~ Kristin Flyntz
I am in mom and dad’s back yard, the yard of my childhood, bordered by the woods that once served as my respite and sanctuary. The trees are fully leafed out, vibrant and green.
I have been talking about the animals, grieving their plight in this age of the sixth mass extinction. Hanging before me is a very large drawing — black and white pen and ink — of a grandmother Orangutan. Someone or something tells me I didn’t include her in the animals I named, that her name is Rita, and that she is willing to help me. She gazes down at me from the drawing, her face ancient and lined, her eyes kind. I dissolve into tears, sobbing all the grief in my heart, all my sorry-ness and sorrow, as I lean against the drawing. From the page, one of her hands becomes animated and she gently pats me on the back, as if to say, “There, there.” Some part of me is aware and in awe of what is happening, doesn’t understand how it’s possible, where she’s come from or why she would show such mercy; another, bigger part of me releases into her gesture and empties itself until all I can feel is love.
After living with this dream for a while, I considered the name Rita: where it came from, what it means. It occurred to me that what was important was not the name per se, but that she had one. This may have been the dream’s way of acknowledging her personhood, her individuality, her agency and roles as a mother and grandmother, wise and seemingly benevolent and with many other attributes, emotions and experiences that I will never know.
As a result of the dream, I feel I am in relationship with Rita, with a grandmother of this people, in ways that are beyond what I know from the news reports of their habitats and families being destroyed, beyond the statistics of the annual murders, the calls to boycott palm oil, the petitions I sign to save them from capitalism’s reach. The dream feels like an invitation to recognize, communicate and be her, with them, with each other — to share our stories, grief and common jeopardy. When Rita met my grief with compassion, she helped move me deeper into my heart, into the great well of love that can reconnect us as kin.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristin Flyntz is the assistant editor of Dark Matter: Women Witnessing. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two feline companions.
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“Touch Me or You’ll Die”
~ Rebekah Parr
It’s a bright sunny day. We arrive by car or van to a beautiful seaside home where we are meant to vacation. I walk into the kitchen and place a bag of groceries on the countertop. Something feels strange, missing. I turn to walk back out the doorway—and then I see it, a message forming through the air itself: TOUCH ME OR I’LL DIE
The words fade, the letters rearrange, and now the sign says: TOUCH ME OR YOU’LL DIE
The message is from Bear. I see him behind a shadow, as if he’s being forcibly hidden but is trying to come through.
The sign disappears. I’ve been given a glimpse of clarity, and realize we are in an illusion—and this is the only way to come out of it, to find and touch Bear.
Others are watching. The Hosts of this place. I observe that no one is eating, and in fact, I can’t remember the last time we ate. Although we have groceries/food, we have no feeling of hunger, do not feel compelled to eat, and this will kill us.
And that is the point of this place. They are starving us, and this place will starve us to death. Now I know. I need to get food into our mouths.
I have a portion of very thinly sliced nectarine, pinch a small piece off and, although I am not hungry, force it into my mouth. The host sees me. The tangy sweetness of the nectarine erupts, running down into my body, and I feel myself come alive again, awake. I try to hide this response. The host approaches me, suspicious. I say, “There was something sick, a sore in my mouth I needed to get rid of.”
Now I know I need to get a bit of food in everyone’s mouth—all my companions—without drawing attention, without alerting the hosts. Because now I can see, with the aide of this small morsel of food, this is no vacation house. It’s a broken dilapidated building, with pipes exposed, no working infrastructure. The land isn’t quite barren– but it holds death. I can see it now, even as I smile reassuringly at the host….who is watching.
I need to act quickly, the small morsel of food will wear off and I need to wake everyone up before I lose consciousness again. There is a child, a child I care for, who is with us on the journey. I tear off a tiny piece of the thinly sliced nectarine and shove it into her mouth. I say aloud, “She has a sore in her mouth, this should take care of it.” Again lying so as not to alert the host. Then I take a spoonful of peanut butter and force it into the mouth of one of my companions. There’s no time to waste. I try to make it look casual. I need to wake everyone up before they try to stop us.
The host is watching nearby, then approaches me, holds out a baby, swaddled in a blanket. He offers it to me to take, to care for. The thing I’ve wanted almost more than my own life. But I know that everything offered here is a lie. I can feel clearly enough he is trying to trick me into taking a corpse, a dead thing. In fact, I see, for just a moment, this baby is not alive. I tell him I already care for a child and I don’t want to take the baby- as I know he is simply trying to trick me into staying.
I casually turn around, put a spoonful of peanut butter into another friend’s mouth, to wake them up. We need to wake up to touch Bear, to live. We can only find Bear, see Bear, if we come out of this illusion. So I start slathering peanut butter on thick slices of bread and dousing them with honey, giving them to all of my people, all while the host is watching. Then, knowing he is watching, I lift a heavy slice of bread, weighted down with peanut butter and honey- and with all my resolve, I take a bite.
This dream landed on me Summer Solstice 2018, after a succession of dreams in which my child was stolen—during the televised height of families being separated at the Mexico border. It describes a desolate place where we are starving and don’t even know it. The “hosts” lure with the promise of a beautiful home and a gift I always dreamed of—and none of it is real. In fact, it is all designed to kill us.
The desolate place where we are starving is our current culture. We have been largely oblivious to the decimation and decay of our lands, subsisting on flashy fabricated objects, enamored with façades and celebrity. We’re obsessed with fake beauty that warps, objectifies, and endangers women in particular. I believe the dilapidated building with no infrastructure refers to our collapsing political and social systems. The land has become barren while we weren’t watching, having lost touch with Nature herself—and this loss of connection is starving us.
The hosts of this place, this façade, want to keep us here believing everything is okay. And we pay for the illusion with our money and potentially our lives. This is a government that keeps its population sedate and compliant. We buy what they sell us, but what they sell us isn’t real or sustainable. If we keep sleep-walking, if we continue buying into it, it will kill us.
In the dream, I’m the only one who is awake…and it’s scary to be alone in the midst of danger. By the end, I’ve gained a little momentum in waking up the others, and it’s only then I’m able to take a bite knowing the hosts are watching. It’s not that I feel brave, courageous, or even defiant—it’s that there is no time to waste. There is no time to fear being seen when an ally like Bear calls you.
Bear is an emissary of Nature. Although cloaked behind a shadow, as if in a cage, he is desperately trying to come through. I’m struck by the generosity of Bear as a spirit, a being who has not forgotten that we are in relationship to one another—who is reaching through the ether to try and save us, and to save himself. One cannot happen without the other. Bear has been forgotten, Bear has not forgotten. Bear is our companion….as are all the animals and trees, elementals and stars….we are all in this together. But the animals are dying from loss of habitat and climate disruption. And the only way to heal, to survive, is to break out of the illusion. How do we do that?
Wake up—be willing to see what is real, substantial, and alive. Then feed each other, and remember together. It will break our hearts to remember what we have forgotten—to see all the little ways in which our desires for comfort and “beauty” have endangered all of life…because then we will have to live differently. I hear this dream as a call from Nature, screaming at us to remember we are part of her and dependent on the survival of all.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebekah Parr is healer, traveler, and lover of feral things. She practices deep listening, and teaches various methods of energy work in Los Angeles. Rebekah is a community dreamer and storyteller who believes the best counsel can be found in a small grove of trees. www.rebekah.love
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