I generally don't use the "into the tunnel" method of spirit walking, but last night I decided to do so, because I have no access to my usual entheogens and I wanted to seek advice.
I lay down in the darkness, in my den, with my packmates asleep at my sides. With my eyes closed, I thought of the tunnel. There was a visual sensation involved, but I didn't literally see these things against the back of my eyes. At the same time, though, the impressions didn't come from me. It was like feeling through with my brain's nonmaterial fingers, with another sense altogether. Very hard to explain but I bet you know what I mean.
At first, I could not find the cave, but it didn't take long to locate, because as I searched, a strange creature -- a sparrow with a hawk's face -- swooped overhead, and I asked it if it would guide me to the cave. It lead me to the tunnel and quite some ways in, eventually spooling off into the dark on its own mission.
In the tunnel, I passed a black tiger, who watched me go but said nothing. I also passed a gorgeous, more open grotto of stalagmites and stalactites surrounding a great pool in which water- and serpent-spirits coiled. I paused here, and asked where I was. The serpents coiled together, and I realized they were water serpents -- the unity of river and serpent flashed across my awareness as they spoke.
"You are in the Water Heart Lodge," they informed me, and I nodded, apologizing for trespassing. They excused me, and I continued on.
I exited the cavern into a bright, open place, a rolling field bordered by dark conifer forests. The sea was off to the left, far away but close enough to be detectable. I was in coyote-shape, as I usually am when I walk the Otherside, and I paused to scent the air and shake myself. As I stood, absorbing my surroundings, a dark shape dove at me, pulling up at the last instant. I laughed and danced aside; it was a raven. I greeted him, and he flew around me, asking what my business was. I had intended to find White Tiger, but I know how the Other Side works, so I told the raven my business and asked its opinion.
It answered me by flying in circles, faster and faster, until its own speed and spinning tore its "body" apart, and it became a whirlwind of spinning feathers. Then the whirlwind collapsed, and coalesced, and the bird flew up, whole again. I thanked the raven for his wisdom and offered to find him a nice material shiny for him. We dickered terms (throw it in the air? bathe it in sweet smoke first?) and it was settled. I fell asleep for real very shortly thereafter, and my dreams were normal dreams.
I understand what Friend Raven was telling me, but I'm not sure how to interpret my other encounters. Were they simply other spirits going about their own business, or did I pass them for a reason? If so, what do you think it could be?