A initiatory journey

Matthieu Grobli

I am about to tell a story which is mysterious and intriguing. It is the story of a recluse caught between the heaviness of a body which day by day becomes exhausted and the soul which always escapes, story of one man in the search of a god who always remains silent.

It all began on a beautiful summer night, I was in my bedroom and I hopelessly sought to give a goal to my existence. Lying on my back, on my comfortable bed, arms behind my head and legs crossed, I was dreaming about a phantasmagorical life where men would be free and equal, a life deprived of hatred and jealousy, a peaceful world without violence nor fear where joy and harmony could reign.

This utopian world that I had succeeded in building in my head, represented the fruit of my hope.

We would all like to enjoy the delights of such a Paradise, but what do we do for that? Men only like to take pleasure in the idleness and complain all the time. They cry over their bad luck while waiting for providence to save them. But, I refused to remain passive by thinking that the contingencies of life would be favourable for me. I simply had to give a meaning to my life. Then, I took the firm decision to stop thinking and start acting. Jumping out of the bed, I found myself on the right of the bedside, standing on both feet.

Then, with the strong conviction of what I wanted to undertake, I walked with authority towards the bathroom where I had appointment with myself. As soon as I entered the room, I stood right in front of a large mirror bordered by bright tiles.
First, I remained perplexed on my appearance since the reflexion of my face on the polished glass was quite identical to the one I had seen each time I had looked myself in a mirror, with the difference that, this time, I had dark shadows under my eyes and dishevelled hair. Staring at my image in the mirror, I questioned myself: « What did this face represent? » « Which was the symbolic meaning of this double? »

This reflection symbolised the I which was not truly me, to some extent the Other’s look . Thus, when we look at ourselves in the mythical mirror we become aware of the importance of the Other’s look in our existence, because it represents the angular stone essential to the foundation of humanism: « it is by the Other one that I am, it is by the Other one that I exist ».

Relieved by what I had just understood, I turned away from the Mirror when suddenly, sporadic flashes flooded my thoughts. I had just found an escape to this alienating, stressing and scary society as I left, alone, on a boat for the conquest of the Graal.

Throwing some clothes in my suitcase,I was soon navigating on the seas, looking for an exciting adventure that would bring plenty of emotions.

Chapter2: The Quest

I had been sailing for nearly two months on the oceans, drifting away, without much hope and each day at the same hour, I had been visited by the sun which came to comfort me, until the end of the day.

From the port-hole of my cabin, I could see the moon gleaming on the blue surface of the ocean and I admired, while small disparate clouds travelled in the night, the silent depths of the firmament where the constellations- letters of fire- reflected the mysteries of the infinite . I let the winds and the rolling of the swell take control over me, sailing towards an unknown destination, on an immense blue ocean, attracted by the bewitching melody of the mermaids calling me.

Not knowing where to go, I floated like a buoy, animated by a storm of desires. I felt catapulted by gigantic waves which transported me more and more quickly as if they were going to take me towards my aspirations. Carried by the floods, I was optimistic and determined even if this somewhat strange situation gave the impression to search for a needle in a haystack. After months without noticeable success, still sailing adrift like a pilgrim on his ship, I started to doubt and to lose any hope about the possibilities and chances to catch a glimpse of this thing so coveted by the world and yet so hard to find. So I decided to use every assets at my disposal and I started to shout as loud as I could: « Love where are you? », « Love show yourself”.

But I had the feeling to preach in the desert as the echo of my voice returned to me like a boomerang. Falling on my knees, I raised my hands towards the sky, requesting God to help me. If only the skies had opened and, in a cloud of smoke, this benefactor had come down, the only one able to bring light in this dark search. In reality, I did not even know what love was. Was it a thing? Was it a state of being? Was it a feeling? All that I knew is that I was dependent on this Love and that I absolutely had to find it. But how could I look for something I did not know?

I had only a slightest idea on its meaning, but nothing conclusive . I only remembered what I had always been told:  » Love is patient, full of kindness, demands everything, believes everything, hopes for everything, supports everything and is imperishable ». I gathered on the one hand that if this Love was never to die, I had a chance to come close , but I the discovery that Love was timeless made me burst in tears.

I had just realised that Love was everywhere and in everyone and that we did not have to look for it to find it, nor even to ask for it to get it, but that it was just necessary to hold out one’s hand and take it since it was just near us.

Chapter 3: Murderous Storm

After this little moment of reflexion which transported me in total plenitude, I went on the deck of my boat, to enjoy the beautiful starlight night, where the freshness of the north wind wrapped me its silk cloths. I was there, scanning the pitch dark horizon , my arms crossed and my face lit by the moon. In the wake of the boat, I made out a long furrow of foam which spread out ad infinitum . This calm spell was suddenly replaced by a turmoil in which the whistle of the gusts of wind and the crash of the waves against the hull of my boat announced the imminence of a furious storm.
Unable to resist any longer the pressure of the impetuous winds, the sail cloths inflated and stiffened so much so that they yielded brutally from the fastener of the mast. I returned sneakily inside my cabin to notice that on the dashboard the needle of the anemometer was panicking. I tried to maintain firmly the rudder in order to keep the course with starboard, but I understood that my efforts were hopeless. It as a waste of time to try to maintain the direction: the boat reeled in all directions, battered by the tumultuous ocean. Sometimes Nature recalls its supremacy to Mankind and becomes pitiless.

But I, fearless explorer, could not bear to be dictated by a « whimsical » sea. So, I lit my pipe, I straightened my cap and, I stepped resolutely inside the cabin.

Hardly had I put the end of my nose outside, that a gust of wind whipped my face with such a violence that my glasses exploded. I tried to catch them but they were already lost far in the meanders of the ocean. Holding my pipe and my hat, I progressed, head lowered, towards the mast which had broken where it held the sails, hoping to fix it, but without success since the damage was so significant. I fought hard against these unbridled waves and these violent gusts of winds which struck the windward side of my boat. I was very quickly overcome by the powerful tornado which had deployed, in the battle, the totality of its arsenal.

Everything had happened so fast. The clouds gorged with water had first gathered in a gloomy sky, then, suddenly the storm had burst. Electric flashes of lighting followed by clasps of thunder had streaked the skies all over and a pouring rain had fallen down on the boat.

The convulsions of the unleashed sea deployed gigantic waves which fell down and disaggregated on the hull of my boat and the undertow which resulted from it literally made the waves explode on my face. Tossed about on the wild floods of a reckless sea, my boat was inevitably heading towards the eye of the storm.

I was the victim of an angry sea which formed waves from five to six meters high, ready to smash into my boat and to swallow it up in its floods. The swirl that looked like a black hole had come closer and closer and threatened to draw us up in its infernal spiral. The eye of the storm was not very far now and confrontation appeared inevitable. Suddenly, I was sucked inside and integrated in one of the curves.

Finally lost the unbalanced fight and I fell towards the bottom of the sea with my boat which landed thousands feet under the seas. But what had happened to me?

Chapter 4: On a mysterious island

I was lying on the wet sand of an unknown beach, watching the numerous little animals caught between the rocks where the frenetic ballet of a multi-coloured ophidians captivated my attention.

Then, I remained there, admiring the azure sky which gleamed on the almost limpid stretch of water while the waves broke and covered my feet with foam and tiny crabs gifted with an incredible swiftness moved near my scaly limbs. All around me, I noticed a cemetery of translucent animals which decorated the gilded sand of the splendid beach. I understood very quickly that they were jellyfishes and that I should avoid their contact if I did not want to suffer from skin burns and corrosions .

Somewhat frightened by this rather morbid environment, I took the wise decision to leave this place as fast as possible. For what destination? I did not have any idea . In the end, I did not even know where I was. What could be more distressing than to be alone, in an unknown place, away from any civilization, without support nor bearings? Slowly, I stretched myself on the sand, touching my joints in order to evaluate my physical health. Amazingly, I had nothing broken. My limbs were just stiff and a bit sore. How was this possible after such a shipwreck? After a few moments, I stood up and began walking.

I was in search of an oasis in which water would not dry up, of a haven of peace after this racket, of a small island of undergrowth in this desert, and walking under the heat wave, my body dripping with sweat and my lips dry, I peered and saw an immutable horizon. The ergs resembled large waves and the beach an ocean of sadness. I was carried away without resistance by the arid floods and the hot and dry winds like the wind vane pushed by the wind force . The desert looked like a diamond mine with multiple facets which gleamed and reflected the rays of the sun. Above this scintillating surface of beauty, the solar disc watched, with a piercing glance, everything below.
In my line of sight, I could see, through the swirls of sand which impaired my sight considerably, a figure… and I walked in this direction. In my progression, the gusts of wind came to strike me with an extreme violence and I has to protect my face by covering my head with a piece of fabric . Both dazzled and blinded, I carried on without knowing precisely where I went, feeling the pain caused by the impact of the tiny sand grains which hit my skin. The heat was torrid on this beach and the sweat exhaled from my glands to evaporate at once on my tanned skin. I was dehydrating and I did not have any water. I had to dip into my guts, the energy necessary for my survival.

Suddenly, I felt within myself an inchoative will which propelled me in a field of hope and gave me enough strength to carry on walking. I climbed then tumbled down the mounds like a boat carried by the rolling of the swell. My rags could testified for my poor condition and I put one foot after the other on the burning sand, a little like a lizard crossing the dunes of the Sahara. Lacking the swiftness and of courage, I stumbled and lost conscience as I fell, my face hitting the ground, unconscious.

A moment later, I opened my eyes slowly. My vision was hazy. I rubbed the eyes vigorously and I saw the faint yellow line disappear at the horizon and my heart was overwhelmed by a flood of melancholy and nostalgia.
Moved by such a beautiful view, my tears ran down my cheeks demonstrating my love and happiness. Breathless, I started to crawl towards what looked like a forest at the horizon.

What could happened to me in such an environment? Was the island populated? As many questions which had no answer until I went past the edge of the forest to penetrate more deeply.

Chapter 5: Life, a jungle

Pushed by curiosity, I made my way towards the luxuriant clearing I could distinguish few yards away. It was a rather dense forest, dominated by some sixty meter giant trees very bushy at the top, thus acting as a parasol sheltering the damp under wood which swarming with woodlice and ants hidden under the dead leaves in putrefaction. Underneath these tall trees, other trees, robust and with thick green foliage, had creepers and visible roots hanging on the rich earth of the forest. While going deeper inside the forest, I could hear the soft music of the crickets and the birds which carried out in symphony a splendid concerto which seemed to announce a peaceful night.

I glanced towards the firmament, and I did not have much time before the twilight so I took the initiative to find a safe shelter to spend the night.

But how is it possible to hope to be safe when you are alone, surrounded by ravenous big cats , poisonous snakes and several other wild animals?

I started to collect branches in order to make a wood fire. Throughout my peregrination, I was selecting only desiccated branches and twigs when I noticed, lying in the undergrowth, an enormous snake. It raised its thick body slowly, swelled its red peak and its eyes lit up in hideous head framed by shining/glistening scales

Instinctively, I kicked it violently in the head with the stick which I had just picked up and the reptile disappeared in the tall grass. When I had gathered enough wood, I placed the firewood somewhere dry and I crouched down a moment to think. The easiest thing had been done. Now I had to light the fire with the archaic method of the two wood ends. One had to be put in the ground and support the other which was embedded in a slit containing some dry twigs. After rubbing them together for a while some smoke came out from the twigs. Then, I blew gently on it to stir up the first embers and the first flame appeared.

Thus I managed to work out a campfire and to have a little heat, thanks to these ancestral techniques. I began to warm up a little because the night was chilly, then, I rose to seek some food to silence my hunger. I had noticed during my previous walk, that the ground was scattered with mushrooms of all kinds. I collected some without having any indication on their edibility. I ate them all.

I returned next to my fire where I was soon captivated by the dance of the insects which were attracted by the incandescence of the wood fire and flew around me without respite.
Sat cross-legged, I followed with admiration the luminous evolution of the fireflies and the lampyres ?????which speckled the dark night with light. I felt really happy to contemplate and listen to this orchestration of movements and sounds. I had even forgotten the sinister place where I was, thanks to this splendid spectacle.

However, I was once again, cut off from my ecstatic state as the atmosphere full of fog and the cloudy sky burst to let the rain pour on the bushy wood. In a flash I was wet from head to toes as if I had someone had thrown a bucket of water at me. I had just been caught in a shower. My fire had died out and the wood had become useless. Disappointed, I looked at the skies, begging providence to help me when I heard a voice whisper: « lie down and fear nothing, first you will tremble but then your senses and whole being will be permeated by a strange bliss  » Then, the sky cleared up and the rain stopped. But the fire which had been lit up with great efforts was dead and, now, I shivered with cold.

Lying on a muddy couch, I wriggled, trying to sleep in vain, as the spectrum of the moon on ebony trunks of the trees haunted my thoughts. Fascinated by the incongruous screeching of the owls, the sputtering of the crickets, the twittering of the parrots and the shrilling of the monkeys, I had a sleepless night. I was shivering, my hair stood on its end, my heart pounded and I imagined devouring monsters everywhere.

All around me, in the darkness, the bright eyes of the owls which stared at me continuously and I felt the proliferation of a multitude of enormous revolting black rats. Frightened by this apocalyptic scene, I wanted to scream in panic but when I opened my mouth, I could not utter a word. Then I wanted to run away but my limbs were paralysed by fear.

Helpless, I took the branches of the firewood to fight the countless ghosts and creatures I was convinced to be surrounded by, but my weapons could not reach them. I became agoraphobic of a world which did not exist in reality. Suddenly, my whole body was shaken by spasms which made me appear like someone having an epileptic fit. As soon as the convulsions started, it became hard for me to breathe. I began to suffocate and I was so livid that I looked like I was about to die in terrible pain. Then suddenly, all the pain was gone, as fast as it had come. I crouched, in a foetal position, my body glistening with sweat after so much agitation, and started to think. It was a horrible feeling to be drawn to nothingness and to found oneself in the abyss without being able to react, to be an man-object, object which death could manipulate as it pleased. I felt really weak and powerless.

Exhausted, curled up against a tree, I remembered a painful day of my childhood, in the countryside, in my parents’ house. Something quite memorable…

Chapter 6: Reminiscence

I had gone for a walk not far from the house, and I strolled through a large surface area of grass where harmoniously mingled multicoloured flowers such as dandelions, clovers, petunias, inhaling the scented air which had taken the fragrance of these splendid flowers.

Observing the furrow behind me , I noticed that the flowers had bowed when I was passing by as if greeting me and that grasshoppers, ladybirds and other beetles spread their wings and flew away in the air like glorious fireworks. I was undoubtedly witnessing a marvellous spectacle . Enraptured by this beautiful meadow, I cried out:  » Life, I love you! « 

Above this green carpet the sun shone feebly, its rays filtered by big grey clouds.

Suddenly a violent one flash of lighting, followed by a deafening clap of thunder, disrupted the peacefulness which reigned in the skies and a heavy shower fell down on the willows shaken by the violent gust. I decided to shelter under one of these trees in order to avoid the rain.

Standing erect under the tree, I glanced towards the top of the tree, where the green leaves, danced wildly through the wind while the dead leaves fell from their branches in the quiet lake. As I waited for the downpour to stop, I watched the big water drops which followed one another on the limb of the leaf.(lanceolée)??? Leaning against the strong trunk, I admired and listened to numerous frogs on the banks of a lake, croaking as to thank the sky for the great amount of insects which fell into their avid mouth.
The rain poured harder on the river which threatened to leave its banks. Suddenly, I realised that I was in danger because I had once been told that it was extremely dangerous to stay under a tree during a storm and started to run as fast as I could through the tall grass towards the river. I reached it completely out of breath and I sat on the bank in order to recollect my spirits. Hardly had I touched the wet and muddy ground of the bank, that a violent flash of lighting echoed in the sky, striking down the tree I had just used as a shelter. « What if I had remained in this place a little bit more ? » I thought. I shivered and my teeth chattered not because I was drenched through but because I had been so close to death…Curled up in a foetal position, I watched on the horizon, the ducks dabble among the reeds and the blue water lilies.( les nénuphars st blanc non??) A daring male swan, started to describe large circles in the air and landed on the water near the female, shaking its beautiful white plumage. This spectacle filled me with wonder.

The rain continued to pour down on the meadow, but I was not aware of it, still shocked by what had just happened. I sat, holding my head with my hands and marvelled at the fish which swam between the green and brown seaweed. Then abruptly plunging my hand in the clear water, I tried to catch one. Smiling, I withdrew my hand from the water and opened it, but it contained only mud. However it was full of life: worms, grubs, leeches, shellfish and many other animalcules were hiding in this environment in the process of decomposition. Haughtily I got rid of this dirt on the shore. Then I leaned to wash my hands when I slipped off the bank and found myself in the water. There, I shouted as loud as I could because I could not swim.
Sinking into the cloudy waters of lake I thought that I was going to drown when I felt the grip of a hand. Unexpectedly, somebody withdrew me from the claws of death. My father had just rescued me.

The reminiscence of this experience of my life filled my heart with nostalgia. I missed these good moments spent with my family, moments of joy, laughter, but also of tension and, lost in childhood memories, I fell asleep.

Chapter 7: in Harmony with Nature

The next morning, I woke up with the chorus of the wildlife which had organised a concerto in my honour. Perched on a tree, a parrot with a rainbow-like plumage started a cacophony while colourful birds were chirping above my head. Rhythmically, some nimble chimpanzees jumped from one branch to another. Spider monkeys and other varieties of monkeys were hanging on the trees, head upside down, making faces and shrieking at my sight.

I got up, stretched myself to ease my strained body and decided to walk though the forest in search of new adventures.

I walked on the damp earth swarming with woodlice, weevils, slugs and insects of all kinds, when I saw in front of me, a dung-beetle who had made a ball of dung and was rolling it to its nest with its posterior legs like an acrobat . There was also a tiny tree frog which was so scared that I could see its heart beating wildly through its translucent skin ;at the approach of the sacred beetle, the small frog spread its legs and leaped far away from it.

Further, I witnessed the frantic ballet of the butterflies and bird-flies which, flew above the flowers, attracted by their brightness. Then, I was captivated by the shimmer of a butterfly resting on a flower of eucalyptus, which revealed wings of a metallic blue colour each time it moved.

Slowly, this lepidopteron was extracting, with its protractile proboscis, the nectar of that beautiful flower when I saw, dissimulated in the tangled stems of a shrub, a lazy chameleon wander about.

Master of camouflage, the chameleon proved to be an excellent predator by his ability to change colour and adapt to a specific environment. I refused to let this happen in front of my eyes and rushed towards the butterfly, making big movements in the air to scare it off. The butterfly flew away. I was proud of myself.

Whistling happily, I carried on walking, in a state of bliss, when, I came across a splendid black and silver trap-door spider which was digging in the ground a nest to lay its eggs.

The glowing spider was spinning its web methodically and precisely, a beautiful, rather compact, luminous and immaculate white cobweb. I walked around carefully in order to avoid it.

As I walked deeper in the forest teeming with various citrus fruits, I stuffed myself with them because I had suffered the effects of a hallucinogenic mushroom the night before. That night , I had undergone the pangs of the fear and I did not want that anymore.
When I had eaten enough, I decided to find a place where I could be safe from all these anguishes. The crickets had just started their « anthem to the sunset » as if warning me of that nightfall was imminent and I walked faster. Suddenly, few steps away, I saw a hole in a rock, which looked like the entry of a cave.
I remained for a while in front of the opening of the cave and raising my eyes to the sky I exclaimed: « Thank you my God! « There, struck down by the divine breath, I fell to my knees and began to pray, staring at the sky studded with the twinkling stars. I had just realized that God had never given up on me and that he was still looking after me. Why did I doubt the Love of God when I had so much faith?

At this moment, my eyes let lachrymal pearls run out on my hollow cheeks. Then, wiping up my eyelids with the back of my hand, I rose and stepped inside the cave…

Chapter 8: Traumatic Birth

When I slipped into the dark tunnel of the cave, a cloud of bats flew out of the cave to disappear in the darkness. Exhausted by the hard day just gone, I sat against the wall of the cave and fell asleep few minutes after, by the entrance.

The following day when I opened my eyes, I felt the throbbing pain of a bite made by a horsefly which had perforated my skin during the night. I managed to find a piece of wood thanks to the ray lights shining through (the opening of the cave ) and rose reluctantly and walked nonchalantly towards the branch I would use as torch throughout my progression in the underground. I lit it and I started my long voyage in the depths of the earth. The torch I held in my trembling hand cast its feeble gleam in the eternal darkness. I was walking half bent in a narrow and winding underground . From time to time, I stopped a few moments to catch my breath, then I continued deeper in the cavity. In this fall into Hell, I could feel the cold penetrate every inch of my body and my lungs shrink and writher like a dying flower. Soon, my breathing became a hiss. The air, heavy and oppressive in the tunnel, threatened to extinguish the flame which flickered and lost intensity. I was about to find myself in complete darkness, when finally, after a long walk in the mazes of this underground I saw a large gallery in front of my eyes.

In the belly of the ground some limestone blocks of stalagmites and stalactites had formed a huge cobweb and I looked like a helpless prey in it. In order to leave this pit, I kept close to the walls of the cave which revealed me the mysteries from time immemorial. On these walls, I was puzzled by cave paintings representing funerary and hunting scenes. This parietal art, engraved on the rocks of the cave gave me the strange feeling to go back in the past:

I imagined myself, holding a lance, facing mastodons of more than five tons and having to cope with the unpredictable bad weather with primitive devices.

As I identified myself with the Australopithecus, I felt the anguish of death moving slowly along my thin body, increasing my cardiac pulsations and the excessive beating of my heart gave me the appalling feeling that it would come out violently, by piercing the thin skin. I crouched, holding my left breast and fearing the heart attack when I saw, a treacle of water that oozed from stones, dripping on the ground. Suddenly, I had the bright idea to follow its lead like Ariane did and I pulled myself together in order to try to leave this pit as soon as possible. Following the course of seepage waters, I arrived at a place where the ground water had become a true lagoon like a metal which one makes run in a crucible. There, suspended on the top of my head, an enormous stalactite threatened to fall down on me, like a sword of Damocles. I could not move any more and I had to make a decision . I thought a few moments and finally, I took a great inspiration to plunge myself in the clear water of the lagoon.

I swam trying to avoid rocks holding my breathing during approximately a minute when I saw a light shining through the water just a few meters above me. I paddled faster to come out at the surface, shouting with relief.

Expelled from the entrails of the ground, I sat on the bank to breathe properly when, suddenly, I felt something behind me. I turned around just in time to see a black shadow like a ghost rush over me.
Some strong arms intertwined me, choked me and I was beaten so much that I lost consciousness.

Chapter 9 Expiatory Sacrifice

When I reopened my eyelids, I witnessed a strange spectacle in front of me. I had never seen people with such a weird appearance in my whole life before. They were terribly dirty, hardly covered with rags. Their unkempt hair fell on their face and their eyes gleamed with anger.

A highly skilled wizard stood opposite a large fire, looking ruthless. He was wearing his black magic ornaments: a necklace made with bones from the skull, apron of carved and openwork human bones, magic daggers held at the belt. He stared at me with darting eyes as if to kill me and my heart froze with fear.

Coming in my direction, he was droning on in a low voice, and gesticulated wildly. He was followed by a procession and the magus, who had strong occult powers, seemed to be talking to the spirits and I understood that my fate depended on the outcome of this interview with the supernatural. The wind howled and moaned as if the demons demanded my sacrifice to alleviate their anger. My face turned green when I saw a giant pot placed on burning charcoals. Were these cannibalistic natives planning to have me for dinner? The wizard withdrew his magic knife and lacerated my hands.

From the cuts, the magus collected a small quantity of blood which he hastily drank out of a bowl. Suddenly, the wizard had a fit and started to spin round and round at a breathtaking speed and suddenly fell on the ground, struck down. He remained there head down in this position for a while, then slowly raised his head and fixed his eyes on me. Bluntly he asked someone to bring a chicken. He sliced the throat of the big white chicken and spread its blood on the dusty ground of the camp. The Gods accepted this libation as an offering of good omen as I could see a faint smile on the magus ‘s face. He came towards me again and vehemently ordered my liberation, which was hastily carried out by two assistant Shamans inferior to the big master in the tribal hierarchy. I was freed from my bonds, someone stopped my blood pouring by applying a kind of dark concoction on it, then I was told to gather around the fire with the rest of the tribe where the religious ceremony would end. Before cooking the chicken in the large pot, the Shaman removed the intestines of the chicken and once again did the magical ritual. During the rite, nobody was allowed to speak except the big magus who chaired the altar and nobody was allowed to mock the sacred ceremony or they would regret their blasphemy at they would be sacrificed in punishment. Fortunately this did not happened. As far as I was concerned, the ritual went on as planned: I was delighted to eat this poultry instead of being the one cooked for the feast and I enjoyed each mouthful with great pleasure. At the end of the ceremony, I was taken to a hut and left alone During the night, I could hear the sarcastic remarks, the laughter and the palaver of the natives but I did not understand what they said. Dreaming, I thought that they were certainly wondering where I came from, why I looked different and what they would do about me in the next days. Victim of my insomnia, I asked myself what would happened to me.

Would I see my family again? Would I go back to the same civilization which forced me to leave all those that I loved for an unknown place?

I had found this heavenly island where I would be free from the chains of civilization but some people were already there and I now had to adapt to demands of a completely different society.
These savages gave at first sight the impression of living in an ancient system without any legislation, but I was soon to accept the fundamental laws and the taboos of the tribe and risk to loose once more my integrity and my freedom.

Chapter 10: chance encounter

At the first lights of dawn the sun flooded the landscape of its gilded light. A foul-smelling decoction was applied to my wounds and I was given a potion made of medicinal plants and roots. Then an extremely beautiful woman with magical fingers massaged
my sore body thoroughly and tenderly. I was wrapped with homeopathic leaves attached with tiny lianas, just like a mummy. I stayed lying in bed on my back for almost a week and everyday, at the same time, I could see the slender figure of the beautiful native outlined against the light in front of the door and then come inside the hut. As soon as I saw her shadow, all my soul was filled with an infinite bliss.

I was attracted by this woman of wild appearance, who was incredibly beautiful. Something glamorous about her awoke all my senses when I watched her. With her olive skin, her hazel eyes, her long black hair and her radiant smile, she was so beautiful that I decided to give her the name « Houri ».

This goddess was always doing the same ritual: kneeling near my straw mattress, she gently raised my head to give me strange potions made with aromatic herbs and roots, then she changed my cataplasms with care. When her eyes met my feverish eyes, her long hair swept my face like the caress of the breeze.

She took care of me as if I was a relative and she showed a particular benevolence by staying at my bedside and keeping me company. I did not know her yet but I was amazed by the tenderness she lavished to me and I waited for these moments of care with an impatience full of passion.

I started to enjoy my convalescence and I wished it would never end. Because once cured, what would happened to me again?

Chapter 11: Initiation

I felt much better and my contusions had practically disappeared, leaving only light scars. One day that I expected the visit of my Houri, I saw with great disappointment the big Shaman enter the hut . He unfolded his plait, crouched near me and threw cowry shells and bones on the ground mumbling foolish words.

The wizard questioned the dead and, for the second time, asked the ancestors to help him take a decision. Drawing on the sand strange connections between symbols and iconographic figurines, he sketched the ordeals which I had to pass in order to gain the right to be part of the tribe.

The initiatory rite was clearly defined by the supernatural forces concerned. I had to succeed with flying colours three tests, which would enable me to join the restricted circle of the initiates. This circle was exclusively reserved to men. This initiation to life represented the passage from childhood to adulthood, when one becomes subjective and independent. Only men were entitled to freedom, the women still depending on their husband materially and psychologically.

In the first test, I was supposed to control of fear and all sorts of frights and psychoses which an individual confronted with loneliness and stress could feel. I was going to return to this beautiful forest and spend three days there. The second test was to win the fight against one of the most valorous warriors of the clan in order to test my physical courage and my performances. In the third and last test, I was to carry out with my own hands a work of art, in order to test my intellectual, artistic competences and to release my creative energies.

Nobody was authorized to get involved in my initiation or help me in any way. Besides, I did not need any help because the contingencies of the life had enabled me, in the past, to face similar situations. Thus I had obtained a certain psychic force and a control of me worthy of the most famous DALAI LAMA and I overcame these three tests honourably.

By a full moon night, I received the last sacraments in the intimacy of a sacred forest because this animist people believed much in the spirits of nature and had a high consideration for the trees which they treated with respect. The ceremony which was a meeting of initiates, was chaired by the big magus. My head was shaved and I was repeatedly washed in order to get rid of my old self and to purify my body. Afterwards, the wizard kept telling me sacred words while coating my body with a supernatural potion. The rite ended by a hieratic gesture of the big magus: my head bent in front of him, he made me, under the most severe look, swear the oath of silence and honesty, then he gave me an arc and a white arrow, symbol of phallus. Then, I was hailed in the name of all the assembly like a brother and a future initiate.

Early in the morning, the red sun, came out of its den and the reappearance of this ball of fire symbolized the resurrection of my own self in another existential system. I had officially become a member of the tribe and I was reborn to start another life .

Chapter 12: Sacred Union

The next day, I became married to Houri, this enchantress which had bewitched me with her filter of Love during my moments of weakness. During this great ceremony celebrated in my honour, I was delighted by the harmonious demonstration of the songs and the frantic dances in front of me.

At the beginning of the ceremony, dancers followed the slow rhythm of the djembe , then they danced more wildly. These women danced freely by moving the hips slowly, as if some cosmic perpetual motions were expressed by their body. This orchestra of movements and energies were carried out in perfect harmony. They danced in circles, arms stretched, a little like dervishes letting out an incredible quantity of energy around them.

At the sound of the tambourines, the natives clapped their hands to encourage the dancers who moved their body to the tempo of the music with grace and offered me an incredibly beautiful spectacle. These dances were kind of mystical and the cast a spell on me as I watched them. I was completely surprised when two women sitting next to me took me by the hand for an improvised choreography. Then, the music became faster and louder and took a hectic pace. Suddenly, when the music was as its peak, the percussions stopped and everyone stayed still.

Then, I went back to my seat followed by loud applause and congratulations coming from everywhere. There is no doubt that there was an atmosphere of communion and fraternity which I had seldom felt before. All my soul was glorified with a swirl of Love and joy and I just gaped at the exoticism of this ceremony.

Later, in front of the splendid bright red sunset, all gathered around a large crackling fire, we happily ate a sumptuous meal and listened to the head of the village telling legendary tales and myths. Thus at the end of a wonderful evening, Houri and I were solemnly united for life.

Chapter 13: Funerary Belief

I had been particularly struck by the tribal system these natives had. Indeed, this society was mysteriously proud of its occult ceremonies. The initiation of men, marriage and mourning led to ritual ceremonies: as soon as a member of the tribe passed away, a commemorative ceremony was organized during which people started to lament louder and louder through the night then softened gradually with the duration of the funeral. Devastated, certain women expressed their distress by throwing themselves on the sand and screaming hysterically. Some of them lacerated their body or scourged themselves, moaning and praising the late one.

Immediately after the death, a group of initiates had to take care of the body of the deceased person with respect so as not to offend the soul.

They smeared the body of red clay mixed with oil then they carried out a trepanation so that the soul could escape from the its carnal envelope to regain the celestial fields. Afterwards, they buried the body with personal effects because people believed that the human body had a main spirit which was immortal and which continued its mission beyond when this one had been cut short in this world. The belief in magic spells was so deeply rooted that, when a member of the tribe fell sick, he did not attribute he sickness to health deficiency but rather to the anger of one of numerous gods he had certainly offended .

He tried, with anguish, to remember if he had not violated voluntarily or involuntarily one of the many laws of the taboo and had to make a confession in front of the big Shaman who was the only one able to relieve him, thanks to his supernatural powers. Thus the big Shaman solely held the ritual secrets and felt reluctant to share them, except with initiated carefully selected by the healer as keepers of the keys of knowledge. Thanks to this process, the culture and the ancestral beliefs of these natives were transmitted from generation to generation until today.

Chapter 14: Tribal System

I was especially fascinated by how this tribe was organised with its system of hierarchy and structure. Everyone had a task to achieve for the clan and when they had finished their civic duty, they had to carry on other obligations of a religious nature.

Tasks were distributed according to the individual’s position within the tribe: women and children on the one hand, men on the other hand. At dawn, the women washed their linen, giving it great blows of beater under waterfalls, singing at the same time to encourage one another while the men, armed with long assegais fished in the clear sea.

Later in the course of the day, we went hunting, accompanied by our dogs Boubou and Titus which helped us catch game. On our back, we carried a quiver full of arrows that we had poisoned with curare, made by each of us with great care. Not only did we have to master the technique of camouflage to blend in nature like real chameleons, but we also had to demonstrate a great dexterity in order not to miss the prey at the right time. After a hard day of hunting, when we returned to the camping with the game, our wives who had waited for us with an anxious patience threw their arms all over us, overcome with joy. A little further, the children who also watched for our return, made capers in the sand .

They jumped with happiness at our return from hunting and ran towards us calling out our names. Then the women bustled about to do the cooking in large red terracotta pots. These ceramics were used for the concoction of game. I enjoyed the culinary qualities of these women who used many aromatic herbs for the preparation of the meals. I was fond of this spiced gastronomy which was different from what I ate in the western world and what I loved was the fact that we all ate in the same pot, in order to tighten the fraternal bonds within the tribe. After dinner, we slipped away, Houri and I, to spend long hours bathing under the waterfalls of the river.

Then, we entered the intimacy of a thick foliage by the bank, away from the rest of the tribe who glanced at us mockingly but also considered our relationship with an amused benevolence. Then, after one night slept out , when we felt the morning dew caress our skin, we held each other more tightly to melt away in infinite pleasure. With her, the past did not exist any more, the future did not have importance and only the present moment mattered. I would have given anything keep these moments eternal and this Love intact. However, one day, when everyone had returned to the village and the sun had disappeared at the horizon, I watched, alone on the beach, the swell which crashed against the shore and fringed it with foam and I was overcome with a flood of nostalgia.

Chapter 15: Spleen

I was nonchalantly lying down on the hot sand and I was scanning the horizon which, streaked by the last rays of the sunset, took an yellow-orange colour.

While this splendid landscape gradually faded away
in front of my filled with wonder eyes, I listened to the song of the seagulls
which, like mermaids, seemed to call me and tell me to come, and I heard the surge of the waves which broke noisily on the hard rocks. The mix of these sounds produced a suave music, which enchanted me and, closing slowly my eyelids, I smiled blissfully. Now filled with nostalgia, I thought of the family that I had left without news and I became aware of the omnipresence of the symbolic umbilical cord, which connected me to my roots.

I realised that being so far from my parents had made me aware of how much I loved them. Now I could feel how I missed them in my life and how important they were in my life. I felt that life was not worth it without the salt of Love and the heat of words. I needed to speak, discuss with somebody and open them my heart But here, I had the impression to be alone in the whole world. Suddenly, as if to give an answer to my sorrow, someone put a hand on my shoulder: It was Houri who, worried about my absence, had come to seek me. She gripped me firmly by the arm and we returned to the camping.

On the way, she told me that she understood me and that she would respect my decision if I chose to return to my native country. She must have read my thoughts. She appeared serene and calm but I felt by empathy that her heart was broken. She did not shed a tear bus knowing that it would happen one day, she had prepared herself psychologically for a possible separation. She told me that she was ready to face my departure and that it would not affect her too much. Then, when we arrived near the village, she released my hand, accelerated the step and engulfed herself in the meanders of a narrow path, her shadow vanishing at the horizon.

Chapter 16: Healing dots

I had left civilisation so long ago, already three years… I had spent one Thousand ninety five days on this land, far from all technologies, monetary systems and sciences, where I had learned how to listen to the trees, the flowers and the birds, because they speak to us. They are able to communicate to us, when we listen to their language, that paradise is not the prerogative of a life post-mortem but quite present in the most elementary things of nature. I had spent so much time looking for Love, safety, and satisfaction… But I had learnt during this trip that it was not possible to seize happiness itself, simply because the only means for having it is to give it to others without whispers, hesitation nor regret.

The next morning, after a long night of reflexion, I told the tribe about my desire to leave the island. I received a pleasant speech from the big Shaman who was against the fact that I wanted to leave my wife, Houri. But, however, he gave me his assent with a hint of reproach. There was a commemorative party in my honour then the next day, at dawn, the old wizard sent people to chop down some trees to make a small craft. One week later, the whole tribe was gathered on the shore. Some natives offered me a symbolical gift to demonstrate their friendship towards me.

The large Shaman, such an enigmatic and silent character amazed me when he uttered those few words: « rativata shitoni tivatou will cocomora kisanfi ajasou mirugaga maha titikouaka iruba » which meant « the light of conscience is within yourself. When you understand this, the search for the unknown and your thirst for what cannot be said will end. » Then he held his skinny hand and gave me one of its fetishes to protect me throughout my journey. I thanked him by nodding my head. The most painful moment for me was when Houri came near the boat. As she came nearer, her eyes expressed all her distress. She kissed me lightly on my lips, then walked away.

Then a great silence filled the atmosphere. Then, keeping quiet, I stared at this paradise island for the last time, without saying a word, without breaking the marvellous scenery in small pictures, focusing on a bird here or a tree there but rather looking at it as a whole, basking completely in its plenitude. Lastly, after this moment of intense observation, I left on the craft, nourished by a feeling of joy mixed with bitterness, turning my back on this wonderland of all totems and taboos.

This adventure had been a fabulous initiatory journey to free my soul, once prisoner of the body and allow it to reach the higher level of conscience.

Thus, I got rid of my anguishes, my doubts, my worries of yesterday and tomorrow, living exclusively the present day. My existence became similar to a clear as crystal ocean without swell nor waves. I had been blown away by the wind like a wisp of straw on the collective unconscious of men until I finally discovered the great truth and understood my mission. Then, while the sun disappeared at the horizon, I moved towards a more dubious horizon, only leaving behind myself a long furrow in the wake of the boat, watching at the same time the illusion of a perfect world die away…

Matthieu GROBLI

Quelle est votre réaction ?
You have reacted on "A initiatory journey" A few seconds ago

Send this to a friend