Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Day of Atonement

It's an interesting paradox, being a mystic in Washington DC in the 21st century. Mysticism like mine is common throughout history, but in general we Washingtonians wish to address the world in more concrete terms. I'm a bit of a freak here. If I lived in Boulder or Savannah or Taos or any number of other places, my shamanic shenanigans would be seen as perfectly normal. I could go off the deep end as I did in San Francisco, another place where there's a niche for mystics.

But I'm here, which is a good thing. I really don't want to go off the deep end. I want to function in my culture. I like what my sister says about her own formidable mysticism. She wants it to be interesting, but not too interesting. I love that!

Sometimes the mystical experiences are few and far between, sometimes they come one after another. Like anything else, mysticism has a rhythm. It must be clear to anyone who has been visiting this page, this season has been a whopper for me.

Unlike the days of old, when my tendency was to tilt head first into the mystic, right now what I want more than anything is to lean away from all that. It's awesome and interesting, also a little scary, and too mysticism can quickly become a pathology as it has for many mystics throughout history. You have to walk the line.

I'm hoping that what happened to me Saturday and Sunday is the final episode in the High Holy Day experiences, the coup de grace. Maybe it be so!

I was sick Saturday morning, all of a sudden, out of the nowhere, really sick. I had multiple symptoms that would not be that interesting to mention. It was like a body-wide attack of everything. Meanwhile outside it was not only grey and rainy, but dark. The overcast was thick and pervasive. I spent 24 hours doing nothing but sleeping, drinking water and taking herbs, and - should admit - suffering.

There are so many ways I could look at this episode. The surface layer has to do most likely with a virus or bacterium, or in Chinese medicine, a pretty massive imbalance. OK. But there was more to it than that. Please don't ask me to explain how I know that.

Saturday into Sunday was my Day of Atonement. I did everything Jews are supposed to do on Yom Kippur: I prayed, shivered, felt awe and fear. I even fasted! That is so crazy, even I am amazed, and it happened to me.

Another story that could be told about what happened is that I took a journey to the underworld and battled a demon. My symptoms and especially the way most of them have, at this point, cleared up without medical intervention, describes a classic shamanic experience. Of course I don't want to be the kind of shaman who goes to the underworld and fights demons - who would want that, I mean really? Most of the time I am a diplomat shaman who acts as intermediary between the seen and unseen. I don't take it on, I try instead to open channels of connection to bring healing and wholeness.

This morning I was thinking about the lives of the saints - many of them developed horrible illnesses and suffered terribly, but then they died. I have prevailed, hence I am not saint material.

I knew that already!

I hope this most recent experience is the final chapter in this series of experiences. I have much to integrate. I'm weak from it all. Because I'm superstitious, I believe things happen in threes. I had the visitation from my father, the experience at the Holocaust Museum, and now this.

Hear ye, hear ye, oh great mysterious ones: I need time to recuperate and integrate. No more mystical experiences for awhile, ok? Please? I am flesh and blood and I wish to be sane. Thank you. Shalom.


  1. Reya, I hope you get the break that you hope for. The three things, after all, have passed and now comes the other half of October. Yaay for sanity!

  2. Hmmm...I think I'm behind here. I hope you're feeling more balanced now that you've recovered!