Originally published at Ekunyi's Embers. You can comment here or there.
Note: This may be a little more “woo” than previous posts, which have focused largely on ritual with occasional mention of interaction with the gods. If you do not believe in journeying/traveling/astral projection, that is fine, but I ask that you read this with an open mind, as these experiences are quite real to me.
If you’ve been following this journal at all, you’ll know that Bast has been in my life as long as I’ve had any sort of connection to what I now refer to as the Unseen. I have called her (at least) two other names over the years: Kyana, my imaginary black “panther” friend in childhood, and Black Leopard/Jaguar Woman, one of my main guides through meditative journeying as an adolescent, who took second fiddle only to Great Horned Owl. As Set pushes me to change for the future, Bast calls me to remember and grow from my past, and a substantial portion of what She asks of me necessitates the return to journeying in earnest. I hope to record some of those experiences here, though more personal matters may be relegated to protected posts on my dreamwidth.
For many who journey, having some sort of “base” if you will, a place where you slip between worlds, a safe(r) space to begin your travels, is key. Mine has shifted dramatically from when I first began, when I had the focus to actually “build,” stone by stone, a temple. I carved statues in my mind to honor my primary teachers, shifted the architecture to include impressive columns and a reflective pool in the center. Perhaps my adolescent self had some need of the grandiose, I don’t know.
At a particularly low point in my life, I began a journey in this space and almost immediately the world around me began to shake and groan. The ground ruptured, tearing apart years of work and building. When it finally finished I sat, stunned, amidst the rubble. It was only when two of my guides, twin green mambas, found me that I was able to rise and move away from what had been. I remember walking and walking to the point where I almost lost focus, couldn’t keep the hold any longer, until I found a small round fruit. I picked it up, and it melted in my hand, revealing a seed at the core. The snakes coiled around my neck, a small comfort. The next journey saw me following Great Horned Owl across the ocean until we found a small island. I planted the seed, and the tree that would become my new starting space, my “heart tree” grew, flowered, and thrived.
On September 11th of last year, I tried to go back. The results were… dramatic. I’ll share an excerpt of what I wrote following the experience:
“Almost instantly [after beginning the journey] I saw Great Horned Owl (GHO) over me, an orb of lightning (blackish sphere, with silver lightning bouncing around inside, the way my personal energy usually feels when I do energy work) in her talons. She took off almost immediately into the sky which is when I realized it was raining.
I tried to follow, couldn’t. Tried again, she was going farther away, would not wait. Then I realized there was a golden hawk with me, blazing through the rain, to my other side. He did wait, helped, encouraged, waited for my body to lift out of itself, and flew above me the entire time, holding tight to me as I struggled to focus on something, anything, and we kept up with GHO together, until she landed on a far too familiar tree. My tree, my old heart tree, dead, withered, on its island, water polluted around it. I tried to land on the branch next to her, promptly fell off. … I was able to climb the tree. Settling beside her and the golden hawk (I now think, maybe Heru-wer?) I gave thanks as the golden hawk took off and left us behind. I looked to her, expecting something, but she merely looked skywards and I watched as a huge bolt of lightning came from the sky and set my tree on fire.
I freaked out. This was MY TREE, dead though it has been for the past number of years every time I had struggled to visit it in a brief, meditative effort. Now it was burning, and GHO was taking off again, still carrying the lightning orb. The lightning flashed again, only this time in slow motion, and it just sort of stayed, branched out, a writhing, electrified bridge into the heavens.
… The tree is burning from the bottom up, there’s smoke, the rain doesn’t seem to be putting it out, and the only course available to me is to walk on *lightning.*
Booming voice, from a disembodied source above me, which I recognized as my divined father, Set — “Since when is my Daughter afraid of my hand?”
I had to laugh at that, and fighting to stay focused with so much going on in my mental view, stepped out onto the lightning bridge. It solidified at my touch, becoming a glowing white stairwell that eventually sort of vanished from visibility once I passed the cloud cover. Here I had to just keep going, not look down or panic. Fear sent me tumbling towards a now-very-distant earth, confidence kept me walking — literally — on air.
Once I mastered my fear (after a few very near splats) I caught up with GHO again, on top of a cliff. The lightning orb condensed into itself, and became a small seed. I looked at it and her for a moment, briefly confused, then [took the seed]. I dug into the soil on the clifftop until my hands were bleeding, and planted the seed. Almost immediately a new, living, healthy tree sprung forth. GHO took her place amongst the branches, field mouse came springing out from between the roots, a buck nodded his approval as he emerged from sort of a mist that extended farther along the land ahead. Then black leopard woman/Bast came forward, first as a dark-skinned woman, then just *was* a huge black cat, no shifting involved. She raked her claws down the side of the tree, and rubbed her mouth on it, not to hurt it, but to mark it, stake a claim on this new place.
I climbed up into its branches, felt it pulsing with life beneath me. I found GHO and sat with her awhile, struggling greatly now to keep focused. She told me I had not disappointed her, but that I must move forward, must practice, as I was about to lose my ability to stay here.”
Since this experience, I’ve done nothing in journey but practice. Bast has set me to the task of visiting the tree once a week, tending to its needs, nothing more. I show up, I place my hands on the rough bark and give thanks that it is still there. I root out insects that would eat it from the inside, I trim branches that are dying, and I nourish the earth around its roots with energy. I take note of creatures that have taken up residence, the birds, the rodents, the helpful insects.
Last week, Bast told me that my next task is to identify it. To know the tree, and thus know a little more of myself as it was born of my energy. I’ve not yet accomplished this: my knowledge of flora is extremely limited. Also, quite frankly, it is a struggle for me to stay still. To put so much effort into visualizing a single thing in detail, rather than wandering around a somewhat blurred world on various adventures and lessons. I feel a little like Bast is pulling a Mr. Miyagi, “What does ‘wax on wax off’ have to do with my own skills at journeying?” Indeed, my own doubt makes me wonder if it *is* a tree that exists on this side, but Bast seems to think it is, and so I’ll do my best. Examine the leaves, the bark, the flowering portions. See what the tree has “to say.” Trust that there’s something substantial to be gained from this.