Last night (Friday) I participated in a Reclaiming Witchcraft Tradition inspired ritual. The culminating activity was a trance journey in which each of us traveled to our safe place and then toward healing in whatever form it might take. When I set out on my journey I felt drawn toward deep earth energies. As the facilitators guided us toward safety I found myself in a cave, dark and cool. I lay curled at its lowest central point looking up toward the short, narrow entrance into the sun’s rays peeking through the leafy green canopy of a wooded area. This was not at all where I typically find myself on any given trance journey. My confusion permeated the safe space but did not detract from its safety.
I stood and climbed to the cave’s opening. My footing was unsure. There was mud and slick rock all around. Anxiety hit me. My heart pounded in my chest. My breath was short and shallow. I was afraid of falling, of getting dirty, of sliding down. My feet didn’t seem connected to the ground. My mind was raising, pondering everything but the earth beneath my feet. Periodically my arms thrashed about as I tried to regain my balance. With great effort I was able to exist the cave mouth. I was anxious but I knew the path the healing. Inwardly I cried for help. I felt a figure’s presence behind me to my left. With frustration and sadness in my voice, before he could speak, I thanked him and told him that I know that I need to do this on my own.
I followed the forest path, sloping steeply downward. It was muddy which made it very slick. I struggled to stay upright. Anxiety consumed me every step of the way. I grabbed at saplings, large rocks, tree trunks, anything that would keep me from falling. I fell anyway and each time I struggled to my feet, wobbly as they were. I could feel my aching back, my sore muscles, my shallow breath. I continued to walk forward and down, forward and down across slick rock. I kept imagining slipping and dying on the rocks with no one any the wiser that I’d ended in this beautiful and deadly place. I concentrated on each step across the slick rock. I was trying to get to her, the one who would help heal me. I could sense her there deep in the rock cavern behind the sparkling waterfall. I wobbled with each step. I nearly fell more than once. Every minute I felt like I was taking my life into my own hands. Some feel empowered by that sort of thing; I was just scared as hell. I pressed forward anyway.
I found her there in the cavern behind the rock. She was covered in clay, moss, and dried tree branches. Everything about her energy read as Healing Earth. I stood before her suddenly naked and I was in tears. She looked at me, almost through me. She seemed to see my life force and subtle energy bodies rather than my face. Once she’d assessed me she reached out and began covering me with clay. She covered every inch of me and whispered of the need to draw out toxins. At the nape of my neck she massaged and breathed and cast out coiled foulness from who knows what source. As she continued to spread the clay I sank to the ground. I rested there and let her work. I felt more stable, both physically and emotionally, on the ground in full body contact with the Earth. Why had I not thought of this before! I rolled a bit and accumulated mud to accompany the clay on my skin. With the last swish of clay from her hands and onto my skin she smiled at me and sent me on my way.
Serpent energy rose in me and I slithered out of the Cavern Behind the Waterfall. Covered in clay and mud as I moved along the ground I felt moss and mud and leaves squish and crackle beneath me. Slowly I writhed back up the slope toward my home cave. On the way I realized that all this time I’ve been too far from the Earth. If I hold her she will hold me. The Healer’s medicine was potent and simple: get closer to the Earth in every way and she will detox and support me. I continued to slither through the muddy places that had caused me such great anxiety before. Calmly I let the full width of my being slide across and revel within the formerly troublesome places. The serpent in me was in heaven. Slowly I glided back into my home cave and curled up at the center again. The confusion was gone. The anxiety was gone. And I was never so glad to be covered in Earth as I was in that moment.
Hail the Earth, and hail the Healer, and hail the Serpent within and without!