During the week of my spring break I decided to try and visit areas in the astral that I’d previously not had the proper time for and to get a healthy dose of rituals in as well. 🙂 Here is one of my adventures:
When broaching the subject of a trip to Helheim, my fetch (The Bear) had been very wary and reluctant about the idea. Since I felt like I would be missing my usual “backup” protection, I wanted to visit this realm while I had access to a human spotter that could make sure I came back out of my trance state without any complications. During spring break, I was able to make the journey while at the home of my good friend, Wandering Woman. She kindly agreed to chaperone and I was able to make the journey with an added peace of mind.
The offerings: Black skull candle dressed with Oleum of Shades (Stang and Cauldron blend). A mug of hot mugwort tea (based on suggestions from the “Northern Tradition for Solitary Practitioner” by Galina Krasskova), and Samhain incense from Beads ‘n Botanicals of Urbana, IL.
I anointed myself with Oleum of Saining and Oleum of Blackthorn (both are also Stang and Cauldron products…love that stuff!) before journeying for added protection and proceeded to don the cream silk veil I normally use for oracular work.
I usually start my journeys by traveling to my cottage in Midgard and meeting up with my fetch to discuss the travel plans. Since I knew that my fetch was going to be taking a diminished role for this trip, I decided to journey straight to Helheim if possible. I laid out the offerings for Hela and announced my intention to visit Her realm as a traveler of the worlds, one who seeks knowledge and insight where it is gladly given. There was a slight hesitation, a moment of flux and resistance, and then an acceptance of the offerings and a portal into the realm was dimly visible to me…much like looking through a grimy windowpane and deciphering what is on the other side.
I pushed through into this opening and found myself upon a dirt road in a rolling countryside setting. There were tall broad deciduous trees of some kind (I’m not great at tree identification) that were still fully crowned with leaves, though they were the bright yellow color that indicates autumn. The sun was shining patchily through the clouds so that there was a sense of a crisp, cool, beautiful autumn morning and simultaneously a grey, chilly, dank, foggy day. These trees lined the dirt road on both sides and the road stretched on as far as the eye could see, gently rising and falling with the hilly terrain. I was dressed in a heavy cloak over my usual traveling garb, and was surprised to note that I was riding a pale grey horse (instead of riding my fetch as I normally do). An brown owl flew ahead of me down the road, seeming to indicate to me that I should follow it. I took the owl’s presence to be the that of Askalaphus, guiding me for this initial venture as he’d said he would.
I rode the horse, following the owl, for sometime before I realized that the road was literally endless because it was a kind of repeating loop. Something to distract the casual visitor who did not have a specific place to visit in Helheim…perhaps this section was intended to be a kind of anteroom for the living that stumble into Helheim?
I spoke aloud my intention to want to visit Hela’s garden and speak with Her, and immediately a smaller dirt path branching off to my right appeared, only this time lined with wizened apple trees. I steered the horse down this new path, noting that the owl was flying in and among the apple branches, pausing on them to wait for me to catch up. Once further down the path I saw a black wrought iron gate attached to a low grey stone wall. A single white rook was perched upon the top of the gate and looked at me expectantly with bright and inquisitive eyes. I dismounted and approached the gate. (sillyness warning) I looked down to see a warm mug of tea (the essence of my offering?) in my hands…feeling a bit awkward and foolish, I held the mug of tea out and commented, “It’s quite chilly here in the morning…would you like some [the tea]?” The rook cocked his head to the side and pondered me for a second (probably wondering what my thought process is) and then hopped onto my arm and proceeded to dip his beak into the tea. He drank a bit, and then hopped down to the ground and almost instantly changed his shape into a bizarre roughly humanoid form (complete with patchy feathers and large black eyes) and quickly took off.
(*interesting that I’ve used “he”…hadn’t thought about the gender of the bird until now…I guess that’s what I intuitively decided).
The gate swung open and I took that as my cue to head inside. I’d asked to see Hela’s garden, but I looked inside the walled area to find rows and clumps of raised box tombs, the stone slabs on the top of each were ornately carved with the images of different plants and plant symbols. The “garden” of Helheim indeed. I noticed what appeared to be a young woman sitting on top of the garden wall at the end of the garden with her back facing me. Long, pale blond braids peeked out from beneath a cream hood that matched her cream cloak. I slowly walked toward Her and as I approached Her from the side, I saw a basket of apples laying in Her lap, being simultaneously the picture of ripe delicious red apples and that of the most rotten and decayed fruit. She lifted Her head to look at me and I saw the face of a beautiful young woman, palest white skin, and much like the apples, the skin was both flush with the blush of life and the purple/black stain of death. Her eyes appeared as sunken black voids, rotted inwards so one looked into the empty sockets. The owl perched upon one of the apple trees that bordered the outside of the garden walls. Hela looked up at the owl and nodded at Him once in recognition.
She didn’t not speak aloud, but I heard a voice in my mind clearly. She said that I ‘did not belong’ in Her realm. I indicated that I knew that, but I wished to grow as a seeress and wanted to strengthen my ability to speak with the spirits and ancestors. I told Her I wanted to learn from any of my disir that had magical (and otherwise) knowledge to impart. She nodded when I asked Her if I would be welcome to return again. Four runes flashed into my mind, after this point. I know that they are important, but have not worked out exactly how I will use them in my journeys to Helheim.
I am getting ready to leave when I feel a tugging on my long skirt. Something grabbing at the hem insistently. I look down and see a hand grasping a bunch of the cloth, one emerging from the soil below. I could have had a moment of panic, could have screamed and ran, but that’s just not polite. I reached down and firmly gripped the hand, pulling the entity upwards so I could face it better. It was human shaped, but the features were very indistinct. I got the impression that this deceased person had been dead a long time, that there ability to hold a strong crisp outline was diminished. They made motion to speak, but no words came out. I tried to indicate that I did not understand, to convey my apologies, but the spirit was insistent. It wanted something from me, perhaps to hitch a ride, or maybe to impart a message. At any rate, I needed to leave and get back out of my trance state soon and I knew that I would have to come back at a future time to talk with the spirits in-depth. After unsuccessfully attempting to talk with the spirit, I noticed that a crowd of other spirits had started to gather around me, drawing in closer and closer, pressing me, demanding attention. That was about my limit of what I could reasonably handle on my first visit, so I attempted to withdraw, promising to come back later. The spirits followed me and in a moment of panic, I cast a six pointed Hagalaz rune to ward behind me. The dead fell back away from the rune…not injured, but dissuaded from pressing on. It was an unexpected move, but got the intended results. After a slow process of carefully retracing my steps, I was able to fall back into our “normal” realm, open my eyes, and pull off the veil.
**Strange…many individuals see Hela as a woman with one side of her body appearing skeletal and the other half as that of a living woman. My brain decided to translate Her and Helheim’s dual-nature in an almost holographic fashion, being simultaneously in both states at once, rather than split down the middle…