I had a really interesting chat with a friend recently, who brought up the idea that sometimes, self-destructive things can push you past being stuck where you don’t want to be. Not necessarily in the “you have to hit rock bottom before you can start to climb up” kind of way, though sadly there are some folks who have to fall that hard to learn anything.
It’s an interesting point. I have been known to indulge in a little self-destruction once in a while, sometimes by accident, sometimes quite willfully. It’s a way of shaking loose the cobwebs of the mind, getting your head well out of the space it usually occupies. There are reasons the old shamans used certain kinds of mushrooms or herbs to alter their reality. Some of us don’t have the gift of being able to slip into that head-space without a little push.
I saw a leprechaun in my bedroom when I was 3 or 4 years old.
I remember it vividly, thoroughly, with insane clarity. He was shorter than me, wearing a cap, raggedy jacket, pants that looked like maybe they had been a color once, and boots made of some kind of animal skin. He wasn’t a sweet-faced cherub at all. He was a dirty, pissed-off looking fellow. He looked like the fuckin’ real deal. And I screamed and ran out the door as fast as I could, screaming my head off about the leprechaun in my room. My mother got up and went to look, and of course he was gone.
I’ve never seen one again, and though I have virtually no other memories from early childhood, that one stands out clear, and not remotely dream-like. So clearly and distinctly that I have no choice but to know that “there are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”* I don’t believe in them; I don’t have to. I know they exist. Even though I have never seen another one.
It has been something of a lifelong quest for me to see another. I have dreamed of them, oh yes, and they appear in my dreams very much like the fellow in my bedroom. I might call them fairies, gnomes, brownies or pixies now. They are usually dressed in shades of brown, sometimes green, always wearing hats and boots, sometimes wearing a vest or a sweater under their jackets, always somewhere on the spectrum between disheveled and downright grubby. And they usually have a message.
Okay, I reason, I can see you in DreamWorld, but not Middle Realm, so I need to get my head into DreamWorld while I’m awake. And what’s the surest, most time-honored way to do that? Take a guess.
I’m not a wild experimenter. I’m downright cautious. I’m keenly aware that I do not have Keith Richards’ constitution. There’s nearly always a price to pay, the day after or sometimes for two or three days after. And though I have never had one of the fair folk walk up and . . . give me a sharp slap across the knee, I have heard them singing, and have had actual conversations with candle flames and cicadas. One night last summer I saw an elemental watching me from a neighbor’s yard. We held eye contact for probably 30 minutes before I became a mosquito buffet and excused myself.
Please understand, I don’t make a habit of tripping balls and wandering the neighborhood in search of elves. But once in a great while when I really feel the need to make contact, or be able to understand the pressure of some uncomfortable sensations I can’t otherwise explain, I will go full Wyrd Sister and alter the shit out of my consciousness in order to find out what in five Hells is going on.
The big secret is to have a journal and a working pen or pencil with you at all times so you can write shit down as it happens, and take notes during conversations, and then go back and fill in as much detail as you possibly can before you sleep it off–because if you don’t your experience will evaporate and you’ll be left with nothing but very fuzzy and dream-like recollections of things that will never, ever make any sense at all. Many times things don’t make sense anyway, but at least you have a record of the event, and reading over that the next day will jog your short-term memory and help you make sense of it, and hopefully make the messages relevant for life in Middle Realm.
Creative artists feel a particular need on occasion to “slip the surly bonds of Earth and dance the skies on laughter-silvered wings.”**
When you get into a serious creative rut, sometimes it’s necessary to raid the creative juice factory. But you have to be extremely judicious because there is a super-fine line between usefully fucked up and spewing shit without a filter that is not usefully creative. The line between comfortably dangling your feet into the water and being in over your head is baby-hair fine. Sometimes too much happens because we second guess ourselves moments before just enough happens.
Did I mention that I am cautious? Oh yes. When I am trying to use the tools Nature provides for the purposes of enhanced creativity, I have freakin’ OCD. I know exactly how much of what I need to get me there, and I don’t go one iota further because that would be a waste of time.
Guard your time. Electronic distractions are diabolical. Time gets sucked away and you end up missing the sweet spot. Write everything down, no matter how messed up or mundane it seems. And don’t second guess yourself after the fact and say, “Well, that probably didn’t really happen, I was just stoned,” because the truth is, you intentionally put yourself into a state of mind to be receptive to that, whatever it was, so you’d damn well better believe in it, or the risks and the price are too damn high.
Fortunately, I’m discovering that there are good alternatives to substances, which is great because I am getting too old for most of that shit anymore. Tuning forks are part of a sound healer’s tool kit, and we study them in great depth. There’s a specific set of forks that works to entrain brain waves to specific frequencies that alter consciousness so we can see what’s really there. I don’t have them yet, but they are close to the top of my list of things to acquire as soon as humanly possible (and gradually getting closer). I’ll be getting a set soon, and I will be sure to report back with my experiences.
*Billy Shakespeare, Hamlet
**John Gillespie Magee, High Flight, paraphrased