Author Archives: Preston Vargas

About Preston Vargas

I am is a witch, priest-ess, and scholar whose love of community ritual, ecstatic dance, and artful crafting are matched by my passion for deep and transformative healing. In both my personal community and in work at Ensouled Awakenings, my skills as an integrative counselor, shamanic healer, reiki practitioner and ritualist allow me to weave all the parts of myself into joyful service. And after working for over a decade in mental health and substance abuse counseling I have developed a dynamic balance of being of service and playfully enjoying the richness of life. As a dancer, in life and in my heart, I undulate in the rhythms of co-creation with the gods, ancestors, spirits, animals, plants, humans, devas, and our shadows to heal our fragmented selves and communities. As a storyteller and oracular artist, I am sensitive to the unheard stories of not only people but the other-than-human world as well. And I enjoy exploring how humans navigate through the lenses of their own experiences, engage their creative talents, and re-present these stories for healing and transformation. I have been practicing magic and facilitating rituals for over seventeen years. My ritual magic is interwoven with the knowledge I developed in my post graduate degrees in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness as well as Transformative Studies. The gifts I offer from my training in indigenous ancestral healing traditions are tempered with healing justice, an awareness of privileged power dynamics and a commitments to anti-oppression. And as a fierce dreamer, I hold that the actions we make can stretch backward in time to heal the wounds of all our relations and stretch forward in time to manifest the best possible worlds for our future descendants.

Cloudcatcher 2016 Evening Ritual 4

I could feel the magnetic force of Janet’s and Tam Lin’s love. It throbbed through the circle once both of those Scottish legends were aspected. The two great lovers had an immense bond to one another. Gede had aspected Janet. What I knew of him was gone. During this ritual, Janet lived through his body. Energy ripples waved over him and I saw his body swollen with Janet’s pregnancy. Tam Lin, alive in Paul’s body had proceeded to offer an animated retelling of his side of the old ballad.

Tam Lin told his tale of how his father tried to kill him. He spoke of willingly residing within the land if the Fey. And he recounted that once his grandfather, his only tie to the mortal world, had died he gave up mortal life and even volunteered to undergo the Samhain rite. He shared his duty of servicing maidens who sought out his generous touch. However, his heart seemed to come back to life when he began telling his tale of how he and Janet slowly developed a love for one another. As such, Tam Lin’s courage and sentiment rekindled my own.

This type of love, slow to build but fiercely enduring, is the type of love I’ve developed with my Self. It wasn’t until my early thirties that I developed a conscious self-love. My early years were used desperately seeking love outside of myself. However, these years were not lost. I have been able to develop pearls from the painful formative relationships of my youth. Seeking love from solely “external” places did not serve me. However, allowing myself to be fiercely held in love by others has offered me a chance to see what it is in me that is loveable.

It took me many years of shifting shape through relationships until I understood who I was and how much I was intrinsically worth. The relationships with my family of origin, former lovers, friends, family of choice, community, and current beloved have been the mirrors through which I have become self-aware of how innately deserved to be loved. I needed that help. Just as Janet witnessed and held Tam Lin through all of his transformations, so too have my loved ones done such for me.

As Tam Lin told his story of the night Janet saved him, I relived his trials. My body shape shifted into a salamander; eyes swiveling in opposite directions, adhesive feet pads sticky, and belly close to the ground. The soft membranes of skin roughened and grew coarse brown fur as I shifted into a grizzly bear; half asleep in pre-hibernation, confusedly lumbering on all fours, roaring at full towering height. The thick grizzled hairs and musky smell fell from me as cold smooth scales emerged. Limbs receded as my serpent form wiggled and coiled forth seeking heat and prey. And in only an instant later my elongated neck grew feathers, my beak hardened and wings carried me singing into the evening sky as majestic swan. As my wings straightened into arms and my feet hit the ground I held myself gently in my very own human form.

Janet conjured her magic potion and gave oracle to the crowd lest we take our solidarity for granted in the challenging days to come. I sat in council with a handful of other witches and named my fear and my joy. I feared that I might amount to nothing but a disposable person whose life and story meant little difference to anyone. Yet the joyous nectar we conjured there in ritual undid this fear, this secretly guarded poison. The ways in which I could recount the innumerable people who have reached out to affirm that I matter to them were powerful ingredients in that alchemical brew.

There is deep value in being able to experience yourself through the embrace of loved ones. Sometimes when we cannot love ourselves we are blessed with others who can see in us that which has inherent worth. When I am faltering in being able to be present in a healthy form of self-love, I am able to gather those nectar ingredients offered by my heart-allies. With their inspiration I become able to brew a fortifying potion that brings a fecundity of self-love. And I am better able to lovingly embrace myself.

Cloudcatcher 2016 Affinity Ritual- Evening Ritual 3

Together, we took the individual threads of our lived experience and wove a ritual intention to live fully in the present experience. The need to be present and live embodied in each moment seemed to be our affinity. For me, that need to be present and enjoy the life that I’m living is tangible. All too often, I am pulled out of my body to a future time event. During my travels through time, I follow this event up the cosmic tree of time. When a possible decision appears along this path of events, the limb splits into multiple branches. And so, I travel down each possible trajectory. Each time a divergent path appears due to another possible choice or shift in events, I travel that too. The limbs split into branches, the branches split into sticks, the sticks split into twigs, and so on and so on. My steps become recursive. I walk forwards and backwards retracing my steps, replaying decisions, and investigating possible scenarios. I become driven to plan, arrange, and manipulate every possible path. Meanwhile, I am cut off from my body and denying myself from actually participating in the moment.

This fraught time tracing is not a practice of responsibly planning towards successful completion of my goals. Rather, this type of time tracing is fear driven attempt to minimize unpredictable events. The fear is that I may not be equipped to succeed through the unknown. And going into this affinity ritual, I knew this of myself. The Fey knew this of me too. They Fey relished confronting my time tracing habit because they adore enriching human life with fecund unpredictability. I could hear them giggling and guffawing as we ritually journeyed closer to the gate of Faerie. The kookaburra, deep in his maniacal laughter, sat upon the Faery Queens shoulder as she watched us journey deeper into their realm. I could feel the other Fey-like spirits there on the boundaries of the spirit worlds. They were not the European Fey but rather felt as if their identities were indigenous to this land. The lenses of my lived experiences opened my perception to a wide variety of Fey-like spirits that resemble nothing of the Faerie commonly described from a Eurocentric lens. And I felt so deeply grateful for the gift of perceiving these earliest spirits.

Our bodies stood skyclad around the ancient rock face that protruded up through the wet grasses. This flat squared off stone was a portal through the realms. The worlds shifted about us and we came to the place where the land of the ancestors and the land of the fey meet each other. The spirits of the dead promenaded there with quiet interest. The Fey, curious as they could be, were peppered amongst them. The river between these two lands that flowed just below the smooth lichen painted stone at my feet.

I strode into the center of my affinity group. My mouth muttered the incantations while my hands traced the familiar symbols to open a faerie well in the stone slate before me. This well was fed by the river of life that flowed through the lands of the Fey, the lands of the ancestors, and into the mortal world. I bathed myself in its waters. I drank those waters deep. I took those waters into my souls. As the waters flowed through me, the etheric wings on my back strengthened. These wings beat forward, stronger, so as to push me back into the present. Their purpose is to keep me from being pulled out of my body and out of my current lived experience.

Amidst us witches stepping into the center to receive our medicine, so too did the Fey, the spirits of the land, and the disincarnate ancestors. Our toning sealed the spells and healings of our ritual. As we released the magic of our circle, the clouds descended from the peaks of mountains and wound about camp. The rains, fiercely poured down over camp that evening as the spirits of the land and the Fey also drank in their waters of life, the waters that keep us embod

Cloudcatcher 2016 Evening Ritual 2

“With love as our magic, we embrace desire and pleasure and accept the consequences.”

The Faerie Queen. I could feel her longing gaze slowly devouring me. She smelled of the sweetest honeysuckle. Her cool breath crawling across my back sent chills down my spine and raised the hairs on my neck. She wanted to take me, ride through me, and fill me. I wanted her essence in me. I could feel her coming down from the forest peaks of the mountain. She came to me wild, untamed, and running free. Chaos. She was chaos to all the organized-ness of my life. And I was meant to convey her essence in my outer energy bodies until her priestess was ready to receive her fully.

As I called her from the high places, the low places, and the between places she coiled out from around me and into her ritualist, Suzanne Sterling. Deep in aspect, the Faery Queen moved through the ritual like a fierce living star that had risen from deep inside the Earth. And I, her tender, was pulled into the wake of her gravitational pull. I heard her speak at first in chittering Faerie speak. Slowly I began to understand her words. Whether she had learned to speak the human tongue through her priestess or whether I had begun to understand Faerie, I’ll never know. She whirled through the center of the ritual with a demand that everyone dance. “Don’t look at me…I am invisible”, she laughed sardonically. “ Look within yourself for what you desire ”, she called out as ritual participants reeled around the space in ecstatic dance.

They paused there merry making only briefly so as to hear the stories of the Queen’s pleasure and of Janet’s and Tam Lin’s. My queen would not have them resting long. For she wailed in a way that brings even the most sullen of beasts into a frenzied pleasure. And her wails whipped and rippled through the crowd and caused them to link hands and storm like a hurricane. I greedily watched on as they moved their bodies at great speed in a synchronized chaos of desire. I pined for them as the humans sought pleasure amongst each other and their lovers of the Fey Host. I, the Queen’s emissary, knight, and tender was committed to her… alone.

I felt not quite Fey and not quite human. For in those moments, I straddled both worlds and both peoples but I could not partake fully in their experience. I thought, “This must be how the Fey feel when we ignore their overtures for allyship.” I carried the Fey feelings of lust for the world of humans. It was a lust to dance with them to touch them, to delight in them. And now, in my desire for them, I was caught behind the veil longing to be with them. Longing for them to seek me out. Longing for the connection. I recognized this feeling of being emotionally lonely as the feeling that comes with being a priest-ess.

I have inherited the story that to answer the call to be a priest-ess is to walk a lonely path even when one is surrounded by lovers and loved ones. And somewhere along in my human life, I bought into it. I agreed to be Tam Lin: the consort and the sacrifice. But my truth is that my commitment to tend the Faery Queen or to tend my deities, ancestors, and spirits of the land is made from love, desire, and pleasure. I am only alone if I allow that old story to persist.

Somewhere beyond the essence of the Faery Queen, I could feel the human Suzanne. She and I were here together and priest-essing for the Fey Host. So, I chose to feel into my connection with this Fey-like human priestess. I chose to be part human and part fey with Suzanne. I chose to take deep pleasure in the hosts of humans and Fey beside us. And by remembering that she and I were in this together, my experience changed. As my perception changed, the old story of loneliness began to unravel and disintegrate. In turn, the Faery Queen drew Suzanne and me out into the fields beneath the full moon and far away from the passionate crowd. And as the Queen danced through the fields in her borrowed human body so too did I dance with her and Suzanne. The three of us were there but the veils between us were not.