fallen trunk near the entrance on which to rest my head. Because of all the clothes I was wearing, I had some difficulty getting comfortable—zippers bothering my throat and a hat fitting too snugly on my head, etc.—but I eventually settled in and began to watch the Moon as she slowly dropped behind the pines of the Western Portal.
As usual, my mind and body were calmed and tadafied and I became aware of a pulse, like a general rustling of leaves, or a forest heartbeat. It took me a while to figure out what it was—my tick tock beat, which because of the magical acoustical properties of the forest, seemed to be part of the environment itself—the back-and-forth shushing of the tick tock melding with the background forest murmurs. The Moon among the trees was beautiful, of course, but it had yet to slacken my jaw or open my eyes in rapt astonishment, so I wondered if I might be overdoing my moon viewing, especially since I had recently been going into the woods in the evenings to see her.
Those ruminations were cut short by the fact that my back and legs were getting cold, so I got up and moved back to the Bench. I didn't want to go home just yet, but I really didn't expect much more to happen. From the bench I had to strain to look directly at the Moon so instead I looked just below her to the light falling on the little path and the little baby hollies around it. The scene darkened so I suspected that a Space Forest might have arisen behind. When I looked, there was one of the best I had seen. From this perspective on the Bench, which was new to me, it seemed I was looking through a sheer glass picture frame into a Space Forest that had a beautiful little trail of light leading up and out of the forest, similar to the “river running through it” of a previous lunar adventure. And the way I was looking, the Moon was a big light bulb at the top of this scene and was illuminating it almost as if it were a room. Without the Moon, no bulb, no picture, and no little trail.
I hadn't been able to warm up much on the Bench, but now with this scene before me, I lost all awareness of any bodily discomfort. It had surprising longevity for a Space Forest, maybe five minutes, and then vanished, returning me to an awareness of the cold. Still I didn't want to leave so I focused in on the tick tock and the moonlight shining on the duff. That fortified me for a while, but then I decided to get up and exercise.
As I turned around to walk to my spot, I saw the Space Forest. "But I'm standing up and moving, how can this be!?" I spun, I jumped, I gesticulated, like Ebenezer Scrooge on his big Christmas Morning, and there it still was, surrounding me like a permanent stockade of the biggest and most beautiful Banyan Trees of all time! I was imprisoned in an enchanted forest like “Sleeping Beauty,” and every which way I turned, stars were shining through the trees. "Are those the Gemini Twins?" The difference was I didn't want to leave this imprisonment, but eventually I was released against my will. As I walked the path leading out of the woods, I thought: "Maybe Plato was right after all. Maybe there really are more real “Forms” and what we usually see are just like flickering shadows cast on a cave wall by firelight. But perhaps he was wrong about the source of light that illuminated those Forms. Maybe it's the Moon and not the Sun. When Shirley wakes up in a few hours, I’ll read this to her. It will be my little version of Richard Wagner performing his newly composed Siegfried Idyll for his wife, Cosima, when she woke up on Christmas morning 1872.

Lucky Are the Leaves—12/26/04

I am the Moon’s satellite. Her Majesty is now in control, governing my biorhythms and sleep patterns. I just hope I don't develop PMS— Post-Moon Syndrome.
I left the house at 3:30 a.m. today and was glad I did, for I observed signs of clouds approaching. In the Grove, I chose a tree that gave me a mostly unobstructed view of the Moon. Right below her in the foreground was a little bundle of leaves; then lower still in the background some twigs, and to her left and my right, Arbolita's most perfectly formed straight and branchless bole.
What kind of music would they make together? It took about ten minutes for her to drop just above the leaves, enough time to put me in a thoroughly rapt and tadafied state. As she entered the zone of the leaves, I saw that this was going to be a new experience. She was not going to be oozed, transfigured, and squeezed. As she entered the zone of the first leaf, she seemed to rotate all the way around as the leaf touched her with a feather stroke. Then she was passed to the next leaf, which did the same, until all five had had their delicate and delicious ways with her. I imagined that these must be the slowest, most erotic hands in the solar system being applied to a heavenly body worthy of their attentions, for lucky are the leaves that doth the Moon caress.
Then she and I were released but only for a short while for she soon entered the gravitational field of the little filigree of twigs and was almost instantly transformed into a temptress who was slithering and disappearing down and into a wicker basket as if directed by a celestial Cecil B. DeMille. The twigs also gave her a face and so she became the Maiden in the Moon. I bid farewell to the Maiden, as the Moon broke into open space and headed for Arbolita's bole—not directly but at a sharp diagonal, which made her leave-taking the longest and most drawn-out I have witnessed. Photons did not seem to drop away. Rather individual waves evaporated one by one. This was an actress who really knew how to make a dramatic exit.
I could sense that the show was coming to an end so I went back to the Bench where I saw that clouds were coming in and the Moon was becoming a frosted bulb high in the Virginia Pines. I decided to leave but lay down one more time and then the bulb became in succession an Owl, a Tree Frog, and an intrepid height-disdaining Cat.

’Tis the Season to be with Holly—12/27/04

This morning, Holly proved once again that she is the Queen of Moonlight instruments. What kind of Sonata would Beethoven have composed if he had seen this? Maybe he did and it's just hidden somewhere in one of his Last Quartets.
I left the house at 4:00 a.m. but in the Grove, the Moon was still high in the sky. I didn't see a good observation spot and, with a tickle in my throat, I was reluctant to lie down in the duff, so I went back to the Bench and sat upright for a while. "Okay," I said to myself, "maybe today should be a morning without makyo. I'll just sit here and tick tock."
But I guess the resident Devas had something else in mind, for soon the thought occurred to me that I could lie on the Bench and look up at the moonless top of the sky. As I did so, I realized I could also see the Moon through a part of Holly about twenty feet away by simply turning my head to the right. While sitting upright, I was seeing very little of the Moon because of neck strain, but lying was a much more comfortable position from which to view her interfoliated aspects.
Then the concert began and what added to its drama were the gusts of wind, which were moving even this little well-anchored tree. Seeing double through her leaves requires no special concentration or trancefying. These little points and rays of light naturally take on different aspects from the perspective of the two eyes. This then becomes a counterpointing of right and left. The wind flickered and shook the scintillas, photons, insect wing rays of light, and Feynman Diagrams, producing patterns and shapes that would be difficult to surpass in beauty on this plane of existence. Within a few minutes, the leaves went more suddenly black than I had ever experienced before, a sure sign that a Space Forest had arisen, and I realized that my encounters last summer with the Christmas Tree Light Effect were preparations for this kind of apparition.
But the most interesting part of this "concert" was the sense of proprioceptive ambiguity it could induce. Usually, I had to look up, without strain, at the Moon, but when the scene blackened and I was concentrated and all that was left were scintillas and rays playing in the void, it seemed either I had levitated or the Moon had lowered, for we were on the same plane and closer together than ever.
This, too must, have its phenomenological explanation, but I see no reason to invoke it now.

Other Benches, Other Times—12/27/04

I once said there are other benches in the Reston woods, but I neglected to mention a bench that is next to the second dock I visit on Lake Audubon. It is not in the woods, but is covered by some small Red Maple trees. During the summer I would occasionally sit there but usually not for long because reeds and cattails blocked the view of the lake. I preferred sitting on the pylons even if they were not very comfortable.
A week ago I again sat down on it in the early afternoon and then, motivated by all the reclining I do in the Grove, I lay down. The sky ranged from silver to almost purple, as it does here in my favorite sky- blue months of December and January, and trees glistened in the light. Since the early 1980s, I have always loved the light that "incarnates" on tree branches and twigs, especially in winter when there are no leaves to block or absorb the light, but I had never before seen it from a relaxed, supine position.
For some reason, I forgot to return until today at about 1:00 p.m. As I swiveled myself into position, I looked up and six feet above me was a kestrel—a falcon-like raptor a little smaller than a hawk. I had never been so close before to this bird so I tried to be as quiet as possible but he was aware of my presence. He tolerated it for several minutes and then took off. I consoled myself with the view skyward and soon got over the kestrel's absence.
This is now one of my favorite spots but it requires that the light be incarnated (later I became appreciative of almost any lighting condition), which means I can't see it when I do my rounds in the early morning and thus have to make a special trip; but it is definitely worth it. I just have to remember to do so. This is a sight that a painter like Matisse would have loved, I am sure. Looking panoptically at the branches and the blue sky while on my back, I see flatness and depth, color and light, and, as I said about hanging over the picnic table last summer, everything seems to fit together better in that position. It flips on the switch of sublimated yearning and the desire to be with the branches, light, and sky. It is pure Tada.

Supinely lying
red maples on fire
sky gamut of blue

High Moon Walk—12/28/04

I felt like Gary Cooper this morning as I walked to the woods to meet my destiny—not gunslingers out for revenge but the forest spirits and Her Majesty on her high throne. Nor did I sing: "Do not forsake me Oh my darling," for she is steadfast and always returns. On the Bench at about 4:30 a.m., I tried sitting with my tailbone on the edge of the bench and my neck leaning over the back top—a bit uncomfortable at first but years of inverting allowed me to soon settle in. I placed my two favorites, Holly and Arbolita, between the Moon and me, and watched as she slowly moved behind Arbolita's bole. As she got smaller and smaller, verging on extinguishment, a Space Forest rose up with the biggest Banyan Trees yet seen, and with my head leaning back, they seemed to rise to Heaven at which I did not stare too closely fearing that the vision might disappear. "Who planted the Magic Beans?" I shouted in my mind! And then I saw the three keystone stars of the Constellation of the Great Celestial Arch, which had been right below the Moon when I left, shining through the biggest tree of all. Amazing—and all this lasted and lasted!
When I came to, I walked to the little moonlit path and tried to write in my small notebook what I had just experienced, but it's almost hopeless getting an ordinary pen to work on a little piece of paper at 5:00 a.m. when the temperature is fifteen degrees Fahrenheit or so and one is working by moonlight and a little flashlight. All I could manage were a couple of mnemonics, and then I returned to the Bench, hoping I had not broken the spell with my attempted scribbling.
I decided to assume the same pose as yesterday, lying on the bench with my head turned toward the Moon. I saw the same blessed sights and the Moon seemed to descend to a New Earth as I rose up to meet her, for at one point I noticed that a car light in the distance that normally would have been on my plane seemed far below me.
Then two eye-like particles began their final descent into blackness. One totally vanished but the other seemed to remain as a tiny star. Then, losing bearing and orientation, I was swept up into a Space Forest, while my consciousness spun wondrously around. The poet would not have raged, raged against the dying of this light! When I came to again, I looked to my left and thought I saw a new tree blocking my usual line of sight. No, it was just my left arm, which I had raised up while lowering the right, as I witnessed the moon particles' final moments.
The moonlight can indeed do strange things to one's consciousness. As I walked home, muttering to myself "Who planted the Magic Beans?" a light appeared in front of me bobbing on someone or something's head. It looked like a miner or some chthonic being just up from bowels of the earth. Moon Man meets the Miner? No, just an early dog walker with a little light on his head to help him navigate the Restonian darkness.


As I lay on the Bench this morning, I wondered if the priests of the Ancient Greek mystery religions, with their grottoes and flickering firelight, could have put on a show the equal of what I have seen from Holly, Arbolita, and the Moon the last several days. I thought not. Then, with a Black Sky up and a fragment of Moon lodged among some twigs, a breath of air fluttered the twigs, causing a shadow to pass over the void. I know not.

Space Forest Haiku—12/30/04

Space Forest grows stronger
now it lets the Moon through
and does not fade

Partial Eclipse of the Mind—12/31/04

End of Year Moon

Twigs telescope you
bring you closer
more beautiful than ever

I left the house at 5:00 a.m. and saw the hazy Three-Quarter Moon with high clouds passing over it. It looked as if there might be some good viewing possible. It was warmer than usual, so I lay down in the duff facing the southwest. The Moon was high and to the left of the tall Adoration Rampike with outstretched hands. I positioned the Moon between some twigs and leaves and left the rest to her. I watched with growing entrancement, puzzled and fascinated by the state I was in. I wanted only this and did not seek the Space Forest, but then the "sky" blackened and far above me, so it seemed, soared a multi-pronged black tower, steeple, or minaret that was perforated by particles of bright light and just to its right an enormous Space Banyan/Cypress (I now think they're hybrids) Tree through which the Moon shone. And it remained. I have never seen a Total Solar Eclipse (only film and photographs) but I honestly can't imagine it could be more awesome than this. Had I been vouchsafed a Mystical Vision? No—the right circumstances just combined with practice and imagination, honed over many years, to bring forth a "real" vision. Its implications are worth pondering in the New Year.

Finale Finale/Recipes for the New Year—1/1/05

Appetizer—Backlit Filigree of Twig
EntrÈe—Inverted Space Forest Delight

Ingredients—New Year Moon, trees, twigs, leaves, a healthy dose of imagination, and a large dollop of sublimated Eros.

Procedure—Place the Moon on an unprepared bed of twigs and leaves. Lie down in the duff and allow the light to stir. Time and temperature are of no concern. At the proper moment, slightly adjust eyes and/or head so that all lunar fragments are slowly oozed into twig and leaf occlusion. Now quickly inspect the delicate Backlit Filigree of Twig. You will know it is done when it seems to be both near and far, small and large, familiar and mysterious. This will also mean that your entrÈe is rising behind you. Arch your head and see that an Inverted Space Forest has risen above the duff. Now sample—"Bon Appetit, Simply Marvelous." Now repeat the procedure on Mt. Reston or similar tree-rimmed ridge for the Full Panoptic Moon Manna experience.

Inversion Effect
pink and tains glid

gray blue moun ing

con stant ly


Holy Holly in the dark
along with Shelley’s sky sent lark

ridge and bank, bench and path
grove and geese, lake and dock

right side up or upside down
walking beat or lying still

beneath the moon and starlit vault
play it Pan play it

does it come from near or far
or is it whispered in the ear

does it bridge the mind’s embrace
play it Pan play it

they say the song begins in gladness
but soon with time must end in sadness

that all is fragile all must fall
so play it Pan play it

so thanks I give for what’s been done
for all the quiet raucous fun

I’ll try again to keep the beat
so play it now and play it sweet

New Year—1/2/05

Today was the last day for Moon viewing because it's supposed to be cloudy and rainy for the next several days. As I lay on the Bench, a nice Space Forest came up and there right above me was a round figure with a crescent shadow (actually a branch) looking like a smile. “Ah, another Joke Monk lives here,” I said to myself. This is one weird makyo effect—the Space Forest that is. When I got to Mt. Reston this morning, it was still thirty minutes or more from sunrise and the Moon was in a position where I could see it comfortably while hanging. In this case, I was watching it above the top of the ridge as it moved among the branches. This is different from the way I usually look while hanging, but it still put me in a zone and showed me that this should really be good from my regular position. At the first dock, I heard some flapping in the water and knew that the geese were ready for liftoff, and then a whole flock with dark undercarriages came low towards and “under” me like a squadron of angry Messerschmitts on their way across the Channel. This kind of bird watching is absolutely done best while inverted.
Then while still upside down, I started playing with my walking stick and realized that this has potentials for future fun and exploration. Moving a stick when you're upside down pointing towards the sky, etc. is like waving a magic wand. Moving it slowly in front of one's eyes is also interesting. Until now it's mostly been a musical toy for me. Now I'm ready to expand its repertoire.

Trance Tropic—1/3/05

Today was another interesting day in the Grove. I spoke too quickly yesterday when I said the Moon would be gone. This morning she was a fugitive Half Moon, periodically peeking in and out of clouds and waxing and waning depending on their densities. This is just as good in its own right as the full beam, because the waxing and waning is very trance- space forest tropic. And today it stayed up and up.
I have told you about the rampike—I think it's a dead tulip poplar—I touch it, hoping it still has some life in it, and it towers almost as high as Straight and True Arbolita. At its top are three branches—a center one that looks like a head constructed by Max Ernst, and on the sides two that look for all the arboreal world like hands stretched out and up in adoration. I call it the Adoration Rampike. He/she is my arboreal soul mate for I, too, often raise my arms that way. As I lay on the Bench this morning, AR was really getting to me, so I raised my arms in a position similar to hers and held them for several minutes, becoming tingleaciously stimulated in the process.
Then out of my left eye I saw that the waxing and waning Goddess was back and as I zoned out on her, a Space Forest rose up. So there before me was the coy Moon, a Space Forest that wouldn't go away, and the Adoration Rampike—a real dark woods Trifecta. And then at Mt. Reston the walking stick was really coming into its own. It becomes a moving part of the forest itself as I hang, and it looks like some kind of sacred object (maybe Polynesian) charged with Manna as I hold it up and look through it to the forest beyond.

Space Rain Forest—1/5/05

For some reason, it hasn't rained since I "discovered" the Space Forest. But today it did, so of course I still went to the Grove. I was getting a little wet just sitting, so I thought, "What the heck, why not lie down on the Bench too?" I hadn't been able to raise a Space Forest sitting on the Bench, but then while lying I started playing with my "wand" and before I knew it the world's first Space Rain Forest had grown up as if from magic beans. They say rain forests are in trouble worldwide, but not Space Rain Forests, just having been discovered, and besides a lumber company CEO will never see one.
This walking wand stick has lots of potential for things like "marrying sky and earth." In the anti-crepuscular light of predawn raise the wand over your head parallel to the ground and then observe as you draw it down to the ground. There is a click or a connection that is made when the wand transitions from air to ground that is much more dramatic than just doing it with the eyes alone. Also, while hanging over the dock and locking into the still rather dark gray sky, I started twisting the stick and then moving it over the sky like a rolling pin preparing dough—imagine the possibilities!

Siegfried Idyll—1/7/05

As I left the house, there was a big beautiful crescent Moon hanging in the low southeast sky, so I hurried my steps, but by the time I got to the Grove, clouds had covered her up. So I lay down on the Bench and played Space Forest with Holly and the others. I tired of that position and went over to sit under the Adoration Rampike. I looked east through the little portal and was intrigued by the changes wrought by the very gradual increase in light. When I perceive/imagine a transparent "scrim" over a space, it seems like I'm looking into a low-light Arcadian world or perhaps a scene from Norse, Teutonic, or Wagnerian mythology. It's almost as if Siegfried might come riding in.
It seemed that it would not be possible to raise a Space Forest in this location because it faced east where the sun would rise, so I didn't really try, but then I Iifted my stick and started putting it against the bridge of my nose and then next to my chin. Both of these positions helped frame the portal and seemed to light up Siegfried's path. This was enough to activate the SFS (Space Forest Syndrome) and so up came these huge Banyan/Cypress trees, but in the case of the portal, I was seeing the trees behind it as if through a Glass Palely, while right next to it was a "real" oak, transformed into a rectangular black void—the same one before which I prostrated myself in an earlier story. I am still struck by what a strangely beautiful sight this is.
As I later hung over Mt. Reston, I thought it would really be great if I could raise a Space Forest in its capacious setting. The trees would be huge, but I won't have Holly to help me.



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