Fiery Water

But of this secret mercury; if you desire,
the secret for to learn, attend to me:
For this is a water which yet is fire,
which conquers bodies from their degree,
and makes them fly much like a spirit pure,
and this after fixing all flames to endure.

This water it doth flow from a fourfold spring,
which is but three, which two, and which but one,
is the only bath to bathe our king,
This is our maydew, this our flying stone;
our bird of Hermes in the mountains flying,
and without voice or note is always crying.

Marrow of Alchemy, George Starkey

Ocean Dragon; Penetrated Stone

As far as dreams go, it couldn’t have got much stranger, and that’s saying something. For a start, it was vivid – as real-seeming as the waking day – and for a second it was so utterly weird that it scared me the  next day to even think about it. I thought I’d already out-weirded weirdness, but it seems not; my inner capacity to completely surprise myself is still very much intact. It began like this:

At the moment I became fully conscious, I found that I was travelling across the grey ocean at an incredibly rapid pace with the utmost sense of urgency. I wondered for a split second just how it was that I came to be travelling so quickly – surely I couldn’t swim that fast?! – but so very quickly was I moving, that before I had to think for longer, I’d arrived at the shore.

I know that I stood upright, and before looking ahead cast a glance back over my shoulder at the water, which was neither completely calm nor especially stormy; an ordinary day at sea, I would say. Why did I look back? Well, a very quiet voice in my head told me there might have been a whale in sight, but what Icaught sight of was a creature I called a ‘Dolphin’, but which in fact looked nothing like one of those creatures. The gigantic grey hump covered in upright triangular fins was actually more dragon like, resembling no other animal  that I’ve ever seen before. I would have been surprised or looked for longer if I hadn’t become almost instantly – and acutely – aware of some terrible danger afoot on the shore.

As I looked ahead at the land for the first time, the sense of overwhelming urgency and danger struck me once again and it was then that I had first realised that the scenario was – even for a dream – remarkably surreal, for the simple reason, perhaps, that it seemed so palpably real. Somehow I was there, but what was I to do? My sense of being on some sort of undefined mission was as intense as the feeling that I must act with lightening speed. Why, I do not know. Here is what I saw in front of me:

It was broad daylight and the sky was blue. Directly in front of me was a wide but dusty path that together with the clarity of light gave me the impression of the desert or Middle East. Perhaps the sense of location was symbolic, because I had a definite impression of being in some kind of war zone, that I – or anyone else in the vicinity – could be shot down dead in an instant. Who by? Although I could not see the enemy – or fierce guardian of that dry territory – I had a definite impression of there being snipers that were lying in wait very nearby, but evidently out of view. This was not all I saw.

Directly ahead, standing partway along this path in the middle distance, was a man with short dark hair and a long white robe, who rather than looking at me, was staring into the middle distance. The site of him filled me with an unfathomable combination of awe and near panic, and all I knew was that I needed to negotiate the minefield in order to be myself where this uniquely statuesque spirit was standing immobile, watching the moving sea. As fast as it’s possible for one to move, I went in his direction.

The next thing I knew, I was inside a stone that was located just behind the place where he’d been standing. The stone was rectangular, like some kind of box, about the width of two people and high enough inside for me to crouch but not stand. A gap of about 10 inches at the bottom gave me light enough to look around at the inner walls of that cold, dry stone, and with a shiver I wondered if it was the kind of place where insects would be hiding. I nervously looked at the left wall, the ceiling and the right wall, noting with some relief that there did not appear to be any cockroaches keeping me company. At a certain moment I wondered if ‘he’ was still standing outside, in front of the stone, and bent my hand to look through the gap. Time to get out, I thought, registering a moment later that the coast was clear.