Vision Seeking (“Shamanism”)
“I believe that the existence of the classical ‘path’ can be pregnantly formulated as follows: The ‘path’ comes into existence only when we observe it.”Werner Heisenberg, 1927
Certain aspects of Quantum Theory would seem to indicate that the observer influences reality simply through the act of observing it. This is explained in Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Heisenberg was a physicist studying subatomic phenomena. He discovered that it is possible to either measure a particle’s position or its momentum, but not both. The mere act of observing a subatomic particle changes either the position or the momentum, depending on how you observe it. In other words, the act of observing reality changes the physical structure of reality.
An in-depth discussion of this principle is beyond the scope of this book. Let’s just say that in general terms the choices you make create reality for you. Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger speculated in 1935 that the act of observing a subatomic reaction creates two paths of probability. He illustrated this in his famous experiment concerning a cat. The Schrodinger’s Cat experiment is a thought experiment illustrating the seeming absurdities of quantum physics. In the experiment, a cat is placed in a sealed box with a vial of poisonous gas. The release of the gas is controlled by the decay of a radioactive material. In Schrodinger’s thought experiment, the release of a single atom of radioactive material is enough to break the vial and release the deadly poison. Since Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle states that we cannot know for sure both the position and the momentum of a single particle, it is impossible to know for sure whether the cat is alive or dead without opening the box. According to quantum theory, the cat is both alive and dead at the same time. This state of being both alive and dead is called a state of superposition, and this somewhat confusing paradox can only be resolved by assuming the existence of two separate universes: One in which the cat is dead, and one in which the cat is alive.
This rather elaborate thought experiment simply means that it is quite possible that there is more than one universe. It works this way, according to some theoreticians: You have a choice. In making a decision how to act on that choice, you create two alternate realities: One in which you made the choice, and the other in which you didn’t. The question is, did that alternate reality in which you made the choice suddenly spring into existence, or had it always existed?
I propose that all alternate realities have always existed. Every possible permutation of every person’s choices has always existed in a Multiverse of sorts. In this Multiverse, everything that is possible has happened in one universe or another. Each choice traces a line of probability. When you choose between two paths, one path branches off into two forks. Each choice you make creates yet another fork. The Multiverse contains all possible universes. The paths from universe to universe connect to each other like an infinite silver lattice.
There is a universe in which you are a male, and a universe in which you are a female. There’s a universe in which you may be some other gender, or no gender at all. There’s a universe in which you chose to go to college, and one in which you did not. There’s a universe in which you are a vegetarian, and a universe in which you are a carnivore. There is an infinite number of alternate yous all living, learning, and growing, and making alternate choices that send them off into yet another universe in the Multiverse.
Suppose that this latticework of permutations known as the Multiverse exists independent of time. As we travel along this latticework of the Multiverse, time is nothing more than our way of making things appear coherently, and in order. It’s our way of understanding our experiences. As one wit has said, “Time is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once.”
Picture it this way: if you’re like me you have a shelf full of DVDs. Each of those DVDs contains a movie. The entire movie exists all at once, self-contained in that bit of plastic on your shelf. But in order to experience that movie, you have to take it off the shelf and view it from start to finish, through time. What if the true nature of reality, of the Multiverse, is that the Multiverse is just an infinite collection of DVDs, where every choice you make puts you into a new movie? If that is the case, then time is an illusion. It is just our way of making sense of what we’ve chosen to experience.
As we live our lives, we trace a path on the latticework of the Multiverse. That path has always existed. We’re just connecting the dots as we make certain choices and work our way through the latticework. From this viewpoint, both free will and determinism are true. All the possible decisions we could ever make in life already exist. They’re pre-determined. But as we live our lives, we are free to choose among those pre-determined possibilities. So although the possibilities already exist, we exercise our free will in choosing which possibilities to experience. Other versions of ourselves may choose other possibilities. Either way, the past we choose for our lives is ultimately our own, and the result of our own choices.
Now let’s take that a step further.
If time is just an illusion, then it would be theoretically possible to live more than one life at a time. You can watch more than one movie. If you’ve seen one movie, there’s no reason why you can’t choose to watch another one or even watch two at the same time, if you have a good attention span. Anyone who has ever lived with a channel surfer can relate to this idea.
You could even identify with different characters in the same movie at different times, depending on what you’re feeling when you watch the movie. Or you could rewind or fast forward to your favorite parts.
What I’m proposing here is a sort of reincarnation on steroids. Let’s just assume for a moment that reincarnation is possible. If that is so, then reincarnation wouldn’t be time-dependent, since time is an illusion. So you could live one life in 21st century America, then turn right around and live your next life in 2000 B.C. E. Egypt, simply by choosing a different starting point on the lattice of the Multiverse. You could bounce back and forth from future to past to present, not having to live your various lives chronologically, since time only exists when you incarnate. It doesn’t exist in-between incarnations, in that place we call the Summerlands, or Avalon, or Tir Na N’Og. A place without time would quite literally be the “Land of the Young,” as it would be impossible to age in such a place.
What would be the purpose of living multiple lives? The answer is simple: To know new things. As we continue to travel along the latticework of the Multiverse, we gain new knowledge from life to life, storing up wisdom through experience. At first memories of past lives are buried in the subconscious mind and not readily available except as instinct and intuition. But as experience is gained, old knowledge becomes more readily available first through subconscious intuitions and then more and more by direct memories of those experiences. As we learn to integrate aspects of our past selves, we become more adept at remembering. As we recall knowledge gained in past lives, we continue to learn and grow in this life.
How many people are experiencing new lives through reincarnation? Well, how would you pick a number? Let’s suppose for a moment that you could go to the extreme. How many souls would it take to sustain such a system, assuming that time is an illusion and people could interact with themselves in different incarnations at the same time? Remember that time is irrelevant. All time does is indicate your path through the lattice. So you could be traveling many different paths all at once. How many souls would there be? Would it be possible to sustain such a Multiverse with only one soul? What if there was only one soul in the entire universe? That would mean that I am you, and you are me. That jerk who cut you off in traffic last week was actually you in another incarnation. That waitress who drove you nuts at lunch yesterday was actually you too. That cute girl or that handsome guy who smiled at you was also just another aspect of you. How would it change your perceptions if you looked upon everyone you met as just another aspect of yourself? What if every person around you was just you in another aspect?
Now imagine that this one soul traveling through the Multiverse has experienced life in other forms as well: As animals, plants, as every living thing. How would that change your perception of the nature that surrounds you if you knew that what you are doing to Nature, you are ultimately doing to yourself?
The Bard Taliesin reflects this idea in an excerpt from his poem, I Am Taliesin:
I have been a blue salmon,
I have been a dog, a stag, a roebuck on the mountain,
A stock, a spade, an axe in the hand,
A stallion, a bull, a buck,
I was reaped and placed in an oven;
I fell to the ground when I was being roasted
And a hen swallowed me.
For nine nights was I in her crop.
I have been dead, I have been alive.
I am Taliesin.
Take the idea of the reincarnation of the one soul even further. What if there is life on other planets? Could you have experienced life a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away? How would that change your perceptions of the nature of life in this universe? How would it change your perception of the nature of your dreams? If it is possible that you lived in another universe where all things are possible, could your dreams reflect another reality?
As the One Soul continues to reincarnate, to learn and to grow, its knowledge would increase exponentially. Eventually such a soul would approach godlike knowledge. Could it be possible that the Gods and the Goddesses are merely aspects of ourselves that have advanced to the point of possessing divine knowledge? As these divine beings continue to grow and learn, they approach omnipotence.
If there is such a thing as a God, then one of the characteristics of God is a being who is all-knowing, or omniscient. If experience is the best teacher, then the best way to learn something is to experience it for firsthand: To make the mistakes, take the risks, to participate, to learn from doing.
Returning to the lattice of the Multiverse for a moment, it is by definition the self-contained representation of every experience it would be possible to have as a living entity. In other words, it contains all possible knowledge. In Sanskrit, this Multiverse containing all possible knowledge is known as the Akashic Records.
The best way to become omniscient then would be to experience everything there is to know. And the best way to do that would be to trace all of the paths in the Akashic Records (the Multiverse) until every possible permutation had become part of your experience. The further along you were in this journey, the more divine and godlike you would become. When you had finished this task, you would be all-knowing. You would be God.
So in a way we are all connected. In a way we are all God. We are all one soul, in the process of discovering our Godhood. When the journey is over, we will become God. From the Center, we are all already God. We are the One Soul, ever-learning, ever-growing.
The Green Man
Have you ever looked at the clouds and seen faces or other images in them? Most children, and many adults, have played this game from time to time, but have you ever stopped to think about why you saw a certain image and not another? There is no real image there in the clouds, so any image you see is a projection of your own mind onto the pattern in the sky. The next time you see an image in the clouds, ask yourself what that image means to you, and what might be going on in your life that would cause you to see that particular image.
The ancient Celts spoke of the Green Man. The Green Man was the physical embodiment of nature in divine form. He was often depicted as a face made of leaves and twigs. The Celts often saw faces in the trees in much the same way that we see faces in the clouds. One Celtic legend has it that when an ancestor dies, his or her soul inhabits a tree. According to this legend, each tree has its own properties and personality. If a Celt saw the face of an ancestor in a tree, they noted the type of tree and its qualities. It was believed that the ancestor whose face they saw in the tree was sending a message through the type of tree they chose to manifest in.
Of course, there was no real face in the tree. What was at work here was the observer’s own unconscious mind, meeting her need to hear from an ancestor from beyond the grave.
When you spend time in nature, notice which things attract your attention. Think about what those things mean to you, and ask yourself why this particular thing should capture your attention at this particular time. As you notice what captures your attention, are you given any choices? Is something in the woods calling to you to make a decision? If you make a choice, what new universe will you enter by choosing? What universe might you leave behind?
The Silver Web
In Welsh lore, the Goddess Arianrhod lives in the Spiral Castle known as Caer Arianrhod. She is the Goddess of life, death, and rebirth. She sits at her spinning wheel, spinning the silver threads of life. Each thread is a pathway through the lattice of the Multiverse, waiting to be woven. She weaves these threads into the web that is all life. Because she spins this magical web, she is sometimes equated with the Spider Woman of Native American myths. Many Native American legends regarding the Spider Woman have her creating the world with the power of her thoughts.
Consider the threads that Arianrhod spins. Each thread is a life. This life thread will be woven in and out of the lattices of the Multiverse as the individual makes choices in life. As this thread progresses through life, it interweaves with other threads from other lives, creating a web of infinite possibility. These life threads are actually the energy of consciousness, adding to itself and growing as experience is gained. Consider that each of these threads is a thread of probability, and that Arianrhod sits at the center of the Web of Life, spinning these threads. Anywhere a thread touches another thread is a fork where a life decision can be made that will take the consciousness of the individual in a different direction. All these changing directions and infinite probabilities are the sum total of all conscious experience.
We’ll come back to Arianrhod and the Web of Life shortly, but for now let’s talk about the Wheel of Taranis.
The Wheel of Taranis is a circle containing a cross. The bars of the cross represent the solstices and the equinoxes; therefore the Wheel is a representation of the cycle of the year. This means that the Wheel of Taranis embodies the idea of time; specifically time as a repeating cycle. That’s the superficial meaning of the Wheel, but there is also a deeper meaning.
Imagine all the possible universes that exist within the Multiverse. All of these universes make up the rim of the Wheel of Taranis. While at the center of the wheel, a conscious entity is looking at all the places on the rim. Such an individual has access to all the universes of the Multiverse. At the center, there is no time, and there is no space. There is no past, no future. There is only present awareness. But as a person’s consciousness travels along a spoke to a particular universe, their consciousness becomes aware of time and becomes embedded in it. While at the center, all times and all places are available, but once you’ve traveled down a spoke of the wheel, you become enmeshed in the particular universe associated with that spoke. Once in a particular universe, you cannot see any possibilities except those which that particular universe affords. In order to see beyond the possibilities of that universe, you must return to the center and start over, choosing another spoke.
This means that to begin any shamanic journey, you must first return to the center from which all universes may be accessed. Once there, you are in the middle of the Web of Life, and all worlds are available to you. All times are available to you. All fates are available to you, as are all knowledge and wisdom.
Bru na Boinne at Newgrange is a prehistoric burial monument located in eastern Ireland. This monument dates back to at least 3200 BCE, and consists of an inner chamber that is flooded with light only on the rising sun of the winter solstice, and for the four days thereafter. The Newgrange site is a mound built of alternating layers of earth and stone, about 250 feet across and circular in shape. It is about 40 feet high, and covers approximately an acre. Inside the mound is a large central chamber surrounded by three smaller chambers. This may only be accessed by a single opening in the southeastern side of the structure.
The chamber walls are decorated with various spirals and other artwork, but the most notable feature is the triskele, or the triple-spiral, which is arranged in the chamber so as to only be illuminated once per year by the Sun at winter solstice. Also included in the construction of Newgrange were several monoliths similar to those found at Stonehenge, but predating that monument by almost 1000 years. The amount of effort required to move these huge stones would seem to hint at some sort of religious or spiritual purpose for its construction.
There is quite a bit of speculation as to the purpose of Newgrange.
The remains of five human bodies, some cremated, indicate that this may have been a ceremonial tomb of some sort. The fact that there are only five bodies in this gigantic complex probably means that it was not used primarily as any sort of sacred burial site; therefore the five bodies found inside must have some other reason for being there.
Throughout the world at various times and in various cultures, there have been shamanic traditions. One of the tasks of the shaman is to commune with the dead. Another is to journey to the Otherworld and to bring back knowledge. Most, if not all, shamanic traditions have some sort of initiation rite in which the Dedicant “dies” to his former life and is reborn to the life of the shaman.
All of these elements are present at Brugh na Boinne. The remains of the five bodies placed within the chambers at Newgrange suggest that they were arranged in places of honor, if not of worship. The fact that there were only five may mean that there was something very special about these five bodies. Perhaps they were shamanistic teachers or Ancestors of a high magical and spiritual importance? It is possible that these corpses were placed within the mound so that petitioners could seek wisdom from them.
The theme of death and rebirth is also present in the construction of Newgrange. The central chamber, buried and surrounded by 40 feet of earth, is only accessible through one narrow passage. This is clearly an archetypal womb of the Earth Mother. The theme of rebirth is reinforced by the fact that the chamber floor is only illuminated during the winter solstice, which is the date of the ‘rebirth’ of the Sun.
Could Newgrange have been used for initiatory rites into a shamanistic priesthood? The following reconstruction of such a shamanistic initiation is pure speculation, but I have drawn from traditions from around the world in its making. Although it is purely a creation of my own fancy, it somehow feels right:
- A feast and a celebration are given at the temple complex surrounding the Newgrange mound. This is done in preparation for the winter solstice, when the new members of the shamanic priesthood will be inducted into the service of the Goddess. The candidates do not eat at the feast, nor will they eat for the entire period of their initiation, although it is possible that they may ingest plants or herbs to enhance their visions. This practice of fasting and ingesting psychotropic plants is common among many shamanic traditions.
- Amid dancing and the drumming, the candidates are admitted to the central chamber of the mound. There are no torches or other light sources (no smoke or carbon residue has been found on the ceiling of the monument), so the candidates await the journey in total darkness. The journey into the darkness of the mound symbolizes death and burial. This is consistent with the technique of sensory deprivation used by many cultures throughout the world. When used in this manner, the senses are deprived of stimulation in order to achieve a state receptive to visions and dreams. Lacking any outside stimuli, the mind turns inward. When turned inward in this manner, freed of distractions, the mind makes contact with the collective unconscious shared by all (we know that later the bards used this method to compose verse, so the idea is not without precedent).
- There is no way to know exactly how long the candidates may have stayed within the chamber, but many shamanic practices use a period of three days and three nights for such initiations. This would be consistent with the theme of the sacredness of the number three that repeats itself throughout the artwork found on Newgrange.
- So the petitioner finds himself (or herself…there is also an extensive history of female shamans in the British Isles) in the center of a burial mound, in total darkness, surrounded by the remains of five sacred bodies there to guide him to the Otherworld. The Dedicant spends three days and three nights communing with the spirits of the Sacred Ancestors present with her there in the womb of the Earth Goddess. On the third day, at dawn, the light of the newborn Sun illuminates the floor of the central chamber, marking the first time in three days that the Dedicant has seen any light whatsoever. This also marks the first time she has seen the Sun with her new, shamanic eyes. She leaves the chamber, crawling through the narrow passage like an infant struggling to be born, so that she may share the sacred wisdom of the vision with the rest of the tribe.
Although this is just a modern reconstruction, it can be a useful road map for anyone seeking to journey into the spirit world, as it is based on shamanic and animistic practices from throughout the world and history. Many contemporary Pagans interested in shamanism have used similar techniques (devoid of the corpses, of course) with great success.
The idea of death in one form and rebirth in another is inherent in most shamanic traditions. This rebirth requires some sort of ritualistic initiation ceremony, usually after a period of fasting or some other preparation. Celtic shamanic traditions also involve sensory deprivation, usually sitting in isolation in a dark room for a specified period of time.
You may choose to create your own initiatory rite to celebrate the beginning of your travels on the path. If possible, it is preferable to do so under the tutelage of someone intimately familiar with the practices of journeying to the Otherworld.
The idea of sensory deprivation, or of stimulating certain senses while repressing others, is a useful technique when engaging in vision quests. Music is one of the tools used most often for this purpose. Anything from rhythmic drumming to flutes to symphonies may be used when seeking visions. To employ this method, lie comfortably, preferably in darkness, while allowing the music to take you. Allow the notes and the rhythms to create landscapes in your mind.
You may experiment with isolating and stimulating merely one sense at a time. For example, try shamanic meditation while sitting in a dark room with incense burning, or gaze at a single lit candle, or lie in a warm bath. Another influence on shamanic journeying is the position of your body. Try this: Sit cross-legged on the floor or the ground with your hands resting on your knees. Notice what the energy in your hands feels like. Now try the same thing with your hands palm-up in your lap. Finally, place your hands, palm together, in front of your heart. Do you sense any difference in energy in these various positions? Likewise, the position of your body during vision seeking can determine the quality and flavor of your vision. Ancient Druids spoke of the Crane Pose, which consisted of standing on one foot with one eye shut and one hand extended outward. This pose was most often used for invoking and incantations.
Experiment with various body postures and positions until you find a position suitable for your needs.
When traveling to the Otherworld, first find a place where you will be undisturbed for the duration of your journey. I’ve had some powerful visions while camping alone in the woods, for example. But you may also engage in spirit journeys from the privacy of your own bedroom. Begin by grounding and centering. Do not go any further until you are fully relaxed and clear of purpose.
In order to access the Otherworld, you must part the Mists of Manannán. Water symbolizes the mind, and the depths of the sea represent the vast depths of the unconscious mind. When parting the Mists, I find it helpful to visualize myself in a boat upon a calm sea. Gradually the boat moves into a fog that becomes thicker and thicker. I then will the Mists to part, granting me access to the Isle of Avalon, the gateway to the Otherworld.
The way to enter the Otherworld is to begin by knowing you are already there. Consider the purpose of your journey here, and ask your spirit guides to help you to the proper thread to find the answers you seek. When you have completed your journey, ask for their help and guidance on the journey home.
In this section, we will go into depth about how to use Vision Seeking for specific purposes. Such journeys require a great deal of energy, and therefore require a great deal of preparation. Before undertaking your first journey, you should have a good basic grasp of all of the forms of meditation of the Moon Path. Don’t use shamanic journeying lightly. If there is another way to seek knowledge, such as divination or research, attempt it first before stepping into the Otherworld. If you find that all other possibilities have been exhausted, then proceed with caution. Remember that these journeys require entering into sacred space, and never attempt such a quest for trivial matters.
Shamanic journeying should only be attempted when a major change is required. For our purposes, undertaking your first journey as a means of initiation into the Way of the Druid could itself be considered a major change, so this activity should be considered a sacred rite of passage. You are taking your first steps into the larger world.
Before beginning, ask yourself these questions. If, after answering them, you still feel that the journey is necessary, then follow the recommendations below.
- Who do I hope to meet on this journey?
- What knowledge is required in order complete the journey?
- What knowledge do I hope to bring back?
- Am I going into the past or the future, or some other place in the present?
- Where is it that I hope to go?
- How will the knowledge that I hope to bring back help me to create the change I need?
- Why is it important that I partake of this journey at this particular time?
If you have answered all of these questions and feel that the journey is necessary, then, if possible, undertake a period of preparation for the journey. The traditional period of preparation is three days and three nights, but if there is a sense of urgency of purpose, this time period may be shortened. If it is possible to do three days of preparation, spend the time in meditation. Call upon your Gods and Goddesses and your animal guides to share their wisdom with you as you prepare for the journey.
As you spend time preparing for the journey, watch for signs and omens that your spirit guides and Gods and Goddesses are ready to render assistance. For example, if your Matron Goddess is the Morrigan, pay particular to any ravens you may see or hear during your period of preparation. Or if your animal totem is the dragonfly, watch for any signs of dragonflies during this time. Keep a notebook or sketchpad beside your bed, and record your dreams immediately upon waking, especially if your dreams have anything to do with symbols or signs of a divine nature. Know the plants, animals and symbols that are sacred to your particular Gods and Goddesses, and watch for them all during your preparatory period. If you do not receive any messages at all from them, do not attempt a spirit journey until you do.
The First Threshold
There are three basic parts to any spirit journey: The Mists of Manannán, Caer Arianrhod (The Spiral Castle), and The Silver Web. The Mists of Manannán is the first threshold. As you part the mists, you are leaving the familiar world of shapes and forms and crossing over into the boundaries of the Otherworld. From another perspective, you are leaving your conscious mind and entering the collective unconscious shared by all living things. You are leaving your familiar self behind and transitioning between worlds and selves. You have separated from the world you currently occupy, and have begun to enter potential new worlds. This can sometimes be a dark and frightening place to be if you have never experienced it before, but by parting the mists you have demonstrated your willingness to transform yourself by seeking new knowledge and experience.
On your first spirit journey, the road may be difficult. Leaving the world of the familiar can be challenging. It may be easy to lose focus. Forces may rise up to hinder you. If this happens, simply return to your intention in undertaking the journey, and begin anew. Remember that when you return, you will not be the same person who left on this journey. It is the nature of spirit journeys to transform the traveler into a new being. If you are prepared for this transformation, nothing can stop you. If you are not prepared, then you should cease the journey until you are.
The Second Threshold
The second threshold is Caer Arianrhod, or the Castle of the Welsh Moon Goddess Arianrhod. The Aurora Borealis was seen as this spiral castle in the times of the ancient Celts, and it is an apt metaphor. Just as the Aurora winks in and out of existence in the night sky, Caer Arianrhod is a place between two worlds. It is the home of the Silver Web and Arianrhod’s inner chamber. As you climb its silver stairs, feel yourself departing this world and entering into the realm of the divine. Visualize its shimmering steps taking you deeper and deeper to that timeless place at the center of all things. With each step, you draw nearer to the Goddess Arianrhod, Mother of All.
As you enter into Arianrhod’s inner chamber, you are in the presence of the archetype of motherhood and nurturing. Here there is no animosity, no judgment. Here there is only unconditional love. As you enter her presence, you will come to realize that she is not an entity separate from yourself. She is you, and you are she. She is the living symbol of the One Soul that is all of us, and as you enter her chamber, you have become her.
In the presence of such unconditional love, it may be easy to become aware of your own shortcomings, and upon first meeting the Goddess, you may be tempted to feel unworthy or somehow lacking. If this happens, remember that the temptations of a fleshy existence are a by-product of living in the physical realm. Indulgences in feelings of guilt or shame are themselves simply more temptations to take the focus off of experiencing her unconditional love. Such feelings block the experience of oneness with the Goddess. If they occur, sit quietly in her presence until they subside, and you are finally able to achieve unity with her.
When you have become the Goddess, all worlds are open to you.
The Third Threshold
When you have become the Goddess, you will find yourself sitting at the center of the Silver Web. The Silver Web is made up of the strands of probability that lead to all places and all times, and therefore to all knowledge. The center of this web is a place without place, and a time without time, because it exists outside of place and time. In order to experience time and place, you must follow one of its silver strands. At the center of the web is no life, and all life. It is a place of pure consciousness. It is a place of transformation from one existence to another. In order to follow a strand on the web, you must cease to be who you are, and become someone else. Yet paradoxically, at the same time you must come to the realization that all the strands of this web are merely infinite manifestations of the One Soul of which you are a part. So in another sense you are not becoming anyone different. In fact, it would be impossible to become anyone different, since you are the only soul in existence. By following a strand on the web, you are merely trading one set of experiences for another. Once the journey is done, you will be free to return to the experiences you occupy in this present life.
The Gift of Knowledge
As you follow the silver thread of new experience, remain open to the lessons this journey has to teach you. Absorb the knowledge without judgment or fear. Allow it to enter into you and become a part of your being, transforming your own silver thread by its presence. When you arrive at your destination, allow its images to fill your mind. Do not try to hinder or force the experience in any way. Soak it up like a sponge. What do you see there? What do you hear? What scents come to you in this realm? What do you taste there? What is the emotional quality of the experience? Are there any spirit guides there to help you, or are you alone? What is the message you need to take back with you?
It may help to view this journey as being allowed to drink from Cerridwen’s cauldron of inspiration. As you take her magic brew into yourself, you transform into a new creature. This is the purpose of your quest. Once you have tasted this elixir, you may never go back to the way things were before. You have become a wiser being.
When you have achieved your goal, you may be tempted to stay. It is a powerful experience to know that all knowledge is available to you if you have the time and the patience to absorb it all. It is also tempting to stay in the presence of unconditional love that is to be found at the center of the Silver Web. For this reason, apprentice shamans are usually guided by a mentor who can gently remind them to return if need be.
If this happens to you, remember that others need the knowledge you have gained. We are all journeying together so that we may eventually become the one all-knowing entity embodied in the union of the God and the Goddess. Every bit of knowledge that can be added to our collective experience is one step closer to our journey towards divinity. It may also help to remember that here in this place life and death have no meanings. At the center of the Silver Web, we are all one. What has happened before will happen again. Here is the balance between the spiritual and the material. At the center, we realize that they are one and the same. So by returning to this present life, you are not losing the presence of unconditional love to be found in Caer Arianrhod. You are taking it with you.
When you have returned from your spirit journey, you have become the master of both worlds. When you have seen the Otherworld, you will learn that death holds no meaning. Death is just a transition to another life and another state of being. The freedom that this knowledge imparts is the freedom to live fully and without fear, with no regrets about the past or anxiety about the future.