Midsummer Journey 2016

These are my notes from doing the Midsummer Meditation yesterday. The card I drew before starting the journey is:

The Faery Who Was Kissed by the Pixies, Morna, who says, “The answer to your question is, put simply, love — love given with wisdom and compassion, love without selfishness or possessiveness.”

Morna tells us that giving and receiving love and intimacy in a wide variety of relationships is important at this time. She gives you notice that this is a time to open and heal your heart.

Different aspects of life may well be flowing happily together, healing separations and hurts from the past. Bonding may take place and deep feelings emerge. Changes for the better may occur in all aspects of life, but especially in relationships which are deepening and becoming richer.

You are experiencing love therapy for your heart.

Faery blessings on the loving!

I am right here, sitting at home. When I tried to “go” to the Otherworld, the guardian informed me that this is the Otherworld. Everywhere is the Otherworld — nowhere is left out. Not everywhere is Earth, not everywhere is my house, but everywhere is Otherword if I just let myself be Awake and Aware.

I knew this, but I’d forgotten. I’m glad to be reminded. So I’ll sit right here with my cats, knowing that we are all in the Otherworld, and sensing it’s magic around me. As soon as I remembered that Marzipan came, gave me a kitty kiss, and laid down to be my guide. She is purring. Okay.

The God and Goddess want me to practice loving — to do it, feel it, dream it, learn it. It’s very important for me to be learning love just now — love for everyone, everything, including myself. Love is what keeps us alive — and I need to stay alive a lot longer to get the things done that are mine to do.

They have handed me a list: write books (especially Marzipan’s and Gran’ma’s Oracle and the Green Woman’s Book of Healing — maybe others too, they say, but those for starters), do healing (myself, family, everyone I meet to whatever degree is acceptable), and learn to dance more, play more, create more, plant more, breathe more.

I can see why they think I need to practice love in order to live longer if they want me to do all that! There are five books planned just for Marzipan alone!

I’ve been working on this, realizing that it was timely, and I do feel ready to agree to do it. I can do it much better now than in the past. Having my sisters here helped me a lot about that. “Love is patient and kind.” Easier said than done, but all the same, doable.

I hold out my hands with my eyes shut. They put something in my hands — very light, very small. It feels fragile and feathery. It’s a baby wren. No, it’s three baby wrens. They are tiny! They eat, the god tells me, bugs and love. They will help me remember to practice. Goddess says they are also very charming and enchanting and will improve my magic. (O, punny!)

Marzipan says wistfully that she will look after the birds for me, if I like. I agree that we can share them. She takes them one by one off to her “safe place” (her enclosed bed where she doesn’t allow the other cats) and purrs them to sleep. These wrenlings may grow up very confused but well loved.

I am so grateful…. The God and Goddess ask me to draw another card from Gran’ma’s Oracle. I do, and it says:

What to do? Which way to go?

“Weeeelllll, it all depends,” says the Really Good Faery. “To decide your course, ask yourself, please, is this is going to do any unnecessary harm to other people or any harm to you? Be careful – that isn’t a simple question.

“But, If no harm, then why not go ahead with what you want?”

She would like you to remember that being really good does not always mean keeping everyone else happy to your own disadvantage. There is a difference between what people want from you and what they need from you. To be really good, it is important to take care of the needs, when you can do so without harm to yourself, but their wishes are not your responsibility at all — although you may like to fulfil them for the fun of it for you both, just for love, not for need.

Faery blessings on the giving, the giver, and the receiver!

The God and Goddess look at each other and nod. I guess that’s okay then. I probably needed to be reminded of that too.

© Copyright 2016 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved

Midsummer Inner Journey

midsummer sunrise

Midsummer Meditation

This is the Midsummer Inner Journey/Ritual I generally use for myself and when I’m leading a group. It’s part of my Sun Magic, Moon Magic project. The format below is written so it can be used for a group, but obviously you can just use it for yourself. I hope you enjoy it and it helps you along your Path!

Copyright information is at the bottom.

Things Needed If You Are Leading a Group:

Ask the group not to talk to each other during the process, not even during the writing times. Conversation brings them too far from the inner journey state of mind. If they have questions or comments, they should make a note of them and discuss them at the end.

One thing — “sidhe” is pronounced “shee”.

This is going to take about an hour so make certain that everyone has done whatever they need to do to be able to sit quietly and comfortably for that time. It may take even longer if people have a lot of questions or comments at the end.

Each person should have at least three sheets of paper and something to write with — pen or pencil, colored or plain. They also need something to rest the paper on as they write — a clipboard, a notebook, a piece of stiff cardboard — whatever works. This should be ready to use easily so everyone can write from time to time on their journey.

You will need at least one, preferably more, Oracle or Tarot decks. Have each person in the group draw one card from the deck of their choice, which will be used at a certain point in the meditation. Actually, you can do without one, but then you must remember to leave that part out of the journey.

Once they have the card and sit in their place in the circle, they are ready to begin. Starting with the induction, read the inner journey aloud in a calm, gentle voice, allowing ample time for people to process each thing and for a few breaths between.

Induction (The part that relaxes people and helps them into a mental state conducive to making the journey)

You need a comfortable place to sit, a place where you will be able to close your eyes and relax, yet also a place where you can write on your paper. As you sit, close your eyes for a bit and just breathe. Take three slow, deep, natural breaths down into your belly, releasing each one slowly but naturally. No strain, just relaxed deep breaths.

Lift your shoulders up high, then gently let them drop. Do this three times. Softly flex your hands and relax them three times.

As you breathe, notice that your forehead is relaxed… your cheeks, your mouth, your entire face is relaxed. Your eyes may be closed or half open, whichever is most comfortable for them. If your eyes are open, let them rest on your hands or your lap so that they are not busy with the outer world and you can let your mind focus on your rich inner world.

The Journey

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago (or perhaps it was just yesterday or perhaps tomorrow) everyone gathered together at midsummer, the summer solstice, the longest days and the shortest nights. No one got much sleep… but they did do a lot of other things. One of the things that is often forgotten nowadays is that they made journeys into the Otherworld, the land of Faery, the world of the ever-young and the eternal gods and goddesses, the shining ones, the sithe. There they consulted the ancient wise ones to discover three things.

First, they considered what they had. We all have happy things, things that please us, and we all have unhappy things, the things we don’t want, and we all have the things we fail to notice because we are so used to them that we don’t see them anymore — and yet, were we to lose them, our lives would be immeasurably poorer, or in some cases, much richer.

Once people had considered what they have, what is filling their lives now, and then they went on to consult their gods and goddesses to find out what was appropriate for them to be doing at this season, this time of their lives and they asked the gods and goddesses for suggestions about how best to do this.

And then, because all the best gods and goddesses are loving and generous, the people received gifts from them, gifts to come in the future, perhaps quite soon, or perhaps a little further down the line in accordance with when and how they did the things they needed to do that had just been discussed.

Today, we shall follow this ancient observance of this midsummer season. Are you ready? If not, take a final three deep breaths, rest your eyes another moment.

Now, imagine that you are standing up. There is a gate or a door in front of you. In a bit we will enter those doors, but first, notice where you are standing.

What does the earth feel like under your feet? What is your first impression of the ground you are standing on? Is it hard or soft, grassy, rocky, or some other surface? This isn’t a big thing, just an impression of where you are at this moment.

How does the air around you feel? Moving or still? Warm or cool? Dry or damp? Just notice it for a bit. You may allow the feeling of the air to help you to relax if you want to.

Notice how the light is around you — does it seem bright or dim? Where is it coming from? Is it light from a candle or lamp or fire or something like the sun or moon or stars? What is your first impression of the light? How easy is it for you to see?

Now, again notice the gate or the door in front of you — which is it? What is it made of? Is it closed or open or in between? Give it a gentle push to see what happens. If it is locked, you’ll find a key hanging on a nail close to the lock — take it and open the gate or the door. Then go through the opening into the Otherworld and notice any difference you find there.

Is the ground the same or different? Has the air changed in any way? What is the light like now? Do you notice any scents?

At this moment, you are in both the Otherworld and your own inner world, a liminal place, a threshold between times and spaces. It is a safe place for you and, if you wish, you can relax into it, taking a few deep breaths to become more familiar with it as you begin to consider what you have in your life at this time.

On your first piece of paper, write down the first things that come to your mind. You don’t need to list everything, not even all of the “important” things, just the things that come to your mind. They will be the things that matter right at this moment. You will have fifteen minutes for this — plenty of time.

If you run out of thoughts, just breathe gently. As you do that, more things to write may come to you — or they may not. It doesn’t matter. Just write what comes to mind no matter how small or how big it is in your life. Simply write — and when you’re not writing, just breathe gently and naturally. Allow your mind to rest between noticing what you have in your life at present.

***

Now the time is up for writing about what you have, so put your paper and pen down. Get comfortable again and take a couple of deep breaths, close your eyes, and relax into the next part of your journey.

You have already come to the liminal place inside the gate to the part of the Otherword that is also part of you. Now it’s time to move beyond your own personal inner world and on into the timeless world of the Powers.

In the distance ahead of you there is a group of trees. These trees are very tall and their branches spread widely. The leaves shimmer in the soft light, and as they shimmer you may be able to see that they are many, many shades of green — and even that some are more blue and others are golden. Even more rarely, these trees also have leaves of all colors of the rainbow — and many that aren’t in the rainbow at all. These are the ancient trees of Faery and they guard the entrance to the Otherworld of the Sidhe (shee), the people of peace, the elder race.

To help you to enter the guardian tree grove, an animal is coming to guide you. This might be an earth animal or a faery animal or a mixture of both. It may be an animal that is familiar to you or one you’ve never seen, perhaps never imagined before.

As the animal comes closer and you can see it more clearly, what color or colors do you see or sense? How big is it? Does it walk on two legs or four or less or more?

By now it is close enough for you to look into its eyes. What color are they? How are they different from your own eyes? What feeling does it give you to look into them deeply?

When the creature reaches you, hold out your hand. Does it sniff the scent of your hand? Does it touch your hand? If the creature indicates that it would like to be stroked, and if you would like to do that, go ahead and touch it.

When you are ready, ask the creature to guide you on into Faery, and follow it. The animal may lead you toward the trees or in some other direction. There may be another gate along the way or nothing at all to show that you are going deeper into the Realm. The animal know the way. Trust your guide and follow where you are led. When it stops, you are there. You will find that both the God and the Goddess of Midsummer are there to meet you or are very near by and coming to you.

I cannot tell you which aspects of the God and Goddess you may see. They may be familiar to you or faces you have never seen before. If they are unknown, this indicates that you have been growing since you last connected with them, and they believe that you are ready to know them more deeply.

Now you may hold out both hands to them, and they will each take one of your hands. How does their touch feel to you? And how do you feel inside yourself as they touch you?

Does the touch of the God’s hand feel different from the Goddess’s? How do they differ and how are they the same? What physical or emotional sensations do you notice? There are no right answers, no wrong answers — there is just what there is and that is what you feel, what you hear, what you see and smell. Sometimes you may even just know something is there without seeing or hearing it.

Let yourself rest for a moment holding the hands of the Goddess and the God — just feeling, just being.

Now I’d like you to ask them, “What do they need or want from you at this moment, for this season?”

First, one of them will answer. It may be something very simple or something more complex. Breathe slowly in a relaxed way and let your mind simply relax and listen. If you don’t get it right away, just let yourself be patient and listen. Listen with your ears, your mind, your body. Are there feelings in your body that may help you to understand? Are there images in your mind?

If you’re not quite certain, ask the other one of the pair to clarify this for you: What do they want or need from you? Your animal guide may also offer you some help with understanding this. The oracle or tarot you drew before the beginning may help.

When you feel that you understand the request, write it down on the second page of your papers.

Then relax back into the calm restful state you were in before and take three slow, deep breaths — not straining in any way, just peaceful and easy. Then think again about the request the god and goddess made of you. What did they ask you to do?

Is this something you think you can do? Are you willing to try to do it?

If it is, tell them exactly what you are agreeing to do.

Now, write that down on your paper.

Gift

When you have finished writing, relax back into the journey, taking a few deep breaths until you are back standing with the god and the goddess.

Then, imagine holding your hands in front of you, palms up, and imagine that your eyes are shut. They are about to give you a gift.

One or both of them places something in your hands. With your inner eyes still closed, see what you can learn about the gift in your hands. Is it heavy or light or in between? Is it moving or still? What does the texture feel like? Soft or hard, smooth or rough? Does it feel alive or inert? How do you feel in yourself as you hold this gift in your two hands?

Now look at the gift — what colors do you notice? Does it have a scent? If it’s alive, is it looking at you or doing something else?

What is it? How would you describe it to someone else?

Ask the Goddess and the God what this gift symbolizes — what will it mean to have this in your life? If you don’t understand right away, you can ask your animal guide to help explain. Take your time, breathing slowly, and just waiting and listening as they give you this information — it may be in words or in feelings or in some other way — or possibly you’ll just know in a flash of insight.

Let yourself continue to breathe slowly and gently while you receive this gift and the information about it.

When you understand, tell them whether or not you accept this gift. If you don’t want it, just set it down on the ground gently, leave it there, and ignore the rest of this. If you do want the gift, hand the it back to the God and Goddess, and ask them to put it in you or on you or around you — wherever it belongs.

What do they do with gift? Where do they put it? How do you feel with the gift there? Do you feel any differently than you did? Just breathe quietly for a couple of minutes and let the gift settle in.

Is there anything else the God or the Goddess or your Guide wish to tell you about using or living with the gift?

When you are done, you may wish to express your gratitude to goddess and god for the gift and for helping you to understand it.

Now write down both what the gift was and what it symbolized.

And now, it is time to write one more thing — what stood out most for you in the journey? It may or may not have been the most “important” thing, but what was the most vivid or perhaps the most surprising thing?

Return Journey

Again, breathe gently for a moment. Now it is time to come back with the help of your animal guide. You may want to tell the Goddess and the God goodbye for now — though they are always with you, their presence may feel different when you are in your ordinary state of consciousness.

Your guide is ready to bring you back. It may retrace the path you took in or you might come out another way. It might even want to show you something on the way. The Guide may choose give you it’s name — or it might not — they can be tricky or shy about names.

You have a few minutes, about five, to come back through the gate or doorway you first entered.

***

When you are back through the gate, take several deep breaths. Wiggle your feet and toes. Wiggle your fingers. Stretch as much as you’d like to.

Now stretch one more time, as far up as you can reach. Then open your eyes and move around a bit.

Questions and Things to Discuss

What was the thing you were asked to do? Did you agree to do it? How do you feel about that? Is it something you are confident that you can do? Remembering the oracle you drew before we began, does it cast any further light upon the thing you were asked to do?

What was the gift you were given? What did the gift symbolize? Did you accept the gift? If you did where the God or Goddess put it in you, on you, or around you? How did you feel when the gift settled into place? Do you feel any differently now than you did before beginning the journey? If you would like, you could draw another Oracle now to tell you more about the gift. If you do, what does it say?

What do you remember about your animal guide? And can you see any reason now why that creature may have chosen or have been chosen to guide you on your journey?

What questions to you still have? Let the others in the group see if they can help you find answers to them. Also, feel free to draw an Oracle or Tarot card for each question you have and write down the responses on your paper.

Bless you on your life journey. May what you discovered on this inner journey help you on your way.

***
Remember — miracles happen. Faery blessings to you and your miracles.
© Copyright 2016 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved. You may record the journey for your own personal use but not to share the recording with others. I will be making a recording available quite soon and will let people know it is ready on Facebook ( Jessica Macbeth or jessica@jesamac.com ) and also on this  blog (jesalog.com) which you can freely subscribe to, and also it will be on my webpages (jessica@jesamac.com).

You may also like to know that I have a book, Sun Over Mountain, that has many inner journeys. In fact, it’s a complete course on creating and using inner journeys for personal and spiritual growth and spiritual contact. I hope you’ve enjoyed this!

Glastonbury Tor, Thanksgiving Eve

This evening as we were sharing Thanksgiving tarot readings, my friend Nancy recommended that I make a visionary journey to Glastonbury Tor. The original subject of our discussion was Gratitude — what has the Lady Gratitude been trying to teach us, and what is right action for us now that we’ve learned a bit more about it?

Basically, the lesson for both of us seems to be the perennial “Trust the Process” but with more detail. For my part, yes, things are tough now (and probably so for a bit yet to come), but life will become less stressful than it has been, better than before in many ways, and I will have even more help with the creative things I need to do — if I’m trusting the process and not letting the temporary stuff get me down.

I wanted to share this journey with you because this is unlike my usual inner journeys in that it doesn’t have a set format. Those of you who have been in my classes and/or read my book Sun over Mountain may remember that we use guided imagery for many purposes. There were a lot of questions for the person journeying to help them understand the images that arose for them. This time, instead, we find me wandering around, looking for my path, and simply allowing it to open before me. This process is more structured than a daydream and less so than guided imagery with a set pattern — and I wanted you to see how it might work for you. Before beginning the journey, the first thing I did was to draw a card from my personal oracle — a blend of the Faeries’ Oracle and my unfinished Faery Wisdom Journey Oracle:

The Bright Mother, who is so loving and nurturing and wise, says…

I am asking you to give up your defenses.

I know, I know, it seems to you that they are what keeps you safe in the worlds, but, in fact, they are what make you vulnerable. Let them go as you find them, and discover how strong you are without them.

Defenses are a much heavier burden than you realize, and it is only by letting them go that you become invulnerable.

If you don’t know how to do this, just ask and I’ll help you find the way. And do eat properly as you go!

Faery blessings on the growing!

And now for the journey to the Tor…

I usually begin these journeys by entering a cave, but that doesn’t feel right tonight. I let my mind wander, looking for a way in, allowing impressions to simply arise in my mind. I gradually realize that I’m surrounded by mist and darkness. I don’t see a way at all. But then a thought drifts by that the theme here is probably about trusting the process. As soon as that dawns (O, the fae are such punsters), I sense myself standing in misty moonlight. Pale in the western sky is the setting Moon. She looks about five days old — more than a slim new crescent but less than a quarter — She is young, full of hopes and dreams and creative energy, and closely following the Sun.

Barely, I see the darkness of Glastonbury Tor outlined against the lighter, but darkening sky. Walking towards the crest of the Tor is easy walking — far easier for me than climbing it in the so-called “real” world — just a gentle upward slope. (Or I’m stronger here, which is something to think about later.) Barefoot, the grass tenderly caresses my soles. Lightly moving upward, I begin to see the silhouette of St. Michael’s Tower against the starless sky. As always, from a distance, there are faint lights moving around the tower as the energy fountains up from the many ley lines here.

No one else seems to be there — no faery, no people, no ancestors, no winds — just silence, so I simply sit on the grass, patiently still. After a while a small, white, short-haired kitten, hight Gwenhwyfar, comes and sits precariously on my knee. She is so young, she is still wobbly. I ask her if she is my guide, and she nods her head vigorously, nearly falling over. She has long tufts on her ears, and they are very charming, waving in the moonlit air.

She hops down onto the grass, regains her balance, and skitters off, racing around the tower — one, two, three circuits deasil, followed by three circles widdershins. She then dashes into the tower, and squeaks loudly to call me. I get up. (Getting up from the ground is also much easier than I’m accustomed to in “real” life as well — perhaps I should come here to live!) Following Gwenhwyfar into the tower, I expect it to be dark — and it is as dark as it can possibly be.

My toes bump against stone. Bending over and feeling the stone with my hand I find stone steps, which I’ve never seen in the tower before. They stick out from the wall, with spaces between them, like the spiral steps in a round tower. Since St. Michael’s tower is square, it provides a larger step at every corner. It’s probably just as well that I can’t see their worn, irregular shapes. Above my head, Gwenhwyfar mews loudly, her voice echoing up and down the tower like an full choir of kittens.

It seems that the easiest thing to do is to go up on all fours as she did. But it isn’t — I hadn’t realized I was wearing a robe, which is now tangling under my feet. Carefully standing erect again with my left hand on the wall and lifting the robe with my right, I can creep up the stones without stumbling. Gwenhwyfar startles me by racing down and brushing around my ankles, saying “Mrrr, mrrrrrr!” which clearly means “Hurry up!”

After several more steps, I feel a soft pressure on the top of my head as if I were pushing against a light balloon. Suddenly, with a pop the pressure disappears and my head pokes through … something. Now my eyes are in the light, but below them everything is still in darkness. The light is silvery-clear and there is something floating in it — dust motes? Faery glitter? Tiny, they are, yet intensely bright. Carefully, but a bit lighter and faster, I continue up the stairs until my feet also enter the light. I’d like to sit down there, but Gwenhwyfar is hooking her tiny claws into the hem of my robe, tugging so hard I’m afraid that she will tumble off the steps. It feels like a very long way down.

Hmmm… if she is a spirit cat or a faery cat or even an imaginary cat, would the fall hurt her? Or would she simply levitate up and bat me on the nose for recalcitrance? Best not to find out any of those things, best just to go to the top and hope for a place to rest there.

Climbing up, the light changes — first to a gentle red, then to pale peach, then a light but warmly sunny yellow, a clear cool sea green, a dreamy blue, crystalline amethyst, and then the purest white I can imagine. We are at the top, no doors, no windows, the narrow openings to the outside are below us, and although I know there is no roof above us, there is a pearlescent something — a mist? An out-of-focus ceiling? It glows.

It was a long ascent upward. I sit on the top step and Gwenhwyfar leans against me. I feel her purring. She climbs up my robe, vibrating busily. Kitten-like, she wants to be on top of my head. Her purr resonates in my skull, echos in my mouth.

The air gradually fills with a wordless musical hum, at first barely audible, then becoming more clear as we listen. It sounds like antiphonal plainsong without words. The high notes are almost the chime of small silver bells, the rich low tones make the tower tremble, the notes between all reverberate, resounding from my bones, from all of the rigid or taut places within me. As they sound the muscles go soft, the notes going through the bones like a hollow flute, hallowed by their song.

I don’t know how long I sit here — or even where I “really” am. The purr chases its own tail within me like musical laughter until my whole self smiles, and I drift away… somewhere, nowhere, everywhere — energy and light singing within and around me.

After I come back feeling much lighter, happier, and more blessed than I did, I drew another card to see what the Oracle had to say about all this.

From the Faeries’ Oracle…

The Singer of Transfiguration congratulates you on the growing and transforming you have been doing! It has not been an easy path and you may not feel quite settled into your new way of being yet, but you’re almost there.

Trust the process!

And a thousand, thousand faery blessings upon your transformation!

In the morning there will be dew everywhere, sparkling in the sun.

*********

For me, there are several points of special interest here, but I think I’ll save my thoughts on them until I see if you have any comments or questions.

And next time, I think I’ll go to the Chalice Well…

Within Stone (or The Altitude of Wu Wei)

My good friend, Nancy Hendrickson of TarotExplorer.com, strongly recommended that I go on an inner journey. Specifically, she suggested that I go to the heart of a stone and there talk to the Hierophant of the tarot and ask him about what the stones are trying to teach me just now — because clearly they are trying to teach me something.

The stone whose heart I’m going into was given to me by a good friend, Jerry George. It came all the way from the high land of Tibet to live with me. He had found several of these small, smooth, pieces of jade and had been surprised to find those particular stones in that place — he knows his geology and they would not have been expected to be there. Where had they come from? How did they get there? No one knew. He brought them all the way back, and for thirty years now he has carried one in his pocket. I carried mine in my pocket or in my purse. (Why do so many women’s clothes not have useful pockets?) Then a terrible thing happened — I lost it. It must be somewhere in my house, but I cannot find it. I feel bereft and ashamed, guilty of being careless of its well-being and special value — unless it ran away, which is also possible.

But tonight I realized that of course I still carry this precious stone in my heart along with many other stones — the standing stones of Calanais, the stones of the blessing cairn here at home, my outdoor altar at home, the cairn on Dun I on the Isle of Iona, Castlerigg stone circle, the huge lump of white quartz that I brought home in Scotland and eventually had to leave behind because the movers refused to try to lift it, and so many others, large and small. I can only begin to acknowledge them all. They live in my heart and sometimes I feel them murmuring in tones too deep, too slow to hear. Trees and other beings live there too, but tonight it is the stones who wish to speak, especially the small Tibetan stone that I have mislaid but that is still with me.

So I begin this journey within at the gate to my own heart. At this moment, it is a small wooden gate with hinges that squeek their own song, swinging loose in the wind. It opens itself for me, and I freely pass through.

The path to the stone is grassy — greenly aromatic, gentle underfoot. The stars in the dark sky above are shining brightly. A soft breeze lazily plays with my hair. Ahead in the darkness the stone rests on the ground. Although the stone I was given is quite small, here it is its true size, as big as a house. In front of me there is a door, the door to the heart of the stone. The door is small, just big enough for me to enter. All around its frame rune-like symbols are carved. The door swings itself open for me, and as I enter in, I see that it is a someone’s home. A bright fire burns on the hearth. On either side of the fire, turned so they both face each other and the fire, are two comfortable armchairs. I sit in the one on the left, and as I do, I remember that the dark column is on the left side of the High Priestess tarot card, so I am sitting in the yin, receiving place.

Faint shadows move in the other chair in the flickering light of the fire, and gradually the hierophant becomes visible. He is dressed like the pope, but in a shimmering cloth that seems to be all colors at once, even white, even black. I am distracted, fascinated by that cloth for a while and when I come back to the present moment, I see that the shadows have solidified, become someone visibly real. It is the hierophant. He grins at me, almost mischievously, as if inviting me to enjoy his neat arrival trick. Without moving, he is here, as if he had always been solidly and really here.

I rub my nose and apologize for having entered uninvited. He both acknowledges and dismisses my apology with a casual wave of his hand. “The first pope,” he elucidates didactically, “was Peter — and as you may recall “peter” comes from petra and means rock. He was the foundation rock of the church. I am not that pope, but I am the foundation, the true rock of the earth. Now, why are you here?”

I’m not sure of the answer — is “I was told to come” a true answer? My mind is a blank. Is this going to be one of those journeys? The ones that go nowhere? I think of leaving and coming back later, but know that only rarely do I come back to the same place again after leaving it. Catch the moment or let it go… which? I feel more like a butterfly than a rock — and how do butterflies communicate with rocks?

I rise from my chair and sit on the floor at this honored teacher’s feet.

“On these journeys of yours,” he prompts me, “you usually ask, what do I, the guide, need from you — remember?”.

I nod. I’ve only been making these intentional spirit journeys for a little under 50 years in this life — you’d think that by now I’d remember how to get back on track when I get lost. Why do I feel so confused?

Ummm. Because I’m not grounded. Here I am, sitting inside a rock, talking to Rock, sitting on the stone floor, and I am not grounded. I try to “sit like a mountain” as I do when I meditate. Not working — I’m still fluttering. How about sitting like a tree, roots running deep, leaves moving in the breeze?

My spirit self stubbornly persists in randomly floating like a butterfly. Why?

The hierophant’s intense dark eyes pin me in place, my invisible, intangible wings still fluttering. To him, to All Stone, I am like a butterfly — light, floaty, ephemeral. As permanent as a mayfly. It dawns on me that I can be nothing else! To the deep stone, I am impermanent, even evanescent. Fizzy me. I stop trying to be grounded like a stone and instead rise gently in the air. The stone I feel most like is a reverse meteor rising slowly up through the air, slipping free of gravity, burning in my moment of bright insight.

I have spent all of these years trying to be grounded. What am I, what will I be if I let myself go free — ephemeral, short-lived, momentary… floating? This is so relaxing. There is no effort in floating. Being a grounded, practical doer is so effortful… and exhausting. I remember with a feeling of d’oh! that I learned once before, long ago, how relaxing and healing it was to just float, just be free, be diffuse and unfocused. I even made a “meditation technique” of it and taught it to others. (At the right time in the right circumstances, this is a valuable skill  — but it is not a substitute for meditation or being well earthed in the right circumstances for that.)

At this realization, the rigid Stone around me melts and becomes Tree, branches waving in the breeze, roots reaching into Earthmama. Yet, though I may sit like a tree to meditate — usually — I am not a tree, not rooted. Mobile. Bouncy sometimes. Sometimes I flop down on Earthmama, my heart energy connected with her, sometimes I float on her waters or sit in the branches of trees, drifting.

Looking for my right place between the states of stone and vapor, I find my own specific gravity, the place where I am at home — the place of perfect balance, effortless, free, not holding, not releasing, just being. Sensing, noticing that this point changes moment by moment, like the balance of a surfer on a wave. The surfer, too, is in a medium where he neither sinks nor rises above — his natural place is on the boundary between. He bobs with the waves and with his own breath, a complex single movement flowing from many natural forces.

I have earth within me, solid bone, flesh, and bonded blood, and I have air and spirit within me, boundless. There is bright fire and flowing water too. All of the elements are part of me. My natural place is to be just as earthed as I need to be to do what I need to do at this moment. That’s it. That’s all.

Yet at other times I may need to soar freely to listen — to catch the messages that waft between the stars. Or at other present moments it may be time to be between the ebb and the flow to rest in my own specific gravity place — to rest, to restore, to recover, to recuperate, to regenerate, to re-create. Note that word STILL. Being connected to the universe, to stone beneath and stars above, is important. But it is equally important to allow Self to just BE, to rest, silent, not rigidly straight, not effortfully rising, but a living stillness that is in constant motion floating on the waves of the breath of the universe, letting my own breath be what it is and find its own harmony.

Tension is about holding an unnatural, inappropriate, or unskillful way of being. We know it is unnatural and unskillful because it requires tension to hold us there — how simple is that? Relaxation is about consciously letting go of that tension by focus and attention (“at tension” — isn’t that sneaky?) Both are doing. Peace is the place between, the point where nothing is needed, no action at all.

Wu wei.

Good God/dess, how could I have forgotten that?

Everything around me dissolves, becomes esse, being, even the man who is Stone. Nothing is left but a smile that isn’t even there.