Today over my morning coffee, I flipped through the the copy of “Earth Light” by RJ Stewart that I found in the used bookstore a while back and haven’t read yet. I opened it at random and started to read, “One of the best ways to communicate the faery realm in a book is through relating personal experiences. My own experience of this world and inhabitants, and those of groups of people whom I have led in and out of the faery realm in empowered visualization, will, I hope, convey far more of its true nature than lengthy discussions of theory, folklore, or esoteric philosophy.”

How very… pointed. Thanks, Mr. Stewart! I am coming to the conclusion, which has been coming slowly for a few months, that the next step for me on this path will be in your (virtual) company.

I do a lot of reading. I’ll read anything, for a little while, at least. It’s rare for me to encounter something new that I really want to study in a serious way (I get very serious about studying, so it represents a real commitment when I get the metaphorical bit in my teeth), and rarer still that I find an esoteric author that I feel really has something to teach me. After reading through the introduction to “Earth Light,” I’ve decided that I ought to start with “Underworld Initiation” and go from there (I’ve already read his book on Merlin, which came from the used bookstore along with Earth Light, and “Well of Light” along with its CD. ) So I ordered that today.

Here’s another conversation with Otter. It happened back in April, about a week before I wrote this. It just tails off at the end because I fell asleep and only wrote it up the next day.

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I couldn’t sleep last night. It was the first really warm night of spring, and I went out at about 11 pm to do a fairy meditation from my RJ Stewart CD. It was lovely to lie down in the grass without shivering and look up at the pearl-gray night sky. It doesn’t ever actually get dark here, and on cloudy nights the sky shines with reflected light. I could smell the grass and dirt and hear the sounds of the city all around me at the same time.

I turned on my mp3 player and settled in to listening to Stewart’s pleasant voice guiding me. I couldn’t concentrate, though. Since it was warm out, my neighbors, college students, had all their windows open, a TV and stereo both turned up loud, and a big group of people chattering loudly over the electronic noise. I thought I could shut them out with my headphones but it didn’t work. Every time Stewart’s voice paused, I heard a noise from the kids next door pulling me away. After about ten minutes of trying and feeling frustrated, I gave up and went inside to bed.

I couldn’t fall asleep. Every little noise disturbed me. The blankets felt heavy and oppressive. My cat, which usually sleeps right next to me, cuddled like a little stuffed animal (she’s the only cat I’ve ever had who not only tolerates this treatment but actively enjoys it) seemed to be purring too loud and crowding me. My husband kept snoring. He always snores, and last night he was no louder or any different than usual, but tonight it bothered me. I felt irritated by everything. I felt like everyone around me – husband, neighbors, everyone – was an irritating nuisance and I longed to be all alone in a remote cabin somewhere. After two hours of being a grouchy insomniac, I got up and dragged a blanket to the living room couch where I could at least feel like I was alone.

I got settled on the couch and started to nod off when I realized that I wasn’t, in fact, alone. Otter was sitting in the middle of the living room floor.

“I didn’t know you could come inside,” I said.

“Well, you did build a house on my creek”

I pointed out that the house was built over a hundred years ago, and that I did not actually build it. He shrugged. “You can hardly expect me to keep track of all that.”

“So, what brings you here, then?”

“I should ask you. You were trying to contact me earlier.”

“Right. It was just too noisy; I couldn’t do it. How do you stand it?”

“How do you mean?”

“You have to be here all the time, right? Do I understand that right? You belong to Mill Creek, so this is where you always are.”

He nodded. “I don’t really think of it that way, but that’s right from your point of view, I guess.”

“So how do you stand it being so loud and bright and built up? How do you stand knowing that your creek is a sewer flowing twenty feet under asphalt pavement? You showed me how it used to look. It was beautiful. Don’t you grieve for that? Doesn’t this hurt you?”

He was quiet for a bit. A picture grew in my mind – first of the stream bank that used to be here, and the trees and the quiet. Humans came and built little bark houses and garden patches and fished in the creek. After a while, other humans came and cleared the trees and brought in cows and fences. Eventually, the farms went away, the creek was covered over, houses were built. Horses gave way to cars. Then the cars started to become fewer in number and many of the houses started to fall in on themselves as the streets went unrepaired and the creek started to work its way free. Eventually, the trees grew back – different trees than before, but in among the ruins of the houses, the forest returned. Humans continued to live here, but as the bigger houses succumbed to erosion and the human population shrank, they built smaller houses from material scavenged from the ruins, until this place was quiet and occupied by a small tribe of humans living in little houses by the water, fishing in the creek and tending small garden plots.

“Do you have any idea how old I am?” he asked. I shook my head. “I’m old enough that your people and your unpleasant way of living is just the blink of an eye to me. You all got into building big houses that light up and machines to do things for you, into thinking that you need to travel long distances at top speeds, all within the last moment, from my perspective. From my perspective I also see that this cannot and will not last. Things will change – things always change – but the creek has been here longer than your species has. You think this city means anything to me?”

I got what he was saying, but I was still thinking about the vision. “You can see the future?” I asked. “Can you see my future?”

“Sure, I see your future. You’re going to die. You’re mortal, that’s what mortals do.”

“How soon will that be?”

He grinned at me, suddenly looking more wolf than deer. “In the blink of an eye.”

I was a little startled by that until I remember what he had just said – the past 200 years of settlement and industrialization were the blink of an eye to him.

“In truth,” he said, “I can’t do what you’re really asking me to do. I’m not here to tell your fortune. I just know my creek, and time doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. So, no, I don’t grieve or suffer. I’m wary of you people and I look forward to getting my own people back, but this is all just a temporary inconvenience.”

There was still something else bothering me. “I didn’t see any other construction here. This row of houses was the last to be built on this spot, and then they were just abandoned. Things didn’t change all that much between my time and the time when everything started to fall apart. When does this happen? Is it happening soon?”

“Oh, very, very soon,” he said. “None of this (he waved his arm, indicating the room we were in but also the area in general) will be here in a century. You people are about to hit a brick wall, civilizationally speaking. You can’t go on as you have been and you know of no other way to be, so soon there will be a whole lot less of you.”

“That sounds frightening.”

He shrugged. “I guess, from your point of view it might be. Most of you aren’t all that happy anyway, so whatever.”

By this point I was starting to doze off. I’m sure there was more to the conversation but I don’t remember it.

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