During this seasonal period of transition, my mind turns inward and I begin the difficult work of shinning light into the dark neglected corners of my being where clutter and cobwebs gather to choke off progress. At this time of year, when the days hold on to the warmth of summer but the nights bring chill serpentine autumn breezes to drive the warm times away, I try very hard to ride the cool whirling winds into the places within me that cling to the past. This season brings many opportunities to harness the energies of transition in order to upset the settled, disquiet the calm, and basically rock the boat a bit. With any luck Transition will lead to Change will lead to Transformation.
Hopes for a little “TCT” recently led me to do some inner work. I ended up using meditation and visualization to access my subconscious sea and then trance to immerse myself once I found the best port. Essentially, I wanted to more actively engage the “stuff” lying just beneath the surface of my psyche. So, what I did was sit comfortably on my couch. I then grounded and centered, connecting to the currents of energy that flow to and from both Earth and Sky. I tend to favor a tree image for my grounding and centering but sometimes it takes on a slightly different character. It just depends on my state of mind/feeling at the time. After I was thoroughly grounded and centered, I cleansed and purified the space and myself, established sacred space, and called upon a guide for the journey. I had an idea of who I wanted to facilitate the journey for me but I thought it was important to ask who felt called to the work. Sure enough, the guide who came was not the guide I expected. In thanks for his assistance, I made a delicious, meaty offering.
With guide in company, I entered into a trance state by swaying, droning a deep note, and breathing rhythmically. I have found that rhythmic movement (i.e. swaying) helps me to drop into a trance a little more easily. The sway is usually gentle but noticeable. I think its the shifting sense of balance or rather the lack of it that lulls me into trance. With droning, for me the key is resonance. The more the sound resonates in my chest cavity the easier it is for me to shift consciousness. And of course slow, rhythmic breathing is an age old trick, but breathing alone takes longer for me. I have found that combining techniques gets the job done a lot better.
Once I was in trance, connected with my guide, and in the middle of a very vivid “scene” cobbled together from various elements in my subconsciousness, a few characteristics of the experience stood out for me. Firstly, I was an “external” observer at various points during the experience. First-person awareness of my surroundings would give way to OBE-type episodes. I think that the “external observer” perspective was important because it allowed me to get inside of issues I was keeping my distance from and to gain some distance from issues I was too deeply entrenched within. The second interesting element was the “characters” in the vision. Certain elements of my personality and emotionality were personified. So for example, my fear had her air time, my sense of adventure came tearing down the road (quite literally a street) that ran through the middle of the scene. The part of me that loathes transition and resists change kept company with “demons” (in this case, personal vices) in a grove adjacent to the main road. These were all invaluable glimpses because they allowed me to see many core issues that I have been minimizing or just plain ignoring over the years.
The experience was fairly intense and it took some time to process everything, but I am better for it I think. I have a clarity that i did not quite expect, nor did I expect that clarity to come quite as quickly as it did. It was like the subconscious concerns just needed to be acknowledged so that awareness could start to percolate through to the conscious level and stimulate change. And some psycho-emotional changes definitely did come. The experience stirred a few minimized or buried feelings and also frayed some nerves later on.
This process was more different than the standard introspection in which I typically engage. With introspection, the logical/rational mind is more involved in the process. And when it is not quite as involved, I usually have some say over when and how the logical mind gives way to allow for more access to raw, subconscious feelings, urges, desires, etc. In this particular inward turning process, I bypassed a larger chuck of my logical mind than I expected. I was actually scared (among other things) inside my own head! Had I not had a guide, I might have come out more frazzled than I was.
So, with this experience under my belt, there are some things I would do differently. Firstly, I would make sure that I was in a better emotional place than I was. I thought I had come down off of the emotional roller coaster than preceded this Work; I was wrong. Lesson learned: real and verifiable emotional soundness is important before doing heavy inner work. That does not mean that the experience won’t kick stuff up inside of you, but it may be easier to handle if you are as stable as possible before even starting. Second bit of advise: inner work is not predictable, you may end up in a corner of your psyche you were not prepared for. Don’t panic. Work with your guide. If you have a particularly *clears throat* “difficult” psyche you might want to have a friend physically present who you can process with and/or work closely with a psychotherapist before delving into the magical aspects of inner work. On a related note, my third point: inner work is often shadow work, be ready to not be ready, be prepared for the dark. A part of that preparedness is being a good judge of your psycho-emotional state before you begin, having a trusted friend who will help you process things, and/or having a connection with a therapist or other mental health professional.
What are my next steps? Well, I plan to heed my own recommendations during my next walk down the inner road. Also, to sate my curiosity, I want to do some additional research to find out how other Pagans, Witches, and other practitioners use ritual, energy work, and magic to navigate the inner dark.