For most of them, there was no need to purge. Tante barfed for quite some time before all the delicacies she’d sampled over the past two days were out of her system. She’d been practicing a little meditation of her own as she lay in the grass mourning her upcoming death and the fact that her friend had chosen not to face it with her.
She’d gotten bored with lying there pretty quickly, even with the music. She’d borrowed Ja’s iPod, which had something like a week’s worth of music on it. She even let the death metal play, figured if she was on her way out, she might as well experience all that this life had to offer, and well, if it was death she was facing, she supposed she should get used to its elemental nature.
That’s when the insects started landing on her body.
It began as an exercise in control. One of the problems she’d had initially with learning the meditation the others were so into was little bodily itches and twitches. She’d overcome that by learning to focus on them rather than trying to ignore them. When the first cricket landed on her face, she was intrigued by the feeling of its legs on her skin as it moved around. When it got near her mouth, she flicked out her tongue and pulled it in. It was quite tasty; not nearly as good as the hornworms she’d been enjoying out of the garden, but it had such a nice crunch and brought such a wave of nostalgia for the outback to her that it became a fun little game for her. It turned into an exercise that occupied the back of her mind like a well known mantra and she found that after a while she could turn every sensation, from the drops of rain coming down on her to the feeling of the hot urine she allowed to freely fertilize the ground below her leaving her body, into an incredibly sensual experience of delight in being alive. She got quite adept at feeding herself without even thinking about it, very quickly, and got to try quite a few new goodies from the local environment. She figured she might as well go out fat and happy.
What she ended up doing was projectile vomiting Yagé and beetle juice for half the night. Once her stomach settled down enough for her to pay attention to anything other than her misery, things got interesting pretty quickly.
The entire group was gathered around the pit of Fire out behind the house. The spot was equidistant between the edges of Sea and Forest, a place where Wind passed quickly between the two, carrying Fog along for the ride. Stream brought Rain and Snow down from Mountains, eventually taking them off to Sea. Ina wandered around among them, beating out a hypnotic rhythm on her Shaman’s drum as she hummed a wordless chant.
Alonso and Yin and Yang were huddled together near a lichen covered cluster of large stones, each of them fully engaged with the mutualists, the entire montage an image of interbeing. Most lichens, as it turned out, were Dragons. Tante’s attention had first gone there, as Ina herself maintained a strong bond to her brother and their mates, despite having not drunk the Yagé with the others. The Shaman began chanting.
“Gods of Gaia, Gods of Fire, Gods of Water, Gods of Wind, Gods of Forest, Gods of Sea…….”
“STOP!” It was thunder and earthquake rolled into one.
She stopped, both the chant and the drumming, shocked. She’d never gotten such an abrupt and obvious response before and was taken aback. Talking alpacas she was good with; whatever had just shouted her down was something new.
The silence was deafening; even the crickets had lost their restless leg syndrome. Ina took a deep breath and girded her loins; her diminutive size had given her a bit of a Napoleon complex among these folks from El Norte, and she was a Shaman. Whatever it was, she’d face it.
“We offer our gratitude to the Gods who have come to us in our hour of need for help in finding our way, please oh powerful ones……”
“When you put your shovel into the ground, do you not rip apart our hyphal networks, tear our cell walls, send the cytosol pouring from our bodies?” the fungi asked, silent, loud, quivering in the ground.
“When you rip the roots of trees from our warm embrace, will we not run down Mountain in sorrow and muddy Stream and Sea?” soil lamented.
“If you poison us, do we not die?” the booming voice of trillions of bacteria chimed in.
“Do your chainsaws not send us crashing to the ground?” the redwoods, the giants of the group, were getting into things right along with their microbial and non-living compadres.
“Do we have any choice but to accept the toxic sludge you dump in us?” Water was clearly irritated, and Wind howled along in support. Snow hadn’t even bothered to show up.
“Who, who, who do you think you are, who-mans?” Owl asked the people gathered there.
“More to the point, who do you think WE are?” came the thunder of the world around them.
“Gods of Gaia?” Ina was feeling quite diminutive indeed. Her response was a mouse’s squeak. Owl eyed her for a minute before deciding she was much too big to eat.
The response came to all of them, not as a thundering voice, but in an endless flash of knowing, knowing every Thing and no Thing, knowing every One and no One, knowing Fire and Wind and Water and Earth, knowing anima and inanima, all that was Gaia and Sol and Luna and Cosmos, knowing self and all as ALL, the same.
They were all gods, every one, and none of them.
None had the answer as to exactly what needed to be done, but one thing was clear. It was up to the people to deal with their issues and what they were doing to the rest of the planet. Every member of the community was willing to help, from the microbes with their ability to break down the nasty stuff the people had been spreading across the planet to the redwoods who could pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere with the best of them, they’d all help. But it was up to the people to get their kind in line before it was too late.
Ina had joined her loves and had wrapped herself around Yang. Wind held Fog offshore and Fire stayed up all night, keeping them company as the effects of the Yagé wore off and they drifted off to sleep.
The End is Near