There were three of us in search for the Elixir of Life. Sasha, Svet, and me (Pasha, Pavel, or as you probably know me as Paul). I have to say we scored. Sasha's rich business friend lent him a Mercedes-Benz for the trip. I told Svet, "Sure beats the ride in a Soviet train."
From Central Siberia, we drove South. It would be an 8 hour drive going there and a 10 hour drive coming back. We detoured on the way back. My point is a point I've made over and over again: Siberia is just huge. If one placed the U.S. inside Siberia, Siberia easily engulfs it. Hence, to get from one place to the next seems to take ages.
I told Svet, "You know - to do Siberia properly - I think you need a helicopter."
She said, "Yes, you are right and lots of money to buy the petrol. There are so many places in Siberia, where only a helicopter can reach."
I was convinced this was not like my travels in New Zealand or other places. It's just a different experience to feel how vast, wild, and powerful the landscape of Siberia imprints in or against you.
Soutehrn Siberia was clinging onto summer. While the day went on, I was removing layer after layer of clothing. It was warming up. In the end, I only had a tee shirt on. I had removed two jackets, my beanie, and my thermal shirt.
Driving through the roads, the trees were harbingers of the eminent fall. As I said in my previous post, the Taiga was shedding golden foils of leaves. I hardly saw any ruby ones in the South, but the endless highway was matched with infinite trees of topaz and emerald that were on the side of the road. It was much nicer than the LA freeways of the I-10 or I-5.
On the side of the road, the people sold wild products of honey, bee pollen, pine nuts, or wild mushrooms. At one point, we stopped by the road and hunted for some mushrooms. My hosts told me the ones I got were poisonous; so, I wasn't allowed to eat them. I listened to them, but one of them smelled so good, I had my doubts if it was really poisonous.
We finally reached our cottage in the mountains. And this is where I was a bit disappointed. The cottage itself was amazing. Across from us was an ancient and mystical monastery. The aquamarine water flowed below us, and our natural walls were the forest trees. The problem with it was that it was too civilized. I knew that the Essence of Immortality grew in the most inhabitable parts of the Taiga. This was too easy.
After we settled in, we did see the medicine man. When I saw what he thought was the Essence, I knew I had failed. Read that again: I failed, at least in procuring the Essence of Immortality. I felt a bit sad; I knew it was too good to be true that someone would just sell it to me. I turned to his books, leafed through them, and showed them the drawing of what I needed. He actually said, "I've never seen that grow in the forest. Does it even exist in Siberia?"
Well - I thought - might as well make use of your time here. So, Svet and I asked him a lot of questions about what he knew. We learned about the Rose of Resurrection and other mysteries of Siberia. We learned to make healing potions and tinctures. The man confirmed for me that cedar's blood (what we call sap) has the power to drive out viruses. I already knew this because I stumbled upon an occultic alchemist text by accident and the alchemist swore by the power of cedar. It was now confirmed.
But what about the trade I had to make? I described the infirmity I had to cure. He showed me what was required, and he swore with enthusiasm that his wife had the same problem, and it cured her. Why does Siberia have so many artifacts of white magic? I didn't know what was in the tincture, but I didn't really need to know to believe him. For I studied his face, and knew that not even the best actor of Los Angeles could fake such enthusiasm, happiness, and joy. That was proof enough for me; so, I bought his items for a very reasonable price. So did Svet. So did Sasha. We all had an interest in different items and ailments.
Then we shared our secret. Remember - the meeting where we met the mystery man who shared with us about Shamballa? Well - we shared about an artifact called the Spirit of Life. We described it and explained the mystical properties. We already had the Sprits of Life in our posession. The healer and his friend looked at us with amazement. We described where to find the item in the Taigai, and there was a new life of adventure that filled them too.
I was strangely touched by how neither party pretended to know more than one another. We shared what we knew openly and were touched by each other's kindness. We were all journeying together for the same thing: the search for the truth.
At the mountains, we went through the Valley of Spirits and Shadows. We foraged, searched, and were in awe of the pristine and powerful force of nature around us. On one part of the journey, we went to a small monastery, and when we went there truly was something sacred inside. The force inside of it silenced the busyiness, anxiousness, and stress of my heart and mind. Inside of me - I felt only a dark and peaceful silence. Svet described it as the same.
Furthermore, when I fell asleep there, I was visited by an explosion of dreams. Not just one. I must have had three each night. I remembered two of them. In one, I was driving a motorcycle. I accidentally hit a group of cars, but none of them were damaged or harmed. The group had me kneel in a circle and kept maliciously persecuting me for harm I had not caused. In my second dream, I was visited by old friends. It really was a spiritual experience (although in this case not a pleasant one) that I cannot explain.
So - in some ways - I failed. I didn't get what I was looking for, but I guess I got something else. I saw Southern Siberia - now how many Westerners, including Americans, can say that? I evaluated my failure and thought it through. I was a bit naive to think it'd be so easy. If Chinese emperors failed in these expeditions, I guess it's not a huge shame that I did too. I knew now what it would take: a longer visa, more money, more time, and a deeper trek into the forest - where man does not go. All those things, I had no foresight before I arrived into Siberia.
But the reflection also got me to see one important insight: I'm coming back to Siberia. I cannot give up, and I refused to do so too. I need my Elixir - not to drink or to trade anymore. No. I need my Elixir because my heart desires the journey and my soul requires me to finish it. As Shakespeare said in King Lear, "Men must endure their journey hence." If Ahab had his hunt for the whale, then I have my hunt for the Elixir. It will, in time, belong to me.
But all in all, even though it's a technical failure, it's hard to call this expedition a failure. I learned about the mystic properties that formed this universe. I met stranger after stranger who helped me to get where I needed to go. I saw the awesome Siberian landscape, even though it was only a fraction of it.
Tomorrow, I leave Siberia behind. I will arrive into Moscow and transfer there to the cultural capital of Russia: Saint Petersburg. From there, I fly into Munich, Germany for The Octoberfest. Then I will head into Sardinia and then into Barcelona.
Get this: I have an internet friend (who I never met in person before) whom I share travel secrets with, and he with me. He bought my flights into Sardinia and into Saint Petersburg. Now - isn't that random? I swear, this journey has become stranger than any fiction.
Anyways, I tentatively plan to come back to Siberia in the summer of 2013. Anyone interested in an expedition?
-Siberia calls me back because there are four items sacred to it. The Essence of Immortality, The Essence of Life, the Rose of Resurrection, and water from the Lake of Spirits. Of these, I have the last three. I need the first one still.