At CloudCatcher WitchCamp we almost always have an affinity group ritual. This is an opportunity for these small groups to turn inward to each other, drop deep into the arc of ritual-work in the cauldron of the Story and Theme of the Camp and open to the magic of the moment, of desire, of need. Affinity groups are an essential ingredient in Reclaiming WitchCamps. I have had okay, wonderful, and not-so-great experiences in affinity groups as a camper at Reclaiming WitchCamps. Most of the time we end up in affinity groups “by the hand of the Goddess or Fate Herself”. We pick tokens or found objects and then we are sorted… though sorting hats aren’t usually around. Affinity groups usually consist of 4-7 people.
I did not randomly or by fate choose a token and then get sorted… I chose to enter the pre-determined Person of Colour affinity group. At CloudCatcher and several other Reclaiming Camps affinity groups are also organised around axes of oppression and experiences of social and political marginalisation. Reclaiming is intrinsically a politically-engaged tradition and feedback in the community of late in various countries has clearly communicated a need for these kinds of solidarity groups. As well as this, choosing to go into the PoC affinity group as a self-identified PoC is entirely optional.
We are collectively exhausted. WitchCamp is called a magical intensive quite specifically… it is thorough, “full on”, and well – often, intense.
One of our group excuses themself so they can get the rest they sorely need. Another does not feel completely safe and feels a spirit that has been pushing against their edges all day might invade their space if we do not ward ourselves, so I offer to cast a Circle of warding, containment, and strength.
I take my wand from Inanna’s altar in the East and I move with the arc of the sun below the equator: beginning in the south where the sun can not be seen, through to the dawning east, to the high tide of day in the north, to the twilight dusk in the west, back to the midnight south, arcing above, swooping below…
“By the centre which is the circumference…” These are words I often use to seal the Circle-casting ritual in Reclaiming and Feri practice. They are a meditation to me, they have deep meaning, and I open to the mystery between the words, and evoked by the words.
And then we simply sing. We sing, and sing, and sing.
We sing a song Riyana taught us at ritual conspiracy. It was woven by Jennifer Byers, Pavini Moray, and their path at Free Cascadia WitchCamp:
Deep, dark velvet, Earth my lover
Open my mind and open my body
Wet and welcoming, sweet surrendering
Starlight and bone, my power from within –
We sing, I am drumming on my bodhran while others sway and rock singing with their eyes closed. A few of us take pastels and colours and form magical sigils on the paper on the ground. Each group has been tasked with this by the teaching team. This too is for the compost. This ritual matters too. This ritual is what we need.
So, we sing. We sing and then we laugh.