27th March 1988
I will anticipate another of your questions: ’What do I do if I can’t visualize?’ Everyone has trouble picturing sometimes. Either you can’t see anything, or what you can see just doesn’t last long enough. There are two possible reasons for this. You may be either too tense or too tired.
If you are too tense, try taking longer over the relaxation exercise. And afterwards, just sit with your eyes closed and don’t try to go into trance for a while. As you sit there quietly, just day-dreaming, you will see pictures with your ’mind’s eye’. Let these happen. And take as long as you need with them. When you feel ready, start visualizing your blue sphere of light.
If you are really too tired, it is not wise to go into trance at all. You may fall asleep, and that is fine. But you may also remain awake, unable to deal easily with any psychic interference or ’false guides’; unable, also, to transcend your own psychic confusion. We all have a level of this. It is unavoidable in a fragmented culture which assails us with distorted and inconsistent values. Falling asleep spontaneously, and so avoiding this problem, may be taken as a healing gift from Goddess and God. But if you know that you are much too tired, then it is wiser to rest than to try undertaking trance work.
Sometimes, you may go into trance feeling bright, but find that all the images become hazy and that you have become tired. Ask for help about this. Recently, I had that problem in trance, so I asked the Goddess to help me and she gently removed a black blindfold from over my eyes. I hadn’t known it was there, but after it was removed I could suddenly see clearly. This trance was about an exploration of the big question, ’Where does evil come from?’ I thought that perhaps I had feared the answer and had put the blindfold on my own eyes. It is also possible that I had been conditioned to perceive this question in one particular way. The taking-off of the blindfold may have been the removal of that conditioning. I didn’t stop to ask. Other things were being shown to me which were of a great deal more interest.
You will be wondering whether I really believe that the Goddess herself appears in trance, in person. Well, yes I do. For deep within myself, I carry a spark of her, as do we all. Whether the image that I see of her is just my own, or whether what I see is an archetypal image, held and upheld by many, seems to me to be unimportant. I reach her and she reaches me, in either case. That image, even if I have created it, is an expression of something outside as well as inside myself. She transcends my being, even though she is immanent in me. Thus, the question of whether what I see is subjective or objective becomes irrelevant. If I lived on a planet where we all had green skin, I’d see the Mother of All Life with green skin too. I’d be right to do so. For on that planet, that is how she would be. I am of the web of life. I am within the Goddess, and I find her within me.
The Horned God is within me less obviously than if I had been a man, for I can never embody him. But I still have his attributes, just as I have some traits of my physical father. And I am not contained within the Horned God as within the Goddess. Rather, he is the one who travels. He motivates me. For he breaks in upon the Goddess’s autonomy, and then they are both changed. Thus, life goes on. She creates life, then the God is reborn, constantly and anew (while her autonomy is always remade).
This process is the alchemy of both sexes, in their own selves, and applies whatever our sexual preferences. Each person, whether man or woman, has inner polarity. And the inner marriage brings completion, integration as a whole being. This does not make irrelevant but complements the search for a true partner, the true soul-mate.
In the next trance, you are to meet the Goddess as you perceive her. Visualize your blue sphere of light and ask protection of the Guardian Spirits. In your clearing, call your familiar. Ask it to show the way, so that you may find the Triple Goddess, meeting her in each of her three aspects.
You will leave the clearing and follow a winding, downhill path, until you see a cave. The entrance is not much more than a crack between two rocks. But you slip inside, following your familiar. A candle will be waiting for you, standing upon a rock. Pick up the candle and look all around. The cave is clean. Perhaps it is a crystal cave. The floor is sand. At the back is another opening. You go through and a passage winds away downhill, deep into earth. Go down all the way. You can see all right, because of the candle. At the end of the passage you see daylight. Leave the candle on a rock ledge and step outside. You have reached a new place. You are in a landscape, deep within. This is a place of great peace and beauty. Look around and you will see the sea. It is not far away, across meadows. Now ask your familiar to take you to the right part of the beach. There, you will find pale sand and high cliffs. A freshwater stream bubbles out of the rocks and goes down to the sea. This is a sacred place. Look around you and then walk to the water. You can paddle if you want to. Up above, sea-birds are calling. You can smell salt.
Now ask the Goddess as Maid to be there on the beach.
You will see a young girl running. She is both graceful and wild. She may wear white or silver. These are traditional colours for the Maiden Goddess. (If she does not wear them, there are reasons for what she does wear. You can ask her. Nothing is fixed or dogmatic within the Goddess realm; but nothing is ever meaningless.)
She stops running and comes up to meet you. This is the wild Goddess. She is called pure and that is because she is sufficient in herself. She is integrity. She is the highest freedom. Her virginity is renewed constantly. She is the Goddess of wild solitude and open spaces and has affinity with all animals and all young. Poetry and enchantment are hers. So also is survival in lonely places and all women’s abilities to hunt, make shelters, ride on horseback, find water, go for adventures, break out.
She will not mind if you point your athame and demand to see her true form, so as to ascertain if this is the real Maiden Goddess, and not some sentimental parody, some stereotype of young girlhood. (In fact, if you don’t do this, she will probably think you a fool!) Having assured yourself that she is who she appears to be, you can ask any questions about anything that she brings to mind. Ask, for example, how you can best protect your integrity. And ask what she would like of you, that her purity of intent and her freedom may find expression in your life. Thank her for the time that you have spent with her, and ask if you may now see the Mother.
The Maid will lead you further along the shore, to where the Mother sits on a rock, facing out to sea. Be sure to check that this is really the Goddess. She will be robed simply, and may wear red (or she may not. There are no rules. Perhaps she is wearing blue or green. This depends on the way your spirit is attuned. What colour does she wear for you?)
The Mother is the power to love and to create life, and she is boundless. Deeply sexual, she is all eroticism, and her experience of sexual passion weds physical and spiritual fulfilment in ecstacy. Her nurturing of children is an unsentimental flow of deep caring. There is nothing artificial or contrived in her, and her love has an impersonal and detached aspect. At the same time, it is completely personal. Thus, she is epiphany and can birth the worlds. She created you and still sustains you. Ask her anything you like. And ask, finally, what she wants of you, that her life-bringing power to create in deep fulfilment find expression in you. Then thank her for the time that you have spent with her and ask if you may see the Crone.
The Mother will direct you towards the cliffs. There, on the sand, the Crone has lit a fire from driftwood. She can be seen wandering along the beach in search of fuel. She is also collecting shells, seaweed and stones, for magic. The Crone may wear black (or again, she may not). When she sees you, she will return to the fire. You should greet her at once. (Do not forget to challenge her, as you did with the Maid and Mother. Be sure she is the true Crone, Old Wisewoman.) She may show you what she has gathered. She is wise and has the knowledge of all healing. She has also the power to bring things to an end. She is feared, because we don’t always like giving things up. But when the Wisewoman clears things, it is to make way for a new growth. She is excellent at clearing out confusion and so making space for a decision, a clear choice. Wisdom is her name. She is therefore a great teacher. She is also a weaver of spells.
Ask her anything that you would like to know. And then ask what she would like from you, that her wisdom and understanding can be expressed in your life. Thank her, and ask for her blessing. Then leave the beach, together with your familiar.
Go back to the cave where you had left your candle. Pick it up and return uphill through the twisty rock passageway, to the top cave, where you can leave it upon the rock. Return from there back through the woods and step into your clearing. Thank your familiar and return to the blue sphere. Thank all the Guardian Spirits and make your usual invocation for protection and guidance, as you step back into the everyday world of waking consciousness. Draw the blue sphere edged with gold in around yourself.
It is important to come back as slowly from trance as you went in. If you do not follow this procedure, you will leave psychic senses open and will feel ragged and quite uncomfortable. (If ever you are interrupted in trance, it is important to sit down alone again, as soon as possible. Then do the purification of the five elements, so that you may feel rebalanced and centred. Afterwards, pick up where you had left off, and re-emerge from trance slowly. Seal your aura, by drawing in around yourself the blue light edged with gold.
So now you have seen the three aspects of the Goddess. As a woman, you are identified with her. If you had been a man, you could still ask the same questions of her, if you had wanted to, because you could know her as your own feminine side. But you could never fully embody her. And so you would approach her as the Otherness, other side of the polarity. (As I said before, this applies whatever our sexual inclinations.) As a man, your experiences of her would have been quite different from those a woman has. In the same way, and for the same reason, your perception of the Horned God as Otherness will mean that your experiences of him are quite different from those of a man.
In the next letter, I will describe a trance in which you meet the Horned God as both young Hunter and old tribal Wiseman. I expect the word ’hunter’ makes you curl up in connection with anything godlike; as well it might, when thought of in terms of modern fox- and stag-hunting. But these things are not what is meant. They are a departure from the Horned God’s true expression. Both aspects of the God are more difficult for most women to comprehend than those of the Goddess. He may also, in a patriarchal society, be more difficult for most men. This is because there are so many images of gods and godlike qualities around that are distortions of him. As present-day witches, I think our understanding of the God still lags behind our understanding of the Goddess. She has had to come first, after thousands of years of suppression of all Goddess worship. And yet the very fact that male gods have been and still are worshipped in mainstream societies all over the world, does make the recovery and recreation of our image of the Horned One that much more difficult.
Every time that you meet him in trance, you help to bring him back, the true Father of All Life. And so with the Goddess. Each time that you meet or invoke her, in trance, you are helping to bring back her worship, her Pagan world.