This is the story of two initiations, one initiation into a World that has been created and decided by Fear, and one initiation into a Future that has Yet to be Created.
Once, and once, and once again [within a time existing side by side with many other times] there was a child. This child was a girl to the world, but she was not yet known to herself as that. She could have been anything, because, in fact, she knew herself as everything before her. She did not yet know the world that separates every thing from another, with lines and words and definitions. She was not yet in that world, nor was it in her. Her world floated in and through spectrums of color and light and choral harmonies, becoming, revealing, filling.
One day the girl’s father gathered his family, with news of a journey. It was time to travel to a New World. In order to get to this New World, the family would take a long journey together, on an enormous passenger ship. The ship had many levels with even more hallways, and those hallways had even more rooms. The ship also had a ship doctor, and when the child saw this man the hair on the back of her neck stood up and sent a cold wave spiraling through her spine.
|Close up – Ancestry Cloth|
The girl and her family had boarded the ship, and they sailed farther and farther from the shore she had always known. The hallways and rooms in the ship became darker and darker. The child felt confused and lost, with no horizon to orientate herself to. It seemed as if the ship moved furiously in no direction, towards nothing. It seemed to the girl as if she could travel up flights of stairs and through long hallways for hours and never reach the main deck. In time, her eyes acclimated to the darkness, and in the darkness she hid. It was from this hiding place she spotted the ship doctor talking to her father and her mother. He told her parents that each family member would require a special surgery before entering the New World. One by one the girl child watched her family members disappear into the doctor’s quarters. First her father went in, the door closed and she could no longer hear nor see anything that was happening inside. When he at last reappeared from the operating room, the child covered her mouth and screamed. It was a scream only she could hear inside of her own head. Her father was now a skeleton, walking and talking as if nothing had changed, except he had no flesh, no hair, no eyes. The girl remained in her hiding place as her mother disappeared and then, hours later, reappeared as a skeleton. When the doctor left his room to find her brother, the girl ran down the halls of the ship, calling and crying to her brother, to warn him of the doctor’s true intent. But the only one who heard her cries was the doctor, so she ran and hid. This time she hid underneath the operating table. From there, she thought, she could warn her brother. But her fear had taken her voice, and all she could do was curl her body tightly into itself and listen to the sound of a knife cutting and cutting and cutting into flesh.
|Film Still – Ancestry Cloth Performance|
The child knew now that she would never be able to come out from under that table without also losing her flesh and her eyes and her lips and her skin. From her heart she was still calling out warnings to her loved ones, but no one could hear her heart. The only sounds to be heard on the ship were the sounds of rattling bones. She huddled under the table for what seemed like days, and then weeks. The doctor stormed up and down the halls of the ship, opening and slamming doors, calling out her name.
Now the child had a problem. She knew she could not stay under that table forever if she were to be reunited with her family. She longed for her family more than she feared the doctor, but she loved her own body as she loved the world. So she did the only thing she could in these circumstances. She divided herself into two. In order to camouflage herself she took pieces of everything before her and stitched them into a cape. She took a sliver of wood from the operating table, a scrap of curtain, a torn page from the ship’s log, silk from the dress of a wealthy passenger, a feather from a gull, a leather luggage tag, rope from the deck, drops of rain, salt from the ocean, sand, floor dust, star dust and her own breath, and she stitched and stitched and stitched these things to her self and made a Cloak of Everything in which to camouflage herself. When she divided herself into two her knowing self stayed under the Cloak of Everything and she sent away the un-knowing self. Her un-knowing self ran out of the room with arms stretched wide open, crying like a baby, for her family.
|Film Still – Ancestry Cloth Performance|
Now the man known as the doctor was no longer pretending to be a healer. He had become so furious in his search for the child all of his pretenses had fallen away and he was indeed a terrifying butcher. In his rage he grabbed the un-knowing girl and her surgery was the most brutal of all. He administered no gas, nor anesthesia, and he did not sterilize his tools. The pain of the butchery caused the girl on the operating table to pass out from shock and forget everything. From under the table her knowing self could hear the sounds of her own surgery, and she pulled the cape over her head and covered her ears. That was the last she ever heard of her other half, who left the ship as a skeleton and reunited with her family.
The girl in the cape stayed under the table, frozen with fear. There she remained, for years and years, growing from child to adolescent to woman. At night she ventured out from the doctor’s room and crept into the kitchen to eat what she could without arousing suspicion. She climbed up the mast of the ship and watched the waves of the ocean and the light of the moon and she called for her other half with a howl that sounded, to the sailors and passengers, like a powerful and haunting ocean wind. And every day, just before the dawn, she climbed back down and returned under the operating table where she huddled under the cape that camouflaged her and protected her ears from the screams and the cutting and the rattling of bones. But the cape heard it all and became very very heavy. The cape continued to stitch the world into itself and every sound and every sight became its memory. And the cape kept its memory in safe keeping until the time would come for the knowing self to call from the ship’s mast and be heard by her un-knowing self.
|Film Still – Ancestry Cloth Performance|
The girl who had reunited with her family and entered the New World had a parallel life that looked very different but felt very much the same. She longed for love with a sense of fear and distance that troubled everyone around her. She would look in the mirror at night and spit at her reflection. She cut into her flesh in order to know it as real. She ate the feasts around her and vomited them up. She saw her life ending even as it had just begun. She wondered why she was so drawn to dark hallways and locked doors, but went into them nonetheless. She could see in the dark, but when she told of what she had seen she was told she was mistaken. In her mistakenness she looked for love in the world. But the world was also torn from itself, and as it passed before her it showed itself as nothing but fragments. She reached for the torn fragments and collected them. She began to stitch them together. As she stitched, she felt a strange breeze across her face. She heard the sound of the wailing of the sea, she heard choral harmonies and she saw spectrums of light dancing before her closed eyes. So she stitched and stitched, with what seemed like madness, driven from the realm of the unknown, or the yet to be known, or the yet to be remembered. The fragments of the world became a cape, and she stitched more and more fragments into the cape. The X-ray of her broken finger, a mirage of a faraway land, computer cables, her great grandmothers dress. Dust from the room, dust from the stars, her tears, the hair of a newborn baby and a photograph from another time. Cells and molecules so small they entered through the eye of her needle. Memories and dreams so illusive they entered the cape while she was sleeping. All of the opportunities for healing entered the cape, whether she recognized them or not.
|Photo from Performance of Dissimilation, Puebla Mexico
Photo courtesy of Arquetopia
One day the cape was finished. By this time the girl was a woman with children of her own. A voice rose from the cape. The voice calmly instructed the woman, “Enter Me.” The woman put the cape over her head and it covered her body, and all fear disappeared. At that moment all the longing was fulfilled, and not in the way all the separate fragments had told her it would be. The love she had longed for not something outside of her, it was all she had ever been. At that moment she saw herself in the mirror and knew the one looking back. At that moment she embraced her own body and it laughed out loud and cried in relief. At that moment all that had been was no longer as it had been, and all that could be was to be anew. At that moment the ending became the beginning.
|Close up – Ancestry Cloth
Photo courtesy of Bloom Photography by Kara
This is the beginning of the Initiation of Dissimilation, where the structures are taken down and released. Some things will be kept, some things will be released and all things will be transformed in the process. We are no longer captives to a story that is not our own, each of us has a story, and no one story is more or less than another. Each one of us makes the fabric of the multiverse the rich and powerful fabric that it is, and it is unable able to exist with one story missing.