Monday, June 22, 2009

Trance Vision & the Threshold Realm

Here's another excerpt from the in-progress Book of Nine Moons. This is an abridgement, but should give an idea where I'm headed with the effort of adjusting the folkloric and mythic perspective on the "Otherworld" to a more modern perspective.

Trance Vision and the Threshold of the Otherworld

Part 1 – Concepts of the Other
Throughout Celtic story we find humans meeting the spirits in ways and places outside of or beyond common life. Gods, messengers, allies and opponents arrive among mortals bringing tales of their homes, of strange halls and wild places both near and far. In turn the tales tell of mortals who visit Other Folk. It is from these tales that we begin to understand the nature of what we often simply call the Otherworld.
The tales describe the dwellings of the Other Clans as being both very near to our mortal world and very far from our common lands. The armies of the Sidhe ride out from beneath the land. Mortals enter the courts and feasts of the Lords of the Mound, leaving behind common time and place. Other tales tell of emissaries arriving from over the sea, or of mortals who voyage, and of the lands of wonder, danger and vision that lie beyond the ocean wave.
Your studies should offer plenty of chances to read these tales. It is useful to immerse your imagination in the motifs of Celtic story. These provide raw materials with which we can build an understanding of the Celtic Otherworld.
It may be that the ancient idea of the Otherworld bears a resemblance to various metaphysical models. Those familiar with western magical systems might compare the Otherworld with the ‘astral plane’ or the ‘etheric realm’. However, the Celtic spirit-lands don’t seem to be causal to the common world in the way the ‘astral’ is sometimes described to be. We might find a parallel with the Dreamtime of the Australian First Peoples – a mythic, storied and ritual reality in which mortals participate along with the Gods and spirits. Hindu cosmology presents a variety of ‘lokas’ – worlds – in which Gods, spirits, ancestors and daemons dwell. The Norse have a similar system of Nine Realms. Celtic lore is far less specific about the number and order of the realms or worlds, though a variety of environments are described.

Part 2 – Vision and the Threshold
In this month’s first exercises we will enter an imagined series of landscapes and environments. In some cases we will consciously select or design the spaces. In others we will enter visions that we do not deliberately create. We will consider this half-constructed, half-discovered imaginal world to be a Threshold, a place Between the common world and the independent reality of the Other Places. We can move our point of view, our ‘presence’, into this Threshold realm in a form we invent, and in the same way the Gods and spirits can create forms that move and live in that space. The forms we see (and make) in the Threshold may or may not be the ‘true’ forms of the spirits but that need not prevent us from speaking to them through those forms. The Threshold is a reflection both of our common world and of the Other realms beyond.
While we may consciously shape and influence it, the Threshold realm exists without our conscious making. Just as the landscapes of dream occur as if subjectively real so the places of Threshold are waiting for us when we arrive. Just as in a lucid dream we can shape events and places, but the life of the Threshold realm goes on, around or even without our conscious constructions.

Part 3 – First Steps in the Mist
The very first Threshold technique is to learn to rise and move within an imagined point-of-view. In some spiritual systems students are taught to develop a detailed, repeating and specific ‘body of vision’ which serves as the seer’s ‘vehicle’. This does have value, but we find it best to recommend a more natural approach. Each of us carries a basic self-image and it is in that form that we can most easily approach our vision journeys.
One important trick of basic journey-work is to train yourself to keep your point-of-view located ‘behind the eyes’ of your vision-self. By learning to keep your point of view firmly fixed in one place and in one direction at a time you create a sense of reality in your early visions that helps you move into the Threshold realm. Your point of view may move by drifting, flying or purposeful striding but you should be careful to keep it in one place at a time in most cases.
From that beginning you can move deeper into the Threshold in a variety of ways. We will use a symbol drawn directly from Celtic story – the Mist of the Between. By passing through the vision of the thick mist so common in the ancient forests you can emerge much deeper within the Threshold realm.
By passing the Mist we seek to enter a space in which we can both discover and create a greater, more ideal Sacred Grove. In next month’s lesson we will move on to the work of passing the Mist and beginning the Inner Grove. This will become a base of operations for many further visions and workings.

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