I’m having fun recounting these adventures, and there a whole bunch more to the story, so what I think I’ll do is after I post each one here on my main page I’ll then copy them onto their very own page so they can be read in sequence, for them’s wot ‘ave missed the previous ones.
Since I posted the first ‘Prelude’ I’ve had a few comments both here and elsewhere about the nature of these meditations, which are quite a bit different from your average meditation, where we are able to calm all the noise in our minds so we can relax, and then, feeling refreshed, we go back to our lives.
This, isn’t that.
I stated previously why I didn’t go into any detail about how I entered into the trance state, but, in the interests of clarity, I’ll expanded a little on how I go about it.
First up, what I didn’t (and don’t) use: Consciousness altering substances … of which there are many, and many Traditions around the world do use them.
I discovered very early on in my adult life, long before I started this Spirit Path, that although ingesting consciousness altering substances, alcohol, marijuana, various opium derivatives, chemicals, and fungi, did indeed alter my perceptions, I never felt like I was ‘getting in touch with the real me’. Instead I felt like I was me-through-rose-colored-glasses. (mind you, the music associated with such states continues to capture my imagination like nothing else … I’ve added a one of the best of them at the end of this post. Have a listen and you’ll see what I mean)
I sit in a chair rather than laying down so I’m not tempted to fall asleep before the fun bits. Also, falling asleep during this work can be … troublesome. Other realms of existence open and the rabbit holes you can fall into are not for the faint-of-heart. In fact they’re downright dangerous.
I use visualization to relax my body, center my mind, do a bit of ‘housekeeping’ – sending healing energy to any bits of my body (usually my knees) that need it, give the old power centers (‘chakras’ in some Traditions) a bit of a vacuum and polish, and generally make sure what I leave behind, my physical body, is taken care of. (When I’m teaching, this visualization is spoken, or guided, by me, but it’s second nature now because I’ve been doing this for so long so I slip into it without a great deal of effort)
I usually set my destination (one or more of the Realms in that bag of marbles I talked about in Prelude I, of which there are as many as there are motes of star-dust in the universe) and the work I want to do ahead of time, then I head out.
Basically, beyond all the trappings, a Shaman’s work is to Journey into other Realms of Awareness and bring back that which is useful here in this one.
I had a week to think about my first adventure. I felt like I’d traveled through a movie. Who knew it could be this exciting? The sensual technicolor images, exploring unknown places, mythological images becoming manifest. As for Bast’s warning, it lost its impact with each day that passed. Nothing really horrible happened to me the last time. Not really. I was eager for a repeat experience. I wanted it all. To soak it up like a desiccated seed absorbing an ocean. I could hardly wait.
“I don’t know,” came a doubtful whisper.
“Oh, pish-posh,” I replied. “On with the show.”
The old tree flowed into existence in front of me, but my ebony ball was nowhere to be found. I visualized it as hard as I could, to no avail. For a moment I was too stunned to react, a frisson of panic rippled up from the pit of my stomach, but my journey continued to unfold around me, so off I went, ready or not.
I was flying through the star-lit sky at the speed of thought, heading towards the planet Neptune where I was supposed to experience unconditional love. On Neptune? And where I was to meet Venus, the Goddess that is, not the planet.
My throat constricted, and my eyes filed with tears of pain, of loss, of a grief too terrible to comprehend. I was going so fast that the starlight stretched until it looked like time-lapse video of car headlights at night.
Then the space around me began to harden until I couldn’t even move, even to breathe, bound in a coffin of rock, pushing at me, in me, a part of me, becoming me.
My chest caved in and my heart collapsed, crushed by the weight of that terrifying grief. In some strangely separate part of my mind I wondered if all the grief I had ever experienced in my life was somehow coming back to haunt me? Had all the ghosts I tried to outrun on my motorbike finally caught up with me?
Another thought swiftly replaced it. What if this grief isn’t actually mine? What if I had somehow unwittingly tapped into the rivers and oceans of grief that humans have been crying since we began inhabiting this planet? And I wondered, what would the weight of that do to me?
Another part of my brain screamed at me to open my eyes and everything would be normal. The crushing weight would disappear and the waves of grief would recede and return from whence they came, but I couldn’t open them, my physical body was too heavy.
I grew heavier and heavier, still unable to move, bearing it until I broke, until my bones and muscles and organs were crushed to pulp. Until the floor beneath me gave way under the strain. The floorboards splintered under the enormous weight and I fell straight through the floor beneath and down, down into the ground, where I knew, beyond a doubt, I would die.
Then, between one moment and another I was back in the room. It hadn’t collapsed, nor had I been crushed out of existence, but that grief, the unutterable weight of anguish, returned with me. I broke into great heart-wracking sobs, frightened to the depths of my being
Later that night I watched the news on television, as it relayed images of a great tragedy unfurling on the other side of the world, where people were already dying. My breath caught in my throat and I felt as though I were suffocating. I walked to a nearby park near where I lived and stood under the naked stars.
I whispered into the gaping wound inside me that wouldn’t close, “Why is this happening to me?
A voice that was neither inside my head nor somewhere out there beyond the furthest star, perhaps Bast, spoke to me. “So you will learn the First Lesson.” There was so much Power in that sentence I could almost hear the capital letters.
First Lesson. I pondered the words. First Lesson. What the hell did that mean? No-one answered. The words rattled around inside my head keeping me awake for hours.
Eventually, at some point during that sleepless night I figured a couple of things out. If, I chose to continue this work (and at this point it certainly wasn’t a given) I would be expanding my awareness of my surroundings and what constituted my reality, and I needed to be able to discern what was meant for me and what I was picking up from ‘out there’ that wasn’t meant for me. I was essentially bearing witness, nothing more.
Another even bigger ‘if’ was that if these Realms were as real as the physical one I’d inhabited for all my life, as real as the walls of my house, and the trees and asphalt pavement of my street, then perhaps I could’ve quite literally died under that crushing weight.
I’d been given a (relatively) painless glimpse into the true size and potential of the Path I’d innocently stepped upon.
It was a hard decision, but in the end I trusted what I’d learned from my motorbike accident, knowing that I must accept every challenge that came my way. Hard or easy, pleasurable or painful, to willingly go where the Journey took me. To trust that I would be cared for … until I’d learned what I needed to know in order to survive on my own.
I had no idea of what I was actually agreeing to.
The best song about altered states of consciousness ever …
(did you see the date stamp on that video? Woodstock was 49 years ago! … sheesh!)
And because it’s awesome-sauce, just Grace and her voice …