May 29, 2023

 These Imaginal journeys almost always surprise me. Today, I was meditating and not intending to ‘travel’ at all when I realized I was staring into a wide, soft brown eye. It blinked and I was dazzled by the golden depths of the iris. I knew this eye belonged to an animal, not a human. Sure enough, the vision expanded and I was standing in a gorgeous, grassy field. A small donkey was grazing before me, placidly munching, a few blades of grass hanging out of its muzzle. It was looking up at me with those soft, brown eyes. The immediate feeling was one of gentleness and kindness and ease. In fact, the sheer innocence of the gentleness brought tears to my eyes. I felt so jaded when confronted with this sweetness; it softened my heart.


I bowed to the beast and then patted it on the head, looking around as I did so. It was a sunny day and the grass was bright green. Insects buzzed in the air overhead. To the north, just a few steps away, was a forest. The trees were newly leafed out and the leaves were stunning against the blue, blue sky. I felt like I had landed in a fairytale.


As I watched the forest, I realized we were not alone. There was an enormous ogre standing silently amongst the trees. He was so still and his skin so green that he blended in. He lifted a giant arm and motioned to me. I walked over and bowed deeply in greeting. He nodded and then turned and strode through the forest; it was clear that I was meant to follow. Just like the donkey, this gentle giant had a deep sweetness about him.


Soon, we had left the forest behind and were climbing a grassy hill. Wildflowers bloomed amidst the grass, a vivid blanket of color all around us. Built into the hillside was a cottage. Its door was open to the spring sunshine but the inside was pure black. The Black, I thought, that’s my signal. I know I’m meant to go inside.


Turning to the giant, I bade my farewell. He remained standing outside, waiting, as I entered the cottage. I stepped down a few stairs, blinking in the darkness and waiting for my eyes to adjust. In a moment, I saw that I had entered a cozy kitchen. The floor was made of stone and a black pot boiled over a fire on the hearth before me. It was hanging from a tripod.


There was an old woman (a witch?) standing before the pot. She turned to me as I entered and had an expectant look on her face; clearly, she was not surprised to see me. Like the donkey and the giant, she was benevolent, even innocent. She smiled and motioned toward the pot. Curious, I approached and leaned over to look. There, reflected back at me on the surface of the golden liquid inside, was the face of a man. His eyes were closed and he appeared to be in pain. His face was gray. He didn’t look well.


Nearly as soon as I saw his image on the surface of the pot, I was transported ‘inside’ and found myself in a very different realm. This place was not nearly as cozy and inviting as the one I had just left. It was gray and mostly dead and kind of creepy. Heavy clouds hung overhead and a dense fog covered everything. I was standing on the side of a small stream whose gray waters were fetid. Lank strands of reeds trailed across its surface and, lying in the middle of the stream, was the body of the man I had seen in the pot.


Like I said, he didn’t look good. His face was drawn and he was very pale. His breathing was labored and he winced in pain. I knelt beside him in the stream and put my hand under his neck, lifting his face out of the water. His eyes cracked open and he grimaced, muttering something like, “I wish you had just left me alone. I want to die.”


I’m not a rocket scientist but the meaning of this place was clear: The grayness, the heaviness, the deadness all signified deep despair and depression. This man was either still alive (but barely) or had recently died, probably from depression. The obvious question was what was the cause of this depression?


It didn’t take me long to figure it out because the clues had been there all along. The donkey. The green ogre. The witch. The childlike innocence pervading that springtime realm. These were the dreams of a child, a little girl from what I could tell. They were her stories of comfort. Her essence ran through them, soft and innocent and kind.


I don’t know what relationship the child had to this man. Was he her father? Her uncle? Someone else? In a sense, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that he had cared for her and she had cared for him. And now she was gone, probably dead, and he was lost in despair.


Feeling the prick of premonition, I looked up from the bank of the stream and saw two figures waiting nearby. They were barely shadows in the fog but I knew who they were: The little girl and the one I call The Woman in White, the entity whom I meet frequently during these journeys, the one who leads souls to the next phase of their journey. The pair were standing at the Crossroads. I knew at that moment that it had been the little girl who had called me here. She had called me to find this man and bring him back to her.


Slipping my hands beneath the man’s body, I lifted him from the water. He was so light, barely more than skin and bones. Cradling him in my arms, I walked toward the waiting pair. As we neared, the man spotted them and came alive as soon as he saw the little girl. He practically leaped out of my arms, so overjoyed was he to see her. I stood off to the side, crying as I watched them reunite. Who wouldn’t cry? It was both sad and touching.


The Woman in White was watching me with a knowing expression on her face. I turned and bowed to her. She smiled, kindly and compassionately as always. “Thank you, friend,” she said. “I think we can take it from here.” 


The trio walked off down the road and were soon swallowed by the mist.


***


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