One day – in the not so very distant future – even my vision will seem “normal” in the eyes of the world.
Le Paradis is a 100% fictional work, touching on many issues in today’s French Polynesia: poverty, wealth, ecology, mythology and the conservation of culture and tradition (au sujet de la pauvreté, de la richesse, de l’écologie, des légendes, et de la conservation du patrimoine culturel).
It is my hope that this work will evoke interest regarding both the threats and consequences of modernisation, ecological disasters and materialism for delicate small societies outside the mainstream political, economic and cultural structures propagated by the large and powerful countries of the world. Many of these “peripheral” societies are struggling to maintain their traditions and cultural specificities. I would further venture to suggest that we who live in the large agenda-setting centres of modernisation, military and economic power and globalised culture have much to learn from these small societies in the far corners of the world, and that the survival of the Earth itself may be contingent upon a willingness to learn simpler and more holistic and interpersonal approaches to life, culture and spirituality.
This time I have chosen French Polynesia as the geographical/cultural entity that serves as a background for the abovementioned message; however, it could just as well have been another set of islands, or another remote society.
Photos by Adam Donaldson Powell
An excerpt from “Le Paradis”:
Part two / 2ème Partie -Tales and poetic homage about / Contes et hommage poétique concernant Tahiti
Part two / 2ème Partie – chapter one: thoughts of Moruroa (“the place of the big secret”)
It had been two years since Erita’s husband (Mana) had died of cancer. He had been working on the atoll of Moruroa during the last round of French nuclear tests in the region. He was but one of many Polynesians who had suffered the effects of the testing; many of whom still die today – the worst part perhaps being the shroud of government silence and secrecy that had surrounded the tragedy for so many years. And now, the once idyllic paradise of Tahiti – after several decades of being thrust into so-called modernity – was more or less a parody of much larger urban cities, complete with dependency upon tourism, loss of age-old cultural traditions and identity, social problems, slums etc.
Erita was now a 45-year-old single mother of a 17-year old son named Ponui (“the big night”). Erita supports both herself, her son and occasionally sends money to her relatives living on a more remote island. She works as a domestic at one of the luxury hotels on the island of Tahiti, both cleaning rooms and helping to prepare food in the hotel kitchen. She was lost in her thoughts about her family, preoccupied especially about her son who was left on his own much too often since she had to work every extra shift she was offered in order to manage financially. The main tourist season was – after all – the most important time of the year in terms of making money. She stood in the kitchen alone, waiting for the second shift to arrive … she was already exhausted after having worked since the early morning hours, but she was used to labouring extra hours and felt fortunate that she was generally accommodated by the management when she asked for more work.
She was doing the prep-work for “poisson cru” (a traditional Tahitian fish dish), which would be served to the tourists later that evening (together with several other local dishes: pork, taro, chicken, plantains, sweet potatoes and dessert (some French pastries and fresh tropical fruits)). The entertainment was to be a performance of Polynesian dances featuring local girls.
Erita was angry with her son, who had gotten into trouble with the local police the night before. It was nothing serious, but she felt guilty that she was so absent – especially when he was at that age, and with the many temptations of modern urban life brought on by commercialisation and tourism in Pape’ete. She was not aware that she was almost using the fish knife like a butcher knife; making hard chopping motions and sounds that were more suitable for cutting pork or red meat than fish.
“Hare Maru! (Take it easy!),” said Jeannette. Jeannette and three other women on the afternoon shift had just walked into the hotel kitchen.
Ia ora na outou” (“Hello”), replied Erita (smiling, while looking over her shoulder and wiping sweat from her brow).
“E aha to oe huru? … Comment vas-tu ? (How are you?)” asked Jeannette.
“E mea maitai au. E o oe? (I am well. And you?)” replied Erita.
“E mea maitai au. Mauruuru! (I am well. Thanks!)” replied Jeannette, smiling. The other three women nodded ‘hello’ to Erita, who smiled and greeted them in return.
“Comment allez-vous, Mesdames ?” shouted Alain, the assistant hotel manager through the doorway of the kitchen.
“Bien, monsieur. Et vous même?”
“Très bien, merci. Je rentre chez moi, et j’irai à Moorea demain,” said Alain, as he hurried past the doorway.
“Au revoir !” the women sang out in chorus.
“Au revoir! ” shouted Alain, already several footsteps down the corridor.
Jeannette walked up behind Erita and said, “Here … let me help you with that.” She took a knife and stood next to Erita, saying: “You have done a lot already! Are you a little tired today? You don’t seem your normal happy self.”
Erita forced a smile and mumbled: “I am okay. Just a little preoccupied. My son got into some minor trouble with the police last night, and today is my wedding anniversary. My husband and I would have been together twenty-one years today.”
“I understand … ” replied Jeannette. “It is not an easy life for you, my dear Erita. You are very brave to go it all alone … without a man or your relatives close by you. Have you considered getting remarried? You are still quite stunning to look at. I would love to come over one day and do your hair and make-up. And perhaps we could go out on the town afterwards?”
“Me? You must be joking,” said Erita, laughing nervously.
“I do not joke about such things, ma chère !” retorted Jeannette. “Look! We finish here in three hours. Come home with me. I can even lend you an outfit. I have something that would suit you perfectly. Our kids will be fine tonight. We could even send them to the cinema, and let them invite a few friends over to my house for snacks and soft drinks afterwards. We will certainly be back home before things get too much out of control. Besides, my son Teiki knows better than to try anything outside of the house rules – even when he is alone by himself.”
Both women laughed, attracting the attention of the other women at work in the kitchen. Erita smiled and said: “Okay. Why not? But I am not interested in meeting anyone … so don’t try any matchmaking!”
“Who, me?” replied Jeannette, with her hands on her hips. “Every woman for herself … that is my motto.”
Erita just rolled her eyes and shook her head, smiling. Both women hugged and kissed each other on the cheek. Immediately, they simultaneously broke out into a traditional Polynesian love song, and continued working.
Part two / 2ème Partie – chapter two: out on the town
They had been sitting at the bar at the dancing hall for about an hour-and-a-half when Erita got a migraine headache. She told her friend Jeannette that she has been getting them often. Jeannette asked her if she thought it may be an effect of radiation – perhaps she was suffering from radiation sickness. She mentioned that she has a cousin who was recently tested for radiation contamination after developing some strange symptoms. Erita said “no”, she usually gets them in the evenings only, and they are often accompanied by flashes of geometrical shapes that appear before her eyes, or in the distance. She added that she has often felt as if she knows things just as they are happening somewhere else.
“You mean like Déjà Vu ?” her friend asked.
“No,” replied Erita. “More like telepathy … or a kind of communication that something is happening to someone I know in some way, or is about to.”
Jeannette asked her where these migraine headaches are centred in her skull. Erita pointed to the areas corresponding to her pineal gland and hypothalamus. It was then that her friend told her her mother’s story about their Lemurian ancestors who mastered crystal-energy and telepathy and the art of flying, and that when Lemuria met its destruction many Lemurians escaped to Atlantis where they took with them their knowledge of telepathy, crystalenergy, flying and the secret keys and codes of symbols called the language of light. She continued to say: “Unfortunately, the Atlanteans went too far with their scientific investigations into crystal-energy and technology and met their own doom. However, the knowledge they possessed was not totally forgotten, and bits and pieces still survive in the many remaining and now scattered modern-day remnants of Lemuria – in the South Pacific and Australasia, South America, parts of North America and parts of India, Nepal and Tibet, as well as in cultures heavily influenced by the Atlantis civilisation. Some even draw strong parallels between ancient Egypt and Lemuria, based on use of symbols and geometry in architecture, but also because of the widespread use of telepathy and communication with the ‘other world’ – perhaps this was because both ancient Egypt and Lemuria are said to have been populated originally by beings from other star systems.”
“Typical”, said Erita, “that we again experiment with atomic energy and weapons of mass destruction. Won’t we ever learn? What is wrong with the more positive, life-asserting traditional values and culture?”
“Some say we have now come full circle, and that Lemuria will re-emerge as a continent soon. But I personally feel that the new continent of Lemuria will not be in the third or fourth dimension … but rather one place where we will ascend to when the so-called Quantum Leap has taken place,” said her friend.
“You mean after Armageddon?” asked Erita.
“Armageddon is one possibility we can create; but there are alternative options. We have free will, both individually and collectively. I would ask you Erita: do you suppose that those symbols you see are created by you and others on Earth, or do you think they are meant to be taken down through channelling for use by humans?”
“What do you mean by ‘use by humans’?” asked Erita nervously.
“I don’t know; perhaps personal development, or important communications for humanity … or even as a kind of feng shui advice,” said her friend while sipping her cocktail through a straw.
“Feng shui advice?” asked Erita, surprised and amused.
“Sure,” said Jeannette. “Geometric shapes have been used since the earliest civilisations recorded in history to influence human moods, intelligence, communication with other worlds, and comfort. This ancient science is now used widely in modern architecture.”
“I don’t know the answer to your question; I haven’t really thought about it. I guess I think that what I see are individual and collective thought patterns broken down into their basic sound and light geometrical structures, but I am uncertain as to why I see them or what I am supposed to do with them … if anything at all.”
“Have you tried using them to play the lottery?” joked Jeannette.
“No … that doesn’t sound right at all. They are very personal and spiritual for me in a way.”
“Well,” said Jeannette. “I have heard stories about the ancient Lemurians purposely developing their pineal glands to open their third eye and develop telepathic abilities. Perhaps that is what is happening to you. My mother always told me to eat a lot of fruit because she believed that vitamin C increases one’s memory and intuition. Your favourite foodstuff is fruit. Perhaps those huge doses of vitamin C are putting your brain glands in shock, which is in turn giving you headaches and hallucinations in form of these geometric images you keep seeing. I’m no doctor, but maybe you should consider …”
“Stop already, Jeannette!” interrupted Erita. “I am fine. I just work too many extra hours. I will try to cut back a bit.”
“Do you want to go home?” asked Jeannette. “It is okay if you are not feeling well.”
“Home? You must be joking! It is just a little headache … and it will go over. What I really need is to dance.” Erita glanced over at the upper-middle class man with carefully groomed white hair and imported French shoes approaching the bar, and smiled broadly.
“Excusez moi madame,” he said after noticing that their eyes had locked for a few seconds. “Do I know you from …”
“No, I am quite certain,” replied Erita. The gentleman looked perplexed by her answer … was it meant as a brush-off or was she trying to tell him that she liked the way he looked?
“My friend Erita never goes out … so she cannot possibly have met you here before. But perhaps somewhere else.”
“Chuut !” whispered Erita to Jeannette. “You are embarrassing me.”
“Nonsense,” retorted Jeannette. “Erita was just telling me that she wants to dance, but I have my eye on someone else, and do not want to seem unavailable by dancing with Erita. Perhaps you would do her the honour of inviting her for a swing around the dance floor?”
“Jeannette! Really!” exclaimed Erita. “You must not impose on this gentleman.”
“Believe me Erita, that would be no imposition … au contraire it would be a big pleasure,” said the gentleman. “And by the way, my name is Paul. My parents are both French Polynesian but my grandfather came to Tahiti from France. I am named after him.”
And with that, Erita and Paul disappeared onto the dance floor … not to join Jeannette again for another twenty minutes.
“How was the dance?” asked Jeannette. “And how was the dancer?”
“It was great to dance again … it has been years since I last danced with a man. He gave me so many compliments … on my face, my hair, my dress, my eyes. I felt like I was in my early twenties again when I was with him. He asked me out for dinner next Friday. I told him I would think about it, and that he could call me on Wednesday. And how was your beau mec ?” asked Erita finally.
“Married … just my luck. But I have had a great time sitting here, flirting with the bartender and watching your moves on the dance floor. Perhaps we should get home to the boys soon? What does your telepathy say?” joked Jeannette.
“My ‘telepathy’ is shut down for the evening,” replied Erita with slight but friendly sarcasm. “But I am tired … and curious to see what the two teenagers have been up to. So let’s go.”
They slowly walked to Jeannette’s house. It was warm outside, but there was a pleasant light breeze blowing and the streets were quiet and empty of youth looking for thrills. Both women looked marvelous in their colourful tropical flower print dresses and high-heels, but mostly because they had the most beautiful and contented looks on their faces as they walked under coconut trees and the luminescent full moon. They didn’t speak much on the way home to Jeannette, but both thought more about their conversation at the bar regarding the Language of Light and telepathy, than the dancing and flirting.
Erita’s son decided to stay over at Jeannette’s house, and Erita walked home alone. Once there, Erita felt slightly dizzy and nauseated. Had she had too much to drink? “No,” she thought to herself. “I only had two drinks the entire evening.” And then she felt the migraine at the back of her head coming on.
“Oh, dear,” she mumbled. “I had better go to bed.”
The room seemed to shift dimensional perspective. A strange beating sound – not unlike a helicopter or the beating of huge wings – drowned out all other sounds and overtook her consciousness. Everything looked and felt like it was slightly crooked and four-dimensional. Suddenly, a ball of light appeared before her forehead at the spot in between and just over her eyes; it felt as though it had burned its way through from the back of her skull. Instantly the entire dark bedroom filled up with intense white-ultraviolet light, and Erita felt herself flying through tunnels … the walls of which were lined with various geometric symbols, which opened one by one almost as lotus blossoms … into a new world which seemed vaguely familiar. It was then that Erita heard a voice that seemed to be both half-inside her head and also a direct communication that resounded: ‘Relax and let this happen. It is part of your spiritual agreement and growth. Do not be afraid. You are the keeper of these sacred symbols, and you shall hold them until the planet is again ready to understand them and take them into use. You are the new incarnation of Vaite’. Erita marveled at the experience and did not fall asleep before the early morning hours. She busied herself during the day with household chores and making food for herself and her son. As the late afternoon gave way to dusk Erita stepped outside and was amazed to see blue-white rays of light in the sky, which slowly began forming geometric symbols – much like the ones she had seen in her bedroom the night before, while in a half-asleep and half-awake state. The laser-blue symbols were vibrant against the contrasting skies, and were not pulsating but appeared one after another as flashes – not unlike a kaleidoscope. They each appeared briefly, for under a second, and they varied in size although they were quite large. She thought to herself: “It is actually impossible to say how large they really are or how far away they are, but they seem to be much closer than the stars or the Moon.”
After watching the heavenly show for about fifteen minutes, Erita went into the apartment and found some paper and a blue pencil with which to record her visions. Erita had half-expected that the symbols would have disappeared once she had returned inside, but when she returned they were in full force. She barely had time to draw one symbol before another appeared. Erita felt quite a reverence for these symbols, and felt strongly that they were both universal for all mankind and at the same time somehow personal for her – both symbols of the collective human consciousness and also cosmic information that all humans could download, use and learn from. She smiled, thinking: “This is actually a two-way dialogue. I can almost understand and communicate through my thoughts on some level – not on a regular third dimensional level, but on a higher dimensional frequency. Erita tried to turn the light show off, and then on again and quickly realised that she was in full control of this experience and could decide when she wished to see the symbols and when she did not. This reassured her: “I am not crazy; this is not a hallucination.” She discovered that it only took a few seconds to regain her focus once she had turned the light show on again.
Erita noticed that her migraine was now gone, and that she felt immense happiness and recognition in response to the symbols … almost the same feeling that she had when she met up with someone she loved very much after an absence. It was a ‘safe place’ – a place and an experience that no one and nothing could take away from her. Erita noticed after some time that certain symbols appeared more often than others, and some seemed to vibrate sound energy that she could almost hear with her ears … but not quite make out the tonalities. She began to wonder if these symbols were a ‘language’ with concrete messages to her and to mankind.
Many of the symbols were recognisable from ancient statues and from some tattoos worn by descendants of the islands (as recorded in drawings in old history books from the early stages of European colonization); others felt instinctively like they came from ancient civilizations and cultures on Earth (such as Egypt, Abyssinia, Sumer etc.) or perhaps other stars and planets.
Erita continued to record the images as best as she could – striving for accuracy, which was often difficult as there were often very small nuances and variations between some symbols. After two and-a-half hours of writing down geometric symbols, Erita returned to her bedroom and fell asleep – soon to be lost in the most extraordinary dream she ever could remember having had.
Part two / 2ème Partie – chapter three: a past life memory, and Erita’s channelled message
«You are the incarnation of Vaite» a voice in her dream repeated, «but we wish to show you another life incarnation which will explain many of your still-unanswered questions.» In an instant, Erita felt herself transported to a small rural community in another part of the world. She recognised herself as a native woman of some twenty-four years of age – in those days a fully matured woman in every respect. Erita saw how she toiled all day long, working in the hut at the edge of the jungle, harvesting crops and looking after her many children … and she also saw how saddened she was by the state of her situation. While she had no aspirations other than to be the best mother and provider and ‘wife’ she could be, she often struggled with her ‘curse’ – the misfortune of being born as a woman. She looked at the reflection of her image in the waters of the small inland pond as she bathed, cupping her breasts and shaking the water from her long dark hair. «I am a goddess», she thought.
«Why am I born into this life of servitude to men – always available at their discretion, regardless of whether I want to … or not? And why do I sense that I am more than a mere woman … and concubine» (for she was despised by the women from the upper echelon of local society who called her a ‘whore’ since she was officially a concubine and not a ‘wife’). She suffered rape and beatings, verbal and psychological abuse just as the ‘wives’ did, but the treatment she endured by the ‘fine women’ of the village was more devastating than anything else she experienced.
She suddenly remembered how sick she had become when delivering her last child (the sixth). Burning up with fever, she had begun hallucinating and speaking in tongues. The pain of conceiving had put her over the edge, allowing sacred messages known only to the highest priests to become revealed and entrusted to her. She screamed in agony and exhilaration, scaring the midwives with her incantations and descriptions of sacred symbols … and her «sacrilegious» proclamations regarding her spiritual status and the future of humanity. She was never again quite the same woman after that, and was doomed to endure the given status of whore and heretic – resulting in her being shunned by all women in the village, and abused sexually by any man who had a need to satisfy his own carnal needs and/or to punish his surroundings for whatever reason … and whenever.
Suddenly Erita saw herself at her moment of death. She saw herself clawing her way through the low jungle, crawling on her hands and knees, crying out to the Universe for salvation from a lifetime of Hell. Erita re-experienced her moment of transition – moving toward the Light and seeing several globes of light awaiting her arrival. She felt like a true goddess at that moment – she had truly come ‘home’ to her own kind, to those who knew her and who recognised her soul and her divine status.
And ‘the voice’ within and without her said: «Welcome home, Vaite. Your journey is not yet complete, but your destiny is predetermined. Just now you shall rest and become rejuvenated and rejoice with old friends – there is more work to be done, but you shall soon understand the significance of this particular lifetime and the need to learn the strength and importance of survival against seemingly insurmountable odds.»
And with that, Erita slipped out of her unusual state of consciousness to more mundane dreams … and she slept late that morning – not awakening before her son arrived home around nine-thirty a.m. They chatted quietly through breakfast, and suddenly her son looked at her intensely and asked: “You are glowing … have you met a man?”
Erita smiled and replied: “A man? I have met myself … and yes, I am glowing with happiness!”
Her son then proudly showed her his new tattoo, exclaiming that he too had recently had an experience of self-revelation: “Look here mamá. My first tattoo – I am officially embarking upon manhood!”
Erita studied the tattoo on her son’s left shoulder, while he silently awaited her reaction. Erita recognised the symbol from her seance with the ‘universal language of light’ the evening before, and smiled and then kissed her son on his forehead, saying: “You bear the hope and the Star of the future, my son.”
Copyright Adam Donaldson Powell