Thursday, June 05, 2008

Exploring Beyond the Forest

As many of you may know, last month I went on a 4 day camping trip, attending a pagan Forest Folk Festival in the woods. I went looking for new friends and experiences and came back feeling awake, alive, and eager to learn more about the things I had discovered. Once home, I searched the 'net for local drum circles or other events, and found a group that was hosting a workshop I felt I had to experience. So on Tuesday night, I went to the posted location to see what awaited me there. Here is my tale:

I was a bit anxious, I admit; I had taken a bit of a leap into the unknown. Here I was in a room with 6 strangers, about to embark on my first semi-guided meditation/Shamanic journey. I was not sure what to expect, from this group or from the experience. I only knew if I did not follow my heart and start to respond to the calling I had been feeling for so many years, I was risking my health on every level. The participants all welcomed me to the group warmly, much to my relief, and our guide was encouraging and kind. I was ready to begin.

Eyes closed, feet tucked underneath myself, I followed the instructions to breathe, breathe in deeply and picture warm sunlight on my imagine the warmth and light seeping down, through my face, my neck, flooding my mouth....breathing deeper and drawing the warm light down through my shoulders, my back, down my arms to my hands, into my belly and down my thighs, letting the glow move all the way down my legs to my feet. The voice guided us further, describing a path through the forest, green trees all around, a canopy of rustling leaves overhead. We were brought to a clearing where a large tree stood; in my mind it was clearly the massive grandfather tree with its enormous bent arms I had seen on a recent hike. My mind's eye could see the door sized hole at the base of the tree that our guide described, and I entered as instructed.

Inside, an earthen ramp led downward, lit by a slant of sunlight from above. Deep into the earth, down under a ceiling of roots, I stepped into the dim passageway ahead. For a while it was dark, and I felt my way along, until we were brought into a large cavern with walls of rock, a stream running through, and ground beneath our feet that was strewn with all manner of stones. We were told to pick one up, and at that moment our guide pressed a stone into my open hand and the drumming began. We were left alone to explore, with no more guidance; just the steady heartbeat of a single drum. I let my mind wander...

I surveyed the cavern and was a bit disapointed. I was hoping for crystals, or stones I recognized...instead it was wet, black rock: jagged and dark as coal. The steady thunk of the drum manifested itself as water dripping onto a slab of stone which, as I watched, started to disolve like black sugar under the persistant impact of the drops of water. Like quicksand, the surface of the stone began to cave in toward the center, an hourglass effect with black grains swirling down into an invisible drain. I watched for a while, before realizing the slab of rock itself remain unchanged, and would never disolve completely, so I made an effort to follow the trickling stream nearby instead. As I stepped toward it, a large scarab beetle scuttled in front of me, its gunmetal grey wings opening with a click that sounded mechanized, revealing a vibrantly colored underside. It flew parallel to the water and vanished into the dark.

The water was flowing across a streambed glittering with the same jagged, jet black rocks, wet and gleaming in a light source that seemed artificial, like overhead fixtures, flourescent tubing. I followed the water to where it disappeared through a fist sized hole at the base of the far wall of the cavern. I bent down to try to see what was on the other side, and saw that radiant gold and orange light was shining though the jagged hole. I tried, with both hands, to tear the hole wider, as though ripping open a package, but the rock remained true to its properties, and merely dug into my hands and refused to budge. I thought for a moment and realized that if the hole refused to get bigger, I would have to get smaller.

It was an effort. Like inflating a balloon in reverse. My mind struggled to imagine myself crompressing, minifying myself like Alice attempting to go through the rabbit's door, but at last I was able to duck through the hole, and on the other side I shot back up to my original height the moment I entered the space. I looked around in wonder: this cavern was round with a high domed ceiling, like a a bee skep, with light from the outside making the interior glow. The walls reminded me of what I see when sunlight beats down on my closed eyelids: a rich red-gold-orange membrane, but this time like stained glass, like walls of carnelian and amber. I sensed movement over my head and glanced up, where I could make out the swirling shadows of a figure, an entity...she flowed across the ceiling like a wraith, with long trailing tendrils, like bird-of-paradise feathers, ribbons, or angelfish fins. She rotated counterclockwise, a whirlpooling of deep-shadowed maroon and red. She did not show her face; I am not even sure how I knew she was female...but somehow she communicated to me that she was pleased to see me, and that she was there to act as a guide. My attention was drawn back to the cavern walls, which were now coming off in layers, like sheets of amber-colored mica, in pieces as large as pictures windows. They floated around me, orbiting in rings, some going clockwise, some going counter clockwise. The room abruptly filled with blinding gold light which erased everything around me, and I found myself encased in a grey veil, like a cocoon. I wanted to struggle to get free and see more, but coached myself to wait. Slowly the grey burned away before my eyes, edges glowing like burning paper, and I was facing a soot-blackened wall riddled with fissures that glowed with light. I waited and waited, hoping the cracks would open and I would see some wonder on the other side, but though the light pulsed promisingly, I could not will the wall to crumble. I was disapointed to hear the drum change rythyms, and the voice of our guide calling us back to the room we sat in.

It turns out what I thought was 10 minutes of journeying was in fact 25. I felt myself practically humming with the intensity of all I had felt and seen. We all shared our experiences, and were delighted to find there had been some "bleed-over" between us. A few other's had experienced circular themes, rotations, shrinking and growing. One person had even see the Catepillar from Alice in Wonderland! I was asked if i had ever had taken a journey before, or had power animal experiences. I said my mother, a healer, had done a retrieval for me years ago, and it was a seal. I had gone on a brief journey 3 years ago that my mom guided a few family members on, and I had been met by a badger . Most recently my mother journeyed on my behalf and encountered a peregrine falcon. Our guide suggested I had gone into this journey with three of the 4 elements: water, earth and air. She smiled and said, the entity you saw sounds very much like a fire elemental. Everyone looked at each other and nodded agreement, and a few said in unison: the phoenix. Our guide seemed very pleased for me; she said much of what I saw was typical for beginners, especially things being closed to me or hard to penetrate. She told me to keep practising letting go at those moments. I smiled and nodded, realizing my journey has only just begun; I can hardly wait for the chance to try again!


Walk in the Woods said...

Oh - beautiful blessings to you Nici! What a wonderful experience for you - and I hope you revisit this place of power soon. :) And how nice, so very nice to connect with you here.

I feel we should connect in person again soon. Very soon. :) Be well.

Alberta & Ava said...

This sounds like an amazing, beautiful experience. Thank you so much for sharing it.


holly said...

that sounds so delicious, so vibrant and primal, I'm so glad you were able to experience it. I could see everything as if I was there with you, I only wish I had been. You are amazing. Live richly my friend.