Chapter 41:     Dagrolyt

Transcribed from dictation, ADAM speaking--

Okay, there I was, no longer surrounded by squatches--actually, 
all alone and abandoned.

I wasn't sure whether to feel slighted or relieved.  I had really 
wanted to get a bit deeper into the Nokhon culture while I was 
among them, but it had also proved to be pretty tedious.  I might 
have been just about strong enough to walk back to civilization by
then, but wasn't sure what awaited me there if I did.  I still 
wasn't up to outrunning bullets and cop cars, that was for sure.

I was alone in the meadow, so it was mine.  Which was nice, but I 
was really starving, none of us had eaten anything the day before,
they'd wanted empty bellies for the mushroom ceremony.  Actually, 
I'd been constantly hungry since arriving in the squatch world.  
So I got to work looking for food. 

Alpine landscapes are pretty, but they're mighty lean.  I didn't want
to eat up all the flowers, didn't want to hunt those cute little 
marmots, so I decided to forage farther on down the mountain, then
come back.

There I found some really good fern stalks and some terrible-tasting 
bulbs, but they stopped the hunger pangs for a while.  I brought a 
supply back to the valley with me.  It was sundown when I got back, 
but the sunset was lost in the drizzling rain.

I wanted to find a place to sleep for the night, although the 
area felt slightly lonely now that everyone was gone.  I figured 
I'd just have to get used to that since I'd evidently been rejected 
by Nokhon society.  

The first clue I had that someone was standing right behind me was 
when he said, "Kah, Dadameh."  

I jumped, startled, turned to see Dagrolyt, smiling as always.  He 
was patiently waiting, hands behind his back.

I've got good ears, you know that.  And I can smell water a mile 
away, scent a man downwind, but Dagrolyt had gotten right up behind me 
without me sensing a thing. 

Actually, he'd been following me all day, observing me, because--
although I didn't know it yet--he'd offered to be my sponsor and 
wanted to know what he was getting himself into.

I was surprised--and not. I'd felt a good strong connection with 
the guy when we'd met before and when he'd stood up for me at the 
Kha-rat.  He was probably the only one there who I felt was 
on my wavelength. Every other squatch seemed so alien, but he had 
this easy-go-lucky style that was pretty appealing to me.  

Especially since I needed a friend so bad.

And as it worked out, he just happened to be the perfect friend.  
I'm really glad I met him, I'd begun to think that the entire 
sasquatch race was just belly and balls.  Dannat had been a doctor 
for me, but not a person and his women behaved only as he ordered 
them to.  Dagrolyt was my teacher--and became my good buddy.

Dagrolyt is quite a guy, his "titles" might read: Wizard, Holy Man, 
Guru, more or less.  But you'd better add: Con Man, Trickster and 
Eternal Student.  He knows a lot and is spiritually centered, but 
if he has to break a Nokhon rule to further his self-knowledge, 
well, he goes ahead and breaks it.  Most Nokhontli wouldn't EVER 
break a rule, they are really bound by them.  If you had some idea 
about squatches being like Free Spirits of the Wild, you can forget 
it--but Dagrolyt actually was.

Dagrolyt knew exactly what level of Nokhontli I could understand, 
since he'd taught me most of what I knew, so we could communicate 
fairly well by keeping it very simple.  

Anyway, he lived in that same little meadow I liked so much, so I 
was quite ready to accept when he invited me to visit his home.

He led me towards the waterfall, on our way there we met two Nokhon 
women.  I recognized them from the night before, at the Kha-rat.  
Dagrolyt introduced me to Misma and Mrølla, who were his...wives, 
mates, or whatever we should call them.  They were both pretty cute, 
a little shy at first, but then so was I.

Although their shyøma was no longer full blast it was still kind 
of hot and they hadn't smeared themselves in stink, so I couldn't 
help it when my boner just sort of sprang up and jabbed straight at 
them.  Misma gave a little squeak and jumped back a step, while 
Mrølla began to giggle uncontrollably.  

I was absolutely mortified.  Also kind of miffed: from what I'd seen 
of squatch culture so far, an erection should be no big deal and 
those girls hadn't been shy over anyone or anything at the orgy.  
Was I really that weird to them?

And of course, my instinctive social reaction was determined by the 
standards of good old USofA moral conditioning: what would Dagrolyt 
think of me? 

Dagrolyt chuckled too, but also clapped a hand on my shoulder and 
said what I understood as, "Hey, it's cool, man."  I saw that he 
too was sporting a healthy erection, since he was just as affected 
by the girls and their shyøma as I was.

He tried to explain that no woman may touch me until I had gone 
through a Nokhon purification ceremony, but it would take a while 
before my comprehension of the language became good enough to 
understand what he was talking about. 

We arrived at their home, not a cave this time, but large boulders 
piled up against a cliff to form a good-sized shelter.  It looked 
quite natural, but was actually man-made, which was technically 
Ø'skogome, forbidden.  I didn't know that yet, but it was my 
first example of how Dagrolyt had few compunctions about bending 
the rules.

This was his bakhl: home, house, shelter, hole, whatever. Unlike
Dannat and his women, Dagrolyt had several artifacts around--or 
rather, natural objects that he had modified to use as tools, 
bowls, utensils.  I began to pick up on the clues that Dagrolyt 
was quite the opposite of Dannat, who had been a fanatic for the 
rules.  And that was fine with me.

Well of course, it was Dagrolyt who was supposed to teach me the 
rules.  "You gotta know them to break them," is basically what he 
told me later on.  And he did know the rules, because his profession 
and duty was to travel around the land and teach the Law of Atli 
to his pupils. 

The Nokon religion, traditions, way of life, are all coded into one incredibly long verbal litany which has been passed on by oral tradition ever since forever: the Atli. It's a lot to get into right now, but there's no comprehending squatch culture without it, so I'll explain it as briefly as I can. The Nokhontli trace their origins back though a lot of human history, claiming to be the Purest of All Men, directly descended from--now get this--a land called Yøden, which sounds like Eden to me. Their history relates stories of fallen civilizations, including the one we know as Atlantis and others even before that. A main presumption of the Atli is that all technological civilizations become decadent and corrupt and inevitably fall catastrophically, while the pure Nokhontli keep right on truckin' without technology to weaken them. They believe that we--oops, I mean YOU Nokhso types--will destroy themselves once again and that it's up to the Nokhontli to carry on the survival of Man on the planet. By the way, I've actually BEEN to some undiscovered ruin sites of at least one earlier civilization, right here in the Cascades. They are in plain sight, but have yet to be recognized by human archaeologists, so it's not just ancient verses and mushroom fantasies, there's physical evidence. Moving along, the Atli generally forbids any use of fire or tools or man-made inventions so that they won't become dependent upon them. They believe that if you try to make life a little easier for yourself with tools, you'll soon have more time to construct a technological civilization with colossal destructive powers and tendencies. Leading to War. Sounds like modern Western civilization, which they say shall soon fall as Atlantis did. There are certain Nokhontli who may use fire and special tools, of course, the Sha-hakas. They're the professional people: doctors, teachers, lawyers; they teach the Atli and serve as priests and magicians. The Atli is full of magic and that's what the Nokhontli use instead of technology. That's right, magic and it works. Superstition is not what it used to be. They also believe in spirits...and jeez, so do I now, since I'm running from one these days. The one I wasn't going to mention, remember? All part of learning magic. It's because if I want to have any sort of worthwhile contact with the Nokhontli, I'll have to have the privileges of a Sha-haka. Dagrolyt agrees and he's helping all he can, but there are limitations to what anyone else can do for me right now. I have to undergo the tribulations myself, of course.
Getting back to when I met Dagrolyt: I stayed with him and his two women and he dedicated a lot of time to teach me the language rather quickly by force feeding me Atli text. Once again, I must have remembered more than I thought from my childhood, since not only did I have a good accent, but also a feel for the gestures, which are quite important and nuanced. Nokhontli is a language never intended for reading or telephone calls, so much meaning is conveyed by expressions and gestures, as in sign-language. The words are pretty easy to learn, there are no conjugations of verbs and once you know the seven vowels and root consonants, it's pretty easy to vocalize. But without hand signals it's a mess--that's how you signify past or present tense, clarify what you really mean. The difference between a friendly joke and a mortal insult is in the gestures, so watch it. I also got around to learning all the little words that hold the big words together and at last was on my way to actually speaking fluent Nokhontli. We could talk fairly well after a week or two, so Dagrolyt informed me as to what my position should be in the local society. I had to be taught the Atli and purified of NokhSo contamination. I would be tested in a series of challenges, then judged by a committee of Sha-haka. It sounded to me like High School all over again, but with religion thrown in. Speaking of religion: can you remember old Pastor Grundvig of the Monroe Presbyterian Church getting after me for saying "Jeez" all the time? I was surprised to hear that he considered it sacrilege, a "taking of The Lord's Name in vain". It had never thought of "Jeez" as a permutation of "Jesus". I'd heard other people say the word, which evidently had just the right exclamatory feel for me, so I said it too. And then, while re-learning Nokhontli, I noticed that the word "Dji'is" sounded almost the same as "Jeez"--and meant exactly the same thing: an exclamation like "WOW!" or "Oh My God!" I finally realized it was Nokhontli, not English. It was a remnant from my childhood vocabulary and therefore so natural to me. Actually, it was that same pastor Grundvig who told me that I would not be welcome in his church because Jesus died for MAN's Sins and since I was not a man--but an animal--the salvation Jesus offered was not for me. Considering the arrogance of his assumptions, I couldn't care enough to tell him "go to hell", but he did make me feel self-conscious about saying "Jeez" for a while. I never could stop though and now I know why. Anyway, the religion of these people is one of the most bizarre parts of their culture. It's got pieces of the Bible all through it, like the Eden stuff, but turned around to their point of view. Their history is literally the story of Cain, who sinned by murdering his brother and his offspring was therefore marked--with hairy bodies--and condemned to be a "fugitive and vagabond in the earth". I'm not sure how well you folks remember the Bible back from reading it aloud to me when I was 12, but Cain goes out and builds a city called Enoch. In the Nokhon language Nokh means "the race of Man". I could get theoretically pedantic and mention that E'e is the verb "to be" or "is", set them together to a form word like "E'e-nokh", which would almost mean "Man is"...'cept that proper modern Nokhontli would really be Nokh e'e...never mind, I'm really babbling now. Must be high on all your food I've been eating.
Actually, when Dagrolyt saw how much I needed to EAT, he was shocked. Luckily, he had two women foraging for him (as did Dannat, but which was only a coincidence; some men have 5, others have none). Anyway, the girls were supposed to find food while Dagrolyt and I studied Atli--and it would take them all day just to find enough for ME to eat! That's when they all began to wonder what they were in for. And me, I was STARVING all the time, just starving. He told me that I had to learn to take nourishment from the haka in the earth, had to let it flow up and into me and I'd be fed, satisfied. He demonstrated, sitting comfortably, eyes closed, like some Hindu or Tibetan monk, but I couldn't see anything happening. "So what is haka?" I asked. "That which IS and when it FLOWS, that which DOES." "Oh... Sounds great." I assumed the position, closed my eyes, and tried to get the Whatever-It-Was to do something. But I just felt hungry. Every day Dagrolyt tried to help me get my haka flowing and every day I tried to feel some sort of energy that was supposed to be flowing up and came up with nothing. It became almost a sore point between us; he couldn't understand how I didn't have it, I didn't understand what it was. Oh, I understood the CONCEPT: The ki in Aikido, the kundalini in yoga. "You've got to use the Force, Luke!" But where the hell was it? Just call me Grasshopper.
But if I frustrated Dagrolyt with my inability to grasp haka, he was blown away by how good I was at picking up words, both for learning the language and memorizing verses of Atli. "I say the words once and you remember them perfectly--even the ones you don't understand! That is a rare talent." "Really?" I had to ask, "I figured every Nokhon could do that." "Not hardly"--I'm translating freely here, but that IS what he said-- "I tour around teaching the Atli, if you knew how hard it is for most of my students to get it right... But it's obviously easy for you." "Words have always been easy for me. I don't know why." "Oh, I know why: you've been bred to be an Orator." "Bred?" He'd said Wø'ya ayara-ke, which was such a compounding of concepts that I couldn't understand it--or rather, couldn't believe that the Nokhontli had an understanding of Genetics. Seems they do. "EVERY Nokhon is bred to enhance some specific talent," Dagrolyt explained, "I was bred to be good at Teaching. My woman Misma has a special instinct for finding unknown herbs--and tasty foods, to my good luck. You were conceived to be a speaker." "How do you know that?" "Because I knew your mother, Mayala and I were good friends. I was there when you were born, she was so proud of her little baby Orator." “Mayala? That was my mother’s name?” “You didn’t know that?” “She was just Mamama to me…” It occurred to me that I had heard the name mentioned several times, but without any idea of what it meant. "You KNEW her? What was she like?" "Oh, your mother was an absolutely wonderful fuck." My Nokhontli was still quite primitive, but the word yøramma I knew: to have sexual intercourse, fornicate, fuck. My first reaction was to feel insulted, but was pretty sure I'd misunderstood the cultural context of what he said. The conversation became even more confusing when I tried to ask Dagrolyt if that meant HE was my FATHER, because fatherhood happens to be such an unmentioned concept in the Nokhon language. In fact, fatherhood was a subject veiled in secrecy. Asking about that was equally as socially unacceptable to a Nokhon as telling an American that you'd fornicated with his mother. So this time it was Dagrolyt's first reaction to be offended by my question, but knowing how ignorant I was of proper etiquette, he let it slide. One simply does NOT ask a Nokhon "Who's your daddy?" However, we finally did determine anyway that he was NOT my dadakh (biological father, progenitor) and that "I enjoyed screwing your mother" was a compliment, not an insult. The connotation is that you come from good healthy stock, since your mother's marat was so firm and satisfying to squeeze into. In a culture where everybody has public sex together every full moon there is no shame involved. But I simply did not believe that Nokhons could breed children with specific talents considering their sexual abandon: "Excuse me, but all that yøramma at the Kha-rat seems pretty indiscriminate to me. And you do it every month. How can you have any control over what kind of babies come out of all that?" Dagrolyt looked confused all over again, then even more surprised when I clarified what I meant. "But," he explained, "a Nokhon woman can never become pregnant without the magic of the committee." Then he wondered, "Are you saying that Nokhso women CAN?" "Well, that IS the natural process. Birds do it, bees do it." "Skra, the beasts have no control of their spawn, but men DO," Dagrolyt shook his head, "sometimes I wonder about your NokhSo people--they seem so advanced and yet their very SELVES are based upon chaos and chance."
So I was learning all this Nokhon culture and having a good time with Dagrolyt as well. He was glad to have me as a student because he wanted to learn as much as I could teach him about what I knew: the nefarious secrets of NokhSo culture. At first Dagrolyt had felt a duty to sponsor me simply because I was the son of his good friend Mayala--he’d even known me as a child-- although he had to be concerned about just how badly maladjusted I must be from my lost years among the savage Nokhsos. Fortunately, for both of us, we hit it off and became friends right away. He also found me interesting and wanted to pick my brains. So it was his job to educate me, but between us we taught each other. "What is that litany you do with your voice? I have heard Nokhsos do it before, from a distance, but never have understood what it's about." I knew of no Nokhon word for "singing," so I said it in English, then added "music." "Myøsik?" That was as close as he could pronounce it, but it seemed to be a word he could relate to, for some reason. "I was intrigued by the tones you pronounced and there was some kind of pattern..." So I explained some basics of music by demonstrating, made up a simple little song in Nokhontli and taught him how to sing it. He was enthusiastic. Sasquatche culture does include chanting, but their traditional chants have only three tones, symbolic of the squatch version of "the Holy Trinity", theirs being Sun and Earth and Moon. I taught him the snappy part of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy", you know, dum dum da da dum dum da.... He went bananas over it.
The Nokhontli don't have words for Art or Music--well, they do NOW; Myøsik, it's already catching on. And that's going to be my short-cut to Sha-haka-ness. I need a short cut, since I'm starting years too late for the lifetime of training it usually requires to become a Sha-haka. Unless the applicant has some especially valuable talent or ability. Which I do, right? But first, I have to overcome certain prejudices about what my Myøsik means to them. Some of the older Nokhontli, like old Dafnat, still suspect that it's a non-substantial form of skesk, springing out of technology, but they're not quite sure one way or another. If I make up songs in the Nokhon language, there's really nothing they can object to--except that young people like it too much...and some have even started to imitate me. Familiar story: kids like the Devil's new music, the old folks hate it. They don't want me to contaminate any young minds until they pass judgment, so I'm still under restriction in their society. Call me Elvis. But all that comes later, first I should finish telling about my training period with Dagrolyt. Actually, at that time I still wasn't allowed contact with any other Nokhons. As Sha-haka, Dagrolyt had other duties than just teaching me. There were also others he taught Atli, wrestling, magic, whatever, and he went on rounds to visit them where they lived. It usually took him at least three days to walk the circuit, passing through valleys and mountains and forests, avoiding all man-made roads and encounters with Nokhsoli. I'd loved to have gone along with him, just for the walk, as well as to meet people, learn more about the Nokhon culture and how they lived out in nature. But that was no go until I got purified, so I had to just sit and wait for him to come back. His two women were required to ignore me, so it was pretty boring when he was gone.
When I'd get depressed by the boredom of Nokhon life I'd usually daydream about home--this home, my family, my room--and one evening I suddenly realized that it must be Christmas right about now. Well, I'd lost all track of time by then, had no idea of what the actual date might be— December 20? 27? 25? —it was about a week after the December Full Moon, but closer than that I hadn’t a clue. Sorry I wasn't there. But I was most sorry thinking that you all had to be thinking I was DEAD, which could pretty much spoil any Christmas spirit going on. Of course, I also got a twinge, it wasn’t nostalgia, more a very clear image of you all gathered at home for that dinner: the whole family, Art, Elaine, Melly (although not Doug, for some reason), dogs, cats, the bunch of you sitting around a crisp-skinned roasted turkey trimmed with all the goodies (man, was I hungry!). But all of you were so sad because I was dead. I almost felt guilty because I wasn't. Actually, I was glad to have missed out on one Yule Tradition: all the Christmas Presents. Living without ANY material possessions out there IS kind of liberating. Who needs it? Although... Crap, listen to me: Adam, the Environmental Saint! It's fantastic to have a guitar in my hands again. Love this skesk!
I told Dagrolyt about you, my NokhSoli parents back at Monroe and about the shooting and the misunderstanding with the law. I was feeling healed enough to take a trip to Civilization by then, at least to get to a phone so that I could let you know I was alive. I worried a lot about what you must be going through. "I sympathize," Dagrolyt told me, "but you're in quarantine just now, until the committee decides what to do about you. If they found out that you'd gone back to the NokhSoli, they’d probably consider you a lost cause." "Who would know?" "The Alutna," he said, mock-furtively rolling his eyes to the right and left without moving his head, just in case they were behind him. "They're everywhere and anywhere." I was surprised to learn that the Nokhontli have a kind of police. They patrol the wilderness, so to speak, looking for violations of Atli. I envisioned a Gestapo-like cadre of heartless agents with monocles and clipboards. But they didn't seem that bad when I met them. One day two regular looking Nokhon guys came down into our little meadow, greeted us with a friendly "Kha, o'o yaws-ahat ome!" and all that. The only sign that they were Alutna was that their beards were braided— which is enough, since it is forbidden for any others to do so. They obviously knew Dagrolyt, there was some polite small-talk. They were also interested in me, but that was normal enough, me being something new and unusual in their world. Seemed like nice enough guys, a little too nice, maybe. They even offered to share some psychedelic mushrooms with us. Dagrolyt politely refrained, speaking for me. They offered again, and he said, "Sorry, but we only partake at the Kha-rat. Besides, my student Dadameh and I are deeply engrossed in the learning of the Atli and it's going so well that it would be almost Ø'skogome to interrupt it just now." I understood that I was to play the role of devoted student while speaking with Alutna. Always play dumb for the cops, that's the same everywhere. One of them looked at me, smiling and said to Dagrolyt, "It must be difficult for him to comprehend the Atli, after living all his life with decadent NokhSoli." "Not so hard," I answered, speaking to them for the first time, "since the Atli actually resembles some NokhSo religious teachings in many ways. I think all True Wisdom will come up with the same answers." The man looked surprised. "Dji'is! you speak Nokhontli really well already!" "Dadameh is the best student I have ever taught," Dagrolyt told them, laying it on a bit. "Really?" the other challenged, not smiling. "Can you recite something from the Atli?" So I rattled off the verses Dagrolyt and I had just been working on, about the dilemma between Mlønoli yr La, Society and Self, and they were both impressed. So they said "Ta'ash" for good-bye and went back on out of sight over the meadow horizon.
As mentioned, Dagrolyt had two women, Misma and Myrøla, but I wasn't around them very much at first. They stayed in another shelter because Dagrolyt preferred to teach me under more private conditions. They were also busy avoiding me because I hadn't yet been purified of all my NokhSo contamination. Actually, Dagrolyt was pretty slack about that, but the girls were more inclined to behave properly. Besides, I did freak them out a little at first: denizens of the Nokhso world were the kind of monsters that scare children. But we all became friends eventually. Dagrolyt had a nice healthy relationship with both of them, none of them were shy about that, nothing discrete about their sex life. I tried to pretend I didn't notice. I asked Dagrolyt if I would be expected to perform like that young stud, Daseh, at the next Kha-rat. "Of course," he said. I gulped and told him that I was a He was shocked and said we'd have to do something about that...but not until after I was Purified.
We also wrestled every day. At first I had to be careful because of my wound, but it was almost healed and soon I forgot about it. Living with a witch-doctor, I was also getting some pretty strange medicines that may or may not have speeded my recovery. Which was good, because I couldn't get out of those wrestling sessions and they became less careful day by day. Wrestling is a very important part of Nokhon culture, a standard for Male status in the society. Needless to say, I was not very good at it, never having had anyone to practice with before. I was always unsure of myself. I'd seen those big bruisers at the Kha-rat, they would have tossed me around no sweat. I wasn't afraid of getting hurt--they don't really do that--still, who wants to be laughed at? But there was no way out. Dagrolyt could tie me in knots. At first I almost tied the knots for him, although now at least he has to work a little harder at it, but I still have a long way to go. Damn, if only I'd taken up Karate like I wanted to when I was still an almost-little kid! Remember, Art: you talked me out of it because I was going to be so big I'd never need it, since I'd only be considered even more dangerous than I already was? Well, I'm not the big guy any more, and now I could really stand to be just a little more dangerous. When I eventually undergo the tests to become Sha-haka, how well I can wrestle will be quite important. I'll somehow have to make up for 20 years without training. That's not going to be easy. Their fighting style is rather like the oriental martial arts, also the philosophy that goes with it. They could kill one another, but that's not done, it's a sport. Even so, the idea is to be good enough to defend yourself against anything you meet, such as an attacking Grizzly Bear. There was actually one man years before, Dagrolyt told me, who HAD killed a bear in self-defense with one kick to the head. But he'd not been regarded as a hero, instead he had to be purified for killing the bear.
The two Alutna guys, Dalangath & Darassath being their names, came by again to talk with Dagrolyt about me. Since he was my sponsor it was he who decided if I was ready for my purification ceremony or not. He said I was. He and I had discussed it earlier and had agreed the sooner the better. I would remain a recluse from Nokhon society until I got it over with and was accepted as an equal. My language was good enough to get me through the ceremony and could only get better faster if I was speaking it with many other Nokhon people. I had been a little unsure, but Dagrolyt told me I was the best student he'd ever met and both Alutna guys also said that I should do all right. So it was confirmed and they went off to tell the committee that I'd be coming. That sort of ceremony never took place during a Kha-rat, while so many other things were going on, so it was scheduled for three days before the next Full Moon. Dagrolyt knew where, he'd escort me. My gunshot wound seemed completely healed by then, even the scar was almost hidden by hair grown back--although it was a patch of white hair--and I was feeling strong again, so Dagrolyt and I set off walking through valley and forest to a meeting with my "purification committee" somewhere up in the Cascade Mountain Range.

Chapter 42

Adam out of Eden