Following on from Pathworking with Dunsany, I want to talk more broadly about the journey back. If you don’t die in the process, then the end of every adventure involves a return journey. This is just as true of rituals, pagan camps and deep meditations as it is for wandering Hobbits. At the end, you go home. This is an important part of the process.
Home is where you live. It’s where you come from, where you belong, be it ever so ordinary. Part of the coming back can be seeing the old place with new eyes. Like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz, you may find that the adventure allows you to see what was splendid about what you had all along. It may mean bringing back some of the mystery and wonder to share with those who did not go on the journey. It may simply mean finding a place to nurture the more down to earth part of yourself, because we need that too.
A wonder that you cannot speak of to someone who will appreciate it, turns out to be a lot less wonderful. The making of story and offering of experience to another human is part of the adventure. That sharing puts the adventure into perspective, places it in the wider story, perhaps helps us make sense of it too.
The contrast is important, between the wonderful and the ordinary. A life that was all ritual, or all pathworking would cease to make as much sense. That way, quite literally, lies madness. There’s only so much wonder a mind can take before it needs a rest, and perhaps a nice, mundane cup of tea and time to reflect upon things. We appreciate most stuff better for having a degree of contrast. The inherent peace of the ordinary probably seems a lot more valuable once you’ve trekked into Mordor, or whatever your personal equivalent may have been.
It can be tempting to want to disappear, taking the envisaged road into faerie, and never looking back. In the more profound moments of prayer, in the wilder dreams, in the deepest meditations, that call to just go and never return can be loud and powerful. This drab, damp life, this grey England, this lousy government… if only we could step through a magical portal and never come back. Only the coming back is necessary, and worth doing well. Come back smiling, with fresh inspiration, not reluctantly like a kid being dragged out of a playground to go and do homework. Bring a few shreds of glamour and wonder with you, for the rest of the world has need of them.
Only when we come back, can we reflect on where we’ve been and figure out what it means.