Tag Archives: Australia Reclaiming

CloudCatcher 2017 Ritual Day 4

Yesterday I met a spirit of this land. Tonight in ritual, as a group, we are to aspect (embody) those spirit beings. These are the directions given in ritual conspiracy and I plan on following them. The only problem is that something happened today carving out a seemingly divergent direction for me. 

Earlier today there was an optional offering in which Kali revealed herself to me as the loving mother instead of fierce destroyer. This Kali had body shaped like mine, had hair like mine, and was fully black, a matte black, the color of shadow. The bodies of Kali and myself moved in sync. Our weight-shifts matched. Our looseness of limbs matched. We swayed together, the self I know in physical reality, and Kali, the loving shadow. “Dance with me,” she said. And so I did. 

Tonight, instead of the lizard creature I met in yesterday’s ritual, I begin as something else, something that wants to lay on the ground, something that has an extra kind of gravity. I want to be still among other still beings. I imagine others in the group as plants and trees firmly rooted to this land. A handful of ritual participants are fluttering about the circle, jumping, running, flowing, squeaking, and chirping. I lay on the ground under a large stretchy shawl, moving limbs without exerting much energy. A chant is started and I feel pulled to my knees, hands on the floor before me, fingers spread, weight shifting side to side. Kali is here again. She is my mirror. Kali and I stay on our knees moving to the rhythm of the drum that gives shape to our magical container. Kali, a Hindu goddess, does not care that in tonight’s ritual, we are meant to be working with the spirit beings of this land, here in Mount Wolumbin, Australia. 

“Dance with me,” she says as we rise to our feet together. 

I open my eyes. There is more movement now than there was before gravity floored me.  Spirit beings are churning up the energy of our circle. I lock eyes with another aspected spirit being. She is fierce. She replaces Kali as my mirror. With my eyes, I say to her, “Dance with me.” And she does.

CloudCatcher 2017 Ritual Day 1

Opening to CloudCatcher

I am being called to Opening Ritual by the drums. I am already between worlds. In a floaty daze, having just arrived to Australia after 40 hours of travel, I enter the main hall. Dancers, swayers, and music makers have already started a slow stir of the large room. I take in the witches around me, guessing at who here is holding what role: Teacher, Organizer, New Camper, Long Time Witch, Introvert, The Quiet Ones, The Tired One, The Nervous One, and The One Who’s Energy I Feel Jealous Of. I feel the voice in my head of responsibility. . . “Be present. Fully take part in ritual. Don’t sit down. Help raise energy. Pay attention to instructions. Be a good witch.” I am giving myself this pep talk as we form an oval shaped circle and get ready to cast sacred space.

The intention is read.“Called by this mountain, we surrender to the fire and offer ourselves to the story of CloudCatcher.” We mill around the room, engaging with altars to the elements. Each alter pulls me in a different way, water feeling strongest. “What brought you here?” we are asked. I hear the echo of an intention I set six months ago, in a Samhain ritual on Mount Laguna in Southern California call back to me, “I will go to CloudCatcher.” And here I am, half way across the world, affirming in this moment that magic really works.

We are guided to step into the mountain, into the fire of the mountain, into the magma, the lava of the mountain. “What is not serving you? Throw it into the fire of the mountain we are prompted.” I take a step forward. Lava is flowing before me. I throw expectations about what this camp should be like into the lava. I throw in identifiers I placed on people before ritual started. I throw in ego and all that is keeping me from connecting to this community. I throw in the idea that I am supposed to show up here, at CloudCatcher in a specific way. I have surrendered to the fire.

My attention has been wavering throughout this whole ritual. During the last hour I have sat down, floated away, been half-present, and been half-paying attention. Maybe it is jet lag. Maybe it is the ritual. Maybe it is the way the spirit of the mountain has decided to interact with me. Whatever it is that held me in this space, I feel opened to the story of CloudCatcher and excited about the transformation I will experience over the next four days.

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.