The Lean Wolf

approaches
with a little bit
of Chernobyl
in its deadly
stride.

A big black bell
is ringing inside it.

Its face is a man’s.

There is nothing
behind it.

I wrote this poem following a dream of which I remember little but the vivid image of a lean menacing wolf with a man’s face and the knowing because I’d seen it, been its presence, I was going to die.

I’ve had a handful of dreams in which I’ve had this gnosis. In one I was a captured soldier awaiting execution and Gwyn prepared me for death by telling me I must go into the hazel, and the beetle, and something I can’t recall. In another I was a clawed creature clinging to a lift descending to the abyss. And in another I was and was not a dark magician, who in a magical battle against mechanical forces, was cut into a thousand pieces by whirling blades and resurrected as a vampiric woman.

Through these dreams I know I have lived many lives, died many deaths, in Thisworld and in Annwn, and perhaps in worlds beyond. That a part of me, which I call my soul, carries these memories.

When I was talking to my dad about his funeral plans I was surprised to hear that he, like me a philosophy graduate, had never thought about whether he had a soul or what would happen when he died. He might have theorised about it but had never really contemplated what would happen to him.

Such questions have been on my mind as long as I can remember. Like my dad I theorised about them, attempting to find answers through philosophy, until I met Gwyn and he taught me to journey to Annwn. Until he and his father, the dream-god Nudd/Nodens, helped me to sleep and listen to my dreams.

For the first time since the Second World War people in Britain are suddenly facing death, due to the threat of the coronavirus. This is a complete unknown for people of my mum and dad’s generation, for mine, and the next generation, who might have included my children, if I’d had them.

I understand that one of the reasons Gwyn appeared in my life and taught me to journey was to help me prepare for death. I know a small handful of others who have had similar experiences with him and different gods, and of those who have gained their own understanding without experience of deity.

In contrast to the advice I’ve seen in various places to focus only on the positives, I believe at this time, when so many of us have so much extra time, there is no better time to contemplate the lean wolf.

4 thoughts on “The Lean Wolf

  1. Greg Hill says:

    I had anyway been considering my mortailty because of my age, including locating a site for a woodland burial. The current pandemic has focused my mind even more on ‘putting my affairs in order’ but it’s hard to think that ongoing projects might disappear. I see death as a process of transformation rather than destruction. The image of Epona on a funeral stone in Gaul where she leads a procession of metamorphic beings on the paths of the dead was one that resonated strongly with me after my mother died. I’m quite philosophical about the dissolving of my current identity into the common pool but the sense of my soul’s survival as part of that redistribution is something I’m less sure of. I don’t think psychic consciouness is any less indestructible than physical matter, but how it remains and what happens to it I leave to my gods.

    • lornasmithers says:

      I received the email of your poem evoking Epona’s journey. I also get the sense of human identity/psyche breaking down but I’ve also got a strong sense that ‘something’ endures. I guess we won’t know until we get there!

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