trance stories: underworld I


I brought up fidelity. I got a lot more than I expected. Here it is, do with it what you will.

Go to your base camp

Filled with the beginnings of some questions to ask brother Snake in the underworld, I travel to my base camp, a mead hall in a forest clearing. I have an image now of three longtables, a brilliant, fiery hearth, and but a few items in the hall. First off, there are wide-bottom earthenware mugs, a bowl with a ladle and a lid, a set of runes coloured with red and gold, a couple of staffs for faring out, several small cups and horns for mead, a bowl and grate for heating the cups for spiced mead, slices of wood on the tables to put cups on, and some wood to burn for incense. I sit at the longtable alone, wearing brown linen tunic and drawstring pants, warmed by a woven multicoloured cloak of bamboo-thread yarn, tied with the protective bindrune burnt into wood my friend made.

Take a staff, and cloak, and fare forth into the forest.

I wander out into the snows, my boots leaving footprints in the ground. I walk through trees made of brush that grow past my boots as I walk. The tree tunnel transports me to tundra from which a wide world-tree springs up, Yggdrasil, offering portals to all terrains on Earth. I take the portal to Rishikesh Valley in India, where I first met Snake.

I do not meet Snake. There are all kinds of cratures around now, mostly humans, cows and monkeys. The hoary-haired monkeys of Laxman Joola sit on fences, peering wisely at pedestrian traffic as it goes by. Cows wander into stalls and are beaten by the storeowners with brooms and brushes made of woven straw. It’s hot here, and I need to remove my woven cloak and boots, faring forth with only my tunic, linen pants and bare feet.

The sight of a wanderer wearing a tunic, with pale skin and green eyes, beard braided and seax at his side, is not a bit strange for shopowners here. They’re used to seeing travelers on pilgrimages, come to the self-proclaimed yoga capital of the world. Many travleers come from France, specifically Normandy, from Germany and Denmark, and the young of them all look like Nordic comrades, dressed as they are in natural fibres and plain colours. There are no branded t-shirts on this side of the bridge connecting Laxman Joola and Rishikesh proper. This is a place where we come to learn about trance, meditation and the secrets of the soul.

I look still for guide, and he beckons: Walk to the Valley where the idol of Laxmi overlooks the forest and streams along the cleft of the vale. The landwights here are not the same as the ones of my Frozen Northern home. They don’t even call them landwights. Locals call them Divas or Asuras or even just by their purely energetic name, Prana.

I worry that this place will not offer an authentic connection with my spirit-world animal, a guide on the Northern Path. Why could my animal not be something more… Northern? Something like a wolf or bear, a crow or raven, or, something more Canadian like an elk or moose?

Are these considerations of fidelity useful for this procession on the Northern Path? If I commit myself to meeting my spirit animal here, am I being unfaithful to the Old Gods of my ancestors? Or will my resistance to this vision only scare away its authentic nature, and prevent me from walking the path with faithfulness to my true experience? This was one of the questions Seithkona posed to guide me on my journey: Ask your spirit animal about fidelity. I would love to hear a snake’s perspective.

Monkeys jumped and barged through the buses as I strode out to the valley. Insects chirped and jumped through the grasses. I had to stop for refreshment along the way. Finally I reached the valley basin, where grass huts sit on a tributary of the great Mother Ganga.

One, two, three times brother Snake slithered by until he was right before me, filling up all my view. “Hello, brother Snake, I have some thoughts to share with you.”

“Yesss, yesss, I’ve already seen them in your head. You spend more time on the garden of Eden than I would. But since it’s on your mind, let’s clear it.

A symbol is a symbol is a symbol. Forget what people have said over the ages. People say things. Those are things that people say. Thigns people say are the evidence, the witness of the symbol that runs through the rivers of the valley, just like tributary you see out there that flows into the Ganga. If you think the Ganga is the pure and faithful story of the water contained in it, look up “chemical properties of the River Ganga.”

Water flows from the glaciers; it descends from the sky. Where clouds hold water, you find the pure symbol of water and what it means at its source. To illustrate: If you see the details of the Garden of Eden, without all the morality that the story picked up along its rushing path through valleys and streams and rivers and tributaries, you see a Paradise you could even use for your own home camp in trance states. You see a pristine garden with all things contained there. You see animals walking and flowers blooming, plants all over the ground and a bright, powerful sun in the sky.

You see a tree of the knowledge between good and evil with a serpent crawling about it. Is this not a universal symbol? What of the Cadaceus, a staff standing as tall as a tree, two snakes intertwined at each energy point? What of the Ouroboros, the great Serpent that consumes its own tale perpetually? What of the serpents of Greek and Roman myth, who struck against the bold hero, and whose defeat was the proof of the hero’s might? What of the serpent that Cleopatra VII held close, and in her final act of freedom, accepted its venomous fangs for a swift and dreamlike death?

Is the symbol of the Cadaceus more powerful than the single snake hanging from the tree of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil? Or do they have different purposes? Cadaceus has balance, a balance bewteen binaries, between dark and light, good and evil, hot and cold, attrraction and repulsion. The tale of the Snake in the garden is unbalanced: there is a choice to be made. Would you say that the Hebrew Yaweh, or the First Man that god created, were the protagonists in this story? By no means! We always speak of the First Woman, and the choice she had: to be faithful to her deity, or bring her gifts to a mortal man. 

I’ll reveal it: the serpent is neither good nor evil. The serpent is ever a symbol of power. Power alone is neither good nor evil. The serpent in this land of Mother Ganga, of Shiva the serpent-tamer, is the inner snake of the kundalini, which is power manifest in the Greater Body. The serpent in the garden is the First woman’s power. It may suggest that she give her power to the glory of her universe, to her god, to her soul, to her journey, or it may suggest that she give her power to a mortal, whose mind is not expansive enogh to appreciate her magick. We all know how that story went, and need not waste more time on that. The tree in the garden was unbalanced compared to our tempered Cadaceus, and as in Shakespeare, when time is out of joint and fate is without balance, the story is a tragedy.

Let’s return to fidelity and the serpent you did not picture when you conjured a tunnel to come and meet with me. Your fidelity may be to unfaithful mortals, whose whims change with their emotions, whose fancied trends reflect their place on the path, not the truth of their whole path. Would that be a faithful choice? To rise and fall with today’s politician, with today’s celebrity, with today’s well-publicized guru or pop-psychologist? Yuk! You know in your soul this is Yuk! Will you be able to spot when you’re giving yourself away, giving away your power?


The serpent you did not picture was the one on your own path, Great Jörmungandr! Exercise your fidelity and find out what you can about this ancient and powerful serpent! Be wary of the voices of the men who told the stories of endtimes, the Asgardians who fought the serpent, the serpent who was the progeny of Loki, and all other negative associations that the human fear of snakes can sully such a rich and vibrant symbol, a true guide filled with all things this world can offer! If you can give faithful voice to my expresison, then try! But be ever conscious that as Christians put their words into Heathen tales, so do

you put your words into my mouth. I have no words, but only eternal images, all of which turn from gold to lead in the physcial realm of Miðgarðr where mortals give voice to the sights they’ve seen, using the tools stitched into their physical brains! If you see the serpent as a symbol for power, than you will see the true scales of Mighty Jörmungandr above you when you walk down the street! Look up into the sky more often and appreciate the glittering dome of the stars that sit in my scales! Why! why do you not look up to the sky and see me, see me everywhere and in everything! Where is your faith? Where is your fidelity? Jörmungandr is the greatest earthly creature and teacher, wound round the circumf

erence of the globe, can’t you see him? Or do you mindlessly tune into the consciousnesses of zombies propelled by fear, and not Wisdom!

This! is fidelity! To see me everywhere and in everything, and to OWN your own uses of my symbol! To walk all other paths is to learn their mythos, nod your head, and pretend to understand what their mortals’ saviours stories mean! To walk this path is to have a true connection to the symbol, to your deity, and not to the frailty of flesh! Drink from the Ganga or drink from the Glacier, I care not! But to pain yourself with minor fidelities, when the great fidelity is there in the sky! In the trees! It is the life force of all that is and all that wil be! Do you have fealty to a king? To a manager or supervisor? To a social media platform? To a partisan divide? The only truth you are shutting yourself out from is the truth of what is. The only person you damage is your own innenr self. Fidelity is not something you do for oth

ers, it is what you do for yourself to live a pure path, not purity of the flesh, but purity of the symbol, of your chosen Gods, and your path in life! Never did we cry out and ask for the Gods to solve our problems! Always did we hear them laugh and say “the strength is within!”

So there. I can hear your mp3 drumbeat is coming to an end, and when it does I know you will be plucked and thrown back into a world that is much more materially-binding than this land, or so you perceive. But when you come to meet me here again, come pure, and not fettered by infidelity!

My own voice on the mp3 recording sucked me back, tore me from my travels in Rishikesh Valley and threw me quickly onto the forest path back to my base camp. I enetered my base camp, thinking now that the words, base camp are starting to diminish the power of this place, and I want to give it a new name. I shall consider it.

I sit on a bench and throw back a final horn of mead. I have no idea who is serving me thi

s mead, because I am the only one here. I don’t question it.

The air of that world becomes the world of this world.

I wake in a home that is the residence where I work. My friend is beating a druma nd smiling. I wonder where he went. I smile at him and make us both coffee. The symbol. After all that, I don’t even know what it means.

Here’s the recording I used:

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