The next day was spent in quiet contemplation of my surroundings and watching Mama Nature do her thing all around me. I awoke before dawn and made a brief morning fire and brewed some coffee while chewing on a handful of walnuts for breakfast. It was odd having no schedule, nowhere to be and nothing to do. To be honest, at first, it was not comfortable.
I think anyone in the modern day with a job and a family would have the same exact issue. I’d say the first few hours of morning was spent forcing myself to just “be.” So, against the constant barrage of thoughts that wanted me to “go over here and look at this” or “clean up this part of camp” or “go gather more firewood”, I simply sat still and waited. In time, the thoughts calmed down and for lack of a better term I “floated” in place.
Later in the morning, I felt a slightly different impulse. I felt what could only be called a tugging to stand up and go somewhere. It felt natural, unforced. So I stood up, grabbed my rods and began asking questions. Can I leave this space and go for a hike? Yes. Will it be beneficial? Yes. Am I being called? Yes. These and a handful more confirmed to me that I was listening to spirit and not some form of mental distraction. Once decided, the rods swung northward in a solid direction and I strolled out of camp.
They took me up and down a ridge or two and I made sure to stay in a straight line from my campsite so I could return easily enough. Finally, the rods took me down to a thin creek and pointed toward a small, still pool of water. I noticed as I descended down the ridge side that it was the one of two pools of water in what appeared to be a dry creek bed. The only pooled water I’d seen the entire time out, in fact. The rods can find water! Who knew?!?!
Was this where I being directed? Yes. Am I to sit here awhile? Yes. The rods pointed to a fallen tree that lay on the upper shelf of the creek bed, conveniently, just to one side of the pool.
“Sit and listen and watch,” is what I heard and so, I did!
I sat there for a very long time just relaxing and settling into the environment. I stared into the pool and felt like Frodo in Lothlorien staring into a mystical reflecting pool. I am hesitant to try and write what happened. It was very personal. I’ve actually rewritten this twice trying to get it right.
I sank into a deep trance and spoke with a local nature spirit who helped me understand that I’d disconnected myself from the local Fey as a form of incubation which they had interpreted as a pull back on my part. The connection was repaired and when I agreed to the reconnection, I felt of pulse of communication ripple outward from my location in the wood as if the news was being sent out as quickly as possible. It was very odd and I’m still processing it and asking questions about it.
I also had a deep conversation with my spirit guides which was also about renewal. It involved a communion/communication that focused on renewing my work with Spirit and not hesitating to step forward again and present my stories, my thoughts and my beliefs. To work with my experience and with others. My time of not doing so had been a natural and necessary retreat. I was told, quite bluntly, it was time and that the period of incubation for me was over. It was time to come forward and to, if I chose, “lift my wings.”
In time, I gave my thanks for the experiences and left the reflecting pool, hiking back to my camp. The day slid along and I meditated, did energy movements, communed with the trees and did card readings. I became aware of a new totem. The day became evening and I built another fire on the embers of the old. The weather was perfect.
The only thing that was not perfect was the amount of ticks and chiggers I had to deal with. The ticks were everywhere and I did, at one point, consider leaving because they so bad they were pulling me out of my trance. I can’t tell you how many ticks there were because I lost count after 25 or so. However, I meditated on it and heard, “they are part of the process” and so I refused to leave.
The night came along after a glorious fiery sunset that glowed through the trees. I watched lightning bugs and listened to owls, whippoorwills and crickets. I drifted in and out of sleep through the night. My dreams were multiple and fragmented. I was told many things.
The next day was more of the same. A slow and relaxed morning of gathering firewood and sitting quietly. I ate or drank very little through these days. Just enough to keep my hypoglycemia at bay. The woodpeckers forgot I was there and flew through my camp. A sharp shinned hawk came zipping through low and moving east to west, banking and angling by the old oak. I read more cards and there were cards like The Wheel and Renewal and others. My old friend, The Sage from the Faeries Oracle made an appearance and we had a nice chat. We talked about responsibility and eldership, of reaching a point in your life and in your skill where it was time to share, to teach.
I took another small walk in the late morning and sat on a small clump of earth covered with soft and full moss. I talked to bugs. I whispered to trees. The world around me arched all around me and I sat simply observing. I felt a connection that is incredibly hard to describe but was filled with a knowing that, once again, it was there and I could draw on it at any time. I sat comforted, surrounded and at peace.
Eventually, it was time for me to pack up my camp. I would have at least an hour doing that and then a few more hiking out. I would need to meet my wife at the scheduled time and I was out of water. There was also an internal knowing that, yes, I was done. I spent my timing during tear down reflecting on my trip, what it all meant. It had been less of a vision quest and more of, what would I call a re-affirmation. A time for me to reconnect with not only the sacred but with old Fey friends and the natural, spiritual world around me.
Instead of any type of amazing, jaw dropping physical experience I had encountered only deep spiritual experiences that would take, at best, several weeks to process. It reminded me of the slow shifting of deep spiritual tectonic plates instead of any sort of dramatic sounding of horns and bells. I was glad because at my current level of experience and age I preferred it that way!
Still, I still carried some doubts. Had I done alright? Had I done everything necessary and I became very aware that in a few short hours I would be back in the 21st Century modern world again with little chance for this sort of retreat any time soon.
Had it been enough?!?!?
As these thoughts were bouncing around in my head, a final confirmation appeared as a glint among brambles. During my time there I had seen no trash which astounded me. No bottles, no beer cans. Nothing that would indicate anyone had been there in some time. The glint of something metallic caught my eye and I left my camp to investigate. About 50 yards away, something was near the ground in the base of the brambles. The sun had angled just right through the trees to catch a corner of something and glint off of it as I worked around camp. As I came up to it I could see it was two silvery, deflated mylar balloons which had obviously drifted to this spot somehow. Perhaps becoming untethered from a boat on the nearby reservoir? Balloons from a party from who knows where had gone airborne and had drifted with the prevailing winds for who knows how many miles to land right here at this spot.
Reaching through the brambles I dug them from the leaf litter that showed they had been there for some time, at least the winter for sure, possibly longer. I pulled them out and decided that I would pack them out to keep the area clean. As I walked back to camp I gave into curiosity and unfurled them.
Once I did, it stopped me dead in my tracks.
They were imprinted with a simple phrase. “Congratulations Graduate!”
I seriously could not stop laughing!
It would appear that I had passed. I lowered my head and gave my thanks for the spirits of synchronicity that had made such a wonderful appearance. I’ve learned that sometimes it works this way and I’m not sure how a message could have been sent so clearly and distinctly!
My time was over and I had succeeded, given a thumbs up and a congratulations from Spirit. With a deep, thankful smile on my face I packed up, hefted my backpack and figured my bearing. Nothing magical really occurred on my way out. It didn’t need to! All I needed at that point was sunshine, a breeze and the comfort of the natural world around me. Well, that and some cold, fresh water! The hike out took another 2 hours and my legs and shoulders, never fully recovered from the hike in, burned and ached for a day after getting home from the steep ridges.
I did not care. I was happy, a kind of happy that settles in deep and refuses to let go no matter the physical pain or surroundings.
Waiting at the trailhead for my ride I knew that everything was different now. More would come when it was time but for now, I was finished and I would have a week or so to get used to my new totem, to sharing, to possibly teaching, to process the more subtle messages, to renew connections with the Fey.
Things would come up soon enough but for now, for now I was done. I had heard the call of the Thunders, I had planned and I had been successful.
I had graduated.