The “way “.
It has called that in many places and by many cultures long gone. It is been called that by people presently. It may be called that in the future or by some other name.
The syncopated beat of the foot of the camel, that desert beast, through the eternal sands reaches a tone, a resonance that only a chosen few, those who can listen and who are blessed, and can truly hear.
Our lord Zoraster heard and understood it a thousand years ago, this magic sound, this mystical undying message.
Those who attain the perfection, the ultimate state of being that a mere mortal on this spec of dust can achieve…understand the “way” and only by example can try to explain.
My focus on the “way” drifts to a memory. As a child, my father, my adopted father, stood next to me at the foot of the great pyramid in Egypt.
“The visitors come in the day” he began to explain to me. “They see the rising sun’s golden light on the polished white stone. The feel of warmth, the golden light and some see evidence of a sun god. Many see the geometry and measure the angle of shadows and record them. Then they try to predict the meaning of the universal symbols that accompany angles and shadows…”
Oh, how my father gave me such a headache at times. He delivered the full truth and on knowledge of so much on everything he knew. He shared with this four-year-old girl the full truth of everything that he knew. Thought I did not understand all at the time, I remember every word and every moment in his magnificent presence.
For it was he who came from the east and bought me from my real parents. I see a blur in my memory of them. I remember some of their language and have had some use of it through the years.
Though I was born near here in that eternally troubled strip of stone and desert, I have only rested on that soil since then at night when the caravans stop to rest.
The sun is setting outside the shaded covering of my cloth enclosure atop this camel companion. We will be stopping soon and I will begin another chapter of this long life of a child born a prodigy.
A pang of anxiety fills my heart for the fear of the unknown of things to come and the loss of familiar comfortable things.
I need to meditate. Breathe slowly. Focus on the center of energy that the great master Buddha from the far east has taught us.
For it is written in the sacred texts I possess handed down to me only from my father. That first came the great Zoraster, a caravan owner who sailed the goods and shared the knowledge of the “way” from place to place in the desert.
A caravan is like a mighty fleet of ships at sea that needs the skills and mastery of a great admiral over many good captains. The years of experience of the captains and the admiral are too many to count.
Like the great masters of the past, only one or two have the skill in a generation or a generation of generations who can know of, or seek the handle of the sacred door, the door behind which holds all knowledge of the universe…
Breathe in. Hold. Breathe out. Not the best place to be doing the breathing on top of the living boat of the camel. Its breath should be the dominant breath, cadence, a signal, and a coach to follow. Reach the calm. Touch and see the light. Attain the wonderful nirvana.
I am back in focus, back in time with my great teacher.
“There is an opposite to everything. The yin and the yang they call it in the lands beyond India. There is white across from the black. There is life; there is death. There…”
My mind merges with the image of the light of a full moon rising and reflected on the marble surface of the great pyramid. The cold of the night still sends shivers up my spine from many years ago.
The whole of the moon, grey on white, the iridescence of light, is a connection to the dark sky. My mind’s eye view is a staircase to the stars.
My thoughts connect with a timeless time. Reconnect with this sight frozen in my memory as we stood alone at the base of this man made mountain. We stood there and shared with unknown others, through thousands of years gone by, this same experience . That memory somehow grounds me in times of anxiety.
Those others, those countless others, priests of the pharaoh, pharaohs, those of the “way”, are in some strange fashion still there. In my heart I feel the sensation of the master who stood in the same place and in a different time and saw the same moon make a similar sight…it is the touchstone of my spiritual being, one of the touchstones, the other few are perhaps too secret to share with anyone, anywhere, and bridging times.
Historians write that they visited the pyramid. They never describe the mathematics or the geometry. Perhaps they fear secret societies or secret priesthoods who would jealously protect and kill to protect the secret mathematics or geometry of the great universal marker.
The trouble with secret societies is that secrets can die with a head priest who has not taught or selected well the apprentices who might one day succeed to head a family or a clan of the guardians of trust.
Truth, universal truth, cannot be hidden forever.
The Greeks figured out the mathematics and geometries that built those ancient Egyptian temples and monuments. Now the Greek claim to have invented mathematics and geometry. Such a crock of camel piss!
I know the secret – the spiritual secret of the great man made mountain of stone. I know of the spiritual gate to the stars. I have felt the presence of others not of this mortal realm, here on this sphere in a void of not so godly aspirations.
The camel has stopped.
I must pause for a few seconds before regaining orientation to the vulgar world of the living and the flesh.
Fama, my camel driver gives a call. I reply. Our camel is about to descend. It would not be seemly for a man no matter how loyal and respected to enter the privacy of this woman’s realm of a small tent structure upon the back of a camel. The warning was to hold on. The camel always moves from side to side as it kneels and rests on the ground.
I draw a cloth cover back to see the beginnings of night and others disembarking from their means of travel.
Faint starlight and a few lit torches are visible.
My maid greets me and I disembark. I pet the camel on the nose out of respect. She responds in cantankerous fashion. One must show respect for all living things spoke the great master.
I walk a short distance and sit upon a chair. In front of my chair has been placed a small rug. As I sit two long wooden poles go into the desert sand and are parallel and behind me.
J.D., my eunuch, has great strength and has no need to pound the poles into the desert sand. A cloth with slots in it is fitted on the poles. At last I am invisible and away from the others in the caravan who are tending their beasts. Privacy is the hardest part of any caravan journey. The men are crude and basic. They say vulgar words. They relieve themselves where they stand after getting off their camels.
My maid and eunuch help me bend my knees onto the rug in front of me. My evening prayers are due to the creator. I kneel and pray and meditate and rethink things. A small tent is erected about me. More privacy. Room for a place to sleep. The space within is large enough for a few trunks out of which come clothes, lotions and other personal items.
My maid, though technically she is my slave, prepares the sparse sleeping place. She will share the tent with me this evening and my eunuch will sleep outside the entrance to my tent.
Although I personally know the caravan master and many of the drivers, there are those hired at the last minute to drive the camels and cargo that one cannot be sure of.
My maid brings a lit lamp into the tent and places it on a small table. My prayers are at an end. I would prefer to assume the lotus position and begin a few moments of meditation in the style of the Buddha.
These cross disciplines of the prayers of one belief system mixed with the rituals of another might seem not right to some. I know how the “way” has changed over the ages. These caravans touch the distances and bring gossips of what is new and different from elsewhere.
Things have changed at this end of the caravan map’s destination. A thousand years ago the Greeks and Romans were still living in caves and were nothing more than shepherds and goatherds.
Back then, Persia was at her zenith and a navel of a whole world. To the east lay what? The unknown territories lay there and the great Alexander had yet to be born and conquer them. He and his Greeks were yet to absorb and steal other ideas and beliefs.
The secrets continue. We, the priestly class of Zoraster, no longer have Persia. We still hold the truth of our great prophet.
Rome and its marble temples and marble gods in marble cities is a culture of stone. No true blood within. Only the bloodshed from with out. The Romans have great drive. They have no great passion except to imitate a dominating male culture of animals, their dogs. Man and woman in nature are indeed a notch or two above the animals and the so-called Roman Empire.
A light meal of dates and yogurt is served to me and a cup of wine saturated with medicinal herbs. Traveling does such a number on my internal organs. Travel on camels is for the young and the hearty.
This may be my last journey. It was taken in great haste. A power struggle had developed between my evil brother in law and my son for the hearts and minds of those few last hard-core followers of our faith.
Zoran, the by blood high priest of our religion, has of late been campaigning to eliminate my son’s claim as a rightful heir to the high priesthood. Zoran’s claim of my impure blood mixed with the son of the last high priest, my husband, wants only his sons to succeed him. Pity that my husband died at such an early age and pity my father was not here to work his potent language and magic on Zoran.
The secret brotherhood of Zoraster is a pale reflection of its past self.
Percepolis, the once mighty capital of Persia has been in ruins for centuries. The center of our faith is a small town some distance to the north of Percepolis. It is a town of mud huts and not so grand palaces of the dying priesthood.
The center of pilgrimage is still the ancient city. Though abandoned, one mighty temple in ruins if where we gather twice a year to do ancient rituals, rekindle the sacred flame and read from the sacred texts.
I smirk. I am amused. I have the knowledge of many sacred texts. I know the places of secret repositories of writings. Deserts are wonderful places to hide the sacred writings in jars buried in the sand or hidden in secret caves.
Zoran thinks he knows all the secrets. He is wrong. My magic is merely insight and intuition. Perhaps Zoran is right about my impure blood. Perhaps only blood of blood can invoke the ancient magic of the Magi. Who am I to say?
I had hoped that at this late stage of my life to entrust documents to my son. My father and husband had entrusted them to me. It is a great burden to have so much potential power and not be able to use it. Not once has any official priestess of Zoraster ever been elevated to the role of high priestess. It is that old cultural male, female thing.
Though if I were younger and more ambitious, I might have tried for such a role in the hierarchy of my religion. But Zoran is right. I am an outsider. It is not likely for myself to succeed but my son has the blood of many great masters in his veins. He is rightful heir to the high priesthood and only to a true high priest can I bestow the ancient legacy of secrets and sacred writing.
I drink another cup of wine. This is mixed with the ground up seeds of the cannabis plant. I need my rest and my aging bones ache after being bounced around on the back of my sister camel all day long.
How many more days until I reach my destination?
Zoran wants the Romans to rebuild Percepolis. He has invited them into Persia. They are not likely to come. They have to conquer and rape and dominate cultures and environments and reshape them into their image of the grand Roman city.
Zoran waits for a miracle and help from the Romans to resurrect the grandeur and glory of our religion. It is perhaps a dead religion now if it depends on the likes of the Romans for help.
The Romans cannot measure or conquer the desert sands. They cannot build roads that will be stable in the sands. They cannot keep the sands away from hiding their marvelous roads. Roads are their lifeline and also their limit.
Here in the desert, these few hearty souls, these camel drivers are more powerful and more respected than a hundred Roman legions.
I drift off to sleep. I regret leaving my son alone in his quest among the brethren for the trust and respect to gain the high priesthood. My presence was a sore point for him. I decided to disappear for a while. I had some loose ends to tie together. I needed to discover my true roots near here in that land near the coast of the great sea, great sea…
I am in a boat. It not unlike the boats that took my father and myself up and down the Nile. We are not on a river but a much greater body of water. The wind comes and the darkness, then thunder and then lightning.
I am alone on this boat. No sailors are present to guide the boat through the storm. I will probably perish in the storm.
Then there comes a calm in the middle of the storm. With the calm comes a warmth felt within the whole of my body. I see a distant light and I hear a voice.
A male voice speaks. “I am the way.”
The dream ends.