Travelling Light by Chris Green
It didn’t work out at first. Things often don’t the first time you try them. Suzi and I only got into it because Milo and Clover gave it the hard sell. It was simple, they told us.
‘You just lay down, close your eyes, relax your muscles, channel your thoughts, and gradually let go.’ Clover said. ‘You will experience a feeling of lightness of body and mind, and in no time at all, you will be able to witness your astral body floating across the ceiling.’
‘Once you can do this, with a little practice, you can go anywhere,’ Milo said. ‘So long as you can visualise the space, you can transport yourself to wherever you want.’
‘It is called astral travelling,’ Clover said. ‘It is cool.’
‘Perhaps it would help you to know that astral travelling is natural,’ Milo said. ‘It is something we do all the time, in dreams for example. And what you create on the astral plane brings about changes on the physical plane. It is true magick. Everyone should try it.’
‘Think of it as flying without wings,’ Clover said.
I was a little hesitant, but Suzi couldn’t wait to give it a go. It was time we tried something new; she said. She was excited by the idea of having an out-of-body experience, or OBE as they were referred to. When we failed miserably on our first attempt, she suggested we try again the following day.
‘I think I felt something happening that time, Adam,’ Suzi said after our third or fourth attempt. ‘I definitely seemed to drift off somewhere.’
‘I’m not sure I did,’ I said.
I felt like giving up there and then. It was fine for old hippies like Milo and Clover. They were probably taken in regularly by nonsense like this. But as I saw it, astral travelling had little place in our lives. It was not much more credible than many of those conspiracy theories that did the rounds on social media. I liked to think Suzi and I were more grounded, less gullible.
‘You’re probably trying too hard,’ Suzi said. ‘You need to relax. Try those breathing exercises I showed you.…… Anyway, I think we ought to stick with it, don’t you? Can we do that?’
I wondered if it would be better to just stick with smoking weed. If you wanted to get mystical about it, you could say that this provided us with our Dreamtime. It was much more straightforward. But it did not seem worth mentioning it. Once Suzi got the bit between her teeth about something, there was no stopping her. I could tell she was determined to push this one. She was eager to please Clover, with whom she had been friends since university.
Not many people were aware of it, but Clover was the heir-apparent to the FlowerPower fortune. I had only recently been introduced to her and Milo when Suzi took me along to their wedding at Scott McKenzie Hall, a month or two previously. Clover seemed to possess an almost childlike naivety. She was the archetypal hippie, all paisley pattern peasant prints and patchouli oil. But I could not make out Milo at all. He was something of an enigma. He dressed in a bohemian manner and talked the talk, but he came across as rude, edgy, opinionated, and overbearing. In a word, he appeared to be a bully. It didn’t seem the pair were suited at all, but when I had mentioned this to Suzi back then, she told me to stop being a wet blanket.
‘Maybe I will read up on astral travelling on the internet to see if I can get any tips,’ I said now to placate her.
‘Good idea!’ Suzi said. ‘Do some research. There will be lots of information about astral projection online. It always helps to get some background when you are starting something new. You never know, Adam. This could change our lives.’
I discovered from Mystic Arts that astral travelling and astral projection were overarching terms used to describe an intentional out-of-body experience that assumed the existence of a soul or astral body separate from the physical body. Connected by an invisible silver cord, one’s astral body could travel outside the realm of the physical body. There were no limits to where the experienced traveller could go. You could travel beyond the earthly bounds of your physical body to anywhere in the universe. I entertained the possibility that it had been Milo that had written this.
To please Suzi, I persevered. While she claimed her astral body had made it as far as the botanical gardens, I told her mine had hovered above my head and looked down on me. This seemed to satisfy her. She told me I was doing well. Wasn’t she right, she said, to get me to stick with it?
However, the next time Milo and Clover came to visit, we found them too excited to even listen to how we were getting along with our astral projection. Clover was especially animated. They had moved on; she told us. They had taken the exercise a step further.
‘Listen to this, guys,’ she said. ‘While our subtle bodies were travelling, we decided to try swapping them. To take possession of each other. Just imagine that for a moment if you can.’
‘To be honest, I don’t think Clover expected it to work,’ Milo said. ‘After all, it was a pretty far-out proposition of mine. But I had faith. I knew we could do it.’
‘And it worked,’ Clover said. ‘We only occupied each other’s bodies momentarily, but it was a mind-blowing experience. I was Milo and Milo was me.’
‘You have to work at it, of course,’ Milo said. ‘Don’t get the impression that it’s easy. But I have no doubt at all that eventually, Clover and I will be able to swap bodies whenever we want to. And to do it for longer spells.’
‘You two should try it,’ Clover said.
Call me perverse, but I had never had any desire to be in Suzi’s body in any way other than the more accepted method of entry. I was perfectly happy with this setup. Men were men and women were women. And so far as I could tell, this worked out well. It was the natural order of things. I found all these bizarre new permutations of gender you read about in the papers sickening. But Suzi wanted to know more. She seemed fascinated by Milo and Clover’s crazy idea. Why would anyone want to swap, I wondered? What would be the purpose? It could be for good intentions or it could be for evil motives, couldn’t it? What if one of the parties decided to make the arrangement permanent against the other’s wishes? What would happen then? More importantly, what did Suzi feel she was missing out on? What was she expecting to get from it? What could she possibly have in mind?
It was all academic, of course. I had yet to even manage the astral projection part of the manoeuvre, let alone take matters further. This latest development seemed to me like yet more new-age hocus-pocus. In order not to disappoint Suzi, I had so far pretended to be well on my way to spiritual freedom, dropping in all the buzz words they had mentioned in Mystic Arts at appropriate moments. I could not now admit my deceit, so reluctantly I agreed to give the transmigration malarkey a try.
It was clear from the outset that it would not be a great success. Suzi’s astral body was apparently zipping all around the room, but as I expected, mine seemed determined to stay put.
‘You’re not trying hard enough, Adam,’ she said, returning to base.
‘Well, first I’m trying too hard and now I’m not trying hard enough,’ I said. ‘Come on, Suzi! Which is it?’
‘I don’t think your heart is in it,’ she said. ‘Don’t you want to see what it’s like to be inside me?’
‘Perhaps it would help if we tried the other way again first,’ I said. ‘That seems to usually go well.’
‘I enjoy it too, Adam. You know I do,’ she said. ‘But there’s more to life than sex. We need to treat astral projection as something entirely different. If we are going to get anywhere, I think you need to take it more seriously.’
To help things along, Suzi took me round to Milo and Clover’s to pick up some tips.
‘We need to find out what we are doing wrong,’ she said. ‘More specifically, what you are doing wrong.’
Suzi seemed pleased to find that Clover appeared to be alone. No explanation was offered about where Milo was, but we both felt that without him, Clover would be easier to talk to. Milo had a way of controlling the conversation, of always being right and not giving you the chance to get your point across.
Within the first few minutes, both of us noticed that something about Clover was different. She was dressed in her usual boho chic and her hair and make-up looked the same, but her manner had changed. Normally she was easy company, light and breezy and pleasant to talk to. She had hardened. Her voice sounded the same, but her delivery was different. She came across as rude, edgy, opinionated, and overbearing, the very traits I had previously attributed to Milo. Suzi and I exchanged glances. I got the impression she had never seen her friend like this. Something was definitely wrong. It seemed Clover couldn’t wait to get rid of us. Why were we standing in the hallway? Why was the door to the main part of the house bolted? Why hadn’t she offered us a cup of tea or invited us into the front room? Had something happened? If it had, why couldn’t she tell us? Where was Milo? What was that rank smell of rotting flesh and where was it coming from?
Copyright © Chris Green, 2021: All rights reserved