I’m writing this as I sit in my backyard in New Mexico. The silence here has an enormous weight and presence to it, it commands notice, and it’s where I find peace and clarity while the ravens sing their strange songs. I recently returned from a trip that took me away for several months. Before I left, I imagined my stay in the mountains of North Carolina to be one of pastoral summer pleasures; rooted in earth, soaks in rivers, food and music grown with love, the sweetness of kind hearts. I found it to be these ways, for certain. I melded into a life where longheld dreams were coming true into the physical world and it made me want to stay in just that place and forget all else.
The time had two tones.
In the world we see, everything was beautiful and fine. The world we do not see, however, the one of our spirit and intuition, where our ‘gut feelings’ and soul reside, I found to be turned upside down. I’ve had a kindred connection to the Alice character and archetype since I could talk. There are many embarrassing childhood stories of me thinking I was her, and not much has changed. Here in the mountain jungle of Appalachia, l fell into the rabbit hole. My time, while beautiful on the outside, was a dark night of the soul, an initiation, an angel’s fall to earth, a venture to the underworld, manic depressive, dissociative, a visit to Coyote, Anubis, Raven, Hades, Pluto, Hel, the midnight hour.
From our indigenous beliefs and ancient mythologies, to our folk tales, to our studies into scientific, measureable psychology there are concepts of this state of being. Our mind and soul are sent into thoughts, situations, dreams, and conversations that scare us. Something as simple as losing a job can send us to the precipice (believe me) and then our experience descends from there (and ascends, naturally, at some point) based on how we work with life. Some of us will seek anti-depressants while we look for another job in the same line of work, secure a new position, and carry on with life numbing our days away with vices (been there). Others of us (me, many years later, but in the same line of work) will realize that job sucked for us in the first place, and then we’ll try to figure out how to correct our course into one that makes us happy and is a return to what is real and true for us. Sometimes this process takes you on a journey of Faustian AND Homeric proportions and I’m just saying it is good to be prepared. I slid down the rabbit hole so hard that I hit my head and it took me awhile to realize where I was. It happens.
Before I left New Mexico, I took a book that I wanted to read on this trip. I had saved it for a good month at that point, and it was hard to resist diving in, but it demanded to be read in this green place it wanted to go with me. The book is Six Ways by Aidan Wachter—Aidan is many things, and after absorbing his book I would like to add King Wizard Dude to the list, if I may. You know, the treasured high figure, back in our mythologies and everywhere, who is kind and offers their sacred wisdom to guide us a bit until we fall into our own adventure. (They do lots of other cool shit too, like Aidan and his magical tools, go for a looksee.) His book is the kind that comes how and when you need it to, and if you pay enough attention and use it well, you don’t have to go calling up the wizard in the middle of your quest interrupting his affairs (like those Hobbits always do!). It provided ways back and forward into ways old and new. If that sounds puzzling, it isn’t at all if that is what you need. It is a master key, a way back to magic.
I read a few chapters in the first couple of weeks after I arrived in North Carolina. They awaken ideas that have not not been acknowledged in a very long time, and it feels like a reawakening at times. The words enable a remembering of our innate ability as human-and-spirit beings to tap into the richness and complexity of the world in which we live. Once you know this again, then you realize we are open to experience what we call “magic” as a real and physical presence. It dances all around us, always. All we have to do to live it is realize this power.
Realizing the power, however, most often requires navigating a path of work until one indeterminate day we find we have simply grown into the realization. In other words, it is not a quick process with a thought that instantly manifests, pulling a rabbit out of a hat like stage magic. It is a journey, and we know every good journey is writ with twists and turns, so we must be wary of this and be able to move with what comes up to keep it going. I became stuck like a log in the river, I wanted North Carolina to be the completion of a leg in this journey. It felt like my dreams come true in every sense; the place where I wanted to stop and be here now to do my work.
When I asked the question, What work shall I do here? and then meandered to find out, that is when I came upon the rabbit hole and things changed in tone. As timing is its own magic, halfway through my time in NC, I lost the main way I support myself financially. I was left with what I could make with my hands, my jewelry, a young and handmade venture not yet ready to support the very real burdens of student loan debt and a bustling, rising-city cost of living. This was the push and my plunge into the dark unknown unraveled accordingly. I was launched into a fiery examination of the things I feared most, all of it stirring and haunting me while awake and asleep. I found as I worked through Aidan’s book, things would ease. It was a light in many ways, showing up in the time of greatest need with a way across a chasm.
I did not fully believe in myself to make my art work.
I did not always consider myself powerful enough to lead my life where I want it to be.
I did not like the ways I was not like others and wished I could rid myself of those parts of me.
I did not always trust my experiences of spiritual things to be meaningful, especially those when I was younger.
I did not believe I could learn my purpose here and express it: what I am supposed to give?
I did not always think my words were worth putting in front of people to read or hear.
I do not look at the world in a negative way, and these things were more like lifelong recurring wounds that had never healed and had been tended to at various levels. A work in progress, as are we all. The rememberings, personal wisdom and practices, reframings, sparks and catalysts within the alchemy of Six Ways formed into a guide through these hard questions, in my experience of it. I have not read a book thus far in my life that considers the world in the ways written and I found it to be the one I needed to read the most. It is familiar, yet wild. And it was a tenacious deck hand in my boat lost at sea that would step up to first mate, always before I had to ask.
We know that our world builds before us based on how we view it, so why not look at it as if it is magic? Who is to say that magic is not real, and when they do, who is to say you have to believe them? My time laying on rocks in the middle of rivers listening to waterfalls, singing old songs to the forest and water spirits to carry where they may, the healing souls I spilled my heart to and spent time with, building up a momentary space to hold my art as it grew into confidence, tasting the organic food and smelling the flowers, hearing music plucked and sung from the heart, voices and smiles sweeter than mountain honey, those were the things that erased my doubts and disbeliefs to what can be real and true—and they were replaced with room to grow things more beautiful—in a place where I am needed.
Since my dark night of the soul and my flight back up to sun and sky, I have moved even deeper into the way of life that gives me greatest joy, despite the modern world trying like hell to make it obsolete. I am no longer afraid to do this. I know what to do. This is the time to forge the life of our dreams, our collective is awakening to this and it is manifesting in so many beautiful ways. Six Ways is a book that complements this way of moving, and I will pass it along with a quiet smile to others on this path. It is the wise plentiful green companion when we embark to be the alchemist, the great change maker, and I am thankful lifetimes over Aidan has given it to the world to use.