This morning, I was laying in bed and pondering how I was going to travel to Helheim…I was fully awake, but kept feeling like I was on the edge of slipping into trance–the back of my neck was tingling and my eyes would unfocus. Since I didn’t have to get ready for another hour or so, I decided to let go and let the trance happen. Here is what happened…
I slip into trance and am nowhere in particular (realm wise). I call the Bear to me to greet him and say hi. I fed him salmon strips (partially because they sounded tasty to me at the time) and we took a few moments to enjoy each others company. I explained that I was thinking about traveling to Helheim but that I wasn’t sure how to go about visiting Hela and wanted to know if the Bear had any advice for me. Immediately, the Bear’s demeanor changed to a troubled look and his fur bristled. This confused me, so I knelt down in front of him to try to read his expression better. He unhinged his jaw and began to swallow me whole. **Note: at this point, I was thoroughly confused and mildly irritated. I explained to him that I didn’t have time for that process this morning and would appreciate it if he returned me back to my “normal” state. He regurgitated me promptly and I removed the energetic “gunk” aka bear spit from my astral self.
I decided for lack of a better plan to travel to my house in Midgard with the Bear. I entered into Midgard via my usual spot and the Bear and I traveled a short distance toward my home. Upon entering, I decided to sit upon a couch that I’d never noticed before (red, upholstered, and overstuffed) that was placed behind a wooden (oak?) coffee table. After sitting down on the couch as the Bear sat nearby I felt incredibly sleepy and started to fight the urge to lay down and nap…I remembered what happened when I took a nap in Vanaheim so I stopped fighting it and stretched out on the couch…
I awoke to the Bear yanking my hair between his teeth, trying to get my attention. I roll over and am greeted to the sight of a man covered in an owl feather cloak, with bird-like facial features standing on top of my coffee table. He let his feathered cloak fall to the ground, revealing that he had a man’s body beneath it with bronze skin peppered with small feathers protruding from his flesh in a random fashion. His eyes were solemn and bright, piercing yellow but alternately abysmally dark.
Ever the sparkling hostess, my startled self managed to squeak out a “Welcome! I have no idea who you are though…” I rise up off of the couch and in my awkward confusion, I pick up his feathered cloak and attempt to lay it smoothly across the table. Two feathers fall from the cloak in the process (oops).
When he spoke, his words were measured and his voice deep and precise, “Askalaphus.” (cue my “no shit!” face) “Really, it was you all along?” I ask.
**Side note, I asked Dver from the “A Forest Door” blog to ask a question for me in this month’s oracular divination session. I had been plagued with the feeling that a male deity had been trying to contact me (he felt like a psychopomp, but I didn’t feel 100% positive that it was Hermes). I asked Dver to see if she could divine the identity of this deity. She emailed me back saying:
[“He is a great owl, overshadowing you. He wants to find a perch.”
Dver continues with: “I had a very strong vision of something like a great horned owl, but larger than real life, swooping down and casting a shadow over you, coming down perhaps to land on your shoulders (which wouldn’t be easy).”]
After receiving this message, I was furiously researching owl deities/spirits associated with the dead. What I found was that Askalaphus was Hades’ gardener in that tended the orchards, ended up “tattling” that Persephone ate the pomegranate seeds, and was turned into an owl by an angry Demeter. Somewhere in the back of my mind as I read about him, a tiny lightbulb lit up…
Back to the story…
“This whole time I’ve been confused about who was contacting me. My brain kept thinking it was Hermes, but something didn’t seem right…if you were contacting me, it isn’t Hermes?” I asked.
“No, it is. We have an arrangement” was his short reply.
“Oh. Please tell me as much as you can then.”
“You wish to work with the dead?” He queried.
“Yes, I feel called to do so.”
“Then you must sacrifice to us on the dark moon for three months. Then we will have more to discuss.”
I nodded my understanding at him as he started to gather his feathered cloak around himself. As he started to rise up, floating off of the coffee table, I remembered to ask,
“Wait! Will I be protected in Hela’s realm?” (I’d secretly been hoping that my mysterious owl would guide me through Helheim since the Bear had been so reluctant)
Askalaphus reaches under his cloak and pulls out an large and ancient looking tarnished silver coin that was struck with the image of an owl perched in a side view. The surface of the coin was scored with deep scratches and gouges and was large and heavy in my hand. It appeared to be about the size of a Kennedy half-dollar. (Perhaps the scratches were from owl talons?)
“Wear this around your neck and no harm will come to you.” He told me as he handed over the coin. The coin attached itself around my neck like a pendant. I suspect that he and Hermes have some kind of relationship with Hela…maybe the death deities kick it on the weekends? Who knows.
“One last thing, how should I enter her realm?” I ask as Askalaphus rises higher toward the ceiling of my astral home.
“That is between you and her.” After those last words, he vanishes completely, though the two feathers from his cloak still lay upon the table. I noticed a small wooden box covered in strange symbols that looked like a dense collection of sigils, witch runes, etc. (not just futhark) that looked as though it could be activated to achieve different purposes. I placed the two feathers inside of this box and intentioned the box to protect them (no clue what I can use them for, but I figured they wouldn’t have been left behind by accident).
After Askalaphus left, I decided to go back to my body and leave a trance state. I went back through the same rift I’d entered through and saw my physical body resting on the bed. I managed to squeeze back into this side of the astral and fell into my physical body and open my eyes immediately. Strange stuff. At least I have some sort of protective token to take with me on my journey to Helheim, but I’d still like to do some mediation on Hela before I go. Also, it will be interesting to see what happens after three months have gone by…I’ll update afterwards!