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  1. Shapeshifts and Timeslips...

    Jay Gage 

    25 August 2022

    This adventure happened some years back, when I was hosting a Retreat in Maldon, Essex. 

    Essex “witch country” a fact that was not lost on me when considering the events that unfolded.

    It was practice at the retreat to take the group for a walk along a country lane, an unmade track that bordered cornfields, and connected the farm we were staying on with a picturesque church, probably some half an hour walk each way, allowing for chat and photographic stops. 

    The route also crossed a countrified railway bridge, of which more later. 

    I would split the group into two, and would lead one half, with my co-tutor leading the second.

    On the night in question, the energy of the group was very “antsy”, and it felt as if there was mischief afoot. We set off in high spirits, both groups together. However, it was soon that my group fell behind, and became aware of some very odd energies. I’m a medium, as was my ‘second in command’, Gary, but the students we were leading were not. It wasn’t long before Gary and I were aware of Spirit activity nearby. Sure enough, we passed a gentleman dressed in old fashioned clothing. He was lounging against a wall that bordered the path we were following, and meant us no harm, falling in step for a brief while, before gradually vanishing. 

    Gary and I raised our eyebrows at each other, tacit agreement being that we should not mention this to “our ladies”, as they would likely completely freak out and rush back to base ! 

    As we neared the church, we became aware of an incredible noise. Rising above the church flew a mass of crows – a murder – but numbering maybe 100 ! I’ve never seen such a number before, and the noise became an absolute cacophony ! As suddenly as they appeared, they wheeled around and vanished from sight, the noise vanishing with them. 

    I love Corvids, and talked excitedly with the group, pointing out to them that they were also known to act as vehicles for “shape shifters” including Goddess The Morrigan, who regularly travelled as a crow. I often work with Her when performing magical work. 

    By now, it was very dark, and we switched on our torches. Having reached the church, we turned around to make the walk back. Both groups had been supplied with strong Maglights, so I was surprised that we could not see the lights from the other group ahead of us, as our paths had just crossed, and they should have been easily visible. However, we carried on walking the track back, uneventfully, until we reached the railway bridge. 

    As we did, a freight train crossed beneath it, loudly sounding its horn. Moments later, we became aware of a loud scream, which had merged with the sound of the train. However, once the train had passed, the scream continued, and a black figure emerged from the foot of the bridge screaming, and waving what appeared to be huge tattered black wings, and with something on its head resembling a pointed hood, or skull. The figure ran straight toward us, and I stepped back, preparing to (hopefully) let it pass. However, as it reached us, it disappeared, just as a voice greeted us from the bridge. 

    It was the colleague who had been leading the other group. He was known for practical jokes, and in my state of shock, I barked at him that I didn’t think it was very funny, and that he should know better than to scare the students. He looked at me genuinely confused, and I told him what we had witnessed. 

     He replied that his group had been waiting the other side of the bridge for us “for ages”, although they had not been that far ahead of us on the way back, which was why it was odd that we didn’t see the powerful beams of their torches. 

    He said that they heard and saw the train, but that again, it must’ve passed roughly five minutes before we had arrived. They had heard and seen nothing since. They spotted our torches some way up the Lane, so decided to wait for us. None of these times and events tallied with our experience. 

    I insisted that my fellow tutor should run back and forth over the bridge, until I had satisfied myself that whatever we had seen did not correspond with anything he could have devised. We decided that this would be an appropriate time to get our groups back to the farm, especially as several of our students were now visibly shaken, and wanted to leave immediately.

    Back at the safety of the farm, with plenty of warm light, and a glass of courage, we looked at the bones of the evenings events.

    1)     The massive murder of crows. Despite my love of Corvids, I have never seen them in this number. It seemed completely unnatural, and once again, we wondered if at least some of them were shapeshifters. 

    2)     The timeslips – 

    • Having been passed by the second group, we should have been able to see their torches ahead on a completely straight lane.
    • They had arrived at the bridge and decided to wait for us roughly 8 minutes before we arrived, hence their comment that they had been waiting for us “for ages”.This didn’t correlate with the fact that they should only have been maybe 3-4 minutes ahead of us.
    • They experienced the train passing and leaving at least five minutes before we even arrived, although we heard and saw it upon our arrival.

    3)     The figure on the bridge. With the best will in the world, my tutor could not have devised a method to not only grow in height, and develop wings and a hood, but also vanish into thin air. 

    We believe that we experienced time-slips that night, and that there was a definite connection between the murder of crows and the winged figure on the bridge. Whenever we talk to anyone who was on that walk that night, they comment on the general “weirdness” of the occurrences, but are then happy to leave the matter behind us. 

    As for me ? I still love Corvids, but prefer them to be in smaller groups, and bird sized. I don’t fancy meeting that figure again !