In the last week I've taken the strangeness to a new level. A week ago today I was walking in the Derwent valley. Taking a rest at the top of a hill - I'm not the fittest of individuals - I looked at the trees and was surprised to spot a wolf sitting in the branches. Who wouldn't be surprised at this turn of events? Since wolves aren't known for sitting in the branches high in trees. And they're also not known for living in the Derwent valley or indeed anywhere else in the country. Imagine the effect on my surprise when the wolf turned towards me, transformed into some kind of wild cat, and smiled at me for a while before wandering away through the branches of the trees.
I sat and pondered this for a while. Then the branches shimmered and I saw in them the god Poseidon. Yes. Him. The actual ancient sea god. In a wood. Not in the sea. He stood there, complete with trident and crown and I accepted this turn of events. I'd run out of space for surprise. He looked at me for a while and then spoke, simply saying "Come, receive my gift." I was disappointed because I didn't know how to come to him to receive a gift. After a while he nodded at me and shimmered away.
I told a new friend this. Explained how I'd encountered Poseidon. Even though, quite obviously, he doesn't actually exist. She said, "But he does exist. I talk to him all the time." Sometimes it's good to share things with people who turn out to be pleased you've found some sanity rather than wanting to reach for a new anti-psychotic medication to alleviate the hallucinations you keep having.
Two days ago I visited the sea. I found a wonderful spot. The tide was at its lowest point and many rocks were uncovered. Lots of amazing rock pools. Lots of space. And no people. I spent over an hour there before I had to leave to be somewhere else. I'd have loved to stay longer and will return. Well, nearly no people. Two guys sat nearly 100 metres away near the cliff. And at one point a guy with a towel wandered close before wandering off again. To be honest I was hoping he would be someone so in tune with the needs of everyone that he was only there to give me a towel. Unfortunately I remained towel-less and he towel-ful.
I sat close to the water. As close as I could without being sprayed. And I meditated for a while. Opening my eyes I saw Poseidon again. This seemed more normal. While it may be abnormal to encounter a non-existent ancient god in person at least he was in the right place this time. He spoke to me again. We talked for a while and I cried out to Spirit in acceptance of life.
|Image taken from here.|
After a while things got physical. I had to respond in action. He said that he didn't want me to do this where the sea met the rocks because that would have been too dangerous. But he pointed me to a rock pool behind where I sat. A very deep rock pool full of life and the most perfect shade of blue-green you can imagine. He told me to go and dip my hands and wrists into the water and feel its life.
I knelt by that pool, obedient. Felt the water. It was cold! But brilliant and had I the right clothes and a towel it would, later, have been tempting to immerse myself in the pool. Poseidon spoke again. He told me to lean further out and pour the sea water over my head, to baptise myself into a new sense of Spirit. He gave me the words to say. I won't repeat them here. Partly because they were for me and for that occasion. Partly because many of them are lost. I haven't been told to write a liturgy for others or to start a Poseidon Spirit cult. Not yet anyway!
So with his help I baptised myself.
I then returned to the sea and stood on the one rock higher than the rest and watched the sea strike the shore below me. I shouted into the sea. I sang. I prayed - mostly in Christian language because that's the language I have even though I don't have the doctrine to go with it. When I call out "Come Holy Spirit" I'm in no way calling to the third person of a Trinitarian God who is what the Christians claim. And yet the words are working for me. If I say "Lord" or "God" or any of the other words or even "Baptism" I'm not saying them as you might find them in the Catholic Catechism.
Then Poseidon said to head to another pool. Baptise myself in that one too. And we sat together. We might have shared a pot of tea had we had a pot to share.
Reluctantly I had to leave for an event. I didn't want to. I wanted to stay with the god. With the rocks and the sea and watch as the tide continued to rise. Feel the breeze. Feel the sunlight. Soak myself some more. Meditate in that place of near total solitude. Explore the rock pools. Watch the seaweed forests rise up again. But I had to leave.
I had a good time at that event. A social occasion. The new friend I mentioned was there and she was so pleased that I'd met Poseidon again. There was talking. A guided meditation based in part on opening up channels between chakras. And we each drew cards from an animal tarot pack. I drew the monkey and the raven.
So what do I say now about all this?
1. I'm not going to call it weird any more. I'm going to own it as my experience and say it is what it is. Nobody else has to believe a word of it. You can call it weird. Call it whatever you like. But I did meet Poseidon. In some way or other. Even if he isn't real. Even if he is just a symbol, a story. Stories are immensely powerful. I met a philosopher a while ago who argued that stories are powerless and we should give them up for pure reason. He was wrong. That's my dogmatic statement for today. He was wrong.
Perhaps when we tell the most powerful of stories they are real in that moment. Perhaps I need to express what I might mean by real before I write a sentence like that.
2. I love tarot cards. I'd love to have more of them and to give myself the time to use them, to learn more about them. Many of the sets contain seventy-eight works of art. The imagery is wonderful and the stories and interpretations are fascinating.
I don't believe that tarot or other ways of divination have any power in themselves whatsoever. Whatever interpretation a book may give to the card drawn is of no use. Except that we then, from our own wisdom and inner intuitive knowledge, bring power to it and learn what we may learn. Or we bring our own ego and arrogance or shame to it and replace the truths with lies. It can be hard to know the difference.
Still, I did enjoy drawing the monkey and then the raven. Especially the raven. It's kind of my animal. Also the animal of the new friend as it happens. And in claiming that I have new ways in which to look into my life and being and hopefully learn something. It was interesting too at a writing workshop based on tarot this year to draw the devil followed by three sixes from the minor arcana. The Devil. 666. That was amusing.
3. I don't believe Poseidon is real. I don't believe any of the gods are real. Not the god of the Christians, the many gods of the Hindus, and not the gods of the many religions that have passed into history. My new friend says our belief brings them their existence. Maybe that's so in a way. The Hindus sometimes say they have a thousand gods, none of whom are divine. I like that idea. Pray to a god and the god is not reality. The god is a powerful symbol though. A personalised emanation. A holder of a facet of reality.
Poseidon spoke to me. That's a powerful thing. Even though he's not real. Speaking to unreal gods is powerful. I was talking with a Discordian a while ago who said to me how it was amazing that many changes come from praying to a god he knows full well doesn't exist. I presume he spoke of Eris. Maybe it will be the same for me.
4. I want to dig more deeply into all the things I will still habitually call weird. I have friends who tell me how much tapping (EFT) helps them. EFT is nonsense - but I'll try it one day. I want to enter into considering the Sephiroth, run more into meditation, and learn of a whole load of different ways. I want to explore energy work more. I learned to balance chakras and auras as a teenager and I want to return to it and I don't give a damn whether or not science would ever tell me they're real things or whether they're just superb symbols that can be used for understanding, healing and realisation of truths and ideas. I want more of the woo. More of the nonsense.
5. I say that while wishing to remain completely skeptical. To keep my brain screwed in place and to call out fake therapies. It's all well and good using the stories, the symbols, the cards and the gods to understand and grow. But when they're marketed erroneously as curers of disease or packaged as the truth in themselves then everything changes and something that may be good becomes something that is intensely bad.
6. I want to say it again. Because I believe it. Poseidon talked with me and led me through a baptism in sea water. Even though he's not real.
And so I will return to the sea. Perhaps Poseidon will be there again. Perhaps not. Perhaps I will only (only!) encounter the universe, nature, the surface of the deepest water. That will be enough. What more is needed? Ancient gods are just an added bonus in the expression of life.
I began writing this text with a very different plan in mind. I was going to speak out against woo. Against all the rubbish people speak and sell and how dangerous some of it actually is. Instead I've written something that most people would say is also woo, rubbish, nonsense.
They're right. It is. Because quite clearly I've been communing with a nonexistent deity. It's nonsense. You're right. I could have been hallucinating accidentally. Then more purposefully. I understand that hallucinations are more common among autistic people and I've certainly hallucinated before in more scary, sometimes terrifying, ways.
And yet it isn't nonsense or just my head playing a trick. Because as a symbol, as a path into understanding, Poseidon has been very powerful for me in the last week. I call upon no one to believe in him. He's not real. I don't believe in him. He's not real. And yet I spoke with him and would happily do so again and I am happy to find meaning in the experience.
Hail Poseidon! (Unreal) God of the Sea! May I find whatever wisdom I need to draw from your story and from the waters you (don't) rule.