Sunday, June 17, 2012

Xibalba: The Room of Re-membering, Part 1.

He was only a pile of white bones, lying on the dry, dusty ground.

He could not move nor speak nor think. He simply lay there, a scattered heap of bones, motionless, except when the wind occasionally rattled and rolled them in the dust.

Time went on; perhaps days or months or years passed by in the world of the living, while the little ghost's spectral skeleton lay broken and inert on the desolate plain of Xibalba.

Finally -- after how long, he could not tell -- the ghost began to awaken to himself, becoming vaguely aware that he was lying there in the dust. He became aware that he was no longer in one piece. His skull lay alone, on top of a rock, with the rest of his bones strewn around it in the dirt.

He was nothing but a pile of dead bones, inert and motionless. But he began again to feel. He ached and yearned to move again. He yearned to move and speak. He ached so much he could not bear it.

So, he began to look for his pieces, to put them back together. First, he felt the round shape of his skull, enclosing what was left of his mind. His skull had no eyes, ears, or other sense organs, but he could see and hear with his spirit senses. He realized that his skull was not whole; the lower jaw was missing.

The ghost reached out with his spirit-senses to search the space around him. He found the jawbone lying on the ground a few feet away. He sent out a wispy, luminous filament of spirit-energy to draw it back to him -- but the moment his spirit touched the jawbone, he recoiled. The jaw was nothing but clean, dry bone, but its touch brought forth a hideous memory: something putrid, honeycombed with worms and pus, with the foul taste of rotting bone and pulp. Accompanying this loathesome image was a sensation of unbearable pain, throbbing, aching, burning; a sickening feeling of nausea and fever.

That jawbone was the very last thing that the ghost ever wanted to touch. But he knew that if he didn't put it back on, he'd never speak again. And he didn't want to go through all eternity without being able to talk.

So, he curled a luminous fiber of energy around the bone, and, slowly, bit by bit, began to tug it back towards him. With each inch that he moved it, more agonizing sensations filled his awareness. The ghost wanted to scream, but without a mouth, he couldn't make a sound.

Finally, he succeeded in moving the lower jaw into its proper position. Steeling himself, he popped the hinges of the jaw back into place.

Instantly, as the joint snapped back together, a terrifying memory erupted in his mind:

He was falling from an immense height, from a tree with green leaves. The blue sky was rushing away upward; the wind was roaring past him like a hurricane. Then, the ground struck him from beneath like an earthquake.  It seemed like the whole world around him was smashed, shattered, flattened by the terrible impact. He lay crushed, motionless, in agony beyond imagining.

It took the ghost a while to recover from the shock. He knew that what he had just seen and felt was impossible. Surely, nothing mortal could have survived such a fall to see or feel anything at all afterwards. And, if he was not mortal, what was he doing here in Xibalba?

But, his confusion had to remain unresolved for now. He tested his jaw, clacking it open and shut. He could make his mouth move as if he were talking, but he still had no words. He realized that he still had to find his teeth.

Again, he sent out his senses to search. His teeth were all scattered about, lying in the dust, or underneath rocks, or jumbled amidst his other bones. One by one, he picked them out from where they were hidden and drew them back to his mouth, setting each into its proper place. As each tooth went in, there was a stabbing jolt of pain, like a tooth being pulled, but in reverse. The teeth were just plain, white bone, but mixed together with the feelings came flashes of color, green, blue, aquamarine and turquoise, and strange hieroglyphic symbols. He saw the blue sky, the clouds.

As his teeth went back into place, his powers of language and reason also returned to him. His thoughts, which had previously been just swirling images, began to shape themselves into clear words. He was able to name and describe what he felt. He still hurt terribly, but his fear was eased, because the words gave him power and control over his experience.

Finally, his head was complete. He took a little time to savor his achievement: a polished, white skull perched on a rock like a throne, surrounded by the rest of himself. Then, he began to put together the remainder of his skeleton. With his wispy, coiling tendrils of ghost-mist, he found the bone pieces, one by one, and put them back where they belonged: the vertebrae of his neck, the sockets and blades of his shoulders, the long column of his back. As each piece was reattached, flashes of memory came with it, shards of visions and feelings.

As he put together the long bones of his arms, he saw himself standing in a cave, a mine, swinging a tool with powerful strokes, as he dug shining metals, crystals and gems out of the dark earth. From the bones of his hands, he received the feelings of touching a woman's flesh; the touch was tender and gentle, and the memory filled him with an inexpressible yearning and longing. With his fingers came the sensations of holding a stylus and quill pen, of writing and drawing, of skillfully making things. And his spine gave him the knowledge of carrying children on his back, lifting them on his shoulders, holding them up so they could see the moon and the sunrise.

[To be continued.]

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