- Mark Twain
This is a strange time of year but you don’t need to tell me to tell you that.
This is a really strange time of year in a really strange year but you don’t need me to tell you that either.
For instance, lately it seems the more I sleep the less well I am actually sleeping. The dream realm is awash with people and places past.
One in particular has been Gecko.
It strikes me that there should be a word somewhere in between ‘animal spirit guide’ and ‘familiar’ and ‘teacher’ for the category of being best described ‘special guest acquaintance who is not overly hostile to you for reasons of his or her own.’ I bet the Germans have a word for it. They always do.
This is Gecko for me.
Such as these things can be worked out by dedicated honkies operating outside an initiatory shamanic tradition but still willing to… you know… seek one out in a serious and respectful way, my principal animal spirit companion is Green Sea Turtle.
Sidebar: I have this theory that you have found your principal animal spirit companion when you, at least initially, feel faintly disappointed with the result. Because obviously I would want mine to be some kind of shark. (Although Tiger Shark does eat Green Sea Turtle so there’s at least a connection.) Everyone wants the awesome animals. However, from the vantage point of 17 years after contact, Green Sea Turtle feels oddly appropriate. It’s an animal without a home but with a significant birthplace, it travels the planet episodically appearing on distant shores. It’s also excellent for journeying. Plus, it picked me so to a greater extent my preferences are moot, anyway.
Gecko provides a new perspective on situations. It appears and disappears, observing the worlds from the corner of the ceiling or from beneath the window. Gecko sees sideways where we only see forward. A Gecko visitation is like finding an extradimensional flipbook under your pillow. If there’s a through-line between the images it almost-always eludes me.
Page one is usually Gecko.
* * *
The sound of Gecko’s nocturnal click click click takes me back to the summers of my childhood, each year in Fiji or the Solomons or Samoa. When I hear that sound in the dream realm I know someone is about to abruptly change the channel.
This is the time of year for thinking about Ancestors, and Gecko is acknowledged as an ancestral spirit right across the Pacific. In New Caledonia, he is called Pili and he is their ‘grand totem’… the ancestor and guide of all New Caledonians. My mind is pulled back to my time in New Caledonia.
I watch the gecko on the wall of the reclaimed barracks in Nouméa’s Old Town where I am learning French. In the afternoons after class, my school friend and I would buy packets of cigarettes for a dollar and go walking around the harbour, arguing about God. (He was the Catholic who lost his faith when his priest turned out to be a kiddie fiddler a few years ago.)
Like any adolescent with 18 months of magical experience, I had all the arguments on lock. And I delighted in playing infantile games of ‘divine logic mousetrap’ with unsuspecting Christians. Or, at least, I did until this trip.
Because one afternoon I really hurt him. I had picked and picked and picked until I had unpicked a faith he was using to cope with the loss of his beloved grandfather. He quite rightly storms off and I head down to the beach to get some advice.
As the sun sets, I draw a circle in the sand and invoke the Goddess. She appears on the horizon, arms raised and enormous, all in emerald green. I can’t see her head. The message is clear. I can’t see the face of the divine so shut the fuck up. It’s not that she is headless, it’s that her head is elsewhere, like it’s deliberately bent backwards into another dimension.
Head elsewhere. I hear that again fifteen years later. Some place where I am also hearing French again.
Gecko flips to another page.
* * *
It’s two years ago and my sister and I are in Paris for New Years. This is my first opportunity to spend any length of time with her new French boyfriend that she now lives with in Shanghai.
She lived in the area for years so my sister chooses the restaurant. We all sit down and her boyfriend comments that my sister has mentioned my interest in the occult. “That’s excellent,” he says.
My sister translates the name of the restaurant for me. It means off your head. Her boyfriend shakes his head. “Non, that’s not it exactly. La tête ailleurs is the head elsewhere. It does not mean smashed like drunk or drugs it means… it means…”
Off with the fairies? I suggest.
* * *
Off with the fairies. Paris. Sitting here in London my mind leaps to Jacques Vallée and this inciting incident in Paris that led to his decades of study into the UFO phenomenon. He was working as an astronomer when he witnessed a satellite performing a retrograde orbit of the earth -something rocket technology could not do at the time. One of his superiors came in and destroyed the tracking tapes.
Decades later, this is from one of his books, Dimensions:
It would be nice to hold on to the common belief that the UFOs are craft from a superior space civilization, because this is a hypothesis science fiction has made widely acceptable and because we are not altogether unprepared, scientifically and even, perhaps, militarily, to deal with such visitors.
Unfortunately, however, the theory that flying saucers are material objects from outer space manned by a race originating on some other planet is not a good answer. However strong the current belief in UFOs from space, it cannot be stronger than the Celtic faith in the elves and the fairies, or the medieval belief in lutins, or the fear throughout the Christian lands, in the first centuries of our era, of demons and satyrs and fauns. Certainly, it cannot be stronger than the faith that inspired the early contributions to the Bible – a faith that seems rooted in personal experiences regarded as angelic visitation.
Those who assume that modern UFO sightings must be the result of alien experiments – of a “scientific” or even “superscientific” nature – conducted by a race of space travelers may be the victims of their ignorance of the old folklore. The academic pedants, through a common bias that psychologists could perhaps explain if they were not its first victims, have covered the fairy-faith with the same ridicule as other pedants now cover the UFO phenomenon. Such tales set in motion powerful mental mechanisms making acceptance of the facts very difficult. The facts in question ignore frontiers, creeds, and races, defy rational statement, and turn around the most logical expectations as if they were mere toys.
The same power attributed to saucer people was once the exclusive property of fairies. This was believed by ignorant medieval peasants and scholars as well. Thus, one of the first questions put to Joan of Arc by her inquisitors was “if she had any knowledge or if she had not assisted at the assemblies held at the fountain of the fairies, near Domremy, around which dance malignant spirits.”
What does it all mean? Is it reasonable to draw a parallel between religious apparitions, the fairy-faith, the reports of dwarf-like beings with supernatural powers, the airship tales in the United States in the [nineteenth] century, and the present stories of UFO landings? I would strongly argue that it is – for one simple reason: the mechanisms that have generated the various beliefs are identical. Their human context and their effect on humans are constant. The observation of this very deep mechanism is crucial. It has little to do with the problem of knowing whether UFOs are physical objects or not. Attempting to understand the meaning, the purpose, of the so-called flying saucers, as many people are doing today, is just as futile as was the pursuit of the fairies, if one makes the mistake of confusing appearance and reality. The phenomenon has stable, invariant features, some of which we have tried to identify and label clearly. But we have also had to note carefully the chameleon-like character of the secondary attributes of the sightings: the shapes of the objects, the appearances of their occupants, and their reported statements vary as a function of the cultural environment into which they are projected.
“Click click click.”
* * *
Fiji. New Caledonia. Paris. London… back to Fiji. One rainy Easter, a basket weaver told me the story of Adi-Mailagu:
One day, Adi-Mailagu descended from the sky and landed in a river. She emerged out of the water in the shape of a grey rat. She also appeared to men either as a beautiful woman or a short, angry hag with a yard-long tongue hanging out of her mouth. Sacrifices were offered to her and finally she answered the priests’ questions about the future. If she visited an eager man at nightfall, in the guise of the lovely girl, he would surely die. She used to live in a tree that was shaped like the grey tree rat but when the tree was cut down she was never seen again.
The story reminds me of a particular subset of the abduction phenomenon depicted in my most recent oracle purchase that I am calibrating today. It’s one I have some childhood experience with. Hag entity attacks:
I wouldn’t rush to recommend the UFO Tarot if accuracy is something you value in your oracles. (Although, if you ask me, accuracy is an overemphasised oracular function.) The Neighbours already have a propensity to troll and those that present themselves in the garb of UFO phenomena are the trolliest of all. Back to Dimensions:
The proposition that the universe might contain intelligent creatures exhibiting such an organization that no model of it could be constructed on the basis of current human concepts is also theoretically plausible. The behavior of such beings would necessarily appear random or absurd or would go undetected, especially if these beings possessed physical means of retiring at will beyond the human perceptual range, or into other dimensions.
The entities’ reported behavior is as consistently absurd as the appearance of their craft is ludicrous. In numerous instances of verbal communications with them, their assertions have been systematically misleading. This is true for all cases on record, from encounters with the Gentry in the British Isles to conversations with airship engineers during the 1897 Midwest flap and discussions with the alleged Martians in Europe, North and South America, and elsewhere. This absurd behavior has had the effect of keeping professional scientists away from the area where that activity was taking place. It has also served to give the saucer myth its religious and mystical overtones.
You ever wonder what your dog thinks about your human behaviour? What does talking on a telephone look like to a dog? Or riding an exercycle in your spare room or making it obey patently arbitrary commands like “sit” or “shake hands”?
As Jacques Vallée says, “just because a message comes from Heaven doesn’t mean it’s not stupid.”
“Click click click.”
* * *
The last page in Gecko’s book appears to me as I approach the conclusion to this post. For the first time in years I recall a legend I heard while studying the appearance of Sundaland in myth for my final-year university assignment in Sydney. This is from Pacific Mythology: An Encyclopedia of Myth and Legend:
The Dayaks of Kalimantan (Borneo/modern Sundaland) tell of the existence of a group of beings called Sangiang, usually translated as demi-gods. The same word, Sangiangm is also found in Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi and is the equivalent of Sanian in the Philippines.
According to the Dayaks, the Sangiang used to live on earth until men invented iron and became dangerous. They then left and went to live in the celestial sphere above the clouds.
Tempon Telon is the only Sangiang to whome regular prayers are addressed. He conducts the souls of the dead to Soul Land. His brother Lilang is invoked by fishermen when they are in a dangerous storm, hoping that he may ‘part the waves and make a path’. When the danger has been averted, tobacco is thrown into the sea. Lilang’s companion, Asai, is the God of the Pioneers. On land he cuts down trees with his knife-edged shinbones. At sea he stands on the bow, his fiery body like a beacon in the night.
What does that sound like to you, other than ‘clearly absurd when viewed from a human perspective’? Exactly. If there’s a through-line to extradimensional behaviour, I’m fucked if I know what it is.
Somebody’s spinning, somewhere. You can count on that.
“Click click click.”