Against Hound and Darkness

The events of this post took place August 15, 2013 during a meditative shadow work session.

Dulcet tones of a Celtic harp played softly through the living room. I settled myself on the couch and closed my eyes to shut out the dim light of the living room lamp. Slowly, over a while, my mind calmed and I found myself in the parking lot of the townhouse I lived in as a child. I crossed to the sidewalk running beside our building and lowered myself into the manhole as I had before. Cool blue light dimly lit the tunnel below, deeper than it was in life, as I descended the ladder, splashing into the rippling water quietly. A glint caught my eye and I found myself staring at two swords: the FlameBlade, a longsword with flames patterned along the blade, heftier than I imagined it would be in a long-forgotten tale; and Lightning, the amethyst-pommeled sword carried by Alanna the Lioness of Tortall. At first I picked up the slender blade known as Lightning, forged by the Old Ones, yet the grip felt wrong in my hands. I set the sword back down and picked up the thicker, heavier FlameBlade. It was better suited for this level, as I was beginning to learn that the setup of my psyche was setup not unlike the levels of a video game.

As I stood in the tunnel, I got hints of new locations for future travels and future trials. Locations near homes I grew up in throughout my childhood, places I’ve lived over the years. Danger lurks past the tunnel but I am safe at the ladder where it appears I will equip myself prior to each visit.

I sloshed my way along the tunnel and headed towards the main room I had found before where the waters of several spouts pour out into a central pit, glowing faintly blue-green, lit from underneath. Small chambers surround the hole, matching the entrance I find myself in. It is the main entrance, from what I can see; the other holes, other tunnels and chambers will hold things I must face, must fight before I can move to the larger issue in the pit. Once they are all defeated, I can move onto the next location, the next childhood home.

Slipping over the edge of the floor, careful not to fall into the central pit, I inched my way along the thin lip that leads me to the first tunnel, pulling myself inside the first chamber. In the gloom, I could see a large three-headed dog. It heard me as I step forward and began to charge, headed for the entrance. The beast is monstrous and I reached out with my blade to slice its belly if it jumps. When it does, I feel the edge of my sword slice along its gut before it shudders and flashes out of existence. A blink and I see it has gone back to its original position, growling at me from the dark. Slowly, I approach, lowering my blade and recognition hits me. The large dog is our Rottweiler from when I was quite young, my mother’s dog. I reach out and pet her, trying to comfort her in the darkness, and slowly she shrinks and her outer heads disintegrate. Soon she is fully recognizable as the old dog that I cried over in the car before my mother took her into the vet for a final visit. I start for the entrance again and think to give her water before I leave. A water dish appears (am I wearing a pack?) and I fill it with water from the spout beneath our chamber settling it before her to drink. If I need a companion later, perhaps she will be the one I need take.

The next chamber glowed red as I approached, inching along the lip that surrounds the central pit, connecting each chamber. A cold feeling rolled through me and I felt I know what is in this chamber. I am not ready for this particular challenge and I duck below the entrance so as not to be seen before moving onto the next.

This chamber is even darker than the first. I have a flash of memory to the time my grandfather held me down in the dark to try and cure my fear of it. Originally as I pulled myself inside, I imagined I would have to face that fear again. I walked in slowly and something grabbed me, holding me against the wall. I let it, thinking that was the challenge. Eventually, the force lets me go and I move further into the tunnel. A blue light comes into being above me and I see something charge my right side. I recognize the lesson here: I must not get too comfortable with the darkness; it will eat you if you allow it. I fight the shadow being and move back to the central pit. It is a challenge I realize I will have to face again in the future.

It is enough for now. I make my way back to the entrance, return the FlameBlade to its partner and climb the ladder back to the surface.

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