Spirit: The Humpback Whale in the Forest

Early December 2013, I was writing a ritual. In this ritual, I wanted to write in a Journey. I knew what the goal would be. I wanted people to journey and find what they should be focusing on RIGHT NOW, what their priority or goal should be. I wanted them to then find out two things: what they had to stop/leave behind and what they actually need to do/obtain. At the end I would have them put on this animal like winter hat one by one and write down the answers to those final two things. We would then burn it, releasing though things to be manifested or banished. The animal hat was to get that animal single-mindedness so no other thoughts invaded the intention. The wearing of animal skins, though the hat was completely fake everything, is what hunters used to do before they went on the hunt. I always have a hunter/warrior theme in my rituals. As part of the hunter theme, I wanted the journey to be like everyone was going to hike through the woods and find their answers that way.

I also had planned a big purification, one that I asked some friends to help me out with. They also wanted to know about the rest of the ritual as well and they loved the idea of the Journey. I hadn’t written any of the guided part of the Journey, that’s pretty much what I thought I would have to do to take a room full of people on a Journey. I knew something about that concept felt wrong though. I was very stuck. I had chosen a hike, like I said at the end of the previous paragraph; because that’s one of the ways I would find answers in the otherworld. As I started to talk to my friends about this, one said that instead of doing a lot of guiding, why not just tell them to travel to their safe place in nature and let them find their helping spirit there, be it an animal spirit or otherwise. When she said “their safe place in nature” she added “be it the ocean, or…” she listed a few other spots but when she said “ocean” my mind flew wide open.

The OCEAN. Imagine if you’re safe space in nature were the ocean. Maybe you’re animal spirit is humpback whale. This is what I imagined. I then saw how silly it would be to send a group of people into a guided mediation, Journeying through the mountains, and low and behold, the person whose animal spirit is a humpback whale is stuck in the woods where her humpback whale break a few trees and gets stuck between two giant old trees. I nearly busted out laughing when I pictured this, but it awakened me to a real conundrum.

You’re going to perform a Journey to a room full of people, and in this room there are people who find power, safety, and their animal spirit in all kinds of places. Imagine trying to fit their tundra, ocean, tropical rainforest, and desert animals in your lushly forested mountains. What do you do?

Well, my friends figured it out quickly enough while wondering about what music to play instead of talking.

Why not just tell everyone that they are going to travel to their safe space in nature and there they will seek out their spirit and find out what you want them to find out? You tell them this and then put on music specifically for Journey and trance work. The music eases you into the required state of mind, keeps you there, and then brings you out with a certain beat. Of course, let them know the length of the song and that the music will bring them out. It’s maybe best if you tell them specifically what the song will do to bring you out too. But, that’s it. You tell them where they will be going, something that they can specify to their own ways and tell them what they are looking for. We made up specific questions and key words that we repeated three times so that they wouldn’t forget them once they were in the trance.

From feedback, it worked perfectly, though the rattles in the song made a shy and harmless little snake appear randomly in several people’s visions. For me, it highlighted a contrast in my otherworld sanctuaries. My place of power is a desert scene where my safe place in nature or Journeying space is a mixture of mountainous landscapes. So, in the first part of my Journey, whenever the rattle would sound in the song flashes of a desert landscape would invade. It did not take away from my Journey just as the little shy snake did not take away from the several people who saw it slither across their Journey.

So, this could be a valuable take away for anyone who wants to include Journey’s or trance work in their rituals. I am from a Celtic background though I practice aspects of other traditions as well. There is a lot of beautiful poetry in meditations from the Celtic path, but sometimes when you start to delve into the guided meditations and Journey’s where they send you somewhere to find answers, you reach an area that can be uncomfortable.

Journeying is a time to go to the otherworld, somewhere you feel safe, someplace your own, and discover. Someone dictating every part of this Journey goes against the basic concept in a real way. Think about what it would mean in the everyday world for you to go on a journey. Does this include someone other than yourself creating an itinerary scheduling out every moment of what you’re going to do and how you will spend your time?

Something to think about. Perhaps, when writing your next ritual.

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