Start by meditating to clear your mind. Make sure your arms and legs are not crossed, and take slow, deep breaths. Continue to breathe deeply, as your journey begins. See before you a pair of pillars, with a midnight blue curtain suspended between them. You part the curtains and see a grey mist beyond, but right in the centre of your vision is a silver star, floating without support. You examine the star, noticing how clear and “present” it is, but suddenly, without warning, the star disappears. You find yourself pulled into the space where it was, passing through the pillars and into the mist. Everything goes grey as you feel yourself lifted up, floating up and away, eventually drifting down, to find your feet landing on a grassy hill, as the mist clears. You find yourself on a hilltop, looking down onto woodland in the valley below, a narrow dirt path leads down the hillside to the edge of the forest, and you begin to follow it, feeling a breeze in the air as you descend. Entering the forest, the path continues along, winding between the trees, and you follow it in the dappled green light that filters through the leaves. You hear the rustling of creatures in the undergrowth, but do not see any of the animals as you follow the crooked path deeper and deeper into the forest. Ahead you notice that there is a fork in the path, and you pause, pondering which fork to take. Suddenly you see a flash of white further along one of the paths, and this is the path you choose, walking rapidly along, trying to see what the white flash was. Turning a bend in the path, you see a white stag a short way ahead, looking back as if to check that you are following, before it heads off down the path again. You follow, unable to catch up, but avoiding being left behind, as the path continues to twist and turn between the trees. Deep in the heart of the forest now, the canopy is thick and the dim green filtered sunlight serves only to accentuate the shadows, so it is with some surprise that you turn a bend in the path to find yourself breaking out into a clearing at the heart of the forest. In the centre of the clearing is a fountain, encircled by rocks about the right side to sit on, and the tranquil atmosphere along with the gentle tinkling of the water draws you to go and sit by the fountain. Sitting in contemplation, you hear a sound like a church bell ringing in the distance, and you look up in the direction it came from, to see a beautiful woman entering the clearing. Naked and tanned, with long flowing hair, she is the most beautiful woman you have ever seen, and you watch, captivated, as she walks across the clearing to come and sit by the fountain across from you. Her eyes are filled with joy, and a smile forms on her face as she regards you. Then another sound breaks the silence — a hunting horn. Looking up in the direction this new sound came from, you see another form enter the clearing. This time it is a handsome man, muscular, tanned and equally as naked as the Lady who now sits with you. As he walks towards you, there is a grin on his face and mischief in his eyes, but you hardly notice because you cannot take your eyes off the magnificent antlers growing out of his head. He too comes and sits beside the fountain, next to the Lady, and beckons you to speak with them. (Pause) Once your conversation is at an end, thank the Lord and Lady, and ask them if you might return again. Then say your farewells and turn to cross the clearing to the path that brought you here. As you turn, you see that while you were talking, the animals from the forest have come into the clearing, and are waiting patiently for the Lord and Lady. With one last look over your shoulder at the pair, you re-enter the forest, and follow the twisting path back to the fork, where you pick up the original trail that leads to the hilltop. You quickly make your way to the edge of the forest, returning to the hilltop, where the mist once more envelops you and you feel yourself lifted up and back, until your feet come to rest once again at the two pillars. You walk back between the pillars, as the curtain closes behind you. Contemplating your journey for a moment, you then turn your attention to your physical surroundings as you open your eyes, and the journey is over.

(Extract from “A Grimoire of Modern Cunningfolk” by Peter Paddon)

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