On my second visit, I tried a new location. At this pew, things felt watery, unmoored; I slipped in and out of my body into the astral lake and was entertained by a past life memory that wasn't germaine to my work in the Dog. By the fifth visit I had found the "stove" but whether I could turn on the "gas" and cook with it remained to be seen. Blaise's idea of attainment after all is cooking with gas. When I pulled open the vestibule door and stepped into the church, I saw a column of light marking the pew. That's where I sat.
Immediately I felt a tingling weighty feeling in my groin as if someone were playing timpani in my root chakra. A man came into focus. It was Joseph of Arimathea. He stood before a grey stone basin about twenty feet in diameter and was accompanied by a dozen other men in long robes. The basin was set within a small wooden chapel. A blazing ball of light descended into the basin which absorbed it and passed it into the Earth. The light flowed instantly up through the Dog's geomythic landscape as if moving through pre-established channels, from the groin to the nose at Burrowbridge and the ear at Othery. I understood why All Saints is nationally known for its stained glass window portrait of Joseph, which sparkles only a few feet above the altar. No angelic kudos for me, not yet. "You came very close to understanding, as you finally sat in the right place, but there is still more," Blaise said that evening.
The next couple visits were monumentally unproductive and the Grail Knight's morale slipped. I was also a little concerned that the various Church staff that flitted about me would misconstrue my chronic presence here as a plea for redemption and try to sign me up for membership. I sat by the pillar but instead of Joseph and revelation I got boredom, tight breathing, heat in the chest, and frustrated. "You are very preservering," said Blaise, knowing how to stroke a Taurean down for the count in non-attainment mode. "You need patience for this phase of the work. It will bear fruit. Remember the apple tree as you breathe love. This is what you might call the next clue."
I breathed love like crazy next time, like springtime for an American in Paris, but I kept nodding off into irritability and frowns until I finally understood it wasn't me that was originating these negative sensations. It was the Dog. More precisely, it was the emotional barnacles encrusted in the Dog's root center for the past millennia and the cranky ethers in the church itself that kept him in a crotchety mood.
Now, on my eighth perseverance as I'm about to leave, I see two branches of flowering lilac blossoms and then a two-petalled lilac heart where the stone basin had been. A lilac flame surges up from the heart, up through the church ceiling, and into the blue sky. Instantly, the unpleasant sensations that have bothered me like a hairshirt this week evaporate, transmuted into nothingness by the lilac flame. Blaise agrees.
"Feel the lilac flame of transmutation awakening the Dog's creative energies. They have been blocked for a long time. We place the dancing lilac flames at this spot and send the Dog our Love from Above. As you are aware, Joseph came to the landscape temple you know as Avalon. He was aware and indeed recognized when arriving at the port of Langport that the guardian of the temple was here. The Dog. Joseph brought the Christ energy to this area. He initiated the Dog as the zodiac guardian with the Christ light. Now that certain things have been uncovered we would like you to visit other sites on the Dog. "
Bring out the Dogs! I bound out of church and race out onto the road! I jump on my Grail Bike - a ten-speed Dawson I've managed to hold onto since college - and start a tour through the star centers of Canis Major, Canis Minor, and Monoceros, together comprising the three-headed Cerberus and temple guardian of the Region of the Summer Stars.
My first stop is the Church of St. John the Baptist in the hill-perched town of Pitney, a couple miles past Langport. This is Aludra, the cynosure of the Girt Dog of Langport , the tail star only a few miles from another hamlet called with the brazenly obvious name of Wagg. Pitney is the doorway into the Dog temple. From here the Grail Knights would walk down the valley, up Pict's Hill, and into Wezen, the star center in Langport that Joseph initiated two thousand years ago. At Pitney they took their bearings, took instructions on how to negotiate their geomythic tour, learned the map of the landscape star points, familiarized themselves with the Dog's luminosity. I can see the map even now: it's like an aerial view of the Dog with a couple dozen pricks of light sequinning his big earthen body. The Dog says in effect: Visit my star centers, know them, understand me, then I'll orient you to the larger zodiac temple, I will escort you into the cauldron. Welcome to the dogorrery.
The church of St. Andrew at Aller is the next star point on my tour and this one evidently lies close to the Dog's heart. Yes, Aller is both dog and water snake. I perch under the lovely lime tree that faces the moors and Wick Manor. I feel myself into the Dog's landscape form, sitting calmly on my haunches, observing activities in the Region of the Summer Stars . The Dog's heart is happy, still, glad, loving, wise, contented, compassionate; his service to the zodiac is unhesitating, unrelenting, faithful. Stars twinkle and tingle in my canine form. This land is my body. These stars are aspects of my consciousness. The zodiac can be a nuthouse at times. My buddies the Polden Hound and High Ham Cur are resting now, but I am wakeful on behalf of my masters in Sirius. I am their dog. I never lose sight of the Dog-star here in my chest.
It's impossible not to love this Dog when you bask in the warmth of his heart. That's what T.H. White evidently felt, too, in The Once and Future King. Arthur, as a youth when he was raised far from court intrigue and public knowledge, was called the Wart, and spent a lot of time with the Dog-Boy, the noseless kennel master at Sir Ector's castle. "They spent much of their time together, rolling about with the dogs in the kennel....The Wart's own special one was called Cavall, and he happened to be licking Cavall's nose - not the other way about - when Merlyn came in and found him."
The Girt Dog's nose is too big to lick but when I reach Burrowbridge Mump I sit down affectionately on what might be a freckle on Cavall's snout. It's the remains of an old tree trunk, facing south, about half-way to the summit. This spot marks an entrance to the stone chamber inside the Mump. I shift the Grail body into full lotus position for extra traction on the Other Side and breathe love profligately to the stone lintel of the inner chamber. This gets me through, first into a corridor, then into a central domed auditorium. A Grail Knight learns that, like Dr. Who's telephone-booth spaceship, the Tardis, it's always bigger on the inside. Wanting to make a good impression, I remain full-lotussed and sit on a circular platform encircled by ranks of ascending seats. The seats are occupied by men and women in simple clothes. They are silent, respectful, courteous - frankly, very British ghosts - evidently waiting for me to speak.
Due to technical difficulties with the Grail Knight's higher being body's reality transformer, we are unable to present the full text of his remarks inside the Mump nor indicate how they were received. We can report, however, that at some later point, perhaps only a few minutes, perhaps an hour, outside the Mump again, he climbed to the St. Catherine church ruins where an unidentified but "nice" angel installed a twelve-petalled lilac crystal in the Grail Knight's heart center, with an unlimited warranty on all parts and performance. The Grail Knight was quoted as saying: "It looks like a skillfully carved lilac pineapple with its flanges flaring upwards, finely."
It's only a short pedal from the nose to the ear at Othery - or is it, Oath-Ear, Oath-Here, Oath-Hear? The church of St. Michael at Othery is canopied by a dome, light grey speckled with red, a quivering filmy bubble glistening in the ethers. I sit in the front pew eating a chocolate bar as I read the "Guide for Visitors." It doesn't mention the dome or the former stone chamber within the earth mound upon which the church was anciently built. As I walk slowly down the central axis of the church, I walk simultaneously through a stone corridor into a corbelled chamber like Ireland's Newgrange, only smaller. The stillness inside this stone cave is as strong as a vacuum cleaner and it sucks me into its intense concentration. Here the Dog listens, notes, remembers: a cheeky Grail Knight visited me one morning and chomped very noisily on a candy bar while making fun of my name….
I recognize the liability of waxing cocky and brain-enriched like Sherlock Holmes after a brilliant deduction, so I pedal twice as fast to burn off my pride. Or maybe I'm just happy today - why not? I'm streaking through the Dog, rolling from star to star in full Grail Quest regalia. I have the blue globe around me, a tall, steady skyscraper lilac flame from bike pedal to the top of the clouds, gold and silver spheres spinning around me like hula hoops, an arm studded with precious jewels including a ruby and emerald, a couple fancy swords in good nick jangling against the bike, a blazing pinpoint of light, a heavenly dimple, perpetually flashing supernova at my belly button, and a black beachball bobbing hollowly across my back. Plus no mud or manure. Plus I have an official escort. I've got Blaise!
The road is deliciously devoid of traffic which makes my zig-zagging from hedgerow to hedgerow a lot safer. I feel as cheeky as a ripe dandelion shamelessly blooming amidst the grass in an immaculate suburban lawn. The six Blaises perch like circus acrobats on my shoulders as I meander and swerve along the narrow lane. I notice that the golden socks on one Blaise are riding indecorously low about the ankles. I slam on the brakes and all six Blaises tumble off in forward somersaults that expand into cartwheels that trampoline them up into six successive telephone poles. These guys are fleet-footed!
"Are you impressed, Grail Knight?" one Blaise inquires, hanging by his feet from the telephone wires.
"Not a lot, actually."
"Oh. We are most disappointed. We thought our little performance would put you in raptures. We so wished it would."
"Well, you know how it is, Blaise. Form is emptiness, and all that."
"Alas, how true. Well, we'll just trundle on back to Polaris and amuse ourselves with the Black Bowling Ball. Bye, bye, Grail Knight. Don't fall off your bike."
The Polden Hound sleeps in the sun, too. The Parish Church of All Saints at Ashcott - which is the Procyon star center - is a disappointment for Dog fanciers. The energy here is sluggish, bordering on nonexistent. This doggy is fast asleep. The Gomeisa star center nearby at the church of St. Michael at Greinton is not much better: marked absence of spunk. I lean against the locked outer church door and eat a peach and am assailed with astral images of body mutilation and blood. The Polden Hound, as Blaise told us, has retired to the dog-house, dog-weary, dog-tired, dog-gone. There's no bark left in this very undogmatic Hound of Polden. My last stop on this daylong Dog chase is Stathe, a star center along the River Parett, midway between the Mump and Wick Manor. On this dogday in early June, the river is almost bone dry, as is my throat. I crawl doggedly into the Black Smock pub and rasp out an order for a remedial Guinness, moisten my parched dogtooth and trot on home….
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