It was a long journey for me, if not in miles then in experience between the Black Hills of South Dakota and the peaks of the high Rocky Mountains. I had little to do with magickal ceremony on that journey, forces were at work in my soul and I wrote almost incessantly. I greatly enjoyed my travel but it was the new found discovery of my returning spirit that lit me up the most during the next few weeks. After my great vision while lost and sick in the wide plains I had much to concentrate on, not least the meaning behind it. I have deliberately skipped over the vision in the last chapter as I have reproduced the full account elsewhere.
I realised pretty quickly that my spirit had returned to me and also that it had been away in the first place. I felt somewhat incomplete still and I knew that I would have to perform an act of magick in order to fully restore the bond between myself and my spirit, it seemed an exciting prospect. Recovering as I was from a ravaging illness I felt otherworldly and new again, as if I was pregnant with my new life and awaiting its birth. I prepared myself for the coming work by resting in several towns, not least Sweetgrass, Helena and Sioux Falls. It was in Helena that I attempted to enter the otherworld and seek out my lost soul but this work failed, not catastrophically but failed and I realised that it was too soon. I journeyed on and arrived in Alberta on a bright new morning to be reunited with my old and dear friend, Stew. It was a fine meeting, but soon I was left in Banff to begin assimilating my life and carving out a niche for the winter. This was easy among such wholesome and genuine people and I soon found a job that was neither taxing or time consuming. I set about walking the paths near my new home and pretty quickly discovered some secret places, not least the cave high up on Sulphur Mountain where I could go to meditate or commune with such nature spirits as would do so with me.
I wrote a great deal of poetry and even more about the discoveries my spirit had made on its journeys away from my physical being which came creeping into my awareness through dreams and frequent waking visions. Then, as a piece of luck, I was asked to go higher up into the mountains and look after a small youth hostel on a thin ridge - it was highly sparse and existence was a rough grapple each day but there were very few guests at that time of year and the afternoons and evenings were my own to do with as I pleased. Needless to say I wasted little time in preparing two temples, one inside the hostel in a deserted bunk room and one in a clearing a few hundred yards outside. The temperatures were typically I5-20 degrees below zero falling to 30 or so at night but I banked a fire in my outer temple and was able to sit relatively comfortably beside it each evening. It was during one of my many rituals here that I became aware that it was time to delve into the otherworld and seek out the spirits again:
I went out to the temple at I0.20pm and began by visualising a protective circle. I fuelled the fire so that it would last and began meditating while staring into the flickering flames. The coyote that has visited the fire each of the last three nights did not turn up. I opened the working and called forth the four watchers. Then my underworld vision began. I climbed down the long trunk of the world tree and deep into the earth until I entered the Realm Below. Unlike my other times here it was wooded and hilly and I found myself in the shadows of great mountains that projected down into the world. I sensed that this was a very old and undisturbed part of the underworld. Though I looked for him i saw no sign of my companion, Elan and it was several minutes before I had any idea which path to follow through the great boles of the trees. Then I glimpsed movement and a fleeting sight of a female figure - a slight but tall girl with bright blue hair who smiled and flitted away. Not knowing if I was doing right I followed and she led me further into the trees and away from the more obvious trail. As I entered a glen with a small pool and a stream flowing into it she vanished and I was alone.
The forest felt, oddly, not at all like America but more like England. I saw birds and squirrels in the birch and oak trees but no other creatures. Then I heard something in the undergrowth ahead of me and inexplicably my heart began to race. I gave chase. I'd love to be able to say that the hunt was dramatic but I'm afraid it was anything but. I heard the creature (which I guessed to be about the size of a small dog) come out from the bushes and I saw it for the first time scrambling over some rocks to a small pool from which a tiny stream flowed. it sat and waited for me and I sat beside it on the rock. She was a little otter and her nose twitched almost comically as she sniffed at me. She crawled a little closer and climbed onto my leg, I could feel her claws and it was a wonderful feeling, a wild creature not being scared of me. Then she climbed up my arm and chest and on to my shoulder, sniffing all the time. As she climbed over me she began to run faster and faster until I could no longer see her as she whirled around me. faster and faster and I began to feel dizzy which is not a sensation I enjoy. Then she was gone, slipped inside my neck and into me. (I am aware that this a strange sensation to convey but that is the best description I can give of what happened). I fell over backwards and cracked my head on the rock.
I came to, looking up and around. There were markings in the bark of most of the trees and I vowed to remember them when I returned. Then I saw movement by the pool, there was another little otter drinking the dark waters and she stopped as she winded me. Then there was a moment of recognition and I had the sudden feeling that she was the same entity as I had seen a while ago as the blue haired girl. We spent some time together, her running around the pool, occasionally sniffing me and maybe only once actually climbing over me again. I had the conviction that no further great event was to take place but that we would meet again many times in visions and dreams in the future. When I came to it was to find myself back beside my fire with my vision over. I sat silently for a few moments then made my farewells to the four quarters and closed the ceremony with another banishing ritual. On leaving the circle having re-absorbed its energy I saw the coyote sitting looking at me from the trees. Though I was anxious to get inside and record my visions I stopped to feed him some leftovers. He ate hungrily and we sat together in silence by the remains of the fire for maybe ten minutes before he bade me goodnight and departed.
From my diary:
"It's clear that this vision is the confirmation that I had reconnected my spirit and was being welcomed back on its return by the moments I shared with the wild coyote. I feel absolutely elated! I am new and whole and I will now celebrate the rest of the night with wine and a star filled sky as my companions. The wanderer in my own desolation I am no more!"
I felt truly blessed for the first time in many years. The darkness had faded from my life and I was young and new and whole once again, it was a good many weeks before I really took on board the knowledge that my great work and journey, far from being over, was only just beginning . . . . .