We Are The Jewels At The Heart Of The Lotus.
That night I stepped through a kaleidoscopic portal into skylands where toes brushed stars and the horizon was indistinguishable from the rims of our eyelids.
We filled our pockets with prismatic stars contained within crystal nebulae. The galaxy lay at our feet, spiraling out from rocky old mine shafts and chicory tree roots. Everything above and below, within and without, is stardust. Everything is light.
It took a certain light for the stars to come alive in the soil, and once the indigo bulbs of our torches switched on, everything flipped upside down. I saw endless fields of crystals strewn across the Milky Way above me, and rolling black silhouetted hills dotted with stars all around me. We filled our pockets with stardust.
I felt the weight and clarity of their centuries of silent glowing secrecy, alight for no one to see.
Historically speaking, UV-reactive enhydro Herkimer crystals could only be found in a single remote region of the cradle of civilization. Before the wars that ravaged its neighbors, even before the Babylonian gods transformed what it meant to be human, there were little rocks of condensed starlight hidden in Pakistan.
It took millennia for man’s technology to reach a point when it could perceive their secret beauty. But once UV light shone on their humble surface, it revealed their bright rainbow bellies. Enhydro herkimers are a cousin of the Herkimer diamond, but which formed with tightly compressed petroleum droplets inside the clear carbon crystal casing.
Just the way a smear of oil on pavement will reflect unlikely colors of the spectrum, so too do these special little rocks contain crystallized color. They have been valued for their rarity, their beauty, and their mystery. As with a sage whose wisdom is buried in parable, only the ability to shift your perspective could reveal the true beauty of these gems.
One day, perhaps millions of years since their inception, they were unwittingly discovered all the way on the other side of the world, near the four corners of the Southwest, deep in the desert of Navajo country. Geoffrey, who discovered them, had been selling handpicked sage bundles on the Plaza downtown for 20 years.
But he is the only person I know whose dreams of riches proved realistic. And that night, he took me to his goldmine. He said one day he had been walking these dusty hills trying to figure out how so much glass ended up everywhere. He was so many miles from anyone, after all, and the ground was glinting with it.
He scooped some into his hands only to find he had stumbled on fields of quartz. He filled his pockets, and spent the next couple of decades giving it out like candy to friends and folks. These four corners are full of strange geology, none of it too valuable these days since the old prospectors and gold-diggers abandoned their pillaged mine shafts so long ago.
They, and everyone before them, just couldn’t see what was in front of them. We brought high-powered ultraviolet technology into the wilderness and lo, they were portals to another realm where brown scorpions are day-glow green and a snake slithers like an ayahuasca vision in blinding bright yellow curves across a star-strewn hillside.
Each crystal, on closer inspection, contains its own unique galaxy. In these there are far more colors than those found in Pakistan. And each color captivates, with layers and geometries that entrance and invite you into their world of microcosmic celestial beauty.
We filled our pockets with stars as we walked across the Milky Way, revealed only by narrow beams of indigo light that sliced through the dark desert night. And above, there was only sandy sky, dark soil littered with pebbles of white light, a ground we could not walk on as we hunted diamonds in terrestrial sky.
These little specs of stardust have co-opted the negative space behind our closed eyes, and filled in that darkness with visions of their prisms. Where once my beloved only ever dreamed of houses and travel, he now dreams of crystals. And houses filled with crystals and traveling to find them. They’ve kept their secret for thousands of years. But they revealed it to us.
They whispered in my ears like a blast of rappé to the brain and now I’ll share that secret with you. I’ll tell you what they’ve hidden from daylight and moonlight, from natives and colonists alike. But first, let’s explore what it means to be a crystal.
A crystal is a substance whose molecular arrangement is in an orderly, repeating pattern. In other words, it is in a formation, which allows it to store information such as in the case of a quartz-crystal-powered watch or computer. This arrangement alone changes the substance and its physical properties.
For example, coal and diamonds are fundamentally comprised of the same carbon building blocks. All that technically distinguishes them is their arrangement of carbon atoms, which is random and disorderly in coal, but in diamonds is patterned. That’s the only difference between crystal and stone.
Now consider that although this shift between disorderly matter and crystal matrix is visibly apparent in geology, it may not always be so obvious in other states. For example, water, whose constituents are hydrogen and oxygen, may be arranged in a crystal matrix or not, but appear to the naked eye as clear liquid either way. Only under a dark field microscope is the shift visible.
Again, sometimes you need to see things in another light to view their truth. Water has the potential to be a highly intelligent substance with both molecular memory and intrinsic consciousness. I know you already know that you’re 70% water by volume, but did you know that molecularly, 99% of your body is water molecules?
Depending on what kind of water you drink, and other lifestyle factors, your body itself may or may not actually be a living liquid crystal! The Earth as well is 70% water, but the most plentiful element on this planet is hydrogen, which comes from the Latin root hydro-, meaning water, and -gen, meaning creative. When hydrogen oxidizes, it creates water.
In fact, the entire universe is believed to be about 99% hydrogen as well. We are highly intelligent bodies of crystal water, alive on a watery planet, that is spiraling through a liquid universe. Even the air we breathe is scientifically classified as a liquid. It is time for a shift in perspective.
Magic may not be visibly apparent at all times, but I believe that cultivating the inner light from which to perceive it is crucial.
Shortly after my intrepid expedition into the Milky Way desert, I received a package in the mail from my godfather, Mark. I carefully sliced into the large cardboard box, burrowed into the popcorn and found another, smaller cardboard box. I slit it open, and excavated from the depths a third handcrafted box of burled maple wood.
The treasure chest contained only one precious jewel — inherited thrice before falling to me… a perfectly clear crystal sphere, originally scored from a Brazilian gypsy by Mark’s father. I turned the treasure over and over between my fingers, marveling at its unique skill. Everything it saw, it inverted. Every image, through its carbon matrix shone upside down.
A traditional tool for divination, crystal balls have been renowned throughout time for their perception, and for granting a new perspective. And finally, I understood why. The world is inside out, and it takes crystal clarity to truly perceive it.
In Tarot, an ancient archetypal lexicon for perceiving and translating the world, there is a card in the major arcana which keeps surfacing to the top of my deck. The hanged man, serenely suspended by one foot from the world tree, succinctly embodies the quest to see from a new perspective.
Dangling between the mundane and spiritual worlds, he is able to perceive both. It is a dazzling moment, weightless as if underwater, dreamlike yet crystal clear. It’s the transcendent moment of topsy-turvy serenity when you think that in a universe which stretches endlessly in all directions, there is no up or down, no orientation, nor any direction. It is dizzying.
If you take a video of sleeping bats and flip it upside down, it looks like they are dancing. But no zoology book will ever tell you what amazing moves they have. And yet, all day, between nocturnal flights, they dance. We are so blinded by our perspectives that we know nearly nothing of the world we live in.
Some quantum physicists theorize that we may actually be living backward in time. Perhaps we are already ancient and wise, advising our younger species how to evolve itself. The bizarreness of quantum realities has juggled the jigsaw pieces of existence such that the past can, in fact, be altered by the future.
A study at Washington University found that knowing the future outcome of a particle also changes its initial state. So if time is just our subjective, emergent interaction with space, then perhaps we have more influence over it than we assume.
One theory postulates that at the moment of the hypothetical Big Bang, a mirror universe to our own was created that moves in the opposite direction through time. Beings in that realm would perceive us as being backwards. Sometimes I agree.
If we are open to it, there is communion between the two realities all the time, since the quantum world is the shared underlying material of both. Paradox is intrinsic. But there’s a unifying thread that ties it all together in a great cosmic joke.
The French word énouement means the bittersweetness of having arrived in the future, seeing how things turn out, but not being able to tell your past self. Perhaps, like all suffering, that is a self-inflicted illusion as well.
Many years ago, a friend shared with me a nightly sadhana he had practiced for nearly a decade. Each evening, without fail, he makes time to sit in meditation and guide himself through the day he just lived, advising and supporting his past self. He then moves backwards in time, sending psychic aid to the man he was a week, a month, or a decade ago.
He has stayed so consistent and reliable in cultivating this practice that he’s developed profound trust in himself, and security in the intuitive wisdom he experiences from his future at any moment in his waking life. He is never alone. He continually feels the comfort and reflection of an older, wiser self.
Ellipsism is the sadness that you will never be able to know how history will turn out. It is a feeling I presume my friend will never suffer.
A few weeks ago, I spent the night with my liquid grandmother. Her acrid sludgy medicine slithered like snakes through my meridians. She was mean and merciless towards me, and I was a coward. But that is another story. Her first greeting was to turn me inside out completely.
Suddenly the songs sung around me emanated from vast chambers inside me. My thoughts were not my own, but floated in the space around me. I could hear the rushing in my own veins like a conch shell pressed to my ear, and my heartbeat drummed a pressured pulse on to my skin as though trying to lean its way back into me.
Inside out, everything had turned into sound, even sensation became sonic. Everything is always sound vibration at its essence, I suppose, but it took transposing my internal and external hearing to feel that. The body is musical, always humming. The world is lyrical, always singing. Life is a symphony we are mostly deaf to.
Before a baby is born, it flips upside down inside the womb to emerge from chrysalism headfirst, turning inside out to the world and upside down for its first eye-opening. We are born with the wisdom to see from a different perspective. All I want to know is this: is that first breath an inhale or an exhale?
Seeing the hanged man on my altar, I couldn’t touch it. It was too far away. So I walked outside and hung upside down by my knees on a tree branch in my backyard. The sun was setting under the mountains, rising up to meet the horizon at dusk. A cloud below me, past the treetop, opened up and down poured its liquid crystal droplets.
One landed straight up my left nostril. I snorted, understanding the card on my altar inside. The hanged man is a coyote, a trickster just like all those playful elusive little particles that scientists strive forever in vain to pin down. Like the jewel at the heart of a lotus, like the crystals who keep their secrets invisible to daylight, the particles are furtively enigmatic.
You can never know both a particle’s location and direction — just blink, and it’s gone! Turned into a wave, or perhaps hopped over into a backwards dimension of time. I pulled the glass ball down from my pocket and held it up to the fading light. What was upside down was now flipped right side up through the crystal lens.
And the beads of water on the other side of its smooth surface reversed the view once again upside down like tiny little glimpses into other switched dimensions as they splashed and dripped off the sphere, from the sky towards the top of my head. Mesmerized, I lost track of all direction.
Eventually, I thought I might drown from the water spilling into my nose, and I got off the tree with a heavy swoosh of blood into my legs. It made me feel grounded, rooted and embodied in my feet. I had a new appreciation for why indigenous traditions hold the seven directions so sacred.
They are invoked before any ceremony, East, South, West, North, Above, Below and Within. Those guides orient us to our place in the universe. They keep us from floating away and disappearing like a wayward quark. We live in the center of a medicine wheel that is always spinning.
We are the jewels at the heart of the lotus, and we are the water sacrificed to feed its roots and keep it alive and growing.
I find myself amidst my nodus tollens, realizing that the plot of my life doesn’t make sense anymore. I feel the onism of limitation to one body that inhabits only one place at one time, and the occhiolism of being acutely aware of the smallness of my perspective. Instead of waiting for my deus ex machina, I took the plot and twisted it myself.
I wrung it upside down and saw it in a new light. Regardless of whether I’m living forward or backward, I can meet myself at the crossing of the present moment. There is magic in this world for those with eyes to see it. The unconscious mind perceives 11 million pieces of information per second, yet we are only conscious of 40 of those.
We cannot ever presume to learn a bat’s dance moves if we don’t stand on our heads. We are blind to so much, but most tragically we are blind to our own inner truth. Just like the herkimers, who hide nebulae behind apparent mediocrity, you bear the universe within your crystalline, watery, star-stuff body.
Sometimes all it takes is a flashlight that glows indigo, or your own pineal gland’s photo receptors, to see things in their true light. What else might we look at every day and never fully see? What else can we flip upside down, inside out, to know more completely?
Here is the secret the crystals kept for millennia and finally revealed in a technicolor revelation: There is no objective truth. No sacred, no profane. No mundane and no magic. There is only the light we ourselves cast upon the canvas of our perceptions. That is the only color in a dull gray existence, and the only forward momentum in a backwards world.
And if you can’t enjoy a good paradox, you’ll never have any fun with Spirit’s sense of humor.
“Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority” ~ Francis Bacon
Isabel Friend is a wordsmith, jeweller, dancer, incurable gypsy wanderer, nutritionist, yoga teacher, biker chick, wild qalandar, and psychonautic cosmogyral redamancer. She is currently working on accumulating ever more nouns and adjectives to hang upon her name and laugh at.