Crossing over the Bridge of Despair into the Shadowlands, I became aware of a morbid feeling in the pit of my stomach. Freedom’s gait slowed significantly as well, his intuition kicking in. The bridge was old and weather-worn. The sides had nearly tumbled into the water, hanging on by vines that had wound their way around the rotted wood. The water below was murky and dark. After very cautiously crossing the bridge, the general atmosphere was one of overall lackluster, the air foggy with mist, gray and damp. There was no flourishing flora nor fauna to speak of, with the exception of trees that had long since died, leaving detritus behind. The road, if one could call it that, was filled with holes and rocks that hindered travelling at, what would be considered, even a slow pace. There was a marked stillness; the sound of silence.
I have heard stories about the Shadowlands…. being said that it is a land or region of shadows, phantoms, un-realities, or uncertainties. It is also said to be the shadowland of imagination. Totally aware of all of this, I still chose to travel through this space as a test of my newly found strength found at the Place of Power.
It was not long before I saw something at the end of the long stretch of the half road, half trail–what looked like a place of shelter, although shabby and windowless. As Freedom and I approached, I could see that the door, which was hanging from rusted hinges, was slightly ajar. I heard something; Freedom reared at the sound. A hand reached out of the doorway, holding a magnificent walking stick. It was made of wood, gnarled and twisted, with a handle round and brilliant. I was shocked to see a creature emerge. I did not know if it was a she or a he, even though I was only 4 feet away. This creature was bent over slightly and looked very ancient. It had pointed ears and large eyes with huge dark circles beneath them. Its eyebrows were magnificently bushy, and its hair looked like the vines that had held up the sides of the bridge crossing over into the Shadowlands. It was covered with a material of multicolored earth tones, and its fingers were twisted and gnarled like the roots of an old tree in the forest.
I could hardly believe my eyes…. who would live in this savaged land? We looked directly at each other, eye to eye, and its eyes seemed to contain all the woes of the world. I asked, “Who are you?” The creature did not speak, but communicated with me telepathically. It answered, “I am the Keeper of the Shadowlands”. I asked, “And, what is it that you keep?” It answered, “All of one’s sorrows and disappointments, fears and uncertainties, losses and feelings of remorse.” He moved forward a bit, slowly making its way towards us. “It is difficult to move, as I am weighed down by the woes of so many,” it said. “What is it that you would like to rid yourself of,” the Keeper remarked.
I answered, “Ahhh, it will not take long for me to say. Dismounting as I answered.” I walked up to the Keeper, till we stood face to face. “I have been troubled with fears, as many humans are. This is new to me. I am learning the ways of those who live on this Earth, and challenges are many. I have an understanding that one learns in various lifetimes, and that lessons not learned are presented in new lifetimes. I am fearful of being helpless and not having the power to care for myself as time passes. I am saddened with losses that I know I have no control over. I have learned much about myself that will empower me to move forward, and the gifts of knowing myself and of discernment are certainly outstanding gifts. Still, in the echoes of my mind, these fears are heard, and need to be allayed.”
The Keeper reached out, its twisted, gnarled fingers of its hand touching my shoulder, saying, “Where is your faith?” His hand felt like a lead weight, then all went blank. When I opened my eyes, I was at the edge of a vast black pit. I heard the Keeper saying, “Throw all of your inhibitions into this pit…breathe out all of the negativity that fills your container of self, and when this is complete, you will be ready to leave the Shadowlands.” With a leap of faith, I did as the Keeper commanded. I could feel myself being filled with white light which was so energizing, brilliant, and healing. “For your courage in coming to the Shadowlands, you have been granted incredible lightness of being…. keep the faith, and all will be as it should. You have been given the gift of knowing yourself at the Place of Power; thus, you have been given a valuable gift.”
I then found myself in Coldshadow Haven, at the southern border of the Shadowlands, with Freedom nuzzling me as I lay on the grey, dusty ground. I mounted him, and sighing with relief and gratitude, riding him out of that miserable, but enlightening place. I heard the Keeper call out to me, “To know one’s shadow, is golden. Hold on to your power and do not give it away.”