A few summers ago I was riding my bicycle to a public pool in my neighbourhood. I was pacing down the main road at such a speed that the hot summer air felt like a refreshing breeze. I believe I was looking down at the street, when I realised that something moved within my field of vision that shouldn’t and it triggered this alarming sense of intuition that we all possess that kicks in when a potentially dangerous situation is about to unfold. I looked up and I noticed that the door of a car that was parked to my right side in front of me was opening up.

I was so close to the door that the guy didn’t even manage to fully open it. I smashed into the side. The bike flipped forward, the sharp corner on the top end of the door dug into my ribs. The impact was so strong my body was recoiling in the air. It felt like I was a puppet with dangling legs and arms flung around without any tension whatsoever. I passed out before I landed and woke up lying on the sidewalk trying to catch my breath and feeling shocked but surprisingly good. After shaming myself for not wearing a helmet I thought maybe I could just lie on the ground a little and take the U- bahn home, but I was surround by a bunch of people and many residents were staring out their open windows. I took a look into their faces and realised that I must have been an absolutely disastrous and deeply disturbing sight. They were looking at me as if they were surprised by the fact that I was still alive. I could feel a wet warm feeling on the back of my head. I reached out to check it and it was blood. Moving my arm I felt a stinging sensation in my ribs.

As off that moment I was pretty sure that my ribs could be broken and that I had a concussion hence there was a chance that blood was seeping into my brain. While we were waiting for the ambulance the pain kicked in. My forehead was covered in ice cold sweat. I went from catching my breath to suppressing sounds of moaning and groaning. When the ambulance arrived they came in a team, well coordinated, ultra serious, talking fast to one another in a kind of medical speak with codes and words I had never heard. They had this interesting modular device with which they constructed a kind of bed underneath me and fixated my head, shoulders and neck. Once we were in the ambulance they went wild. Cutting my clothes apart, preparing infusions, passing stuff around, plugging some cable stuff on my now naked breast, talking 5 conversations at once. Two were arguing if I needed a 20 or a 40 or a 30 they quickly settled for something. The doctor stuck a needle into a small bottle of some liquid and infused it into an infusion dock thing that was already in my veins and taped onto my skin.

The pain was instantly gone and my entire body got this strange tingly feel. Although I knew in which position I was, my body somehow couldn’t give me feedback. If I twitched my finger or balled my hand to a fist the motion went completely undetected. Simultaneously my field of vision became fuzzy and colours became more vibrant. Walls of the ambulance started merging into one another and everything started glitching, like a corrupted video file.Then the hallucinations kicked in. It was like those brief split seconds before falling asleep, you’re still able to exercise some limited control over your thoughts as they slowly detach from your mind and transition into dreams. Those hallucinations have a similar soft beginning it felt like it was me who was shifting shapes, space and colours back and forth. Then the forms became recognisable motives and I got sucked into a bright light that resembled an endless desert landscape. At this point I completely immersed into the blinding scenery, my body detached from my initial surrounding and transcended into this new surrounding. I was overwhelmed by the rapid transition between states accelerating into an unknown, like I was a clown who got shot off a canon in a circus.

Among the soft curvatures of the sand dunes, dunes with sharp edges emerged subdividing the reflections of light into almost primal geometrical forms. Rounded surfaces full of light were bleeding into dark shades, while the dunes with straight edges cut and reassembled into an arrangement of different levels of triangular shades. A seemingly random play of forms, distributed along the horizon, caused the reflected sunlight to dance between the earth and the hemisphere. I started recognising that those triangular shapes were in fact pyramids. Not the pyramids as they are today, ruins that have a more rugged appearance, they were absolutely clear. Clean flat surfaces. That was when I understood what kind of an aesthetic the Egyptians were initially going for. And as off that moment the deeper impact of my new surrounding hit me.

The ocean of sand, majestically gliding and crashing between light and darkness. Sandcorns drizzle in the air, as the wind softly skims over the dunes separating both lovers, the sky and the earth. The sandcorns float through the air and glitter like golden stardust. They don’t look like they came from this earth. They are clear and sharp kristalls that have been part of our universe since the very beginning. There aren’t that many differences between the ocean and the desert. If the wind could speak they wouldn’t tell you what sets them apart. The wind is moist and salty over the ocean, yet it treats both as equals. The only difference being that the masses of sand move slowly and heavy. As the dessert emerges as a spiritual entity. Quietly humming out of a thousand mouths. It will proclaim your doom and your salvation. 

Celestial beings half animal half human appeared. Covered in the secret language. Speaking to one another without opening their mouths. It was clear to me that many had been here before. It was clear that they knew me and I did not know them. They stood in the burning light as if they owned their shadows. Sinking and emerging out of the depth of the sand floating over the ground without the slightest sound or movement. Ignoring me while still taking notice that a tiny being was lost and confused passing through their midst. I was even smaller than a corn of sand to them but they didn’t seem hostile nor did they seem friendly. Ignoring me while still taking notice that a tiny being was lost and confused passing through their midst. I was even smaller than a corn of sand to them but they didn’t seem hostile nor did they seem friendly. I looked at the sun and knew it will embrace me just as they will punish me. It knows the earth, the water, the wind. They all march to its drum. A drum that is heard until the edge of the universe and far beyond.

I can’t tell how long I dwelled in this ancient dream, my sense of time was messed up. Time became less durational and more substantial. As if time had become a dense mass that I was stuck in. I was stuck in those seconds so they felt like hours. I ask myself where the images came from and I think there’s several different ways I thought about this phenomenon:

1. When you’re that wasted you think of any random shit.

2. Ancient structures / forms are sometimes informed by transcendental experiences.

3. I subconsciously fabricated it for a reason.

My imagination thought this would be the right moment to trigger this system of ancient Egyptian references. I spent a lot of time after this whole event entertaining the thought that this might have some connection to my own African heritage. I’ve never been to Egypt, but ancient Egypt is to black Africa what ancient Greece is to western Europe. It’s the preferable point of departure. While western Europe see’s Greece as its origin and often disregard all cultures that formed and shaped Greece, like Mesopotamia or again ancient Egypt. Most of Africas mythology south of the Sahara was heavily influenced by Egypt. The connections go much farther than just the Nubians they go deep into the south. Much of the oral history of Black Afrika didn’t survive the Colonial age, Egypts written history has a lot to offer. To understand Black Afrikas past it can be very beneficial to retrace the links between what is written in Egypt and what is spoken towards the south of this beautiful continent. The secrets of the great Sahara desert spread through the darkness of the jungle and breeze along the grasses of the savanna.

[ The baboon, the polytheistic spectrum, Patterns that repeat ]

Not all Africans will have such an association, it’s impossible to make a general statement about human perception, but there is an argument to be made towards the role that ancient Egypts plays within African mythology and the way we situate ourselves within our respected cultures.

[ … ]

From a neurobiological perspective, an outer-body experience is triggered by a disturbed bodily multisensory integration. Multisensory integration is a biological process in which all the information that the senses (sight, sound, touch, ...) collect are integrated into the nervous system. The nervous system then categories the different stimulations integrates them as complex impulses or segregates them in different groups so that the brain can process them and situate itself within the here and now, body and surrounding space/ time framework. Such disruptions mostly happen under different forms of Anastasia, like the example at hand, but also a near death experience can trigger this phenomena. The most common descriptions of this experience are:

> Separation from body and mind

> Seeing or entering light or darkness [ birth model ]

> Total bliss, anguish or dissolution

[ … ]

What happened next was that I started losing the part of my mind that is commissioned to relate stuff with stuff I consciously know. I was still seeing half-animal people dressed in beautiful clothes, wearing mesmerising jewellery and their long shadows stretching over the orange-beige tones of sand, with the dunes and pyramids spread along the horizon. But I didn’t know what I was looking at. I couldn’t remember what Egypt was. I couldn’t locate the scenery in any geographical or historical setting. These beings were transcending beyond everything I had ever conceived. I wasn’t even fully aware that the silhouettes resembled people or animals or anything. They seemed complete and settled within their appearance and the realm they inhabited. They then became progressively blurry und vanished into an endless nothing that I was about to enter myself. My vision became wildly abstract. It felt like I was racing towards a point of no return. This feeling that I mentioned earlier, the feeling of being shot out of a canon, intensified. Until then I still felt like I had something of a body attached to my field of vision. But that vanished. I lost perspective.

The last thing I actively took notice of was that I forgot my name. I knew that I needed one. I knew that I was supposed to have one but I didn’t know what it was. Your name is one of the first things you learn and subsequently you subordinate all of what you know under your name. Everything you can think of, everything you experience ultimately relates to you and therefore your name. What held everything together was now vanishing and nothing would ever be what it was before. I lost my body and the memory of an entire personal lifetime to go with it. All I could see was light in darkness, darkness in light. All I knew was that there had been something that proceeded, that I was somewhere and that now I was going somewhere else. And that the place I was going to — as strange as it sounds — was home. It felt like I was going to the place I came from. It felt like my life or whatever it was that lied in between where I was going and where I came from was just temporary, just a distraction, just a few seconds or even less. It felt like I was moving into eternity. And my former existence was just a snap with the fingers, sandwiched between one eternity and another. That’s where it ended. I woke up in hospital. I was fine. I had a concussion but the blood didn’t leak into my brain, one of my ribs was broken but it wasn’t that bad. It took some time to heal, I couldn’t go swimming that summer and it took me ages until I had the courage to ride a bike on the street again.

[ … ]

The closest thing to eternity in physics may be the condition before our universe. Infinite density and infinite mass. The pretext of the big bang. Before space expanded and mass manifested within. Possibly also the condition within the centre of a black hole. It’s also referred to as gravitational singularity. It’s a state in which an object collapses and defies any structural characteristics within spacetime, within any form of coordinate system. Any analysis of this state is wildly debated. We’re not there yet. The empirical methodology has not breached the gap and I doubt that it will ever bring a satisfying answer to what we imagine to be infinity or for the purpose of using a more culturally loaded term eternity. What interests me is the term singularity, because singularity implies the impossibility of dissection.

We dissect our surrounding. Split it all up into separable objects and thoughts and ideas. We live in this grid made of pieces of pieces of pieces of the universe. We don’t see it as a whole, its always fractured and these fragments we relate to ourselves. The table in front of me. The money problems I’m not dealing with. The terrible thing that happened yesterday. The unexpected gift I received on my birthday. That asshole that gave me shit for standing too close to him at the bakery, while I was leaning over, ever so slightly, trying to see the price tag of the bagels. Seriously we were both wearing a mask I was 50 cm away from him, dude chill. I get that we’re all stressed out about this COVID situation but we’re trying our best here. However all these pieces. All these pieces of our conceivable universe. We relate them towards ourselves.

Yet if we hit the edge. If we can’t relate anything to ourselves simply because we have lost the senses in order to do so. We lost the cognitive ability to dissect, categorise and understand, then we are at the limits of our capacities to dissect the world. And therefore to position ourselves within a relatable structure. We stand before a singular dense mass. How else will your senses react but by the utter most simplistic image of light and darkness? I guess that was happening at the peak of my personal experience of disembodiment. The neurological outer-body experience. It all began with shifting forms and shapes rooted within reality. Then transitioning into a completely fabricated surrounding and then progressively whatever sense I had of my body dissolved and I found myself in a state — unrelatable to anything I ever experienced.

My imagination had been trying to make sense of the whole dynamic along the way. Like it was introducing me to the infinity that I was racing towards by associating beings of ancient and spiritual meaning. Guiding me. The instance I lost my name marked the moment the physical experience began dissolving along with my vivid imagination. It was as if both my imagination and my bodily experience were parallel and as they were racing towards eternity they met at their limits. They met at the borderline of the realm of eternity. They hit their limits at the same moment. And I believe that my subconscious was seeking out the most profound system of references it could relate to eternity, in order to respond to the sensation of continual disembodiment.

Outer body experiences and near death experiences alike are part of the human experience. Anybody who has a mind and a body, soul and flesh, conscience and an anatomy name it what you want, it’s only a question of circumstance in relation to the limits at which they function. Those most abstract of descriptions the light, the darkness, complete emotions and the notion of dissolution mark the zenith of a progression in which we lose ourselves. But what they trigger within our imagination derives from the meaning we have accumulated throughout our life. There are an abundance of studies and archived events in which people that went close to the edge saw relatives, or the classic panoramic view of their lives. Yet in christian societies there is a higher frequency of people reporting that they encountered guardian angles. In Hindi societies people are more inclined to see messengers of the god of death. Different interpretations of the source of the light within the darkness. Societies that worship their ancestors, may encounter them waiting at the cross roads. Whats the difference between a relative that has passed away and an ancestor? An angel and those that have filled our hearts with love? Do we ever leave our beloved ones behind us? Or do we perhaps leave them in front of us? Or better said beyond us?

There are distinctive differences amongst all populations. We live in different bodies and different surroundings. We have different histories and different collective memories. We share common experiences, like this ecstatic experience of leaving our bodies. Yet we cultivate experiences as such. We speak about them, we make sense of them. Experiences of disembodiment have informed mythes, spiritualities and worldviews alike. Societies on earth have found different narratives, different meanings within, different figures of light that then guide those that believe in them beyond the edge. Our imagination dances with the experiences we make. The experiences dance with our imagination. They shape each other alike. They tell us what it means to us, when we drift into eternity.

 [ … ]

There is an eagle in subsaharan Africa. It has black, brown and grey feathers. And what is very unusual — red skin. Among other smaller animals it hunts snakes. It has an average life span 27 years making it one of the oldest eagles of the planet and with this it also carries a remarkable aura of wisdom. It’s a middle size eagle with about 55 to 70 cm height yet it has a wingspan of up to 190 cm, which is the largest disproportion between height and wingspan of any eagle. The reason behind this is because it has a very short tail and the reason why it has a short tail is because this prevents it from stumbling over its tail when jumping backwards in a combat against a snake. 

The disproportion between height and wingspan enables very acrobatic flight manoeuvres and the eagle puts them to use by flying in many creative unexpected ways. That is why it’s French and also English name is bateleur meaning Juggler. It often flies very close to the ground in a V-shaped formation, while rapidly changing direction and gliding like a pendulum. Now the disproportion between height and wingspan also makes the bateleur look particularly impressive, when it sits on a tree, expands its wings and calls into the surrounding nature. Be it for mating reasons or something else it’s call suggests that the bateleur eagle is announcing something very important.The Zulu people in southern Africa live in the same environment as the bateleur eagle and the Zulus just like most of the Bantu tribes believe they came from the sky. 

Therefore all birds play a very important role in Zulu mythology and the bateleur eagle in particular is an incredibly special bird, that I will from now on refer to by it’s Zulu name iNgqungqulu. iNgqungqulu’s call was well known throughout the Zulu kingdom. When a King died iNgqungqulu would call and announce the death of the king. When a new king was crowned it would announce that there is now a new king. It was so precious to the people of the Zulu kingdom that when someone would find a single feather of iNgqungqulu they were obliged to wrap it in goat skin and bring it to the king himself. If someone would find a nest of iNgqungqulu they had to go directly to the king and inform him. Then the king, along with some soldiers and sangomas (healers), would go to the nest, they would perform a series of rituals and celebrations and after that the soldiers would guard the nest day and night until the newborn would be old enough to leave the nest. 

Amongst all incremental moments in which iNgqungqulu plays an essential role are two moments that are the most fundamental. INgqungqulu’s destiny is to be the first and last of all creations, in order to announce the beginning and ending of life itself. INgqungqulu was there do announce that the Zulus will descend from the skies, and iNgqungqulu will be there to announce that the Zulus have ascended to the skies again. iNgqungqulu stands at the nexus point between our finit realm of physical existence and eternity.