Peter O’Gamhna first contacted me a few months ago, to share his experiences with the free guided meditation “Meet a Guide”. He found himself talking to an entity that identified himself as Apollo… but who seemed a bit “distant” and definitely did not take on Apollo’s classic appearance! Since then Peter’s journey with meditation has been a remarkable one, and I encouraged him to write it up so that we could share it with you here. Meditation isn’t for everyone, but for myself and many others, it’s been an amazing path!
My name is Peter O’Gamhna. Jeff has given me the wonderful chance to write a guest post for his highly successful blog, one which I have eagerly accepted. I’m going to be discussing visualisation meditations, sharing my experiences and thoughts with you the reader — it is my hope that in doing so I might inspire a few of you to give it a try yourself, or simply satisfy your curiosity about the matter.
First, allow me to give you some background information about myself.
I was, for most of my life, a Christian. I had been born into a Catholic Irish family on my father’s side and a Catholic Italian family on my mother’s, so my parents naturally raised me to be a devout Christian just as their parents did with them. All though I never held the same love of the Catholic Church that my family had, I was a devout believer in the basic tenets of Christianity — I followed Jesus Christ, believed in only one God and so and so forth. I was always, however, curious about other religious paths — so much so that I would often go to great lengths to study and understand other belief systems. At one point in my studies I discovered Neo-Paganism, specifically Druidry. Upon further investigation I at once fell in love with the beliefs and practices. At some point or another I discovered the usage of meditation in various Pagan traditions (although I had been aware of the practice I believed it to be a strictly Eastern idea). Through my studies I realised that meditation is a very open and personal practice and thus could easily be adapted to any belief structure, so I thought that I may as well make an attempt to meditate — yet I could not find any particular useful advice!
So, I elected to consult the all-seeing eye of the internet that is the Google search engine. Eventually I stumbled across the meditation section of Jeff’s blog and discovered his free ‘Find A Guide’ meditation. I was naturally cautious and skeptical, deciding against trying it several times before I finally elected to download the track. I set aside thirty minutes of my time in the evening, made myself comfortable and began to play the track. Initially, I had some difficulty visualising and perceiving the world the track was telling me to visualise — everything seemed to be hazy and out of focus, as though as I looking through smoked glass, yet I could clearly smell the environment I was in. Nonetheless, I found the entire thing to be rather relaxing — both physically and mentally.
It wasn’t until the end of the meditation however that events began to take an interesting turn. As the track told me to, I made my way to a small and pleasant garden to sit down on a bench. After a few seconds, I was joined my an elderly gentleman wearing a distinctly Greek or Roman outfit — he sat beside me, smiled warmly and greeted me by name. All though I could perceive his clothing I could not distinguish his face. He was almost distant, perceivable but not touchable. I asked his name and he told me he was Apollo. I was now faced with a rather interesting situation: I was having a conversation with a Greek God who I had no belief in whatsoever. We spoke for only a few minutes, talking primarily about how confusing the entire experience was for me, before he left. When I emerged from the meditation that night I was baffled to say the least!
Still, I was now greatly intrigued about what it was I had experienced. Had Apollo been a mere figment of my imagination? Was he truly who he said he was if he was a real spirit? I elected that trying again would be the wisest way to find answers — so I continued with the meditation several times. Every time I attempted it my capacity for perception in the world increased: I was able to see my environment clearly, feel the sensation of the warm sand under bare feet, relax in the cool breeze of the ocean. Each time I meditated I would once again encounter Apollo — who, even on my second attempt, was far clearer to me in both voice and appearance. Naturally, one of the first things I discussed with him was the concept of deity: if he could not exist in my beliefs, how could I be talking to him unless I was imagining him? He explained that one must imagine deity as a concept or doctrine: there is a singular, central concept of God which branches off into thousands of other individual ideas — each stands alone, yet each requires the central idea.
After a short period of time I was able to meditate without the use of the track, walking myself through the key steps of the meditation in my mind. Not long after I had done so I began to make contact with entities and beings other than Apollo — the first of which was a seemingly middle-aged woman. She appeared to me on the beach, dressed in green and brown robes and clutching a richly decorated chalice of sorts. She scooped the chalice through the warm waters of the ocean to collect some in the cup, before looking up and smiling at me. I did not approach her at that time even though she appeared to be again in the distance. Later however I elected to go and talk to her, discover who she was: she was my Anima, the feminine half to my personality (a well-documented idea in Jungian psychology). I now talk to her in almost every such meditation and she has proven to be a welcome source of advice and inspiration.
One of my most surprising experiences in meditation came shortly afterwards. I had been expecting to emerge onto the beach and garden that features in Jeff’s guided track as usual, yet when I reached the bottom of the stairs I noticed something drastically different: the beach had been replaced by a forest. I now know this place to be my Inner Grove: a truly wondrous landscape with hundreds of trees from varying climates, primarily tropical ones, with a very neat network of interconnected paths and clearings. Mountains stand tall to the north and have much smaller sisters along a great lake to the south, while the horizon is dominated in the north-east by a pair of colossal temples that bare striking resemblance to the architecture of the Aztec and Mayan peoples. It took a while for me to adjust to the change of course, but I know look forward to each visit. Yet there is one very unique and very special place in my grove.
One particular night I had been greatly troubled by a certain issue. I had consulted Apollo already to see if he could lend any advice to me — I then proceeded to seek the counsel of my Anima and see if she could lend any advice about how I was really feeling (she is, after all, part of me!). Rather than plainly telling me something she guided me to a small clearing just off the entrance to my Grove — there we came to a small yet brilliant pool of clear water with a waterfall crashing down from above. It is hidden beneath the canopy of the trees, making it comfortably dark and cool. My Anima told me that this place was my ‘Waterpool of Reflection’ — a place where one can retreat when they have an issue and consult the waters. She told me to think on my issue and cast a stone to the water. The issue in particular was in regards to a close friend of mine whom I was having some difficulty with, not in the least due to the opinions of other individuals. So I picked up a few stones from the side of the pool and cast them to the water. The surface of the water suddenly seemed to shift and change — a series of visions and symbols began to appear before me, lasting for a few minutes in total. When the waters had cleared I sat by the Waterpool for a time and considered their meaning — it seemed as though they were telling me my friend and I would be separated for some reason and yet, afterwards, our friendship would emerge stronger than before. I was uncertain of what to make of all of this and put it out of my mind. Yet, no later than two days after the experience, I discovered that this friend of mine had violated my trust in one of the worst ways possible — we were naturally torn apart by the incident. And yet, when he reconciled, our friendship did indeed emerge stronger than before. I still am unsure of what to make of the experience!
Yet that meditation did not hold only one surprise. It also brought with it one of the happiest moments of my life. A golden-haired woman had come to me, emerging from a hidden path to the side of the waterpool, dressed in a wonderful white gown. She had a kind, warm face and asked me to follow her — I did so, sensing that I should trust her. She guided me down a path in the forest to a small clearing. In the middle of the clearing there stood a tree like no other — leaves of pure gold and red stand upon brilliant white branches, glistening beneath beams of brilliant sunlight. A lone wooden bench stands in it’s shade, capable of seating three people. We both sat down on the bench there. I asked her why she had brought me to this place and she simply gestured past me, as though pointing to someone. Turning my head to the other side of the bench I nearly dropped dead when I saw what, or rather who, she had gestured to. Sitting right beside me was a man who had died many many years ago — my beloved Grandfather. I have very few memories of him and yet always feel a strong connection when I see photographs or hear stories of him. We have since spoken many times and the woman who came to me has revealed herself as a guiding spirit — one who I know seek the counsel of regularly.
I could continue to document my experiences here but I’m afraid this post is already quite lengthy! Needless to say the simple act of attempting a Jeff’s wonderful guided meditation has changed my life in many ways: through my experiences I decided that Paganism was the right path for me and left Christianity behind. Apollo is now one of my Gods and I have several wonderful guides. I would definitely recommend anyone who is considering trying out Jeff’s meditation to do so — everyone’s experiences will be different, so no one can tell you what will happen if you do. I have merely offered some of my experiences as examples of what a visualisation meditation can contain. I do hope you have enjoyed reading this post and I wish you all happiness and good luck regardless of your personal path!
Note: I have submitted this post to be part of Mahud’s Landscapes synchroblogging project. Here’s a list of other participants:
The Aquila ka Hecate: King and the Land are One
Symbolic Meanings: Symbolic Landscapes of the Norse Mythology
Quaker Pagan Reflections: Gone Away
Executive Pagan: Nature and Me
Manzanita, Redwoods, and Laurel: The Importance of Local Landscapes
The Dance of the Elements: Landscape and Mythology
Pitch 313: Trancendental Experience Out of Doors Opens the Gateway to Magic
Druid’s Apprentice: Landscape Synchroblogging
Paleothea: Ge, Gaia, Gaie: Earth
Mythprint: The Atlantis Legend
Druid Journal: Guest Post Merry Meetings
Between Old and New Moons: Chanting the Landscape