This animal body is buzzing and jumping. This animal body is ready to begin.
I am so excited for path today. I’ve been predicting a day of wildness where we go out on the land and get covered in mud and make animal noises. But as we sit on the concrete outside the ritual hall in the centre of camp, Julie and Jarrah explain that this is where we are having path today. Instead of running away to pristine nature, we are going to be working in this place, seeing it as sacred. It feels challenging and part of me is disappointed, but I can also see the rightness of doing this.
We place our rocks and sweetness down on the bricks, then begin a trance to connect into some of the less ‘natural’ objects and plants in the space. As we walk around, Jarrah talks about the clever apes who figured out how to shape and cook clay bricks. The clever apes who enjoyed beauty and brought trees like jacarandas to new parts of the world. Who made windows out of glass, who figured out how to grow wheat to grind into flour to make the pancakes we ate for breakfast that are giving us fuel. It feels edgy, but is done so gently that I feel a softening within me, opening to a new way of thinking.
The idea is offered that everything is part of nature, including human-made objects- because their components all come from nature originally, but also because humans are part of nature. We are nature creating itself.
We are invited to connect with a human-made object, a human-made being, and to try to see this being as sacred. The first thing I see is a large, bright orange plastic traffic cone. I feel very resistant to it and have to force myself to walk over to it. As I kneel in front of it, touching it gently, I begin crying. It feels painful and wrong. I don’t feel able to connect with this traffic cone being, but I get the sense that it is enough for now just to be trying.
We gather together to talk about our experiences. Everyone else has apparently had beautiful mystical encounters with their human-made beings. I can see that I have a long way to go to truly see everything as sacred.
Each day we have been asking the earth ‘how can I look after you today?’, a beautiful practise offered by Julie. Today the answer I receive is crystal clear- sing to the human-made objects in this place. I use a chant I often sing out in nature, though it is much easier to sing to tree ferns and mushrooms than cement and rubbish bins. Again this feels edgy, and my heart is not in it, but it is still important. This reverence and willingness feels like something the earth needs from us, no matter how challenging or unglamorous.
We have time to say goodbye to the land, and make bee motels to take this magic out into the world. Our path ends with humour and joy. It is raining, and the drain pipe above us begins overflowing, creating a waterfall right above where we placed our rocks and sweet offerings. As we each pick up our rock, we have to step under this. Some of us dash in quickly, others linger under the torrent of water. For me, it felt like I was finally connecting to the magic of this human-constructed environment. The water falling on my head reminded me of being in the waterfall yesterday, yet I was standing on cement, surrounded by buildings, but still deeply in a magical state.
Although this day was challenging, I am glad of it. My cup had been filled to overflowing the previous day, and it was time to be of service to this place. I leave path with curiosity about how I will take this work out into the world. It is one thing to feel magic and connection in a waterfall, but can I do it in my shower? It is easy to beam out luminous love light in a forest, but can I do it in a city?
This animal body is re-membering. This animal body is re-wilding. This animal body is saying yes.
It was hard to believe I’d reached the final day of the Living Ritual path. In the last four days, we’ve met and overcome challenges, stayed silent and listened, danced, make music and raised energy – all to make us better ritualists.
Today, we asked ourselves what we’re becoming and what it will take. We answered through a sing-a-long check in. Normally, I would be nervous to sing my answer but I felt calm and confident. My answer was that I am becoming my most authentic self and it would take a lot of bravery, self-love and self acceptance to achieve this.’
To reaffirm this process and help us prepare for life back in the post-camp world, we conducted a small circle ritual. In groups of three, we told each other our fears before the other two priestesses affirmed what we needed to hear. At the end of the spell, we all said together “And anything you have ever heard otherwise – be gone!”
We held some more check-ins, which got emotional for me. For what I thought would be a hands-on path, Living Ritual encouraged me to look inwards while working on new skills. Before I knew it, it was time to start packing up the space.
So what am I taking away from this path? A lot! But here are the five key elements:
- It’s okay to make mistakes
- Silence is golden
- If you have no clue, just roll with it and see what happens
- Creativity is messy
- When in a fight, flight or freeze situation, you can always choose to reveal