Having read it again though, I realise how much more I have learned and experienced since then, but its still good to look back at, and most of it remains true for me.
Since ancient times people have had a special relationship with trees. They have been considered sacred by many civilizations. The Druids of old held them in great awe and used them for many ritual purposes. They have provided us with the material to make homes, tools, fuel, medicine and even the air we breathe. They have become symbols of our fight to return the earth to some sort of sanity and foster a respect for nature in the next generation. They have also been the inspiration of poets, storytellers and songwriters. They show us a beauty and majesty unsurpassed. In short, this world would be a much poorer place without them. In my experience, it is not only this world where that would be so, but other worlds too. I have recently begun having some very remarkable meetings with trees that I know. It has caused me to realise that trees not only have their spirits, their very existence, in this realm, but in others too. I have found that if we can communicate with them on a spirit to spirit level, they can lead us to these other worlds. They can become our teachers and guides.
There are many techniques for Otherworld journeying used by Shamans, Druids and others throughout the world, and we each must find our own way there. My own discovery was more by accident than anything else really. I was sitting at the foot of a really ancient oak, after having heard a voice near some yew trees. It was telling me ‘the yew is the gate’ so I passed between the yews and sat beneath the oak. I have always had a close connection to this tree since I first encountered it, he is a very friendly old fellow who welcomes company. As I sat there, I had the feeling that he had something to show me, so I said I would follow wherever he would lead. Though I could still feel my back resting against the trunk of the tree, I was transported to a world more beautiful than I have ever seen.
The Otherworld is a real place, filled with real people, and animals, who we can communicate with. It exists alongside our own world, and is kept hidden by a thin veil. If we learn how, we can pass through this veil, and visit the place of the ancestors, the Fey and other spirits. Indigenous people all over the world have always known this, some calling it the dreamtime. Our ancestors must have known this too, and we have myths and legends in abundance to support this.
It helps to begin your journey with a clear aim in mind – a question, to meet a spirit guide, or just to explore. We can all find our own ways of reaching it, but for me, some trees are fixed points between the worlds and can be used as gateways. I find that I use different trees according to my purpose. If I’m searching for strength and ability to overcome problems, I go to the oak. If I’m looking for my spirit guides I approach through the yew. You may find a different way to journey, this is just my way. Make sure your intent is clear before beginning any journey you make.
You also need to protect yourself by creating ‘sacred space’. This doesn’t need to be any sort of complicated ritual – unless you want it to be!, it can just be a matter of stating that it is sacred space and ask in your guardian spirits to protect you on your journey.
At first it can be very difficult for some people to travel to the Otherworld mainly because they try too hard. There is no place for the ego on these journeys, we have to let go of that part of ourselves and allow our spirits to move onto another plane, unencumbered by such things. We are usually there to find guidance, and the ancestors will not entertain anyone who appears to be arrogant, with an over inflated sense of importance! They know what it is we are there for, so we had better make sure we know too.
It is worth taking time to prepare your mind before making any journey. You should also make sure in your mind how you will get back. Let’s say you decide to go and look for you power animal, the purpose of your journey should be stated as ‘I will go and find my power animal’, and not as ‘I will go and search for my power animal.’ Make your aim as clear as possible. When you have prepared yourself in this way, it’s then time to enter the Otherworld. Make sure you are as relaxed as possible and rather than trying to make yourself enter this other realm, it is better to let go and allow yourself to go there. Take in as much as possible, look around at the scenery, notice any smells, any sounds, feel the grass under your feet. Do you see your power animal? If it is there, it will come and make contact with you, if not, go and look for it. You can travel in any direction, including up or down. You may find yourself travelling down through a hole by a tree, by following the roots down or many other ways. You can travel up by means of a staircase, ladder, even a rainbow. Just give yourself time to explore this new world. In your journey you may meet some of the inhabitants of this world, other than the one you may be looking for. You can talk to them, and there is often great wisdom and knowledge to be gained from these encounters. You may ask questions of them, but as in our own world, manners are expected and appreciated, so remember to be polite!
In the Otherworld we can also talk to animals, and the same rules apply. When you find your power animal take time to get to know it. It will become a great ally, and can be your guide on this and future journeys, and help you to find the right people to answer any questions you may have. Make sure you spend time with it and play together on a regular basis, building a strong relationship with it. It is not unusual to have more than one power animal, and often each one has a different role. When you have achieved your aim it is time to return and you should go back to the place where you started and return through the gate.
When you return from any journey, it is up to you how to interpret it, no one else can do this for you as any wisdom or guidance received was meant only for you. Don’t worry if you can’t find any meaning at first it may be slow to come, but as you journey more this will become easier. Do remember though, there is no place for the ego on these journeys and any information will not be given to you to increase that, so don’t be fooled into thinking it is. You need to keep your feet on the ground in both worlds!
Otherworld journeying can be a great aid to living in this world, and it is an amazing experience, so be careful you don’t start using it as an escape from life in this world. That would be causing more problems than it would be solving!
Finally, I want to say that I am by no means an expert on this subject and that this is written from my own experience only. Go out and make you own experience, and always go with love and respect.
one of my beautiful Silver Birch trees catching the last of the Autumn evening sun