Night Swimming

The Opening

part of: The Hidden Land

by Lora of Many Generations

Finally, the Day of Opening arrived.

Robert and Moira had waited for this moment all their lives. Robert had never really believed it would happen, though he and his ancestors had waited and prepared for it for over 10,000 years.

10,000 years is a very long time for human memory to encompass…though no more than the twitch of an eyelid to the Universe. “Memory is a poor guide for action or belief, if navigating the shoals of event through the Universe is the task at hand,” Robert’s mother had often told him, when fits of disbelief would take him off track. And now, indeed, the moment had arrived, and Robert was one of the lucky ones to see it happen….the reward for his struggles and his years of shaky faith.

Moira had seen it in dreams all her life. Her dream life and her waking life were securely wedded…one seamless interweaving of forces: the body open in sleep receiving—the mind at rest playing among impulses and the mind alert and choosing—the body awake and interpreting. Somehow, for 10,000 years, her community had managed to produce at least one person in every generation with this achievement.

Moira entered through the east gate of a long, looping stone enclosure overgrown with ivy and creeping vines bearing white and purple flowers. She inhaled the air deeply. It was early spring. The light was returning. The feeling of expansiveness as life unfurled from root and branch exhilarated her!

An overgrown stone path lead among banks of massive rhododendrons. Moira followed it, brushing aside spider webs heavy with dew, apologizing to the tiny creatures whose early morning labors were being so rudely disrupted. Finally, she came to a tiny stone shrine shining among ancient trees in the soft hour before dawn. Robert was already there, waiting for her, as were the Wanderers who had found them only last night.

The timing of event always amazed Moira.

When she was a small child she had dreamed of five people: A young woman dressed all in red. A man wearing deep blue embroidered with complex, mysterious symbols. A stern, tall woman in black with a silver sword strapped to her back. A tender-eyed, roundbacked healer in soft grey. A gypsy witch with long auburn braids wearing forest green carrying a glowing rod. They would come just as The Gate finally opened. An intersection of forces. If Moira had been a Wanderer, she would have been a Deznahdorean, so keen was her perception of forces and their interplay through Time.

And here they were, standing with Robert, at the entrance to the shrine, just as she had seen them twenty years before.

Marcia and Shekina had come to visit Johnmarro, Kendra and Maria only last week. The Wanderers of the Isles and the Bush had grown close over two generations. As a matter of fact, Johnmarro, Kendra and Maria would be returning to take up residence in the Bush Community when Marcia and Shekina went back.

The five had been wandering along a tiny path over the heath at dusk, breathing and feeling the fading of day…anticipating the soft kiss of purple-clad night, when they had seen a stone wall off in the distance bordered by a copse of weathered rowans. A pale, slender man and a shining round woman, both with waist-length raven hair were watching the flowering of early evening’s stars. To Marcia’s Deznahdorean nerves the area was dense with power….focused through these two individuals and something else throbbing behind the wall.

She stood silent, breathed deeply, exhaled completely and sank deep within, watching, listening, feeling – the white rind of Venus among the mists of dusk, the sensations of intense awe and rapid-hearted anticipation, electric knowing, and the odd image of a long iridescent pathway leading through the sun and out into a dense forest opened into her consciousness. Drawing away from the sensations, Marcia said to the night air “Let’s go talk to those two people.” Shekina, standing just behind her, withdrew her attention from the glow of sunset, and asked, “who?”

Marcia nodded toward the two beautiful strangers. The gust of power that hit Shekina when her awareness encountered them knocked her silent, and she could only stand and regard them in amazement. Marcia smiled and said, “Right! Let’s go!”

“Okay, but, let’s get the others first,” Shekina replied. Johnmarro, Kendra and Maria were off in the distance already, forging ahead on the path. Shekina stooped and picked up a small, smooth stone and lofted it in their general direction. It landed on the heath to Johnmarro’s left. He stopped in surprise, turned and saw Marcia beckoning. He gathered Maria and Kendra’s attention and directed it to Marcia. Then the three of them walked back to Marcia and Shekina.

Robert and Moira heard footsteps on the path through the heath. Moira had the oddest feeling. Around her swirled a thousand forces, ten thousand forms. She and her brother, Robert, had labored for twenty years to understand the forms and comprehend the forces in motion, now all was set in its proper place in her heart, her mind, her body. Here she was standing at the center of it all. Where acting had taken such effort before, now all she needed do was waft a breath toward that form, send a thought through that energy and all would unfold so smoothly, so seamlessly, that to an outsider it would seem that she, Moira, was the maker of miracles. Yet, it was all merely the result of careful planning and a lot of really hard work. She smiled briefly. And now, here they were, The Five she had felt for twenty years….just as the Gate opened fully under the influence of the rising Stream. She knew exactly what to do next.

Marcia and Shekina walked eagerly toward Robert and Moira. They felt Moira regarding them, even before her eyes turned their way. Kendra, Johnmarro and Maria watched intently. They didn’t have Marcia’s native skill or Shekina’s years in dealing with the inner forces, but they sensed something way out of the ordinary and trusted Marcia and Shekina implicitly. This was going to be interesting.

Robert saw the five strangers coming up the path. Moira was already walking down to meet them. He waited at the wall, watching. His sister might trust her dreams implicitly, but he trusted nothing that he had not examined first. He felt she probably believed these five to be The Five of her dream….he would be sure first, before inviting them into the shrine…

If he could be satisfied that they were The Five arrived just in this nick of time, then the Journey would commence.

If not, he was determined that the shrine would remain unrevealed. He hoped Moira realized this.

He made a quick mental note that none of them were dressed as The Five of Moira’s dream. Of course, dreams being metaphors, the clothing would have been nothing more than symbols of their inner realities….he would see.

It was significant that they arrived on this particular evening. Even Robert could feel the force of the Stream activating the Gate. The Stream had returned in his Grandmother’s day. It was she who had announced the first Stirrings to the Community…but It wouldn’t be strong enough to power the Gate for a while…not until now, until Robert and Moira reached middle age had the power risen enough….now he would see if there was any truth at all in the old tales so meticulously preserved over the ages.

Marcia and Shekina approached reverently. The woman was clearly waiting for them. They were close enough now to see the clear green of her exquisitely shaped eyes, the translucent skin with a sea of shades underneath…she was blushing with different emotions and thoughts…. “flickering through her skin like the thoughts of the Vegans flicker in a thousand shades of iridescence through their fans,” Marcia thought, remembering the stories E’Lora used to tell her when Marcia was just a girl.

Moira felt like a puppy, but repressed the urge to run up to these two well-known strangers and jump up and down before them…she calmed herself with a few well-timed breaths, gathered her heart and her mind up and waited….

“The waiting is almost over,” a voice whispered in the back of her mind. “That for which you have been prepared, that for which your Community has been prepared is about to happen.”

Marcia stepped up and said, “Hello. We were just having a bit of a walk in the early night. My name is Marcia Brannon, these are my friends Shekina, Johnmarro,
Kendra, and Maria.”

Taking a another deep, deep breath, Moira extended her hand and replied, “Welcome. Your accent tells me you are not from this Isle. What brings you to this place?”

“Yes,” said Robert, stepping up beside his sister, “What brings you here on this particular evening?”

His tone was probing, his eyes alert. Marcia felt examined. She opened her heart and gazed deep into Robert’s eyes.

“Serendipity, nothing more,” she replied. “We are here in Ireland to visit our friends, Johnmarro, Kendra and Maria. They suggested we take a walk along this path at sunset. They so love this path at sunset in spring.” Johnmarro, Kendra and Maria nodded in quiet assent, also noticing Robert’s intensity.

Shekina smiled inwardly. She wondered who this dark, intense man was. She liked him instinctively and felt glad to meet him. She didn’t question the irrationality of this feeling. She merely accepted it and wondered where it would lead.

Robert turned his gaze to her next. She smiled into him appreciatively, matching his intensity.

For one stirring moment Robert felt the silver sword in her mind. He stepped back a pace. He had never had such a strong feeling from another person…only half-believed his sister, when she described feeling such things all the time. He looked at Moira with new appreciation, then returned his regard to Shekina.

She gazed staunchly into him. He felt the sharp solidity in the woman, her strength, her perspicacity. He found himself wanting to have a long talk with her over a hot tea.

Robert shook his head to clear it of such a non-sequiter notion….then he realized, it wasn’t non-sequiter…it just was….and it was very pleasant. He relaxed visibly. Shekina relaxed.

They smiled at each other without tension. Shekina could feel a strong energy corridor forming between them. Surprised, she opened herself and did not resist.

Marcia, Moira, Johnmarro, Kendra and Maria stepped together, smiling, opening. The fall of night teased a light mist from the heath. Shadows lengthened and merged until darkness fell between their eyes. Maria pulled out an electric torch and said, “perhaps we should find our way indoors.” Moira laughed, “Yes, let’s do that. Come with me.” She turned rapidly and lead the way by instinct through a small gate in the wall, and down a path winding through massive rhododendrons. At a fork in the path she veered left, leading the Wanderers, trailed by Shekina and Robert, toward a small cottage. Lights shone brightly through the windows, so brightly that Maria doused her torch, and they proceeded by starlight and firelight…for clearly the light coming through the windows was caused by a hearty blaze within.

Upon entering, the Wanderers saw a large room with shining wood floors and clean white walls. On the far wall was a huge brick fireplace filled with dancing flames. The room smelled of apple wood. The floor was strewn with woven rugs and to the left there were huge inviting pillows to sit on. Low tables were here and there. To the right was a long table upon which candles blazed. There was also a huge loaf of bread, a large cheese under glass, a pie, and a tea kettle nestled deep in a cozy. There were seven cups.

Marcia began to have the odd feeling they had been expected. She looked over at Moira. Moira WAS looking at her expectantly.

“This meeting…” Marcia began.

“needs to be examined!” Robert finished.

Moira smiled gently. She wanted Robert to be satisfied. She trusted his lack of trust…knew it would lead him to ask the right questions. She wanted to be sure too. She liked his bluntness as well. It always caught people off guard, and then of course, they would reveal things they might never have otherwise revealed….in this moment, much needed to be revealed.

Marcia looked at Robert intently. “All things need to be examined,” she replied. “Particularly serendipitous meetings between people who immediately like each other.”

“Who says I like you,” Robert asked, leaning forward intently.

“I do,” Shekina replied…

“You like me, at least….do you deny that!” she questioned, every bit as intense he.

Robert leaned back. “No, I don’t deny it,” he said finally.

Moira laughed. Her laugh was musical, rising and falling like the syllables of some foreign tongue…laying out a whole geography of delight for her listeners’ ears.

“The world is a strange place,” she began. “It is not what most people have been taught it is.”

“That is so,” replied Johnmarro, warming to her depth and her delight.

“It is a collection of forces intersecting through time,” Kendra added.

“It is a string of stories and everything besides,” said Maria.

“Yes,” said Robert. They had some idea that reality was vast beyond human imagining. That much was good.

“These forces you speak of,” Moira began, “do you feel them?”

“I do,” said Marcia.

“Yes, I do,” said Shekina.

Johnmarro nodded, as did Kendra and Maria.

“We are part of these forces,” Maria said. “We can shape them, ride them by shaping ourselves.”

“That is so,” Moira said, feeling exhilaration rising. Almost no one understood that point.

“And have you shaped yourselves with this notion in mind?” Robert asked.

“We have,” replied Marcia.

He tested her with his eyes….she did not falter. She believed what she was saying.

Marcia began to have the feeling that something deep out of Time was here.

“Who are you two?” she asked.

“I appreciate your bluntness,” Moira answered. “I desire to answer you fully, but much is at stake. Forgive us if we make ourselves sure of you before we explain many things no one has heard about from our lips yet.”

Shekina stared deep into Moira. She felt a complexity, a surety, a depth she had never felt in any human before. Only once in dreams, years ago when she was a child, had she encountered this feeling. It had come in the shape of a green-haired ancient woman with starfields where her eyes should be and whole cities for hands.Shekina felt her heart quiver in the center of her chest. This was that woman.

“I know you too…you are a warrior” Moira said to Shekina, then turned to Kendra. “I believe I know all of you. You are a healer,” she stated.

“I am,” Kendra replied.

“She is a gifted healer of spirits,” Johnmarro volunteered.

Kendra smiled.

“Yes,” said Moira. “And you…you are a bridge between thought-worlds…you explain people to each other, help them talk, be heard, understand?” she said to Johnmarro.

“More or less,” he replied, fascinated by her description of his Way.

She looked at Maria and said, “You are a green spirit. Anything planted in you grows rampantly, passionately, but you are a skillful gardener, so what you grow is both pleasing and useful.”

Maria lowered her eyes shyly. She was young and praise still made her retreat inside and consider the veracity of what was being said.

“Then there is you,” Moira indicated Marcia. “You are a hub. Many forces, many forms live inside your spirit. They float there. You watch. They arrange themselves. You learn. You speak of what you have learned and those around you flower.”

It was Marcia’s turn to feel shy, even though she wasn’t particularly young.

Robert watched each of the Wanderers as Moira described them. The words echoed truly through them. They were feeling recognized.

He was satisfied. The timing, the feelings, the observations, they all added up to what they needed to add up to. He nodded at his sister, whose eyes were already glowing.

“Let us talk now,” Moira said… “openly.”

The five Wanderers blinked…felt anticipation glow within them….felt an immensity about this moment that they didn’t understand.

Moira began. “We are descended in unbroken line from the first Guardians of the Sixth Gate. For 50,000 years our Clan has tended this place, this small plot of land. There are five other such Gates on Earth. We no longer know where they are. In the chaos of the last 10,000 years much that was known has been lost and the Hidden have disappeared from all but their own eyes.”

Marcia gaped…. “50,000 years, the Sixth Gate, the Hidden?”

“Straight through the sun, marching through tomorrow, lies the Hidden Land,” Robert chanted softly…Looking up he said, “A nursery rhyme taught to our kind. It is said the Gate we guard leads to the Hidden Land. The Gate has been closed for 10,000 years while we waited for the power of The Stream to return.”

“The Stream!” Shekina and Marcia both said at once!

“Yes,” said Robert. “You say that like you have heard of it before…but no living human outside the Communities of the Gates have ever heard of the Stream.”

Marcia stammered, “The Stream is a word used by E’Lora, now dead, to describe an immense force in the Universe, a force that activates the potential of dark matter and permits it to be transformed into light matter! She saw all this in a dream though, when she was but a child!”

Robert and Moira stared at each other, dumbfounded. All doubt subsided inside them. These were The Five.

“Are you saying the Stream is real!” Shekina asked.

“The force of the Stream is real. It is what permits the Gate to function,” Moira replied.

“The Gate,” Johnmarro asked, dry-mouthed, dumb-founded himself.

“Yes, the Gate to the Hidden Land,” Moira said.

“We can ride the Stream to the Hidden Land, or so that is what we have been taught for 10,000 years,” Robert added. “No one has ridden the Stream anywhere for 10,000 years.”

“Because it has been a Day of the Field?” Shekina asked.

“Yes,” Moira breathed. “Now the power of the Stream has returned sufficiently to be ridden. This Gate was constructed over 100,000 years ago by an ancient race of people who came here from the Hidden Land. They tended it until they passed that duty on to our Clan.”

“Where and what is the Hidden Land?” Kendra asked. She was having a hard time believing all this.

“We don’t really know,” Robert said. “The nursery rhyme says it is through the sun and in the wake of tomorrow, but we don’t really know what that means. We don’t even know if the Gate will work.”

“How is it supposed to work,” Marcia asked.

“If a person of sufficient neural development stands in the Gate and is held stable by six adepts, then that person can project themselves through the lens of the Gate and into the Hidden Land,” Moira answered.

“Project?” Johnmarro asked.

“Well, supposedly they just dematerialize, shoot through the Gate and appear in this different place,” Robert said.

“Like another dimension,” Maria asked.

“We don’t know,” Robert said. “The stories just say they will appear in the Hidden Land.”

“Many of our Community were murdered in the old days,” Moira said. “So much knowledge has been lost. None of it was ever written down. Oral transmission of the information in the form of training was the way our Clan passed on what they knew. During the predations of the last 10,000 years though, many of the transmitters were killed. My brother and I and three others are all that are left of our Clan. We are not sure we still know enough to get the Gate to work.”

“Okay,” said Shekina. “Where is this Gate?”

Robert and Moira looked at each other.

“We will show it to you. It is said that the best times to project though its portal are at dawn and at dusk. Meet us here tomorrow morning in the hour before dawn and we will take you to the Gate. Then, we will see what we will see,” Moira said.

The five Wanderers looked at each other. This was wild beyond imagining. They had to know.

“We’ll be here,” Marcia said.

“Can you find your way back to your inn,” Robert asked.

“Yes,” Johnmarro said. “I can find my way across these lands in the dead of night, and tonight we have bright stars and half a white moon.”

“Very well then, tomorrow it is,” Robert replied.

So it was that Moira prepared to come to the shrine in the soft hour before dawn while Robert waited for The Five. They arrived right on time.

Together the six padded quietly down the winding stone path among the rhododendrons until they came to the fork. This time they went right. The path led to the tiny shrine, faintly shining in the rising sun.

It was a circular building made of white stone. It looked like an archaic Greek temple, except that it was domed. Moira, dressed in flowing green robes, her long raven hair dancing in the early morning breeze, was behind them and arrived just as they stepped up to the entrance. She joined them, her eyes shining with joy.

“Right this way,” she said.

Marcia swallowed hard. She wanted to disbelieve, but this was the source of the power she had felt throbbing yesterday evening, a power that made every nerve end come alive and dance with surety, intensity, believability.

They entered the shrine.

Marcia had expected it to be dark. There were no windows and the dome was solid white stone, marble she expected….

But it was not. It was as bright as a forest clearing at high noon…in fact, the light was dappled, like light filtered through dancing leaves.

Looking up, Marcia saw why. The inside of the dome was lined with what appeared to be quartz crystal. Through the crystal came that magical shivering light. Through the crystal she could see the sky above a forest.

“It started doing this in 1986,” Robert said. “Before that it was completely dark in here. We had a brace of candles going at all times. It was really faint at first, but now, well, you see it.”

“So, what exactly is supposed to happen,” Shekina asked, her voice quavering a bit.

“Well, if you’ll look at the floor, you’ll see where the seven are supposed to stand,” Moira replied.

The Wanderers looked. Indeed, on the floor inside a golden hexagram were six circles. Strange symbols were inside each one. In the center of the hexagram was a larger circle upon which was an image of the solar system…except there were eleven planets….there was an extra planet in the same plane as Earth, but exactly opposite it, on the other side of the sun.

“So, someone, the one who wants to journey to the Hidden Land stands here in the center,” Moira said. “Then the other six stand in these outer circles.”

Shekina walked around the hexagram until she came to a circle that called to her. Kendra sought and found hers….each of the Wanderers walked until they felt their place. Robert looked at Moira. She stood in the center. He took his place in the outer rim.

“Now what,” Marcia asked.

Moira smiled. “You all really do feel forces. You really have shaped yourselves.”

Johnmarro smiled and said, “yes.”

“We are supposed to use a particular breathing pattern, a particular sound, and focus our forces into Moira,” Robert said.

“Okay,” said Maria. “Teach us the breath and the sound.”

Moira did.

“What if this works,” Marcia said.

“Well, then I will disappear, or that is what is said,” Moira replied.

“And you will appear in this Hidden Land, where ever that is,” Kendra asked.

“That is what is said,” Moira replied.

“Okay,” said Marcia. “Shall we try this?”

Robert looked at Moira. She looked at him.

“Yes,” she said. Inside she was shaking with anticipation. Would this really work? Had the last 10,000 years of her Clan’s dedication been nothing but delusion, or had all the sacrifices and suffering been worth it? She was about to find out.

Moira began the breathing, focused her mind into the crystal, as she had been taught to do. She opened her mouth and chanted up into the crystal, as she had been taught to do.

The six surrounding her began the breathing, focused their minds into Moira, as they had been instructed to do. They opened their mouths and chanted into Moira, as they had been instructed to do.

As they did so, the power in the room began to vibrate their bones….they felt Moira all the way down to the subatomic spaces under her atoms, felt the rush of the Stream up into her, held their attention to keep her stable….felt a swoosh and a rush in their chests and their minds, and suddenly the room was sucked by some great force and Moira flowed up into the crystal and appeared there among the trees and the flickering light.

Staring in shock up into the sky, she disappeared among the leaves.

Robert screamed. He had been trained all his life in the techniques of energy transfer. He had seen them work for healing and communication over long distances, but not until this very moment had he really believed they would work in this way with the Gate.

The Five stared, open mouthed….

Johnmarro said what was on all their minds. “How do we get her back?”

to be continued…..

related by Lora, Twilit Majz of the Fourth Generation