Friday, July 26, 2013

Psychotic Chicken of the Apocalypse

The day the psychotic chicken was murdered changed everything. It was as if a pall had been lifted from our home, as if the windows had been thrown open, billowing fresh air to the rafters and driving out the choking rasps of winter's staleness. How did this chicken come to be in our midst and what happened in its demise? Well, gather ye round and I'll tell a tale of chicken psychology, errant reiki, pain killers and the apocalypse.

We'd wanted chickens for a long time, and were prompted into fulfilling this desire when our next door neighbors got chickens. It was the eggs they gave us that cemented our resolve, those most delicious eggs. From then on store-bought eggs just seemed paltry and pallid compared to fresh free range eggs made of backyard worms, moths, clovers and violets.

Anyway we got our chickens in late May of 2012, six of them. There were three buffs and three arucanas, and we put them in a big plastic box with chicken wire over the top. They got right to work establishing the pecking order. The whole pecking order thing, take it literally. They really do peck on each other. We were amazed to find bloody patches behind the wings of those lower in status.

One chick in particular seemed especially assertive in that regard. A real peckerhead by all means. By the second day we had to call in the neighbors to help make peace. They gave us a big crate they had used for their chicks, which was just what we needed to separate out the top of the order from the bottom.

So the chicks grew up in those boxes for a few weeks as I prepared a stick-built coop under the deck outside the dining room. Finally, with the boxes bursting with beaks and feathers and claws, the coop was ready and the chicks were liberated. Over the weeks and months, they grew into adult chickens and developed their personalities. I'm not sure why it was surprising to us that chickens have personalities. I suppose we had just never had the opportunity to get to know any before.

Anyway, two of the hens had strong personalities. The darkest arucana, Midnight was her name, was a true friend. She would follow me around the property clucking cordially, and seemed genuinely curious about whatever I was up to. She never complained when I picked her up, and in fact seemed to like it.

On the other hand, one of the buffs was a raging lunatic. I never knew if it was Cheese, Cheese Puff and Puff Cheese; we lost track of which one was which because they looked so similar. But I developed a wary familiarity with this particular bird and could tell it apart by personality. She'd run across the yard in wild arcs chasing who knows what. And when night fell and I'd pick her up and bring her home she'd squawk angrily, thrashing her sharp claws and staring up at me with a vacant insane gleam in her eye.

I got lots of experience handling these hens. They were obstinate. Never did want to come home to their coop at night on their own. Terrible. My guess is that they didn't like the amenities of my coop construction. I think that insane buff was particularly pissed off about it, the way she'd look at me when I'd go gather her up in the evening. Every evening they'd assemble on the neighbor's back deck railing and I'd go over and collect them home to the coop, one tucked under each arm, the crazy buff squirming and squawking up a storm practically the whole way.

Okay, put the chickens aside for a moment. We'll get back to them later in the story. Wash off the dirt and sweat of the yard and fast forward to winter solstice of 2012. Sit down at the computer and dip your mind into the burgeoning electronic hive.

The winter solstice of 2012 was a globally anticipated and synchronized event thousands of years in the making. I was tapped in. But I don't think it turned out like anyone expected. It certainly did not turn out like I expected.

I woke just after five o'clock in the morning, well before the moment of the solstice which was to be at 6:11 a.m. my local time. I lay in bed in reverie as I often do in the morning, half dreaming, half awake, awash in living energy. My reveries were about intention for the day as humanity traveled through a shamanic portal created by genius time lords that lived thousands of years ago. I had clear reveries about the abundant love of the divine masculine in a cultural cage, blocked from sharing its abundant love freely among his brothers and sisters, and the abhorrent effects this has created in civilization. I typed up my reveries and shared them to the interwebs, to add my signal to the network. Six o'clock, I went off to meditate. The moment of the alignment came and went, and I stayed quiet for some time afterwards.

The shift I felt that day was wonderful. It had been a tough week. I had been hunkering down, sheltering from cold and damp, resting in grief and confusion ensuing from the recent death of a close relative who, in dysfunctional family fashion, had me on puppet strings. I was taking cover from the specter of marital acrimony. But on that day, December 21, 2012, I could feel the peace and joy of the vast swath of humanity that had participated in the sync. I could feel their dancing and hugs. I could feel their smiles and hear their laughter. I could feel that we had achieved the morphogenic threshold required to affect a shift in everybody else. We were entering the new world, the new era. It would be gradual, but soon everyone would realize that we were now outside of time.

Driving around later in the afternoon, picking up a video for the evening to entertain the kids while we hung out with our friends, I had a shuddering premonition. Wouldn't it be awful if I got into an accident on this day? I'd then always remember the amazing day of the winter solstice of 2012 as the day I got into an accident. As I often do when such things occur to me, I pushed the notion of a car accident out of my mind and engaged my intention to choose a different universe, not wanting to be in the universe in which I had a car accident on the solstice. But the universe I chose was much stranger. It involved an accident, but had nothing to do with cars. My intention had been too specific. There was no escaping the apocalypse, as it turned out.

I got home that night and we started arranging the house for the small solstice gathering we had planned with friends. We had put up our Christmas tree a few days before, and some furniture still needed to be cleared from the living room as a result. I dismantled a large wooden table and moved it over to the deck door outside the dining room. I put on my old boots, ignoring the small voice that told me to tie my shoes and to get help from the kids. It'll be okay I said in dismissal. Hoisting the table into balance on my right hand at shoulder height, I carried it across the deck and down the stairs. I walked it down the path in front of the chicken coop door and thought to myself that I still had to fetch the chickens and get them in for the night.

The next few moments happened in slow motion. I can still replay them in my mind with precision and clarity. I moved the table forward in my grasp a little bit so that it would tilt backward and provide a line of sight to the neighbor's porch where the chickens gather at the end of the day. One of the buffs was standing upright and looking directly at me and my eyes met with with its black, glistening, crazed left eye. Recognition. In that exact moment I planted my left foot with the full weight of my body and the wooden table I carried. The foot landed just off the edge of one of the stones of the path and with a hideous unnatural snapping sound rolled over onto the unsupported ankle inside the untied boot. As the realization of the misstep and then the pain rocketed from my ankle to my brain and my body began to collapse, I let go of the table. It landed on its edge and seemed suspended there as my body began to fall toward the ground. It was instantly clear to me that this heavy table was going to fall right on top of me and so as I was falling to the ground I reflexively reached out with my right arm and smacked the table so it would fall away from me. Then I hit the ground writhing in pain. The time was 6:11 p.m.

Thus began my own personal apocalypse. My ankle swelled up as if there was a golf ball lodged under the skin. It hurt like a sonofabitch. Our friends came over and fed me horsd'oeuvres and sparkling wine. I popped naproxen and ibuprofen, and we had a merry old time making light of my odd predicament. The peace and joy of the day was replaced with a raw vulnerability, a reconnection with my brokenness, and inner questions of "why" and "what's the lesson".

The next morning found me in the emergency room for an x-ray. No fracture, horrific sprain. Got crutches and an immobilizing boot. Got a prescription for vicodin. I went home, gobbled pills and went to bed at noon, exhausted. But marital acrimony was particularly pitched that day, and I found myself awake in the afternoon as the house melted down in slow motion. Foggy smears and snatches of kids arguing bitterly with each other and with their mother. Daggers of her ire pierced my cold unfeeling cocoon; it seems pain killers are ineffective against those. But I was physically and emotionally unavailable to perform as a mediator or to assuage the situation in any way.

I medicated myself into a fog over the next few days, allowing the worst of the sprained ankle and bruised ego to fade into non-remembrance. Christmas came and went. My ankle prevented me from physically helping out in any meaningful way. And the pain killers prevented me from being emotionally present in what seemed like an ongoing family crisis. But the kids stepped up in a major way, which was most excellent to see. They had never seen their father in such a broken state, and in the obvious gravity of the situation seemed to put aside any attitude of resistance.

As New Year's approached I was able to stop medication and clear my head. I submitted to a reiki session late one afternoon. I had been meditating all afternoon, making the energetic responses to reiki vividly tangible in my inner world. The healer did some good work on my ankle, helping me to expel strands of inflammation and to build eddies of cool healing energies around my overstressed tendons. She then moved up my body, seemingly intent on doing some work on the heart-center. I sensed immediately that the healer had some ulterior motive. But in a rather masochistic move I decided to open my arms wide and see what would happen. She stopped following my body's cues and took an active role, ripping strands of energy out of my heart. It was fascinating, but I suddenly knew I had to stop her before she did irrevocable damage.

As it turned out I had perhaps let the healer go a bit too long. I fell into an almost catatonic state. I was completely exhausted, my body ice cold, shivering uncontrollably yet at the same time sweating profusely. I fell asleep feeling like my spirit was about to leave my body, grateful for its humble lessons and ready to move on. But somehow I woke up a few hours later and rallied the energy to go out for a birthday dinner and a cake and ice cream ceremony. I left the party early to again retreat to my bedroom. I had the shivers and had fallen into a hopeless, desolate mental state. I could feel no emotion, no empathy, no joy. My heart energies were in disarray. I developed a fever. I felt sure I would be dead in a few days, and in hopelessness, wished it so more than a little.

However, it was apparently not my time. Over the next few days I recovered. My fever dissipated and my ankle healed up well enough for me to return to work by the day after New Year's.

The discontent in our house was unrelenting and seemed to be getting worse. But two weeks later the turning point was reached. January 13, 2013, the day of the new moon, was the day that the angry buff hen was murdered. Here's what happened. Returning home from running errands I noticed a scene in the neighbors' yard. The neighbor standing there head bowed. His family was frantically herding their chickens back to their coop. He told me that a few minutes before, he noticed a falcon hanging out in the yard munching on a chicken. He shooed the falcon away and, inspecting the remains, discovered that it was one of my chickens. There were feathers everywhere.

I did not take me long to realize which chicken had been killed. It was clear that it was one of the buffs, and there was a big personality missing in the brood. It was the mad buff hen. The falcon had taken her. Oddly I felt absolutely no grief about what had happened. In fact, I felt just the opposite. It was as if a pall had been lifted from our midst. I came to realize that the falcon was protecting us. With a thorough white sage smudging of the house, the conflict and cognitive dissonance began to quickly dissipate that very day. We had survived the apocalypse. And everything was different now.

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