I recently facilitated a journey circle in Athens at Heart Path Studios in which we set the intention for those in attendance to enter into the Shamanic state of consciousnesses and merge with the spirit of Horse and try to overtake a rider on the road. This rider would perhaps be someone the journeyers know or did not know, but she or he had something to tell.
The evening went very well, and all had great experiences. I went back and dug up what I jotted down the first time I did this same kind of journey, and here is what I experienced and my reaction:
Intention for Journey to the Man on a Horse
Imagine yourself in nature in rolling green hills. Imagine yourself as a horse as you walk, feel the muscles and heart as you start to trot, then gallop, and then run. Notice if any animal might appear for you along the way. Ahead you see a man on a horse. This person is someone is important to you, though you might not know them yet. When you catch up to him, ask him for any guidance he might have for you…..
With the intention set, I charged up a bit with a rattle then laid down with a loud drum track, and this is what I wrote down afterwards:
I was in rolling green hills, but they were not as bright as I had expected when preparing for the journey, instead they were darker shades of green. I felt the sensation of walking on all fours, then my chest muscles began to feel the impact of my long front legs as I began to trot the gallop. The choppiness gave way a feeling like swimming or flying as I gracefully passed over the land at a very high speed.
Suddenly, from my left, a man’s face appeared looking right at me. He had sharp features, and two or three feathers on either side of his face coming out of his cheekbones and extending just beyond his ears. His brow looked liked feathers as well, but just from one side of a quill. Where they met, just above the spot between his eyes and the top of his nose, was what looked like a sharp downturned triangular beak. The rest of his features were normal, but I could not see his body. He then turned quickly into an Owl and flew above me and started to circle the moon in what was now the night sky. Opposite the Owl, on the same trajectory, was a Raven. Then the scene was gone and I was again running in the green hills.
I spied what appeared a silhouette of a rider, but I could not be sure because there was a lot of undergrowth in that area. I galloped to that spot and came upon a man whose features were deep brown and weatherbeaten. He reminded me of an Aboriginal from Australia. He turned to look at me and was gone and where he was, but a few feet beyond, was a tall thin man with gray skin and wiry hair that looked like he was having a really bad static cling hair day.
He was naked, and kind of looked like ash. His eyes were a turbulent blue with a slight glow surrounding set in deep dark sockets. His appearance did not frighten me in any way. I felt very peaceful in his presence.
I asked him for advice or direction as I venture into this new land.
“Remain betwixt and between, one foot in both worlds, for if you come to this one too fast you will go mad, but if you stay in the other you will likewise go mad.”
He paused, his eyes got bigger, and I got the feeling he was trying to test my conviction because his look was very startled and stern at the same time. He then softened and said:
“Let this path unfold for you at its own pace, for one day soon you will remain here.”
I paused, and asked if there were any changes I could make in the world I come from that can provide the grace I will need do this work with honor and integrity.
“That is for you to determine, you know when you do the right thing, and in that resides your integrity. But one thing, never take nature for granted and give thanks for all that you receive from man or dog or tree or water (he went on for quite a while with these ‘or ____’), and protect all life always.”
I thanked him and asked if I could come back and see him again and he said yes. I then asked how I should find him.
“Go into the mist and call my name.”
I asked what his name was and he said Sam. I asked if I knew him somehow.
“Yes, I am one of your ancestors, and I have a lot to tell you.”
With that he faded backwards into mist, and for the first time I noticed I was no longer in a path, but a clearing, and all I could see around me was the mist.
I looked up to see the Owl descending and then hovered before me. I asked if it would like to come with me on this journey and it told me yes.
I then reared up on my back lets. My front hooves were scratching at the air and I got the feeling I was breaking through something. As my front hooves hit the ground I let out a huge breath through my nostrils and the wind blew away that before and I again saw the hills. I galloped back the way I had come with Owl flying by my side.
Arriving at a small stream, I resumed the form of a man. With one foot on dry land I launched to the other over the small stream and the moment my foot hit the ground on the far side I was upright over the stream and through the gate into my sacred garden. I turned and thanked the ancestors, the ...the spirits of the forest, and sat up.
The name Sam has long held a special place in my heart. As a young boy in a small rural country town, my best friend’s first name was Sam. We were inseparable, playing in the woods, running endlessly down the rows of corn that surrounded our town in fields lying between thick fingers of forest that followed the many streams. The black dirt of ...as always a welcome relief to our feet as we dashed from here to there without a care in the world. It all came to an end when I was whisked away to the big city to live with my mother. After moving, I rarely visited tiny ...and I never saw Sam again. The memory of him and the time we had as just kids is the last of a enchanted childhood in a wonderland of nature.
While I could probably come up with a reflection on every facet of this rather involved journey, I want to skip to what I think it all means. Like the Otherworld, Sam is a place that is neither here nor there, a place I can go, sort of, but not in a complete physical way, and certainly not back in time. Still, as the feathered man showed me, if I step outside of where I had been headed I may still find enchantment right now, and become like the Owl with its cunning, patience, watchful eye that is aware of much more than it may seem.
To do that, I must reach for that non-ordinary place while staying grounded in the ordinary place. The same goes for my approach to all of nature. I am not a part of nature, I am nature, so there is nothing else to do by see a symbiotic relationship in everything regardless of if I agree with it, or even find it can’t seem to find it pleasant to be around. I am no more important and anything, because I am everything. It is not possible, and to think so would only be a vain effort of hubris.
If I can live with the integrity this knowledge beacons, and that is what Sam, my ancestory and best friend, want me to do. The Owl and the Raven, circling in concert, each lifted by the tailwinds of the other, and one.