David Cauldwell

Mythology

Dragon Dreamtime

Synaptic SeedsDavid CauldwellComment
Dragon Dreamtime.jpg

Eleven days in the wilderness does wonders…
…for your sense of clarity and direction
…for your ability to tune into the true vibration of your being and practise living and interacting from that place
…for a poet’s flowery sensibilities

The dreaming in New Zealand’s south island is strong, particularly near the Dragons Teeth - a prominent rock formation in Kahurangi National Park. After hitting music festival Luminate for a week, I went straight into an 11-day solo hike. This didn’t seem like such a good idea on the first day when my lack of sleep and dancing endeavours seemed to be catching up. Not great when you’ve got to navigate.

A third of the walk was bush bashing, abjectly at times through undergrowth so thick that the leaves molested my face. Branches poked, scratched and bruised from all angles. And over the 11 days a pattern emerged: Lose “path” (actually non-existent at times, demarcated by rock stacks); scout aimlessly; get impatient; set compass point; bush bash; get totally lost; give up on finding a path, and then find the path.

The journey was a test of trust, of believing I was strong enough to hike through both internal and external terrain. Most of all, it was about being kind to myself whenever I lost the way.

The jagged Dragons Teeth cut an imposing skyline

The jagged Dragons Teeth cut an imposing skyline

I scrambled out of the dragon’s mouth. I followed animal trails. Head-high tussock plains engulfed me. I lost my legs down sporadic, soggy holes. I listened to the distant echo of bird calls ricocheting off nocturnal valley walls.  

I weaved through the saddle of the Needle’s Eye and stumbled past the Drunken Sailors. I bathed in Lonely Lake and felt part of everything. I wild-camped on ridge tops beneath moon and stars. I watched morning mist hover over Boulder Lake. Branches drew blood. One whipped my mouth during an uncontrolled slide down a mossy waterfall. I ended up in places few people would have ever contemplated their existence while frantically chewing dried mangoes.

It was eight days before I saw people, two men aged 71 and 68. Their buoyancy and vigour was inspiring. I hope I’m that fit when I’m their age.

What kind of wilderness experiences have you had, and how have they inspired you? Drop a line in the comments below…

DRAGON DREAMTIME

Every footstep taken
A line written in your personal Mythology
A rite of passage  
Through No-Time
Chronology dissolves during wilderness wanderings
Internal and external
The order of memories unimportant
When awakening in the realm of the dragon
Of magick
When Dreamtime merges
With all you ever thought was real
Then you are truly awake

Proof that yetis exist! Kinda...

David CauldwellComment
Don’t lose your head. Image: David Cauldwell

Don’t lose your head. Image: David Cauldwell

The monastery is awash with colour, in stark contrast to a cantankerous monk who stands by a locked cabinet. He jangles a set of keys. Gestures for me to make a donation. The monk then unlocks the cabinet to reveal an ornamental box with a scarf draped over it. Inside is something that looks like a genetically modified coconut sliced in half. The monk tells me it’s a yeti scalp. Is this concrete evidence at last? Well yes, if yeti scalps are made from the 200-year-old skin of a serow, a rare goat-antelope. Whoever made this scalp stretched the serow skin over a purpose-built mould, and then stitched henna-dyed hair (presumably yak’s) into it. It’s unclear if locals actually believe it’s real, or whether it’s simply a gimmick to lure tourists into handing over their rupees.

Beyond the Spectral Hum

David CauldwellComment
In the Realm of Yetis, Gokyo Ri, Nepal. Image: David Cauldwell

In the Realm of Yetis, Gokyo Ri, Nepal. Image: David Cauldwell

Beyond the spectral hum of alpine clouds, anything is possible. Avalanches, frostbite, pneumonia. Yetis. Feared and revered by rosy-cheeked mountain dwellers, how they long to spy these hairy creatures. Yet are terrified of the consequences, believing bad luck bestowed on all those that dare catch a glimpse. Superstitious Sherpas or devotees to the Divine? Caught not beneath sudden snowfall, but in ice-laden paradox. Internally frozen in the frost of the mind

The yeti is an expression of God in Nepalese mountain climes. The confirmation of a long-held belief, a niggle on the outskirts of consciousness, that the Divine is always present. Yet many mountain folk don’t feel worthy of being in Divinity’s presence. So the Scribe pens misleading mythology. Easier, seemingly, to dilute a deity into nothing more than a hairy creatured parable disempowering in its verse. Easier to believe in that than to look at the source lactating lack of self-worth.

Humanity’s malaise. Insidious belief of Source separation. Perpetuated by priests and bastardised scripture. Those claiming they are middlemen to God. Access granted only with their participation. A precipitation, a haze on what really lies beyond the spectral hum of alpine clouds 

A scripture rewritten: Let the imagination paint without interruption, without judgment, on swirling mountain mist. Each brushstroke freeing creative expression. Fear not the beast of magick. Fear not the divinity pulsing through your veins. 

Image: David Cauldwell

Image: David Cauldwell

Along yeti migration route I trek. Where beehives hang like caramelised tongues licking rock faces. Buttermilk River scythes through the valley in a gushing torrent. An aquatic drone flitting in and out of consciousness. Up ahead, the highest freshwater lake system on the planet, Gokyo Lakes. A sacred place where Sherpas believe yetis lurk beneath the water 

In sub-zero darkness, moonbeams illuminate patches of snow glowing like phosphorus, like clusters of faerie villages or distant yeti bonfires.

Scrape frosty layer off sleeping bag for the day is here. The myth somehow diluted as sunbeams warm the valley. Potato and barley terraces layer the hillside. Shepherd’s houses stand alone, isolated in their crumbling walls.

Cloud hovers above Gokyo Lake. I scan it for ripples, for erect yeti nipples. For hairy hands reaching up to swipe unsuspecting ducks. 

A stairway to heaven, the climb up Gokyo Ri. All 5,360m of it. Led Zeppelin failed to inform of the inflating balloon inside my head. Heartbeat pounds in throat as I plod slowly upward. Sweating yet cold. Head-rushes harrying. A blend of euphoria and anxiety. Perhaps one and same

Image: David Cauldwell

Image: David Cauldwell

Atop the summit, a Polish man in his sixties waits, as if expecting me. Arm outstretched, offers me a hip flask of whiskey. Too risky for the task of a controlled descent, But perhaps it would warm numb fingers and toes. 

Down the mountain, fresh snow dapples rhododendrons. Wiry, spindly branches jag eerily through the fog. Mountaintop clouds glow blue, impenetrable by sun’s ray, preserving mysticism lurking beneath. And then the cloud breaks for a fleeting moment. A rip in the seam of reality. Revealing peaks so improbably high, possibly on the verge of heaven. On the verge of realisation of how vast the Divinity in all beings. 

Yak pee freezes lightning fork patterns in the snow. Wizened women roll yak dung into patties, slapping them on rocks to dry. Juniper burns in small pots outside houses. Rosy-faced kids with blood noses pass in Kalvin Klein caps. In their eyes the answer to this mystery, that some things are better left shrouded in the mists of imagination. For it keeps alive the wonder of the little child to be ever curious. To acknowledge yeti existence in realms peripheral. This furry beast’s service to humanity: providing a link to fantastical realms where it matters not if they appear physically. What matters is that the inner child is at play imagining yeti homes on desolate summits. Far beyond the spectral hum of alpine clouds

Local Sherpa man’s interpretation of a yeti inspired by his grandfather’s sighting

Local Sherpa man’s interpretation of a yeti inspired by his grandfather’s sighting

Transmuters

TransmutersDavid CauldwellComment
Transmuters.jpg

Before the spark of the first thought, the utterance of the first word and the pulse of the first human heartbeat, an asteroid hurtled through space. This ball of noxious gas travelled from galaxies afar, lurching through black holes and interdimensional fluxes before colliding with Earth. The explosion rattled the planet. Plumes of dust smothered the sun. Odious odours spewed from a catastrophe of comet carnage. They mixed with the Earth’s atmosphere. Chemical reactions infused the planet with an invisible new race of beings.

The Transmuters were born, beings that absorbed energy through their temples and into their gaseous bodies. These balls of static electricity could discern the vibration of passing asteroids in the atmosphere. They were swayed by the currents of vast ocean waters, awakened by distant waves crashing hundreds of kilometres away. They could feel the movements of molten magma deep in the Earth’s core. They were able to use this energy to transmute their DNA, to adapt and densify so they could survive in their new home.

The Transmuters are everywhere. They feed off thoughts, from the pulses of irregular heartbeats. One feeds, they all feed. One action affects the entire tribe. They are selfless, communal beings acting always with the intention of galvanising the masses. Selfless acts of psychological sabotage: they feed off the selfishness, the cruelty and the single-mindedness of humans. They are a constant reminder that all of this can be transmuted in a heartbeat. As quick as an entire planet can be plunged into darkness, can a world find itself on the precipice of a light-filled dawn where possibility trails off every breath...