Lucid Living in the Desert


Dolores J. Nurss

October 19, 2010


Now that the weather finally begins to cool, walks in the desert become feasible again.  Mind you, a walk through the desert does not resemble an English country stroll.  It entails an element of danger--ranging from annoying skin irritation to death--and this does wonders for the soul.  Not unlike Faerie (we will come back to this, later.)

The Sonoran Desert outside of Tucson has earned the nickname The Green Desert, for it has actually grown quite lush with its own peculiar vegetation, tangled in abundance, with a lacy, twisty beauty best appreciated up close--in the danger zone.  Only the giant saguaro grows tall here; one can hardly distinguish between bushes and trees, but these grow densely.  And almost every green thing arms itself with thorns or quills

One should take especial note of the cholla, in all of her varieties.  The needle-slender quills on this intricate plant reach long, often a little farther than you expect at first glance, and have microscopic hooks at the end, so that they hurt more pulling out than going in.  Static electricity builds in these quills, causing segments of the plant to break off and attach to you, seeming to jump at you if you brush too close.  These quills also give chollas a friendly, fuzzy look, or in some lights a luminous, mysterious look, or a sparkling, potent look.

And Cholla is your friend.  Stern mistress of harsh lessons, Cholla is the Teacher of Awareness.  You cannot simply bumble through the desert--not on her watch!  If you don�t pay attention, she will make you wake up and notice your surroundings.  She will tug at your clothing--or your skin.  A few lessons from her and you learn to venture into the desert with heightened awareness.  This can save your life, preventing you from stepping on a rattlesnake blended into the gravelly background (whose venom works swift and sure) or an unstable rock that could tumble you into a breakneck fall.  Those who hate Cholla and despise her lessons had better go back to the city and walk on ways paved for them, necessitating little thought.  But then they risk dwindling to little more than a cog in the larger machine, and never seeing fairies.

More than save your life, Cholla--and the desert as a whole--can save your soul.  Under her tutelage you enter into what this society would call an altered state of consciousness, but which fairies call the original state of consciousness--a state tuned in to all things.  You cease to hike, racing briskly from one point to the next on schedule.  You move slowly, deliberately, pausing often, constantly assessing your surroundings.  You take labyrinthine routes, swaying under thorny branches, stepping over cacti, working around one obstacle only to meet another, considering every step with care.  And you become, perforce, intensely aware of every leaf, every lizard, every stone, every cloud in the sky.  You hear a rustle and you pause to assess whether a deer or a mountain-lion made it.  You sniff for the foul odor of javalinas and catch instead the sweetness of a lemonscent or a feral acacia.  Unexpected paths open up before you, and you take them, trusting intuition.  Thus do the fair folk perceive, and want us to perceive.  It is the only way we can ever find them.  Yet you needn�t walk in the desert to learn this skill.

Beverly D�Urso has written extensively on what she calls lucid living.  A researcher into dreams, she has long studied lucid dreaming (awareness of dreaming while still in the dream) ever since a lucid dream in her childhood transformed her life.  Over the years she has trained herself to ask herself, in dreams, �Am I dreaming?�  This led, curiously yet inevitably, to constantly asking herself the same question while walking around in what most people call the waking world.

And she has gotten amazing results, and so have many who have followed her example.  Tuning into your surroundings, constantly waking yourself up to your experience, leads you out of the mind-dulled habits of the modern age.  You find amazing things around every corner--heck, you don�t even have to go around the corner, you can find marvels right where you stand or sit, right now.  Beauty--incredible beauty--everywhere!

You find harsh, terrible things, too.  We have made a world (world being an overlay upon the Earth, a false reality) that we ourselves find unbearable.  People go to great lengths to tune it out, drink or drug it away, distract themselves, mire themselves in habits, minimize their thinking and attention a thousand different ways.  The Fair Folk cannot contact us in such a state.  And we cannot change anything for the better so long as we can�t bear to look at it.  But whoever awakens can reform the world around them.  And whoever awakens can, in time, come to see the Fair Folk.

Many fairies don�t hide from us on purpose.  Our way has so diverged from theirs that we can no longer see them clearly.  Sometimes they will make an enormous effort to meet us more than halfway, but it takes so much energy that they can only manifest in seeming tininess, or as just a dot of light.  Or they will borrow existent shapes visible to us, grain in wood, bumps in stone, twigs in the wind, whatever comes to hand, put out an enormous glamor to project their reality into a form that we can see--only to have us dismiss it, after a startled moment, as an optical illusion.  In these cases they resort to glamor much as an autistic person might practice acting out facial expressions before a mirror, to try and learn how to convey genuine feelings.  Only the deficit compensated for lies in us, not them.

The dangers of the desert serve me well, surpassing the dangers of awareness sufficiently to override my fears of waking up the whole way.  And in embracing awareness I find not only danger, but also incredible beauty, truth, mystery and magic, not to mention glimpses of the Fair Folk.  Anyone can achieve the same result,, however.  No one actually needs a desert to prick them into awareness.  They can choose to wake up on their own. They can periodically ask themselves, Am I dreaming? and become lucid.  And once they vanquish the initial fear and overcome the long-held habits, they find the rewards of heightened awareness more than worth the effort.  And the Fair Folk will reward them.