3 Huath 2003

Several months ago Hel told me that She had further plans for me. The plan unfolded in my head like the opening of a map: I would be required to do a nine-day retreat, and do a walking tour of each of the Nine Worlds, one per day. At the time, I thought to myself, "Wow, sounds tough. It would probably be a good thing for me, but I don't have the time....Got so much to do. Farm work. Writing. Gatherings. Maybe another year..."

Yesterday She got back to me on it. Ahem. You're supposed to be planning for this retreat. That's when it came home to me that this was not something that I could put off. It had to be done, and done soon. I took this news to the folks on the Helvegr list, other people who work with and/or are owned by Her, and several of them said, "Oh, yeah, She made me do that too." Which was something of a relief - this is not that unusual, I guess - except that some of their admonishments were scary. "Pick a time to do it, and commit to it," one woman said. "I kept putting it off, and one day Hel woke me up in the morning and said, ‘Call in sick to work for the next nine days. You start now, whether you like it or not.'"

So I looked frantically at my calendar, and chose a nine-day period in early October, right after Pagan Pride. I'd rather do it in the fall, which is Hel's time, and anyway I'm pretty cold- hardy. I'd rather endure nine days of cold than heat and bugs. Then I peeked at the information that She'd downloaded into my head about the Rules for this journey, and it terrified me.

You see, Hel doesn't let me leave my body to do journeying. I can understand why: with my dysphoria, it's likely that I'd try to leave it permanently. I'm to be locked to this flesh until it dies, and I'll just have to deal like that. I have to do things the hard way. It's Her decree for me.

There are two ways to do journeying. The traditional one is to leave the body behind and go out, tethered to the body by its silver cord. The other way is harder. The best way that I can explain it is that one opens a door and draws the other world in, so that it is superimposed upon this one. The two worlds exist, for that time, in the same space. (I suppose one could pull in more than one other world, but that would be so confusing and difficult as to be not worth the effort.) By doing this, you can walk around in both worlds at once. You can move physically through both, but you have to constantly keep the door open and the other world anchored in. It's actually much more difficult than just walking out of your body.

When you do this sort of thing, stuff gets warped in the physical world. On our plane, that hill is thirty paces away; in the other world, the nearest hill-like thing is one hundred paces away. Even though your body still has one foot in this world, it will still take you a hundred paces to get over there. Don't ask me how it works; suffice it to say that it does. Seeing the other world with your physical eyes is something that you get used to; you align your eyes with your inner gaze, which can see the other world clearly (at least mine can) and eventually they catch up. So I will have to do this for nine days straight, no breaks. And no one can come and help me. Because I will have to be physically walking to many places in the Nine Worlds, someone else invading my space may either knock me back here, requiring me to start over.

Or they might get trapped there with me, and I'd have to walk them out. Naked. Defenseless. Because one of the rules that chilled me was: You can take nothing with you that does not have a soul. In other words, nothing that isn't whammied, that isn't filled with energy so that it shows up on other planes as well as this one. That's every article of my clothing, my tools, everything. Everything I might need to survive for nine days in the woods.

This badly restricts what I can take. For things to whammy well, they have to be handmade, or specially worked on. They have to be of natural materials. Artificial stuff made of man-made chemicals doesn't take a charge well at all. Nylon tents are out. So is ordinary clothing. ("What happens if I bring something dead?" I ask Her. "It might get lost," She says ominously. OK, OK, this is going to take a lot of planning.)