In the big Before, there was nothing unusual about Marlo Morgan, who wrote Mutant Message. She grew up in the Midwest and worked in health care. But then she was summoned to Australia for what she thought was an awards banquet. The Jeep that picked her up in her high heels and pantyhose was driven by one of the members of the last wild Aboriginal tribe living in the outback. He drove out into the desert to a dark hut for her “tests.” She passed, not understanding. With no word to her children or job, rent unpaid, she left everything that afternoon to walk thousands of miles across the world’s driest continent to learn the ways of the Aboriginals– and, she later learned, to carry their message to the rest of the world.
63 Aboriginals and Marlo head into the desert barefoot, carrying no food and no water. She walks over spiked weeds for days, her feet bleeding, crusting, turning into hoofs.
She explains, “the tribe carried no provisions. They planted no crops; they participated in no harvest… knowing each day they would receive bountiful blessings of the universe. The universe never disappointed them.”
The Aboriginals have no official written language. It becomes clear after walking several days in silence that the Real People as they call themselves, can communicate by telepathy, and they do this all day while walking. They consider the voice to be for singing, celebration and healing. When the voice is used for talk, it becomes a vehicle for unnecessary, superficial words. But this telepathy is not only between humans. It’s also between the Aboriginals and the natural world that surrounds them. They sense when a kangaroo is ready to donate his body to the tribe, and where and when he will die. Their hands quiver over tubers, invisible above the sand, that are ripe and ready for harvest. They believe the world to be an abundant place, and communicate with all of it.
Marlo can’t communicate telepathically, at least not at first, so she speaks to the tribe out loud. They ask questions about her culture and her ways. When she explains the role of frosting on cake, and what gravy is to meat, the Real People understand immediately. That is the essence of your society, their tell her. Covering what’s underneath.
But then there were the flies.
She explains, “the Bush flies in the outback are horrendous. The hordes appear with the first rays of sunlight. They infest the sky, traveling in black packs of what seems to be millions…I could not help eating and breathing flies. They crawled into my ears, up my nose, clawed my eyes, and even managed to get past my teeth and enter my throat…They clung to my body so when I looked down, it appeared I was wearing some sort of moving black armor…I could well understand how being covered with millions of moving insect legs could drive a person insane.”
“I asked several people how they could just stand there forever, limp, and let insects crawl over them. They merely smiled at me. Then I was told the leader, Regal Black Swan wanted to speak to me.
‘Do you understand how long forever is,’ he asked. ‘It is a very very long time…Good…Then we can tell you something more. Everything in Oneness has a purpose. There are no freaks, misfits or accidents. There are only things human being do not understand. You believe the bush flies to be bad, to be Hell, and so for you they are, but it only because you are ignorant of understanding and wisdom. In truth, they are necessary and beneficial creatures. They crawl down our ears and clean out the wax and sand…from sleeping each night. Do you see we have perfect hearing? Yes, they climb up our nose and clean it out too.’ He pointed to my nose and said, ‘You have very small holes, not a big koala nose as we have. It is going to get much hotter in the days to come and you will suffer if you do not have a clean nose. In extreme heat you must not open your mouth to the air…The flies crawl and cling to our body and take off everything that is eliminated…Humans can not exist if everything that is unpleasant is eliminated instead of understood. When the flies come, we surrender. Perhaps you are ready to do the same.”
And the lessons continue.
She explains the celebration of birthdays.
“Why would you do that? They inquired. ‘To us a celebration means something special. There isn’t anything special about getting older. It takes no effort. It just happens!’
‘If you don’t celebrate getting older,’ I said, ‘What do you celebrate?’
‘Getter better,’ was the reply. ‘We celebrate if we are a better, wiser person this year than last. Only you would know, so it is you who tells the others when it is time to have the party.'”
One day, one of the tribal members falls off a cliff onto a rocky ledge twenty feet below, laying in a pool of blood, his shin bone protruding through the skin.
“A headband came off immediately and went around the upper leg…Medicine Man was moving his hands up and down the wounded leg about one inch away from the surface in a gentle gliding motion…I was told the movement of the hands…over the area of involvement, without touching, was a way of reconnecting the former pattern of the healthy leg…jogging the memory of the bone into acknowledging the true nature of its healthy state. This removed the shock created when it snapped in half, ripping away the position developed over thirty years. They ‘talked’ to the bone…Next the three main characters…all raised their voices and shouted something. They must have used some form of traction, but I could not see any actual pulling taking place. The bone just slipped back into the hole from which it had exited. Medicine Man held the ragged skin together and motioned to Female Healer, who now began to untie the strange long tube she always carried.’
‘Weeks before, I asked Female Healer how they handled their monthly menses and was shown pads made from reeds, straw, and fine bird feathers. After that from time to time I would observe a woman leaving the group and going off alone…to take care of this necessity…Occasionally, however I had noticed a woman coming back from the desert carrying something in her palm which was taker to Female Healer. She, in turn, opened the top of the long tube…it was lined with plant leaves…Female Healer inserted the mysterious item…On this day, Female Healer did not open the top of the tube, but instead opened the bottom. There was no smell at all. She squeezed the tube into her hand and out came a black tar…She used it to cement the jagged edges of the wound together…The next morning Great Stone Hunter stood up and walked with us. There was not a hint of a limp…For several days I looked closely at his leg and watched as the natural black compound dried and began falling off…within five days it was gone and there were only thin scar lines where the bone had exited.’
‘Ooota told me they did not cause the accident. They only asked that if it was in Divine Order for me to learn about their healing by witnessing it, they were open to let that happen…When it did, they were grateful once again for the gift they were allowed to share with the Mutant outsider.”
And then came the greatest challenge.
One morning, the tribe tells her it is time for her to lead. Marlo protests. She can’t sense water or plants, she doesn’t know the way. They tell her, “It is time…In order to know your home, the earth, all it’s level of life, and your relationship to the seen and unseen, you must lead…” And she does. The first day no plants or animals were discovered. They find no water. They go to bed without dinner.
The second day the heat is even more severe. Once again, no water, plants, or animals offer themselves. On the third morning of Marlo’s leadership she goes to every one of the 62 members and begs them to save her, all of them, from death. She could barely speak from a lack of water. One says to her, “We are hungry and thirsty too, but this is your experience, so we support you totally in what you must learn.”
The heat drags on.
She remembers flashes of standing in the kitchen, drying dishes as a little girl. Falling in love with a sailor, giving birth. She expects that death will come soon. Marlo pleads silently for help.
And immediately, the answer comes.
“Be water. Be water. When you can be water you will find water.”
“I shut out logic; I shut out reason. I could smell water, taste it , fell it, hear it, see it. I was cold, blue, clear, muddy, still, rippling, ice melting, vapor, steam, rain, snow…I was every possible image of water that came to mind.’
‘We walked across a flat plain, level as far as the eye could see…one small tawny mound in sight…it appeared misplaced on the bleak landscape…I looked down, and there in front of me, all sixty-two of my…friends had stopped, looking up with grins that spread across their faces…My head jerked around. There behind me…was a rock pool about ten feet in diameter about about eighteen inches deep, filled with beautiful crystal clear water…While we were still celebrating our success, a giant reptile came walking by…Nothing could have been more appropriate to appear for dinner than this science-fiction looking creature…I looked upward into the vast expanse of world surrounding us, and giving thanks, finally understood that the world is truly a place of abundance.”
And the final message to be carried like a flame by Marlo to the Western World:
“The Elder sat directly across from me…The penetrating stare into the depth of my heart did not waver as he passed the cup to his right.
‘We…are leaving planet Earth…We are having no more children. When our youngest member is gone that will be the last…We have passed the test of surviving since the beginning of time…Now we have received permission to leave. The people of the world have changed and given a part of the soul of the land away. We go to join it in the sky. You have been chosen as our Mutant Messenger to tell your kind we are going. We are leaving Mother Earth to you. We pray you will see what your way of life is doing to the water, the animals, the air and to each other. We pray you will find a solution to your problems without destroying this world. There are Mutants on the edge of regaining their…spirit…with enough focus, there is time to reverse the destruction on the planet but we can no longer help you…Already the rain pattern has been changed, the heat is increased…We can no longer provide human forms for spirits to inhabit because there will soon be no water or food left in the desert.”
There has been huge controversy over this book after Marlo later retracted her story. Why did she retract it? Because she made it up or maybe she was threatened or ridiculed? I can’t know. People are outraged. They say she fabricated the story, or that she was driven by profit, that she’s a liar, and on and on. Maybe she dreamed up the whole thing night after night. I don’t really care. I felt the wisdom of this book, and whether it is a true representation of Aboriginal culture, or a mixture of some unknown cocktail of disparate truths, doesn’t matter to me. It shook my foundation and confirmed my hazed intuition about this largely unseen, magical universe, that will continue to unfold no matter what I think about it.