Traditionally, a bridge is symbolic of making a transition, or change. Night indicates that I’m in the dark about some things; I am unconscious of what this change involves. While Thurisaz also involves change, it is not the same kind of change as Hagalaz. To go through the eye of the needle of Thurisaz, you only have to leave old baggage behind. (“Only!” Ha! Not always easy.) To negotiate change with Hagalaz, you have to be willing to actually transform or transmute form—change from one state to another. Water to vapor to rain to ice to sleet to water to vapor … physical death is change of form, for example. Going from married to single or single to married is Hagalaz in relationship. With Hagalaz, change occurs in the tangible world, whereas with Thurisaz, change may occur within while outer form stays the same but is experienced differently.
So, I wondered, what needs to, must, and will change in my life? How can I step up and be conscious about this change and therefore have choice in the details?
Simultaneous with finding myself at the foot of the bridge, I see a great, ancient warrior standing at the midpoint, holding high a large curved sword, waiting for me. His bronze and leather armor is elaborate, his helmet finely wrought with spiral designs and a sharp point on the top, his kilt-like, pleated skirt thick and embroidered in strands of gold. His boots are thick and sturdy. They are gray and black and bound in a curious way, as if wrapped. I cannot see his eyes, as they are in shadow behind the openings of his helm. I can’t read him at all. Like the flowers and the firefly things, he scintillates with rainbow colors, though more subtle and metallic than those of the flora and fauna.
I came out of the journey and stopped to make sketches for a while. I thought about not going back into this scene. I could just leave this guy standing in the middle of the bridge forever if I wanted to, right? I could forget this and pick another rune. But I remembered a Toltec friend telling me about the ceremony of “cutting off the head.” It requires a friend to hold an energetic knife or sword to lop off the head, releasing the person from pathological thinking. Pathological thinking is the normal thinking of our time: worrying needlessly over what might happen, stewing over past wrongs, berating oneself with criticism, thinking badly about others, going round and round with guilt and remorse, continually seeking distraction, and other common poor mental habits. To “cut off the head” meant to be relieved of the small-self perspective, or ego, as the captain of the ship, and to take back responsibility, will, and choice. It meant to wake up from the dream of the world, which is one of fear and separation, and to return to feeling connected: being curious, happy, and exploratory. As the Tibetans say of meditation, its purpose is to help a person return to the “natural state.” The neurotic state may be the norm, and therefore be viewed as “normal,” but it cannot be called healthy, and is definitely not desirable, as witness the many substances used in futility to try to escape from it. Then I came to this conclusion:
Hagalaz is offering me the opportunity to free myself of something I’m not aware of that is keeping me from the magical place on the other side of the bridge. It seems to have something to do with opening my heart to positive yang [male] energy, reclaiming my yang energy, and harmonizing it with my yin [female] energy, letting go of a deep misunderstanding.
Now, where did that come from?
The process of deciding to come back to the scene took a couple of days, and even some tears came up, as if I were in grief. As if my heart were broken.
I don’t have to go back into that scene.
But I do. I return to the scene and I am still standing at the foot of the bridge. I look to each side, searching for an escape route, but there is none. I take a deep breath. I do some chi gung (swimming dragon, Kuan Yin drawing a rainbow, baby bird learning to fly) while I am standing at the foot of the bridge. I do this physically while in the imaginal space experiencing the bridge, the night, the scents, the sights, the warrior with his upheld sword waiting for me. (Being present at the site is something I learned how to do in remote viewing training. Remote viewing does not use imaginal processes, but imaginal processes can make use of some remote viewing techniques!)
Even though I know that I will not be physically harmed, I feel a lot of fear. I feel one fear in particular I don’t even want to name. I can’t tell if I truly don’t know what it is, or if I am pretending not to know. I believe the warrior is offering me rescue from some delusions I acquired earlier, probably in the first ten or twenty years of my life. A great warrior has come to rescue me, to liberate me from some kind of bondage! How can I turn down his offer? And if I turn down his offer, what will I lose? He is here to set me free of something. But it will be painful. What in me will die? What will his sword lop off? What if it’s something I still want to keep a little longer?
But ultimately, there is nothing I can do but walk forwards. I just can’t stand the suspense. I want to know how the story ends, and what the story was to begin with. I really don’t like being in the dark. I steady myself and take a couple of relaxing breaths. I do chi gung “heart to the universe” and a centering stance. I take one more deep breath, keeping my chest open and my arms spread. I make my vision wide, not wanting to see the warrior or his sword directly. Especially, I don’t want to see it come down and lop off my head, even in imaginal reality. I walk toward the warrior.
To my total surprise, as I come abreast the warrior, he and his sword fall apart into many tiny sparking pieces. I watch the air shimmering with his remains. I am amazed. Then I hear a voice booming from far away: “Thank you for liberating me.”