“We’re almost at the end of our journey together,” says Michael, my peerless guide to the celestial realms. “So this is your last chance to ask any burning questions.” I am still soaring high after the exaltation of Thrones, but my face falls as I take in his meaning. Michael beams encouragingly. “Don’t be sad, Sybil. No mortal can remain in such transcendental states for long, but Earth has its own joys and solaces, as well as many tests and challenges ahead.”
“What do you mean?” I ask apprehensively.
“You are living in interesting times and there is much work to be done, great service required. Your ensouled species is entering the greatest transformation in its long and chequered history.”
Thank you for joining me so far and I hope you are enjoying Sybil’s adventures in the Bardo. The Solar Boat is in safe harbour pro tem, but please stay on board or embark for the remaining destinations.
Whether you are a seasoned traveller or setting sail for the first time, you may wish to begin from the beginning rather than backwards blog-style.
Here therefore is the itinerary with links. Journey’s End is still shrouded in mystery but will be revealed soon.
If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern. (William Blake)
I find myself still standing on the peak of Heaven’s mountain with my guide Michael. We are conversing on high metaphysical matters as phantasmagorias revolve around us.
“Do you have any questions?” asks Michael. “Is this as high as it gets?” I ask. “Not quite, would you like to go even higher?” “Yes, please!”
And so once more we rise up together, our wings flapping in unison. This time my flight is a little more accomplished and I revel in the thrill of motion through the celestial atmosphere. Now we are floating as the aether coalesces around us into marvellous cloudlike forms. Now we are drifting through a flowering meadow and I’m disoriented. “Are we back in Asphodel Meadows?” Michael shakes his head, smiling. Indeed, the scene is even more ethereally beautiful than the gardens of Paradise, glowing with a translucent light. Flowers are blooming in jewel-like colours, flocks of butterflies hovering over their blossoms, birds singing sweetly as a celestial choir, waterfalls cascading, a perfect rainbow arching over the idyllic landscape.
Standing on Heaven’s mountain with my guide Michael, my ears pick up a sound that is familiar yet unexpected in this setting. “Surely I’m not hearing the clink of cutlery?” Michael smiles ironically.
“As the Solar Boat dips below the horizon, all the stars switch on to light up our celestial realm … and it’s time for dinner. Of course there is no time in heaven, nor does the astral body require food, but the illusion of a daily cycle breaks up the monotony provides the comfort of familiarity.
Wiping away my tears after the poignancy of my experience in Heroes’ Heaven, I look up to see my guide Michael beaming at me radiantly. “Do you have any questions?” he asks as I compose myself.
“Yes, I do. I’m delighted to see so much progress up here since the old stories were written. I’d love to hear more about how it all hangs together and who’s running the show.”
Michael smiles. “Welcome to Team Heaven! You’ve already observed that our reformation has taken root and is beginning to flower. The biggest structural change in our world is that we have moved from absolute monarchy to parliamentary democracy. Of course “Their” Word is always Supreme, but the other denizens of Heaven get to vote on important issues and their views are taken into account.”
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven. Rupert Brooke
Here I am, standing on the summit of Heaven’s mountain with my guide Michael. We are surveying a vast plain stretching away into the distance.
“Who are all those people, looks like angels on horseback?”
“These are the Heavenly Hosts in training. We are now in Heroes’ Heaven, home to all heroes from the greatest leaders to the humblest foot soldiers. Those who were warriors on Earth, by role or profession, often volunteer for the Heavenly Hosts. Our crack troops wear russet, but the rest of them weren’t giving up their fine uniforms. It’s all ceremonial nowadays so they may as well look gorgeous.”Continue reading →
“Now, I’m sure you’d like to go on a magical mystery tour of Britannia’s Heaven.” Michael, my new guide, is standing in front of a towering mountain in the centre of Heaven. I nod enthusiastically as he continues. “Traditionally this mountain has been known as Mount Zion, though Orpheus insists it is the spiritual peak of Mount Olympus, while other folks call it the Big Rock Candy Mountain.”
Words fail me to describe the glory of the Solar Boat, apart from a general impression of beauty, majesty and rhapsody. Besides, the ascent is so dizzyingly fast that the whole journey is over in a flash of light. By the time I recover my senses we’ve reached the cloud layer, stretching ahead as far as the eye can see and illuminated with a golden glow. Dropping the last vestiges of my scientific scepticism, I peer ahead eagerly in the hope of spotting some heavenly harpists. Disappointingly, all the clouds look empty.
Ra nudges me and there it is, the perfect fluffy white cloud…
It is easy to go down to hell; night and day the gates of Dark Death stand wide; but to climb back up again, to retrace one’s steps to the open air, there lies the problem, the difficult task. Virgil
“You will need a passport for your next destination,” says Morgana, my gracious guide to Hell. She hands me a familiar looking document with a gold embossed cover. “Here it is, personally issued by Sir Francis Walsingham, who decides who gets a passport.” I open it, scrutinize the flourishing Elizabethan signature admiringly and slip the passport into my pocket.
Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate. (Abandon hope all ye who enter here.) Dante
The darkness thickens as Morgana and I descend even further into the depths of Hell. We halt in a claustrophobic stone chamber lit only by a dim yet lurid phosphorescence on the clammy walls. The temperature drops perceptibly and I shiver as Morgana gazes at me sternly, stonily. “Souls you would call serious sinners go to the Dungeons. Please be clear we are not talking about the natural enjoyment of sensual and worldly pleasures, nor even about being rude to your parents or mean to your best friend. Such minor peccadilloes are part of the rough and tumble of life in which we are all sometimes unkind, angry, lazy, vain and all the other myriad faults and failings that human nature is prone to. Taken too far these actions may incur karma…”