Two ravens, up in the branches of the Soul Tree. One black and one white. They want me to go down to a place in the Lower World where cleansing and healing is needed. I will travel this time under their wings.
We go down through the roots of the tree, down and down, to an immense field of the dead. Countless bodies are lying here, many of them thrown on top of each other in mountainous piles. What is to be done with all these bodies of people slaughtered and abandoned, over all the centuries of war and invasion here in the Bloodlands?
The ravens know. I hover with the great pair, black and white, over the field. At their command, under their directions, thousand of black ravens flock to the field. They tear at the corpses, stripping meat and sinew from the bones. They gorge until all the corpses have been stripped to the bones, which gleam white and clean in the sourceless twilight of this realm.
Now something rises like steam from the bones. A great vaporous cloud, light gray, becoming lighter and more diaphanous as it rises. It is collective spirit that is rising, released from the unhappy dead. I am seeing something that Alfons Mucha tried to paint, in "Apotheosis of the Slavs", the final painting in his magnificent and harrowing series of giant canvases, the Slav Epic: a kind of resurrection of Slavic spirit.
I am awed, and seized by sudden hope for the collective healing that may be possible here in the broken heartlands of Europe.
I feel an urgent need to commune with the Goddess of these lands. She has shown herself to me in many forms. Here and now, she reveals herself in a primal form. The vast slopes of her body look like bread dough - like a loaf of bread, big as a mountain, that is shaped but not yet baked.
What is the breakage of human tides to her? Blood and bone, blood and bone. All the bodies, buried, burned or unburied, have made her more fertile. She lives, she rises, she will give ripe harvests.
I resolve to go out into the country, when my workshop is over, and make an offering to the Goddess of this land. What can a man offer the Earth Goddess? Only the return of her gifts. Bread and beer and honey.
- My experience while leading a group journey into ancestral realms in my Shamanic Dreaming workshop in Prague this weekend.
Detail from Alfons Mucha, "After the Battle of Grunwald" currently on exhibit at the National Gallery in Prague. Photo by RM.