Tag Archives: Australian Paganism

CloudCatcher 2019 – Primal Witch – Day 2

It’s Day Two and my heart is cracked open.  I wake up feeling a little tender and am grateful for the warm breakfast and fresh fruit. The program at WitchCamp is bountiful. Path in the morning, optional offerings in the afternoon and ritual. Each moment intrinsically linked to the next via our camp theme. The energy that is held and anchored in the space grounds the work as I step into (or is it onto??) the Primal Witch Path.

The circle is cast and once again the drum beats its primordial rhythm, calling us in. There’s less talk today and I have a sense we’ll be going deeper into nature, though as I look outside and see the relentless rain (seriously though – what else would you expect in the underworld), it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to venture out. It feels disappointing to not be able to put our feet on the earth and sit directly in nature, and part of me wonders how we’ll maintain a connection whilst not being able to directly touch, feel, sense and smell the land.

As Sue continues to drum she is joined by others in our group as we move and dance. We settle in and Riyana invites us to ground and remember what the sensation of connect and disconnect feels like in ourselves. I feel like I am learning a new language. That word ‘remember’ hits home. As with most of my practice, I feel it’s the ‘remembering’ that brings me closer to a balance. We deepen our remembering by breathing with the plants and I feel myself relax into the trance of the offering.

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Today we’re dropping into the mycelial network via breath, sound and movement … and tea! Our experience in circle is a divine blend of herby wisdom and an encounter with matter itself. I learn about medicinal mushrooms (not psychotropics) and how they work within my body to build resilience. I learn we are like the fungal web itself. Our spirit and how it is fed and grows influences the spirit of the collective.

Medicinal mushrooms are adaptogens and when used in daily practice, repatterning and rewiring occur. I am aware my repatterning is all about ‘doing’ my daily practice, including embodied movement, deep rest and tea. To take this small amount of time each day to connect into the rhythm of nature and listen.

Today’s Path and the mycelium network reminds me of one of the Permaculture Principles … Small Slow Solutions. I remember to be gentle and vow to settle into some radical self-care.

 

CloudCatcher 2019 – Crossing the Abula Path – Day 1

Devotion to Self
Heart to Fire in the Head

I approached this path with a good deal of trepidation. My usual practice is consistently more Upperworld than Underworld, and the last two years of my life have been very much tinged with Underworldly energy. Most of it, I didn’t really enjoy. When I looked at the options available, I felt this was the only path for me. It called to me, whether I wanted it or not.  Skipping merrily however, I was not.

Looking around the group, there were certainly a few familiar faces and there’s always comfort in that. Our teachers, Raven Edgewalker and Caduceus were the reassuring guardians of this path. They engaged the group with ease and expertise, just the right amount of humour and  gravitas that is required for self reflection and underworld journeys.

During this first day, I was drawn into a vision, guided into the heart of the concept of Devotion. There were elements discussed covering Devotion to Deity and Devotion to Self, something which I give very little thought. My vision notes read-

An apple tree, sparrows fluttering around, pecking and squabbling over the fruit on the branches. One of the tiny bodied birds caught something in the centre of the apple and drew it out. It was a blade without a hilt, needing to be reattached to something new, forged into something. 

I also had a very clear image that appeared to me, of the connectivity of my chakra points, from my Heart, to my Third Eye and up to the GodSelf, to the Crown, stretching into the heavens above, connecting my heart, my thoughts, my soul to themselves and to the divine. It was the core of devotion to Deity in my heart that connects to the fire in the head.

It also made me think of this Tea Party song from when I was a teenager, Fire In the Head.

After this work was completed, we moved into small groups and we were challenged to work in silence (after brief discussion) to create an altar in devotion to Ereshkigal. We talked about how we felt devotion was tied to creation, to expression, which has always been something that called to me. In devotional act to the Dark Goddess, we created an altar of many parts. Some of us chose to paint our skin with symbols and sigils, one of our group wrote a song, we built a small cairn of stones from the land, in honour of her ties to the earth. Working in silence was profoundly powerful. For me, it offered focus and narrowed down the world to a concentrated effort of creation in honour of something incredible, complex and divine.

I have to admit, I was excited at the concept of having homework, and some of it turned out to be a little more challenging than it first appeared. Raven spoke about integrating things into daily practice and we were asked to consider our self care regime, our ability to look into the mirror and express love into the eyes of the reflection gazing back at us. Challenging business for sure. Ongoing work, even after returning home for me…

Cloudcatcher 2018 – Elements Path – Day 4

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!