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Monday, 17 March 2014

In Therapy

It was a few weeks ago now; but it can happen to any of us, at any time. The doings of life had become too much to handle. Anguish and turmoil had become my daily companions. No question: disentanglement was the order of the day. It was time for therapy.

I awoke early and, having pulled on clothes and eaten a quick but hearty breakfast, was on the train soon after the sun had come up. The massive winter snows were in evidence as we coasted past the hills of the east, peaks coming and going beneath a blanket of grey above.

The train was quiet and nearly empty; I was the only person alighting at the countryside station. The sun of the mid-morning put in a wan appearance as I set off up the track. Past the holiday cottages and fields the home of healthy-looking bovine beasts, I crossed the bridge and began to follow the long serpentine curve of the track as it ascended below the line of trees glowering darkly to my right. With height, I found the knots of tension, the inner turmoil spun tightly into a ball, begin to unfold. Leaving behind the world of forest, I entered open land. Even here on the west coast, the snows had hung around for long, with large deep patches down to low levels. At once, the path climbed more steeply in long curves, and then I was at the top of the track. I know these hills, and they know me. My consciousness unfurled, and they took me in their embrace. Once more I was connected and alive, a lone and mysterious inhabitant of a living and infinitely mysterious universe. A minute later the magnificent vista of the ancient yet familiar mountains revealed itself. The outer world and its inner reflection  took on a vibrancy that had disappeared beneath the weight of daily things, stuff, doings. Two hours of walking and I sat to eat lunch, to breathe in the space, the purifying quality of the mountain air, the blessings of the place. Not so much a speaking therapy as one involving direct transmission from the human consciousness to the natural wild world, and back again. I was, for now, transformed.

In the chapter entitled 'A Warrior's Last Stand' from 'Journey to Ixtlan', Carlos Castaneda relates a story from the desert. In his early books, he spends a lot of time walking in the desert, principally with Don Juan. On this occasion, they have been walking for a particularly long time; through a succession of shamanic moves, Carlos has ended up on top of a hill. 'A very quiet ebullience filled me...... It was a strange state of being that had no parallel in my busy and dislocated life....... I wanted to stay in that spot forever and I may have, had Don Juan not come and yanked me out of the place.'

Carlos marvels in the magnificence of the wild expanses and the mountains. Don Juan goes on to explain. 'Fix all this in your memory,' Don Juan whispers in Carlos's ear...... 'You're going to hunt power whether you like it or not. It is not a human decision, not yours or mine.' 'Now, properly speaking, this hilltop is your place, your beloved place; all that is around you is under your care. You must look after everything here and everything will in turn look after you.'

This place, continues Don Juan a little later, is the most important spot in Carlos's life. 'This is the place where you will die,' he says in a soft voice. It is a place to which Carlos will always return, either by walking or through dreaming. Here he will store his resources of power. And when it is his time to die, he will return to the place of his predilection and dance to his death.

It is one of these passages in Castaneda that stops me in my tracks. I have places of predilection, and I also know places I can visit should I want to bring difficulty and turmoil descending upon me. They are all places in the wild, mainly in the mountains, where the signal is clear. Look out for your places of power, of predilection, if you are so inclined. Who knows how significant this may turn out one day to be.