Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Spaces In-Between

At the height of summer the land around us is dense and thick with green leaves, blossoms, and ripening fruits and vegetables. Multiple scents swirl through the air vying for dominance as their pheromones call out to the animal world, which is active and in motion around us whether we choose to take notice of it or not. This season becomes a cycle of long hot days followed by brief cool nights. But even as the length of day changes, the constant remains that in-between night and day comes dawn and between day and night comes dusk.
In my spirituality I do a lot of work that some would call dark, concerning edgewalking, shadow work and shapeshifting. It involves exploring energetic boundaries and manipulating them, reshaping them as well as walking between worlds. It is dark work, in the sense that magic is both light and dark and I embrace both sides of it, not just the ones that feel safe. In order to do this kind of otherworld work you have to believe 100%- not 99.9%- that it’s possible. It requires faith and an acceptance in more than what you can see.
The labyrinth is a good metaphor for how I seem my work. You go inward, into the unknown and into the darkness to learn what lies at the center, at the core. And then you return from the darkness into the light, filled with the wisdom, illuminated. You have to go inward before you can go outward. What happens in between in and out? What happens at the center? This is where the magic lies.
In the physical labyrinth, we walk the spaces between the walls. To walk the labyrinth is to find yourself in-between. To shift edges, you find the space that lies between cells and expand or shrink it. To do healing, you find the space between the edge of the trauma and the edge of the healthy tissue/organ/thought. To reach trance you find the silence between the drum beats and you dive into it. You peer into it and you push.
My spirituality is how I worked towards changing the way I thought about myself and the world. First I had to dismember all of the reasons I felt I was not a good person and heal my core. You have to walk into the darkness to do this work. Then once I could stand firmly in my body, I looked at how the world was, how I related to it and then how it related to me.
Like Malidoma Patrice Somé, a spiritual teacher of the Dagara people of Africa, I had to unlearn the structure of my Western teachings in order to expand the way my brain was able to see the world. I would say that my work is about facing my fears as a means of healing to become a more solid version of myself, so that I may guide others on their paths of growth and evolution.

One of the tools I use to accomplish this work is a trance which can be done at dawn or dusk, at the in-between times of the day. These periods are of the transition, the shifting of light into darkness and occur during the point of grey haze of mid-time. This happens when the landscape seems to lose the intensity of color and everything begins to fuzz and blur. This is the magic time that connects the sun and moon, the day and night. As light and shadow can shift, something we can see, so can and does energy, though it is something we can’t see.
I do this gloaming trance as a means of connecting more deeply to nature, specifically the land around me. In the beginning, like with anything you don’t know how to do, it was more an exercise in sitting still and not letting the buzzing bugs pull me from meditation than it was in exploration. I could have given up when I decided it wasn’t working for me, but I thought of the Buddhist monks and the Catholic Nuns and their repetitive devotion and I pressed onward. Four years later, I can slip easily into and out of that space.
You have to practice anything you want to be good at.
I find a place at an edge of water, of woods, of fire. Somewhere visible the landscape changes. As the daylight fades (I prefer dusk trance), I let my eyes soften their focus until I can see everything, but no one thing is clear. And then I find another in-between space, like the shadow between two distant tree trunks. I find that shadow and I peer into it, deepening it. And then I follow the journey to where it takes me, not allowing anything to pull my focus from the exploration.
I came to myself from trance, this last holiday, under a dark moon in a field surrounded by woods and water. I felt myself become more part of the forest until I was no longer me, the human, visiting the trees. Rather, I became a creature of the woods. My energetic body stretched like roots and all at once I could feel the breeze brush against bark and the skitter of small critter paws scurrying across earth. Everything was glowing slightly luminescent.
When I began the trance, I was a woman sitting in a field. When I returned I was a human animal living on the earth with glowing fireflies, mosquito-eating bats, bat-evading gnats, hooting barred owls, fluttering dragonflies and damselflies, beautiful red-spotted purple butterflies, persistent hickory tussock moth caterpillars, the croaking frogs and cheeping peepers.
In that small space of land we have seen the large murder of crows that roost nearby dive-bombing hunters shooting at them, beavers building dams, scuttling skunks scavenging, baby raccoons kitten-walking into the elder bush, coy dogs hunting, catfish swimming, hummingbirds feeding and a great blue heron nesting and fishing. Every time I trance I am reminded of the surety of my humble place in this world. Each time it is a more comfortable truth.
I listened to the sounds of the crows conversing and calling and laughing as they roosted at dusk and roused their brethren at dawn. I listened to the sounds of the world waking and sleeping and waited for the moment between, as the crow cawed. I slipped in, knowing I would come out renewed.

Relevant Posts:
Malidoma Patrice Somé: Supernatural and Science (posted July 20, 2011)

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