I am walking up the steps of a pyramid surrounded by elaborately and heavily costumed priests. It is night. Chanting and drumbeats accompany our ascent. In the torchlight my naked body glistens with aromatic oils. We stop at each step for necessary incantations to resound.
Aroon, aroon, hsibab aroon!!
I have made an agreement – an agreement that involves my soul. My agreement is required for the ceremony to succeed, for the Lord of Darkness to be intimately joined to my people. I have said yes. And my soul will be forever bound in servitude.
Step by step we ascend. The potion I have drunk makes my head reel and brings visions that are terrifying to behold.
Step by step we come closer to the top. I feel the stone beneath my feet. Stone, stone, stone. Its vibration comes up into me.
I feel the turning of worlds. I spin.
At the top I am bent backward over the sacrificial stone, my chest stretched open, my head thrown back. The chief priest raises his curved stone knife and begins his chant. He is skilled in removing the heart while it is still beating.
From this position my eyes become fixed on a bright star. It becomes brighter and brighter. Its light fills me.
I break free and I say No.
Anger, chaos, confusion all around. My body is coated with pitch and I am lowered feet first into the fire pit. The body of the chief priest who picked me as the best candidate fares even worse.
A few thousand years pass. And this memory returns. My feet begin to burn. They turn red every night as I try to fall asleep. And I am troubled, deeply troubled. Something in me is not clear. What to do?
Decision to return to the pyramid with a facilitator. The journey is successful. The experience is relived as described above but then… . What is there that can counter all those incantations, those spells, the terror of that decision rescinded in the nick of time? Both the facilitator and I are at a loss until, somehow, one of us, I don’t remember who, remembers the law that one must ask in order to receive. We do.
A tall figure full of light appears by my side. The scene on the pyramid is still there but the light from this figure is such that the ancient scene appears diminished, faded – like a painted scene shrinking away. I look up into a smiling face. And I see that, as this look is exchanged, something is being conveyed into me, deliberately, with kind intent, something precious for which the smile is only the barest indication. It is a substance that is complex, rich and, above all, alive and full of light.
I am no longer alone. And never have been and never will be. But now I know, I am aware that I am accompanied.
And my feet no longer burn.