Sanctus Januaria

CHAPTER 6 —Sanctus Januaria

Tick Tock Drip Drop—1/8/05

Time to get wet again. It was raining hard this morning when I got up at 4:00 a.m. and I wondered if today would be the day that would break the streak. I still don't have a poncho or slicker so I wondered if I really wanted to get drenched. But then about 5:00 it eased off a bit. So off I went and sat at the end of the Bench where Holly's tightly woven foliage gave me some cover. I had no reclining plans, however.
Then I started to Tick Tock and the Drip Drop from the leaves got right in step. Of course, the rain's pitter-patter continued on its own merry way and to its own little rhythm, so all in all it was a great little sonic environment in which sat. I wasn't going to lie down but I did have my wand with me, at least, so I started playing with it. The wand/stick is definitely an awareness-maker and chi-tingle producer. When I raise it up and pull it down it unveils and connects things in a continuous movement. It's an "edge" effect" I can control. So I did that for a while, and then I looked a little to my right to a bent-over Holly that has a space underneath through which I can see the base of another tree and the ground. This is one of the apertures (it faces northwest) through which I watch the light's increase. I look through the aperture trying to see more, trying to see the Arcadian/Hyperborean landscape on the other side and then the scene darkens and the Holly and aperture seem to become a solid mass with the aperture appearing to be only a lighter surface/aspect of it.
This is also what happens with the Space Forest. It is like the cooling of the universe after the Big Bang—Hot Matter becomes Cold Matter and the photons congeal into Space Light. Or maybe it's a cooling and relaxing of the perceptual system. Whatever. . . I did this several times and at about the fourth iteration suddenly some lights started jumping around in front of me like several Tinkerbells in frantic motion. Are the Devas finally revealing themselves to me?" Ah, Damn, but no!—I sure thought so and was actually a little unnerved until I realized it was a moving car light shining from a house several hundred yards away and bouncing off the trees. In my more than seven months in this Grove, I hadn't seen a car do this before—maybe it had something to do with the mist and rain—so, who knows, maybe the Devas were responsible anyway. In any case, it was an adrenaline rush to be sure.
Then I got up to go. The rain had now become a drizzle. The trees were dark and the sky an hour before sunrise had an eerie glow from the clouds and ambient light. This, it turns out, might just be the optimal condition for walking stick wizardry. During the walk home, I must have raised and lowered my stick over sky, tree, path, and lake thirty or forty times at least and I was the only one about so I didn't have to be concerned with puzzled onlookers. The stick goes from light (the sky) to darkness (in front of my feet) in an almost continuous gradient. This is related to the Christmas Tree Light Effect and other such light-and-dark phenomena. I think the stick will become my constant companion, at least in the morning, which is when it does its best work. It also helps when the black asphalt of the paved path glistens in the rain.

Duff Mime—1/12/05

It was very foggy this morning and it was spooky in the woods, looking like a scene from an old Dracula or Wolf Man movie. It was also the right atmosphere for swift and easy raising of Space Forests. No sublimated Eros required. Because of the conditions, the Space Trees seemed even closer and bigger than ever. At times it felt like one of those old 1930s movie serials where the trees or walls start closing in on you. It was also slow motion. At one point I watched in fascination as a Space Tree seemed to grow darker and bigger and slowly approached me and then as the decay process set in, it slowly receded. Neat! Towards the end of my Bench session, I started waving my gloved hands over the duff and got some nice effects. The tan gloves contrasted with the dark duff and it was like Marcel Marceau moving his gloved hands in front of a soft strobe light. This is fun!

The Phantom Zone—1/13/05

What I am now trying to figure out is why I seem to perceive oak-like bark on the Space Trees and why their boles seem curved and rounded. These go beyond mere "scrims" because they have so much strange verisimilitude—spectrally-shining Space Trees with bark, indentations, curved, intertwining boles, separated by the black-hole geometry of the "real" forest. So in the interest of “weird” Science, I will continue my phenomenological interrogations of the Space Forest. Lying on the Bench I looked up and behind me to a large swath of Holly and brought up the Space Leaves Spangled Black Sky along with a lone hourglass Space Tree. Looking deeply into the Black Sky is a real trip. Imagine looking down into the reflections in the clearest, most optically responsive Black Marble possible and then imagine that there is still another layer of pellucid refractive glass between you and the marble, giving the whole an extra-dimensional effect.

Man of Mystery—1/17/05

I am now looking out the window at the sunset and the little seed balls on the tree in the front of our house. There is that dimensionality that begins to take over in low light that I like so much—the kind of effect that gives rise to tree scrims and the Space Forest. I am becoming a forest darkness freak and will probably go out tonight to wand the moon, even though it's very cold and windy. I truly love the mystery of the woods at night. The light is now going orange in the clouds and deep blue in the sky and the little seed balls are dancing dimensionally in the wind. Night is coming on and the Moon is burnishing her luster.

My Days to Sheen—1/18/05

These have been my days to sheen, but not for long because the lake will soon freeze over again. I did the usual on the path, the Grove, and Mt. Reston and again came upon the geese sheening themselves in the predawn light. Upside down, the white gables of the lake “luxury” town houses repeated in a regular triangular rhythm against the clear silver gray pale blue sky. The sheen was moving and scintillating, sometimes colliding with thin ice, compressing the scintillas, making them vibrate furiously like a core gone critical and this, like almost everything else this morning, looked better, more beautiful, and stranger upside down. The silhouetted backlit geese floated into the distance, finally reaching the top of a reflection of trees, which would be the bottom of the "real" trees, whereupon they became a file of running birds on the African Veldt, probably ostriches. The upside down neck and feathers become running legs at a distance as they glide along the top of the dark reflection. Then they all rose up and came flying over/under me like that angry squadron of Messerschmitts.


Today has been a cold, perfectly clear day in mid-January. It seems appropriate that I mention Lorca's idea of Duende, for this kind of day in late December or January is Duende. For me, it is the most poignant light of the year in the temperate latitudes, poised between life and death, decrease and increase of days, deep blue and pale silver, yearning and resignation. It is especially the silver seen in the sky and the light incarnated on the tree branches and sleeping buds that make it so. That is what I think Lorca might have called Duende. I have always loved the light of Sanctus Januarius (as Nietzsche called it) just as Matisse loved the light of February, which might be the same since he observed it in Nice, France. Tonight I go again, many-layered, to the Moon.

Freeze Over—1/19/05

With a handy-dandy magic wand, it's amazing how little is needed for some morning follies in the woods. Today only a diminished Jupiter could be descried through the cloud cover, but that and the stick were enough. Just watching Jupiter ooze, pop, and be slowly extinguished sufficed when either standing like an entranced statue or lying like a recumbent duffer. Putting the stick first above the eyes and then below gives different effects—below it sends the eyes up and out; above, it shelters the vision and enhances the dimensionality or creates a portal. At the Lake, the water near the dock was freezing over so the geese were honking in the distance where there was still some open water. It was interesting to hear the sound of the ice—like glass splintering—as the wind passed over it. The sound reminded me of the movie Titantic or some other frozen nautical tale. It's snowing today for the first time this winter.

Later than usual—1/21/05

Today I got to the Dock just after sunrise and it was glorious—the sky was full of swirly, bright cake icing clouds swimming in a Bayou or Everglades of pure light blue, and when I inverted it was again like looking down on Earth from a hundred miles up. I thought: "I've got to get the word out so more people can do this. It's ridiculous to sit on a dock or bank and not invert." The walk up the bank was equally as good. The grasses were golden and contrasted perfectly with the sky rising over the line of the embankment. I wish I could have inverted for that too but I would have needed another embankment opposite the first. Que sera!

Makyovelian Moon—1/24/05

Today I celebrated my fifth full moon since my lunar reawakening and, I'm happy to report that I'm loony as ever for, as usual, she tromped my l'oeils right out of their socquettes and convinced me that Proteus is the real Man in the Moon. Seeing her in the clear sky at 4:30 a.m. I decided to throw caution to the winds (fortunately on this very cold morning there were none) and leave at 5:00 because the Moon was not far from the western horizon. It was not nearly as bad as I thought and I reached the woods without incident.
Since the Moon was low, I decided not to go to the Grove, which is recessed, but instead stopped at the fallen trunk with its uprooted base. I brushed off the snow and lay down knowing that I would have to be more aware of my balance on its slippery surface. There were no hollies or dead foliage in the foreground, just twigs and branches to work with. At first I just looked at her straight on, but after a while I began to slit-scan her, which creates a little world with its own special effects. When I released my hands, it got darker and a penumbra encircled her and seemed to be moving closer and closer to me at the same time as the Moon seemed to recede into the bottom of the vortex. I got excited as it pressed closer and closer and seemed about to engulf me. Then the trance lifted. I picked up my stick and started to play with it, but my hands, which are my Achilles' Heel on a cold morning (bad gloves), started to obtrude in my consciousness. Still I was able to hold it beneath my eyes for a while, creating a frame that brought forth miniature moonscapes where she appears to be at the end of a path or rising above a dark field. Then putting my gloved hands inside my coat pockets, I held the stick with difficulty in my mouth and tried to continue in that manner, but it wasn't working so I started to twist and turn it. Then it occurred to me that I might rest one end on my navel while the other end rested against the root base above my head. This was a precarious position, akin to meditating with a cup on your head, so it required almost perfect tadafied stillness, which is not so difficult when you're as moonstruck as I am. Because of binocular vision, I now saw the Moon in a new setting as I lost awareness of the stick and saw instead a big dark tree through which the Moon shone more mysteriously than ever. Soon even the big tree disappeared and was replaced by a rectangular blackness surrounding the Moon and then the proprioceptive fireworks began.
The Moon and I were now level on either ends of a long tunnel. We remained balanced together in space for maybe ten or fifteen minutes and then as she seemed to be disappearing, I moved just a tad and became aware that the stick was rocking and getting ready to fall, whereupon I froze like a deer in the headlights. The crisis passed but in the process the proprioceptive wheels had turned and now I seemed to be floating while looking at the Moon directly above me. Holy Ambiguities, I thought, and I came to.
I then went to the Grove where I witnessed the Moon's final moments above the wood's horizon and put the stick to yet another use. I placed one end on the ground while I grasped the other with my hands, which made for a final, relaxed standing meditation.

Three Stations of the Moon—1/26/05

When I looked out at 4:30, the Moon was visible behind some clouds, but when I left the house thirty minutes later, darker clouds rolled in and covered her completely. When I got to the woods, however, moonlight began to wax and wane behind the moving clouds. The orb itself was not visible, nor would it be the whole morning, but, as I have found in the past, a little bit of Moon can go a long way. So I lay down on the fallen trunk and watched the rhythmic change in light, but without her disk, we could not ooze together.
A few minutes later she was again obscured, so off I went to the Grove where the light reappeared. I rested on a rampike behind Arbolita and looked. The best part came when I placed one end of the stick below my navel and the other above my head on the Rampike and watched as the Moon once again shone through a giant "tree" in a forest of relative pygmies.
Soon my bottom and back were getting cold and wet from lying in the snow and I thought how fortunate I had been the previous four lunar cycles to see the moon almost every morning. Then I recollected the other felicitous astronomical events of the past year—the Transit of Venus, which I experienced vicariously, a lunar eclipse, and the great Enlightenment Constellation, the three-time a century conjunction of Jupiter, Venus, and the Crescent Moon that I will remember to my last days.
But maybe now things are cooling down, I thought, as the wet cold forced me to get up and move back to the Bench. Lying down, I saw that the moonlight seemed to have increased and was shining through Holly who, I discovered again, does not require either clarity or shape to work her magic on the Moon. Particles increased and decreased, waxed and waned as I went under. Then points of light aligned as if in some Hubbleian deep space event. The tick tock, my breath and heartbeat suddenly came into awareness, all moving to different but intermingling rhythms. Then the lights went out one by one, leaving me benumbed and wasted.

Todavia y Todavia—1/28/05

I can imagine nothing stranger or more beautiful than moon particles oozing, pulsating, flickering, and dying through a giant Holly-germinated Space Tree—Es duende y la muerte pequeÒa del amor, todavia y todavia! This morning was one of the coldest days of the year but there was very little wind and the nearly full Moon was high in the crystalline sky. In the woods the trees were not blowing but they were cracking from the cold, sometimes sounding like rifle or maybe even small cannon reports. At first I thought somebody might actually be doing some yard or street work at 5:15 until I realized where the sounds were coming from.
I headed straight for the Bench, where I lay down, but after a brief display, the Moon went behind a big tree, so I moved down further on the Bench until finally my legs were dangling somewhat uncomfortably over the metal armrest. I sat up, placing my tailbone on the edge of the seat and my head and neck on the top of the back. This was also rather uncomfortable at first but I made some adjustments and then when she started rearranging my consciousness I forgot these minor inconveniences.
At one point the light increased and so did my concentration. Then the light oozed away and as it temporarily died, a circumambient Space Forest arose. Soon the light reappeared and was shining through a large Space Tree while also illuminating its "bark and indentations." This was too much to handle. I needed to participate somehow, but the only thing I could do was raise my hands palms forward towards the Moon as if waiting for a lunar stigmata. If someone had seen me in that position, I might have reminded them of people kneeling before an apparition of the Little Virgin of the Woods. Maybe I was, in a way. I was in another world.

The Breath of Light—1/29/05

The last three mornings I've come the closest so far to a faux makyo intimation of a super-numinous reality, but later, like the slave who rode in the chariot behind a Roman general during his "Triumph" and repeatedly said "remember, you are only mortal," I remind myself that it was just an aesthetic simulacrum, albeit a very powerful one. But since it was very powerful, I can't stop thinking that it might have a hint of something else too.
Tomorrow the clouds will roll in and we'll have sleet and snow for a few days, but this morning it was clear again. The Moon was in approximately the same position as yesterday, just a little higher and further to the south, and I assumed the same position on the Bench. Today, I must have been there unmoving, with my palms pointing up, for nearly an hour, so rapt was my concentration. For more than a month now I haven't been able to make any "burnt offerings" to the Moon because of breezes, however slight, but today it was almost perfectly calm and so my breath was going up in rings and clouds to surround her. Previously, I had just breathed normally, but today I started experimenting with taking a deep breath and sending it out in a fast-moving jet from between my pursed lips. That way it seems to be able to approach her more directly. It has another effect of hyperventilating and lightening my head so that I go into a zone that makes the subsequent normal breathing look even better.
But perhaps it's not good for a geezer to do too much lightheaded hyperventilating. Towards the end of the session, when I was deeply under, the two (doubled) lunar eye fragments seemed to be sending light right down to me, which I requited with my breath that crossed her offering and then went right to her—a moment of true lunar intimacy. Just before I left the Grove, the Moon had backlit some holly leaves but very little of her light actually seemed to be coming through the gaps. Violating my previous self-warning about hyperventilating, I took the largest breaths I could and repeatedly sent them up. You've seen pictures and probably the scenes themselves where the sun's rays shine like a multitude of searchlights through a forest mist in the early morning. This is what I saw, only smaller and better (I know I always say that) because darker and more mysterious.
Then as I walked the path outside the Grove, I started hyperventilating again (the obsessive in me) and sending it though the scarf wrapped around my mouth, and this time I was getting a prismatic effect. I'm not absolutely sure that was the result of the scarf but I would like to think so. Most of the time I was on the Bench, I was seeing the Moon as a pair of eyes or lights, I think because there were only a few holly leaves in front of her. In one brief sequence, I saw the heads and eyes of a bear, a wolf, and a moose—that last projection probably because at dinner last night my sister was talking about her recent work trip to Maine where she feared that the car she was driving in might collide with a moose in the woods because the driver was so inattentive.
Like the previous two days, I stumbled out of the woods, drained and wasted, but in a very nice way. I walked slowly, only occasionally stopping. I started to revive when I got to the lake a little before sunrise. The "Enlightenment" Moon was now above the big embankment so I went to the fifteen-foot bank, which until yesterday I hadn't used for several months, and hung over it. The Moon was reflected in a small part of the lake that takes run-off and was thus not frozen, but my main interest was looking down on the "real" Moon as it moved among some branches. The branches aren't doubled, but the Moon quickly is, which is all to the better for “Double your pleasure, double your fun with doubling tree doubling tree doubling tree fun." Why "doubling tree"? I found that out when I went down to the dock and hung over the edge and looked into the unblocked sky and the Moon was single! Another reason to view her in the woods. But even here I saw something good. Upside down the Moon looked like a giant bright pebble or very smooth boulder marbled with her maria that was swimming in the "cosmic ocean." I wouldn't have seen that way right side up. But then when I did look at her upright, I saw that her brightness looked exactly like the smooth snow on the ground while the maria looked like pavement from which the snow had been brushed or blown.

Space Angel Space Angel Won’t You Be Mine. . . 1/31/05

Today was the big snow Space Forest test. The leaves were laden with fresh snow and the Half Moon was fully out and flaunting it.
It began auspiciously on the Bench. After a few minutes I was seeing a simulacrum of that most famous of all Hubble Telescope images featuring the huge “Pillars of Creation” star-creating Eagle Nebula. That was great and I thought I must certainly be entranced enough to have brought up the forest. But when I moved my eyes—nada. And so it went for most of the session, although at the end I created a partial and somewhat pale version that did look kind of interesting with all the white on the ground and the trees. But I had to conclude that even with a mighty assist from Holly and Luna, a real snow Space Forest just might not be possible—on this plane, at least.
I had been lying on snow and ice and was getting cold, discouraged, and so I got up and stood in a more open part of the Grove, looking up at the Moon and Jupiter, which was just above her. The light was strong and I remembered my stick, which I then rested on my navel, while interposing the top between my eyes and the Moon. Doing this makes one see as if one eye were closed and thus it darkens the scene, but it's better because I also have the sensation of looking through a big "tree" (somewhat like seeing the Moon through a Space Tree) and I don't have to contract any eye muscles. This automatically zones me out.
After a while, I sensed some light to her right and then saw what appeared to be a big Marc Chagall-like angelic figure formed by the spaces of a tree and moonlight. Of course, she wasn't moving but she still looked really fine. I then remembered that old Doo Wop number "Earth Angel" and I serenaded her in a frozen voice. So the lesson of this morning is Snow Space Forest no, Space Angel sÌ.

Lying Supinely—1/31/05

Lying supinely
Red maple on fire
sky gamut of blue

I'm going to miss January for the beautiful silver blue to purple sky and the blazing incarnated light on the red maple tree I lie under on the bench at my second stop on the Lake. The branches and twigs go up and up and around and around. I get lost in the blue on gold. Then when I lie the other way I see the sky receding like a giant river, which is framed on three sides by trees and on the fourth by tall grasses. The gamut of blue seems to be molded and shaped by its frames. It's General Relativity in action!

Plunking My Magic Twanger—2/1/05

There is nothing like
a contrail circling Moon to
levitate spirit

One of the best things about arboreal Moon gazing is how she hollows out a circular space and then displays a miniature landscape or scene or creature that has depth and then hypnotically grabs the eyes and draws them in and in and in. Imagine it this way. You go into a dark but not pitch black room (the same lighting conditions as my woods, that is) and trance out on some patterns in front of you and then after a while a circular space appears before you that perhaps looks like a fish aquarium that is also dark but is backlit and the light illuminates parts of moving forms just as the Moon does and since it is a water-filled aquarium, it has depth that contrasts with the relatively flat patterns around it (i.e., the way leaves outside the circle are seen in a trance). The stick can do something similar. It also seems to create a different space that has depth and it is also hypnotic.

The Riddler—2/4/05

Yesterday, I went downtown for the first time in nearly three months and I'm glad I did. I went to the Air and Space Museum to check out their planetarium show. They have an IMax show that has all kinds of special effects, but the light is too weak and is not three-dimensional so I doubt it could be made to ooze and squeeze and dissolve like the real thing. So any future oozers will have to go to the woods.
Then I went to the National Gallery of Art because I wanted to revisit my old trick of seeing my hand and other body movements seemingly "reflected" in paintings. I believed there was a similarity between the kind of space I saw when I tranced out on a painting and moved my hand and what I have been seeing recently with the Moon's deep landscapes and scenes. So I went to the big Rothko paintings and I saw my hand movements as well, if not better, than ever. I saw the motion of my shoulders and chest and when I moved my coat zipper up and down I saw that too. After a while, the interfaces between differently painted shapes began to stand out as if I were viewing them through a pair of 3-D glasses. This all seemed to confirm the similarity of the two experiences.
Yesterday it snowed again so this morning there was fresh snow on the ground and trees. I lay on the Bench for several minutes and wasn't able to bring up a Space Forest in the snow and relatively bright (because cloudy) ambient light conditions. Then I went over to the dead tree and lay down facing the Eastern Portal. It didn't look promising at all. But I thought I'd try anyhow. My attempts were fruitless but then I used my stick to create a lower edge to the "frame" and with a little more concentrating, up came my first snowy Day-Glo Space Forest. It was wild—brighter and shinier than ever but even more unstable, ready at an instant to disappear if I tried to put it to a reality test by looking around too much. But if I kept my eyes relatively steady, it would stay up for two or three wild minutes. And then I almost unconsciously raised my hand and started to open and close my fingers in front of a big “real” tree twenty feet away. I went into my Rothko zone and soon I was "seeing" hand movements seemingly reflected in the bark of the tree—not as clearly as in a painting because a tree is not a flat surface, but still enough to convince me something similar was going on. Then I opened and closed my hand as I looked down in the duff and, Holy Christmas Tree Light Effect, I noticed a subtle "click" in the light levels—closed a little darker, open a little lighter. So that brought back my old hypothesis that what is going on is the creation through movement of internal kinesthetic images that are projected onto appropriate external surfaces. So this is something else to work on in the woods.




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