Between screeching sobs and coughs, I’m able to make out that he hasn’t been able to fall asleep for days. The romanticism of homelessness has disappeared. He tells me that things became very strange with his magic boy comrade, that he is shocked and scared. He wants to come home.
As fast as my black temper appears, it disappears. This can be bad but on this occasion it is good because my heart is singing with joy at my lover’s return. Ah, another chance for love! I head to the bus stop to greet Otis with our doggie Tippi. His bike is flat and he too looks deflated. When I place my hand on his shoulders, he completely falls apart. He pitifully drops his bike and begins sobbing uncontrollably. By the time his tears slow down, my shirt is absolutely drenched. My poor man. Tippi licks him lovingly and I think about how nice it must be to be a dog without all of this baggage and deep sorrow.
I have never seen my man in such a vulnerable place. The mother in me emerges so I make him his favorite meal: quinoa, tofu, grilled onions and my special sweet honey sauce. As he eats ravenously, thanking me profusely, he tells me more about what happened.
While the two were having their homeless adventure, Otis begins to experience flashbacks of a life where the two of them were monks. In between conversation, Otis suddenly sees his friend in monk robes. With a lot of time on his hands, Otis tries to broach the subject with his friend but he doesn’t know how and eventually loses the courage to do so. The flashbacks become more and more frequent until he feels as if he is only partially living in today’s time. As the flashbacks continue, he sees himself being murdered. The visions won’t go away and he can’t share them.
The voice in his head tells him that he must deal with this, that this is the reason for his homeless experiment. Otis has no idea what to do. He can’t sleep and feels increasingly delirious, which is why he came back home.
At that moment, everything comes together! I was diving into the mysterious techniques of Soul Retrieval while Otis was gone. What timing! I share with him the amazing concept I have just discovered and want to try it with him. He agrees to let me lead him through these mysterious flashbacks.
To begin, I guide Otis into a meditation:
“Close your eyes. Sit comfortably. Look down at your own feet. You’re walking on a meandering garden path. You come to a white gate. You push open the gate and find yourself in a garden full of flowers. I see roses, but you can see any flowers you like. Make it up. A river gently flows nearby. Trees are swinging in the wind. Overhead there is a blue sky. Everything is so nice…” I guide Otis into a safe, beautiful setting so that he can gradually reach a deeply relaxed state of mind. Soon, he is in trance and I ask Otis to tell me what he sees.
In a light trance, our imagination is free to roam without the logical side of the mind creating barriers. In this way, our imagination can come up with images and ideas that are considered “crazy” by a less relaxed mind.
Otis starts to see images in rapid succession as one does when dreaming. I remain in the physical realm while Otis flies through his non-physical realms:
He is in a monastery. It’s long, long ago. Otis sees chiseled, heavy, thick stone. The property is impeccably clean as if someone sweeps hourly. But sand and dirt pervades everything including the clothes and skin of the monks. This monastery is only for men and the lack of female presence is clear. The unique smell of men is everywhere, from the dining hall to the small rooms used for prayer.
I tell Otis to look around and, remarkably, he sees himself. The man he sees is a squat, fat, balding middle-aged man in a monk’s robe. Although the monk looks nothing like present day Otis, there is no question in Otis’s mind that he is this man. He knows intuitively and immediately.
Otis (as the monk) is alone in a small room, sitting upright on his heels as if in a yoga pose. He is repetitively swinging a barbed rope across his bare back. The sharp, hook-like barbs rip into his flesh until his back is covered in blood. Blood drips down his back and onto the stone floor. He begins to cry but intensifies the swings. Suddenly, the door swings open and many monks enter. Then the scene changes swiftly and Otis finds himself in a large meeting hall with all the other monks. His present day friend is there in the form of a young, blond and dashing young monk. The monks shove Otis and his friend together and force them to kneel. They are accused of being homosexual lovers.
The monks strip both men naked and hang the top half of Otis’s torso out of the window and demand his friend to stab him in the behind. His friend refuses but is given an ultimatum: either he kills Otis or they will both be murdered. The monks place a knife into his hand and encourage him to act. After much pushing and shouting, the friend begins thrusting the knife into Otis over and over again.
My imagination produces a close-up of the murder weapon and I am horrified by its brutality. It is not an ordinary knife but a sharp cutting tool with a serrated edge.
Just then, Otis begins having spasms on the couch. His legs shake uncontrollably. His torso thrashes wildly. He coughs and huge balls of yellow phlegm furiously run from his nose. The movie we’re viewing in our collective imagination might or might not be real, but Otis’s reaction definitely is.
As much as I feel sorry for my man and this horrible tragedy in his imagination, I find myself curiously excited. A burst of energy kicks up from my core and rushes into my head. Otis has seen his supposed trauma. I want to try my hand at Soul Retrieval. The shaman in me licks her lips.
Dawn’s book says that when the body is suffering trauma, the soul jumps out of the physical body and hides somewhere. I guide Otis to look for the piece of his soul.
The images are so horrific that Otis is emotionally unable to process my request. It occurs to me that I should ask Otis to stop the scene in a still frame. I was a filmmaker for many years and so the concept of stopping an image comes easily to me. Freeze, fast forward and rewind are standard editing terms. “Otis, I know it’s hard but can you freeze the scene of the stabbing? Can you push the pause button as you would on your movie projector so that your flashback stops and becomes a single frame? Freeze!”
Freezing is not a hard concept for Otis. He has seen enough movies and has edited enough of his own clips to understand what “freeze frame” means. He follows my instructions and is able to freeze the stabbing in mid-action.
“Is the scene frozen? Is everyone including yourself frozen into place place like 3D statues?” Otis nods and immediately he appears to be much more in control of his fears. The simple act of confronting the trauma and pausing it has given him control of his extremely frightening memory. What was to come can no longer come, it’s been stopped mid-motion.
It’s almost magical how effective a freeze frame is to the psyche. Freezing a scene expertly stops the memory from replaying itself. I realize I’ve stumbled onto something.
I direct Otis to look for his soul piece, “Look around for something ethereal. Maybe there is something that looks foggy and shadowy. Your soul that jumped out of your physical body when the stabbing began should be close by.”
Otis has a vivid imagination and sure enough, he sees the soul piece in a dark shadowy corner of the room. It’s naked, shaking and speaks in loops, “I can’t believe this is happening! I can’t believe this is happening…!”
I direct Otis to slowly approach the soul fragment. “Tell him that you are him from the future.” I know this could get confusing as time and space are not linear in our imagination. Instead, now and then are one. “Tell this soul piece that you have come to rescue him from this scene.”
Thus begins a long conversation between present day Otis and past life monk-Otis. To the non-believer, Otis is in a deep meditation. To the believer, Otis is in a different part of himself. I think both views are valid. As long as the healing works, any view is good.
Otis says, “From where I come you are safe now. People are no longer killed for being homosexuals!”
The old monk is surprised, “What is this good time and where is this good place?”
“America! In the 21st century! A land and a time of many amazing technological feats that you will enjoy. Why don’t you leave all this behind and come with me. We can live together as one!”
“I’m happy that you live in such a good place and in such a good time but what good will it do you that I come with you?”
“I need you. If you continue to be trapped in this loop, this stabbing will continue for eternity. Because you are me in this time and place, a part of me is lost. I am incomplete without you.”
The old monk says, “No, I am a man of God. I belong here.”
Otis answers, “I appreciate that you are so devoted to God. You’re so unwavering in your convictions and such strong belief would be so helpful to me today.”
The monk shakes his head, “I must stay to repent my sins. I’ve sinned in the eyes of God.”
“In my new way of thinking, I don’t consider loving another man a sin. This will sound strange to you but perhaps because you believe that you are a sinner and because you and I are actually the same soul, it is making me confused about my own sexuality. I am often frightened by my confused sexuality for no apparent reason. Now that I’ve met you, I believe that the scene of your murder loops within me. I am scared that one day the same fate will befall me somehow…”
The monk says, “We must sort this out.”
“There is a lot more we can talk about and work on. You can really help me in my current life. You must leave this life behind you and come live with me.”
The old monk is reluctant. “I cannot do that. I live here and now. This is my life.”
Otis says, “Yes, you can leave. You have no life here any more. Your life is with me. From my point of view, you’re a bit of my soul that is trapped in a horrible, ever repeating scene. With you inside me I am more complete.”
After some convincing, the old monk becomes excited and agrees to merge into Otis. Otis tells me, “We’re ready to become one again. Tell me what to do.” I begin the soul retrieval session by trying to follow Dawn’s system but immediately I find myself spontaneously swept up by my own process. The images of the meditation take hold of Otis and grow as if they have a life of their own. Even though this is the first time I’ve ever tried my hands at this technique, I guide Otis effortlessly and intuitively.
In my mind’s eye, I can visualize the old monk and Otis standing together as they ready themselves to come back to modern times. Suddenly a tunnel appears in my imagination. I don’t know where this knowledge comes from but I know intuitively that this is a “tunnel of time”: the monk’s time is at one end of the tunnel, Otis’s time at the other.
I tell Otis, “This is a tunnel of time. Take the monk by the hand and walk into the tunnel. When you reach the end of the tunnel, you will both be back in the modern day.” Otis uses his imagination and creates the tunnel in his mind.
Just before they enter the tunnel, both of them turn and look back at the scene. The other monks are still there, frozen in time, except for the old monk who is no longer part of the scene. There is a blank space where he once was. Otis asks, “What do you want to do with this scene? Do you want to burn it down?”
The monk replies, “How do you do that?”
Otis says, “With the power of my imagination. I just think and it is! I’m the boss of my own mind!” Otis imagines a fire and immediately, the scene begins to burn.
A small smile appears on the monk’s face, “Kill them all in a bonfire!” The smile seems to spread on the old monk’s face but then he changes his mind. “No, no, these are good people. They just think in their way. Let them live. In time, they will change.”
Otis agrees. The fire stops and the same scene returns yet now the old monk is missing and the others are frantically looking for him. Otis and the old monk break into laughter as they watch the monks become confused and then very frightened.
Otis tells the monk, “It’s time to go.” Hand in hand they enter the tunnel of time. The tunnel ends right inside Otis’s heart. Just before the monk enters Otis’s heart I ask, “What is his name?”
The monk answers in the etheric realm. In the physical realm, we both hear the answer and it comes out of our mouths at the exact same time: “Philip.” Otis and I look at each other in wonderment. We heard the same thing at the same time.
The whole time I had been leading Otis, the words just flew out of my mouth. I knew exactly how to guide him yet this was my first time at Soul Retrieval. No matter how amazing and seemingly real everything that we have experienced up until this point felt, we are both certainly aware that we might just be making all of this up. The stunning coincidence of us both saying the same foreign name at the exact same time is the final push we needed to step into a reality where we truly share something across dimensions and across timelines. This moment is the confirmation that I am doing the right thing.
At that moment, something happens in the etheric realm. I don’t fully understand it, but I feel my fate is somehow linked to Otis’s. We’re both exhausted from the psychic session and crawl into bed.
The next day when Otis wakes up, he looks completely different to me. His face has changed. There are lines where none existed before and lines that previously existed have gone. An acquaintance may not notice but to me, having spent so much time looking at that particular face, the difference is striking. It is the face of a different person. It is startling at first and it takes some time getting used to.
As the days go by, I notice a new groundedness in Otis. A newfound humility begins to shine through. Instead of his usual arrogance and refusal to do work, he starts asking how he can help. Having learned that homelessness is not so desirable, he begins to compliment my work and achievements as a homeowner. To me, he appears to be less tormented.
Christopher never enters my life again. I am never able to thank him or his mother. This angel appeared on the day when it was most needed to then disappear back into the ether.