Cloudcatcher 2018 – day 4 – Elements Path

The calm…

My experience with water went deep and needed space to properly settle in my mind, let alone open up to conversation about it. I knew it was all part of my personal journey, however I felt like the journey was still quite deeply personal.

Over the few days I’d been at CloudCatcher, I had already made some really wonderful connections, people that I was drawn to, others I needed to work with to cast a circle or an element, and then there were the unexpected connections that arose from simply being in a particular place at a particular time.

They were – for the most part, with people in my path, which made sense considering that we were all taking a similar journey, in our own deeply personal way. However, something that I was inspired by above all else was the collaborative approach taken to perform daily rituals within the path. When asked to participate everyone did something – movement, breathing, inspired utterances, whatever spoke to them at the time. This was something I believe to be fundamental to Reclaiming, the acceptance of our own vulnerability, the acceptance of our own spirituality, and the acceptance of our own agency. It was ok to ‘fuck up’, it was ok to say something that might not have made too much sense, and it was ok to say nothing at all! It was ok to simply move – feel, what was being processed at the time, we were our own agents, and only with consent were we ever expected to step outside the comfort and safety of our own boundaries. Reclaiming is ecstatic, and therefore seeks out the inspiration of the moment, and we were invited to let it manifest in whatever way felt appropriate at the time, respecting the agreements in play when working with a group.

The last day of our path focused on Spirit, and we were introduced to concepts that are familiar to me, but were expressed and experienced with the vocabulary of in the Reclaiming tradition. This was primarily the concepts of the three worlds as explored using our breath to take us into parts of ourselves that connected and aligned our spiritual bodies with them. We also used our breath to focus our attention on the boundaries of the space we take up, the immediate awareness of the imminent self that I would describe as my aura. The importance placed on aligning the three worlds within wasn’t intended to take us away from this one – on the contrary, much of the work focused on connecting with the land, sea and sky which mirrored my own druidic practices.

The second half of the workshop was far more challenging. The teachers stepped away and left us with the task of developing a ritual that consolidated what we had learnt, and to focus our intentions toward achieving our personal quests. I have always been aware of my influence in group dynamics, and having been through this wonderful path with such gorgeous creatures, I was made acutely aware of the need to reel in my personality so everyone could have a piece of the ‘brownie’. This didn’t mean shutting myself down, on the contrary! I just wanted to provide enough space for others to speak and share their thoughts and ideas, and I had hoped that everyone would bare the same consideration into the exercise. When dealing with over 20 adults in this way, leaders quickly emerged, and I was comfortable going with the flow of the river, rather than trying to swim across it. We developed our own ritual intention that informed the whole ritual, and a chant was developed that incorporated elements from each day’s practice – it was beautiful! I felt it truly captured the essence of what we were trying to do, and created the egregore to carry our intentions back into the real world. Everyone placed either an intention or a token into the middle of the circle and we performed the rite. We chanted, and I cried some more as I held onto my quest – to allow myself to see the strength in my own vulnerability and to allow others to see that too.

In true Reclaiming style we finished off the day with another check-in, casting another kind of circle with our words, a circle that didn’t need to be uncast. Although I carried away in my heart my quest and promised to test that boundary whenever possible, I also opened myself up to a practice that will enliven my personal spiritual path, and I’m looking forward to sharing what that looks like with my fellow Druids!

CloudCatcher 2018 – Divination Path – Day 4

This is our last day of path. Laura Moverin teaches us a beautiful chant that she has written:

Give us your honey

Give us your salt

Give us your sweetness

And something else

Rise, rise out of the hive

Bring us the gifts that keep us alive.

We open circle, and I check in with a ‘headline’ from last night’s ritual:

‘Pentacles of Fire Held by Mighty Dead’.

I’m stunned by what I say. Fire is my weakest element, I’ve been trying to reignite my embers, my passion, for years. Although we chanted the Iron Pentacle last night, I don’t recall it being firey except for my own internal self. Then I recall I invoked Fire as an Element for the very first time ever at WitchCamp during this path. I’m gradually getting a bit more firey!

The iron pentacle is a Reclaiming meditation tool. I use it to remind my Self of how my relationship with the over culture has suppressed my human desires: Sex – Pride – Self – Power – Passion.

During last night’s ritual, we were transformed into Bees. Those of us who were unable to go outside to forage for honey, chanted until those hive members, who flew over the land came back. On their return, we offered these Bees, the tool of the Iron Pentacle, as a gift in exchange for the honey they had gathered for us. (See ).

For my weather report I say: ‘High streaky white clouds in fine blue skies, possibly rain clouds on the horizon.’

I’m a little edgy: I haven’t had that emotional upheaval I usually have during camp. I’ve been saying to other campers that this often happens when I least expect it: when my emotional is guard down. Even in the safe cauldron of WitchCamp I still find it hard to show emotion openly: I have been so enculturated into our broader society’s mores. Inwardly, I am sighing with relief: I might escape it this time! … Hermes giggles quietly: ‘No chance …’

As I drove up the Mountain before camp, I thought there might be some discussion around ‘privilege’ or other words that act as triggers for me. There have been some hot button topics in the broader media lately: Reclaiming supports legitimate activism in our broader society. I feel relief to not have heard these words at camp. Although I support the activism of Reclaiming, I have strong feelings around some issues: they are more complex than the ‘labels’ seem to affirm.

I sense a storm is brewing: Laura Moverin poses the question: ‘Is it fate, Wyrd or privilege that shape us?’ Privilege … aargh! There’s that word … Steam rises from these embers – as if water has finally hit them.

Laura leads an activity gifted to her by two other Reclaiming teachers. She reads a statement about ‘privilege’ and we take a token if we possess this privilege. At the end of the game, the more tokens you have, the more privilege you have in our society. Less than five, and you are ‘not privileged’. I end up with four tokens.

Fortunately I knew that I wasn’t privileged long before I started this game. About three years ago, I did a survey about privilege for a university student-friend. Unfortunately, I don’t like being ‘outed’ unexpectedly, and I react with strong emotion: I feel embarrassed. I have worked very hard to ‘pass’ as privileged. I know my jangled emotions are mine to resolve, but, Hermes, the Trickster, says: ‘Surprise! … Got you good … ‘ Days later I will finally get the joke but right now I’m steaming.

So, what kinds of things make me less privileged than I look?

I came from an impoverished working class background but, we lived in an area where most people had middle-class money. As a child, I was visibly poorer than my peers. No public health care in the 1950s – I saw a doctor twice in my entire childhood. First of my family to go to university, I met my husband there. He has an ‘invisible disability’ that we have lived with for over forty years: high-functioning autism, but, only diagnosed ten years ago. On occasion, I have had anxiety and depression: mostly in reaction to our relationship. I am a woman in a male-dominated society, and worked in a male-dominated profession (science). And Laura Moverin didn’t even survey this last factor!

Starting with the least tokens, Laura Moverin invites people with fewer than five to speak. This is about four people in fifteen. I decide to speak. Although I don’t like revealing myself, I think it is important that I speak up and educate: people born into low privilege are less likely to ‘move up’. Even in a room of mostly privilege, in my experience, people are multifaceted. I’ve known people with a high index of privilege whose lives I would never trade, and I’ve met people with far less privilege than I.

Jennifer Byers wraps up the group discussion that: ‘ … we recognise complexity, and that, in Reclaiming, we are our own authority rooted in community.’

Before we check-out, Jennifer Byers asks us to draw three tarot cards, with these focus questions in mind:

What are the things I need to know to serve community/humanity?

What do I need to keep/nurture?

What are the things that no longer serve me? What do I need to release?

These are the cards I drew:

With the help of another Witch (group member), these complex cards held meaning for me. Their interpretation of the cards I drew took my breath away with its relevance. The links to my everyday world life (where this Witch does not know me at all) were amazing.

I understand that I have an informal, beautiful relationship with the Moon that I now recognise is a pattern. I do my best Witch work under the Moon. I resolve to nurture this each night: a practice I stopped years ago when a beloved pet died. The ten of wands is a time of moving towards an end, to a rebirth, a time of moving on. Perfect messages for me, meanings I was too emotional at the time to derive without the offered assistance of my Witch friend. They recognised my emotional charge and gave their help freely with modesty. I belong to an extraordinary community, and I am grateful.

CloudCatcher 2018 – Day 4 – Evening Ritual

Tonight the Caldera is buzzing with energy – the rains and fast moving clouds are just some of the things affected, and the celebrants gathered for the ritual feel it too. While sacred space is created all around the hall and on the mountain, two priestesses are working on a potion – a potion made from local honey, local mint, and local water, and the energy of circle and the priestesses tending the potion. This gift of the bee maidens potion will augment the energy already in the Caldera and the energies we’ve called into the circle and will help us to unweave the wyrd and to step outside of time.

After drinking the potion we are called into three groups and guided by priestess. Some of us remain in the hall to commune with the Mighty Ones of the Craft; some of us are led to a fire circle somewhere on the land to breathe with the ancestors; and some of us are lead far afield to dance with the descendants who are yet to come. I am in the group who is visiting with the descendents. Our walk is long and only a small lantern guides our way in the light drizzle. We come to a field and form honeycombs in which to do our work. The descendants are invited to stand with us, encircled by our peers from the time of the current, and the descendants at our shoulders whispering the way forward in our ears. They move in our bodies to tell us how to get on to that good road, that road that leads us to the shining future where our generational problems from the now have been solved, and they tell us how those that came between us got there. It is this magic that we carry with us in our bodies back to the larger group; it is this path forward that we carry with us – and carry it we do.

Soon all of us are summoned by the steady beat of the drums to return and share what sacred wisdom we have learned. Each of us carrying the deep knowledge in our bodies about what we were, where we want to go, and the mighty magic which will take us there. At first the dancing in the hall feels separate and somber, but the descendants’ magic works its spell, healing the apartness of our ancestors, and soon we are all dancing and singing, co-creating the same song, the song that sings us from our past to that shining future, and the spell is released to the land. The ritual complete, when we emerge from the hall, the moon is beaming down on us through a mountain-sized hole in the clouds, and we know we are smiled upon for the work we have done.