Looking Beyond the Curtain

What started this morning has moved on into the afternoon, which means there have been updates.  Most of all one of a personal nature–

No do like those new dos you do.

Yes, I went out and got a new wig and I have to say it was the right move.  I love the cut a lot and may just go back to shaving the head because my real hair is never going to get this good.  Hey, small price to pay to look good–particularly when a cut, color, and cap–I’ll still need to wear something to cover the bald–will likely run me $300 to $500 every six months.  So it looks like I’m heading back to wig country.

While I’m doing that, my kids are heading into some special territory–a place where humans normally don’t travel.  Unless they’re witches, and special ones at that.  And Annie wants to know what goes into being a member of the Special Witches Club:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“After that we’re going to learn Astral Projection and Astral Walking?”

Deanna fidgeted a bit on her pillows. “Before I go on, would either of you like tea?”

Annie and Kerry glanced at each other before Kerry spoke with a tone that expressed his incredulity. “Is this a loaded question?”

Deanna shook her head. “No visions this time; I’m simply offering tea.”

“Now I know I’m not going to get a vision with my beverage—” Kerry smiled broadly. “I love tea.”

Annie nodded in agreement. “As would I.”

 

You know it’s bad when your instructor offers tea and the first thing that comes to mind is, “She’s gonna have us off on another vision.”  Well, something an offer of tea is just that:  having some tea.  And with the beverage selection out of the way, they can get back to talking about class:

 

Deanna got to her feet. “Allow me to prepare, then.” Deanna headed to a small cabinet in the corner of the room and removed a kettle which began steaming as soon as she waved her hand over the top. She dropped several teabags into a small pot and poured in the water, then let the bag seep as she gathered cups and saucers before handing them to her students. “That should be ready in a few minutes.”

Annie set her cup and saucer aside. “When will we get to Astral Walking?”

“My, you are eager.” In the year and a half Deanna had known Annie she can remember seeing her this excited about learning magic. “Naturally, opening the Curtain takes a bit more skill than being able to read auras or project your aura into the Astral Realm. I don’t expect to actively to begin actively teaching you Astral Walking until we return from Yule holiday, but…”

“Yes?”

“I will take you into the Astral Realm before then.” She motioned towards the teapot and levitated it toward them, finishing her statement as she poured the tea. “You need to know a little about getting around in their before you actually go in there.”

Annie found it almost difficult to keep her cup and saucer from shaking as she considered thoughts of what it was going to be like entering the Astral Realm. Her mother and father had never advance this far into Astral Studies, so they had no tales of what it was like passing through the Curtain and beyond the Physical Realm.

As much as she enjoyed sorcery, Annie was nearly as fascinated by Astral Studies. She had always wanted to Dreamwalk and Astral Projection was another thing that she did want to learn as a young girl. Her parents lack of reading material on the subject kept her restricted in her studies, but she had never lost interest in wanting to know what existed beyond the Curtain.

And now, not only did she know how to Dreamwalk and was going to learn how to Astral Project, Deanna was going to take Kerry and her physically through the Curtain so they could stand on the other side.

 

And now you have the truth:  The Little Sorceress also wants to spend time on the other side of the Curtain and she’s been oh so eager to learn how to get there. And it seems like it won’t be long before the kids are gonna get to do a little walkabout in the Astral Realm so they can get a feel for the territory and learn what they can and can’t do.

And speaking of what Deanna doesn’t want them doing–

Seeing All That is Truthful

So, it seems I am finished with TV recapping for a while and I can relax for–well, maybe a month?  Or maybe I have to crank up tomorrow for iZombie?  I’ll see how I feel then.

But no talking about TV ’cause I’m still with Deanna and the Kids, which could be the title of a sitcom about a witch and her two kids growing up in New York, but it better be a Netflix show or it can go to hell.    Annie was curious about the possibility that all this special instruction was due to some–ahem, “guidance” from an outside source.  And now we learn differently:  Helena may be keeping some secrets about them from the Guardians:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

This was something Annie hadn’t considered, the possibility that Helena might not tell everything she knew about them to the Guardians. She was aware Helena was protective of them, but would she go so far as to withhold information about the development from the organization it would likely be the potential employer in the future? After a moment’s reflection she had her answer: She is likely keeping some of this information to herself so the Guardians don’t push us into a mission that could end up becoming too much for either of us to handle. “I can see that as being possible.”

Deanna gave a quick nod. “It’s something you can take up with her, though I doubt she’ll say anything. Keeping secrets from one group means keeping secrets from everyone.”
Kerry had remained quiet through this exchange, but there was a question that required an answer. “You know that we’ve done stuff with the Guardians?”

“Obviously.” Deanna chuckled. “I didn’t mean to sound flippant, but as one of the three counselors at school I have to be aware of everything the students at this facility are doing—and that includes any extracurricular activities. Erwin filled me in on your actions with the Guardians not long after you were picked for your first operation back in your A Levels.”

Now done with the questions regarding any possible Guardian influence on their instruction, Annie felt it was time to get to why they were here. “So, what are we going to do in this class? What kind of special instructions are we going to learn?”

 

If we go all the way back to the first novel and the visit by Mr. Gabriel to Salem, Helena mentioned that there was a bit of information that Gabriel brought to the table that didn’t come from her.  Based upon that, it’s somewhat easy to see that isn’t telling her old pals in San Francisco everything she knows about Annie and Kerry.  Is this wise? asked the ostrich sticking its head out of the back of the van.  Assuming this isn’t some drug-induced hallucination, possibly, as Helena may be a bit concerned that the Guardians want to push these kids a bit too much and she’s worried about where that will lead.

Then again, maybe she’s like every other spook in the Guardians and knows that some things need to remain secret.  Which means they aren’t telling her everything she needs to know, but then she’s probably aware of that, which is why she isn’t telling everything she knows, but they’re aware of that and…

On and on.  You know it.

With that G Biz out of the way–hey, teach, what are we learning?

 

A sense of eagerness crept into Deanna’s features as she began. “Were going to go through his many of the Astral Disciplines as possible. I want to start you out on Aura Readings first, because I believe is something you pick up rather quickly and it will be something you can use immediately.”

Kerry grew serious upon hearing this. “That’s where we’ll be able to see another person’s aura and tell what they’re thinking?”

“It’s not so much should be able to tell what they’re thinking, as you be able to tell their emotional and sometimes mental states as they speak with you.” Dan adjusted her position as she grew more comfortable. “It’s often used by the instructors and counselors to determine if someone is being completely truthful when they speak.”

“So like a lie detector.”

“In a certain sense, yes. It may not tell you if a person is lying in a complete sentence, but it can alert one to the fact that the person with whom you are speaking may be telling a great number of falsehoods.” Deanna cocked her head to the side as she looked at Kerry. “I certainly hope you won’t be using this all the time to know who around you is being completely truthful.”

Annie jumped into the conversation. “I wouldn’t do that.” She didn’t mention, however, that she wouldn’t do that all the time… “Will you also teach us how to modify and hide our own auras?”

Deanna nodded once more. “That is part of the instruction, yes. In order to understand how the auras of others work, you have to understand how yours works, and that involves being able to modify and even hide your aura from others.” She turned her now-knowing look upon Annie. “I do expect that you will likely use this part of the spell quite often.”

Annie’s expression told both Deanna and Kerry what she was thinking before she spoke. “Oh, I intend to utilize that part of the spell as much as possible.”

Deanna gave a soft chuckle. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

 

Seeing and hiding those auras.  And being able to tell what the other person may be feeling and thinking.  Now, how could Annie use this?

 

(Annie)  “So, Emma, how was your overnight trip with Kerry?”
(Emma)  “Oh, it was good.”
(Annie)  “Nothing happened, right?”
(Emma)  “Yeah.  Nothing happened.”
(Annie charges up a black ball of energy)  “You lying little bitch…”

 

Okay, maybe not exactly like that, but once the other kids get wind that the Wonder Twins are learning this, they’ll likely learn to watch what they say in front of them.  And for the sake of transparency:  yes, other students know how to do this, but none of them are C Levels.

But wait!  There’s more to learn–

Peeking Behind the Curtain

Here’s Cassie once more, having survived another Christmas alone.  It was a day filled with lots of napping, walking a mile down to the local art house to see The Danish Girl, then taking a slow, peaceful stroll back home in a light rain, enjoying the experience.  I capped the night off by watching the Doctor Who Christmas Special, getting a good cry in at the end before heading off to bed.

Notice there’s little mention of writing.  That’s because there wasn’t any:  after getting in my five hundred plus in the morning, I decided naps and visual entertainment were more important, and that’s what I did.

Along with the whole lady walking in the rain thing, which I wholly enjoyed.

Along with the whole lady walking in the rain thing, which I wholly enjoyed.

But this morning, I’m eight hundred and seventy-five words into the scene, and I’m certain I’ll do more this afternoon and tonight because I’m getting into the groove on what’s happening.  Helena’s opening up on what happened to her after everyone died during The Foundation meeting at the WTC.  We now know that she was also among the dead, but obviously Helena’s also some kind of Marvel superhero, because she didn’t stay dead, otherwise she’s never be able to tell Kerry about all these different things.

And while she’s getting into the whole “This is what happened to me the second time I died”, she gives Kerry a little lesson on what she knows of the structure of the universe.

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Helena cleared her throat. “Our universe consists of two parts: there’s the Physical Realm, which is where everything we see and feel exists, and there’s the Astral Realm, which is like an onion skin over everything within the Physical Realm. It’s from there that we draw out energies to do magic, so needless to say without it we wouldn’t have witches in this world.

“Naturally these realms don’t overlap, and the membrane that separates them is called the Curtain. When we talk about ‘Pulling back the Curtain’, we’re talking about looking into the Astral Realm. When you use Aura Sensing or Aura Reading, you’re seeing the part of us that sits on the Curtain, and therefore exists in both realms. When you use Astral Sight or Astral Protection, you’re seeing beyond the Curtain into that realm, though—” She gave a slight smirk. “It’s only once you start using Astral Walking, where you leave this realm and move physically into the other that you see the Astral Realm the way it really appears.”

Kerry was astonished by all that Helena was saying. Annie and he had yet to delve into everything pertaining to astral magic. “Deanna teaches all the astral stuff, doesn’t she?”

“Adric and I teach some as well, but Deanna’s really the Queen of the Realm. She’s the only one here who’s able to walk into the Astral Realm—that’s something neither Adric or I know.” She slightly shook her head. “Nor is it something that I want. There are things in the Astral Realm that react badly to people from the Physical Realm.”

 

We know Annie and Kerry are learning Aura Reading, because that was mentioned a long while back.  Once they get that down they’ll know if people are telling them the truth or if they’re BSing them, and can even work that little bit of magic on their parents.  While Annie’s folks can hide the true nature of their auras from their Darling Little Sorceress, Kerry’s parents won’t be as lucky, and there’ll come a time where Mama and Papa Malibey ain’t gonna be able to bullshit their son any longer, which probably won’t go well for them.

While some may have suspected that Deanna was good when it came to things like seeing auras, Helena conforms, for the first time, that she’s really the one who knows her way around the Astral Realm.  And while I usually don’t do this, here’s a big River Song-sized spoiler:  it won’t be long before we see Deanna take a stroll through the Curtain.  Since Helena just Chekhov’s gunned the whole “Deanna’s the only one here who can walk into the Astral Realm”, it wouldn’t do not to show her doing just that.  I’m sure you’ll see it coming when it does come.

Kerry decides to drag the convo back onto the original track, which was . . .

 

Kerry was able to quickly infer various points from this conversation. “But you’ve seen what the Astral Realm really looks like.”

There was a half-smile on her face as she kept her gaze locked on Kerry’s. “Yeah.”

“Because you were there after you died.”

“Yes.”

“How?”

“Your aura is really nothing more than a byproduct of the electrochemical activity within your physical form—with magical energy from the Astral Realm making the auras of the Aware more brilliant than those of Normals. Your aura stays anchored to your physical form, constantly renewing because of the activity in your brain and body. If you know what you’re doing you can make your aura invisible to others, or make it look like your a Normal, but while you’re alive it stays with you at all times, save when you’re doing Astral Projection.

“But when it comes to dying . . . You can’t destroy energy, and that included the energy found in your aura. When you die your aura no longer remains connected to your physical form, so it falls completely into the Astral Realm. It still looks like you because it’s an aspect of your physical form, but there’s more.” Helena leaned forward and lowered her voice slightly. “Since your brain is little more than a big electrochemical processor, when your aura pops up in the Astral Realm after you die, it brings with it all that you were when you were alive: your thoughts, your memories, and your skills, even the magical ones. It’s you, totally uncoupled from whom you were when you were alive.”

She shrugged. “I’m sure some would way it’s your soul, but it’s really a lot more than that. It’s a different form of energy now, and it’s self-aware. You know you’re dead, but you can feel, your senses work, and all of your emotions are still there. You’re sort of alive, but not—it’s a completely different state of existence.

 

There you go:  there is life after death, though it’s not life as we know it.  You’re pretty much a big ball of Wibbly Wobbly Astral Wastral . . . stuff.  Only this ball of stuff can think and remember and pretty much do all the stuff you did when you had a physical form.  As Helena says some people might think of this as a soul, but it’s more than that–especially if you’re a witch, as you’ll eventually discover.

So what is it like being an uncoupled astral entity?  Well . . .

 

“When I say I woke up on the other side of the Curtain, that’s exactly what it’s like You open your eyes and for a moment you wonder what’s going on, and then you recognize all the brightness and it hits you that you’re dead. When you’re an astral being you see the realm as it really is: all bright pastels and neon, like you’re standing in the middle of New York or Honk Kong in the middle of the night, and it’s turned into a gigantic Holi festival cranked up by a thousand. It’s an incredible feeling—and once that’s so sad at the same time, because you know where you are, why you are there, and that you’re not going back to whatever you had before.

“I was unable to move for a few moments. I knew everything I’d had, everything I’d been, was gone, and there was nothing to do but move forward and face was coming next. You can’t stay in the Astral Realm for long, not at first: only a few people know how to renew their astral form at that point, and if you stay too long there, you’ll Dissipate—” She held up her hand before Kerry could ask the obvious. “Your form will lose cohesion and come apart, at which point you’re simply energy on the astral winds becoming part of the overall universe. No, if you want to stay as you are, you need to leave the realm behind and move into the space between the Multiverses. And to do that, you need to go beyond The Veil . . .”

 

The Veil?  What is this shit, Mistress of All Things Dark?  You’ll find out–just as soon as I write that part.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come with a lot of naps first.