"Gloom's Gift" is an extract from a work in progress, a book entitled
"The place where the heart is astounded"; the definitions at the
beginning of the piece would proceed it in the book.
The character Ibtissam Chalkidis is a Professor of Medicinal Mythology living
in the Crescent State of Lebanon in the 24th century (Kitab Djul Boch means
"The Book of Djul Boch"). The dreams she quotes are actual dreams,
most of which had a quite strong 'nightmarish' feel about them. I sent the piece
to Richard because, although taken completely out of context, I feel it gives
some sense of what might be gained from not running away from our nightmares.
It is my experience that anything deeply buried in our subconscious, when
encountered in dreams or visions ---for instance when a repressed side suddenly
"resurrects"--- brings with it a strong feeling of dread. This dread
feeling can be extremely repellent, yet if we can somehow abide with it, the
value of the repressed contents can come to light: the nigredo can transform.
overnight fall drops-
blackbirds guard the berry trees,
Nora Leonard firstname.lastname@example.org
*Accessing the Inner Oracle: astrology, tarot, dreamwork*
"Much madness is divinest sense." Emily Dickinson
(The definitions appear alone on a page; **indicates italic; >><<
means a section that is a displayed quote, i.e. indented and a smaller print
size; footnotes appear at the bottom of the page where they are noted, rather
than all at the end.)
[Bhatwan, *djul*, 'image', Klingon, *boch*, 'to shine']
Symbolic epiphanies; the meaning in dreams.
[prob. from Anglo Saxon, *glom*, 'twilight']
Obscurity, partial or total darkness, thick shade; depression or heaviness
of mind; melancholy.
[Arabic, literally 'striving']
Original creative thought that rises in a tensive opposition to the status
quo - both in groups and individuals - and fuels the evolution of ideas.
[Klingon, literally 'mind-maddened']
A temporary state of madness, either in the sense of insanity or rage or both.
People in a yab QeHqu' state are often said to have 'gone Begoch', referring to
the madness Kokele Begoch suffered after eating a poison fungus.
an extract from *Kitab Djul Boch* by Ibtissam Chalkidis
At a certain point in my life, I was forced to confront the fact that there
are many people who struggle to stay on the sunny side of any highway, always
seeking the positive, the silver in every cloud. These are the people who, when
the mad mood moves in, encourage you to lighten up or take
your depression elsewhere. Or ask what fault in you invited such a fall.
For a long while this view was only fodder to my fury. But then I came to
find others who knew the gift of the gloom, how to nurture it, to spin it into
>>The sun-sodden grass
is so green I feel it growing,
but in the shade of the yew
I sense a different kind of growth<<
No one actually invites depression; there aren't many willing to plunge into
those depths. Many years ago, it was discovered that certain desperate
depressions were caused by a chemical imbalance; a remedy was found, undoubtedly
to the good. Yet a dark fog settling upon the soul can be a
precursor of creation. And it takes a certain kind of bravery to keep the
watches of that night, for the human urge is to escape it, to distract, to run
>>I am travelling on a train, when suddenly it stops and goes into
>>I jump off and try to get the driver's attention - I am frantic,
>>for his help. A friend gets out and leads me to the side of the railway
>>embankment. And then suddenly we are sliding down into this huge
>>slate-grey abyss. I manage to stop about half-way down, but another
>>goes further. She ends up standing before a rock face stratified with
>>these incredible geometric formations. "We're down to the
>>layers," she says; I lose my grip and slide all the way to the
It often seems that some of the most creative people suffer, at one time or
another, from some form of madness, which if husbanded and sat with is capable
of yielding fruit. Even the murderous clouds of rage have a bounty
>>I am in my room, which is also part of a common enclosure. Outside,
>>tornado-like storms are gathering near. I reach up and pull down a hunk
>>of the storm that somehow belongs to me. As I hold it, the pitch-dark
>>cloud spins into a golden light that disappears upward. It is miraculous
The trick is indeed to hold it, to contain the dark mood, rather than repress
or deny it. Ancient alchemists knew the truth of this, stressing the need to put
a seal on the alembic, the vessel in which the nigredo can transform. To whit
the blackness which is often the first step in the
process, known as the bite of the rabid dog, or in Kokele Begoch's case, the
poison of the fungus that left her totally yab QeHqu'. Contained within the
stalwart embrace of Girrabene Tillel, who stayed with her throughout
her crisis, bequeathing unto all of us a paradigm of renewal.
The nigredo that is often the first step of the creative process doesn't
always manifest through madness; at times it comes in the perceived vivification
of something seemingly outward - a darkness that coalesces,
sounds we translate into a mad creature pacing, the innocuous incident that
haunts us for a day.
>>The shadows at the corner of my eye might quicken and take on shape,
>>dark behind a door bulk and beckon. I've learned not to look too
>>The spirits are shy, slow to trust - and why not. They are forever being
What do we lose from running from our ghosts, what gains do we forfeit by
surfacing too soon? And what does it mean when our own shadow seems anxious to
commune with us:
>>island of street light
startled by my shadow's twin
rushing up behind<<
Every mythic map marks a multitude of entrances and portals to a place where
nothing is as it seems and everything's for learning; we each trip the gateway
in our own mysterious way. For the millenial writer Eleanor
Byrne it was a series of death dreams and a book of mythical fragments.
Weaver Woman was entranced by the tap dance of a pony; Keret found his
calling while pondering a fruit.
Obsession can bring us teetering to an edge, for who can tell which crazy
calls will lead to our undoing, as compared to those portending the discovery of
our truest desires? What distinguishes the obsessive searching
of one, who - like Icarus - flies too close to the light only to come crashing,
from equally obsessive quests which have a more productive end?
In ancient times, the people of Egypt looked to the dawn rising of alpha
Canis Majoris as the herald of the yearly inundation of the Nile, the flood
that replenished fertility. But who can be certain that a beacon of
light is the prelude to the fecundity of wisdom and not some kind of breakdown?
What, we might ask, distinguishes ijtihad from other torments of the mind?
>>A woman is sharing my flat, helping me repair it. She removes these
>>outworn blinds, and when she leaves, this other woman appears who is
>>extremely distressed, her face red and blotchy. There is a miasma about
>>her, a kind of psychotic transference that I find very difficult to deal
>>with; standing there, listening to her, I feel myself begin to
She tells me her name is Vin Fleur ('flower of the vine'). As she becomes
more and more distressed, we go off to look for help. We end up in this stone
building which may be a church or synagogue. As Vin Fleur and I continue to fall
apart, I look around frantically for the everlasting
As Byrne experienced in this dream, it is extremely difficult to contain the
onset of creative madness, yet the chaotic flood itself carries the seeds of a
new order. The roanka guild of healers understood this when they
instituted their initiation; the fashioning of a quilt teaches one way of
finding sense in the fragmented remembrances that constitute our lives.
The ancient Phoenicians looked to Stella Maris to illuminate their
passage, the light in her lamp the noor majarra we still seek. And it is
something of astonishment that this light manifests in the most unexpected
circumstances. And yet
>>Sometimes I wish I'd never ventured on this journey, so tired am I of
>>sudden twists and turns. I want to root - to feast and savour on the
>>nuance of the moment. I get used to the light coming from a certain
>>direction, and at the very next dawn the star is rising at my
This little homily has not been built on the rock apparent of academic
inquiry; rather it roots in the unsteady sands of my own bit of mad. Keret was
bolstered in his quest by several timely apparitions. There are times I can only
reconcile my own experience - so mirrored in the heart and mind of a woman dead
over three hundred years ago - if I accept the insanity that she was me in
>>the lure unforseen
of an uncanny harbinger -
lux in tenebris<<
So this is my question, always, again and again. How prepared are you to face
your own madness; how far into the darkness would you follow your star? People
still go mad, they cross over a line that should have detained them. Yet beyond
the hint of instinct, who is to know which openings are dangerous? And how many
challenges not taken would have led to the place where the promise is fulfilled?
>>The gate is stiff
The garden has been neglected,
but I would not pull a weed
or dispossess a slug
so fragile is this mood
For now there are buds
and glints of green
that shimmer through
the dew of mourning
I have waited so long for this opening -
I tremble on the edge,
the precipice of Spring<<
1 Stanza five of "Meditation", from *New World Canticles* by
2 From *Dream Seeds: gleanings from the underworld* by Eleanor Byrne, #507.
3 Ibid., # 202. In this dream Byrne is confronted by a double task, the
separation of her own rage from that of her ancestors, and the coming to grips
4 Wandering Coyote, personal communication.
5 From *Haiku Diary*, by Eleanor Byrne.
6 Heroine of *Song of the Forge*, the legend told by the roanka guild
of healers as part of their initiation rite.
7 In the Ugaritic fragments, the regent of Khubur, hero of "The
Promise" and other tales in *The Yearning of Anat*.
8 The star named Sirius (after the Greek for 'sparkling', or 'scorching'),
sometimes identified with the goddess Isis.
9 *Dream Seeds*, #923.
10 "The star of the sea", name given to many ancient goddesses.
11 Wandering Coyote, personal communication.
12 "Light in darkness"; title of a ballet by 20th century Terran
choreographer Michael Glenn. Haiku by Eleanor Byrne.
13 "Eoster", by Eleanor Byrne.
in a lucid dream
allowing myself to fly
above the evergreens
Nora Leonard email@example.com
*Accessing the Inner Oracle: astrology, tarot, dreamwork*
"Weird is part of the business." Kathryn Janeway