Thursday, December 29, 2022

Death And Awakening (Woo)

Used with permission.
[Please remember my disclaimers and rules (linked here) if you'd like to engage this post here or in any of my social media spaces.] 

The Journey Begins in the link here.

Before I can talk about being called by The Morrigan, I have to talk a little about what happened before I could hear Her knocking at the door of my mind. Because in May of 2020, I was an atheist, but by the end of June, I at least acknowledged the possibility that there was something I didn't understand trying to get my attention. 

I had a few little woo-woo things I liked to do back then, but I didn't think they were supernatural. I had a charm necklace with talismans on it, but I considered them to be more like "reminders" and "foci" than magical. They held meaning because I gave them meaning. They worked because I wanted them to work. They were placebos and psychological cues—they were "brain hacks." I'm still not sure magic is much more than that, but I no longer attempt to talk myself out of some of its more spectacular applications. 

The spring of 2020 was the culmination of a year of death all around me. I'm old enough to start losing friends…and friends of friends. And Covid was still new, there was no vaccine, and back then it claimed a few people I knew. Death is always a part of life, but that year—starting in 2019—I went from losing one person I'd vaguely known every year or so to losing a couple every month.

I know this sounds melodramatic (and, okay, it is), but I brushed with death as well. At least I felt my clothes ruffle as it went by. To the best of anyone's knowledge, I got Covid-19 in April (the testing back then was pretty hard to come by, and I wasn't going to drive 50 miles in my condition to verify something I was 90% sure of). I probably should have gone to the hospital at one point, but I didn't want to be out hundreds or thousands for an ambulance. I remember being in bed, holding absolutely still, and barely being able to breathe—just feeling the mechanism by which Covid would kill me if it got ANY worse. I couldn't eat. I could barely drink or get to the bathroom. I recovered, but I had never been that sick in my entire life. I was down for two weeks, and absolutely debilitated for three days.

It's hard to explain how this succession of deaths affected me. After one of a friend's best friends and roommate died in their house (I had known him, but only a little), it was like every death began to resonate in a more and more physical way. I could feel them like a headache inside my forehead, running up and down my spine like shooters of chills and heat and spreading out into my extremities. 

In June of 2020, after getting the news of another death, my headache became unbearable. Right at the front of my head. It was like someone had smacked me right across the forehead with a white-hot shovel. Lances of agony pressed into my skull from the edge of my hairline to between my eyes. I have a usually-subtle birthmark there (that looks like a triangle), but it had flared a prominent crimson. I left work in mid-shift to go home and lie down. 

It's a little hard to explain what happened next. I started to sense people in my forehead. I could barely drive with my headache, but as I did, my forehead would flare when I felt people nearby. I managed to talk myself into believing that I was noticing them with regular perception (hearing their footsteps or seeing them out of the corner of my eye), and I was just getting a strange signal before my conscious mind would acknowledge them. Maybe I've spent a lifetime learning to tune out background noise or gentle movement, and my brain suddenly came up with a new way to let me know about it. But at least a couple of times, I really didn't know how that was possible. The person was behind me and moving quietly, and I just….SENSED them. And I don't know how to explain it, but the sensation was always different when I was in danger. (If someone who couldn't see me was trying to get into my lane when driving, I would feel it before they started moving.)

I drove home (though I really shouldn't have driven in my condition—I could barely see straight), crawled into bed with my forehead absolutely feeling on fire. I fell asleep, but only after hours of trying to calm down. The next morning, everything was duller and achier, but far from gone. 

Before I go on, I want to remind you that we were at the beginning of the pandemic. June 2020. Most people were still sheltering in place. Anxiety was high. I had been working 60-hour weeks as a nanny so that my clients could telecommute—and that was before I wrote a word. I was a physiological wreck from the anxiety. My shoulder and back muscles ached. My stomach was roiling whirl of acid reflux, and I was taking three different kinds of antacids. (A daily reset pill, a breakthrough pill, and those chalky tablets when the acid would flare up anyway.) I was plagued by intrusive thoughts and becoming an absolute wreck.

Two days after my headache, every symptom of anxiety shut off like a switch. 

I still remember exactly when it happened. I was crossing a bridge over the freeway in my car to go to the nearby Trader Joe's. And suddenly my stomach didn't hurt, my heartburn faded, my shoulders relaxed, and the thoughts just….stopped. A few minutes went by. An hour. Then a day. My anxiety was just….gone.

Two days after THAT, I started to notice colors and sounds and scents. Everything was vivid and bright. It was like I'd never seen a sunset or something. Eating became this incredible sensory pleasure. I'd had Covid in April, so naturally I just thought that I had finally recovered from long Covid or something. But it was like I was on a low dose of MDMA or something. And I started to notice that I couldn't really stomach junk food the way I had before. I still liked sweets, but I wasn't able to even stomach a lot of my favorite foods.

I started to have outrageous dreams (some of which I'll share here in later posts). They were visceral and vivid and filled with intense personal metaphors. Some of the dreams had imagery in them that I had never even heard of, and I had to go look these images up. I figured that I must have seen them somewhere (perhaps years before), forgotten that I knew them, and my unconscious had filed them away for dream fodder. Still Things I'd Never Even Heard Of™ started to stack up and more and more of them showed up in my dreams. (The Tree of Life, Trinity Knot, Triskeles, and Awens.) The dreams were filled with smokey, vaguely feminine figures and black-clad women—sometimes sisters, sometimes apart, sometimes twins, sometimes three, and sometimes five. They would transform into black birds sometimes and scream as they took to flight. Sometimes they would grab my face, look into my eyes and say, "See me."

My inner calm and confidence exploded during all of this. Despite whatever was going on, I felt profoundly in tune with myself, cool, and collected. I was hitting on people (something I never did before), messaging strangers on dating apps (again, I had never done that), and feeling at ease with who I was and who I wasn't. I felt comfortable in my own skin and strangely unbridled by my usual foibles.

I started to feel connected with everyone and their energy. (I have always felt this due to hypervigilance, but it became magnified.) I even began to feel the energy of crowds pulsing and shifting. I'd always been an introvert, and sensitive to lots of noise or motion competing for my attention, but I started to feel crowds in a different way. Like the ebb and flow of their energy was sometimes too much. At one point, I tried to take a hike on a popular trail and there were simply too many people for me. I could…feel them. I could feel their energy. They made my forehead hurt, and it was like the sheer force of it was pushing me back. I ended up going home.

At one point, I was on a hike, and I was out of shape from sheltering in place for so long. By the end of the first hill, I was done. Muscles screaming. Panting. Completely unable to continue. I had nothing left. I was ready to turn around and go home. But then I felt something click. I reached down into a deeper center and found some energy that I didn't even know I had. My muscles screamed. My heart pounded. My breath jagged. But it was like it was happening to someone else. I felt sort of like a passenger watching my body get driven by someone who wanted to test its limits. The next day, I should have been absolutely wrecked with muscle soreness, but I was fine. I've been working out (and sometimes overdoing it) for 25 years, and I know when I should be sore the next day—I wasn't.

I also started hearing voices. Usually in the twilight moments before falling asleep or driving in the car—places I've been hearing sounds most of my life. But these were clearer. These were distinct. I've spent my life hearing a random word or a sound that couldn't have been there. But these were whole sentences in clear voices. Sometimes they would say things I could understand like, "What would it feel like if you just stopped trying to date for a year and focused on yourself?"

And one thing that's hard to describe was just feeling…on. I just felt amped all the time. I was walking around amplified and energized. I felt like I was crackling with energy like a live wire all the time. I needed less sleep each night. I felt hyper-alert. I couldn't find the "Empty" when I was working out or writing deep into the night.

I tried to figure out what I was going through. I talked to my doctor. I talked to my therapist. I did research into long Covid (and getting over long Covid). I looked into brain tumors. I looked into Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Charles Bonnet syndrome, and more. Nothing really explained all my symptoms.

And then one day, I started working backwards. I started putting in all the symptoms first. And I got an answer that fit better than any of the illnesses or injuries I had been coming up with:

A spiritual awakening.

While this was definitely on the edge of my experience and understanding, I wasn't yet quite off the map. Spiritual awakenings—as weird as they can be for the person going through them, and as much woo-woo shit as gets attached to them—are still a documented (and explicable) psychological phenomenon. There's nothing particularly supernatural about spontaneously feeling more empathetic, aware, and calm. 

But threaded in with all those "Spiritual Awakening" Google results was one other result that kept showing up. A result that explained my forehead and my dreams even just a little bit better. A result that sent a corkscrew of tingles up my spine and made my forehead throb even as my face screwed into a bitter moue:

A magical awakening.

And NOW I was off the map.

(More to come soon)

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