This is an important and timely question explored in the highly acclaimed spiritual novel, SNOOZE: A STORY OF AWAKENING, winner of the 2015 National Indie Excellence Award for New Age Fiction.
Written with young adult and young-at-heart readers in mind, SNOOZE further proved its literary merit by being selected as a 2016 Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Finalist in the Young Adult-Coming of Age category and receiving an Honorable Mention in the 2014 Beach Book Festival Prize competition in the General Fiction category.
You’re invited to join—either with eyes or ears—Max Diver, a.k.a. “Snooze,” along the razor’s edge of a quest to rescue his astronaut father from a fate stranger than death in the exotic, perilous Otherworld of sleep.
This inspiring tale interweaves a plethora of paranormal and metaphysical subjects, from Bigfoot and enlightenment to the Loch Ness Monster and time travel via the Bermuda Triangle.
In her review of SNOOZE published in INDIE SHAMAN Magazine, June Kent had this to say about what she described as “superlative fiction”: “Engrossing, entertaining and occasionally humorous, SNOOZE also takes a look at a wide range of subjects including levitation, telepathy, lucid dreaming, spirit animals, parallel universes and shamanic-like journeying, giving a wide range of information effortlessly absorbed as you enjoy the story as well as much food for thought.”
Naturally, your generous review would be greatly appreciated even if you simply enjoy the full text now being presented on this blog and numerous podcast platforms. Keep in mind that paperback and ebook versions are for sale. A complimentary online version is also available for your reading pleasure.
SNOOZE: A STORY OF AWAKENING
By Sol Luckman
Tell you what,” said Maizy. “I’ll make us some fresh juice and a snack and we can reconvene on the back porch to chat a bit more about this stuff. Metaphysics requires a lot of energy. Are you two hungry?”
“Starving,” said Max.
“Ditto,” said Tuesday.
“In the meantime, perhaps Max would like to see the garden?”
“I’ll show him!” said Tuesday.
She led him back past the stairwell, through the cavernous living room (where Max slipped on his shoes), past a smaller room that appeared to be Maizy’s tattoo parlor, onto a screened and furnished lanai, out a side door, down some steps, and into some kind of urban … farm.
Most of the backyard was cultivated in neat circular installations, ringed by large rocks, of different species of plants. There were many plants Max didn’t recognize, but among those he did were beets, broccoli, cabbages, and carrots.
“Permaculture,” explained Tuesday, noting the quizzical expression on her friend’s face.
“Max, is it just me, or am I always having to explain things to you?”
“You’re always having to explain things,” he said, kneeling at the edge of a circle and touching a large white cabbage with a finger to verify that it was real. He had never seen an actual farm before—much less one like this.
“Do you really want to know what permaculture is?”
“I asked, didn’t I?”
“Fair enough. Permaculture is a system of growing food based on year-round agriculture that relies on renewable resources and an ecosystem that’s self-sustaining.”
“You let nature take care of you all year while taking care of it without a lot of pesticides.”
“Cool. I love new ideas.”
“Actually, it’s really old. It’s the way things were done for centuries. What do you think?”
“I think it’s amazing,” answered Max, standing back up and inhaling deeply. Just being in the Mondays’ garden was invigorating. “Even the air out here is like food.”
“I know what you mean.”
“They just let you do this? The city, I mean?”
“They don’t like it. Sometimes they fine people. Mom says we’ll know the world has truly changed when people start receiving citations for not growing gardens in their yards.”
“Hey, guys!” Maizy called, as if on cue, from the lanai. “Snack is served!”
The two children ran, laughing, back through the garden, up the steps, and onto the porch. Max felt utterly exhilarated—and had completely forgotten about his injured eye and ribs.
Maizy had set three glasses of practically fluorescent green juice and a large plate of cheese and fruit on a glass-topped coffee table. She sat in a wicker chair as Max and Tuesday plopped down on a matching love seat and started feeding their faces. “Wow. This juice is … different,” said Max.
“You don’t like it?” said Maizy.
“I do like it. A lot. It’s just really … fresh.”
“As fresh as it gets. I just juiced it.” Max tasted the strong, mineral sweetness of beets and carrots. “Is everything in here from your garden?”
“Not everything. The apples and jalapeños are from the Saturday farmers market. And I grow the wheat grass on the front porch in a dry spot for better drainage to limit mold.”
“It’s a superfood,” said Tuesday. “It contains more nutrients than just about anything else.”
“And it’s just … grass?”
“Yes, basically. It’s fantastic for decalcifying your pineal gland,” said Maizy.
“Doing what to my pineal gland?” asked Max.
“Decalcifying it. The pineal gland is your third eye, the seat of mystical power in ancient wisdom traditions that many Hindus still mark with a bindi.”
She pointed to the center of her forehead. “It’s said to be the exit point for kundalini, the serpent-like energy of enlightenment that travels up the chakras, or major energy points, along your spine. Descartes thought the pineal gland was where the soul resides.”
“A French philosopher,” explained Tuesday.
Not everything Maizy was sharing was Greek to Max. Over the course of his “paranormal” reading, he had encountered many of these concepts before, in one form or another. He just had never understood how to apply them, in any practical way, to his own experience. “Why would I want to decalcify it?” he asked.
“Because fluoride, chlorine and other toxins in our water, food supply and even toothpaste harden, or calcify, the pineal gland, making it less functional,” said Maizy. “This should be of particular interest to you, Max, given your … proclivities.”
“You’re saying that certain foods, like wheat grass juice, can increase psychic ability?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying. In fact, nearly any kind of green, leafy vegetable will help.”
“And other things, like chemicals, decrease it?”
“You are what you eat.”
“Far out. I always thought food was just … food.”
“Unless it’s soul food,” quipped Tuesday. “Speaking of, these are really flavorful apple slices, Mom.”
“The cheddar’s good, too,” said Max.
“It’s raw,” said Tuesday.
“Glad you’re enjoying everything,” said Maizy. “Now, let’s talk a little about your astral body, Max.”
“My astral body?”
“Do you realize you often repeat things back to people as a question?”
“Sorry. I guess it just gives me time to think so I don’t sound stupid.”
“That’s a curious conversational strategy.”
“I think it’s kind of endearing,” said Tuesday.
“So what’s an astral body?” asked Max.
“It may be what you saw during your fight. Though I have to admit, I’ve never heard of one popping out in the middle of a crowd like that during broad daylight. Usually, they’re solitary aspects of our being, confined to our dreams—and sometimes daydreams.”
“I see it in my dreams as well. Come to think of it, I was dreaming. I was out cold for a minute there—and then I got up sleepwalking.”
“That doesn’t surprise me.”
Max felt the by-now familiar nudging against his leg, reached down without even bothering to look, and set Merlin on his lap for another scratching.
“Tell me,” said Maizy, “do you ever see a silver cord attached to your astral body when you’re dreaming?”
“A silver cord?”
“You’re doing it again.”
“Sorry. Well, yes, now that you mention it. But it’s more like a thin ribbon. It’s almost invisible and seemingly can stretch forever. What is it exactly?”
“It’s the connection between your waking and dreaming selves. It’s made of the same subtle energy as your aura and kundalini. The Taoists called this energy chi. If you can visualize the silver cord right now, where would you say it attaches to your physical body?”
“To my pineal gland—my third eye?”
“And where does it connect to your dreaming self?”
“To the back of my head, I’d say, though I can’t actually see the connection point.”
“Textbook. It’s all just textbook, Max. You really are astral projecting. Is there anything particularly strange about your dreams?”
Tuesday actually burst out laughing at this question—and Max couldn’t help following suit. There with a full belly on the room-temperature lanai overlooking the permaculture garden on a gorgeous December late afternoon, the psychodrama that was Max’s life suddenly seemed surreal, absurd, and hilarious beyond words.
“I gather there’s more to this story,” said Maizy, which only made the two children laugh harder, to the point of doubling over and slapping their knees as they wheezed.
“That’s putting it lightly,” Tuesday finally managed to say between fits of giggling.
“Would you care to clue in your mother?”
“Do you mind if I tell her, Max?”
“Be my guest,” he laughed. “If she doesn’t think I’m a freak by now, she never will.”
After a minute, the two kids were able to compose themselves. While Max scratched Merlin and—prompted by Maizy—finished off the last of the cheese and fruit, Tuesday, with her typical literary style, proceeded to weave Max’s history of increasingly bizarre dreams into something resembling a short story.
Max listened along with Maizy, nearly as fascinated as she was, as his own life was laid out in the third person—starting with his earliest notable dreams, continuing through his learning how to bring objects back from the dream world, and ending with his latest visionary dream of himself and his father disappearing into the vortex.
When Tuesday finished, Maizy remained quiet for a moment, then said, “That’s some heavy stuff. Does your father know all of this, Max?”
“Most of it. Now anyway. Everything except my last dream.”
“What does he make of it?”
“He’s still making up his mind.”
“I think you should pull a card.”
“A card? What kind of card?”
“A Tarot card. It’s a form of divination, a way of comprehending oneself better in the past, present, and future.”
“Like palm reading?”
“Something like that. Would you like to pull one? It could shed light on why these things are happening to you.”
“Sure. Why not.”
“Tuesday, honey, please go get the little deck. I think it’s in the parlor.”
Tuesday was only gone a few seconds, before sitting back down and handing her mother a small black deck called The World Spirit Tarot and an accompanying booklet explaining the significance of the individual cards.
Making space on the coffee table, Maizy shuffled the deck several times with practiced fingers, before spreading out the cards facedown.
“Now, run your hand over the cards,” she instructed Max. “Don’t touch them. Just feel them. Ask your higher guidance to help you select the one card that most clearly speaks to who you are and who you are endeavoring to become.”
Max suppressed the “scientific” urge to laugh off this ritual as superstitious foolishness. Recalling the epigraph to his mother’s field journal, “I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud,” he resisted reaching a premature conclusion regarding something about which he knew virtually nothing—and instead, opened his mind and did as he was counseled.
Merlin suddenly stirred from sleep, opened his eyes and watched with Maizy and Tuesday as Max ran his hand over the cards, trying to “feel” them with his fingertips and asking for “guidance.” Selecting a card that seemed “hot,” for lack of a better way to describe the odd sensation, he carefully pulled it from the spread.
“Flip it over,” said Tuesday.
He did. The card showed a muscular blue man hanging from a tree limb by a rope attached to one foot, grasping an arrow behind his back with both hands, his long black hair dangling down into a sunken whirlpool the same color as his skin.
“What does it mean?” Max asked, seeing the serious look on Maizy’s alabaster face framed by coils of scarlet hair.
“It’s the Hanged Man,” she said in a distant, philosophical voice. “That certainly explains a lot.”
“It really does,” said Tuesday in a similar tone of amazement and respectfulness.
“The Hanged Man?” asked Max. “That’s bad, right? I mean, it can’t be good to be hanged?”
“It’s not that simple,” said Maizy. “Would you like me to read about this card?”
“Do I have any other choice?”
“You always have a choice.”
“Okay. Fire away.”
Maizy opened the little booklet to the page that discussed the Hanged Man and read, “‘Suspended between the worlds, the Hanged Man links heaven and earth. He is a visionary, a shaman, a mystic. His connection with the ethereal realm imbues him with psychic powers.’”
“So I’m supposed to be some kind of modern-day medicine man?” Max asked incredulously.
“Try to think about it in a more nonlinear way. This card is not you; it merely speaks to you, offering insights wherever they apply. Shall I continue?”
“‘When the Hanged Man appears,’” Maizy went on, “‘some element of your life is on hold. You may feel vulnerable and be questioning things you’ve always taken for granted. Your world may even feel … upside down …’”
“You got that right,” interjected Max.
“‘But have faith. Allow yourself to be in suspense for a while; let go of having every answer. It may not make any sense to you right now, but a reversal of ideas could be exactly what’s needed.’”
“Is that it?”
“No. There’s a little more. Shall I finish?”
“‘The Hanged Man often asks for a sacrifice in exchange for his wisdom. Feelings of being stuck or trapped persist only as long as you cling to your usual perspective. If you are willing to give up some belief or attitude that no longer serves you, your reward will be well worth it. You will gain a deeper understanding of your life and, with this new perspective, old dilemmas and chronic problems can be resolved.’”
While Maizy was reading, Max instinctively saw the vortex from his dream as the whirlpool into which the Hanged Man’s hair was dipping. The arrow behind his back suggested someone who could navigate in two different directions, or worlds. He shivered, though it wasn’t cold, with the sense that the card really was speaking to him.
“There now, Max,” said Tuesday with her usual cheerfulness, which she somehow managed to maintain even in the face of adversity. “That doesn’t seem so bad, does it?”
Copyright © Sol Luckman. All Rights Reserved.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sol Luckman is a pioneering ink and acrylic painter whose work has been featured on mainstream book covers, the fast-paced trading game BAZAAR, and at least one tattoo on a female leg last sighted in Australia.
Sol is also an acclaimed author of fiction, nonfiction, and humor. His books include the international bestselling CONSCIOUS HEALING, which you can read free online, and its popular sequel, POTENTIATE YOUR DNA, available in English and Spanish.
Sol’s popular book of humor and satire, THE ANGEL’S DICTIONARY: A SPIRITED GLOSSARY FOR THE LITTLE DEVIL IN YOU, received the 2017 National Indie Excellence Award for Humor and was selected as a Finalist in the Humor category of both the 2018 International Book Awards and the 2018 Best Book Awards.