The Hedge Craft – Connecting to the Lowerworld

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The Lowerworld is often associated with the Sidhe, the Fair Folk, the
faerie folk. Travelling by means of the World tree, we can work with the
Fair Folk as well as the ancestors in the Lowerworld. The ability to be
open, to open our perception, is key to travelling between the worlds.
We also have some ritual tools to hand, such as the staff or wand (which
symbolises the World Tree), herbs, charms, potions and more which can
help us on our journey (for more on ritual tools, please read my
introductory book The Crane Bag: A Druid’s Guide to Ritual Tools and
Practices). Each person’s journey will be different, each person’s
encounter with Faerie unique. We will each perceive these beings in a
different way, as we ourselves are perceived as different from each
other. The one constant that remains is that these beings exist the world
over, throughout cultures and religions all across our planet. There is a
shamanistic thread that binds humanity together, which is not primitive,
not simple or reductionist, but simply unifying in its weave. As Corby
Ingold writes in the essay “Shamanism in the Celtic World” (OBOD
website): The final problem remaining to us is identifying the Celtic
shaman. We have no word from ancient Celtic tradition that is exactly
cognate with the word “shaman”, though there are plenty of terms for
religious and magical practitioners of various types. Some scholars have
suggested the Old Irish word fili, meaning a kind of poet/seer, as the
likely term for a shaman in ancient Irish society. Opinions on this are,
however, far from unanimous. Without knowing what an ancient Celtic
shaman might have been called within whichever of the Celtic societies
he existed in, and precisely how his role as a shaman was defined within
those societies, it is very difficult to say with any certainty that there
were Celtic shamans.
We can say with some certainty, however, that shamanic elements are
to be found within Celtic tradition from ancient to modern times, and
back up our assertion with prominent examples such as those given here.
For the modern spiritual seeker or shamanic practitioner seeking a
connection with Celtic roots, there is a wealth of rich material to explore
in several languages, existing in books both ancient and modern. There
is, in addition, research to be done among living Celtic peoples and
lands. And ultimately, there is the Land herself upon which our Celtic
ancestors lived, and upon which their descendants yet live today. If we
empty ourselves, and go to Her, and seek in the silence to hear Her
voice, she will speak to us as she spoke to those ancient and far flung
wanderers.
In the Hedge Druid’s Craft, we can seek relationship with the Fair
Folk, the Faeries, the Sidhe, deep within the Hollow Hills. We can seek
them out, using our wit and intelligence, our skills and knowledge, if we
dare. We can connect to the Lowerworld through their means, through
their places of power, through the gateways that we begin to perceive,
both seen and unseen. We can, through the aid of allies such as the
ancestors, and other spirit guides establish a deeper connection to the
sidhe, and enter into a relationship with the Lowerworld that enriches
our lives and enchants our souls.
Find a tree near you that you can visit regularly. Spend some time
with your tree, which you will be using to help you journey to the
Lowerworld. Befriend the tree. Research all that you can, enlighten
yourself as to its ways. You will only learn by doing the work.
To enter the Lowerworld and connect with an ancestral or Faerie
guide, you can use a rite such as the one that follows, which ideally
should be performed out of doors, but if that is impossible, can be done
indoors as instructed previously using indoor potted trees as your liminal
place, taking the place of an outdoor hedge.
Go to your special, liminal place, whether that be a hedge, the
seashore, the forest edge, a mountaintop or a park in a city, or to a tree
with whom you have a special relationship. Assume the Druidic pose,
the one-legged “within this world and the other” posture described
previously, or simply place your non-dominant foot forward. Notice how
this posture makes you feel, and stay with it for as long as you wish, to
allow your consciousness to move from the world of the civilized to the
world of nature. When you are ready, say the following or similar words:
I walk between the worlds with the World Tree as my guide;
May my roots reach deep,
May my core be strong and centred, and
May my inspiration reach towards the skies.
I now venture into the Lowerworld
To understand my deepest shadow,
To seek the roots of any difficulty,
And to find my spirit guide as Ancestor or Fair Folk.
In the realms below I search out my inner truth
To bring it back into the Middleworld.
May I be aided in this endeavour
By those who are attuned with my intention.
Turn around counter-clockwise three times, and say: By the power of
three times three,
This is my will, so may it be.
You may now proceed with your working. You may physically walk to a
tree that you would like to connect with, if you are not there already, or
you may sit down and perform the journey in your mind. Whichever you
decide, know that you are now between the worlds.
Once you are at the tree that you wish to symbolise the World Tree,
take a moment and stand before it, honouring it. Ask for permission to
come closer, to share in its wisdom. If the answer is yes, then proceed
forward and touch the trunk of the tree. If the answer is no, perhaps you
will need to seek another tree, or clarify your intention to the tree before
you can receive a positive response.
With your hands upon the bark, feel the power of the tree flowing
upwards from the earth, and also downwards from the branches. Feel
where it meets, and connect to that energy. You can then visualise a
doorway opening up in the trunk of the tree beneath your hand, and
with the slightest of movements it swings open, revealing a staircase that
travels downwards. You enter, and proceed down the dimly lit stairwell,
the roots of the tree all around you, the smell of the earth clean and
clear. The light brightens as you descend, and eventually you reach the
bottom of the stairs and find yourself in a world very similar to that
above ground, only that there is no obvious source for the light; there is
no sun and moon, no stars, only a silver light that illuminates
everything. It is neither day nor night, and the season may be different
to that above. Take a moment and orient yourself to this new world. You
find that you are standing next to a tree of the same type you used above
ground to enter into the Lowerworld. You take your hand and place it
upon the trunk, and call to the Lowerworld to reveal to you your spirit
guide, whether in the form of an ancestor or that of the Fair Folk.
A mist appears around you, and slowly clears revealing a figure
standing before you. You take a moment to look at the figure, and you
incline your head towards it in a slight bow. You can ask the figure if
they are to be your spirit guide in the Lowerworld. If the answer is yes,
then you can proceed to ask them further questions, and get to know
them. If the answer is no, then you can ask them to direct you to your
guides. One will appear.
Once you have met and spoken with your guide, you give your thanks
and then return to the Middleworld. Place your hand once more upon
the trunk of the tree, and a doorway appears. You travel up the stairwell
back the way you came. The light of the Lowerworld recedes behind you
as another light beckons you back towards the Middleworld. You step
out from the doorway into the Middleworld, and the doorway closes and
vanishes back into the tree. You say a prayer of thanks to the World
Tree, and then return back to your original starting point.
Once at your starting point, say these or similar words: I now return
from walking between the worlds.
I honour my time spent in the Lowerworld
And seek to bring its wisdom into my being.
May I walk the realms in beauty and in truth
And may my eyes be open to the possibilities.
I honour my spirit guide and my work.
May I be the awen.
Turn three times clockwise and state:
By the power of three times three
This is my will, so may it be.
Take a moment to settle back into this world. If you can, eat and drink
something to ground you in the present moment. You might clap your
hands three times, or pat the earth three times to signal your full return.
You can also say your name aloud three times. Journal your experience
as soon as you are able.