Modern Druidry

Shadowed and shamed

September 8, 2009

The Slap

A while ago Kal and I discussed a concept that we termed “The Slap“.  It came to our notice when we were learning how to dowse, and more crucially, what we could dowse for reliably. Whenever we overstepped our capabilities we would encounter a response or an event would happen that would put us right back in our place again, and send our thoughts reeling from the encounter. As I progressed through druidic practise I would often try to meet limitations and barriers to progress with a positive air. That was sensible. Where this fell down. however, was if I forgot my place in the grand scheme of things and got a bit ahead of myself – a bit cocky. Here’s the story of how I got “slapped” when out walking in some woods at dusk whilst staying in Germany’s Rhine valley.

This post is a follow on from the post Merlin’s Sign – Or How To Startle A Badger. To get a flavour of the situation you may want to read about how such interactions SHOULD be done.

It Never Rhines But It Pours

In my previous post “Merlin’s Sign” I had ventured a short way into the midst of a forest in the Rhine Valley. My evening excursions had been getting further and further away from my base, but the next night after my “success” I was keen to take it further and so made my way out as quickly as possible so that I could have more time to go deeper into the woods. What could I learn from the previous night’s lesson? I had thought about it long and hard and these things seemed to be the message of the sign that I had been shown: be still, silent and assured in the face of fear and you will see wonders emerge before your eyes. I might add to that that preparation for the experience was also necessary.

Could I learn from this tonight? Could I, with some extra time, go deeper into the forest and face deeper fears? This night I would try to test myself – how far into the forest would I dare to go, and what would the effect of the fading light be upon my willpower? I imagined that as I had already conquered The Fear it would be a cinch.

I walked deep into the woods, far beyond the ‘safe place’ I had sat the previous night. This far into the forest the air was cloying, the light fading, the branches thicker,closer and more forebidding. I caught glimpses of the sky through the tangle of leaves and branches and occasionally I could see that it was still light outside the forest – just.

I emerged at a junction of three ways where I paused waiting for inspiration. Instead I got a wave of indecision and anxiety. Something was going to happen, I could feel it. I ignored the feeling and took the path that seemed to go deeper in and, as Robert Frost had identified, was the less travelled path. Now the path dipped down into the depths of the woods. The path itself was lined with overhanging vegetation – ferns and grasses – making the way unclear. I stopped. I waited. I listened intently.

 Was It Bigfoot? 🙂

Then I heard the footsteps of someone walking at the same pace I had been walking at. I heard a firm footfall from down in the vale of undergrowth, approaching from down the bottom of the hill, just beyond my sight. I knew I didn’t want to meet anyone. I was here for a magical experience after all, not to have a conversation. Who could be walking through the woods at that time of night? Only someone I probably wouldn’t want to meet! What if they addressed me in German and asked me questions, and got angered by my inability to understand them? What if, what if…? Thoughts came flooding and racing and I panicked. I turned around and walked back the way I had come quickly.

After five minutes of walking and turning to see if anyone was following me, I realised something: whoever, whatever I was about to meet – I should have had the courage to meet it! No-one had emerged from the path. I could see that, as the trees were lightly spread in this part of the forest, there wasn’t anyone nearby at all. The footsteps never materialised into any known form – neither animal nor human.

I caught my breath and assessed what had happened. Clearly I had failed this little test. I walked back in disbelief. Here, this very night when I had been anticipating an experience, one had been offered, and I had fled from it. Dejection! And so, much as I tell you about the successes on this journey, so I also feel it is right to relate the failures. I think it shows how difficult the task is. You expect one thing but get another. You have to be well prepared, and I had been arrogantly confident without taking care. I got my come-uppance!


Chased by shadows.

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