“What do I do?” I asked.
“Lie down. Don’t move.”
Living or dead, I loved my grandfather. And, living or dead, I trusted him. Completely.
So, with a deep, full inhale, I got up from my Target meditation table, put on a shamanic drumming tape, and lay down with my feet barely touching the altar.
Almost instantly, I found myself floating on the same bamboo raft my yoga instructor had us call up during shavasana. My feet dangled lazily off the end as a gentle current carried me across the clear, grey water. Every now and then a twig would bob up or a leaf would fall down.
I just let them be. "Don't move," Grandaddy had said.
After a few minutes, darkness started rolling over the scene like an ominous, all consuming fog. Before long, everything was pitch-black. The air, the water, the raft. Me.
Tiki lamps rose up at the four corners of my raft. I could feel their heat on my toes, my shoulders, the crown of my head.
An intense drumming commenced. It wasn’t the recording now playing on my tape. It was alive. And it was coming from somewhere else. From everywhere else. It got louder. And louder. And louder. Until it literally hurt my ears (though, of course, if anyone had looked in the room at that moment they would have heard only the gentle sounds of the tape).
Voices started emerging between the beats. Wails, really. Terrifying, pained wails. They started circling me. Clawing at me. Tearing me open so that, soon, the voices and the drumbeats were seeping inside my very being. I was pulsating with their energy. Drumbeat. Wail. Drumbeat. Wail. Drumbeat. Wail. Over and over again.
“Don’t move,” Grandaddy had said.
So I didn’t. Except for my white-knuckled fingers which now were clutching the raft.
"Madness,” I thought. "This is what it must be like to go mad.”
I screamed. Loudly. On any other day, at any other moment, I would have worried what the neighbors might think. But on that day, in that moment, I didn't care. I wanted someone ---someone from this world--to come and shake me back into normalcy.
What I got instead was a large ball of fire. Roaring straight toward me. I tried to scream again, but nothing came out. I was too consumed with fear.
So, I just stared, unblinking, at the rapidly approaching ball of fire. Ten feet. Nine feet. Eight. Coming right at me.
“Fuck” was about all I could think.
Seven feet. Six. Five. Four. And, then. Then.
Then, at no more than three feet above me, Dragon roared through the fire of his own breath, stared at me for a split-second and whirled around.
Trading Grandaddy’s advice for my own survival, I reached up and grabbed Dragon’s tail as it passed over me.
We shot straight up with such force that the voices and drumbeats tumbled out of me. After a minute or two I felt back to normal (well, if your definition of normal includes riding a Dragon’s tail!).
“Whew,” I said out loud.
“Don’t move,” Dragon turned to say. Before I could assure him that I had no intention of moving, he nosedived back towards the water. Back towards the terror I had escaped only moments before.
We tore into that water with such intensity that it was a few moments before I realized the impact had thrown me off of Dragon’s tail.
I was all alone. And I knew exactly where I was.
You see, that wasn’t a raft I had been floating on. That was my Shadow Door. And I hadn’t opened the Door. Dragon had crashed me right through it. Leaving me to be consumed by the avalanche of watery emotions long sealed behind it.
And as the dark wails, the intense fires and the steady drumbeats of those emotions consumed me, I knew what my Shadow wanted to do. It wanted to kill me. To break me. To destroy me.
Which I wasn’t about to let happen (yet).
So, I made for the surface. And I swam as hard and fast as I could for the distant shoreline. I swam past the shattered door, away from the wails of fear, the drumbeats of shame, the fires of rage. I swam to the known safety of my room, my altar, my reality.
And I made it. But, when I did, I couldn’t help but turn back to look at that which I had escaped. And I couldn’t help but know I’d be back.