World Garden Day

April garden tilling

It’s WNGD in the northern hemisphere, unlike the southern hemisphere where winter is preparing to make its own debut. The truth is, I was in the garden two weeks ago, wearing nothing but sunshine. Today, it was quite cool outside, with wind and showers on and off. It definitely wasn’t World Naked Gardening Day here. On the up side is the fact that I got to spend a few days with my youngest grandchildren, something not so easily to accomplish during this Covid19 pandemic. For four days we are their caregivers as their parents are busy with life.

A freshly seeded crop

The hours race by at breakneck speed from the moment the first one wakes until the last one is tucked in for the night. I had thought that my hiking would be on pause until my return home but the two year old loves being outside. Between the stroller and the escaping to wander free of the stroller’s seat belts, I have two days of four plus kilometre excursions. Added to it is a walking nine-hole golf round with the eleven year old. Yesterday, the highlight was having the freshly turned earth trickle through his fingers. This was followed with some time collecting twigs and dead grass which he placed in the stroller to take home.

Today, he and I went for another long walk. Before we headed back to the house, we met up with his sister with the objective of collecting spruce cones for painting. There is small green space behind their home where we go in search of forest treasures. When I think about it, there is no doubt in my mind that this has indeed been a Garden day. The natural world is a garden and we have been celebrating the natural world.

I hope your world is in touch with Mother Nature today and for as many days as you can.

The Naked Buddha Within

There is a naked Buddha in each of us. It is called Buddha nature. Unknown to some of my readers is the fact that I am oriented towards that Buddha within. In 2012, I became a Buddhist, or as it is spoken about by the Buddhist community I became a part of, I took “refuge” in Tibetan Buddhism. I was given a new name, Jetsun Rigzin Khandro, which loosely translates to the Unchanging Dharma Holder. The only problem with all of this was the fact that I don’t, probably can’t hold to any belief system. Regardless, I did find peace as my meditation practice deepened and I learned more about the philosophy and psychology of Tibetan Buddhism, which curiously had many parallels with Jungian psychology which I have studied for almost three decades.

Now, it is hard for me to equate the philosophical and psychological principles to a religion. There is no god, no commandments, not much of anything really other than these principles. That said, it has become a religion with required reading texts, a hierarchy of a priestly caste and temples. This is where I parted company with what I can only call mainstream Buddhism which is more like a commercial enterprise. I left my sangha and focused on the Buddha within me, an aspect of self that is independent of a deity.

I approach naturism the same way. I have a hard time following rules that somehow come into being and the focus shifts for becoming a “better self’ to becoming a better community member. A real naturist, a real Buddhist, a real Christian, a real Catholic, a “real” anything that gets defined by “others” sets my radar off. Anything that takes me outside of listening to the resonances within me, becomes suspect. If it requires me to follow a creed of some sort, then I walk away. This isn’t to say that my inner compass is infallible, it isn’t. Yet, there is no “proof” that any outside authority has all the answers and is infallible. Who do I then trust?

Who do you trust? Do you give up your authority of self, over to some creed, some philosophy, some tradition, or whatever?

Many decades ago, I gave up my authority. And, it cost me. I was wounded, almost to the point of self-sacrifice through suicide. If I couldn’t trust God and his Church, all that was left was myself. I poured through various texts and found a philosophy and psychology that explained why I was drawn in. The container pointed to those words, but left them outside of their community, and focused on the words rather than the messages, the philosophy and the nature of humans, their psychological nature.

I am a naturist as self-described. I am a quasi-Buddhist and a quasi-Christian and a quasi-pagan. I am all of these, yet none of them. Who are you?

Yesterday it Snowed

It’s April. There is no wonder that the month dedicated to practical jokes is April, think of April Fool’s Day. We had a hot spell of two days where I got to do hiking in the hills wearing a backpack and hiking socks and shoes. Hiking rewarded me with the sight of hundreds of crocuses, more than a dozen deer, and a few tiny white flowers, as well as a hint of red on my back. That was followed by two cold, windy days with snow making a reappearance.

Yesterday, it began to warm up a bit, not enough to again take to the hills, but warm enough to warrant another ten kilometre hike. Then today, it warmed up again for a pleasant twelve kilometre walk in the morning with temperatures reaching ten Celsius. This afternoon, the temperature continued to rise. I got to meditate at the entrance of my garden shed where I could stay out of the strong winds. I was loathe to return to the house when done and stayed outside to enjoy some tea It was glorious. Tomorrow, it is again supposed to snow, with a repeat snowfall predicted for two days later. The cold spell is supposed to last only for four days. Then, double digit temperatures are promised.

I took a lot of effort to make my backyard naturist friendly. Between a strategically placed privacy fence [too expensive to wrap the whole yard with such a fence at this time of high lumber prices, let alone about availability of fencing materials] the garden shed, and a hedge, I have real opportunities for backyard naturism. Of course, the neighbours to each side of our property as well as across the back lane are well aware of my tendency to be outdoors and nude. They’ve all seen me nude and accept it. Perhaps it has been the building of positive relationships with these neighbours that has had the biggest impact on my backyard nudity. Perhaps it has more to do with the fact that they have my autobiographical books and the Naked Poetry books. I don’t ask and they don’t offer.

A good portion of the adults in this prairie town have either bought or borrowed my autobiographical books with tell the story of how and why I had turned to naturism as one of my healing strategies for childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, and emotional abuses. Before these books appeared, I was the school principal in the town, a respected man. Somehow, I get the feeling that I am still respected. Living in a small town can either make you or break you. Coming into such a town for the last leg of one’s working life makes the journey into acceptance into a tight agricultural community that much harder. My books are now placed in the community library, donated by myself. I trusted the town with my story and they responded positively in return.

There is just one line I dare not cross too loudly. I keep my politics pretty much to myself and never get loud about being liberal oriented in a distinctly conservative community. In the larger naturist community, I try to do the same when in dialogue with those who are “conservative-minded.” I believe that this willingness to “live” authentically without being “in your face” has made the biggest difference in surviving as a naturist in a small prairie town.

Testing The Water

Testing the water

Emma is back with another image for you, which was intended just for this blog site. As she explained to me, at the time she was testing the water to see if it was the right time to take the plunge. There is no question, Emma is a significant supporter of my attempts to look at the psychological side of naturism and nudism. She is just one of a small group of about sixty who follow my blog site.

The idea of testing the water is more about trying naturism out before making a decision whether a person decided to continue exploring the possibilities or to retreat back into what I can only call, normal life. Quite a few tell me that naturism is normal life. The idea is that naturists, or call them whatever, do normal things just like normal people. The only difference is that they do some of those things while nude. Now, you know as well as I do that “normal” is defined as that which is the “norm. If you live in a naturist year-round community, being nude is normal in all senses of the word. However if you are significantly in the minority then you aren’t “normal.”

All of that aside, things change and what is normal at one point in time is abnormal in another era. Men in tights with wigs and makeup was normal for one class of people several hundred years ago – for a minority mind you, but the peasants opinions didn’t count. Along the upper reaches of the Amazon River, being nude was the norm. But, as much as National Geographic might try to persuade you, it isn’t the norm anymore. The kids now go to schools and wear clothes. The adults do get nude, especially if there is money to be made from tourists. I got to visit one of these small tribes. It is still rustic and primitive for the most part, but civilisation has begun to change them.

It is with this hope that with some effort and encouragement, we might just get more people to test the waters of naturism with the result that we finally reach the point where nude people are closer to normal status. Will there ever be a time when clothing will not be a significant part of our culture? Not in my lifetime or the lifetime of my “as of yet” born great-grandchildren. Being honest with oneself about this fact lets us accept that what little time and place and space we have for nude time, is to be treasured. To waste time on becoming missionaries is just that, “wasted time.”

Even those of us who are committed body, mind and soul to the mission of enjoying as much of our time, whether alone or amongst others while clothing free, need to continually test the waters, safely as we push our own boundaries, pushing the envelope of just what is possible. Who knows? Maybe one day, being nude might just become the norm. Just don’t hold your breath until then.

The Naked Psyche – The Only Voice That Counts

Is it spring or is it winter? Snow one minute, sunshine and warmth the next, only to return to overcast and dropping temperatures. That is how I can best describe the Canadian prairies at this time of year. There have been days recently, that said, ‘maybe you can go free-hiking.’ The temperature is just about right and it is sunny. Yet, as soon as one steps outside to take such a walk, there is a prairie wind that subtracts between five to ten degrees. And so, I have to tell myself to be patient. The weather and time will come so that I can once again go hiking au naturel.

I woke up to snow this morning. Hiking while nude was not going to be on the agenda. Instead, I compromised and wore warm clothes to get in my daily walk into the countryside. Since the New Year, I have hiked more than 500 km [300 miles], all of them while wearing layers of clothing. I have to walk. It is the only way I can maintain some sort of fitness. When I add in meditation, the two act in concert to lower my blood pressure and body weight. Of course, diet is vital in having this happen. By that, I don’t mean going on a diet, I mean eating healthy – vegetables, fruits, grains, root veggies, and a variety of meat choices. When I don’t follow my own rules, I suffer. A recent post spelled that out in detail. I can now say my body has regained some of what had been lost. As a result, my mental well-being is better.

Unsaid in the last post, was the role that being clothing free plays in maintaining better mental health. Nudity is therapy. One doesn’t need social nudity in order to gain psychological benefits that comes with nudity. If one is able to spend some time in the sunshine, even if through a window, the body responds. When the body responds, the psyche responds. Social nudity acts upon a different level of the psyche. Since humans are basically social animals, being able to be nude safely in the company of others who affirm and reaffirm one’s being part of the group, adds significantly to one’s sense of self-identity. Social nudity encourages one to set aside self-criticism. The need for protective camouflage and strategies in order to find a tentative sense of belonging, is unnecessary.

Yet, for those of us who have very little, if any, opportunities for social nudity, especially in this era of a pandemic, getting outside to be nude in the sunshine along some river, sea, or lake; or walking down some nature trail where people are rare and wildlife live in safety; that is the best psychological medicine one can get. For a lucky few, outdoor nudity, healing outdoor nudity, gets to happen in one’s own private spaces in a garden.

I realise that many, too many, live in urban areas that are distant from sacred forests, meadows, and waters. There are real barriers of an economic nature that don’t allow for making the necessary journeys to find these places. For these people, perhaps the best that is available is quiet meditation in a bedroom. Whatever one’s condition, one can only do what is possible. We take what we can get. No one is better than another. The person living nude 24/7 365 days a year is no more of a naturist than one who steals precious moments just to remain sane. We need to remember that.

How many minutes a day does it take to be a real nudist or a real naturist? It isn’t measured in minutes or hours or days. It is a state of mind. Tune out those voices who judge. Listen instead to your body, mind and soul. Those are the only voices that count.

Peace.

The Intimate Relationship Between Body and Mind

It’s raining on my body and my mind.

The sun is shining and there is a breeze blowing across the prairie landscape. It is quite cool. I woke up to -4 Celsius. Yesterday afternoon and evening, it was a different story. There was rain, wind, and a +2 Celsius temperature when I got this photo for this post. Though it is now sunny out, there is very little sunshine that makes it inside of me for whatever reason. I blame it on physiological reasons, rather than mostly psychological reasons. Sometimes, it is hard to separate the two. It becomes a “chicken and egg” dilemma. Which came first?

Physiologically, over the past ten days, I have been having a headache, something I blamed on strong winds, snow mold, and whatever. I was trying to find a reason for the headaches. My psychological mood was very low. My self-esteem tanked. Relationship issues reared its ugly head creating tension. Why?

I had to go to a medical appointment because of an eye issue. A routine blood pressure reading was taken. The numbers were high, very high. He wanted me to begin taking BP meds and I refused. This had happened in the past and I knew I could get it all under control with determined effort. My go-to strategy in the past had been walking, meditation, and diet control. Upon thinking about it, my salt intake had spiked – baked ham, ham-pea soup, and a few other delicious but salt-infested foods. My body weight had risen as well over this very short period of time from 169 to 176 pounds. None of this is good news for an aging male.

Four days ago, I returned to meditation. Walking will continue. And now, I just have to begin watching what I eat – very little salt. Hopefully the headaches will disappear and the blood pressure will drop. With less salt, there will be less water retention and my body weight will return to its normal number. With the body back in control, hopefully the depression will dissipate as well.

Each of us, when faced with the need for change, needs to take stock and make decisions. The easiest route is through the body. Healthy body makes for a healthier mind. Naturists know this.

Bruce and the Black Irish Woman Part 4

This will be the last part of my story about Bruce and Meghan that will be posted here. This is the selection from Chapter 14 of the story.

~

Meghan left only a few minutes after Zuhre had disappeared out the door. Bruce stared at the door feeling as though something had just gone wrong. He searched through his memories of the evening and couldn’t find anything that would account for the feeling. Up until the hot chocolate, all had been going very well. He was tempted to rush out the door and beg Meghan to tell him what he had done or said to cause her to leave him so abruptly. Yet, he resisted the impulse. He was tired, almost exhausted, even though he hadn’t done anything remotely strenuous during the day. It wasn’t even late.

His sleep was troubled. One scene had him underwater surrounded by paired fish of every conceivable description. Another scene had him suspended in the sky with paired birds and other strange beings dancing provocatively while trying to draw him into their gyrations. It was with relief when the alarm chased him from his dreams. It was Monday and time to return to the sanity of working with his clients.

Meghan had been troubled by similar dreams. She had seen Bruce in her dreams, but he was always at distance, mesmerised by the strange beings surrounding both of them. She felt invisible in Bruce’s eyes. It was obvious that what she felt for him was not a feeling that was returned by him. At least she had work to fill her time, especially since she was getting another set of papers to mark from her seminar class.

~

The work week had finished for Bruce. He stopped off at a grocery store in search of something he could cook up for his supper. A pair of ham steaks looked promising. ‘I could cook them and there would be enough for a second meal,’ he said to himself. He decided to bake a potato and cook a few fresh vegetables in a wok. He preferred his veggies to be still crisp. Before taking his purchases home, he decided to buy a couple of bottles of a new wine, a zinfandel and a Chenin Blanc.

It was cold outside, the coldest day of the New Year. The weekend promised to be even colder. It would be a good time to stay home close to the fireplace, Bruce reasoned. Though his work week had been productive, he hadn’t felt a sense of accomplishment. All he wanted to do was to retreat into a cocoon and sleep.

As he pulled up to his house and parked his car in the driveway, he half expected to see a light on. He gave a sigh of relief seeing that the house was still dark. The last thing he wanted was company, even if it was the professor. It didn’t take long to put away the groceries and put on the kettle for a quick cup of tea while supper was being prepared.

It was with relief when put the last of the dishes into the dishwasher and retreated to his favourite armchair near the fireplace. He had debated the idea of either watching television or listening to some classical guitar music. In the end, he chose neither. Sleep claimed him as he sat in his living room.

~

He woke up as a noise had jarred his sleep. The sound came from his backyard. He walked to the back door and peered out into the darkness. There were deep shadows which were accentuated by the snow covering the small area that was a lawn in the summer. Then he heard the sound again coming from the corner of his yard which darker than the rest of his garden area. Curious, wearing only his slippers and a housecoat, he hurried into the yard to make sure that all was okay. He was worried that a small animal, perhaps a cat or a young dog was hurt and hiding in the corner, trying to stay warm and safe.

As he approached the corner the darkness seemed to become more intense as the sound, a keen, high-pitched wailing, became louder. Bending in closer, he fell. The wailing he heard was his own voice as the darkness pulled him deeper and deeper. He began to freeze as he realised that he had lost the slippers and the housecoat. Pulling himself into a tight ball in a fetal position, he felt the darkness grasping at him. As terrible as it was, the fear of landing and being crushed by the impact was much worse.

Somehow, he found himself standing on a hard surface that was cold, ice cold. He had stopped falling. He could feel fingers gently probing as though the darkness was conscious and alive. Gradually, his eyes began to see in the darkness. Forms began to appear. The closest form that appeared confused him, a strange being that had the body of a man and the head of a pig, a being that was darker that the air that surrounded him.

“You have dared enter my kingdom, Earthling. Who are you? What are you seeking?”

Hearing a deep, raw voice shocked Bruce. In front of him stood a powerful male whose body glistened as though polished ebony. Every muscle and sinew was exaggerated, a physique that oozed masculine power.

Bruce unconsciously glanced down at himself and saw a softness a paleness that spoke of physical weakness. He saw himself shrink in response to the throbbing maleness of the terrifying thing in front of him.

In a voice that squeaked as though the voice of a mouse, Bruce said his name.

“You show no respect for the god of the underworld. Prostrate before the father of the nine black gods and nine black goddesses, co-creator of the universe, and brother of Umay!” growled Erlik.

Bruce prostrated himself as much as possible as he hugged the invisible floor upon which he had found himself. If he could have, he would have dug himself into the blackness and disappeared.

“Your purpose Earthling Bruce Langley! What brings you to my kingdom?” he roared.

Bruce barely lifted his head as he stammered out, “I … I … I followed a voice that seemed to be in distress.”

Erlik turned to his eighteen children, ranged in pairs behind him, glaring an unvoiced question. Who among his children had lured a mortal into his royal chamber?

A response came from a different source. A woman as imposing as the horror called Erlik stood tall. Her ebony body radiated power and strength. Though she had the body of a woman, there was no sign of feminine weakness. Like Erlik, she didn’t have a recognisable human face. Rather, her head was encased in a writhing mass of serpents. In her left hand she wielded a scimitar. Her only adornment was a belt from which the heads of bearded men were dangled, blood still dripping.

“You, Kalik! You called this mortal?”

“Do you really think he desired you my brother? As tempting as you think your magical wand might be, this mortal came here to bargain with me. Notice how his tiny wand has responded to me, his desire for me inflames his passion despite his fear.”

Bruce looked down. He had physically responded to Kalik, despite the grisly heads dangling, still dripping blood, from her belt. He was drawn to her knowing that to approach her was to invite his own death. There was no escape nor was there a will to escape that death.

“Bah! Look at that worm. He looks as though he is aching to be swallowed whole,” Erlik stated in disgust You’d do much better to let my magical wand fill you, sister than to have his tiny prick soil your perfect cavern.”

Bruce watched in disbelief as Erlik transformed into a caricature of a man with his sexual organ surpassing in size any image of the ancient Greek god, Priapus.

“This is what you need, sister.”

The scimitar in Kalik’s hand carved an arc, taking of the proud member which she then suspended from her belt. Erlik laughed as a new spear grew from his loins. Kalik swung her blade again scarring Erlik’s chest. As he closed the distance between them, he embedded his phallic spear in her, drawing blood.

Bruce was surprised to see Erlik’s throbbing member entered his sister while both raged and wounded each other. The vipers sank their teeth into Erlik’s snout as he savagely bit Kalik’s nipples. In return, Kalik opened deep channels on his back with her sharp nails as long as knives.

Brother and sister, glistening black figures larger than any human, became entangled in each other. Though their bodies displayed the most violent acts of intercourse, their faces betrayed intense hatred of each other as well as lust.

While the two fought, their eighteen children, black gods and goddesses, were caught in the same sexual violence. Erlik saw Bruce’s attention shift to his children. He roared, returning Bruce’s attention to Kalik and Erlik. Both god and goddess stared at Bruce while they copulated, their mouths dripping with saliva as though anticipating the savor of sexual release. The liquid of their sexual desire spilled out to cover the cowering Bruce as they leered.

There was no escaping the horrors. As he watched, transfixed, Kalik’s visage began to change. Bruce cried out in horror as Kalik became Meghan. Looking away, in shame, he saw Erlik transform revealing his own face.

And then, the darkness became total. The blackness consumed all sounds and any hint of form.

~

With a sharp cry, Bruce startled himself enough to wake up from a nightmare. He was drenched in sweat and needed a shower. Rising from his chair, he was surprised to see that not much time had passed. He was grateful for the feel of the hot water pummeling his skin in the shower, and the light that didn’t allow shadows. Drying himself off, he walked into his bedroom and saw Hannah standing beside his bed. She was as nude as he was.

Silence Between Friends

It’s just life

It has been quite quiet for me the past few days. I have to admit that it had nothing to do with Easter weekend gatherings or celebrations. Like last Easter, we were home alone. Traditionally, my second child brings her family to our home for Easter or we travel to her place in the USA. Borders are still closed and we haven’t been face-to-face with them since 2019. It has been a long time and there it is responsible for some of my depression. I have been quiet because of the depression. What I have noticed that in response to my quietness, those whom I could call my social media friends have also been silent. Is one responsible for the other? I will never know unless I ask, and even then, it would be unlikely that even that would answer the question.

Along the way, I wondered about my presence on social media. Am I really seen? I can say without any doubt that a very small number that could be counted on one hand, are real friends. The rest? Most would likely be categorised as positive-minded acquaintances. It is no different in my face-to-face world. Aside from family, how many of us have more than one handful of real friends? How do we know that they are friends? For me, it is has to do with a thought. If a person is on my mind, a pleasant thought, without being present in f2f interaction or social-media interaction, then I consider that friendship is real.

Yes, I do think of some of you who are likely reading this post. Because of past interactions and the passage of time seeing the interactions and dialogue continue, friendship begins to grow. With those interactions, a level of trust begins to emerge. Small tests, conscious or unconscious, of friendship either weakens friendship or strengthens friendship. The more the dialogue continues, the more friendship is tested. It’s like f2f life. Some people are good friends in small doses, and others are more than welcome to fill in a larger part of one’s life. Friendship, for me becomes stronger when I can note the differences and yet feel the strength of shared values tilting friendship into a more vibrant level.

And then, silence descends, be it because of life’s circumstances or depression or … . A friendship doesn’t begin to slip away in the silence. And strangely, as I continue to learn, a few voices pierce the silence, unexpected voices. These unexpected voices shift my reality. I can hear/sense that I have become visible in a positive manner. It doesn’t mean friendship, but it does contain the seeds for a possible friendship should life on both sides of that nucleus provide for nurturing that possibility. One just never knows.

Just a final note. I wonder how many of you would see me as a real friend, or somewhere along the continuum of a positive acquaintance to friendship?

Vulnerability, Communication and Trust

There is no question that naturists become vulnerable when they shed their clothing. There is a world which surrounds a naked person which more often than not, will judge and attempt social, economic, psychological, and sometimes physical harm. Knowing this, most naturists [or whatever you want to call people who feel more at home with themselves while nude] create safe spaces within which they can be themselves, be authentic. Within their homes with draperies closed, in private garden spaces where such exist, in gated communities, in abandoned bits of nature – there we believe we are safe.

We find others with whom we share the same value for authenticity and nudity. After all, they have dared to be as vulnerable as us. Because of the shared value of nudity, a level of trust was given. With a community, the sense of being alone and isolated because of our nudity was lessened. Naturists share easily with each other based on the trust of a shared philosophy. With real-life experiences expanding our sense of community, moments with others shared at beaches or events at naturist venues, our personal well-being blossoms. We begin to like ourselves better, our bodies and our psyche. We accept others more easily without judging them based on appearances.

For some, that community is extremely limited, if it exists at all, in the face-to-face world. Social media sites, like Twitter, Facebook, MeWe, and cyber-gated communities such as Naturist Community and Naktiv [Nook] provide the needed sense of community and belonging. Because they are social media sites, there isn’t the same level of trust. Though there are images that proclaim the named as being naturist or nudist, the only certainty is that not everyone is whom they tell us they are. It takes time to give trust. That trust only comes through dialogue. Needless to say, computer-mediated dialogue is less trustworthy than face-to-face dialogue. Missing are all the non-verbal cues we rely on to decode the real messages behind the words that appear on the screen. Yet, over time as we got to build trust, and we risk posting photos. And as expected, sometimes that trust backfires.

Somewhere along the way, we build attachments with these strangers turned into friends. Whether we do so in the face-to-face world or in the world of social media, these attachments bring the unspoken, sometimes unknown baggage of complex and complexed humans. Entering into relationship is always a risky venture. Though we know someone for years, there are somethings that don’t appear until one enters into a significant relationship. We all have complexes and triggers that set off those complexes. Very few among us are aware of our own complexes. We only become aware that we aren’t okay when someone triggers one or more of our complexes. The storm that arises catches both parties in a relationship by surprise. Typically both parties blame the other for the storm. This is the same situation that exists for naturists or those that almost never expose themselves fully, even to their significant other, except in the heat of sexual passion.

However, for naturists, the issue of vulnerability increases the sense of unease and fear when confronted by these “storms.” Face-to-face storms rock the foundations of one’s psyche more intensely. Moving past these storms requires communication, a willingness to expose the hidden psychological inner warts and scars. That dialogue can rebuild trust. A lack of communication eats away at trust. Without trust, we are left wounded and alone.

Bruce and the Black Irish Woman Part 3

Ancient Turkish tree of life

I am brining another chapter of Bruce’s story here. Chapter 13 introduces another scene from the world of Turkish mythology. Like the first scene, nudity is natural as though it is synonymous with being gods and goddesses. I look forward to your responses to the scene which includes another version of the world tree.

* * * * *

The work week proceeded with all normality for Bruce. No issues with clients appeared. Most appeared to have taken their work seriously making for productive sessions. When he went home Thursday evening, he was pleasantly tired. His leg still hurt a bit but was definitely improving.

Zuhre met him inside the door to his house.

“Bruce, I somehow didn’t plan right in making this evening’s meal. I have too much for just one person. Would you like to have a guest for supper? Lasagne, garlic bread and Caesar salad is on the menu.”

“Maybe Meghan would be interested. I’ll phone and catch her before she goes out to a restaurant to eat.”

The phone call to Meghan was made in time. She didn’t hesitate in accepting the meal invitation, even though it was a last-minute invitation and not a planned event.

Meghan arrived at five-thirty. Bruce noticed that she hadn’t brought her computer bag along, an indication that this was going to be more of a social meal than a working meal. He smiled at that thought. For the next two hours they had a relaxed meal in the dining room, served by Zuhre who disappeared into the kitchen when she wasn’t serving the various courses or refilling their wine glasses.

Bruce felt guilty not having Zuhre join them. It was her last day of work for him as he was now able to navigate without the need for crutches. He had bought a gift for Zuhre knowing that she wouldn’t have accepted a gift of money. With the last of the dishes cleared away, Bruce asked Zuhre to stay for moment.

As he handed her a carefully wrapped gift, he said “I want to give you a gift in thanks for your service Zuhre. It isn’t anywhere near enough to properly show you just how valuable you have been to me. Meghan helped me choose this gift so that it would be appropriate,” he added.

Zuhre nodded her understanding and didn’t protest receiving the gift. There was an envelope taped to the wrapping paper which Zuhre opened.

“Thank you, teşekkür ederim, Zuhre.” Bruce had thought that the less said would accentuate the authentic thanks he had for her service. From the looks on her face, he had guessed right.

Zuhre took her time gently unwrapping the box. Under the giftwrap, a thin box didn’t give away what contents were hidden within it. Lifting off the cover, a piece of embroidery was revealed.

Teşekkür ederim, Bruce and Meghan.”

The scene on the cloth depicted the Turkish Mother Earth goddess holding a globe containing a baby. Dark wings appeared to be coming out of her back with a headdress with two large feathers creating the appearance of horns. A jewel pendant was centred on her forehead.

“Now, before I go, I want to show you something in your garden,” Zuhre said as an invitation. We won’t be long.”

Curious, Meghan and Bruce put on their winter boots as there was snow in the backyard, and followed Zuhre outside through the backdoor. Bruce was surprise to see a glow coming from the back corner. Zuhre headed directly towards the glow. A moon gate appeared. There wasn’t supposed to be a moon gate in the garden, yet somehow it wasn’t as much of a surprise as it should have been. Zuhre gestured for both of them to enter through the moon gate, an invitation neither of them could deny.

~

Bruce could feel the closeness of the dirt walls as he took the steps down to some unknown destination. Several minutes passed until the stairs came to an end and a tunnel through rock appeared. There was more than enough room to move and somehow enough light coming from some of the scattered stones to light their way forward.

There was no sense of time as their journey continued. It might have been minutes or hours or days before they came to a large cavern that was large enough to house the largest religious structure in the world, Saint Peter’s Basilica, with plenty of room to spare. Bruce sensed an almost religious feeling envelope his body. He saw Zuhre move towards a glowing purple stone that sat on a large boulder.

As Zuhre touched the glowing stone, the scene transformed. Surrounding the glowing stone were what appeared to be the the central root of a tree which had split to form a protective enclosure that didn’t hide the light of the stone. The roof of the cavern was held in place by a network of roots that had branched off from that central root.

Bruce’s eyes turned again to the glowing stone and Zuhre, at least he had thought it was Zuhre, who was bathed in a golden yellow light. The woman now by the stone was ageless. All that she wore was a pendant on her forehead and a crown of intricately woven roots which held her long dark hair from covering her face. All that was missing were dark wings and the two feathers that had been embroidered on the gift Meghan and him and picked out for Zuhre.

Zuhre beckoned to both Meghan and Bruce to come forward. Bruce turned to Meghan and was surprised to see that she was also wearing only a thin crown of roots upon her head. Looking down at his own body, seeing that he was also nude, he reached up with his hand. He was wearing a crown of roots as well.

As he began to move forward to reach Zuhre, he felt like he was passing through some invisible material which had a gritty feel. He imagined that if he had been walking through the very earth itself, that this would be what it would feel like. For the briefest of moments, he panicked as he gasped for breath.

“It is okay, Bruce. You don’t have to worry about breathing here in my Palace. Here time stands still.”

Turning to Meghan, Zuhre then said, “Come here my child.”

Meghan knew exactly who Zuhre was and approached in awe as she said, “Yes, Mother.”

Zuhre touched Meghan’s breast with her right hand and her left hand over Meghan’s abdomen. Zuhre spoke words that appeared to be a blessing. Then turning to Bruce she placed one hand over his heart and her second hand on his solar plexus while repeating the same blessing.

Both Meghan and Bruce had felt the heat of Zuhre’s touch radiate through their bodies. Both fell to their knees before the woman they now knew as Umay Ana.

“Rise my children. Now journey with me to meet Gok, my husband”

The two followed Zuhre into the central root that cradled the glowing stone. Their passage then flowed upwards through the root. The root turned into the trunk of a massive tree. They continued to follow the Earth goddess to the tips of the tree surrounded by a pale blue sky.

“Welcome to my kingdom.”

Bruce and Meghan searched for the source of the voice. As they searched, a man appeared. Like Zuhre, he was encased in a golden glow which was almost too bright. On his head was a crown of leaves with a miniature white goose with its wings spread wide, sitting on the crown. Both Meghan and Bruce could see the goose lightly flex its wings reaching upwards. If Zuhre was Mother Earth, then this had to be Father Sky.

“Ah, you know who I am, the consort of Umay Ana. Though you see me as Sky Father, my name is Gok Teŋri.”

“Husband,” Zuhre called out, “I have performed the ritual of the fertility blessing upon these two of our children. I call on you to complete the ritual so that both may be fruitful as father and mother in their own place and time.”

Bruce gave a start and looked into Meghan’s eyes, hardly believing what those words Zuhre had spoken, implied.

Gok called Bruce to come toward him. A fear coursed through Bruce as he would have to leave the safety of his perch on the tree to reach the Sky God, Gok Teŋri. Yet, he felt compelled to move toward the god, even if it meant a fall and his death. Meghan put a hand to her mouth, feeling the fear radiated by Bruce and sharing it.

Bruce stepped forward. It was as if the sky had substance that allowed him to walk with safety to the god. He stopped in front of the god who stood slightly taller than him. Gok reached out and touched the bared chest of Bruce, reminding Bruce that he was still without clothing. Words that reminded him of the whispers that are present when a breeze passes through the branches of a tree, were heard.

Gok then placed his other hand on Bruce’s solar plexus, at the base of his abdomen, the words continuing to be sounded out. Bruce felt a stirring in his loins. The god smiled and withdrew his hands.

“Meghan, come forward to receive the blessing of your father.”

Having seen Bruce leave the safety of the tree without mishap, Meghan walked toward the glowing Sky god. The ritual that had been acted upon Bruce was repeated. And like Bruce, she felt a stirring deep within.

Zuhre had somehow appeared at Gok’s side. Meghan and Bruce watched as both transformed into white geese. The god and goddess flew as though dancing. Meghan knew that this had to be a courtship dance.

As they watched the god and goddess, the sky filled with other pairs of birds. There were birds that didn’t exist on the Earth, as well as species that were recognisable. All were engaged in similar aerial courtships.

Without conscious effort, Meghan and Bruce found themselves swirling in the air, each caught in the orbit of the other. They were like to two koi fish circling each other, searching for a way for two to become one.

~

Meghan looked at Bruce and shivered. The two had somehow found themselves standing in the snow in Bruce’s backyard. Zuhre’s voice brought both of them out of a trance.

“Look at those lights in the sky. The aurora borealis is beautiful tonight. I just love seeing them dance with their brilliant colours in the darkness. If one imagines hard enough, they become lovers in a dance, don’t you think?

“There, that’s what I wanted to show you. Now, a final hot chocolate is waiting for both of you before I leave.”