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My Guide, Aran
I still accept that my guide, Aran, might be a part of myself. But he frequently offers perspective and insight that I would never have found on my own, so I am moved to reserve judgment.
I was not psychic as a child, and I still wouldn’t call myself that, although the noted clairvoyant medium Carol Ann Liaros signed her book thus to me: “You are psychic, clairvoyant, and clairsentient. Use them in your work and life.” It was not a standard autograph. I checked around.
During my twenties, I began to make a habit of looking up for guidance–which is not uncommon and felt like something between a reflex and a ritual. I don’t remember when I started to see someone standing there in my mind’s eye, but the figure seemed to maintain a consistent presence and appearance, and sometimes to defy what I anticipated it would do. He was male, appeared to be in his mid-forties, and had medium brown hair and a pleasant but serious appearance. He wore a white robe, although this fact never dominated my field of vision or my attention.
I gradually got the sense that he wasn’t quite a projection of my own mind because he didn’t always behave like I expected him to. Nonetheless, I was very skeptical. So I tested him or whatever this mental and visual phenomenon was. I lived then, during my thirties, in Sedona, Arizona, and so this was where I conducted my most intensive testing. I had a very active social life at the time, and a varied work calendar. There are so many things to do in Sedona, so many invitations to accept or decline, so many adventures or ventures to consider, so many relationships.
I began to make a habit of asking his advice and to call him my guide. I asked him about everything. I asked about things both small things and large. “Should I go to this party?” “Should I stop by the store for that supply?” “Should I go on that date?” “Is this business idea a good one?”
He wasn’t loquacious, usually just nodding or shaking his head firmly. He never seemed impatient with me, although toward the end of my time there, he was always busy typing something and would look up to answer my questions and then go back to his work.
Sometimes his answers followed along the lines of my gut intuition. Sometimes his answers went completely against my gut impulses, and occasionally wildly against them. Sometimes I defied his advice to follow my gut. Other times, I followed his advice, nervously cringing in fear because every instinct and emotion told me he was wrong. In every single case, I found his counsel to be sage beyond my ability to easily explain. I began to trust deeply. He never once let me down. He has still never let me down–when he has agreed to answer.
A few years later, when I began to write a memoir about some particularly wild chapters in my life, the writing opened like a tap and suddenly words came pouring into my mind in an unending and lyrical stream for hours upon hours on end. I thought back to those scenes of him writing–typing–at a desk. Had he been writing the book that now virtually wrote itself under my fingers? I have never experienced The Muse like I did during the intensive four months that I wrote most of the memoir.
I understand now the awe with which creatives hold the process, and the desperation with which they can search for The Muse when they lose touch with it. It is like a mild unending ecstasy, and the fruit of the work is a wonder. It went on and on for months, for hours upon hours on end. I wrote for sixteen hours a day most days! I did not consider myself a good writer before that period, but I feel like I learned to write under the tutelage of the Muse during that extraordinary time.
Soon after I came to the end of the stream of words, my guide stopped talking to me. I could still see him in my mind’s eye, but when I asked a question, he would just shake his head slightly or look at me silently. I didn’t feel any sense of reproach. If anything, it felt like a test of some sort. And so I accepted my current state with a wry smile, and went on with my life. I did not expect it to last for more than ten years, and had I known how sorely I would miss him, I would have probed him more deeply for an explanation or some sense of the guidelines for that new phase.
A few years ago, long after I had decided that guide or no guide, life was forcing me to stand on my own, to rely on myself, to grow up, I recognized that I had grown comfortable with things as they were, and grateful. Losing a guide I could turn to had taken me out of the supplicant relationship with a higher power (God, the Universe, the Divine, whatever you call it) that I’d unconsciously carried since a child, and deeper roots into the numinous had grown in its absence.
But I missed his guidance. I did notice that some residual talent from the inspired writing period had remained and would leak into any creative, especially written project that I undertook on behalf of someone else. It was especially active when writing for an audience who depended on the work to provide good information. As I worked and wrote, information would come into the work that I hadn’t known before I started. Sometimes it feels like channeling, but I’m quite sure that a lot of writers and creatives experience it and would call it the creative process. It was especially fun when creating fictional dialogue. The characters would come alive and start revealing themselves with audacious clarity, cracking me up and blowing my mind! I would learn things from them that I swear I did not know before.
Then one day I had the thought, “Maybe I could do that with my guide?” That is, maybe I could create a fictional dialogue between a teacher and a character like myself, and just see what happens?
The results were spectacular! Of course, I “got the idea” at a time when I was ripe for a lot of things to come to clarity and be resolved. I got the answers I’d been looking for for more than a decade about wild and huge mysterious things for which I’d found no answers though I plied every wise or semi-wise person I could find!
This is when he acquired a name: Aran. My middle name is Arin, so I felt a little skeptical, had doubts about whether it’s just a handy fictional name or more evidence of a solipsistic projection. As of today, my position is that it totally matters what is true, and that his name is Aran at this time. We have other relationships in time which were attached to other names. But Olórin is part of his lineage – they are branches on the same tree, or part of the same tradition.
The love I’ve felt at times, and the depth with which he’s held me, the ways his vision has shocked me, has been profound and moving. I feel that I don’t always record the narratives with pristine fidelity, but still, something resonates out over and over again. I am so grateful, and I feel moved to tears quite often.
Since the fruitful time during which he helped me to resolve most of my outstanding questions (related to my memoir), he has retreated a little. I definitely cannot make a fruitful session happen at will. Sometimes I just sit at my keyboard and fall asleep. Or I try to get the ball rolling by anticipating or starting his part of the dialogue, but that doesn’t work either. I can tell I’m making things up, or the dialogue veers into nonsensical and wrong-feeling territory. Nothing I do seems to budge the impasse.
So I’ve gotten used to operating on my own again, although I don’t feel alone. There is a gladness and joy in my heart that feels augmented by a proximity to love of a deeper kind than I associate with my ego identity. Maybe it’s just my love for a projection of my imagination. But it feels very full-hearted if so, and for that I am grateful.
When Aran let me know a few weeks ago, after I’d posted the article, “Reflections on Harry and Meghan,” that he had something to add, I was delighted. After he finished his contributions, I sat back in shock. He had answered a profound question I’ve held for a decade or a lifetime. I’m still working on how to write about it, and I look forward to bringing it all together in future posts.
To read more imaginal interactions and contributions from Aran, click the “conversations with aran” tag at the bottom of every blog post.