Electric Dreams

"Gloom's Gift"

Nora Leonard 

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Leonard, Nora (2000 Oct). "Gloom's Gift"  Electric Dreams 7(10). Retrieved December 30, 2001 on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

"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.

Nora Leonard

overnight fall drops-
blackbirds guard the berry trees,
silently alert

Nora Leonard nleonard@vatamoen.u-net.com
*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.)

First page:

*djul boch*

[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.

*yab QeHqu'*

[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.


"Gloom's Gift"

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 gold.

>>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[1]<<

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 away.

>>I am travelling on a train, when suddenly it stops and goes into reverse.
>>I jump off and try to get the driver's attention - I am frantic, pleading
>>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 woman
>>goes further. She ends up standing before a rock face stratified with
>>these incredible geometric formations. "We're down to the geological
>>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
to offer:

>>I am in my room, which is also part of a common enclosure. Outside, large
>>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
>>to watch.[3]<<

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, the
>>dark behind a door bulk and beckon. I've learned not to look too closely.
>>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[5]<<

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[6] was entranced by the tap dance of a pony; Keret[7] 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[8] 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[10] 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 the
>>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 back.[11]<<

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 another life.

>>the lure unforseen
of an uncanny harbinger -
lux in tenebris[12]<<

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[13]<<

1 Stanza five of "Meditation", from *New World Canticles* by Eleanor Byrne.
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 with it.
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 nleonard@vatamoen.u-net.com
*Accessing the Inner Oracle: astrology, tarot, dreamwork*

"Weird is part of the business." Kathryn Janeway