Spring came to these hills, with the wind, the sun, everything green glowing and the earth steaming, so I ate five psilocybin mushrooms, and after three hours lying naked in a field on the mountainside laughing at my own ambitions, talking to crows, becoming a field mouse hidden in the dry grass, I got up like a well-trained dog to come in here at the peak of my trip to record the present, and not out of duty, but because if I don’t write it down, the form is gone, the cues, the clues. “It calls as convincingly as the outdoors, “it” being my untamed inner landscapes, the ones I can only reach this way, putting a handhold on words as if they were rocks to grasp.
So I sit here now and the giant weeping willow tree just outside the window blows wildly in the breeze at the same moment I catch my eye in the broken mirror (it fell and broke this morning) and my voice says solemnly, “Yes, they are a witch’s eyes,” the face attentive, awake, alarmed by the word “witch.”
And then I recall Jennifer reading my palm, her words, “Unshed tears. See this puffy place? Unshed tears.” And I have a wart on my mound of Mercury, my writer-identity. “A superficial thing,” says Jennifer. “Surface stuff.” This sets off my laughter again and the mirror image and I applaud innocence, naivete, the readiness to swallow hook-line-and-sinker any reflection of who-I-am, and then I flash on a memory from ’71 where I laughed from early evening until midnight (with the help of hashish), a guest in the home of strangers. I sat on their living room floor not breaking rhythm, shoulders heaving, like a quiet basket case. They got used to me, I was like the furniture, and late in the evening a tall good looking dark man (my type) came into the room and said, “Who’s that?” and they said, “We don’t know. She came with Jim and he went to the movies and she stayed. She just laughs. She hasn’t said a word.”
The witch on the broomstick flying through the night is a distorted image, a dirty joke about spirit flying through thin air, it is a slur on the power of consciousness. . . .
I eat more mushrooms, take a walk down the mountain by way of the old roadbed, follow the creek which becomes a roaring stream and then a waterfall and the sound of it tunes me into a particular frequency and the wind whispers its own name and I have the strong sense I am standing on a grave, something buried by the whole race, a massive misunderstanding, and I remember what it is: the origin of the word witch. The word witch was invented to describe those who claim to be spirit before form, to be independent of flesh while in the flesh, and the witch on the broomstick flying through the night is a distorted image, a dirty joke about spirit flying through thin air, it is a slur on the power of consciousness, intended to instill fear and therefore control people, to keep them small, containable.
I feel like a hiker who has stumbled across a rite in this ravine where water crashes from the rocks, where ghosts of witches, men and women who were burned at the stake, congregate and wait quietly for me here to say evil comes from pointing fingers, and there is no evil in nature and natural law, and power is always relative; any power always meets a greater power.
And then I feel a great weariness with the word power — the power to manipulate the world, to make mountains heave, to get-what-I-want — and power becomes background as an ability to be aware (BEWARE!) and foreground is a deep peace and happiness with my own consciousness. I start to cry the unshed tears, start to walk again and nearly a dozen spirits join me — whoever has parted my veil, seen my vulnerability as my strength, my confusion as the backwaters of an awakening, my animal claws and potential to scratch, to be crazy, to act out “uncalled for behavior,” as who I am too.
And then I feel a deep desire to “find some old people” — the elders — and sense someone far ahead of me on the path.
I frighten him at first. He starts, steps back, trying to see, to recognize or place me, and I cannot tell from his face if he will say I am trespassing or will say hello when he trembles slightly and asks, “What’s your name?” He introduces himself as if we were at a wedding reception, in a formal situation; he is in his eighties, wears baggy pants pulled high over his rotund belly, and a broken-in sweater, and puffs for breath between tiny shuffling steps as we walk together. He tells me he has lived in these woods all his life and asks quick, eager questions of me. Where do you live? How old are you? Where did you grow up? Do you like herbs? Plants? Would you like to see my garden? “All I do now,” he says, “is garden.”
And he takes me to his garden in front of a picture-perfect house in a glen and quizzes me on the herbs coming up because I said I knew “a little” about herbs, but all I can focus on is his chubby happy face tilted to one side, as he says, “And what’s this?” pointing with his trembling cane. “Onions?” I whisper softly. “No, you know what that is, guess again!” he says, and I just smile and he says, “Chives! It’s chives!”
I never ask questions and he never offers answers but before I go he says, “Thirty-one is a wonderful age, a magical age,” and pats me on the back, says good luck, goodbye, hurry home before dark. I do, and take a long hot bath, put on a pot of rice, write this story for my favorite loves, for the witches that watch, for the elders who come when I call.