It’s funny – sometimes when you look back on things you realise there was information there that was just waiting for you to recognise what it was. This has begun to happen a lot recently, since the turning of the year from the Light Half to the Dark Half at Samhain especially. Anyway – here I recount an episode from a visit to Alderley Edge, just before the trees lost all their leaves, and the Winter began to impose itself.
On this particular evening the forest was bathed in autumn sunlight as we left, but on arrival was drizzly and typically British dull weather. We walked amiably through the forest heading nowhere in particular, but ended up at a familiar place – on a ridge just near to the main view of the Edge where the trees open out to a stunning view of Cheshire and Manchester’s distant skyline. We camped ourselves on the ridge, on a slope behind a tree and cave (male and female symbolism there) and we began our individual meditations, without really having an agenda or prior purpose. Just because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
As I have been coming to expect, my meditation was helped along by the sparkle of sunlight filtering through the tree branches and dappling my vision. I recognised where I would go next, so began to formulate my purpose, state it, and begin a meditation sequence that connected my to the earth, the planets, and the tree that I was sat in front of. I asked to be informed of how I could know that I was in the right state of mind to be able to cross into The Otherworld. This had been a subject that was on my mind at the time. I wanted to ask Nature to help me understand how I could know I was in the right state of mind to interact with her.
As I gazed out along the branches of the tree, out over the Cheshire countryside, I felt our energy fields merge. I had been given permission to “enter” this tree’s world and my vision began to change. Staring with un-focused eyes I saw a bundle of leaves on the end of the branch begin to re-formulate into the shape of an owl’s feathered body with two bright spots of sunlight exactly where the eyes of an owl should be. I knew that I must not be surprised by this, as it would cause me to come back into everyday consciousness, so I relaxed further into the feeling of being wrapped up in the tree’s nemeton.
My vision now moved from being three dimensional to what I can only imagine it would be like to be fourth dimensional! I could simultaneously see, in my mind’s eye, all angles of the “owl” at the same time – I only needed to direct my attention to a point in space to see the owl from that angle. Most incredible! I could also apprehend its shape from many angles at the same time! This fourth-dimensional feeling grew stronger until I could see the owl shaped leaves as an owl from all angles at the same time. I knew something profound was happening to my perception, so I chose this moment to ask my question again, “How will I know that I am in the right state of mind to cross into the Otherworld?” I said to myself.
The answer came almost immediately. I felt an up-swell from the ground upon which I was sat which travelled up the base of my spine until it reached the level of my heart, at which point it changed direction and burst out of my chest, flooding the spherical nemeton “bubble” that I had formed with the tree’s energy field. I sat there noticing the flow, the feeling, how connected I felt, the pang of emotion I felt, how much more aware I was of sensory information coming in, and feelings of energy pouring out from this point too. I knew this to be the heart chakra that I had worked with before (see the Glastonbury Solstice post, for example).
As I emerged from the meditation and my focus returned the leaves that had formed the owl shape became just leaves again – like when Bagpuss went to sleep, “the mice were ornaments on the mouse-organ“. The sparks of light that had been its eyes had faded and moved. Three dimensions were restored to their usual order.
I began to reflect upon what I had seen and felt. The owl was a classic symbol of wisdom – associated with Minerva and Moloch, and in the Welsh Mabinogion tales it is associated with Blodeuedd – Lady of the Flowers. For me, it felt like a sign that some form of wisdom was being dispensed, and that I was on the right track with asking such a question. I also felt an association with learning – I was about to be taught something, and the owl was the form used that was perfectly in keeping with the time of dusk when the light was fading and night was emerging. It was all these things and more.
The owl also reminded me of the Alan Garner connection that Alderley Edge has. Garner had written a book that I read as a youngster called “The Owl Service” in which the ancient tale of the romantic triangle of Blodeuedd, Llew Llaw Gyffes and Gronw Pebyr, but as re-enacted in a modern context through the discovery of a set of plates that have the disguised image of an owl imprinted on them in the form of leaves. The resonances of this story were something that I felt very strongly. Garner, in my youth, had excited me with his tales that brought the ancient worlds of magic into the modern world with dramatic consequences. Here in Alderley Edge, spiritual home of many of Garner’s stories (but not ‘The Owl Service’, oddly) I had felt that crossover happen.
I gav my usual thanks for the infromation provided, the question answered, and the wisdom transferred, and Kal and I left the forest, heading into the last rays of the evening thoroughly satisfied with an evening’s profitable work done. Another episode that defied explanation. Another question inexplicably answered by an unknown source. More philosophical questions generated than answered. Every episode as amazing as the last. Alderley Edge is indeed an magical place.
Feeling my way towards wisdom.