Category Archives: Supernatural

BEHIND THE FAIRY MOUNDS ~ g kinyon

Padrig inquired when yet a young man
Of the slabs standing tall looking out o’er the land
He asked after mounds placed where mounds shouldna be
After carvings in stones of spirals of three
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He questioned just what it was to be proved
By moving tall boulders too large to be moved
Padrig wouldst marvel in places far flung
At the impossible accomplished without written tongue
To the Gael ‘twas manly to capture a Roman
And brand him a slave and strut like a showman
But the Gael was aware in a style more subdued
That without his own text he was thought of as crude
“To we who speak Gaelic, you are but a slave
But a Briton, a Roman, with knowledge engraved
Deep in your consciousness, then transferred to wax
Each thought inscribed like a hare leaving tracks.
A sign for each sound of the throat you’ve devised
And taught to your children who with ease memorized
Implanted, ensconced in the vault of the mind
Promising progress of an unforeseen kind.
And the Fair Folk, also, have wrought deep inscription
From the stones that they set, but employed encryption
Did they wish us to know, did they want us to guess?
Our ignorance reigned and we’ve failed the test.
The unknown is the aspect the human grows fearing
He quails in the presence of divine engineering
His worth as a man is then rent wide asunder
His value, his usefulness dissolves in the plunder. ”
“Should all slaves”, said Padrig, “be called from their houses
They couldn’t move one stone, let alone thousands
And who fed the quarrymen, the haulers, the builders?
From whence then the architects? This sorcery bewilders.”

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The next answer given this lost, stolen child
Came from the Gael who pondered and smiled
“Whenever a myst’ry befalls human eye
We compete with our tales, mind you, diff’rent from lies
The best at this art, he be much like your friar
A place guaranteed every night at the fire
A master of the craft of the tale sets us free
We toil through the day with a reason to be
It is crucial our thoughts be carried away
For us it is much like when you, Padrig, pray
That our ancestors came and conquered and died
Somehow fills us as a people with pride
The children of Danu the Goddess were here
And threatened our fathers as their ships would draw near
Though the sons of the goddess owned unearthly powers
The island fell hard to the Gaels, became ours
The terms of surrender left the Fair Folk their hills
’tis fear now the cry of the banshee instills
An old hag at times rides a mare in the night
And straddles a human who wakes to the sight
Unable to move, to cry out or breathe
But must lie submissive until she takes leave
Many such stories you’ll hear as you grow
They please us by answering what we canst know
You my young friend are destined to be
A seer, a fili, a grand seanachie.”
Padrig knew not of the sharing of tales
Just the visions before him and how the mind fails
To account for the wonders that can’t possibly be
How could these ancients have mastered the sea?
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What mind designs mountains, what hands make it so
What backs move the boulders, what line stops the toe
“Round every bend of this island you’ll see
What the Gael does attribute to the Folk, the Aos si
For what other magic, what human power
Moves a stone of such mass, makes it stand like a tower
Or molds them like clay, and like puzzles fit each
In a fashion the strongest of storms cannot breach”
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The aging bronze Gael then bent at the knees
Plucked a shamrock and expounded on the concept of threes
“Therein lies the formula that fuels the fire
Of the teller, the fili, to what you’ll aspire
A prominent belt of three stars in the sky
The dominant druid will have a third eye
And under the sky and the belt of three stars
In Egypt they say three pyramids are
We mark the sun, the extremes of its rise
Just three points are needed to govern our lives
The sun marks those points, the north, south, and center
The north begins summer, the south starts the winter
From center it rises with scarce a distortion
Day and night then are of equal proportion
The dolmen that stand so high from the moss
Two slabs hold upright, a third lies across
We can know nothing of how they were made
How such stones were moved, how the top ones were laid
How they could happen, these magical tasks
Are questions the teller grows too wise to ask
When questioned, hesitation may subtly expose
This may be the island of Who-The-Hell-Knows
The greatest of mounds on this island be
Alongside the river in a fine group of three
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But ne’er should a storyman deign to disclose
That this be the island of Who-The-Hell-Knows
For each of the myst’ries, whether grand, whether petty
Be certain an answer stands quick at the ready
The mounds, we will claim, are simply the covers
For doors leading into the world of the Others

I’ll aid your escape then you seek out your truth
And return here someday to lift the uncouth
Bring us new tales, fresh wisdom, good news
Tell us that we’re a lost tribe of the Jews
If you have a story then you’ll have a meal
The best explanations will have the best feel
New stories are welcome but suffice it to say
That after all else the old lore must stay
Emotions serve man and each is producible
The heart be a caldron, the mind then a crucible
Never forget to incorporate three
How the stones came to stand, how the mounds came to be
The creators of these, the magical hills
Refer to as Fair Folk, and wish them no ill
We need our fairies, our changelings, our wraiths
Our charms and our devils, our tales and our faiths

Pay heed now, young Padrig, for all of our sakes
It be how we want it, so bring us no snakes
In a teller’s own blood a deep knowledge flows
That Eire is the land of Who-The-Hell-Knows

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GHOSTS OF INHUMANITY

It wasn’t all that long ago really when Dad, Mom, and the kids joined the vendors around the scaffold of a fine day, in, say, Dodge City or Denver. A row of men (usually, anyway) kicking and bouncing around at rope’s end, trying to touch the ground or breathe, their hands behind their backs, provided entertainment with a morality lesson. If a subject wasn’t an especially repulsive individual, or the executioner got a few pence, the latter might calculate the rope-length/body-weight ratio and the neck would snap with the drop. We Westerners have outgrown treating executions as a spectacle to be looked forward to, though. We’re familiar with the stonings in the Middle East, the amputations for thievery and such, and are properly repulsed.

But like I said, it hasn’t been long since executions were cause for a public outing in our sophisticated world.
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That interest in gruesome fates hasn’t fully faded yet. Picture a group of witnesses, some somber, some thinking right on! Picture them seated on a little set of bleachers so close they can touch the glass of the chamber. A man (again, usually) is strapped into a chair and the cyanide is released. The guests watch him hold his breath, and they watch as the inevitable happens. If they want, they can see every horror-driven distortion of the condemned’s wrinkled face while his lungs sizzle.
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The gas chamber being held in awe in the above photo is at the recently-decommissioned Missouri State Pen, a place with an utterly gruesome past and an oddly active present.
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Cell 76 on the second floor in building 4, or A-Hall, is one with a busy repute, where two inmates slipped in to gouge out the eyes of one of its tenants and let him stew on that while they sliced him further until he crawled out onto the catwalk and bled to death. Shivs have always been a way of life in prison, and that was as true here at “The Walls” of Mo State as anywhere.
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Gougings and related murders were a daily occurrence for long periods of time in this penitentiary, one of which inspired, after the warden offed his own self, Time Magazine to dub Mo State as “The bloodiest 47 acres in America.”
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The prison opened in 1836 and before it closed in 2004, was the oldest operating prison west of the Mississippi. Plumbing came in the 40s, and off-the-floor sleeping probably before that.
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Still, the violence only got worse. So then, do spirits of humans who spent their last seconds here still hang around? Imagine 5 or 6 or 8 guys squeezed into a tiny, frigid or baking cell with straw mats on the floor for bedding, one bucket of filthy water for drinking, and one bucket to shit in, while the din from whipping posts in concert with insane, echoing howls competes with the smells for the attention of the senses. It doesn’t take some childish eagerness-to-believe in unscientific phenomena to imagine that events where human emotion is stretched beyond all conceivability might just be capable of leaving a stamp, or a historical impress, that can be picked up on now and again. As for real-time interaction with the world of the dead, that’s not for me to adjudicate for you.

Below ground in A-Hall, a large number (documentation verifies 13 on one occasion) of inmates are forced into a limestone cubby hole where light equals what one finds in the depths of a cave when the last lantern battery dies.
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Blindness. A thick wooden door covers the steel door to ensure nothing resembling light will find a crack. The prisoner-quarried stone entombs the cell’s denizens at a thickness that promises no cracks of which any accident of sound might take advantage, either. There are two buckets. Which one has the water? The shit bucket will not be emptied by a guard for days. The dead bodies will be removed then too. No sooner.
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James Earl Ray, cell 45, escapes in a 4×4 box in the back of a bread truck. Less than a year later, he kills MLK. (Or was at least arrested for it, but I’d like to stay on target.)

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Sonny Liston’s talents were discovered by a couple of guards here.
Stagger Lee. I know I know that name. Blanche Barrow was put in the women’s facility when she was caught. She hated the movie.

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Cell 40 has made a name for itself, I see, on You Tube. I spent a few minutes in there alone, very quiet I did stay.
But other than the temperature dropping about 40 degrees, not much action. Kidding. It doesn’t matter. The history is enough.

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On the east coast of Ireland is a prison that has existed in one form or another for three centuries. Wicklow Gaol. A prison for all the people—men, women, and children—and for all the Catholic people in particular. The rebels of 1798, the croppies. The Popish.
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Women were thrown in with the men and if they had children, the British government would be damned if they were going to be babysitters.
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They did however provide an area for schooling. One of those children has never left, many people swear.
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You slept on the straw or the dirt. You worked.
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Sometimes men broke rocks and women took them to pave the road. During the years of rebellion, however, work was much more about punishment.
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Back-breaking work to produce nothing—a good way to fuck with their heads. Pick up a cannonball chest high, walk two steps, set it down, repeat for four more hours in the heat of the day.

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Or get on the treadmill for five hours and force it to turn and produce nothing. Mouth off and get shackled, or get your spine and ribs bared with the lash.

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Like the decommissioned penitentiary in Missouri, Wicklow Gaol suffers from no shortage of adamant witnesses to the paranormal. The true (verified or silenced) horror stories that accumulated in Wicklow throughout all those decades doubtless left marks that can still be felt.
Humans may grow intellectually, societies may become more sophisticated, but the fascination with horror is a part of us. The chief rule of the sane is to maintain a handle on fascinations.
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Finding the truth about what lies beyond may be a hobby for those who don’t deride it as silliness, but it is also, in another sense, a way to get a handle on the dangers that intrigue us.
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LUCID DREAMS: When Conscious Meets Subconscious ~ g. kinyon

Standing on a polished wood floor, I looked across the length of a room in which I’d never been. I didn’t know what the outside of the house looked like; this room, in fact, was all I knew. It was appointed cozily enough: three standard pieces of white cloth furniture plus a shaggy white throw rug in the center, wood paneling, artistic wall hangings, light entering from a patio door to my right. Another room was beyond an arched passageway on the far side of this one. I stood behind the sofa, which was positioned width-wise and in my way. Rather than walk around it, I did what I usually do in these situations: I levitated about head-high and propelled myself forward, not a skill everyone enjoys. The next room had black walls and red leather furniture with brass stays. The table tops were glass. Along the left wall at the top extended a room-length sheetrock box where ductwork had apparently been covered. At the far side, carpeted stairs rose six steps to a landing and cut 180 degrees before ascending to the next floor from there. I wanted to see the upstairs, naturally, but another interest delayed that proposition. The ceiling of this black room was not itself black, but white with a bluish tint. I flew higher and closer. In burnt-red, images straight off of bowls and vases from ancient Greece were scattered as overhead décor. Paper trim with representations of Doric columns added to the classical effect. I studied this to my heart’s content. But before shooting to the staircase, I alighted. I announced with my arms spread wide that I was the designer of all I surveyed. I added, so there’d be no mistake, that I was fully aware of the paradox. “I don’t know what will be up those stairs, but I will have created it.” And onward I flew, the paradox blowing my mind to atoms.

For the second time in my life, I had intentionally pulled off a lucid dream. I’d had lucid dreams before—several times—I just didn’t know they had a name. Nor did I know a person could will them to happen. But like any of the things that make living a positive, lucid dreams take effort. Conjuring them requires practice, study, repetition, and determination. I am only in the apprenticeship stages of this conceit, and I fully intend to tack on a part two after I’ve got a better handle on it all.

When the human mind becomes aware that it is existing in the course of a dream, the fantastic happens. One realizes he need only imagine earthly or heavenly delights for them to appear. The senses are intact. The universe in this plane is at the dreamer’s fingertips. And at his caprice. The three things LD beginners will inevitably do once they know what’s going on are 1) Jump up and down and shout to the world that they’re dreaming and they know it. 2) Fly—if they can figure out how, anyway. 3) Have sex. Again, all the senses are intact. It’s a natural, primal impulse. To make that person materialize, though—the person you want to do it with the most—requires a few spins around the block. Early on you’ll have to settle with what shows up, which seems instructive of real life in some vague fashion. Remaining in a conscious dream long enough to get much out of it takes practice too, by the way. The initial excitement of having accomplished it on purpose, the jumping around and shouting, will often be enough to ruin it. To scare it off, if you will. You’ll either wake up or slip into a standard dream, lucky if you can remember later it happened at all.

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The dream I described above is an example of having a slight amount of experience. Rather than getting overexcited and carried away with controlling everything around me by way of conscious intent (as I did the first time), I allowed my subconscious to have its head. I explored the world of my imagination, let it come to me on its own, show me things it wanted me to see. This approach earned a reward—that of recognizing the paradox. Before I flew up the steps, I knew that in the insignificant span of time it would take me to round a corner, I would have designed and built a complete environment, with all the detail that can be imagined–but I wouldn’t know what was there until I arrived. And I was in awe of my abilities when I saw what I could do. Today’s leaders of lucid dream experimentation report employing their skills to better understand the universe. A master can go forward or backward in time and observe, shrink to explore the infinitesimal, or examine distant solar systems.

Tibetan Buddhism probably represents the oldest known culture to gain a true understanding of lucid dreaming. The Tibetan monks have apparently devised techniques of dream yoga that can send the adept to deeper levels of conscious dreaming than the typical practitioner can reach. In fact, in lucid dreaming one can find a nexus of many of the Eastern spiritual philosophies. Lucid dreaming is a goal of meditation and proper breathing. The goal of kundalini yoga is called, interestingly, the kundalini awakening. As with kundalini and the chakras, achieving lucidity may follow the course of visualization of colors and focal points of the body. Certain sounds and even chants, along with control of the breathe cycle, can help one dive into a dream with full consciousness. The same is used with qigong, practiced by Taoists to achieve the Tao, or the divine emptiness—a superior state of being. Dream lucidity can be as frivolous, as spiritual, or as empirical as one wants to make it. While there is no harm in using it to placate the id, (even kundalini and qigong are consciously libido-friendly) there seems to be a saturation point with conscious dreaming where temporal thrills lose their luster. In the material realm, we often hear of the person who has it all (Kurt Cobain comes to mind) committing suicide. Wealth, fame, and sex are no longer fulfilling. The accomplished lucid dreamer need never get bored, but simply move on to the next grand adventure. The options are limitless. As to how often the LD old-timers–the for-the-sake-of-science masters–take a dream-world break from study to get laid…that’s anybody’s guess.

You can cheat your way to…well, if not to lucid dreams, at least to some wild ones, via dream herbs and chemicals. These are easily found online. The first dream chemical I discovered was in a nicotine patch. The warnings on nicotine patches even mention disturbing dreams. I like disturbing. I’ve tried them solely for the sake of a short cut to lucidity, but to no avail. I’ll order some of the other goodies before it’s all over, I can pretty well promise. Part two.

As a point of further interest, Paul McCartney famously found the music for “Yesterday” in a dream. Srinivasa Ramanujan, the mathematical genius, claimed he received his formulae from a Hindu Goddess in his dreams. The Jekyll/Hyde story came from the dream world. So did Frankenstein. Philosopher Renee Descartes was a lucid dreamer, as were/are a host of other famous names. Like Goethe and Tesla.

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The one critical tool for becoming a lucid dreamer is maintaining a personal dream journal. This is not easy to do and it proves you’re serious. Imagine you fail to check your inbox for a few days. When you do check it, let’s say you have a hundred messages. Now imagine deleting them all without reading. Once you start keeping a dream log, you’ll know you’ve deleted a hell of a lot of unread messages over the years. Your dream journal speaks to you–it sends you messages. It shows you patterns with your dreams you never knew existed. You’ll read it and think…wow. The number of false awakenings–where you dream you wake up, think you’re awake, and then dream you awaken again and again–the number of those I’ve recorded is astounding. As for help in accomplishing lucidity, it’s the act of waking up in the dark and scribbling shit on paper that habituates you to moving from the dream to the temporal worlds and back. The sooner one gets comfortable manipulating things in the hypnagogic state, the sooner one masters LD.  Also, in your journal you’ll find dream signs you can learn to recognize to verify you’re dreaming. But I’ve come across something else by way of the journal, something that has validated–for me, at least–the concept of synchronicity. I’ve given Freud his due here, and now it’s Jung’s turn.

Two nights ago as I write, March 8, 2014, I went to a poetry reading in an eatery/drinkery I’d never heard of, in a town where I don’t reside: Grandview, MO. On my way out of the place, Cafe Main, I passed by this big glass pastry case, loaded with some of the finest-looking, most tempting bakery products I’d ever seen. I hesitated. I wanted one. But I knew those things were bad for me. I watch what I eat for the most part and I dragged myself out of there. The following morning, yesterday, I woke up with no dreams to record. I was disappointingly blank. Of a sudden, something triggered my memory, and I commenced to setting a dream journal record by packing four legal-size notebook pages tight with the description of a single dream. I usually wait a week or so before I go over what I’ve recently written–it’s more interesting that way: I forget what I’ve recorded just as completely as I forget what I’ve dreamt. After I transcribed my marathon dream, I decided to read over the last few entries. Here’s what I see as if for the first time: I’m in some kind of retail establishment in Grandview. Floor to ceiling glass walls. I have an item to buy, a rolled-up mattress. A salesman takes it from me and disappears. I go to look for him. I pass a big glass pastry case full of delicious-looking treats. They look wonderful, but I know they’re bad for me and I leave. Date: Friday morning, March 7, 2014.

Make of it what you will.  

HARELIP

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Another kid tells me a joke about the (fill in the blank) and the harelip. No idea what a hair lip is, but apparently it’s somebody who talks funny. Every joke I hear after that about this hair lip character involves the comedian of the moment talking in a particular whiney voice while on his way to a punch-line based on a pun created by the hair lip’s odd pronunciation of a word. I carry on as the only person in the world, it seems, unacquainted with the hair lips. I estimate that hair grows inward and does something to a guy’s lip that messes with his speech.

One day at work I’m in the office when a secretary’s mom stops by. The mom speaks, and I hear it. I hear that voice. I’m figuring Mom’s a comedienne. I’m waiting for little miss to grin or snicker. Oh Mom. Stop it. You’ll embarrass me. Waiting for Mom’s punch-line. But she keeps it up, keeps talking like one of those hair lips. Daughter says nothing, looks nothing. Not at all embarrassed. Anyway, Mom vanishes after a bit, and I’m sorting all of this out when a guy I work with asks the girl why her mom was talking like that. If I can shrink into a dust bunny…but I can’t. I know I turn red. Obviously a defective trait at work with Mom, so why isn’t he getting that? I wait for the girl to get defensive and jump the guy for bringing it up. Instead, What are you talking about? Like he’s an idiot, which he is at this moment, but for reasons other than any she has a handle on. And here’s an easy out that she’s handing him if he’s quick, but he’s not. Tell her you don’t know what you were talking about and change the subject. Nope. He takes another shot at it. Clarifies the question. The girl sits still with a dumbfoundedness that’s all sincere all over her face. Insists now she has no idea what he means. Finally, he figures it out. Late, but he gets it. To Daughter, Mom speaks plenty normal. In fact, Mom speaks just as she always has—since Daughter was born.

I learn a profound lesson here. I think about it a lot afterward. This girl’s smart, good at her job, and fun to be around. Someone you can have conversations with about the think-harder things in life. But she can’t hear her mother like the rest of the world hears her. In time, I begin noticing similar ignorance with people as it pertains to their loved ones. I remember asking a friend about the odd behavior of a family member and the friend doesn’t understand what I’m alluding to. If my own mother speaks in a weird pattern, how am I going to know? Is it that way for everyone whose parent speaks differently? Or do some children hear it?

I would forever after keep my antennae up in that area, and I would learn things. Children often do not hear the accents of their parents, if, say, that parent comes from another country and the child has grown up speaking English in the United States. Sometimes the child, though, will adopt a certain level of her parents’ accent but not know it. And you—outside of the family circle—will notice their shared vocal patterns and communicative quirks. If Mom pronounces a hard th word (though) with a soft th (thatch), then you can bet so do the kids. Yet sometimes you’ll meet a guy or girl who speaks perfect, accent-free English, and then you meet her or his parents who are straight from the old country, and your friend may be unaware of Mom and Dad’s accents—or fully aware.

This all gets even deeper, though. Okay, this is different, but it’s related. It all ties in. What about ourselves are we not getting that everybody else is? What are we getting that no one else is? People notice inside-the-head attributes about themselves, quirks, that they never hear mentioned by other people. Women, from my observations, will be more likely than men to keep it hushed for fear of being exposed as weird. Someone had to be first to give a name to déjà vu—probably a guy. When guys notice things about themselves–strange experiences of the mind–they’ve never heard discussed or described by others, they will usually just assume others experience it too or they don’t waste time dwelling on it. There are always exceptions, some of which would include psychopaths, murderers, pedophiles, cannibals, pursuers of bizarre fetishes and these stuffs, but that’s beyond the scope of what I’m dealing with here. A woman on the other hand will spend a lot of time worrying that she is different and will sometimes be haunted by feelings or experiences that are in reality far more common than she suspects. I know. I’ve been the one to pass on the good news before and more than once or twice. For example, I’ve noticed that when the season changes to autumn, with that first hint of cold air, I get this overwhelming feeling of nostalgia. I always have, and I’ve always thought it was interesting and pleasant, though I’d not heard it brought up in conversation by anyone else. Neither did I care. I decided to give that trait to the protagonist in my present novel. I was sure someone would recognize what I was describing. Recently a woman confided in me how the change of season to autumn at the time was making her think of old times for some reason, making her miss those days and certain people. Kinda weird, huh? Something about the smell in the air, she said. I asked her if maybe just maybe it happened every year. She said it did, and then asked how I knew.

Synesthesia. This is when one sensory, cognitive avenue within a person trips another one automatically. Letters and numbers, and even sounds, have a specific color. J is purple. 3 is red. A humming engine is orange. Days of the week or months of the year have personalities. Or colors. Or sounds. Or flavors. Mirror synesthesia is when an individual watches another person being touched and feels that touch himself, similar to the identical twin phenomenon.  More than five-dozen types of synesthesia have been discovered. Many synesthetes grow up believing that everybody has their same associative predispositions—that you and I see 8 as yellow, green as mean, or November as blueberry-flavored. They won’t know any of this is uncommon until some right-time, right-place conversation tips them off.

Have you ever been eye-squinting, face-crinkling confused at what your friend thinks of as being physically attractive? Whereupon the letters W-T-F have all kinds of color?

A type of dream befalls us where we realize that we’ve had this dream before, or more accurately, been here in this same place in our dreams in the past–only we’ve forgotten about it after waking each and every time. You’ll feel a sensation of: “I remember now! How could I have forgot?” I’ve never seen this written or heard it discussed in terms of dreaming, but I’m certain enough I’m not the only one to experience it that I’ll bring it up in a public forum. From reading the journals of those individuals who watched people die while following Napoleon’s army out of Russia, I know that before giving up their ghosts many would say “I remember now!” while staring into the ether and smiling. And I have read the same thing from people watching someone die in a hospital in modern times.

I’m still left to wonder if anyone else has noticed this characteristic in people—the characteristic of being oblivious of their parents’ speech patterns or even of the off-kilter behavior of a family member. How many of us are silently bothered by anomalies within ourselves that we think are as peculiar to us as fingerprints? If you search deep enough in surviving texts from Ancient Greece, you’ll see that the classic writers covered about every such subject. Near-death and out-of-body experiences, déjà vu, lucid dreams, bilocation and what have you, but they didn’t have a particular name for lots of these phenomena. The recent (by human standards) foray into the study of the mind with all of its specific fields has given us names for the hitherto unnamed. It has also fleshed out defects like dyslexia in ways that have led to treatments and cures. It is better, then, that we can recognize and create taxonomies for mental experiences so we might benefit society as a whole.

I made notes of many of these anomalous sensations and weirdnesses of mine and split them between two main characters as I wrote my story. They did not have the term “déjà vu” (already seen) in 1812, so, lacking a good way to describe it, the female character keeps it to herself. As she looks out a window to see the city burning, she thinks in the common Moscow French of the time: “J’ai déjà vu cela.” (I have already seen this.) In some other time, in some other world. She also sees spoken words in her head and mentally arranges them in pyramids as people speak them.

Hello.

How are

you doing today?

This is one I got second-hand. She has been assigned this trait of not discerning her father’s brogue, too.

I use all this stuff in creating characters, and I use it in figuring out the world. Eventually I learned that one out of 700 ( or a thousand) babies is born with a cleft in its lip that the French called “With a lip that has a split like that of a hare.” The English pared it down to a more manageable “harelip.” Now known as “cleft lip,” the defect is also akin to the cleft palate and affects the speech. Modern medical technology has rendered this defect correctable, fortunately. So from whence derive the jokes? They would have to come from someone old enough to understand puns, but young enough to be so stupid as to turn something like that into a joke. And this gets into the psychopathic, sociopathic, narcissistic, cannibalistic pedophilic, put-me-in-diapers-and-spank-me categories of psychological oddities that exceed the bounds of this little disquisition. Maybe some other day.

THE LIFE OF THE 18TH CENTURY IRISH PEASANT ( Real life through the eyes of a fictional character) by glenn kinyon

100_1547_0001Thady was born in the west of Ireland in County Kerry, a ruggedly beautiful land of bald mountains, low forests, and deep blue lakes. During Thady’s time, County Kerry was about as provincial a backwater as one would find in Ireland, and that’s saying something. Thady’s father died when he was a toddler and his mother turned him over to her brother’s family to be raised while she disappeared to God knows where. Ultimately he was raised by the family of a companion after running off at the age of twelve. Hunger and beatings had been his lot to that point. He was always big for his age, which meant he was continually being challenged by older boys to defend himself. And that he did very well.Ireland

Thady’s one refuge was the church. The parish curate took pity on him and he was made to feel at home with Irish Catholic ritual and Bible teachings. As did most Catholic peasants, Thady grew up superstitious.  In Ireland, as in Russia or Ethiopia or Scandinavia, Christianity was blended with the ancient beliefs of the local culture. Certain people could cast spells with good or evil intent. Charms could be worn, potions swallowed. The devil might appear in the form of an animal, and the parish priest might consecrate a batch of holy water to protect a parishioner from a perceived evil omen. Banshees cried out in the night.  Pennies were tossed over shoulders, cards were read, and signs were interpreted.Fighting with sticks

At fourteen, Thady was recruited by an exclusively-Catholic organization known as the Whiteboys. The Whiteboys were protectors, a gang of bloody vigilantes with various local chapters and leaders. They settled the grievances of the poor helpless tenants against powerful landlords, agents, and tithe proctors. If a family’s farm was confiscated to pay outstanding debt, the Whiteboys would threaten anyone who turned up at the auction, or they might raise funds to buy the property back at very low bids with no one else bidding against them. They were as violent as it got, and many a manor house was burned to the ground, many a traitor killed by Whiteboy gangs. In the parlance of the time, to be “up” was to be initiated into the Whiteboys.Irish cudgel fighting

Like the Hatfields and McCoys, their cousins in the old country feuded family against family with fatal results. Massive, deadly gang fights occurred at community fairs—or even at funerals or weddings—like clockwork. Rows between families were called “faction fights.” At times these skirmishes might erupt in the middle of town when a member of one family looked sideways at a member of the other, but more often they were planned. Then there were “party fights,” which were essentially religion-based. Party fights pitted Catholics, or “Popish,” against Protestants, who were commonly represented by the “Orangemen” after the latter’s founding in 1795. Party fights were considered to be even more bloodthirsty than the family feuds, as clans that were enemies at other times would join together under the banner of their common faith. Unlike Catholics, Orangemen were allowed by law to carry muskets, which could make those fights a bit unequal.Pikes In “Beyond the Berezina,” Sir Malcolm discovers Thady while watching a party fight between the Whiteboys and the Orangemen from his hotel balcony. As Irish Catholics had been forbidden from owning firearms for so long, their fighting factions had become proficient with other implements of warfare, and particularly the cudgel. They knew which type of wood made the best weapon, and they learned how to fill them with lead at the end “what’s to make acquaintance with the cranium,” as Thady explains in the story.  After seeing fifteen-year-old Thady fail to so much as flinch when a cudgel is broken over his head, Sir Malcolm takes him under his protection and tutelage, and the rest is history. Well, fictional history.Irish brawler

The rural Irish were overwhelmingly Catholic; the entire country had been Catholic roughly from the sixth or seventh century until Henry VIII founded the Anglican Church and began giving Irish land to the Anglican nobility. His daughter Elizabeth I populated Northern Ireland with Protestants from Scotland and England, transferring ownership of land confiscated from the Irish Catholics. In Thady’s time, the rural Irish spoke both the Celtic language and English, and had an interesting way of Anglicizing the one, and Celti-cizing the other. A statement in English might be capped off with ersha misha, which means “Say I.” A common exclamation was dher manhim, or “by my soul.” The Celtic—or Irish or Gaelic—language is a language of deep emotion and colorful description. One of my favorite Irish phrases is acushla machree (or simply acushla), which means “pulse of my heart.” A mother might refer this way to her child, or a man to his sweetheart. I find it to be a touching way of expressing an intense feeling. Asuillish machree means “light of my heart.” When addressing a close friend or loved one, different Irish words meaning essentially “darling” or “beloved” were thrown in at the beginning or end of a sentence—Alannah, avourneen,  astora, achora, aroon, avick, ahagur, inusha, and musha to name a few. A common term of endearment for little boys was bouchal or bouchaleen. Girls were referred to as colleens. Colleen Bawn means “Fair Girl.” 100_1422

Irish curses in those days, likewise, were evocative and meaningful. For instance, “May the grass grow tall at your door.”  While at first thought that might not sound like such an unpalatable imprecation, when you think about it a little harder the meaning is a bit more chilling. Imagine what would precede grass growing tall at your door. You have been kept from the most basic act of tidiness and concern for appearance. For that to have happened, you and your family have been destroyed. “May the crows have your carcass” is another one set off by a real hatred, considering it precludes a “dacent Christian berril.” Evil charms were known as pisthroges. A few other common Irish words or phrases mixed in with English were: kailyee—a friendly evening visit; fetch—a ghost that assumes the form of a known person living or deceased; collogue—verb meaning to whisper; phatie or pratie—potato; shebeen—a drinking establishment; poteen—whiskey. And speaking of whiskey, the rural Irish were adept at designing and building stills to avoid liquor taxes. These were usually hidden up in the mountains near a continuous source of running water, and the locals were ever watchful for government men, who as often as not took their cut to keep quiet.

100_1570Irish speakers in those days were big on puns and word play, but their humor could be quite sophisticated, too, particularly among the more educated groups, such as estate owners, teachers, clergymen, or students of the priesthood. Teachers were highly sought after, by the way, and it was common for them to entertain competing bids from different parishes or communities. Hedge schools were the standard means of imparting an education to the children of the poor. These were so named because, lacking a building, classes were conducted in good weather beside hedge rows. Sometimes, though, a barn or house might be available. There are stories of teachers being kidnapped from one community and taken to another to be plied with gifts and put to work.100_1571_0001

My intent was for Thady’s interests and manner of speech to accurately reflect those of the Irish Catholics of the 18th and 19th centuries. He is a lover of scrapes and scrimmages and busting heads, an occasional pipe smoker and a very occasional brandy drinker. He is also humorous and soft-hearted when someone or something catches his attention just right. He has to part company with his Russian sweetheart in Moscow, but doesn’t let it get to him. He grew up illiterate, but Sir Malcolm teaches him to read and gives him a general education. Thady’s first duty is as a bodyguard for Sir Malcolm; he’s trained as a battlefield warrior, too, in time to take part in the bloody affray at Vinegar Hill in County Wexford against the British.Vinegar Hill Battle He’s the only person Sir Malcolm takes to Russia when fleeing His Majesty’s army—fleeing Brigade Major Robert Wilson, in particular.

THE PROOF-OF-AFTERLIFE PLANT (My Excursion to the Other Side)

Iboga treePlants are analogous to the internet and hammers inasmuch as they can be used for good or evil. They can feed, they can cure, they can poison. And in at least one case, purportedly, they can pull back the curtain between the material and the spiritual worlds. We learn such a thing from a religion peculiar to a handful of tribes in western central Africa, particularly in Gabon. The religion is called Bwiti, and its practice involves a ceremony centered on the ingestion of a certain root bark. In Bwiti culture, male children as young as eight are inducted into manhood after embarking on something of a vision quest in which tribal shamans spoon-feed the initiates the root of the Tabernanthe Iboga tree. Tribal ceremonyTradition tells us this ceremony dates back centuries. Practitioners believe that the right amount of bark swallowed over a measured length of time will send the initiate to the world of the deceased, where he can speak not only to his ancestors, but sometimes to God. Iboga has been referred to as the proof-of-afterlife plant, and for some that appellation is more than hyperbole.

This ceremony is not generally open to outsiders, but the right amount of money can buy just about anything. Over the past few years, Westerners from several countries have visited the jungles of Africa to experience the Iboga ritual. Additionally, enterprising parties around the world have opened up Ibogaine clinics (Ibogaine being the alkaloid derived from the root bark) where the adventurous can go to seek out spiritual healing. Like its more well-known South American cousin Ayahuasca, Iboga is one of the so-called healing plants. One Iboga clinic may be overseen by a doctor, another may be staffed by a shaman who administers the dose and acts as a material Virgil to the customer’s Dante. It depends on what the client is looking for. The stories one finds on the internet about Ibogaine experiences fascinate.spirit guide At some point during the trip, the pilgrim invariably meets a spirit guide—an other-worldly rather than a material Virgil—who reveals the secret entities and motivations crouching in the shadows of a person’s psyche. The spirit guide, who takes different forms for different people, often answers the initiate’s questions along the way. In reading these accounts, you will frequently be warned that this is no pleasure cruise, that it’s not for the faint-hearted. Ibogaine forces one to face his weaknesses and his failures as a human being. It exposes his most hidden thoughts and behaviors. The point behind it all seems to be an epiphany that perhaps will set a person on the right track. It has been discovered that a certain percentage of Ibogaine adventurers are Afterlife 2offered the chance during the experience to leave their physical bodies permanently for apparently idyllic shores. The official count of eleven Ibogaine-associated deaths may have something to do with that offer, but, of course, we’ll never know. I can’t speak for others who have been inexorably drawn to the mystical properties of the root bark, but I can speak for myself.

The circumstances around my drift into the Iboga-fueled unknown are necessarily confidential, but I can spill the rest of it. The details are bizarre, and to some they will be unbelievable, which I can understand. I would say reserve judgment until you’ve tried it yourself, but I would also not recommend it to anybody. It is, just as they say, not for the faint of heart. Ibogaine came into my possession because it was meant to, and I took it when “King Iboga” wanted me to take it, or so I was informed, and I have a hard time believing otherwise. Dosage is everything. The Bwiti shamans make certain their subjects swallow a sufficient amount by asking questions and judging by the subjects’ answers whether more is needed. The larger the dose, the more intense the experience. Research and/or expert counseling is a must with Iboga.Afterlife 1

More than an hour had passed after swallowing the elixir (at approx. 7:00 PM) when I noticed what I call the ambient drone. This hum, or buzz, or whatever you might call itI’m sure it’s always there; we just don’t hear it in the sensible world. At least not under normal circumstances. It had been getting louder the whole time, but only now did it catch my attention. My vision began to grow distorted to where it became difficult to focus on any one object. At this point, a prevailing sense of uneasiness fast-forwarded into something more akin to fear. Something—no, someone would better describe the sensation—was now in control of whatever was about to happen to me. This someone had been expecting me. That’s how it felt. Soon I was getting a look into another aspect of physical existence, where every object contained living, moving patterns and bright colors. acid trip 1I plopped down on a mattress and let myself be consumed, not that I had a choice anymore. I studied the events going on around me, the constant movement, the sailing and assailing colors. I noticed that when my gaze shifted from the floor to the ceiling, an apparition of sorts moved from the ceiling to the floor, and vice versa. When my eyes moved right to left, the thing went left to right. This kept me occupied for some time, although it was only a handshake to let me know I was in the right place.

Just as the ambient drone had crept up on me, so too did the sound of my heartbeat. It was so loud and so fast I thought I’d overdone things. (It turns out that this sensitive awareness of your beating heart is normal.) I felt it pumping against my ribs. I repositioned myself, trying to make it go away, which worked, thank goodness, as it was scaring the hell out of me. As long as I lay a certain way, I was shielded from the pounding. I lost my motor skills to the degree that I couldn’t walk. I could barely pick anything up with my hands, my depth perception being so distorted. I eventually found comfort with my eyes closed, where in the darkness a veritable performance was underway in my honor. For about three hours I lay still watching images morph into other images, a cosmic parade of color and artistry. Acid trip 2It’s really impossible to describe it with any accuracy, but boredom was never an issue. And then, when I was distracted and not expecting it, an abrupt interruption halted the show.

Burning Hell

It was like: I’m here! No warning, no announcement of any kind. I knew right away without any inkling of doubt that I was in the presence of the one they called the spirit guide. So much had been going on that I’d forgotten about him. The presence in my case did have a maleness about it. I was never to have a sense of friend or foe regarding its (his) manner, just an air of: This is how it is. He was invisible to me, but I didn’t need to see him. Spirit guide 2His existence bore down on me. I immediately found myself in a dark room, and on one wall was a brightly-illuminated poster. It looked like the cover of the “Let It Be” album, but instead of seeing the faces of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, four different aspects of my face filled up the squares. And they were none too pretty. I was older and wrinkled. I studied the picture before looking away. When I looked back, it was still there. I don’t know how long I stood trapped in that room, but I eventually left and was taken up to fly over a timeline that covered the years of my life. I would descend randomly at a certain year, where I’d view a scene from my past, beginning with my childhood. None of the scenes were anything I’d remembered in real life, but when I saw them, everything came flooding back to me. I would rise up and descend again over another year and watch another episode. I couldn’tmurder victim tell that there was a point to the particular remembrances, more that the spirit guide was showing me what he was capable of. There was one, though, that was troubling. When I was eight, a friend of mine’s mother shot and killed his dad in the house next door. I must have blocked that recollection from my mind over the years, but now I remembered it all as if I’d never forgot it. And the murder motif would return before my journey was finished.

The Firmament

I later stood in utter blackness when a luminous arm stretched out in front of me. I could only see the arm and not the body attached to it. The sleeve of a white robe covered it, and in its hand was a burning yellow orb. The arm rolled this flaming sphere into the darkness like a bowling ball. It struck a mass of what looked like rock, which exploded into pieces. solar systemSome of those pieces went spinning until they too became spheres and began orbiting the fiery ball, which, I realized, was the sun. I was watching the planets form into our solar system. My attention was drawn to one particular planet, a planet that changed from gray to dark blue. I saw the white of waves on it. And then masses of land began to pop up in the water. Trees with green leaves sprang up on the land. In daylight, objects that I can only describe as organic white cylinders were dropped from the sky onto the Earth. One by one and rapidly, the cylinders opened up to show their empty interiors. Into the vacuous spaces went beating hearts, full circulatory systems, and all the organs—until skeletons encased the whole mess.Afterlife body The cylinders closed, and then sprouted limbs and heads. They moved forward, as if on a conveyor, to be clothed in some form of battle attire before they were sent off to fight. A voice posed the question: what is in their minds that they would create humans to kill each other? And then I saw the globe. From Europe, millions of warriors crossed the Atlantic to fight and conquer the inhabitants of North America. And then in the Middle East, warriors in black hoods rose up in their millions before spreading out to conquer Europe. The victors then crossed the Atlantic and started a war against the North Americans—the former Europeans—while I watched. Blood and limbs and organs were flung everywhere.

The whole scene vanished, though, and I was staring at something like an IMAX movie. A swan drifted about on the calm surface of a lake. Autumn leaves dropped gently into the water around it. swanThis was the opposite of what I’d just had to watch. A narrator said: They call it nature’s way. What do they mean—nature’s way? Is nature a mindless happenstance, an accident? Or is nature a living, sentient being? Does it impose its will?

The event that happened next was the most critical—and the most terrifying—of the whole experience. It answered any question I had as to the existence of an afterlife. All I had to do was think afterward about what had happened, what clue I’d been given, what I’d really learned. If you came across a muskrat skeleton in a trap on a river bank, you’d know without a doubt that a living muskrat had got caught and died there. What I was shown next said as much about the afterlife as a trap and skeleton does about a muskrat. At least in my opinion. It was just a matter of processing the information

Not for the first time I stood in a lightless room. Beginning just above floor level, about three feet by three feet, was a window into…somewhere. I didn’t know—a parallel universe, I supposed. The window’s top was roughly as high as my waist. windowAs one would feel the cold while passing by a freezer with an open door, I felt an emotion emanating into my space from the open window, an emotion that I had never felt. There was a frequency to it, some sort of vibration that engulfed my entire body; my ears clogged as if I were rapidly changing altitudes. The sensation was intolerable, and it caused me to step away from it. I was bothered that it seemed so horrible, and I was propelled back into it by the need to assure myself that I could take it if I had to. If I had to? I stepped toward the window again, and a magnetic power or a vacuum tried to pull me into it. I was sure that if I didn’t break away I’d be trapped in that other world, enduring this miserable feeling maybe forever. Some emotions are positive, some are negative, and negative emotions such as sadness can reach levels of severity that can make a person despondent or suicidal. Anger, greed, and envy can make a person kill. This emotion was beyond all that, something that could only exist in another world. Sometimes love-sickness or homesickness can be forms of torture. Again, this emotion was beyond that. I couldn’t bear the limitless, infinite dread that was consuming me like fire, and I wrenched away, retreating until I felt safe. Inside the window, flashes of lightning illuminated the scene every few seconds. lightning 1A man dressed in the clothing of the late 50s or early 60s, trench coat and fedora, stood behind a car of the same era with an eight or nine-year-old boy. He pulled out a knife and stabbed the child in the stomach. In the next flash of lightning, one man shot another in the front yard of an old house. Every time the lightning flashed, I saw a murder. And the words “Murder Street” appeared in the window at one point. One more time I tried to endure that infernal feeling—again, I had to know that I could—and one more time a force locked onto me when I got too close, drawing me in. Over the following days I wondered why I was being shown such a scene, and more importantly, made to experience such an emotion. Was this the fate of those who took the lives of others? scary houseWas it murderers’ hell? Then why would I need to know about it? Taking a life is not in my nature. I am bothered by it as I write.

The spirit-guide portion of the journey lasted three or four hours, during which I was shown things about myself that were disturbing, including the existence of cancer. Communication was managed through imagery, telepathy, and narration both written and spoken. When he—the spirit guide—was finished with me, he told me so. I hurriedly asked a question: What can I do? I then saw a beating heart as if looking through a chest.My heart I soon grasped that it was my chest and my heart. It pumped harder and harder, until it exploded. Bloody pieces splattered against the lens through which I watched. And with that, the guide was gone as quickly as he’d appeared, and his cryptic message of exploding hearts was lost on me.

But the journey was far from over. The time was somewhere around three in the morning, and the visual production was as intense as ever. I lay shaking, trying to sort it all out. I didn’t know whether my eyes had been open or closed throughout the previous hours. It seemed as if they’d been open, and that I’d existed in two worlds at once. The corollaries of lucidity had remained in place throughout the night: I knew who and where I was, and I knew exactly what I was doing the whole time. Yet, I had been in another dimension, as if I’d left my body. Now, as I lay there, I was seeing events every time I closed my eyes. Usually in black and white. I saw the boots of marching soldiers ticking across a gridiron in perfect time. I blinked into another scene, where factory machinery was stamping out product—in perfect time.clockwork I blinked again, and I watched children on a playground, jump ropes striking the surface at their feet as if keeping time. With each blink, a new scene presented itself: traffic stopping and going in time, train wheels turning, drums beating, engines cranking, synapses firing, hearts thumping, everything in time. I was being shown a world that carried on in a particular rhythm, as if being managed accordingly. This went on until the sky was light outside, when the visions began to change.

I could now see through walls, at least in my mind. No matter what went on inside of an apartment building, I could watch it all. In residential neighborhoods, in industrial parks, in office buildings, drama unfolded before me. I rose up above the city and peered into the lives below. I felt I was being shown that some entity was capable of doing exactly this. I was glimpsing what that entity saw. Nothing was hidden. Maybe the implication was that cameras are everywhere, maybe I was being told something else. cameraThis too went on for a considerable length of time, and I realized I was in an uncomfortable place. When I could see the private lives of people—or read their minds—things were not at all too happy. We behave one way in public and another in private, and while we may think we would give in to our voyeuristic tendencies if such powers were given us, we would be punishing ourselves in doing so. There is no pleasure in it. I was being shown two different existences in the same material world. When the private world was exposed, I felt my will to live melt away. Privacy, I seemed to be learning for reasons I can’t yet conceive, is crucial for a society’s survival.

There is much that I understood in what I was shown and much that I’ll probably never decipher. While the experience was harrowing overall, the following day and night were actually pleasant, as if I was being rewarded for all I’d endured. I did not eat, drink, or sleep for two days, but I had no need to. I was as comfortable physically as I’d ever been. My motor skills returned by the first morning.

More than anything else I’ve experienced in life, my introduction to an emotion not included in the emotion spectrum associated with physical existence leaves me convinced of a spiritual realm. I have since reasoned that this emotion must exist in our universe or I could not have felt it then or any other time. One cannot dream up an emotion that isn’t real. And with this revelation I came away satisfied that there has to be another plane—an afterlife. I should also mention the colors; they were unlike anything one sees on this side. They behaved as if they were vibrant, as if they bore the germ of life within. They shone with a brightness that defies description, so here I’ll give up describing them. psychedelic

Iboga journeys (trips is way too mundane here), like Native American vision quests, are unique to the individual. There are similarities that tie them together, however, depending on the dosage, such as the spirit guide. Some who have taken this journey have come away happier or healed of their malady, some have quietly packed up and disappeared. As for me, it’s a mixed bag. Again, I wouldn’t recommend it. Chances are, though, you know something now you didn’t know yesterday, and that’s what I’m here for.                                        

OUTRIDERS AND PREMONITIONS

Throughout the year of 1811, even while a massive earthquake was making the Mississippi River run backwards, the inhabitants of Europe and Russia could step out of their homes at night to see a comet illuminating the heavens. To peasants, gentry, and aristocracy alike, the comet was an omen. Something extraordinary was in the works, the population was largely convinced–an event of historic gravity. Some witnesses recorded feelings of absolute terror, many refusing even to look up again until the thing was gone. Not everyone was as superstitious as to tremble at a natural occurrence; but those who were so disposed, as it would turn out, were justified in their anxieties, whether the epic events to come were attributable to coincidence or not.

In that same year, Napoleon Bonaparte’s valet, Constant, awoke one night to the sound of screams emanating from his master’s adjacent bedchamber. The valet found the Conqueror of Europe tossing in his bed, babbling unintelligibly, his sheets on the floor. After shaking the sweat-drenched Napoleon awake, Constant learned his boss had been dreaming that a bear was tearing his heart out. Napoleon brought that dream up in conversation several times over the ensuing months, attempting to decode its meaning as it might pertain to his present circumstances. The very fact that he thought a dream was in need of decoding suggests at least to a degree that he was assigning it supernatural properties.

At around three in the morning on the 23rd of June, 1812, Napoleon was galloping along the left bank of the Niemen River, reconnoitering the opposite shore. In his company was the largest army ever assembled in European history, poised to cross the river into Russian territory. As the emperor rode through the darkness, a hare jumped out of the weeds and through the legs of his horse, which shied and threw its rider. Witnessing this event were Napoleon’s two most trusted aides, Generals Berthier and Calaincourt. The former commented to the latter that the ancient Romans would have understood this as the bad omen it was, and refused to cross the river. Calaincourt wrote that at any other time Napoleon would have cursed and blamed the horse, the hare, and Calaincourt, but that this time he scrambled back onto his mount and acted like nothing had happened. Calaincourt went on to observe that his boss seemed uncharacteristically pensive and uneasy after the tumble, as if he likewise took it all as a sign of pending doom.

Six months from that moment, this imperial force of some 500,000 men was no more. Twenty-thousand humans at best, half-insane, more than half-frostbitten, beaten, bloody, bruised and starving, would drag themselves back across that river with whatever clothing and limbs remained on their bodies. In the wake of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia was a type of devastation theretofore unfamiliar to historians. Countless villages had been removed from the maps, and hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children lay dead. More still were homeless or crippled.

Eye witness accounts of the invasion and exodus are replete with examples of spot-on prophecies of individual mortality. Under such circumstances, the accurate prognostication of one’s own death connotes no great feat of magic. However, many individuals involved handed over their personal belongings to comrades with great urgency, with assurances that they would not see another tomorrow and pleas that the trustee deliver those trinkets to a mother or sister. Geographical features, particularly rivers, were commonly cited as places presumably-doomed persons were sure they would never reach. We have no way of knowing how often such divinations were wrong, but journal-recordings of those that were correct are numerous.

All this puts me in mind of a similar episode in my own pages, when a friend wanted to show me where his burial plot was situated. At the time, I had more pressing concerns and I told him so. I said I’d go another day. But he was insistent. He wanted me to go with him right now. I couldn’t understand what the hurry was, but I relented and went along to look at his future gravesite. He was dead a few days later, suddenly, unexpectedly.

I cover these occurrences of presentiment in “Beyond the Berezina,” because they were a part of the true story. And because they spark interest in all but the most devoutly atheistic among us. None of the above proves anything, true, but it doesn’t hurt, either. I have had several déjà vu experiences over the years, and like most people familiar with the phenomenon, I had no idea what caused that bizarre feeling of having been through it all before. That is until I had a certain dream that I continued to remember long after the fact. One day the scene I remembered from that dream happened—it played out in real life just as if I were watching a film for the second time. And accompanying my repeat viewing was that cool déjà vu sensation. So, while I don’t know how I’ve already seen something, I know that I have. I pretty much feel like I was let in on a little secret with that one.

Again, I can’t prove anything—not about déjà vu, not about accurate premonitions. But neither can science prove anything in those areas, and science has made some desperate attempts at accounting for déjà vu. One thing is certain, though: those feelings—those forebodings—exist, and they have to come from somewhere. The nature of that source, unfortunately, is something we’ll never know. Never being relative, of course, to our material existence.