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.

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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.