Shaping the Spirit Body

I woke to a powerful white moon-glow reaching its long November arms through my bedroom window and far across my bed into the kitchen. Lifting my eyes to the windowsill, I stared out into the field beside my cabin into the fuzzy twilight and strangely found no glowing orb in sight. I shifted my legs over the side of the bed and into my wool slippers toward the kitchen. The clock on the stove read 4:22 a.m. as I peered out and over the field in the opposite direction, close to where the cows wander and bawl on the way to Tennessee. There I caught a glimpse of the comforting white sphere, hovering effortlessly in its usual ethereal grace, with a thin black shadow covering its left side. I remembered the lunar eclipse forecasted and my dream eyes tightened their gaze, two binocular pupils re-adjusting their focus. I walked to the bedroom to pull my sweater from the closet and returned to find the soft shadow blanket stretched a bit further across the moon’s white belly. Well this was a show I couldn’t miss. I lifted the kettle to fill it with water for an early morning french press. 

I was restless after lying down with the news that my mother had rushed my older brother back to the intensive care unit, where he’d spent a little over a week in October with a failing liver. In the few weeks since, he’s been to three specialists running tests for a variety of causes that would explain his physical body’s exhaustion, bloating, upset stomach and disorientation. This is all happening on the heels of my father’s battle with cirrhosis of the liver. By the grace of God if you’re my father or Airmid, the Irish Goddess of Healing if you’re me, he was granted a liver transplant after months spent wrestling in a hospital bed in a half-conscious state as his body fought against itself. My brothers and I spent the summer in the ICU, followed by a small room a few steps down the hall, holding his hand, talking with the nurses, swabbing his mouth with a small sponge on a stick as his swollen belly kept him restricted from fluids. We held each other and tried to move through the logistics of power of attorney documents, adding ourselves to his bank account, asking neighbors to care for his dogs, transferring assets as days turned to weeks and weeks to one month then two. 

 I poured a cup of coffee at 4:45 a.m. and watched the moon pull its dark blanket further across its soft, wide belly. In Daoist belief, there is an understanding that an individual’s soul is inhabited by three Hun, which compose the formless spirit of the body and seven Po, which form the physical, solid parts of the soul. The three Hun are a shapeless, formless consciousness and are therefore able to leave the body. They reside in the liver. One of the three, the Bright Spirit, which is said to determine intellectual ability, is believed to leave the body at night, which allows our dreaming body to waken. The second of the two, the Secret Spirit, determines attraction and sexual orientation, and is said to leave the body frequently when a person’s heart is broken, visiting places, people, and things it is attracted to. The third Hun is The Light of the Fetus or the spark of light and is connected to an individual’s sacred life force. The Hun are said to enter the body shortly after birth and follow the Shen (spirit) back to the heavenly realms after death, taking with it an appearance of the physical self back to the cosmic realm. 

I imagined these Hun characters as a floating whirl of glowing dust, perhaps like that of the moon’s surface, a trail of iron, calcium, and aluminum blended into a silvery white. I thought of them leaving my brother’s belly to trapse out into the night, illuminated by a sliver of moonglow as it lay tucked within its warm skybed. The Hun dust spirits swept up and out of sight, thinning their bodies into whips as they gracefully twirled beyond the walls of the hospital room, high above the piedmont of eastern Carolina, and out over the ocean at last. They splashed into the cold November water, each particle renewed in the salt brine bath, carrying with it the copper and zinc from the ocean floor up and over the warm orb in the sky. And no sooner than they’d fled his body and zipped across the coastline into the sea, did they return past the brick walls of the hospital and into the room where my brother lay half-awake with mouth half-open, perhaps awaiting their return. Down the esophagus, enswirling the heart, and back into the liver their long, lustrous bodies danced, trailing a fairy dust of ethereal mineral salt into every major organ. 

I pour another cup of coffee and watch as the sky effortlessly fills with light.

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