Instant Recap: At age 18 Mindy stopped taking psych meds, was beset by demons, and set off in search of the Kin of Aries. She momentarily morphed into the Goddess Minerva to aid her escape.
The day after Mindy fled from home in a quest to find Soul Haven, the people who lived there were preparing for dinner in the same back yard we visited at the opening of our story, though now it’s eight years earlier. Only one long picnic table was needed this time, with place-settings for twelve people, none of whom were yet seated. “It looks like Vance and Carol are late,” said Diana as she set down a large covered platter in the middle of the table.
“They had a NORMAL meeting in Berkeley,” said Elise. “It’s a long drive, but they should’ve been back by now.”
“What the heck does NORMAL stand for anyway?” said Spike, as he became the first person to ensconce himself in a seat.
“The National Orthomolecular Association, Ltd.” said Diana.
“Wow, what a mouthful o’ syllables!” said Spike. “Does it have something to do with getting your marbles together?”
“What a sensitive way to phrase the question!” said Elise sarcastically as she settled into the chair next to Spike ~ slowly and carefully, for she was in an advanced stage of pregnancy. “But the answer is yes. They promote natural treatment for so-called mental illness instead of the horrible drugs that the psychiatric establishment pushes.”
“Yeah, Vance and Carol sure have told some horror stories about that stuff. But what’s the alternative supposed to be?”
“The main one is lots of vitamins and minerals,” said Diana ~ “they call it ‘megadoses’, and I understand it has to be specially formulated to your metabolism, blood type, and other factors.”
Another couple came out of the kitchen carrying food to the table. The man said, “I wish I would’ve known about that back when I was a nutty teenager bouncing off the walls.”
“Your mom wouldn’t have sprung for it anyway, Ted,” said the woman, setting down a huge bowl of salad on the table. Like the other women she was wearing a dress, but hers was the only one with a hemline above the knees. Her name was Flora.
“Your mother didn’t love you very much, did she, Ted?” said Diana sadly.
“She didn’t love me at all!” said Ted. “She was a worthless media slut who only cared about herself and the next Hollywood honcho she could get into her bed to advance her career.”
Flora put an arm around him and nestled up in an erotically nurturing way. “Sweetie,” she said, “I see that we still have some work to do on all that residual bitterness.”
“Well, you know I’m making progress,” said Ted, a bit embarrassed.
“Ah, here they come,” said Elise looking toward the long, winding driveway. Vance’s car pulled up, and to everyone’s surprise it was followed by another.
Only Vance emerged from his car, then Carol from the other one along with the driver, a thin young man with an air of wonderment as he looked around at the people and their habitat. He seemed a little shy, so Carol took him by the hand and led him to the table. “Folks,” she said, “this is Sam Lafolette, a graduate student in psychiatry. He discovered the colossal hoax going down in his field by his own research, and joined the good guys on his own steam.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful!” said Diana, clapping her hands. Her empathic good feeling was contagious, and generated a spontaneous round of applause from the kindred.
Sam blushed and glanced at Carol, then said: “I just know I’m gonna wake up any minute.”
Everyone laughed, but before anyone else could speak the three remaining adults of the household strolled in along a path from the woods and joined the group. They were Flash, Albrecht, and Sylvia, whom we met in Part I. “A guest for dinner,” said Sylvia, “what a nice surprise.”
“We heard Carol’s introduction,” said Flash; “you deserve a lot of credit, Sam.”
Vance stood next to Sam and said, “The Gods always fill the bill of credit when it’s due, unlike those deadbeats who run the shrink biz, academia, and the rest of the Matrix. But with my lovely lady’s permission, let me do the flipside of the intro.” He spieled off the names of everyone around the table, who each nodded greetings to the newcomer.
“I can’t tell you how glad I am to meet you all,” said Sam. “So this is an organic farm, and an intentional community, and you all live here together?”
“Well, not in the same room,” said Vance.
“Yeah, we’re not hippies,” said Elise amidst the laughter.
An extra place was set at the table, and everyone sat down except Diana. “Now all we need are Gavin and Aurora,” she said.
“We met Gavin on the way back,” said Sylvia. “He was having a great time on Kalki, so I let him take Aurora for a ride. And I reminded him about dinnertime.”
“He probably got distracted and forgot,” said Diana. “I’ll call them.”
She touched her temples with her fingertips and focused intently on the fields beyond the eucalyptus grove. After a minute she turned back to the table and said, “They’re not far off. They’ll be here in the twinkling of an eye.”
Sam did a double-take and stuttered, but couldn’t formulate the question on his mind. Vance filled him in: “Some kids are so sharp they can hear their elders call from miles away, even if people nearby don’t even pick up a whisper.”
“They’re, um, telepathic?” said Sam, big-eyed.
“A lot of kids would be,” said Diana, “if they were raised in a place like this by adults who encouraged the gift instead of mocking it.”
“Or who think it’s crazy and give them drugs to ‘cure’ it,” added Carol, looking at Sam.
“Oh my God!” he said, “I could rattle off all the diagnoses that it’s considered ‘symptoms’ of.” He was in the grip of a revelation, but he was interrupted by the pounding of hoofbeats on turf. The next moment a white stallion rounded the eucalyptus grove and galloped toward them. It was fully grown though the horseman was not. He reigned it in exactly at the edge of the dinner circle, rearing it up so that it whinnied loudly. A small girl was seated in front of him, and she laughed in delight as they rose. The horse settled down and the boy dismounted with a protective hand on the girl, then carefully set her on the ground. She ran happily to her parents, Albrecht and Sylvia, for this was Aurora at age three.
Gavin, meanwhile, was seven, and had grown a lot since we left him in chapter two, physically and in many other ways. He was introduced to Sam, who said, “It’s amazing how well you handle a horse that’s so much bigger than you.”
“Aw, that’s nothin’,” said Gavin. “I can hardly wait to get to Asia and try an elephant.”
Sam laughed at what he took to be a joke, but Diana said, “It’s actually on the agenda. We have kin in that part of the world.”
Gavin made a quick trip to the stable and back, and then everyone sat down to the meal. The blessing was different from those of other traditions, but does not concern us yet. After some small talk Sam said, “On the drive up Carol was telling me about her life before she came here, and it really rattled my notions of psychology and of… well, reality.”
“So which reality did you wind up in?” said Vance with his sly good humor. “There are lots of ’em to choose from.”
“That’s what I’m beginning to think!” said Sam. “In my intern work many of my clients described being caught in the middle of battles between angels and demons, and it always amazed me how realistic it all seemed to them. But now Carol has forced me to consider the possibility that it’s actually real! That it goes on all the time in some kind of invisible realm, but most people can’t see it. And the ones who do… well, if they’re not mentally disturbed, then we need a whole new lexicon to talk about it ~ and a whole new concept-system to even think about it.”
“Back in the nut-house,” said Vance, “I used to tell my keepers that I wasn’t crazy, just differently psyched. But they still refused to turn me loose.”
There was a round of bubbly laughter, then in a serious tone Flash said, “There have been such lexicons in the concept-systems of most traditional cultures, but the West abandoned them as “unscientific”. Fortunately the knowledge of alternative realities and the wisdom of how to deal with them has been preserved in certain circles.”
“Really?” said Sam; “That’s wonderful! Can you give me some references to research it?”
“I can teach it to you, if you’re interested. And also how to use it to heal people of the maladies that are usually construed as madness.”
Sam was speechless. He rolled up his sleeve and pinched himself. People laughed and Carol gave him a hug. Finally he found his tongue and said, “Does the
subject or the curriculum or the system of wisdom have a name?”
“We call it Seelenheil,” said Flash.
“Isn’t that the German word for ‘salvation’?”
“Yes, and it has that valence for us too, though not in a specifically Christian sense. But we mainly implement the literal meaning, which is the healing of souls.”
Sam fairly gasped. “And the literal meaning of ‘psyche’ is soul.”
“Right,” said Vance, “but if we called it ‘psychiatry’ they’d confuse us with those headshrinkers in the other tent.” And again there was merriment all around.
4. Highway Through Hell Up To Heaven