Well I finally did it. After months of preparation, work and dedication I have completed my first performance of the Seven Stage Visionary Process from the Tree of Enchantment. Getting to the point where I felt comfortable doing it, and then performing it, proved to be one of the better magical experiences of my life. I decided to make a two day experience out of it and felt a need to be alone. One of my most important mentors told me once that experiences with the Fair Folk are greatly enhanced when you are alone. They are much more prone to making their presence known.
For the location I choose a remote spot on Pikes Peak, dominated by springs,high altitude marsh, and coniferous forest. From my experience the genius loci of Pikes Peak concentrates in this valley. It is a place where it feels respectful to be quiet, is gorgeous to the eyes and senses, and is somewhat intimidating. To be honest there are times that I genuinely feel like the spirit of the place is looking right into my soul. Although powerful, the valley is intimidating; like a mentor or guru that sees things about you instantly, things you would rather ignore. Despite those feelings I feel closer to myself, and to the Truth when I am there. I figured it was the perfect place for my first full foray into Faery Seership. I packed for two days and one night, outfitting myself with my Mega Bug tent (I highly recommend it for it’s light weight and it’s ability to be rock solid in high wind), some good simple foods: apples, pre-cooked rice, packets of soy sauce (I get them from the sushi section at King Soopers) and some hazelnuts for offerings.
My wife dropped me off at the trail head, gave me a brief blessing and hug, and off I went. Just after I crested the first rise and disappeared from the view of the road, I stopped dead in my tracks. Sticking straight up out of the middle of the trail was a Flicker feather! I have never seen a feather with the point buried in the ground when I am our on a hike before, ever. I felt like it was a way the spirits of the place where telling me to pay attention. I picked it up, and from the moment I did to the moment I left the next day, I felt like I was being watched the entire time, it still gives me chills. The hike up was gorgeous and I found a delicious patch of wild strawberry on the way up. Yum.
The valley itself is filled with spruce, pine, fir, and aspen. And the wildflowers! There were marsh marigolds, elephant heads, shooting stars, indian paintbrush, daisy, dandelions, and a many others that I could not identify. When you first enter the valley there is a large stone that has a chair shaped basin in it’s midst. For me, it simply radiates croí. I took my shoes and socks off before I entered the valley and approached the Stone Chair. There is just something about the Stone Chair. I am sure many of you have similiar places in nature that make you feel “different” as well. After some prayers and silence, I found a place to camp near the edge of the forest. I felt great.
I spent the rest of the afternoon marveling at the wildflowers, following elk track, and generally exploring the secret places. I felt a sense of reverent silence the entire time. It felt almost blasphemous to make noise. This also made me somewhat nervous, however, as the valley is known for Black Bear and Mountain Lion, I really did not want to surprise a large carnivore! But I simply could not bring myself to do anything but be as quiet as possible. I did find a leg bone of an elk that had quite obviously been cracked open by either a bear or lion for the marrow. Funny how even the remote possibility of running into a wild carnivore makes you well, alert. 😉
I set the time for the ceremony that night at midnight, timing it solely by the position of the Moon (which was Full) being directly overhead. So after exploring I went back to my tent and took a short nap. I woke up to the sounds of something rather large moving through the forest. I am not sure what it was (most likely Elk) but it was yet another reminder of the vulnerability that comes with solitude in the wild.
When the Sun began to go down the feel of the valley changed. I had never been there at night before, and I was amazed at how alone I felt. For some reason I began to feel like I had camped in the wrong spot. At first I chalked it up to being alone and a little scared, but the feeling kept growing. After the Sun had disappeared from view I began to feel a sense of panic that I must move the campsite. So I packed up my stuff and moved to the lip of the valley to a flat spot in a small grove of Ponderosa Pine. I felt instantly and substantively better. I am still not sure where the feeling came from but I have learned to trust my instincts on these “feelings”.
The Moon came up not long after the Sun had fully set and I ate dinner away from my campsite on top of a massive boulder that overlooks the Great Plains to the east, breathtaking. I always make it a point to eat a good distance from where I plan to sleep when I am in bear country. After dinner I did some journaling, the Faery Well, and then rested in the tent as the Moon climbed higher and higher. This was the first time I had done a ceremony, on my own, at night, out in BFE. I will be honest, I got more and more freaked out the higher the Moon rose. I had decided earlier in the day that I would perform the Seven Stages at the Stone Chair. Thoughts of fear just flooded through me, “I am out here alone with the bears and mountain lions, about to perform a magic ceremony at midnight under the Full Moon. Am I totally crazy or what?!” But I had prepared for this for months! I knew I would have felt like a total failure if I did all that prep work, hiked all the way up there, and then chickened out! I had to stay the course and do it.
When the Moon was directly overhead I gathered up my ceremonial items and headed down to the Stone Chair. I was scared out of my mind. Every hair on my body was standing tall and screaming for me to turn around. But at the same time I felt totally present, totally alive. I made it to the Stone Chair, set up, and started. In the interests of personal privacy I will not go into the experiences of the ceremony itself, but suffice it to say I did make contact, and by the end of the ceremony my fear was gone. GONE. I felt totally secure afterward, and totally at peace. I was amazed that I could walk into that valley feeling one way, and leave feeling the exact opposite. One thing I learned, the opposite of fear is not courage, it is peace. A bolt of my clan tartan was like a talisman through the whole rite and will be a regular addition to my material repertoire when dealing with the Fair Folk.
I left the next day feeling humbled and centered. On the hike down I found another feather on the trail! This time a Stellers Jay feather, deep rich blue with fierce stripes of black. It fit with the communication I had during the ceremony so perfectly that it was spooky. All in all, a great experience from start to finish. My next Seven Stage Ceremonies will be done in the park near my house to get more familiar with the techniques. When I feel like I have reached a greater level of comfort with it I plan on another solo backpack and ceremony in the Fall. This time behind the peak near a massive stone pinnacle.