Follow the beat of the drum, deeper and deeper into the Otherworld. Settle yourself under the Otherworldly Tree, the World Tree, the Axis Mundi. The Celts called it Bile, the Norse Yggdrasil. Even the Mongols had words for it, for it links all the worlds within and without. Settle in, and let yourself see this tree; let your mind wander until it focuses. How does it seem to you? Remember this tree, for it is the first thing you will see when you access the Otherworld.
The tree is the starting place on our journey today, a journey to the heart of love, to the Young Son and his desire. Breathe, in and out, in and out. Standing beneath the tree, let your eyes skim the landscape of the Otherworld. What do you see? What sort of land lies before you? Is it day or night? What season is it?
You see a swan, white and majestic, the bird of beauty, love and desire. It inspires an upswelling of longing, a pull of the tide. The bird is everything that is beautiful to you in the world – but other, its own self, not under your control. It takes flight into the sky of the Otherworld, leaving you on the earth.
But you have your talisman – white feathers, a touch of the beauty that brings you power. As the drum beats, use your talisman to change shape. Breathe into this change. Arms to wings, hands to flight feathers, neck lengthening. As the drum beats, complete this change.
Take flight, spirit-flight: soar into the sky as a white bird, swan or dove or owl, or another of your choosing. Let your heart guide your flight, until you come to a lake mirroring the heavens – the pure blue of the upper world. See this lake, and land on the floor, resuming your shape.
The lake is filled with swans, as beautiful as the bird you followed – the bird you know is among them. And so Aonghus Og stood on the shore and his task was a difficult one: to decide which of the 150 birds gathered there was Caer Ibormeith, whose name means yew berry – the goddess who had come to him in a dream and drove him mad with heart-ache until he found her. But know this: each of those birds on the lake is love, someone or something with whom you may share your heart. There is no shortage of love objects there. But know also, each swan is a being in its own right, one who cannot be cajoled or controlled. Each will fly back to the lake once its time with you is through, because that is the nature of love.
And so. Pick one – beckon forth the swan. And as it touches its foot upon the shore, it turns into your desire – your dream, your yew-berry. What does your swan look like? What lessons does this being bring to you, what wisdom? As the drum beats, explore this.
The being changes back into a swan and returns to the lake. But you find you are not alone: Aonghus Og, the young son, has some wisdom to give you. How does he appear to you? Take a moment with him.
He bears a wand in his hand. At its touch, you are back at the foot of the Otherworldly Tree, the beginning of your journey. As my drum stills, ground yourself in the earth and return.