Citation: Story. "The Dance of Death: An Experience with Mushrooms (exp23341)". Erowid.org. Sep 18, 2004. erowid.org/exp/23341
Avebury is a large Neolithic Goddess/Gaia temple complex in Wiltshire, UK. Samhain is the pagan New Year, the death of the old year. It corresponds with the Christian Hallowe'en. Every year I go to Avebury for Samhain. I camp in the woods for several days, regardless of the weather. It is a chance to connect with the Goddess in her Crone aspect. It is fitting that the shroom season coresponds with Samhain - the Crone is a Shaman who travels at will between the worlds, and the mushrooms enable us to do the same with great ease.
Before 2001 I had been working on enhancing my relationship with the Goddess but had never had the experience of being in her presence. This journey was the first time I was granted an audience with her, and since that time I have found it far easier to connect with her.
A friend and I were camped just outside the big henge. We ate our campfire supper (its important to eat good hot food when your camping in November in the UK, especially if you're going to be up late!) and then visited the the Longbarrow, where we conducted a short ritual of love and respect for the Ancestors, and friends and projects that had died or passed over in the previous year. I was very struck by the sense of the Beloved Dead being present, and the way the barrow semed to envelope us.
We went back to our campsite and made sure we had plenty of firewood. We took our mushrooms and told stories. The woods became vivid and enlivened around us, the wind in the trees sounded like waves on the seashore. The sky was overcast but the wind kept tearing holes in the clouds. The crescent moon seemed to cut through the clouds like a spike. After some time the clouds cleared away and we decided to go for a walk around the henge.
As we emerged from the woods into the lane, we started to see the Crone everywhere - in the branches of the trees, in flying flags of clouds, in the shadows cast by the streetlights. She was riding high on that wind, and we could even hear her laughter carried to us on the wind. At first we thought it must be other people in the fields around us, but we never saw another person and the laughter came from all around us. We walked around the henge and when we stopped to look at the sky we could see the rotation of the stars overhead. We walked out of the henge and along the Avenue. The standing stones loomed up as if they were forming out of the darkness as we approached. Over the hill, where the Longbarrow is, someone set off some fireworks and it was like watching the formation of a new galaxy.
Later I wanted to be on my own and connect with the Goddess more deeply. I felt that she was all around me and I wanted to focus on that. I lay down in my tent and closed my eyes. I was immediately travelling through a stone channel or tunnel that opened out into a chamber. I recognised that I was inside the Longbarrow, or rather that the Longbarrow had been built to replicate the place I now found myself in. It was a bit like being underneath an upturned boat. The chamber grew bigger and more organic and I could see ribs, like a boat would have. Then it seemed as if I was within the belly of a whale, or that the boat had been swallowed by a whale. Things seemed to be rotting and breaking down. The distinction between stone, wooden ribs, bone ribs was becoming less clear.
The whole chamber now began to move and there was a writhing aspect to this movement. I looked more closely at the walls of the chamber and began to see worms, beetles, bugs, all kinds of invertebrate creatures. These were the things that help to break down bodies and decaying matter. They were beautiful, brightly coloured and each busy in its work. They were moving about in and out of the ribs, shining with light and with the fluid of decay. There was no sense of horror - I was fascinated by the beauty of the creatures and the process by which death can give life. Together their movements seemed to create a kind of living celtic knot (I've seen moving celtic knotwork several times while on mushrooms, but only when I've been outdoors). The writhing of the creatures became a subtle movement of the chamber walls, which then became stronger and more rhythmic. I suddenly realised that I was actually within the very belly of the the Crone, the Devourer. The ribs were now her ribs, I could look up and see her head and torso above me. She was dancing and the movement was the dance of Death, which would become a dance of Life after the winter was over. The death of the year was being transmuted within the body and womb of the Goddess, and I was a part of it.
As soon as I had this realisation I was no longer within her body, but under her skirts. The chamber was now the underside of a big bellskirt and her dancing was tumbling me about. I got the impression that my visit was now over, the Goddess was now going to get in with the job - to dance Death back into Life. This would take all winter and having me under her skirts was a distraction. I started to hear the wind in the trees again, and the crackle of the wood on the fire. I felt my body around me again, and my breath in my body. I lay still for a while, absolutely awed that I had been permitted this vision. Then I got up to get some tea and sit with my friend.
I don't know how long this journey lasted. I didn't want to talk about it until I had the chance to think about it, and it felt that even asking 'how long was I lying down?' would be too much.
This journey made me feel blessed - to be a part of the Dance and also to have witnessed it in this way.
COPYRIGHTS: All reports are copyright Erowid.
Experience Reports are the writings and opinions of the individual authors who submit them.
Some of the activities described are dangerous and/or illegal and none are recommended by Erowid Center.