With the majority of the jobs now done, my third and final day off work could be spent relaxing. Not too much however, momentum was building and the spirits of the ancestors and land felt closer now than ever, I needed them to stay close for the evening’s ritual.
The day started early, seeing ‘A’ off to work and then, following morning devotional, set off for a solitary stroll around the lakes. As I approached the entrance to the country park I built a threshold in my mind, this was to be a spiritual walk, a walk of ‘seeing’ not just with my physical sight, but my inner senses as well so I crossed the boundary to the park with intent, delineating this place from the mundane. I would not speak to anyone until I crossed the boundary again.
The air was perfectly still and the sun was shining brightly from low down in the morning sky. A dense mist veiled the North Downs and lingered above the surface of the lakes. It was quiet, and virtually deserted apart from the occasional dog walker. The mists themselves give one the impression of being on the border of another world, or another time perhaps…if I could just speak the magic words I could part the misty veil and pass through into who knows where. An appealing prospect but one from which I may never return and be lost forever.
I sat on a small jetty for a while which over looked one of the smaller lakes. Surrounded by rushes and reeds the water was perfectly still, disturbed only by the gentle motion of a pair of Swans over the surface. The mist here was faint, almost like a haze which rose from the surface of the water. “Deep calleth unto Deep” words which have stayed with me for many years now but here they seemed to whisper and linger as if the water itself spoke them.
As I sat, time became slippery, fluid and harder to grasp. I was sitting on this tiny jetty in the year 2012 yet it could just as easily have been 1912 or even 2112. All points of reference faded away, all time was this time, and present…all that existed was that moment. I submerged myself in the sensation…and continued on my journey.
My mind wandered this way and that, pondered over matters significant and trivial and occasionally nature presented insights to my ponderings in the form of birds, sounds or symbols in the clouds and twigs under foot.
I walked for what felt like an eternity round the various lakes, stopping occasionally just to take in the scenery and just exist for a while as a part of it rather than being apart from it and eventually I found myself back where I started at the gates to the park, only now they were the gates back to the mundane.
Walking back home it dawned on me that what I had experienced on my walk is exactly what makes divination, the art of seeing, possible. When time converges and the illusion fades, the illusion that time is a fixed linear law rather than a fluid and mutable substance which can bend and fold upon itself then we can see anytime we choose.
Imagine time as a globe or sphere upon which you stand at a specific moment, imagine that sphere as a pliable ball of clay, imagine you want to get to a point in time on the other side of the ball of clay on which you stand, all you need to do is pinch! Squeeze the sphere in any direction and you are instantly brought closer to any other point around that sphere. All it takes is the right shift in consciousness which can happen spontaneously, as I discovered, as well as with some input of effort from us.
Some of us exploit this phenomenon with tools such as runes or tarot to assist; I have recently been discovering the use of playing cards but for All Hallows, the evening’s ritual was centred heavily on the dark mirror.
To some All Hallows marks the turning point between years, the end of one and the start of another so in many ways the timing is ideal to pinch the claggy ball of time in on itself and look to the future…after all we spend much of Hallowmas looking back, remembering our beloved dead and reflecting on past times so now seemed the ideal time to look forward towards a new year, make plans, and see what possible challenges and successes may lay ahead.
The evening ritual was conducted hearthside, surrounded by my ancestors who, being so close for the last few days approached willingly. With them and the past behind me, I gazed within the inky blackness of the looking glass and allowed time to fold in upon itself as it had done earlier that day. The dark mirror became a tunnel dissecting the sphere of time in which I became transfixed, pulled in, even engulfed at times and within the blackness I saw whatever ‘They’ chose to reveal…some things crystal clear whilst others as clear as mud.
As the images faded and retreated once again into the nothingness from which they emerged I felt the curtain of Hallowmas draw to a close once again, only this year, like every year, not quite as tightly drawn as before.
Fear not that sound like wind in the trees:
It is only their call that comes on the breeze;
Fear not the shudder that seems to pass:
It is only the tread of their feet on the grass;
Fear not the drip of the bough as you stoop:
It is only the touch of their hands that grope —
For the year’s on the turn, and it’s All Souls’ night,
When the dead can yearn and the dead can smite.
And now that they rise and walk in the cold,
Let us warm their blood and give youth to the old.
Let them see us and hear us, and say: “Ah, thus
In the prime of the year it went with us!”
Till their lips drawn close, and so long unkist,
Forget they are mist that mingles with mist!
For the year’s on the turn, and it’s All Souls’ night,
When the dead can burn and the dead can smite.
And how should we break faith who have seen
Those dead lips plight with the mist between,
And how forget, who have seen how soon
They lie thus chambered and cold to the moon?
How scorn, how hate, how strive, we too,
Who must do so soon as those others do?
For it’s All Souls’ night, and break of the day,
And behold, with the light the dead are away
All Souls by Edith Wharton (1903)