Tuesday, September 06, 2005

They're in the trees, they're coming!

After attending Susan Greenwood and Jo Crows previous shamanic workshop on tree's I've been trying out some journeying at home to see if I could recreate the contact with the tree spirit I had on the day. Due to general busy-ness and my own regular practice I've only been able to work with the journeying twice more in my own time, however the results on both occasions have been very interesting.


I used a shamanic drumming mp3 by Frauke Rotwein to induce the journey, came on very fast, though I had been meditating for about 1/2 hour previous so I was already in an altered state when I started.

I was back at the Yurt in Brighton where the workshop took place, remembered the place quite vividly, began inside the Yurt and walked out to the tree where I'd experienced my previous journeys. Spent a few moments by the tree becoming re-acquainted, then the tree spirit appeared pretty quickly (I do know her name, but it doesn't feel right using it within the public sphere).

We spoke a lot more this time, she said she was pleased to see me and glad I came to visit. At this point I lost my focus a bit and my attention began to waver so she instructed me to feel my feet on the ground and smell the air, which instantly brought my attention back to the journey.

She then explained that she wanted to explain more on how the tree acted as a bridge between worlds but that she would do that the next time she saw me. At this point I felt drawn back to my body and I said my goodbyes and went back to the Yurt and my seated body.


Used drumming Mp3 again, but this time I also incorporated my mind-machine on a setting designed to produce a deep theta state in order to see what affect that had on the journey.

Began again in the Yurt and walked back to the tree. The spirit appeared, this time I asked what sort of offerings I could bring the tree, she said anything like food or something I'd made.

She said this time she'd show me how to use the tree to move between worlds, either the upper or the lower I had to choose one. I decided the upper (no particular reason why, just felt like the right one at the time). She instructed me sit on a tree branch, I did as asked and the tree began to grow upwards as a rapid rate. The branch took me up past the tree canopy and through the cloud cover, up above the clouds I stepped off the branch and began to walk across the cotton wool surface (which needless to say took my weight). In the distance I could see a city skyline, I walked towards it soon coming to a jetty like structure on it's outskirts. Climbing onto the jetty I walked into the city, a combination of Moorish architecture and glittering sky-scrapers. There were beings there but they were distant and difficult to make out and it didn't feel like the time to make contact with any of them. Instead I just wandered around a nearby plaza
for a little bit, before I decided to head back.

Coming back the way I came, I descended back into the forest on the tree branch, said my goodbyes and returned to the Yurt and my body.

You can see a progression with both journeys, both in the complexity of the experience and the length of time the journey took. It was interesting on the first occasion to attempt a journey after having spent time previously meditating (I'm currently practising a combined meditation practice where I and watch my thoughts, then gaze on a red triangle to the exclusion of all other thoughts and then switch back to watching my thoughts etc.), the speed I entered the experience was definitely quicker because there wasn't that normal surface chatter to quiet down before the trance state took hold.

The use of the mind-machine on the second occasion I think definitely helped make the experience stronger, which would make sense because the theta-state is associated with the hypnogogic state the mind enters just before sleep, a state highly conducive to a visionary experience.

The other fascinating thing is how the Yurt and the Tree Spirit are becoming integral parts of the process. A physical space I have visited has now entered into my own mythical symbol system as a gateway between worlds which I can visit from any geographical location, while the tree spirit seems to be becoming an integral guide and teacher in this process.

The concept of 'the otherworld' is an integral part of most, if not all, shamanic practices. Could this concept be a codified way of explaining the bridge between our subjective and objective experience? When I'm in a journeying state I'm aware of my body in a room sitting with it's eyes closed but I'm also aware of being somewhere else, aspects of my waking world are now part of the 'otherworld' and parts of the 'otherworld' encroach into meatspace in a feedback loop of meaning. The otherworld doesn't appear to be separate realm but rather an overlay of meaning that envelops our environment with like a blanket.

I'm just idly musing here, these are just concepts that are drifting around my head at the moment and I'm not sure if I've got the words to explain myself correctly yet. Even if we reduce this down to the most mundane (though still incredibly magical) experience of a process that is solely contained within the electrical processes of my brain, it doesn't make the the journey's any less remarkable. Here I have parts of my subconscious using narrative to teach me techniques for better accessing my own creative faculties, my brain teaching my brain how to work more efficiently. Now that is pretty cool.


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