Darkness tumbled down the corries, taking the mountains into treacly blackness, but not before one last gasp of colour that blasted from the unseen setting sun.
Standing there in the fullness of night I began to lose all sense of myself to the place. An enfolding of shadow-time took me down too, so much so that I had cause to wonder how on earth I was going to catch the stories of this place. I didn’t have the words. I’m just me. What do I know!
Dawn by the Loch
A restless sleep ill-prepared me for an early rise but dawn was calling and I needed to find my way into this land to begin the conversations. Right now I had no idea what to say, where to begin, so I set off into the murky Scottish twilight and sat in my own personal cloud of midges on a spongy, saturated lochside waiting for words to come. Waiting for my Muse, or perhaps the Spirits of this powerful place to show up.
It took a while. I’d stumbled into another temporal reality - Mountain Time. As I played with the clouds birthing from the rocky summits I realised that time was indeed of the essence here. Understanding dawned that I needed to catch timescapes, not just landscapes. Slow, fast, forward, backward, above, below, inside, outside. Those were the tools I was being told to employ as I conjured this film together.
As day one wore on I began to sense the messaging of the Mountains that hunkered over me. Power, sovereignty, kingship, queenship, strength, grit, autonomy, toughness, resilience… and that is where my story began. I had to turn my attention to my own power and sovereignty before the place would deign to meet me. Sovereign, Lover, Magician, Warrior - the four archetypes for a balanced persona, and it was time for me to explore my own personal kingliness. Then I could converse as an equal with this hallowed old landscape who’s bones pierced through to the blue of the sky.
It became apparent that I was to catch the scent of Majesty, that’s what the place wanted me to hear and share, and once I’d heard that I began to see absolute, raw power everywhere I looked. From the pounding waterfalls, roaring rivers and inky black lochs, to the austere summits that would kill you as soon as look at you, from the Golden Eagles and Ravens who traced flight lines between the peaks to the Red Deer and Wood Ants who knew how to stand their ground it was all about personal power.
Raven wisdom awaited too. I spent some hours working with a pair who never allowed an approach closer than 500 metres. Thankfully my long lens let me share their intimate moments and even now the piece of film of their bonding sends a shiver up my spine. Little did I know that I had another bone tingling Raven encounter ahead.
Modern technology enabled me to warp the times of what was in front of me. I slowed down that which happened too rapidly to see, and sped up the hypnotically slow flow of cloud, mist and mountain time. I saw the power in the Buzzard’s wings as she hovered momentarily in front of me and noted how the merest shift of her tail feathers altered her trajectory through space and time. The powerful presence of Golden Eagle graced my lens for a brief few seconds, anchoring this royal being as King of the sky.
Many journeys through gorges, glens and valleys later I became attached to finding a stag. I wanted the archetypal multi-tined Red Deer stag, that emblem of the Scottish Highlands. Perhaps a twelve pointer even! And you know what, the landscape chose to give me this vision early one morning before the sun was up. He was magnificent in his own kingliness. Standing proud, a shaggy mane draped over his shoulders he held his head high and gazed right at me, his crown of antlers dagger sharp. It was only when I looked at the clip afterwards that I realised he was having a poo the whole time I was filming him. So that sequence was resigned to the bin! As I neared the end of my trip I could see I wasn’t going to find my King Stag.
But I did find something else. A pretender to the throne. A young stag, a prince of a Red Deer who was discovering his own kingship and gathering his own harem. He was finding his power, so I watched him intently, keen to be taught by this young guy.
The Mother Pines of Black Wood
Meanwhile, over on the banks of Loch Rannoch the ancient Mother Pines stood sentinel still, towering above the denizens of Black Wood, creating space for the beings there to breathe and weave together the multifarious strands of life that together become Caledonian Forest.
Around my feet a column of Wood Ants surged, alive with larder supplies, urgent with their commissions. I knelt alongside to get to know them and noted how a guard ant was stationed every metre or so along their route, jaws gaping, stinging abdomen flexed forwards, ready to attack any intruders, maintaining the orderly flow of ant power along unseen forest tracks. It was obvious that a group mind was at work here, the line was abuzz with chatter, soundless words, wordless messages that travelled the needle strewn floor like electric impulses through the synapses of my own brain.
I saw a vision where the interconnected ant columns were indeed highways of thought through the mind of Black Wood. The forest was gathering information, she knew I was there, she knew what I wanted and could decide what to do with me.
I’d spent a few days riding high on the power of many fellow beings, tree brothers and sisters, mountain brothers and sisters, bird, ant, deer and water brothers and sisters and from them I got shown the beauty of my own sovereignty. However nothing could prepare me for the final diamond to be delivered by that most famous of Underworld messengers.
I’d taken myself down a miles long rambling single track road to Glen Etive and then launched off along a stony track that led into the inner depths of nowhere in particular. I sat on a boulder for a while to give the land an opportunity to answer my question, in mountain time of course, when I spotted Raven directly overhead. He circled and spiralled swiftly down to alight on a rock incredibly close to me. He was noticeably larger than any Raven I’d ever seen before and had a lot to say in Raven-tongue.
After a while, many minutes in fact, he hopped closer still and began arranging some grass stems on a boulder next to me, grass stems that he’d collected and cut to length. He chose a stone and added that into his work. By this time he was too close for my camera to focus on him so I just watched somewhat awestruck as he busied about his story that he had to tell. He cawed to me constantly, looking into my eyes, tweaking his design. Then he hopped back to his own rock and soared away on huge blue black pinions.
The design he’d created rocked me. He’d written in the old script of the Norse path and given me what was possibly the final piece of my life jigsaw. Too personal to share, yet one never to ignore, the photo of the Underworld Raven Bindrune will for ever remind me what I’m for.
What a way to end my search for sovereignty in the Scottish Mountains of Majesty, and to be gifted a reminder that Yes, everything is connected and everything communicates in that unspeakable, unknowable universal first language. Just like the synapses of our mind we are hefted to the consciousness of the cosmos.
I've now crafted a film from the clips I caught and invite you to watch it below. It's about 19 minutes long and to enjoy it at it's best turn on your sound and click the full screen button. I'd love to know your thoughts on the film.