Running Dialogue: Twelfth Tribe of the Ancient Sorcerers 06/16

by nielskunze on June 7, 2016

Prior Episodes of Running Dialogue:

First Episode
Second Thoughts
Third Time’s The Charm
Fourth Movement… Forth
Fifth Element
Sixth Sense
Seventh Direction
Eighth Wonder of the World
Ninth Life of Schrödinger’s Cat
Tenth of One Percent
Eleventh Dream of Seventh Heaven

(Progged Down & Getting Uppity – First Hour… preparing the way for the second attention *optional*)

The Vast Unknown

The Vast Unknown

Twelfth Tribe of the Ancient Sorcerers

“It’s all about the second attention,” I said to Felix’s honest blank stare, “or the art of dreaming if you prefer.”

“Castaneda,” he mumbled as a prompt for me to continue.

I was trying to explain the occurrence of the Thunder Being which had just ‘flown’– quite impossibly– down the river valley right before our very eyes. Thunder Beings– at least those which I’ve encountered previously– are humanoid, standing about the average height of a man. They have both arms as well as wings, much like an angel. The wings, however, seem more symbolic– or perhaps an artifact of perceptual translation– rather than being honest-to-goodness utilities capable of actual physical flight. Thunder Beings shouldn’t be able to fly, according to the agreed-upon laws of physics, but they do nevertheless.

“Both of us entered into the second attention at the same time,” I explained. “I think it had to do with the rhythm of our footsteps in the snow and the other Forest sounds impinging on our consciousness, much like binaural beats on a meditation CD.”

“So we were in a meditative state… when we saw that… that thing?”

“Not just a meditative state… but deep dreaming– a full delta brainwave state– without having to go through the trouble of falling asleep first.”

“So it was just a dream,” concluded Felix.

“Well,” I hedged, “that’s one way to regard it– a rather dismissive way. But all of perceptual reality is just a dream– a dream shared at the frequency of the collective consciousness of all humanity. In its own dimension– within that brainwave bubble we’re calling the second attention– it was as real as anything else. We BOTH perceived it… and that makes it as ‘objectively’ real as anything.”

“But someone who was not sharing that delta state we were in…?”

“…Would have seen two guys gawking at the sky like a couple of drooling idiots, staring in disbelief at nothing. Things are only real within their self-defined parameters of consciousness… within a certain frequency range… in their own dimension.”

Here the conversation paused for a moment as Felix digested the meat of what I was saying. Then he abruptly nodded in acceptance. “It fits,” he said. “It fits with my training.” I had no idea how what I was explaining had anything to do with spycraft, but I let it go. “Tell me more about the art of dreaming as you understand it,” Felix nudged.

“For about four years,” I began, “I had a sensory deprivation tank set up in my room.” Felix nodded. Perhaps I had mentioned it before. I continued. “Inside the tank, in total darkness, floating in the epsom salt brine, I would very quickly lose any awareness of my body… due to the lack of any external stimuli. The water is very precisely kept at the exact temperature of the body’s own surface temperature at the skin– about 92 F. So essentially, after about five or ten minutes, I would become a disembodied consciousness floating in limitless space… safely tucked away inside my tank. Invariably, what happened for me– and what’s very common in sensory deprivation– is that I would drop into dream sequences. What’s important to understand is that I was very definitely NOT asleep. I was perfectly awake and aware, but since there’s literally nothing to be aware of inside the tank– no stimuli– the mind is forced to create its own context for experience. We are experiencers… dreamers. When we’re not being fed an unending stream of physical and sensory data, we just make something up instead. Our minds are infinitely creative.”

“Lilly’s hypothesis, as I recall, was that the mind would simply shut down in the absence of any external stimulus.”

Felix was referring to the work of John C. Lilly, the now-semi-famous founder and developer of sensory deprivation. “Yes,” I nodded. “But what he found instead was that the exact opposite was true. It appears that consciousness cannot be shut down… or at least that it does not go quietly into that good night– which makes sense, since consciousness IS existence.”

Felix nodded again. He was further considering the implications of what we were discussing. “So when you were in those dream sequences– while fully awake– were you immediately aware that you were dreaming?”

“That’s the interesting thing,” I mused, “there seems to be some mechanism within the mind which allows for instantaneous forgetting or amnesia. When I was immersed within a dream sequence, I was fully immersed in the dream, forgetting altogether that I was dreaming or that I was inside the tank. It was only when my body would perform some action coinciding with whatever I was doing within the dream– such as moving my arm to reach for something– that suddenly the dream sequence would end, and I’d be back in the tank, bobbing to and fro on the waves I’d just created. After awhile I became astounded at how every single time I entered into a dream it was preceded by this total amnesia. It seems that in order to properly dream, we have to utterly forget that we’re dreaming… thus making the experience totally indistinguishable from any other lived reality.”

That conversation took place awhile back. And for a time, Felix and I parted ways. This time, however, we undertook a bit of a role reversal. Felix stayed out in the Forest, explaining that he still had a mission to complete– not one for Mossad or any of the usual power-brokers, but one of his own devising. There was something out here, in this impossible vastness that he needed to find.

Southwestern View

Southwestern View

And I went back home. For a couple of months I laid low, not publishing anything new or significant during that time. It was all in keeping with Felix’s plan that I appeared dead to those who might wish me harm. I focused on music instead, taking the opportunity to finalize my band’s second CD… which was released to the public early in May.

And then, weeks later, I returned again to the Forest with Sitka… in order to catch up with Felix. Had he found what he was looking for?

The New Mine Road…?

The New Mine Road…?

The first thing that I noticed was that the road that cut through the swamp and headed up into the western backcountry had been completely redesigned. Someone had been very busy with some heavy-duty machinery installing new culverts, grading and widening the road. For at least 15 years, this had been the road to nowhere; it had begun to seriously grow over, and at the base of the Purcells in the west it had been barricaded with a deep cross-ditch and a mound of impassable dirt. The road had been essentially closed for nearly as long as I could remember. And now it had been converted into a virtual two-lane highway– albeit made of dirt– and it was open for business.



For moving large trees...

For moving large trees…

I caught up with Felix at my old campsite where we’d previously agreed to check in with each other. I was only there for a day when he wandered into our midst again.

“I was beginning to wonder if you’d ever come back,” Felix teased.

“I was busy,” I answered evasively.

He nodded. “The long-awaited second album,” he filled in the blank.

“So you’re still keeping tabs on me?”

“Of course,” he smiled, “I’m not nearly done with you yet!”

“So what have you got in mind? Did you find what you were looking for?”

“I did,” he said quite seriously. “But as you may have noticed, I was joined in the search by representatives of the Old Guard.” I nodded in recognition of all of the recent construction in the area as Felix continued. “They’re pretty determined little fuckers, putting in a great deal of effort and expense.”

“They’re a mining company, no?” I had seen the company name on the side of one of the pickups that had passed me on the road. Felix nodded a confirmation. “What exactly are they looking for?”

“It would be much easier for me to show you than to try and explain it.” Well that was deliciously cryptic! “Do you have a decent flashlight or two?”

“I do,” I answered… even more intrigued.

We packed up ropes and flashlights and a change of clothes… and then proceeded to the west side of the swamp where Felix pointed up the mountain to a particular tree on a ridge-line.

“You see that tree there, the one that sticks up above all the rest?” I nodded, following the direction of the pointing finger. “That’s what they’re looking for.” He was referring to the workers for the supposed mining company. “And that’s where we’re going.”

I hadn’t spent much time exploring the tops of these remote mountains. I was more of a valley dweller. I knew that I’d never been to the location Felix had indicated. The fact that we’d specifically packed flashlights had me excited in anticipation. I wanted to ask Felix exactly what the nature of our destination was, but as we hiked up the mountainside, he instead kept me busy with a rather interesting– and somewhat related– topic of discussion.

“From what I understand,” he began, “you’ve always been the go-to guy among your friends when indulging in psychedelic adventuring. Why do you suppose that is?”

“Because I’m so charming and lovable when I’m whacked out of my tree,” I joked.

“Kinda,” he answered in all seriousness. “You have a special knack,” he explained, “one which you may not be aware of. I suspect it’s a skill developed in previous lives.” Now I was definitely intrigued! “You’re able to keep yourself and those around you centered and properly tethered to your respective identities… even during the most bamboozling of psychedelic challenges… even while drunk.”

I had to laugh at that. “Yeah, everybody always loved to get shit-faced with Niels! But you’re telling me that it was because I was able to provide some form of esoteric or clandestine protection?”

“Precisely.” He elaborated. “Using mind-altering substances– even alcohol– is very much like what we were discussing awhile back about entering into the second attention. It’s not exactly dreaming per se, but it’s like entering into a cul-de-sac in consciousness, a special subset of our waking reality. Many– perhaps even most– people become very vulnerable in such mind spaces, susceptible to blackouts and even entity possession. It’s a dangerous place for the inexperienced or uninitiated.”

We paused a moment, in this grueling ascent, to catch our breaths. And then Felix continued.

“Just outside of your immediate awareness, I suspect, you’re able to perform a protective service for your fellow adventurers by keeping their respective identities firmly centered inside their bodies. During the storms of shamanic journeying, many are prone to losing themselves– at least temporarily– in the unfamiliar context of the experience. I’m not exactly sure how you accomplish it, but you seem able to create a field of containment for such wandering attentions. People like to get drunk with you and get all fucked up on all manner of reality-bending substances because you’re able to offer an unreasonable degree of protection… making the whole adventure far less dangerous and potentially much more illuminating.”

“So I’m a shaman?”

“It’s very likely that you were… during more than one lifetime. What you learned to do consciously for your tribe in those times has become an automated response to the potential danger in this lifetime. The protector of sovereign mind-space has become an intrinsic part of your current identity.”

“Fuck I’m awesome!” I laughed. “So I take it this is all relevant for where we’re going?” It was affirmed with a nod. “We’re not planning on taking any psychedelics though, are we?”

“We won’t need them,” Felix assured me. “The locale is mind-bending enough on its own… no embellishments required.”

It was hot, and I was sweaty. The mosquitos had arrived in swarming battalions, threatening to choke us as we gulped in desperate breaths, bushwhacking our way up the steep incline. I took off my t-shirt to wave it in a defensive pattern around my body to keep the mosquitos fighting impossible air currents as I hiked. I quickly taught Felix to do the same after he had suddenly inhaled one of the little bastards.

We paused a few times to catch our breaths… but kept our shirts flailing around us in a most efficient mosquito-thwarting way. We were getting close… Felix admitted as much by saying “Keep an eye out for the wee folk. We’re entering their land.”

The Wee Woodland Folk… Guardians...Stargates and Portals...

The Wee Woodland Folk… Guardians…Stargates and Portals…

It was beginning to level out… The Forest changed… It seemed to suddenly grow old around us. One minute we were walking through the familiar new-growth conifer forest I was accustomed to, and the next minute we were among the ancient ruins of mythic forest glades right out of a medieval fable… a tiny island in a temporal sea, beholden to yesteryear…

The tree on the ridge-line we’d seen from below was straight ahead, standing tall among its fellows. But there, beside it, there still stood the monument of its predecessor, The Ancient Sentinel.

Ancient Sentinel

Ancient Sentinel

The air smelled suddenly wet and fecund, rich with the fragrance of uncommon possibilities. It was petrichor and rosewood with floral ribbons running through. It was alluring, enticing… or perhaps just enchanting, for I simply wanted to stay put by this impossibly old tree and soak up all of time’s long, forlorn embrace, having given context and contrast for the whole continuity of life’s nostalgic magick… right here.

Felix recognized awe upon my face and said “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

We scooted around some mossy boulders– rocks that appeared far sturdier and enduring than the familiar shale which surrounded this unlikely place. There was still snow on their shadow side… along with the mouth of an obvious cave. This was it! Felix was beaming!

Cave Mouth

Cave Mouth

“What’s in there?” I asked as though there was some question as to whether we would proceed. As if!

“I don’t want to poison your mind with suggestions,” Felix correctly answered. “You need to have your own authentic experience… in the Magick Cave.”

“Are we already dreaming?” That this place existed… at all… right here, in my familiar mountains, no less! But Felix was right; I hadn’t seen nothing yet! We scooched down to duck inside…

Some spaces in perception are vast panoramic vistas… where anything can happen. When curious minds enter such spaces there’s that quality of raw anticipation… in the darkness just beyond the feeble penetration of our flashlights’ thrusts. All of the unseen… crowds into such spaces, parading in the shadows, mocking Plato’s Cave… daring us to commune with all that thrives outside of fear. How ironic that we needed to crouch down in order to enter into just such an enormity!

Just inside the mouth of the cave, the floor dropped away steeply, to open into a sizable foyer. And somewhere beyond that, there was the faint sound of distant running water… barely whispering… inviting…

At the back of the foyer, the ceiling dropped sharply like the back of a dome… but not quite all the way to the floor. There was a crack, quite wide– maybe, ten yards– but only about three feet in height. The low three-foot ceiling extended into the crack for as far as my flashlight could reach. And that’s where the sound of the water was coming from too.

I crouched and crawled over ground that was clearly worn. Other beings had passed this way before… many times… for ages. The rocks were worn smooth on their tops, whereas their surroundings were immediately jagged and sharp. Dirt that had been tracked in during countless seasons was firmly packed between the contoured rocks that made up an obvious path tracking the sound of the water’s rush.

I followed it for what seemed like quite a long time, making myself as small as possible along the way. And then abruptly my path opened into a sizable cavern. It admitted daylight. The ceiling quickly funneled into a narrow vertical shaft leading to sky and sunlight… although it was utterly impossible to ascend. A tiny eye of light from the muggle world left behind looked on in curiosity. I stared up at it for a moment, but that’s not where my interests lay.

I stood in a partially day-lit cavern, shining my light into the hidden recesses where the remains of candles and other burnt offerings littered the shadows. Felix then crawled out of the rocky smile to stand beside me. “Only a couple of the candles were mine… the rest, who knows?”

Although the question of who had been here before us… and for what purpose… was immensely intriguing, I found myself reorienting my bearings according to the sound of the water again. It was louder here, in the cavern… and it was coming from another narrow opening at my feet… and it stole the whole of my attention.

I could feel Felix smiling behind me when he said “Go ahead; we’ll come back to this one after.” I knew I’d missed something significant in the cavern… but I had to find the source of the water. On this mountain, this high up… there shouldn’t have been water, certainly not as much as I was hearing. This river or waterfall simply couldn’t exist, at least, not to my rational mind. There’s something about experiencing impossibilities…

For this one I had to get down on my belly. It wasn’t quite so narrow as to cause claustrophobia, but this leg of the journey involved too many elbows and knees and rocks for my liking. I crawled along, at first to the sound of the water growing louder and the immediate guidance of my flashlight… and then to the sliver of light straight ahead.



It was an open eye to the mother of all unlikelihoods in this mountain realm, a passage leading to the birthplace of mythic heroes… beyond imagination’s comfort zone…

Eye To The Waterfall

Eye To The Waterfall

It was a horizontal vesica piscis, like a mouth speaking incantations to Earth’s own spirit, and I was the spell being gripped and cast, pulling myself from this immaculate conception in a rocky womb, to stand humbled and awed in a place that I knew could not possibly exist… and here I was! No doubt about it!

It is so strange to stand firmly, physically, in a place and feel the unreality in its unreckoned beauty, knowing that it can’t be real… and yet desperately needing it to be the foundation for a brand new world, to stand on the shoulders of the Ancients. This was such a place; this was such a feeling. According to any and all of the calculations swirling in my brain, this place did not compute; it could not exist– not in MY mountains, not in my backyard.

OMFG! (Can you find the teddy bear with the alms bowl in his lap?"

OMFG! (Can you find the teddy bear with the alms bowl in his lap?)

This beautiful waterfall, delighting in the sunlight, had no business being here, at the top of this mountain. I suddenly realized that I was having a Shangri-La moment; I was ensconced in myth… and paradoxically, it seemed to be the very realest of the real. This was a peak moment, a religious experience. It was I– and all that I might’ve carried here with me– that seemed somehow the less real. This place was like a timeless seed reality… and endless reflections of beauty and adventure were derived from its pristine perfection for the making of worlds within worlds.

The Pit of Paradise (Looking straight up from where I stood)

The Pit of Paradise (Looking straight up from where I stood)

Felix would confirm it for me later– that this waterway was only above ground for a few hundred meters. Just beyond the waterfall I could see in the open daylight, there was a mighty spring bubbling up from the ground. And here, where I stood beside the cave mouth that had just uttered and spat me into this mythic revelation, I watched as the impossible river immediately disappeared into a siphon beneath me. Sunlight charged these streams ever-so-briefly before they vanished again into the abyss from whence they’d just come. What caves and systems still lay unexplored below, where water carved reality according to the most ancient natural awareness of all?

The Siphon

The Siphon

I crossed over the stream, shining my flashlight into the siphon where the water disappeared. There was no navigable passage; the ceiling of the siphon seemed almost to meet the rocks of the riverbed, and the laughing water’s bubbling excitement seemed to fill any meagre space in between.

I looked back to where Felix emerged from the narrow fissure… and I knew that the passage we’d travelled to get to this place was some kind of portal. If we decided to climb out of this Pit of Paradise into the waiting sunshine, we would be immersed– perhaps lost– in a whole other world. We would be somewhere wholly other than my familiar mountains, my precious forests. No, we would have to go back the way we came… or risk being lost in Paradise forever…

Felix & The Orb

Felix & The Orb

I noticed a tiny orb of light hovering in the opening to the portal which had brought us here. It seemed to be a guide, reminding us that this was the way back. We could stay in this magickal place as long as we liked, drinking of ions and energies so rarified and pure… but the resumption of our mundane lives would wait as a beacon in the narrow hole of reality’s thick stone wall. Felix climbed briefly out of the pit to see the Source of the water bubbling up beyond the waterfall. When he came back to rejoin me he wanted to speak of sorcerers (Source-rers) and faeries and the origins of human adventures on Earth… And though he spoke– at length, I think– I couldn’t really hear him. The mountain was speaking, the water laughing, and little faerie folk seemed to flit and dart through the tunnel that led us back to the high chamber with the narrow eye to the world.

As we stood again side-by-side within the cavern, I had a chance to notice all that I hadn’t noticed the first time we’d passed through… or maybe the passage through the portal had brought us to a similar place, but not the same place. In addition to the remains of candles and burnt piles of this-and-that littering the various nooks and crannies, I could see across the cavern, beyond the shaft of daylight from above, the gnarled twisting roots of a mighty tree embedded in the walls of this rocky place. Along the far wall, roots filled in fissures from above, and in a few places, thick roots jumped from the living fresco to reach through the empty space of the cavern and dig themselves into the floor below. They were like twisted trusses and beams, ensuring that the living would always be welcome in this crazy cavern of a hybrid world. That’s what this was– I realized– a place where different worlds merged…

In the Magick Cave

In the Magick Cave

Felix was busy setting out and lighting tea lights so that the play of light and shadow could speak to the deepest slumbering parts of our subliminal psyches. I still hadn’t seen nothin’ yet!

Candlelit Room

Candlelit Room

A shadow fell across the vertical shaft from above. I imagined that it was cast by the mighty tree– The Ancient Sentinel– or perhaps by its younger replacement. No matter; Felix had the entire chamber lit in firelight… and then there were the orbs– at least that’s what my perceptual faculties made of them. It seemed that here, deep in the Earth, the depth of all possibility was bathed in dancing light. There was something very lively– and living– about the whole thing. Felix kept referring to them as the Fae; to me they were pretty lights– intelligent and purposeful. And then they began to speak… My attention turned to Felix who was already in the thick of conversation.

“Who are you?” I heard him ask, though to whom I’d no clue.

“I am known as Phaedrus, male progenitor of the Twelfth Tribe.” I honestly could not tell whether I heard the words with my ears or just in my mind; either way, it didn’t seem to matter much.

“And who are the Twelfth Tribe?” There immediately ensued a moment when the entire cavern was filled with perplexity. When the thickness of confusion began again to thin, there came the reply.

“You… you are the children of the Twelfth Tribe… our lost ones.” And now the cavern was filled with sadness and longing; it plucked at my heart like a roller-coaster bottoming out.

“How? How are we lost?” asked Felix.

“Lost in rhetoric,” answered Phaedrus mournfully. “Our children were separated from us by the sword of rhetoric… and now you live in the mere description of a world… like the finite letters in an endless book of words… just words.”

Phaedrus was speaking in riddles, but to my mind, he was saying that their ancient progeny– their flesh-and-blood kin had been turned into mere words… literally. And they were us.

“What can be done?” asked Felix

“Aye,” Phaedrus agreed, “how to reclaim words already uttered… to sew them back into the living tapestry… these coloured fragments of thread and thought…?”

Suddenly, I ‘saw’ Phaedrus as the masculine aspect of his People– the Fae. But he was defeated… a king still upon the throne, but the throne had been removed from the kingdom– or perhaps, the kingdom was displaced from the throne.

“It is only in these rare sequestered places where we are able to interact freely with our kin,” continued Phaedrus. “Not in the manner of communion… as we are, still… but through the artifice of the very sword that separates us– language… and its insidious spell…” His words trailed off as an ongoing lament… as Felix picked up the thread of communion.

“How do we move beyond language… into communion?” Felix was so tuned in.

Is that what was beyond language, beyond the need to communicate– communion? Where all experience each other as self? Answers were forthcoming, but not from the melancholy Phaedrus. A new voice spoke.

“We are birthed in communion, like fish into the sea.
You, our children, are born in separation, stranded on dry land.
Communion is a song, complex and self-coherent…
You are master composers, just learning your first notes.”

The new speaker’s voice was wrapped/rapt in poetry. It sounded like verses to a song sung sweetly but spoken as a matter of fact.

“With whom am I speaking now?” asked Felix respectfully.

“I am Teal,” answered a cluster of sparks in the velvety darkness.

Her energy was mothering. I got the distinct impression that Felix was actually seeing a figure, a person… while I saw lights winking and bobbing in and out of the shadows… somehow dancing to the words spoken, but the dance WAS the words.

(Thankfully, I took pictures inside the Magick Cave. My friends and I used to joke how nice it would be if we could get the camera high on mushrooms so that it could see what we were seeing when we were visually tripping out. Well, obviously, today, my camera was on the very same journey I was.)

Suns & Moons

Suns & Moons

WTF? (Why The Face?)

WTF? (Why The Face?)

Felix & Teal (Sometimes the camera catches in a flash what I am unable to)

Felix & Teal (Sometimes the camera catches in a flash what I am unable to)

“We are your parents. We are the masters of imagination.
But there is one thing we cannot imagine:
What it might be like to exist in non-communion, seemingly alone,
As you do…

And from impossible foundations built within the spaces between words,
You will eventually compose the universal song for the every-voice,
…bit-by-bit from scratch,
And not a whisper nor epiphany will be left out;
All will sing love’s symphony in their own truest voice…
Regale the ages in merry culmination, a beginning we have!”

“But where… how do we begin?” Felix asked with such dire sincerity.

“Tones.” It was Phaedrus again. “Everything in existence has a tone.”

“Like frequency,” offered Felix. “Everything has a signature frequency.”

“Pah! The scourge of language!” spat Phaedrus. “A tone might be a sound, a colour, an attitude… it’s layered and pregnant with allegory. A frequency is some clinical shite. A tone (at one) is an infinite expression; frequency is only infinite in a straight line. Can you see it? A tone is a spherical thing and frequency is a knife!”

“So we shouldn’t be raising our frequencies?” I couldn’t tell if Felix was joking or not.

“Raise them… lower them…” mused Phaedrus rising suddenly to a crescendo, “just sing, dammit, sing! You aren’t here in the rawest jungle of diversity to hum a single note like a heart-monitor at death. Run the fucking scale! Commune with the living! All of it… it’s just one life! Live the whole thing!”

Infected Son

Infected Son

And well, that was pretty much that. Our little visit was over. Felix was still well enraptured by the whole exchange, probably deeply contemplative… and I was totally floored that faeries can swear just like truckers. But Teal and Phaedrus were gone now.

In a really good conversation you can tell when you reach a certain point, where to go on would serve no positive purpose. All which needs to be said has been said… and blathering on about finer points and details would just be a detriment, a confusion. No, best to just let things sink in… and leave it as is… at this point. That was the consensus that hung in the air like the smoke from candles being blown out.

We gathered our things and made our way back to the larger consensus reality. It was getting on toward evening, shadows yawning and stretching across our little patch of the world as we crawled out of the mouth that had swallowed us whole. It took less than a minute to walk back into the familiar forest on this familiar mountain… with a head full of unfamiliar thoughts…

Did that really just happen?

Dexter's Elixir Part 1 from Niels Kunze on Vimeo.

(Dexter’s Elixir Part 1 by my band Missing Peace from our 1996 album Tense Moments)

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