and just like that… it was gone

Slow night in the bar and I was able to get out early.  I got home, changed, and grabbed my stuff.  I was going out to the woods to meet my shadow.  I went to the same spot that I had failed to have a Full Moon ritual a couple of weeks prior.  As I was driving the 30 minute drive there, I was somewhat worried that I could get into the mindset needed to contact my shadow.  Last night the shadow was manifesting in all manner of ways… tonight… not so much.  In fact I felt pretty calm and centered as I drove my truck up the winding road.  It was near 1 a.m. and I was taking my time, driving about 35 miles per hour.  As I rounded  a corner and looked at one of the houses on my left, I felt like I was back in Iraq.  It lasted only for a second, but I knew the feeling had come and gone.  It was night.  It was quiet.  There were no street lights or signs or such on this road.  Only the occasional street light above casting a pale yellow light in a circle.  A house stood to the left with a tall facade that reminded me of the style of houses popular in the richer neighborhoods in Iraq.  I was driving a speed that was about that of some of our patrolling speeds.

Maybe I could get into the right mindet afterall.

I got to the spot and parked the truck.  All was quiet.  It is a sport in the far north part of Forest Park in Portland on the Skyline road, north of Germantown Road.  Quiet and away from the big city.  One can’t hear traffic or city hum or anything from this side of the park.  I grabbed my backpack.  Inside was simply a black candle, 50 feet of rapelling rope, and I picked up my walking stick and took off.  The path looked different than last time I went down it a few weeks prior.  The silver light of the moon cut like razors through the dark fabric of night.  Tonight there was just different shades of black.

I walked.  No wind tonight.  Quiet.  I soon came to the same spot that I had stopped at before… the entrance to the forest.  I could not see beyond the entrance.  It was a hole of pitch black.  I stood there for quite some time, listening and letting my eyes adjust to the darkness. But I was also trying to observe the feelings and emotions within me, why I felt hesitance in going forward, where was this fear coming from, listening to the sounds of the dry wood knock against each other in the tree-tops to my right.  I closed my eyes.  I felt vulnerable.  I closed my eyes and breathed.  I observed myself and my own emotions.  Trepidation.  After a while I moved forward, slowly, into the darkness.  It was so black that I could not see the path below me.   I could make out my legs, but my feet were invisible to me.  My eyes were open as much as they could be, and yet I could see nothing.  I had the faintest notion that I was following the path, a wide path, but could not see it.

Sounds to my left in the brush.  Moving forward.  Sounds to my right.  Moving on.  Then something dashed around in the hillside to my 2 o’clock position, twenty meters ahead.  I could tell by the way it was moving that it was bigger than a dog and it had no idea I was there.  I stopped.  More movement to my 3 o’clock, my 6 o’clock, and my 8 o’clock.  The movement to my 2 o’clock was really going wild.  It moved up the hill and back down and back up.  I stayed still, trying to discern what it could be by its sound.  I kept quiet and I kept still.  My eyes open as much as possible to let in as much light as possible, to no avail.  The movements stopped and after a few minutes I moved forward a few steps.  I could hear whooshing up the hill to my right.  I could barely make it out.  It wasn’t the same as what I’d heard growing up, but it was similar to the alarm call of a deer.  They will make a ‘whooooosh whoosh whooooooooooosh’ sound that alerts the rest of the group to the possibility of something there.  I couldn’t tell if that is what I heard or not… too faint.  I moved on.

I still felt anxiety but I kept moving.  The darkness held all manner of threats for me to be wary of.  I breathed and moved on.  I remembered walking in the forest while going to college at UAM.  My dorm was on the edge of a forest and I would often take walks in the darkness.  I took walks in the woods as a kid.  I took walks in the forest in Houston.  I took walks in the woods often.  What was this anxiety from?  As I heard the noises of the forest around me, I didn’t feel anxiety about them.  I was uncertain about the noise earlier, but it didn’t cause me nearly the alarm as what my mind had projected into the inky blackness a few weeks earlier.  I stopped and thought about this.  I wasn’t afraid of the woods as I was afraid of what was coming at me from within.  Because there was darkness and such there was nothing for me to distract myself with.  No television, no busy day, no traffic, no music, no cats, no nothing to keep my mind from dealing with things.  With darkness around me it was a highway for the shapes within to come at me.

They were still there but not nearly as powerful as the last time I came here.  I hadn’t made it this far along the path the last time I was here.  I walked forward.  I spoke aloud to the forest, remembering a magickal name I’d used several years ago but had ceased to call myself (I had fallen out of favor with magickal names years ago) and I told the forest that ‘Moonstrider’ was here.  I walked forward still, the steps not as anxious as before and I kept waking, enjoying the sounds of the night and the scents in the air, and I came to the clearing in the path with the stars shining overhead.  I thought of this spot to do my ritual at, but I didn’t feel as close to the shadow as I’d hoped.  I contemplated this and I heard voices… human voices further down the path.

I moved forward again, thinking of finding the voices.  I wasn’t anything at all but curious.  I’ve never encountered anyone out on the path at this time of night, it was after 2 a.m. after all, and I was curiouis.  I could see a small L.E.D. light ahead, useless for anything but finding your beer in a knapsack, and I stood still.  I knew that with the clear sky behind me, they being the dark forest, and I on higher ground, that I was silouhetting myself and that I was clearly visible to them.  I waited for them to move closer and when they stopped on the trail I announced myself with a ‘knock knock’.  They laughed and we moved together.  Three kids, around 19 or so, two female and one male, out for a walk.  I asked them if they heard any owls.  They laughed and said no but wished me luck on my owl hunt.  They kept going and I kept going down the path in to the forest.

The feelings were gone.  I walked down the path, it was still as dark as before and didn’t know I was moving off the path until I felt brush, but there was no more trepidation, no more anxiety, no nothing.  So I turned around and went back to the clearing.   Once there I stood and looked up at the stars and cast myself out into space, trying to fathom the immense distances of eternity around me.  A shooting star, so quick that it was like a flash bulb, gone before you really knew it was there.  I thought again of doing the ritual, but didn’t feel any emotional connection.  Without that I might as well be having a ritual where I was throwing lemon pies as dancing clowns.  It is emotion the drives things.  I recalled reading the wonderful book “Practical Solitary Magic” by Nancy Watson where she writes of the need for utiliaing the different planes of magic in order for it to work.  We could remember the Airy, mental correspondences and such, but without the emotional energy to drive it forward it wont work as good.  I felt this need now… the emotion of the moment was gone.  Just like that.  As soon as I heard voices… gone.

I drove home again.  Thinking over the situation. What meanings could I draw from it.  Do things happen for a reason?  What would Pangloss say to this?  And did not Candide  argue this point?  Isn’t my attempt to find meaning in a random series of events an attempt to rationalize the chaotic?  And thinking of space, of the stars, of the immense cosmos, of looking at the world without perception, isn’t that what humans try to do?  Assign meaning?  But of the meaning that we assign… what does this meaning entail?  I am reminded of something I thought just prior to my leaving the apartment.  I had picked up a copy of Jung’s “Symbols of Transformation” lying near my bed and flipped through it.  Wonderful information within it… I should make to read it before school starts.  I was looking at the many symbols within and was reminded of what Jung said of the human psyche.  His position was that in order to understand the soul one must look at everything that humans do, all of our meanings that we project out onto everything.  It is incomplete to study the human psyche and not take into account everything.  Everything we put meaning into is a projection of our own inner realities.  It reminds me of predictive tests used in I/O psychology… that those with a dishonest personality tend to view themselves as honest but the world around them as dishonest.  These thoughts came to mind as I drove back home.  If I was trying to find the meaning in tonight’s events (or lack thereof), and I found that there was no meaning that was clear, but that I could find meaning there anyway, that this meaning I found, or projected onto the events, was indicative of the meanings and scripts within my self.

It is now nearly 4 a.m.  I have the next two days off.  I hope to make use of them, reading books, seeing a movie, and perhaps seeing a friend or two here and there if I may.  I hope to continue this investigation into the shadow, yet I am wondering about the investigation ito the child of light as well.  What of that best part of me that I sometimes forget (thanks to theladyshannon for reminding me).

Thank you Gods for blessing me.  Thank you spirits for aiding me.

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