Ronan is/was a Cultist of Ecstacy. He was a fun character to play. I'd love to have a reason to play him again! I played him on the Vegas site. His history, I think, is the best I've written.
- Oyster Band "When I'm up I can't get down"
It isn't easy being a Cultist of Ecstacy. Sure, people say, it's so tough with parties and drugs and sex and rock and roll and generally being irresponsible. They don't understand. How do you truly explain the concept of responsible irresponsibility? Either you get it or you don't. There doesn't seem to be much of a middle ground. These people with their irresponsible responsibility. . .
What do I mean by that? Well, I can try to explain. Either you'll get it or you won't. See, there's a lot of folks who are irresponsibly responsible. They do what they're supposed to do, act like quote unquote responsible adults, and claim superiority over layabout slackers who don't behave the way they do. Their words, you understand, not mine. But they don't -think-. Think about that. If you're free enough to think. They do things because they're supposed to. But where do they get this supposed to? From society. From others. From things handed down to them by their parents, by their teachers, by their bosses. This is the way a responsible adult behaves. And they don't question it.
Now I'm not saying don't listen to parents, teachers, et cetera. Just don't not question. And that doesn't mean rebel because you want to go against them, either. It means question. They may be right. They may be wrong. But if you don't examine their rightness, then your quote unquote responsibility isn't yours. It's what they told you to do.
Another side to this, the darker, scarier side, is people who wind up doing terrible things because someone told them to. This isn't just the soldiers that burned civilian villages in Vietnam because they were told to, or Nazis, or what have you. This is also the kindergarten teacher that lets kids get away with picking on the odd one because society has told them that odd ones need to be whipped into shape and made to conform. Gotta conform, gotta be like everyone else. It isn't healthy if you're not. They put it in terms like that so people can justify destroying a child's soul.
Sounds pretty ugly, right? Think about it. It's there.
Irresponsible responsibility. Doing what society tells you without question.
On the other side of things, you have responsible irresponsiblity. If you can understand what I mean by comparison, then we've got a lot of good things to talk about. If not, I'll try to explain.
See, us Sahajiya are out here running around, pushing the outside of the envelope of what's not only acceptable, but possible. We do all the things people say we do. Not everyone one of us does it all, mind you. We do tend to specialize. But watch us for a while. We don't stay with one specialization. We explore it, learn it, experience it, and move on. The Cultist you met five years ago who was heavily into hallucinogins is probably doing yoga now. Or trance dancing. Or what have you.
We don't just do this stuff because it's fun.
Oh, yeah, it is fun! Definately. What's the point if you can't find joy in what you do? No matter what road you take, no matter what tradition you are, there is joy somewhere. For the Hermetic it might be joy in translating some old tome, or in the success of a ritual planned carefully for weeks. For a Virtual Adept it could be a rush of virtual reality, or the thrill of a new program working. You get the picture. We all have fun doing what we're doing, even if we don't call it that.
It's easy for outsiders to see the serious side of the Hermetic in that example, and the Virtual Adept. But can you see the serious side of the Cultist exploring hallucinogens? It's there, trust me, it's there. While the Virtual Adept is pushing the outside of the envelope on new technology, we're pushing the outside of the envelope on ourselves. Our minds, our perceptions.
So how does irresponsible responsibility fit in? It's playing to learn. It's being wild, with an eye on what it's doing, to us, to the people around us. It's never, ever, losing sight of the consequences of our actions, and always, always accepting credit and blame for what we've done.
Think about that. We Sahajiya, each of us, are responsible entirely for ourselves. We rise or fall on our own merits. We don't have the cushion of people to take care of us, ever, really, although it's somewhat there when we're being mentoring. We also don't have the limits of those same people keeping us safe.
Freedom, true freedom, is a frightening thing.
I can watch his hands for hours. Perhaps I am. He's contact juggling Chinese medicine balls. The rhythm, the sound, the motion, are hypnotic. It's so beautiful.
He's an Akashic Brother, a friend of Philippa's. She's good at introducing people who can speak the same language, or close enough to touch. He knows that, watching my face as I watch his hands. There's more that we have in common than we might have thought. It's time to think about it. Soon. Right now I'm going to
I'm six years old. In my bedroom, home sick. Chicken pox, no big deal except mom keeps telling me not to scratch. I've reread all the comic books in the room, and tv has gotten boring, and it's getting harder not to scratch.
There's a knock at the door. It's mom, with Grandpa Charley. He's got some records with him. Grandpa Charley's cool, even if other people say he's a little crazy. I like him. I think my sister's scared of him. Mom is used to him, I can tell. He lives out of town in a little house all by himself with a big garden and a lot of trees. Sometimes I go there and play. He's got friends that come over whenever. They're all a little weird and a lot neat.
Grandpa Charley sits by the bed and asks me how I am while he sets up the record player. The pictures on the records don't look like kid's music. Grandpa Charley says it's not kid's music, but it's really special and
I'm twenty-one, coming home for the first time in years. Rising star and all of that. Big family Christmas dinner. Everyone's there, even Grandpa Charley. He's got to be ninety now, or something like that. After dinner drinks, and Grandpa Charley takes me out on a walk. Looking up at the night sky, and the stars and the smoke of our breath in the air.
"Sahajiya, am I right?"
I stare at him. He laughs, and tells me. He knew, even back when I was a kid, that I had the potential. He hoped I would Awaken. He hoped I'd turn out to be Verbena, like him, but I'm not. He's happy for me, still. We've got even more to talk about now. We walk and talk and then go back in and listen to a tape. Same songs as that old record, but this one has my voice. Everyone comes in to
the record spins and the needle comes down and I hear a voice as big as the whole world. It shivers me, like nothing else I've ever felt before. Voice as big as the whole world. Grandpa Charley lets me keep the record and I play it and play it and
her hands are all over me and she's pushing me, making me do this. I don't want to. I don't want to, but she says she owns me. She's twenty, almost twenty-one, and I'm just fifteen and a student in the chorus and she's a rising star and if they find out they'll kick me out and won't do anything to her. That's what she says. She. Janine.
She's been doing this to me for more than a year now. It feels so good and so horrible at the same time. I wonder if sex ever can just feel good? It's not as bad as Ron and Tim and the others in back of the school yard those years ago. They liked to make me hurt. Or is it? I don't know if Janine really likes to make me hurt, or just likes making me uncomfortable. She laughs when I cry. They did, too, but it was different. I think it was different. It hurt more with them and when I did start to feel good it felt worse inside. Janine sometimes makes sure my body feels good.
They find us like that when I'm crying and she's laughing, and they start yelling, but Mrs. Quinn takes me aside and asks me whose idea it was and if I wanted it and when she finds out I didn't and how bad I feel, she tells the others and then they're yelling at Janine and telling her to leave but they're calling my parents. What can I
'm on stage in Sydney in that opera house that you see all the pictures of. This is fun. I'm twenty-four years old and in a leading role in an opera in the Sydney Opera house! After the show, I meet her in back. I don't know how she got there. Later I understand why she can do things like this. Her name is Philippa, she's Hermetic, and learning about other traditions.
We talk long into the night, and meet the next day and talk more. She learns a lot of what I believe and the varieties in the cult and throws out a lot of misconceptions. We don't wind up in bed until the third day. She's a little surprised by that but then
on when I least expect it, but he told me it would. I can't stop dancing. So maybe it is time for me to explore the drug side of the Cult. I've been in for a year now and haven't done more than a joint or two. I know he told me what this is but
at last on the stage where I started. No Janine. They don't know where she went. I'm twenty-two. Awakened for two years and I shouldn't be afraid of this. I don't get stage fright. I don't. I don't. Why am I so scared?
He's in the audience, up front. For a minute he looks like Janine and I know why I'm scared. I almost can't sing, but the music cues me and I do. I'm glad the rage is part of this song so I can let it out. I'm angry. I never thought I could be so angry. He looks like Janine again and I screamsing my anger at her/him through the music. How could you! I was just a kid! You made me your toy and laughed when I cried and nearly destroyed my sexuality! I rage and weep.
I hear his voice. His, but lighter. His and hers. Let it go. And then suddenly I know. To own myself, to be myself I have to let it go. The memories remain, but the anger just. . .goes. One long note that shatters glass the way a high C does, and it's gone. I go down on my knees as the curtain falls. I'm free. She doesn't own me. I do. I
answer the door. And just stand there for a while. She. Janine. Gods, she looks like hell. She mumbles my name as she falls into my arms. I take her to the spare bedroom. She smells awful. I wash her. She sort of wakes up a time or two while I do it. She doesn't know where she is. I put her to bed and then wander the apartment, wondering.
I'm twenty-six years old. It's been more than ten years since I last saw her. How the hell did she find me? What's happened to her? She starts crying out and I go to listen to her talk to feverdreams. Gods. She's Awake.
crazy, not again, not now. I'm on stage. Performing and I'm doing a good job and things are just getting weird, and it's me. Voice as big as the whold world. Bigger than the whole world! Faces in the audience are blurring and there's a dozen different people in each seat. There's a kid with the voice of the world. Like a twin in reverse. Blond hair where mine is dark, fair skin where mine is ruddy. Features are mine, though. Mine at about age ten. Age ten, when Tim and Ron started raping me.
He's singing with me. Voice as big as the whole world. Bigger than the whole world. Echoes. Echoes through time? Is that possible? How? But I know it's true. I know it.
I meet him outside after the show. Not the kid, but a man. About thirty or so. I know we're going to be lovers and it frightens me. What does he mean Awakened like that? What cult?
We go to his place eventually. It doesn't make sense, but in a wonderful way. I hear the kid's voice, and see him in the corner. Robin tells me there's a lot of names for what the kid is, but Avatar is the most common. It makes sense, he is me. A twin. My features, reverse coloration. The dimple's even on the opposite side, the way a mirror is.
So this is the Cult of Ecstacy. Or Sahajiya. Or Seers of Cronos, but that name's old, they say. I meet more. That first year, I don't travel so much, and I spend time with Robin and his friends and I learn. Gods, do I learn. Robin's a good mentor. He's a little vague sometimes, but that's okay. I'll always love him for being my first real lover, and understanding, and teaching. Sybil is a friend of his, and she's even vaguer, and she teaches me about loving women, and all three of us wind up in bed together enough.
Eventually, Robin wanders off. About a year after we met. It breaks my heart, but I know it's right. We all do our own thing, as Robin says. Our paths can meet and travel together for a while, but ultimately, they're our own. I wander, too, but it takes me a while to love it. My music leads me and I follow to the corners of the world. Voice as big as the whole world. And soon the path
towards Boulder, where Alice, a Verbena I first met at Grandpa Charley's lives. Janine is still more than half out of it. Quiet. Pretty deep, I guess. From the few times I've gotten her to answer questions, she Woke up a month ago. Strung out on who knows what somewhere. I think she's been a prostitute, at least for a while. Woke up, not knowing. Pure instinct. Something happened, and she wound up with 'dox backlash. I don't know how she found me.
Alice takes her in. Alice is a saint. Or a sucker for a bird with a broken wing, as she tells me. I understand something now. I've always been so afraid of madness, since I was hospitalized all those years ago. My madness isn't hers. Gods, I was a messed up kid. She's. . .ill. Hurt. And has so much more healing to do. Alice says she'll
say I'm crazy this time, but this is what I have to do. The other Cultists understand, even if the opera folks say I'm nuts to go camping this time of year. Like that's the whole story.
Three days later, up a mountain in the middle of nowhere. Cold rain and I haven't eaten in two days. Except for the peyote. Dancing naked in the rain. Madness. Or sanity? This time the kid is dressed in constume. Something from Don Giovanni. He comes and goes, all sides of me, fading in and out. I catch his voice in half heard half sentences.
What is madness? What is time? I see
white. So very white. I can't move. Strapped to the bed. I start to cry. A nurse comes in and dries my tears and tries to get me to talk some but I don't know if I can. I tell her I feel so dirty and I want to shower but she says I can't for a while.
They had to haul me out of the shower, she says. Scrubbed bloody. I'm all over bandages. Nothing's deep, she assures me. Don't they understand? It's not on the surface. I'm trying to wash them off of me and I can't. Janine and Tim and Ron and everything they did to me. I'm crying, trying to tell the nurse. Eventually I get a shot and sleep.
It takes a few days before things make much sense for me. Everything echoes here, and the walls are so bright. The first doctor is an old man who tries to help, I think, but it just makes me cry more. One day they said I cried for sixteen hours. Mom and Dad came, and talked to me, and then Mom talked to me alone, and then the doctor. The next day I have a new doctor. She's younger, and pretty, and she makes me laugh, not cry. She says it's okay that I understand in my mind it's not my fault I don't feel it. It will take time.
I don't like being in the hospital. The doctor says I won't be here too long, but they have to be sure I'm going to be okay. Besides, I need some time. Always time. I'm in a psych ward. I'm crazy in a
echoes. His voice and mine. There's no madness here. His voice echoes, so it has to be real, right? So does mine, so I have to be real, right? What is real? The mountain? Mountains grow. A mountain has a lifespan the same as anything else. Do mountains ever go crazy? What is madness and why is it haunting me?
Push, Ronan, push. You know in your heart. And I do! I shout and laugh and dance with joy! Fear holds me back but only if I give it permission! I can't stop fear but I can't let it control me! Let? Can't? I just won't. I want to fly and dance and live and now I know. Now I know that fear, that fear of madness and madness of fear. . .they've stood in my way and now I can walk over them.
Or with them! I embrace madness and fear and laugh with joy. Naked on a mountain top and more alive than I've ever been. Fear and madness and joy and magick go hand in hand in hand. I understand! No need to worry where I fit in and losing myself in time and Time. I am. I was. I will be. Magick is and was and will be. Wheee!
to have my child? I'm at Alice's. I'm twenty-eight years old. Alice and Janine's, now. Janine wants a child. She's asking me to be the father.
She's changed so much. She's still so fragile. Alice says she keeps battling Quiets. Poor Janine. We talk for a long time. Janine's Verbena now. She knows her body. We'd only have to do it one time, she says. I ask her why me.
The answer surprises me. She loves me. It's not just guilt over what she did to me, or admiration for what I've become, although they're both a part of it. That's what she says. It's because she'd like to share, with me, a new life. To make something that is part of both of us. It's odd, but I find I like it.
A week later, it's time. She's very still in bed. She moves so little, so as to not scare me. I'm very gentle with her. Afterwards, we hold each other and cry together. I thought I'd forgiven her, years ago. But now I know I do, with all my heart. I don't love her the way she loves me, but I care for her. I care. I'm glad she's carrying my child. That little spark of life in her is part of her and part of me. In nine months time
in Europe, on stage. Gods, this is fun! Big titles, big names, big places, and me! Rising star, and they're glad to have me. They know me well enough by now to not even bother to call me crazy for wanting to backpack from Germany to England for the next show. They'll go in planes and expensive cars and have some time in fancy hotels in London to relax. I'll meet them there in six weeks.
I travel by rail and stay in youth hostels. I can afford better, but I don't want to. I like having dirt under my nails and staying dormitory style with complete strangers. Most of the time, no one recognizes me. Twenty-six is a little older than the average backpacker, but not by much.
I didn't expect to find quite so many Sahajiya this way, but I'm not really that surprised. Opium and dancing in underground clubs in the backstreets of European towns with unpronouncable names. I lose myself in the crowd and dance with a girl with a patchwork skirt and a silver ring in her nose. She's no more than eighteen. We make love in an old, old cemetary, near a river. Sex-magick, for something she's trying to see. She gets what she wants, I guess. Or at least the attempt is fun. She's gone by dawn, and I never got her name.
I get to London on time, and the hotel looks pretty dubious until Maria and Loretta spot me. Then they know I am who I say I am, and who my ID says I am. Silly people. Maria and Loretta
just in time. I'm scrubbed and dressed and sent to the room where she is. Alice is there, with her. Not long, not long, they say. When it comes time, we're both holding her hands. I see the baby, discolored and slick with blood. A few minutes later, they put her, wrapped in a blanket and clean, in Janine's arms. My daughter. Crystabel. Janine's choice of names. Crystabel Alice Walker-O'keeffe.
I take my daughter to the window to show her the world, and I sing softly to her. Voice as big as
laughing and hugging and talking to the Asian man she's with. I haven't seen her in years. Since Sydney. She says I was her second trad to get to know. A dreamspeaker had been the first. Now she's learning about the Akashic Brotherhood with Ryuichi. She still hasn't studied the Sons of Ether, but she's gotten everyone else. She only had sex with me and the Verbena, she says.
We go to dinner and I give them good seats to see tonight's performance. I sing a funny song directly to them. I see Philippa laugh. She's a good one, she'll go far. She's the only Hermetic I've met so far who really knows how to have a wild good time and relax! Especially the relax part! She's good at
dancing in the rain. Boiled In Lead are playing. I'm barefoot in the grass and Crys is on my shoulders giggling. It's late and most of the crowd has gone except for a few real die-hards. Crys and Janine are the only ones who aren't in an altered state of consciousness of some sort by this time. I'm never sure if Janine counts, though. She's still got an ongoing battle with Quiet.
The singer recognizes me. I'm only slightly surprised. I wind up on stage at some point, singing "Mad Man Mora Blues" with them. Gods, this is fun! Crys is giggling and clapping with delight. We're all soaked. I don't
feeling like something's missing. I've been in New York for nearly a year now, give or take. Sure I've gone on a trip or two, and out to Boulder every few months to see Janine and Crys and Alice. But I'm restless.
The rest of the opera company thinks I'm crazy. So what else is new? I'm going to go sing in a couple of gaudy shows in Las Vegas, and teach a part of a course at the University, and sing in a couple of shows there. This should be fun! Viva, Las Vegas!
~ Oyster Band - "A fire is burning"
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