Friday 30 October 2020

Visualisation: A Journey For When the Veil is Thin

Here is a guided visualisation for Samhain, which is a time to think about the spirits of those who have died, and for Halloween, the time of year when we celebrate all things scary.

Guided visualisations can often be thought of as a bit light and fluffy. They sometimes get categorised with general mind, body, spirit practices as forms of meditation with spoken words to help people stay mindful as they journey towards enlightenment. However, in witchcraft, guided visualisations can take us along dark paths to face our fears. I wrote this guided visualisation for the time around Samhain, or Halloween. It is called A Journey for When the Veil is Thin. 

Because it is designed to be potentially scary, read all the text through before doing it, to make sure you want to attempt it as a visualisation. You could also record the words and then listen to them with your eyes fully closed. Before doing the visualisation, make sure you are sitting comfortably and are somewhere safe where you won’t be disturbed.

Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths in and out and relax, then visualise the following:

Imagine you are in an old cottage, in the country. The cottage is sparsely furnished, but comfortable, with armchairs by an open fireplace. It is an October night, and outside your window the sky is dark. The room is warm and lit by the glow from the fire and a candle lantern, which hangs on a hook. You take the lantern and leave the cottage by the front door into the chill and darkness of the night.

Close the cottage door behind you and walk down garden path towards the front gate. As you do so, you notice that the flowers that in the summer bloomed in the garden are mostly dry and brown and dead. Even the late Michaelmas daisies, which flowered at the start of autumn, are dying. This is the natural cycle of the seasons, and summer is dead. 

You leave by the garden gate, into the narrow country lane that runs past this cottage. It is a hollow way. It is an ancient trackway, worn down by thousands of years of feet and wheels until the path was dug deep into the ground. On either side, high banks are topped with hedgerows, speckled with berries, red as blood. Trees grow along the hollow way too, and their branches, bearing autumn leaves, arch overhead, touching each other, so the way is enclosed.  Many people have walked this way before, many more who are now dead, than those who are living. You follow them on this night when the veil is thin. Perhaps you see the shades of their ghosts walking along the path with you. If so, they do not seem to see you. They are but memories held by the earth and stones on which they walked. The only sounds you hear are the rustling of dry leaves in the wind.

You come to a stile, which you must cross, onto a path which leads into a forest of trees. These are losing their leaves. Some branches are bare already. Dry twigs snap as you walk, a sharp contrast to the soft leaf mulch rotting into the ground that softens your footfalls. The scent of it is all around you. It is even darker in among the trees, and only the glow of your lantern illuminates a few steps ahead. You know you must tread carefully.

You follow the path through the woods. It is dense and obscured. You must push through brambles to following it through the wood. 

After a while, you come to the edge of the forest, Beyond it, over fence of wrought iron railings, you see a graveyard. In the middle of that is a small, old chapel. Walk along the outside of the railings, between the wood and the graveyard, until you find the gate.

Go through the gate and follow the path through the graveyard. Look at the headstones as you go. Do you see any names? Do you read any epitaphs? 

You come to the chapel, but it is dark and locked. This is not where you are bound tonight. The path goes around it, and you follow. The graves beyond it are older, more crumbling, covered in lichen and harder to read, sunk deeper into the ground, as though the earth is reclaiming its own. You walk on through the graves, to the other edge of the iron railed boundary around this resting place for old bones, then through another gate to a field beyond. 

You are in an open field now, the edges of which are lost in darkness, although you can just make out the narrow path to follow across it, into that darkness ahead. You follow the path, and as you walk, out of the gloom you see huge stones rising. They are ancient megaliths standing at the entrance to a long barrow, the mouth of which gapes blackly beyond the tall stones.

You approach the long barrow. You realise that the candle in your lantern is burning low and fluttering. It is your choice – do you enter the barrow or turn around and go back the way you came?

Long barrows are places where the ancient ancestors of the land were laid to rest, long, long ago, before the time of written history. Legends talk of spirits and guardians and even gods that might be encountered here. Who knows what you will meet on this night when the veil is thin?

If you choose to, step inside and walk into mouth of the barrow. There is room for you to walk, but still it feels enclosed around you. By flickering lantern light you can see the bare stones of tunnel walls going into it, but not the end. Then, your lantern splutters and goes out. You are in total darkness. It is a place where even starlight does not shine, where there is nothing except you and the darkness. And you do not know whether you are in the world of men any more or the world of the spirits of the ancestors. 

You stay stationary in the darkness for a while. It is hard to tell the passage of time as there is nothing to judge it by. Then, you begin to perceive ahead of you pinpoints of light, like tiny distant stars. Perhaps it is your mind playing tricks with you in the darkness, or perhaps it is something else. They move closer, or get larger, spreading out in the space ahead of you. And in their centre is a shape, a silhouette of a being. The being moves closer, towards you. The lights or stars around them start to turn, to spiral. You watch as this swirling spiral of stars seems to spread out around you, and then the silhouette of the being is right in front of you. What do you do? What unfolds between you and the being? 

Take your time to let this encounter play out to its conclusion.

At last, the encounter comes to an end. The being turns and slowly retreats, returning back into the swirling spiral of stars, which seem to diminish in size, or move away, until you can see the silhouette of the being no more, and the stars are just tiny pinpoints of light. And then they are gone, and you are in darkness. You can sense the floor and walls and ceiling of the long barrow around you. Turn around. You see the mouth of the long barrow, and beyond that a starlit night sky, with all the stars in their normal place. 

You leave the long barrow, walk past the megalithic stones at the entrance and cross the field to the railings at the edge of the churchyard. As you do so, it seems that your vision has become more attuned to the night, and you can see more easily by starlight as you walk back through the graveyard. You go through the gate beyond the chapel and enter the path through the trees. Now the wood does not seem so dark either. You easily follow the path to the stile in the hedge. You cross the stile again, and go into the hollow way. You walk back along the lane, go through your garden gate, up the garden path and through the front door into the warm and comfortable cottage. You close the door, and hang your lantern on its hook. Your journey is complete.

To return to your normal world, shake your fingers and toes, stretch your legs and arms, then open your eyes. 

After you have finished, it is important to ground properly. This can best be done by having something to eat and a non-alcoholic drink, but you can also stamp your feet on the floor a few times to feel its solidity, or grip a solid surface, such as the edge of a table, to feel a physical connection with reality. You might also want to take notes of anything you experienced.

You can view more guided visualisations in my book Pagan Portals - Guided Visualisations.

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1 comment:

Jane said...

I love this visualisation. I'm definitely going to do it. Thank you! xxx