On July 24th I attempted a trance–journey to Swartalfheim, the realm of the Dwarves.
The Catskin Sisters have made journeys to several of the realms spoken of in Northern European myth, with varying degrees of success. In preparation for this journey I had left offerings for the Dwarves in the earth several weeks previous, as one thing we all agreed on was that it seemed unlikely that they would be willing to give a traveler a free pass into their world. I had buried at the base of a tree a bit of silver, some iron filings, and a small quartz crystal. I spoke my intention to journey to Swartalfheim in the near future, and asked that I be allowed entry.
In the lore of Northern Europe, Dwarves keep to themselves and tend not to get involved in the issues that plague Gods and humankind. I myself had been contacted by a Dwarf once while in trance, so I thought my chances at reaching their realm were pretty good. Also to my advantage, I am a jeweler and metal smith by trade, and it is well known that the Dwarves are masters of mining and smith-craft.
At last, I had a quiet afternoon and was ready for the journey. A bottle of beer was open on my altar, to give to the Dwarves once I reached their realm. In one hand I held a smooth Selenite stone I had recently purchased as an aid to trance journeying. The translucent fibers that comprise the stone remind me of wood grain or fiber optic cable, and so I had put my intention into the piece of stone that it help me travel the roots and branches of the world tree, my will passing through them as easily as energy ran along the stone’s bundled fibers.
I called my Fetch, Warder, to my side, and began. Standing in my mind’s eye we were at first in the darkness of void, then passing through mist, and finally out into the Wood where my home base in the spirit world, the House in the Hill, stands. While we were passing through the mists, I remember chanting: “ Let us go to the House, let us find the Road, let us seek the Door.” We went inside to get what we might need for the trip.
On the coffee table in the sitting room was the same book as had been there last time, open to the same picture of a hollow in the bole of a tree. A second, similar image was bookmarked as well. There were also some mineral specimens on the table; I remember an amethyst cluster, and also a piece of schorl, black tourmaline. My linden staff stood in the corner, as its physical counterpart stood in the corner of my office in the material world.
I filled Warder’s food and water dishes, then we went out the kitchen door and down the stone stairs to the workroom. I saw a little toad hopping across the floor, so I picked him up. I told him that I’d be interested in working with him and his people, if they’d be willing; that I would come back to speak to him soon. I set him down and he hopped away, disappearing into a crack in the wall.
I was holding a short-handled spade in my hand, so I slung it across my back. Not seeing anything else that stood out as needful, we went back upstairs and set out down the path that led from the kitchen door.
Almost immediately, I came across a bridge over a deep valley with a stream flowing at the bottom. On the other side of the bridge, among some young trees in the hilly open woodland in which I found myself, stood a great round boulder. I realized I had a piece of charcoal in my pocket, so I marked the stone with the rune Perthro.
Now I was within the stone. My Fetch and I stood in a low, cellar-like tunnel which was partially blocked by caved-in dirt. I began to clear it away with my shovel, careful to avoid the tree roots that snaked down from above. As I worked, I turned up small gold objects out of the loam: bits of coins and ornaments, and what might have been a bracteate style pendant. I picked up these bright things and put them in my pocket, and we continued down the tunnel into the darkness.
The tunnel ended at a ‘T’ intersection. A small table stood along the wall there, and I laid out all of the gold artifacts I had found, arranging them as if for a museum display. I turned to my right to see a Dwarf standing there, watching.
I said hello to the silent figure, then let him know that I’d recovered these artifacts from the earth, and that I would leave them here as they weren’t mine. “Who are you?” He said. I gave him my name, and told him that I was a metal smith and traveller, and asked if he could show me some of this realm. He motioned for me to follow, and we walked down the tunnel. Here we were still close to the surface of the ground. It was daylight above, and I noticed that my guide was careful to keep to the shadows and avoid the few beams of sunlight that lanced down from cracks in the ceiling.
Soon, we entered a large, dark space. I could hear a faint rhythmic ting as of picks on hard stone in the distance. We must be in a mine, I thought. I realized sheepishly that I still hadn’t asked my guide his name. “You may call me Sturri Grimsson,” he replied. I knew it wasn’t his real name, of course, but that was nothing out of the ordinary. He then told me that I had “short manners,” as if I was a bumpkin who was barely acceptable in polite society.
I apologized, and said that I knew I needed to further study the proper way of treating with all kinds of Wights. It was especially difficult when making such tenuous journeys, I explained, instead of being here in the flesh.
He led me to a small room off of the central mine chamber. We sat down across from each other at a rough wooden table. I offered him the beer (which I had set out on my altar in the material world for just this purpose) and he accepted. As he sipped the beer, he showed me a sheaf of papers that he had. Each one was a blueprint schematic of an object or structure, and as I looked at the layout on the page, I could also see the finished work in my mind’s eye.
There was a design for a circular garden in which many different herbs and flowering plants grew. The garden was surrounded by a low wall of stone, and had a space cleared in the middle where a fire might be made.
I also looked at a layout for a fibula style brooch in the shape of a swan, the stylized neck sweeping back in an s-curve over the folded wings. I realized that it was meant to represent one of the swan-maidens from the tale of Weyland Smith. It was a very elegant design, and I let “Sturri” know that I admired it.
Politely, I inquired if I might see the garden. And, suddenly, we were standing within its walls. The day was now overcast, and in any case the garden was nestled in a bit of flat ground amongst a heavily wooded, mountainous landscape. There were many different herbs planted there, I saw what I thought were some Artemesias, and what looked like a Chaste Tree. I asked what the purpose of this place was, and he told me it was a “garden for medicine.”
I looked around for a bit, then told my Dwarvish host that I had to go soon, as I could feel my connection to this place slipping away. We shook hands, and he began to chant “Perthro, Perthro, Perthro,” in a deep voice; I found myself chanting the rune-galdr as well. Again I found myself within the stone on the hill, and stepped out of it.
There were bits of gold and golden ornaments scattered, half hidden, in the earth around the stone. I felt sure I would have noticed them if they had been there before.
I spoke to the stone and asked if I could come back into Swartalfheim by the same door; it seemed that I would be able to.
Warder and I walked back across the bridge. By the path on the other side some Mulleins were growing, and I poured out water from a flask and told them I would be back soon to speak with them as well (as I had recently gathered some mullein-stalks to make hedge tapers with). Then, my connection thinned and I rose up once more to the waking world.