I decided to go do something that wasn’t two beers at the pub; the weather is turning nicer — but hasn’t turned nice enough for it to be tourist season yet — and there are a lot of things to do and beautiful places to see within a short train or bus trip of the city. So I went to Culloden, the most touristy one I could think of, which I’ve been looking very much forward to seeing in spite of that.
It was beautiful in a severe way, mostly quiet as I was expecting, and very much more spiritually overwhelming than I’d prepared myself for. Spirits still walk there, many of them. They watch over their kin, and over the place; it’s their home. I spoke with some of them, but I didn’t try to guide any across. They’ve been there for nearly 300 years, and I’m absolutely not the first shaman to come along; if they’d wanted to go, they’d have gone by now. The ancestors do give gifts in return for the ones given to them; this was much easier communication than it usually is for me, no journeying required. I’ll be back, overwhelming or not, and I don’t think it’ll be long. I think I finally know what I’m here for in the spiritual sense. I also think I’ll be buying a National Trust membership.
I thought the immersive cinema experience was best left for another day; I fully expected I’d keel over in the middle of it. I stayed out in the fresh air instead, and propped myself up against a wall of the museum building for a while.
“If you don’t mind the intrusion, you look a bit overtaken. Some people, it happens to. Come and sit with us for a bit.”
The accent, I couldn’t identify beyond it being somewhere in Scotland I haven’t been yet. It was enormous, profound, and cuddly as a fluffy blanket. The man who owned it was no hurt to the senses, either. The us he’d invited me to sit with turned out to be family he was visiting. Once we’d dispensed, to everyone’s pleased surprise, with the idea that I was there from any further away than Inverness, we launched into one of my absolute favorite things about Scotland: “And how are you enjoying it?” I’ve never been asked that by anyone here who didn’t mean it. They want to know, and if something’s wrong, they want to fix it, too, no joke. This country wants you to be happy you’re here.
I ended up spending about an hour with them, and eating some of their food since I’d neglected to bring any. That’s not a mistake I’ll make when I go back; the food helped to ground and settle me a lot, and I should be carrying something, anyway. I’ve gotten out of the habit of packing along a couple of granola bars wherever I go; I need to get back into it.
When I got up, meaning to do the say thanks and fade trick, Cameron (as I’d found out my rescuer’s name was) got up and wandered off with me. Once we were far enough off that eyes might be able to observe us but ears couldn’t, he asked what had happened to me to leave me there for him to find holding up the wall.
I thought a little. And then a little more. But he’d noticed, and his response — that it happens to some people — wasn’t the usual banter, was it? So I told him: shamanism, ancestors, location-attached spirits, all of it. And then I waited for “Oops, I forgot I have to rotate my hair and wash my tires today!”. It didn’t come.
“I thought it might be something like that. You didn’t look frightened, only…away a bit.”
So we talked a little longer, he convinced me to accept a ride back to the city with them, and we swapped phone numbers. We’ve tentatively planned to do a vague something before he goes home. I hope that ends up being something specific; I’d like to see him again. Actually, I’d like to hear him again, too. Oof.
I have other things to think about, though, and to start negotiating. Apparently, I’m back in the realm of the spirits. I’m all right with that, mostly because I never left entirely, but there are terms to be named. I may not have all of the life I want, but I have enough of one to be worth protecting. I will not be torn away from my home again. I will not give up the other things that make my life more than a one-dimensional slog. Being a shaman is part of my being a whole person, too; I get that. But it won’t be the only part ever again. It’s all one thing, but not solely one thing.
(I had to pick this song. What else?)