Duncan, Isadore - My senses were completely transformed into an ethereal ecstasy
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Isadora: My Life
I was alone in Bayreuth. Mother and Elizabeth were summering in Switzerland. Raymond had returned to his beloved Athens to continue to build Kopanos. He sent me frequent telegrams reading "Artesian well progressing. Sure of water next week. Send funds." This went on until the accumulated expense of Kopanos took on such proportions as to fairly stagger me.
In the two years which had elapsed since Budapest I had Iived chastely, relapsing, in a curious manner, to the state in which I was as a virgin. Every atom of my being, brain, and body had been absorbed in enthusiasm for Greece and, now, for Richard Wagner. I slept lightly and awoke singing the themes which I had studied the evening before.
But Love was to awaken again within me, though in a very different form. Or was it the same Eros, only in another mask?
My friend Mary and I were alone in Phillip's Ruhe, for, as there was no servants' room, the valet and cook boarded in a small inn nearby. One night Mary called to me: "Isadora, I don't mean to frighten you, but come to the window. There, opposite, beneath a tree, every night after midnight that man looks up at your window. I'm afraid it's a burglar with evil intentions."
Sure enough a small, slight man under a tree stood looking at my window. I shivered with apprehension, but, suddenly the moon came out and lit up his face. Mary clutched me. We had both seen the exalted, uplifted visage of Heinrich Thode. We drew back from the window. I confess we were overcome with a fit of typical schoolgirl giggles-perhaps a reaction from the first fear.
"For a week he has been there like that every night,” whispered Mary.
I told Mary to wait. I put on my coat over my nightdress and ran lightly out of the house, straight up to where Heinrich Thode stood.
"Lieber, treuer Freund," I said, "liebst du mich so?" [Dear, faithful friend, do you love me so much?]
"Ja, ja ---- “ he stammered. "Du bist mein Traum. Du meine Santa Clara."
I did not know it then, but afterwards he told me he was writing his second great work, on the life of St. Francis. His first had been the life of Michael Angelo. Thode, like all great artists, lived in the moment's imagination of his work. At this moment he was St. Francis, and he imagined me as Santa Clara.
I took his hand and drew him gently up the stairs, into the villa, but he was like a man in a dream, and regarded me with eyes filled with prayer and light. As I returned his gaze, suddenly I was uplifted and, with him, traversed heavenly spheres or paths of shining light. Such exquisite ecstasy of love I had never felt before. It transformed my being, which became all luminous. After that gaze had lasted a while- I don't know how long in actual time-I felt weak and dizzy. All my senses slowed, and, with an indescribable feeling of perfect bliss, I fainted in his arms. When I awoke those wonderful eyes were still gazing into mine, and softly he quoted:
"Im Gluth mich Liebe senkte
Im Gluth mich Liebe senkte'
Again I experienced that transcendental, ethereal feeling of flight into the heavens. Thode leaned forward and kissed my eyes, my forehead; but these were not kisses of any earthly passion. Difficult as certain sceptics will find it to believe, it is nevertheless true that neither this night, until we parted at dawn, nor on each following night, when he came to the villa, did Thode make one gesture of earthly force toward me.
Always that luminous gaze, until, looking into his eyes, all faded around me and my spirit took wings on those astral flights with him. Nor did I wish for an earthly expression from him. My senses, which had slept for two years, were completely transformed into an ethereal ecstasy.