Mary pressed her jade cross close to her heart and moved through the brightening morning, taking care to keep to the trees out of sight of the early-morning workers. It was surprisingly quiet. The three lines of apple trees, heavily laden with fruit, ran the length of the orchard and caught the rising sun glistening on their dew as if they were dressing themselves to be more attractive for the first pickers. Mary caught a glimpse of the Maori elder, a tohunga, walking toward her from afar in the light of the morning. She reached for an apple and looked back the other way, avoiding the glare, and stepped back along the path to the tallest tree. That part of the path was still in the gloom and decorated with golden lanterns inset with tiny silver candles whose flames flickered in the early-morning breeze. The seats along the path were oak, not pine, and reserved for special guests who loved to stop and sip the home-made apple cider.
Mary stopped beside the first bench and touched the wood gently. It gave off an amiable scent and a warmth like a friend beckoning her to sit with him or her.
“Everything will be okay,” she whispered to herself.
She had encountered tohungas (elders) before and knew they were able to shift form and travel across worlds if they wished. It was just as her grandmother had said, just like the stories she had been told.
She only wants a minute, she reminded herself. It can’t be that bad. Stop worrying.
But she held the jade cross more tightly against her chest. She strode ahead down the path and through the open door to the packing shed at the other end of the orchard.
No one here, she thought, ignoring the sign that said: “Wipe your feet.” Thank goodness for that.
Settling herself on one of the old packing crates just inside the door to steady her nerves, Mary’s eyes darted back and forth along the walls of the shed and out through the door. The only light came from the sun and settled quietly on an old, beat-up crucifix that hung on the wall above an equally old advertisement for the orchard’s Gala apples, which the owner prided herself on. Mary had lived most of her life in the Far North, so this working holiday in the Deep South was a rare foray into the liberty of southern charm. She had never been away from home before and had never met an elder. She had thought that kind of meeting was reserved for more distinguished people than she was.
She stood up and looked around.
The light moved and settled on her shoulder.
“Can I go now?” She was talking out loud to St. Anthony. Whenever she was in trouble or worried, she would ask him for help.
She felt a warmth extend out from her heart as if the saint had placed his hands there.
“Okay, okay.” She took a deep breath.
The room was big, with a pool table in one corner for smoko, or break time. The ashtray at one end was littered with cigarettes. Along one wall was a stack of crates for packing, stored about five high. A jar with drooping violets and chrysanthemums needed changing, its water browned with hints of green mold at the sides.
“They could do with a clean,” she said under her breath.
She sat on an old leather armchair filled with newspapers that crackled as she sat. She pulled her legs up and hugged her knees to look at the last wall, the one adjacent to the door. There were family portraits going way back in the owner’s history—at the far end, a fierce warrior wearing a long, feathered cloak with tattoos covering nearly all his body. He stared at her with mana and authority, powers she felt she didn’t possess.
“What are you looking at?” she said in response. But before she could wonder if those eyes really saw anything at all, she heard a shuffle of feet wiping themselves on the mat outside the door.
She shrank down in the armchair and wished she could disappear. She couldn’t hide, but she could be quiet. Very, very quiet.
The light seemed to change in the room as a woman entered. Mary was dazzled for a moment, so she could only focus on the woman’s legs and bare feet. Slowly she made out an outline. She was very small, Mary thought.
Then a deep voice boomed, interrupting her thoughts, “KIa ora. Hello, Mary. My name is Alice.”
It was the tohunga. Mary held her breath, not daring to move. She thought she could see another figure beside Alice but shook her head, thinking it must be her imagination.
“How do you know my name?” whispered Mary. The voice was small and didn’t even sound like hers and shook a little.
“I expect you will understand all that in due course.” Mary just nodded.
“And you’ve brought the future for me?” smiled Alice, reaching out to take one of Mary’s hands.
“Yes, well … er, no, I didn’t know exactly why we were meeting. You did say it wouldn’t be for long.”
“That’s right, just a minute in your time …”
“A minute in my time?” Mary could feel the old woman’s grip tighten around her own.
Mary bent slightly, trying to wrest her wrist free from Alice’s grasp, but she was curious about what the elder could see in her hands.
She watched as Alice began to trace the lines of her palm slowly and gracefully as if she were writing on water. Alice must have been in her seventies, but her nimble, light movements belied that fact. As she continued tracing, Mary’s vision became hazy, and she became aware, as before, that there seemed to be a second figure in the room that separated from Alice and settled just next to her right shoulder.
Mary was tense with anxiety. She was scared of bats and birds and crowded elevators, so having such strange forces so close was both exciting and terribly unnerving.
“W—wh—who?” she stammered. But Alice seemed to have anticipated her question.
“Your son,” said Alice.
Of all the things she could have said, this shocked Mary the most. She was just sixteen years old and at a private girls’ boarding school, and she had been kept as far away from boys and men as her mother thought humanly possible. The idea of a son had never entered her mind until that moment.
A great fear was welling up inside Mary. Alice was said to be involved in magical arts with charms and spells, and her father, Hupini, was reputed to be a wizard, a great medicine man with powers in makutu (the black arts). He had knowledge beyond normal humans and could kill an enemy at a distance simply by projecting his will. Mary was scared that if she got caught up in this, something awful might happen to her.
What she saw next, however, completely banished all fear from her mind.
Alice took some toetoe grass from her pocket and rubbed it on Mary’s palm. Then she began to chant a prayer, a karakia, mumbling in low, soft tones that Mary could not understand.
As Alice spoke, continuing to rub deeper now, the grass turned into a white powder that filled the lines on Mary’s palm. In front of Mary’s eyes, the palm became a lattice of thin, white, flowing streams across a lush, pink land. Alice cupped Mary’s hand in her own and poured the thin streams of powder into her own palm before releasing her grip on Mary. Alice then stirred the magical streams of powder in her hand with her other finger until they all dissolved into one miniature ocean in the valley of her palm. She threw this alchemical mixture up into midair and all over Mary.
Mary gave a shudder as the umbrella of water descended onto her, feeling for all the world as if a puddle had been dropped on her from heaven above. Alice mumbled one more word before turning and leaving through the door she had entered and gesturing for Mary to follow.
Mary was dumbfounded. Her thoughts were racing. What had she really seen? Was she bewitched? Where was Alice going?
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About the Book
DIARY OF A YOGI – A BOOK OF AWAKENING
Based on the life of Altair Shyam
A mystical tale of revelations and transformation.
A book of beauty and presence
that transforms the way you love
and opens your heart to the miracles of this precious lifetime
through the power of pure intention.
“This is it. Diary of a Yogi – a True Story
is more than a book.
It is a journey you take
that will profoundly impact your life.
This is your chance to go into the forest
and emerge transformed.”
About the Author
Altair Shyam is a teacher, healer, and mystic who guides the way of love, unity, and harmony for the New Gaia. Altair has an extensive background in healing, teaching, and education and holds degrees and certifications in counseling and alternative health, business, and mindful and heartful education. This is his second book.