I have mental spaces I visualize; I create internal realms that I revisit, again and again. When I was eight, there was a girl in my class, Kim, who was pretty and read books and was nice to me, and I was sure I was in love with her, and that we would be together one day.
During class, I would stare at her; it was my big secret that I liked her, and I stopped being friends with a kid when he told everyone I liked her after I disclosed it to him at a sleepover.
Before bed, I would picture us together; I’d tell myself a story where we were captured by Arcade, and she had to rely on me; she came to respect and love me after witnessing my performance in Murderworld.
In middle school, it was a knight’s adventure; I had Rom’s armor, and I fought to rescue my classmates, who had been sucked into a vortex by an evil wizard, which I’d escaped because I was out of my seat to sharpen my pencil.
Now, I have a space I’ve visualized. It’s a garden hedge, in the summer sunset twilight, with the sky pink and my vision darkening. There’s a door I open. I wear a form like Marvel’s Hercules. I walk into the interior garden, and there’s a stone temple set in the ground. I walk down a set of stairs, go past the stone pews, and find the altar at the front. I move the stone table, and reveal the spiral staircase into a torch-lit underground. I descend the staircases to find a spring, fed by an underground river. I strip off my clothes and wade into the frigid water. As I walk up to my neck in water, now flowing with some force, I close my eyes, fold my hands over my chest, and descend. As the water takes me from the lighted cavern into the underground river, I unfold and swim, moving into the black and unknown.
This series is probably based on past life regression guided visualizations I’ve listened to, as well as reading Jung’s Red Book and James Frazer’s The Golden Bough. There’s elements of the temple of Diana Nemorensis which figures prominently in Bough.
It’s a metaphor for my mind, spirit, and heart, the sacred place within, into which I must descend to die and be reborn, and draw strength.
I started visualizing the garden in 2017, and in some synchronicity, similar thematic elements have occurred in Dawn of X by Jonathan Hickman. A newly enlightened Xavier brings mutant-kind together in the garden of Krakoa, which can only be reached by gate open to the gifted, the twisted, the monstrous, the broken and torn, the weary. Violent men assail the gates, and some gain entry. The leaders bring together the Five, who provide resurrection for the dead, new bodies for those lost in battle present or past.
When Xavier and Magneto descend to the underneath, the dark side of Krakoa, they enter a dialogue with the hidden Moria X, who gives them parameters for action, based on her newly revealed secret knowledge, derived from her awakened multiple lives. They return to the surface, seemingly knowing their impending doom, but accepting of the risks.
There are similarities between my internal garden and Krakoa, which carry mythic resonance. X-men was always the promise of a sanctuary, a place amidst the stress and negativity I faced at school and home where I could travel and find others like me, who could explain to me the purpose of my pain, and help me discover my true gifts, so that I could go out into the world to not only protect and help, but also fully express myself.
I think Nightcrawler’s role in the story is interesting. He’s got a terrific heroic death in House of X, one of the most powerful moments for him in my book, and it’s rare for a childhood favorite to get a new best from me with a modern day comic.
X-men #7 (2019) involves Nightcrawler and his role in the literal death and rebirth ceremony, where de-powered mutants choose to literally die in gladiatorial combat with Apocalypse. It’s meant to feel like baptism, but with cult-like raised stakes. Kurt has some ambiguity about the process, but ultimately endorses it.
While this is a departure from depicting Kurt as an adherent to Christianity, it’s worth considering that this death and rebirth ceremony and the stakes are in keeping with early Christianity, in which the newly baptized Christian might easily be sent to death in the Colosseum, burnt, beheaded, stoned to death, or crucified upside down, like all of the apostles. In addition, by writing Kurt like this, it gives Hickman room to depict religion and its meaning to the characters without having to try and characterize a real world faith, which carries so many more associations. From a character standpoint, Kurt has died and been reborn at least twice in recent years, and as a thoughtful person, this should change his perspective on spirituality.
I really like the cathedral that Krakoa grew for him, that only he could enter, that was exactly what he would have designed. It emphasizes the idea of God preparing a place for us in Heaven, and the idea of pleroma, of fulfillment of our true nature. One of my college bible study friends liked to say, “The cool thing about God is, he changes you, but he makes you more like yourself.”
As I talked about in an earlier post, Claremont Nightcrawler was comfortable with sex, and didn’t let hangups get in the way of his spiritual and ethical vocation. His was the command to “Make More Mutants!,” echoing Stan Lee’s “Make Mine Marvel!” I’d love to see the return of one of his lovers like Cerise or Anjuli from Excalibur. Amanda Sefton would be fine, of course, although I don’t know what she’s up to in the present continuity.