February 11, 2022

 The past week or so has been pretty quiet on the Imaginal front, largely because my experience has been focused on the physical world and my place within it. I’ve realized that I have given enough focus to the internal and now it’s time to focus on the external world. I can’t remember if I went into this in my entry on Feb 2, 2022 but I really wrestled with my super ego and entrenched ego. I saw that I’ve been too closed, too rejecting of the outside world. Too ready to dismiss it as fucked up and holding nothing of interest to me anymore.


This is not healthy. It’s perpetuating the same split I’ve been railing against in the Imaginal and it’s a closed, rather than open, position. If I’ve learned anything over the past many years, it’s that the heart’s natural state is one of openness. Love is open and free and seeks to join, not close off or reject. This attitude needs to be allowed both when working with the inner realms and the outer world. I’ve been closed off for too long.


I have been playing with staying open, not going along with my super ego, and it’s slow work. I don’t expect everything to change overnight but I am making small changes here and there and expect that they will bring me in contact with some new and important situations. I need to allow myself to be challenged and the only way that will happen is if I remain open and curious.


Anyway, this morning I didn’t expect to meet anything from the Imaginal but after only a few minutes of sitting, I ‘saw’ that I was standing at the edge of a vast and ancient forest. Beside me were two minders. I would say that they were guides and maybe they were but they also had the feeling of being there to make sure I only went where I was invited. I wasn’t offended by this, just curious. Whoever they were, they weren’t human. And they were covered. I can’t tell what they looked like because they were cloaked from head to toe in some sort of drape. It was sort of like a shroud but didn’t feel like something used to wrap dead people. It was almost like burlap, obviously made from natural fibers. And there appeared to be a pattern painted over the fabric.


I bowed to the forest and to the two guides and we stepped into the forest. It was a primeval kind of place, ancient beyond years and filled with enormous, moss-covered trees that were so tall that I could not see the canopy. The light inside was green, tinged here and there with shafts of golden sunlight. It was beautiful but not exactly welcoming nor did it feel tranquil. I felt like an interloper and also like there was something wrong with the place.


The guides led me a short way into the forest where we were met by the guardian spirit of the place. Even though I bowed to him, this spirit was openly hostile to me and seemed to bear a grudge of some sort. I didn’t take it personally, though. I suspected that the grudge was against humans in general, not me specifically.


The being reminded me of ‘the gentleman of thistle down hair’ in the book, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. It’s not that he looked like the man is described in the book, rather he reminded me a scene in the book where a human is attacked by the ‘man with thistle down hair,’ his body being taken over by creeping, thorny vines that grow through his flesh, piercing and killing him. This being was like a cross between a plant and animal, its ‘skin’ a writhing mass of vines covering a beating heart filled with blood. It appeared monstrous, if you haven’t gotten that impression from reading this. And, like I mentioned, it did not want me there.


Attacking me almost immediately, one of its vine lashed out and sliced open my ‘cheek’. I felt ‘blood’ flowing from the wound as well as physical pain (not a lot but still some pain.) It seems like there’s a tradition of blood-letting in some of my Imaginal journeys. The beings I meet occasionally demand blood sacrifice and I get the sense that my ‘blood’ is important in some way. Like it needs to be spilled in order for things to move forward. It’s given me a whole new appreciation for blood sacrifice, realizing that it does need to be physical blood that is spilled. It’s better, right? And more humane - this spilling of Imaginal blood which doesn’t cause harm.


The vine that lashed out at me quickly grew up through my cheek and soon my whole ‘body’ was being ravaged by these creeping, thorny vines in much the same way as the poor sod in the book I mentioned earlier. The difference was that the pain was minimal and I was unharmed. I simply allowed the vines to take over. Soon, they had grown into a large tree around me and I was merged with it, my ‘body’ being locked inside its heartwood. The blood from my body was pulsing through the tree from its crown to its roots.


It was then that I understood better why the forest seemed off and also why the forest spirit hated me. The roots of the tree and all of the trees in the forest grew atop a pile of moldering bones, human bones to be precise. The flesh from the bones had long ago rotted away but rather than breaking down into organic matter like happens in the physical world, these corpses did not break down into nutrients. Instead, they broke down into black sludge of some sort. The water and soil beneath the forest was filled with this sludge. It bathed the bones and tree roots, making the ground feel slippery and precarious. The tree roots did not grow into the sludge and instead sort of enveloped it. It was like the pile of bones was so massive and unstable that it could topple the trees in the forest at any moment.


Desecration.


That is the word that the forest spirit was screaming at me.


Desecration.


The humans had desecrated the forest.


I’m not exactly sure how, whether it was through our ignorance or our open pillaging of natural resources. It sort of doesn’t matter because the desecration happened and continues to happen with very little effort put into redressing past wrongs or trying to make things better. In short, we humans have never atoned for our ‘sins’ against the forest, against nature, and we all pay the price for this.


Human disregard and desecration has caused a deep rift with nature and nature has been altered. Nature, however, is powerless to do anything about it. Such is the nature of, well, of nature. That doesn’t mean that all is forgiven, though.


As I felt, by way of the tree roots, into the desecrated soil, another being appeared. She seemed familiar in some way and I may have met her before in previous trips to the Imaginal. Her purpose was clear: She was there to dig into the black muck and retrieve the bones of the dead. She approached her work with breathtaking determination and compassion, being completely devoted to the human souls. She threw herself into the pit and wallowed around in the black muck, pulling the bones and skulls of the dead to her and holding them lovingly. She appeared as a being of pure, radiant, silvery white light and in no way averse to getting down and dirty in the muck. I noticed, however, that it didn’t stick to her.


The forest spirit and I watched her with a sense of astonishment and awe. I was still firmly encased in the heartwood of the tree and could nothing but stare and the spirit was dumbstruck by what he was witnessing. Clearly, it had never occurred to him to approach the bones of the dead with compassion and tenderness. He didn’t try to stop her, though; he merely watched her with growing astonishment.


I knew there was nothing for me to do. Really, there’s never anything for me to do beyond bowing to the entities I meet and allowing the scene to unfold and show me what needs to be seen. My role is to bear witness with an open heart. I’m not actually neutral because my heart does respond, often forcefully, to what I behold but there is nothing to be done.


Gradually, the female spirit’s efforts succeeded and she managed to root out the bones stuck in the black muck. In gathering the lost souls to her, she freed them and soon they had departed, leaving the forest entirely. This left me alone with my two minders and the forest spirit who underwent a transformation as soon as the ‘woman’ left with the souls. Now rather than a spirit encased in climbing tendrils and thorny vines, he appeared as a faun or satyr. Lively and youthful and full of happiness, he danced around the glade. His happiness was contagious and the reason for it was clear: He had his forest back and it was no longer polluted and defiled; it was whole and pure and primeval once again.


In looking at him, I realized he could simultaneously appear as a being of any age, sometimes youthful, sometimes mature, sometimes ancient.


Soon, it was time for my minders to remove me from the forest, a task they performed with gladness. I got the sense that their attitude toward me had not changed as a result of anything that had happened. And I still have no idea who they are because I could not see beneath the fabric cloaking their forms.


One possible takeaway from these experiences is that splitting is not simply a primitive ego defense mechanism but it could also manifest in any number of ways in the spiritual realms. So, the discord and division we experience here in the human world may ‘follow’ us to the spiritual realms and need to be worked through there just as much as it needs to be worked through here in the temporal plane.


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