Home   Mandalas   We Levitated In a Psychedelic Light Show and Loved a Widower

BUILDERS OF THE ADYTUM, Los Angeles, California, location of¬†spiritual teacher Ann Davies’ Builders of the Adytum (BOTA) which inspired levitation, humanity, windmills, and warmth.

The first time I attended temple services or the regular Thursday Night Lecture was in November 1970. I had in the recent 48 hours that day, had a fantastical dream, one that took me into the “canyons of your mind.” (Is that a song from the 1960’s? It was indeed, but the lyric was not canyons, but windmills)

To be cool, my friends did not tell me where we were going when they picked me up, and I didn’t think it was necessary to ask, so when we got out and parked in front of the little brick building on Figueroa, I was in a daze of wonderment, “The Temple of the Tarot and Holy Qabala” was impressive enough from just the door and window glazing, but upon entry I was satisfied, as if my whole body knew, and every moment from that day forward I lived in that expanded canyon the one cultivated of the mind, structured by the teachings.

Ann Davies was a small-framed woman, about 5’2″ and she had a limp, I can’t remember if it was from an early bout with polio. One shoe was indeed much thicker than the other. Her entrance to the stage at the BOTA temple was not the one used (always) by the choir, to the side. Hers was instead built to allow her to minimize her limp. She did not want this deficiency to be on display for the maximum ten or 15 steps needed to traverse from the door to the stage and up the three steps.

Instead, a little door led straight onto center stage, behind the curtain which hangs there now, which on these occasions was sufficiently parted to allow passage. She apparently had a meditation chair situated on the other side, in the office (out of view) and would wait until her moment. At that time this little entry opened and Ann would emerge, smiling, radiant. I remember thinking wow, who is this?

She didn’t start speaking right away. The crowd (there were always more than 50 people seated, standing, moving about) would silence itself as she observed, smiling over us all. Standing behind the pulpit, a stool provided some relief from the two hours she would spend with us. She was a Scorpio, with the Moon in Gemini and Sagittarius rising, which made her a story-teller first, and an adherent of the mysteries, a near-second in her range of talents as a leader in her capacity. Sagittarius rises,¬†I remember thinking “mouth like a horse,” meaning an elegant overbite, around which she would press generous lips, as if to lick her teeth while smiling. Large brown eyes, and a master of silent patience, everyone finally settled down.

“Good evening sorors and fraters.” We responded in kind.

“Have you noticed, ladies and gentlemen, the exemplary, the archetypal and original man? Behold him, he stands behind you!” Her eyes would twinkle at this. I looked around and by then only one man remained standing. He was plain, balding, wearing the style of the early 1970’s white shoes and a bowling jacket. Not a paragon of fashion or beauty, so I wondered if indeed, that was Our Man.

I’ve recounted this nugget of “Ann-isms” before, so I won’t belabor this, but her ray of love was sent out like an ocean wave on a Malibu summer afternoon, and was unforgettable. It had power and palpability. We all looked at Jacob.

My best friend, Mavis Mathews, worked six years as a secretary in the temple office, in the few years around that time. She would talk about how this husband of Ann’s was just a “plain guy.” She didn’t find anything too remarkable about him when first meeting, either. He was smiling, gentle, and taking the attention like she was teasing him, but proudly, without any “aw, shucks” about it. Later on, as the fifth year of my friends’ career grew into six, Mavis remarked, “He wasn’t that attractive you know, before. But now, after all these years of her loving gesture, all us women in the office began to find him attractive.”

Ann would counsel frequently from her pulpit also, “If you want to marry happy, marry a widower.” Her whiskey voice permitted a joy of a giggle as she scanned the room. Like Mick Jagger, she had a performer’s training, always allowing the audience to participate in her talk, and her control over her voice and silences were designed to captivate.

The talk of marrying widowers was all preparation for the last, I would only realize later. I got the feeling that she was standing for either one, for after the one would leave the other for the next world. We didn’t know of course that it was only a few short years before it would become fact.

“A widower doesn’t need any training!” This was all while sharing a lover’s stare into his eyes, crossing the distance from where she stood to the back of the room. We were caught in the crosshairs. A share of that beam stayed with us.

Thursday nights were a marvel for the era of the 1960s when psychedelics and the cultural phases from rock to drugs to long hair back to rock were prevalent. She didn’t participate in the drug culture and warned against it, but she did have her own answer to prevailing trends: a psychedelic light show.

Aside from the super-colorful dream about the canyons, I had also a premonition (as 18-year olds are wont to do) about meeting someone in whom I would find such canyons of the mind, and on the way to the lecture, driving in the late afternoon light from the Orange County area, we picked up the young man with whom I would later develop a romantic connection. He had appeared in the dream so the day was already a little out-of-character, and getting more about the lifting of a veil, as the hours developed into evening.

On the pulpit Ann was ready to begin her talk. She started describing circles but soon drew a picture of the galaxy with her story of space travel and asked us to close our eyes to imagine the blackness, the vacuum and to grasp the vastness, the immense distances between the planets in our galaxy.

“Now imagine this at the molecular level,” she instructed. “Where the nucleus warms the electrons themselves at immense distance from their sun.” I had to look around to see if anyone else was feeling it.

via GIPHY

My feet were nowhere near touching the floor. I’m 5’6″ and have no trouble in standard seating. But I was levitating. And so was everyone else. We were transfixed, staring at her as she guided us further and further out into the structure of space, always reminding us that the molecular and the astral were the same model, with similar business. None of which needed the control of our Little Ego for anything.

I was in the front row, immediately under her gaze which would reach through me, and I felt like one of the piano keys she played, her adagios elevating us. We were raised to at least 20 inches above the floor. Our knees were uniform, seated together in that crowd. We floated there about 40 minutes and I was slack-jawed by everyone’s seemingly cool demeanor.

Then, came the moment of meditation and we could take a break. The portable film screen was set up with a box in front of it. The organist returned to his seat and the lights went dim and she guided us in silent participation, breathing and watching colored lights as if they were kneading and rolling across the little white screen, allowing imagination to free itself, and return again to all that space.

Later, as we came down from the lofty heights, we gathered for late night fellowship. Evenings ended at 9:30PM, but we gathered around the entrance where fellowship was bustling under the canopy to the side of the building. It was a warmly connected group, and I met some lifelong friends there. There is so much to miss, to say wow, wish that would happen again.

I am sure if we looked through her lectures we could find the one dated for the first Thursday in November of 1970, six months after I graduated high school. This was my spiritual center and Ann would become my guru. In the following 24 months I joined Pronaos and was a regular at the Thursday night lecture until I left the USA. I lived in France for the years that she was ill, returning only months after her death.

We levitated. Ann would be the one I could recommend for a levitation experience delivered through a lecture format. It never happened again. But it always happens again. Ann would be better able to explain. Her eyes would gaze into mine and she would say, Do you know? Do you even know at all? and the same love extended to her husband was projected on my person and soul.

Would I ever know? It is through the others I meet at temple that I learn. Fellowship is strong, steady stuff. The stuff of Universes. The stuff of gazes and warmth, orbits and gravity. Thank you, Ann. (Wish the light show would return!)

(Image: from the 2016 Mandala Calendar, my writings and creative teaching at facebook.com/mandalacalendar )

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