Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fever Dream: Mystic Dancing Octagon Cult

Maybe it's the last vestige of a cold.  Maybe it's all the Ricolas.  Maybe it's all the extra naps... But I had one of those never-ending, really wacky, totally detailed John Dreams.  I was more or less myself in my own body throughout the dream.  The most changeable aspect was the location  -- although looking back, the dream kept returning to octagonal structures.  The dream was more continuous that I'm remembering, and I'm guessing at the sequence.

It's also Extra Wacky -- all it's missing is a section with a Samba Beat where I and every character in the dream become cartoons and dance with two-dimensional foldy-ness into an origami symbol for the intersection of divinity with internet-enabled peanut butter.  That's a warning.


I was at some kind of birthday party, and there were two rival rock bands there.  It was like a teen-aged Josie and the Pussycats vs. the Evil Girl Band sort of thing.  There was the nicer three girl band versus the wilder, not so nice five girl band.

Folks were dancing in an octagonal performance space--I'm very strongly reminded of the Octagon at Arcoanti, a single story building made out of two meter long concrete panels with circular windows arranged around a octagonal pit living-room.  The dance was dark and it was difficult to see people at a distance, sort of like a dimly lit high school dance.

I think there was a musical sing off here, but I don't remember the conclusion (although it's likely the Josie and the Pussycats girls won).


A group of us were cleaning up after the birthday party or some gathering.

I was trying to return a empty soda bottle to the social hall's recycling area, except that my drink had had caffeine in it, and the religious beliefs of the people in the hall proscribed them drinking anything caffeinated, so I had to hang onto to bottle.

I'd left my shoulder bag in another hall far away --  we were in a high school or other large campus building with distantly located halls, so I began my wanderings through really long hallways.


I walked through a doorway.  The walls were yellow woven thatch, made of straw and sticks.  The door was a rough and warped plywood?  It had a Gilligan's island feel to it.  I believe I was at a zoo or natural history museum.

I was outside, on the banks of a swamp. It was day time, and I was on a narrow margin of dry ground running along and slightly above a swamp.  Three very large crocodiles sped out of the swamp toward me.  I had a dash of about thirty feet to another door.  On one hand I was up a ways, and the crocs would probably stay in the swamp area.

On the other hand, it was a dream, and I remember smacking a crocodile on the nose because it got too close.

I think there was a group of African folks behind me, and we were all waiting for the crocodiles to get distracted enough so that we could continue along our way.


I was on some sort of boat or else a museum tour.  At the time it didn't seem odd, but I was at the head of the tour and everyone else was a stereotypical fourteen-ish black student from Botswana in a school uniform of a white oxford shirt and dark slacks.  

The tour guide / boat steward was a prim, authoritarian fortyish woman.  We'd wound our way to the bottom of the boat on some kind of museum tour.  The concrete floor, slightly rough, and painted either a battleship grey or drab olive green, had about a eighth of an inch of standing water  puddling in places.  There were exposed pipes and ducts along the ceiling and walls.  We were walking on bright reddish-brown walkways of wooden slats -- which in waking life remind me of the wood deck chairs we own.

The authoritarian guide suggested that we take a nap.  So we all crowded into the end of a hall and lay down on the slats, trying to keep out of the pooled water -- which was pretty much impossible.  Most of us had to trail feet or hands in the water.  Even in the dream, I felt like I was in some kind of slave transport.

There were waterbugs in the water, and while they weren't like flying mosquitoes or leeches, they did have the tendency to wriggle up against one's legs and feet and browse for whatever it was they ate.

I got up and had a mop or floor squee-gee to try to get some of the water up off of the floor.  I had a "What Are You Doing?/That's futile" conversation with the docent where she seemed to be annoyed that I was trying to improve sleeping conditions.


I stumbled into a back room.  The entry way was supposed to be secret, but once you got to the door, it wasn't hidden or locked.  It was security through obscurity.  I somehow knew that I'd stumbled into an abortion clinic, which on one hand struck me as very progressive, but on the other hand seemed really weird for the cult (which seemed repressive), but back on the first hand for a medical procedure seemed really heavy on the woo-woo and very very light on the science.  In the distance there was a young teen mom lying on an examining couch.

The emotional atmosphere was tense, in a "We're doing this, but we're not really doing this, but although we publicly say we don't do this, we're following an approved method for doing this" official way from the staff and a "OMG, I'm sneaking into this place" way from the young moms.

The room was well lit, wide, and had a lot of pipes and ducts in it, like a mechanical or air handling room.  There were, at most, three young women getting abortions.  The only privacy was by placing the examining couches far enough away that the women and nurses could pretend no one was there.

"Do you mind," one of the nurses scowled at me and said in a hushed voice "we're helping a soul to commit suicide."


I'd entered a gathering hall for my bag, and discovered the beginnings of a religious service.  More people entered behind me, and although I wanted to leave, I was in one of those awkward dream moments when it seemed socially and physically impossible.

The congregation was mostly white older folks.  In waking life I'm reminded of the Unitarian congregation I hung out with several years ago.  But these folks were culty.  They were the elect and they knew it; they were socially conservative somehow; they were evangelical and full of public displays of rapturous spirituality; and they were smiley friendly because we had all come together to share the same dogma--or would be sharing the same dogma by the end of the service.  It was sort of like Baptist Pentecostals meet the Mormons, I think...

There was a lot of pageantry going on.  The congregation was in the middle, looking out a walkway where a procession traveled doing a kind of stations of the cross thing, except it was scenes of 19th and 20th century European Christian Mysticism more than anything else.

At one pint there was a tableau of a circle 1890's women hiking up their skirts and pressing opened blank books onto their vulvas.  Others rapturously held the books against their bosoms.  I have an impression they had inked themselves and were leaving embossed impressions on the pages.

There must have been a scene change, because now I looking down on an octagonal stage that had a book on it displaying the twelve or so holy books of the sect.  The one that I picked up was a slender picture volume by Robert Louis Stephenson (Or Percy Shelly).  I was surprised and impressed that the author was there and it lent a kooky legitimacy to the event.

I don't remember text, but the pictures were white-inked woodcuts on beige paper (yes, it was hard to see).  These were done in a Craftsman style which looked medieval .  In the woodcuts, women -- pretty much naked -- were holding  books against their bodies.  Heavenly, seraphic fire emanated from the contact and left behind mystic quasi-Hebrew runes on the books.  Think a drawing by tarot card artist Pamela C Smith or a woodcut by Sir Walter Crane, with lots of hod flames and rays mixed with cabalistic symbols meets the tablet scene from The Ten Commandments.

Throughout this whole thing was a sense of "We have to keep our dirty, dirty, inconvenient and embarrassing and sinful bodies ritually clean and covered so we can partake of this holy mystery."


I woke up and it was 4 AM and I was completely awake...

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