The Grand Duke Calls My Name

Printed in the Summer 2019 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: Moss, Robert ,"The Grand Duke Calls My Name" Quest 107:3, pg 24-25

By Robert Moss

Sigmund Freud called dreams the “royal road to the unconscious,” but to author and dream explorer Robert Moss, they are more: portals to the imaginal realm, a higher reality that exists at the intersection of time and eternity. The traveler’s tales in his new book, Mysterious Realities, spring from direct experience in the many worlds, in places as diverse as the temple of the Great Goddess at Ephesus, Dracula country in Transylvania, and the astral realm of Luna. Below is an excerpt.

Theosophical Society - Robert Moss is the author of Mysterious Realities and numerous other books about dreaming, shamanism, and imagination. He is a novelist, poet, and independent scholar, and the creator of Active Dreaming, an original synthesis of dreamwork and shamanism.A story is calling to me, through my window in a stone tower in a dry wood, near the medieval French town of St. Martin de Londres. I hear sangliers—wild boars—snaffling and snorting and muttering red secrets. I reach behind my back, to the place above my left kidney, where a boar marked me in another country. The boar is part of an old, old story that snares me from time to time. I would prefer not to reenter that now.

A woman is laughing manically near the huge swimming pool, which was drained when the leaves started to fall. Her screech is enraging the boars and allows me little chance to sleep, even when I close the window and the door to my little balcony.

At last the woman goes to bed, or passes out, and the boars fall silent.

I drift on the bed, half in my body and half out of it.


Hours later, when the woods are silent under the Peak of the Sainted Wolf, a long cry reaches for me.


The cry is repeated, then veers into a popping, screeching, jabbing monologue. Somewhere in there, I hear my name.

The windows rattle, the bedside cabinet shakes, a door slams on the landing. The moody winds of the Midi are gusting wildly tonight.


The cry is closer now, eerie yet seductive. My name is in there, no doubt of it. The accent is French: Ro-bear! In part of myself, I want to rise from my bed and fly out the window, to see what’s up. Perhaps I can join the night owl and share its vision. Owl eyes have helped me in the dark before.

Some instinct of self-preservation restrains me. Who knows what it would take to get back to my body? The Traveler in me is ready for the assignment. I feel him expanding, stretching my energy field, threatening to slide out from my feet if I won’t let him out from any other place. I am firm. I am not going to let my double leave the room. I need as much of me in the room as I can manage.

The owl that called my name is the chouette, or tawny owl. I know that in this corner of France, they call it the Grand Duc. I try to tame my situation by shaping a witticism: when you hear the owl call your name, it is a comfort to know that you got one at the top of the social register.

I don’t find this funny enough. My sense of humor is languishing. This always means trouble. I don’t want to leave any world or come back to one—without my sense of humor.

With a deep sigh, I lie down on my back, nose pointed at the ceiling. This is the posture, and the time of night, when I find that inner guides become available. There is one voice I have come to trust beyond all others.

Before I have framed my request for guidance, the voice cuts through my mental chatter, cold and sharp as a chef’s knife.

The time of your death is now.

I take a cold plunge. For a moment, I can’t breathe. It is exactly like falling into water half my body temperature. I am lost in a swirl of life memories, as I was when I nearly drowned as a boy.

I know the truth of what I have just been told. In the presence of Death, I think of all my unfinished business, of things I need to do, of promises not yet fulfilled, of people I love. I have told myself many times that I am ready to die any day, but tonight a protest rises within me. I am ready to go, but not yet.

I don’t plead, or rage, or try to make a deal. I just go over in my mind the things I will do if I have more time. I’ll make more time for family, for swimming, for loving. I’ll mend fences, make amends. I’ll do more as a teacher and healer, as best I can, for those I can help and inspire.

These calculations are met with supreme indifference.

I’ll create. I’ll bring new things into the world. I’ll tell better stories, and write them so more people will be encouraged to find their own bigger stories, and live those stories.

I feel an inner void. Has my visitor—I don’t want to name him right now—gone away?

There is a constriction in my throat. I am naked under the sheet, but it feels exactly as if a necktie—or a noose—is being tightened.

The time of your death is now.

He does not show himself. The pressure on my neck is slowly released. Ah, it’s not so hard to leave this body. My head, which I had raised against the pillows, droops over my chest. This is going to be so easy. I feel a tremendous need to rest, to sleep. I am letting myself go, not just the Traveler in me but all of me. It is done.

I raise up the body in the bed. The I that is speaking now is not identical to the one that just left, but indistinguishable from others and so very like my previous self that I don’t need to make out that I have changed. I died and came back, in a moment. And my world split. Another me, on a parallel road in the many worlds, has joined the countless selves that have died already. I wonder whether he has gone to that wonderful penthouse apartment in the scholar city that my traveling self loves to visit.

Dawn is breaking over the Pic St. Loup. It brings out the warmth in the red-tiled roof that slopes down below my balcony. The boars are still quiet.

The time of your death is now.

What’s this? It’s not over?

However, the sentence is suspended for now, pending further review. You know what you must do.

I go to the desk, pick up my fountain pen, and start writing, in my leather-bound journal, a story that I hope will entertain Death.

 Robert Moss is the author of Mysterious Realities and numerous other books about dreaming, shamanism, and imagination. He is a novelist, poet, and independent scholar, and the creator of Active Dreaming, an original synthesis of dreamwork and shamanism. He leads creative and shamanic adventures all over the world. Visit him online at This excerpt is reprinted by permission from the publisher, New World Library,

Excerpted from the book Mysterious Realities. Copyright ©2018 by Robert Moss. Printed with permission from New World Library —

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