No longer confined to material experience, Katerina crossed into the dimly lit room, invisible to its inhabitants. She had never visited this world before, never laid eyes on this person, yet Katerina’s bond to the lean, gray-haired man seated at the wooden table was so intense and immediate that she barely managed to suppress the impulse to reach out and embrace him.
He rested a forearm on either side of the tattered book at which he stared, completely absorbed. In a few moments, he began to read aloud to himself, in a gentle voice.
“So long have we been sharing our experience, our becoming, that it no longer makes sense to imagine such a thing as either of us wholly divisible from the other . . . if it ever did make sense.”
Slowly he sat upright, eyes staring in Katerina’s direction, though completely unaware of her, staring through her formless presence and beyond her. A smile spread over his weathered face.
Mesmerized, Katerina watched the man’s bright eyes as he began to move his head to the left. The moment his attention came to rest, an undeniable serenity radiated from his face, drawing Katerina to turn and seek out its inspiration.
He was looking into the face of a woman sitting in a large, upholstered chair, motionless, silent, and eyes closed. Upon first recognition of that face, Katerina’s intimacy with it involuntarily pulled her nearer. It was her own face on which Katerina was gazing, many years older, but indisputably her face. Katerina wanted to linger and rest her spirit, weary from all the traveling today, to just take in the simplicity of their life together in this place. But she knew that would be unwise.
Though only an observer, Katerina felt herself beginning to fuse into this life, making it her own. And this reality was progressively laying claim to her. Synthesis into the visited environment was a known problem with this manner of searching. She had been cautioned against becoming too tired and being seduced into idling.
She took one last look at her partner in this alternate life— at the partner of this parallel self. Katerina forced herself to continue the search elsewhere. This man was surely a manifestation of the one she sought, but this was not “him.”
Then she released her hold on this life. The tangibility of another facet of reality dissolved around her, as it had so many times before that day.
When letting go of a visited life, Katerina often had a sense of rapid movement—somewhat unnerving. It was similar to the dream sensation of falling when on the brink of sleep. Except this movement went in all directions simultaneously, including inward.
As Katerina removed herself from this life of hers, she retained traces of it. Though she had visited the place for only moments, that reality had been thoroughly integrated into Katerina’s definition of self, her emotions, and her mind. The same thing had happened with each parallel life that she had visited today. The resulting assimilation of parallel self-definitions was proving to be the hardest part of this task. Katerina could feel something similar to layers of simultaneous lifetime awarenesses building within her consciousness. With each new layer, Katerina’s definition-of-self expanded, but the primary identity receded a little. The more the tether to her prime personality weakened, the more dangerous the next visit became.
These dangers to the visitant were why this ritual was so rarely performed. Only by forcing acknowledgment of her exceptional skills had Katerina been able to persuade The Nine to consent to, and assist in, her searches. With each passing in and out of these parallel lives, Katerina became progressively more understanding of the Crones’ concerns.
Good fortune and bad awaited Katerina at the next location she tried to visit. For whatever reason, she was blocked from entering the environment. This meant the spirit of the very person she had come to visit denied her access—so she had been taught.
The barrier was good because of the respite it afforded her, even momentarily. It was bad because this failed attempt was an opportunity lost and she had no time to waste. Katerina could feel her subconscious becoming overwhelmed. She would have to abandon the search very soon.
As though she had been slammed into a wall, Katerina rebounded. With no time to prepare, she entered into another parallel life. The quickness of the transfer had a severe impact on her already depleted energies.
Hazy images began to take form before her eyes. As in every other visit today, what Katerina saw and felt was as real to her as the life in the world of her physical form. These people, her lives in parallel realities, always existed right before her eyes. They were as real as any member of her order that she interacted with day in and day out. In this process, Katerina merely opened her awareness to the otherwise unacknowledged doorway between the infinite realities.
Memories that were hidden from her a moment before—memories belonging exclusively to this parallel life—began to introduce themselves into her consciousness. A flood of previously inaccessible senses, personal to this life, began to send their messages to her brain. Emotions without history for the traveling Katerina of a moment before began to structure in her mind the network of associations that gave them consequence. It was becoming almost impossible to fully open herself to yet another mind, another life, and still retain her distinction from them.
“Maintain the focus,” she reminded herself. “Where is the Union?”
Psychically, she searched the structure in which she stood for evidence of his presence. She knew he had been in this room only a moment before. Scanning one room after another with her mind, her senses met him returning up the stairs from a lower floor.
Perceptive of subtle energies, he stopped, and turned his head as if trying to catch the sound or sight that had fleetingly stirred his attention. Though her presence was centered in another room, Katerina held her mental focus on him, just outside of his range of perception. There was something very special about this one, and she took time to enjoy that uniqueness.
But he is not the Union, her mind cried out.
“Suen?” he called.
“What is it, Yeetar?” his partner replied from a room at the back of the top floor.
Yeetar looked around, curious. It was obvious that he had perceived an unfamiliar intrusion into his world. He seemed to be reaching out with something more than his five senses, trying to locate her. So Katerina cautiously began to withdraw her presence.
Significant, she thought. But, still not the Union.
Katerina heard Yeetar reply, uncertainly, “Nothing, Suen,” as the last of Katerina’s foreign essence departed from his world.
Katerina knew she could not attempt another visit. Her need to return to the Motherworld was too great. As soon as she pulled herself back into the mortal form that was her own, every member of The Nine instantaneously received her request for termination of the rite. The gurgling song of the streams that surrounded the circle of Crones aided her return.
Though Katerina felt her spirit fully identify with the body of her home reality, her mind was overwhelmed with the competing identities she had integrated into her awareness during the searches. Still in the seated meditation posture, Katerina slumped forward, reaching her hands to the ground for reconnection, pressing her palms to the soft, living moss that covered the ground below her. Her breathing was deep and slow. With each inhalation, the scent of the evergreen forest strengthened her connection to this place, her primary home.
Surges of energy began to run through her muscles, making them twitch. Katerina strove to suppress these involuntary movements.
Undoubtedly, out of need for its own survival, Katerina’s conscious mind was feverishly sweeping through the queue of her recent experiences and vanquishing all contending identities to the subdued recesses of her subconscious.
Katerina had no way of telling how long the hand had been on her shoulder. Still unable to withdraw her concentration from the processes of recovery, she wasn’t yet able to perceive whose hand it was. A minute later, still unaware of who stood above her, Katerina began to realize that sympathetic energy flowed into her through the supportive hand, assisting Katerina in her efforts to integrate.
She had not wanted anyone to know how much impact the ceremony had had on her. She had been bold in her claims of being able to handle the process.
“You have done well, dear heart, and we are glad you are back with us.”
Katerina knew the voice. Head hanging down, eyes still closed, her sensory perception becoming exclusive to the world of her body, she replied, “I could not find him, Holiness. So many manifestations of him, but none of them were the Union.”
“That is both auspicious and unfortunate. With so many connections, the bond between you and him is exceptionally strong. It does, however, complicate finding the appropriate manifestation when seeking him without some assistance on his part.
“You have been remarkable in your effort, Katerina. No one would have asked so much of you. Care for yourself now, my child. This is a demanding task that you have undertaken.”
“I am certain something is not as we expect this time,” Katerina said.
“We may not understand why things are proceeding as they are, Katerina, but the Collective Consciousness cannot be wrong. We must carry out our practice as it has been handed down to us. The method has always served the need, and will again . . . in its own time.”
“Yes, Mother. But when I received the visions, it seemed he was not within an order. Is it possible?”
“The images you saw must be coincidental, not indicative of his full person, Katerina.”
“How can he refrain from replying?” Katerina asked, finally regaining enough strength to rise to her feet, though slowly. “Perhaps he cannot, or does not understand the Call.”
The old Matriarch wrapped an arm around Katerina’s back and helped the younger woman to steady her wobbly legs.
Katerina looked into the concerned, almost teary eyes of her superior and said, “I truly feel that something is unique to this occurrence of the rift.”
“I know you do, and I respect that belief. But you must accept that no matter the situation, the situation is perfection, as it has always been.”
A tear rolled down the wrinkled cheek before the elder continued.
“I would not have had you suffer this burden, Katerina, if I had such power to decide. And I must accept that this charge is yours to bear, in your own way.”
Despite the Matriarch’s compassionate tone, Katerina took her words as a reprimand. “I will not fail my duties. Until I find the Union, I will search without cease.”
Rubbing Katerina’s back, the old woman said, “You have always surpassed your duties, dear girl, and are doing so now. You will not fail, cannot fail. It is we who must not fail you.”
copyright 2007 CG Walters
**Disclaimer: For me, truth is personal and the consciousness that created the world before us is so complex that it can and does simultaneously manifest an infinite number of realities that sometimes appear to the human mind to be diametrically opposed to one another.
C.G. Walters primarily writes fiction that focuses on the mystical, metaphysical, and mythical insight that we all possess. He see fiction not as something less than truth, but something akin to a mantra…a means to induce the reader into comfortably ‘allowing’ their personal truth—a living, ever progressing truth, fit to their need at any given time.
His current novel, Sacred Vow is first and foremost a metaphysical love story, a tale of soul mates—twin flames—a journey toward our one true love…in its infinite expressions…bringing together two individuals from disparate realities—but one spirit—to heal the rift in the Collective Consciousness.
Get the full length FREE PDF eBook of Sacred Vow by going to www.cgwalters.com/spirit_story.htm and clicking on the link in the page to download the eBook. This will allow you to save the book to your disk. Purchase a signed paperback copy from http://sacredvow.dragonsbeard.com/ – or buy from your favorite brick and mortar, or online store (Amazon.com)
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Thanks to JM Scribes Blog Carnival , Creative Carnival - February 2008 , First Edition of a carnival of speculative fiction on The Writers’ Block , Clary Lopez Books Carnival , and Carnival For Short Stories - Edition IX for featuring this article.