Shadow or Song?

You know you’re doing it right when random street graffiti starts making sense

Showing signs from the gods

Like distorted images in a mirror

From Strange Spirits , by Jeremiah Lewis

Photo by Alley Valkyrie

I don’t know what to make of this place.

I’ve been in Eugene a little over three weeks now. In that time I’ve glimpsed an Alder-spirit, felts ripples of wyrd off a bit of a stream surrounded by industrial waste, and have been caught up by what I can only describe as a whirlwind of synchronicity or a hurricane of meaning.

But my soul feels a bit small for this, my mind untrained, my heart a little weak.  Perhaps the only part of me which has had no trouble adapting is my flesh, which likes the feel of the ground below its feet, the smell of the air, the chill brushing of wind across my skin, the cold water of the Willamette as I crossed the other day to an island, the sharp sting of mending cuts from bramble and stone.

Sorting through old emails today I chanced upon one of the countless messages I compiled in preparation for my pilgrimage last year.  All of that seemed…easy.  Five weeks roaming around ancient paths, sleeping on druid hills and collecting stones and stories in a foreign but familiar land was a bit easier, or made more sense, then the last three weeks here in a very familiar yet utterly foreign place.

Something lingers in this land, and it is open, and it is not happy.  I recalled to a friend the other day how the spirits of Quimper would not let me leave without a vow, and oaths are really not to be made lightly.  I make few of them, and have learned to be more careful, because spirits mean it more than people do.

I’m drinking hot cocoa to warm my soul against the winds from the otherworld.  I feel a bit exposed.  I think a Jottan punched someone in the gut to get my attention, I suspect Arianrhod really meant it when she said I should learn magic.  I still think on how my 3 year old nephew saw me in a dream on Imbolc licked on the face by a great bear with her cubs.

I went to an island the other day thinking about Brân the Blessed.  We had to ford a bit of a river to get there (translate my name from Welsh if you’re interested, and then explain to me why it was given to me in a dream in a castle if you know, because I fucking don’t) and I’m grumpy because I can’t figure out why I thought Brân would have any interest in such a thing until we are about to cross over and I’ve got a walking stick and my friend doesn’t and then our nudist guide on the island suggests I give her the staff, or “just lay down in the river and the others can cross over you.”*

Hot cocoa doesn’t make sense of shit.

Why’d all these eco-anarchists come from here?  It ain’t the water, but it might be the spirits playing in the streams and hiding in the trees.  I’m particularly worried about several visions I got in ritual, “scrying” the gates of the year, and one in a very dark place where there could be no wind ever.  Down into the earth, the other earth, the shadows from whence springs the chthonic, and I’m at a gate and a man is explaining something before someone can pass through that gate.  And I told him, when he asked that I understood, but you know what?  Honestly I don’t.

No.  I do.  Just that part of me I don’t always listen to, that aspect who taught my friend to shapechange in his dreams and made him eat flowers, the aspect who said “hey–move to Eugene” and so I did.  He knows what’s up.  The other part of me, the one who can’t drink enough hot cocoa and shouldn’t drink tea this late has no fucking clue.  But the one who knows smiles at me pretty often, so it’s mostly okay.

The gods are everywhere.  The world is full of spirits, and I know very well why some wish to wall them out, as if disenchantment were a disinfectant spray to make pristine our beige-walled cages.

Eugene is Divine Trauma all over again, and I feel fucking fantastic.


*For those unfamiliar with Brân, he laid himself across the sea so that his armies could cross him in order to rescue Bronwyn.

5 thoughts on “Shadow or Song?

  1. This place *changes* you. It happened to me, and right away too. All you can do is let go and see where it takes you. And feed the spirits!

  2. Sorry to correct you on this, dear friend, but: Bran walked/waded across the sea with his army (I think they were in boats, which may have been on him…I’ll have to check), and then when they got to the Dublin area, he then laid across the River Liffey so they could cross, put hurdles on himself as he did, and then said “Let him who would be a head be a bridge,” which is probably the most succinct epitome of Celtic ideas of kingship ever uttered in a Celtic language. 😉

  3. You too? Why are so many people moving to weird places all of a sudden? Perhaps that is the reason for the name. Perhaps you are the beachhead for others to follow in your wake? Best of luck!

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