The Angel of Inverness
As the year turns toward Samhain and to the part of life where the veil between the natural and the supernatural becomes thin and transparent like misted glass, my thoughts turn to the moments in my life where I have been so close to spirit that I have been helped – ‘saved’ – if you like and also to those moments where I have had my fingers well and truly burnt by forces that are so immense and beyond any human conception of morality, that they are referred to as both God and the Devil, but which are neither one nor the other, but which both exist beyond our thinking powers of three dimensional reason and are sometimes encountered in our dreams – and in our nightmares.
The Angel of Inverness
Inverness is a beautiful town in northern Scotland, which has always held a particular spiritual resonance for me. Maybe I am just obstinate, but I have never been to see the famous Loch Ness, or considered the possibility of a prehistoric monster lurking beneath the dark waters, but the walk along the river banks toward the Loch have always attracted me with a dark magic.
I remember walking by the river, on my way back to my ‘digs’ around 2am, after a rather noisy party organised by other members of our troupe. It had been a hot summer and the Ness was almost dry in places, dry enough for folk to tiptoe across from one bank to another; which many company members did, apart from one unfortunate girl, who lost her balance and ended up sitting in two or three feet of water in her best dress. Naturally she was named ‘Riverbed’ for the rest of the tour.
I was enjoying my walk home and the ringing silence, after hours of loud music, when I became aware of two figures approaching on the other side of the narrow road that ran alongside the river. The figures were still a long distance away, but I felt a twinge low down in my abdomen and a slight feeling of danger. There was nothing about the two men that seemed threatening on the surface, but the closer they drew, the more alarmed I became. The rational part of my brain told me that they were simply two friends walking home – the instinctive part was screaming that my life was in danger.
Although it was many years ago, I remember being utterly aware of every sensation I had during those moments, and how time seemed to lock into slow-motion. I can remember every thought I had and every sensation I received, both physical and spiritual.
As they drew nearer, my alarm grew and my lower abdomen began to produce the sensations I sometimes feel when I look at the ground from a high bridge or building. My way of walking had also changed and had become stiff-legged, like that of a dog prowling and circling another animal, before an attack.
Suddenly and without warning, the two figures crossed to my side of the road.
My body and the universe took over and I became a passenger and an observer to the events that followed – events which must have taken less than a minute, but which seemed to last at least ten times as long. Looking back, I am convinced that they actually did last that long for me and that I had begun to operate in a different time-mode.
My body turned sharply left into a driveway leading up to a large house, as I continued walking in my stiff-legged gait, toward the glass panelled doors that formed the entrance. I remember hoping that the men would simply think that I had reached home and I also hoped I was wrong and that their reason for crossing the road was just an innocent diversion in their nocturnal walk. I could hear my feet crunching on the gravel forecourt as I approached the doors. What if they were going to attack me? If they were, I had handed them a gift, as I was now enclosed within the square walled grounds of the darkened house.
Then I heard running feet and I knew my instinct was right. It was strange, but even though I was really frightened, my body refused to run and continued to walk in a brisk stiff-legged way, toward the entrance. The glass doors met in the middle, with two levered handles; I grasped the door handle on the right and turned it
Time began to accelerate, like an old film – a woman dressed all in white and with a white headdress appeared – actually she seemed to appear at the instant I stepped inside, as if she had formed and solidified from the shadows in the unlit porch. I ordered her to lock the door, which she did at once and without question. At the precise moment the lock clicked, the two men started beating on the glass panels, snarling and pressing their faces and bodies against the glass. They were ugly and ferocious and seemed more like wild animals than human beings.
The woman and I watched silently as the beasts howled and writhed against the doors, like starving wolves that had been denied their prey, until at last they lurched off into the darkness.
I looked at the angel in white as she explained that I was in a private hospital and that she was a nurse on night duty. It was around that moment, that I regained – or was given back – control of my body. I began to shake so violently, that she quickly found a chair for me. If she hadn’t, I’m sure I would have fallen to the floor in a dead faint. Then, bless her, she made a cup of tea for us both and sat with me for the next hour or so.
Although we talked, there were many questions I did not ask that night, as it took me several days to come to terms with the improbability of my escape. I was a man of 41 years of age and 6’2” in height – why did she trust me enough to lock the door with me on the inside? If she had hesitated, even for one second, it would have been too late. Also she seemed unaffected by the incident – I was still shaking like a leaf an hour after the event, whilst she calmly finished her rounds – If that was incredible enough, I will never forget two things she said to me:
“That door is never unlocked”
“I never come this way on my rounds – I don’t know why I did tonight”
I sat there for a further hour or so and then, when the dawn was breaking, she let me out of the rear entrance and I walked back to my digs in the early morning sunlight.
I now realise that I had not only been physically saved that night in Inverness, but that I had also been shown the ultimate states and opposite poles of harmony and discord – expressed as the beast-like evil of the two men, the utter purity of my ‘angel in white’ and also myself as ‘everyman’ standing between them. Was the nurse an angel, or was she guided by an incomprehensible force? Were the men thugs, or were they the personified embodiment of the ultimate evil? Was I just incredibly lucky that night, or had I received the most profound and certainly the most shocking lesson the universal spirit has ever given me.
“…when man became aware that he knew, and wanted to be conscious of what he knew, he lost sight of what he knew. This silent knowledge, which you cannot describe is, of course, intent – the spirit, the abstract. Man’s error was to want to know it directly, the way he knew everyday life. The more he wanted, the more ephemeral it became.” ~ The Power of Silence – Carlos Castaneda