The room was lit by the dancing orange light of a single lantern on the small table. Sweet smelling smoke drifted up from the silver censer and hung in the still air.
Micaloz lay reclined on the padded silk chaise, hands folded across his chest. In a stout wooden chair next to the table sat Cosimo in a white robe and leather sandals. The lantern making a glowing circle in the shiny bald spot on the front of his head.
“Are we ready to begin?” Cosimo asked.
Eyes remaining closed, Micaloz inhaled deeply and let the breath slip out noisily through his nose.
“Yes,” he said. “I am ready.”
“We are going to put you into a state of very deep relaxation and while you are in that state we plan to probe your mind using a special ritual we have devised. You may feel as though there is an intruder in your mind, and the initial response is to push that presence out of mind. I urge you to focus on remaining open to the experience. Often this process must be repeated several times before I have gathered enough experience and information to construct a working model of your memory trace. In Greek we refer to these as ‘engramma.’ They are like static pictures of your past stored within the memory patterns of your brain. As the artist sets brush to canvas in creating likenesses of objects real or imagined, so does your mind work to store its information in such a way.
“Please know that the intent here is not to locate or associate with any particular memory or series of specific traces, but to get an initial sense of the depth of the information you store in the form of memory. Because you are extremely unique in your nature, we are particularly interested in plumbing the depths of your memory to understand what it is you recall from previous lives, and how your memory functions differently than others.”
At that, Cosimo nodded to an assistant who then stepped out from a shadowed corner of the room holding a series of small, flat circular stones attached to series of interconnected threads. The assistant approached Micaloz and draped the net of stones over his cranium, carefully and gently adjusting them to lie flat across the dimensions of his skull.
“We are placing a net of lodestone around your head in order to assist me with finding and entering your mind with ease. The vibrations of the magnets act as a beacon to me when I am dissociated from my corporeal form. They help me know where to go. They also help stabilize your mind, helping your thoughts not to wander. When I was in India, the Hindi people have a practice they refer to as ‘Nidra.’ It is a method for achieving a state they call Samadhi, or ‘temple sleep.’ This state exists in the realm between awakened awareness and sleep. It is in this Samadhi state where your hidden mind is revealed and it is that state we hope to guide you to today. Over time, it may promise to be useful to you in other ways as well. Ways you could not have expected.” Cosimo paused and removed an ornate necklace with a long chain from a small golden box on the table next to him. He put the chain around his neck and carefully adjusted the position of the jeweled amulet at its end so it hung over the center of his chest.
“So, shall we begin?”
Micaloz gave a very slight nod as his chest rose and fell rhythmically beneath his folded hands.
Cosimo again nodded to his assistant, who slipped into the shadows at the edge of the room and began blowing a very low tone on a long tubular instrument. The sound reverberated through the room as Cosimo began quietly muttering some passages in an unfamiliar language.
Micaloz noticed he began to feel a peculiar lightness. It was as though objects in the room were beginning to float, held aloft by the mesmerizing drone which circled and swirled through the room like a giant ethereal serpent.
Cosimo’s chanting began to merge with the sounds of the strange instrument until the two became a single voice intoning from a tenebrous source completely surrounding him. Micaloz felt immersed in the sound as though he were lying in a warm salted bath, buoyant upon it, floating without mass. Suddenly it was not something he was hearing so much as it was a thing he was experiencing. It was becoming part of his being. He was merging with the sound vibrations, and he felt his identity beginning to dissolve. It was no longer him lying on a chaise in a room with chanting, music, and incense. All of these things became one, he and the serpent were the same beings sharing the same mind. The serpent was the twisting line of the seashore, as wave after wave of memory gently crashed upon him, with each inward breath a new wave of influx. Memories would flood in and wobble across the sand. With each exhale the wave would wash back out to sea, carrying part of him with it. There was a natural reciprocity to it, with each new wave of memories and images washing in, an equal amount of them was peacefully slipping away. Just as suddenly as it appeared, the sea receded from view and he felt he was suspended in empty space, staring at a large cosmic wheel spinning very slowly. He gazed at the wheel, trying to ascertain the direction of its turning but each time he focused on perceiving a particular direction, the wheel seemed to reverse itself. It was moving in synchronicity with the waves which rolled in and out, and with his breathing which he was somehow still conscious of. He could not tell if the tides of this mystical sea were moving his breath, or if his breath was moving the sea. Gradually, the sea became calm to the point of it standing perfectly still as though frozen. The whole world stood perfectly still at once, and he felt he was seeing all of existence in a glance. In his body, he still felt weightless, but that he was somehow now being sucked outward into space by an invisible force. The earth was getting smaller and smaller and becoming the great wheel again. Micaloz imagined himself leaning forward to look closer at the spinning disc before him and was able to bring it closer into his view. Close enough that he was able to discern a series of markings on the disc. Looking closer still, he saw the markings were a series of infinite letters, and within each letter were infinite names, and within each name were an infinite sequence of colorful dots. Within each of the colored dots was a repository of images and symbols which represented a person’s entire lifetime. The detail was astounding, and Micaloz suddenly felt breathless and a tightness in his chest. The spinning disc started fading in detail, losing definition as it moved away from him, fading from sight.
When Micaloz awoke and opened his eyes, he noticed he was seeing a pattern of colorful wheels within wheels spinning in the air before him everywhere he looked. Slowly he lifted his head and leaned over to where Cosimo had been sitting before they began, but he was not there.
The assistant, seeing Micaloz had awoken, stepped over and silently removed the net of lodestone from around Micaloz’s head.
Micaloz sat up slowly and looked around the room. As the strange pattern over his vision dissipated he noticed a ringing in his ears which was almost musical.
“Where is Cosimo?” Micaloz asked out loud, not directing his question to anyone in particular. He did not know if the assistant had left the room or not, and he felt extremely disoriented. His head was swimming and suddenly he felt the urge to get sick.
“He will return to you shortly, these journeys often take a heavy toll on him. He was taken from the room before you had awakened so that he could rest comfortably while he regains his strength.” The assistant said, her voice revealing that she was a female. Micaloz had seen this same assistant on the estate several times and had not noticed her gender before. She always wore a hijab which hid most of her face, as did all of the occupants of the estate, including the men, aside from Cosimo himself.
On the table next to the chaise where Micaloz sat, there was a pitcher of water and a cup which had not been there before the exercise. Micaloz poured the glass full and drank deeply.