Tag Archives: CloudCatcher

CloudCatcher 2017 – Elements of Magic day 4 – Water

Where I live on the Gold Coast water has such a special, almost spiritual significance. I know it sounds funny to say, but a lot of Gold Coaster’s lives revolve around the ocean. Summer days with family and friends playing in the ocean, meditative walks along the shoreline, and the surfers who are out there every morning riding the waves. Water is the element of emotion, change and psychic power.

On the last day of CloudCatcher emotions were running high, I had just been through some of the most transformational experiences of my life, and I didn’t want it to end. After so much intense group work I had found that everyone in the Elements of Magic path had all begun to connect on such a beautiful level. There had to be some empathic connection between us because everyone seemed to be emotional that day. My upbringing was in the cliché macho world so flowing with emotion is something of a struggle for me. I’ve never been the type to express myself, especially when it comes to emotions – but CloudCatcher had changed all that. After our ritual a few nights ago in which we made contact with our ancestors and used the powers of fire and water to reshape ourselves, I don’t think I have ever cried so hard. I don’t know why I cried, I don’t know what triggered me but after that experience, I just had to let it out, and that was ok. CloudCatcher was the kind of place where I could let my emotions go and feel safe and supported. I tapped into something that night, a repressed emotion I had never dealt with and had to be let go. It was refreshing, to say the least.

I felt so empowered to own my emotions and let them guide me. In the past, I’ve read research on similar topics, but Jack explained how water is programmable with intentions. It carries energy and so can be a powerful conduit in magic. Our bodies are more than 75% water, so I’ve begun to understand how our emotional state affects our physical state.

In my last blog, I mentioned the chalices we had been crafting. Well, day 4 was the day they were completed, and we the beautiful burned looking cups were now ready for magic. We went off on a small hike up the mountain to fill our chalices with rainwater, walking single file through the forest I let my consciousness sink to the right frame of the work we were about to do. We filled our chalices and walked back down the mountain to a clearing to perform our blessing. Our blessing was our own – I blessed my water to hold the power of flow within me, I wanted to keep this newfound empowerment long after CloudCatcher finished – my emotions are holy and should be treated as such.

I will never forget my time at CloudCatcher, and I imagine this won’t be my last. I learned about parts of myself I never knew were there and learned new skills I couldn’t wait to take into the world with me. At CloudCatcher I reconnected with the earth, learned the power of my creative mind, was inspired and empowered and I felt more in flow with my emotions than ever.

CloudCatcher 2017 – Elements of Magic Day 3 – Fire

Following a passionate discussion on the wisdom of fire and its significance to humans as a society and spiritually, my path family and I now stood around an open campfire singing, drumming and raising energy towards the open flames. Fire it turns out is a very reflective element, there is no hiding from it and it taught me quite a formidable lesson about myself.

Over the past few days in Elements of Magic, we had we been sculpting a lump of clay into a chalice. This chalice was to be created using all four elements and made with a magical intention. The chalice had been moulded from earth, cured by air and was now ready to be kilned in fire, but not before a little spell work of course.

As we stood in a circle, chanting and dancing in the early afternoon sun sending our energy into the chalices warming in the fire, a friend I’d made at camp, Julie was playing a drum beat that kept us all dancing and the energy rising. We’d reached a peek in our ritual. I was lost to the beat and the energy swirling within me when Julie caught my eye and yelled across the circle, “Come here and drum! Keep it going!” without hesitation, I ran to the drum, excited to throw myself into this new experience. My only drumming experience was one lesson Julie gave me at the start of camp – but that was all I needed. With Julie’s beat still carrying in my mind, I told my hands to start.

“Right, left – right … no, that’s not it, start again.
Right, right-left – right, shit!
Ok…wasn’t it just, like, no, DAMN IT!
You’re taking too long & now everyone’s out of sync. Why did you even attempt this? You can’t drum…you’re shit at music – just get off and give it back to someone who knows what they’re doing.”

Without a further thought, I jumped off, handed it back to Julie and went back to my place in the circle. I looked around, and everyone was still singing and clapping to the beat even though the drum beat had faltered. No one seemed to notice. But I kicked myself for even thinking I could do it in the first place. I stepped up and fell…think before you act Charlie. I tried to forget it, and I put my mind back into the ritual. Luckily I was able to get my headspace back where it needed to be, and I was happy with how the ritual turned out.

Still embarrassed about what happened I unfairly cast blame on Julie. She knew I wasn’t a drummer, why did she even ask!?

CloudCatcher Rule 1 – Think well of each other, the parts we dislike in others are the parts we dislike in ourselves. 

Julie apologised for putting me on the spot like that. It wasn’t her fault. Based on one 5-minute lesson Julie thought I could do it, that’s a compliment! I was the issue.

While sitting in Julie’s room later that day I inspected each one of her incredible jewellery pieces she had for sale. Julie is a Druid from the Blue Mountains. She has a beautiful and nurturing, creative soul. I have always admired highly creative people. We spoke further about what happened, and I started to open up. “I don’t know what happened. I was so confident that I could nail it and I just flopped. That’s classic me though. Whenever I’m in that kind of situation, I choke, and then my mind disconnects from my body, which disconnects from my energy flow…then I end up so angry at myself.” Julie put a comforting hand on my shoulder looked at me in the eyes and said, “Stop putting your fire out, let it burn”.

I don’t know what it was about those words specifically that resonated on such a deep level. Seven words that struck the core of what was in my heart – self-doubt is my worst enemy. I had learned this lesson before, in the past once I conquered my self-doubt and believed in my power my life progressed in the most incredible ways. Here was the same lesson – slapping me in the face and wrapped in fire.

Beautiful finishing note
I know we are meant to be writing these blogs in chronological order, but hey, at CloudCatcher we found out that time can be bent.

When Julie put her chalices in the fire, she put in a beautiful red stone, a Carnelian. Carnelian has strong alignments with the fire element. We all speculated what would happen to the stone in the intense heat.  After our chalices had been in the kiln all night, we unwrapped them the next day like excited children. The chalices turned from earthy-white to a scorched black colour, and we all stared in wonder. Julie showed us that the Carnelian had lightened in colour slightly and it had cracked, like a beautiful stone mosaic. This firestone had been shaped anew by the element itself and had been adorned with love, community and creation. Julie handed the stone to me “Let your fire burn”.

CloudCatcher 2017 The Naked Path Day 3

I peel my dress over my head. My breasts rise up: caught in the folds, my nipples, stimulated, stand erect. I place my pendants on the Bower Altar: Cerridwen from a working at EarthSong WitchCamp, and Freyja from CloudCatcher, 2013. I breathe an intention.

From the EarthSong fund raising raffle, Freyja’s necklace with long needle-pointed crystals of a light amber shade: My Brisingamen, joins Cerridwen and Freyja.

The soft toy snake I brought to the ‘Gates of Paradise’ slithers among the cracks formed by the steep vertical cliffs where the mattresses abut. I imagine these edges as the sheer, solidified lava cliffs of the ancient volcano: cracks made hot as molten lava pushes through from deep within. Naked. My routine comforts me.

Twenty-three or twenty-four million years ago, the Springbrook mountain was formed from the northern flank of the Tweed Volcano. With a diameter of 100 kilometres, she was a massive shield volcano. For a million years, basaltic lava, ash and gases oozed and spewed.

The maiden mountain was erotic in her hot, steamy shroud.

I feel wary: Day 3 is usually the most difficult for me: sleep-reduced, effected by dietary changes I become easily triggered. The release that crying gives is generally denied: I am a product of my social history and upbringing. My marriage relationship reinforced the ‘no tears’ policy of my childhood: a stiff upper lip was mandatory and my mother tolling: ‘No use crying over spilt milk,’ still rings.

I can stand naked before others more easily than I can cry. I regret this: I scrieve a future WitchCamp when I crack my shield. As a role model, I dearly wish this crone, this elder, could show her vulnerablity to the maidens and mothers. It shows great maturity to express grief, joy, fear and laughter openly.

While I wait for Path to begin, I journal. I pick up my pen and realise I feel less naked with it in my hand. I experiment. Pen down: naked. Pen in my hand: less naked. Pen hidden: very naked. Mmm … interesting. I resolve to shed my pen whenever I pause my writing: it will not be a shield.

The deep work of yesterday’s path is integrated today, and celebrated tomorrow. The work of the individual is woven into community today. We do this through ritual and dance.

Jane Meredith  borrows the carpeted space next door for a trance exercise. Our ever patient and generous Path neighbours have agreed to lend us their room.

I hear the steady beat of a frame drum and go deep into trance. Yesterday, in Path Day 2, we were individuals. It is time to dance with community. Under the spell of gravity, Jane Meredith asks us to fall gently to the floor and then slowly rise. Jane says: ‘Imagine you feel the pull of gravity on your body.’

Throughout the dance exercise, we are asked to repeat this falling action over and over. As an elder person with mobility issues, the repetition is impossible for me. My health, back and self-care say ‘no’: I feel isolated. I dance on the periphery of community.

My feelings amplify as two of my age peers are able to complete the action.

Seemingly disengaged, a third, older, male-gendered person stands leaning against the wall.

It feels like we are no longer a party of thirteen: as if some have left the room, but I am unclear about this: absenting oneself during Path is not an action any witch does lightly. Witch etiquette dictates that we journey together unless a high level of self-care is needed.

There is a meaning for me in every activity. What is the message here? I continue to engage as fully as I can: feelings of anger stir. The upper palate at the back of my throat constricts. I feel my tongue tight against it. My mouth becomes dry, and my thumping heart accelerates. I breathe and move towards the edge.

During Path Day 1, our teachers gave us a tool: Pendulation. In trance, using the image of a pendulum, we took our thoughts towards a personal, disturbing thought, and then away from it. Our pendulum swung from the ‘edge’ to ‘not edge’.

In the ‘not edge’ place, we created an image of our own personal ‘oasis’. I realise if I mentally move towards the disturbance, and become activated, I can pendulate my thoughts back to my oasis. I use Pendulation now.

I pendulate to my edge: During the movement piece, I cannot sink deeply to the ground and rise. I feel nauseous when I can’t do what is asked of me.  ‘What is the source of my anger? What lies beneath?’ This is a community that prides itself on inclusion: the all gender bathrooms witness this To encourage fuller participation the dance could be modified easily. I feel invisible, my needs discounted: I relate to those disabled or marginalised by their perceived ‘imperfect’ bodies.

I pendulate to ‘not edge’: my oasis.

Towards my edge: Some in this community are yet to confront the reality of aging. I remember that what I project on others is most likely what bothers me about myself. Sigh, reluctant, I admit this truth: my aging body reminds me each day that I have less years to live than I have been alive. I do not want to write further about this. It is too hard: I feel crushed, powerless.

I pendulate towards my oasis, and then move back to the disturbance.

I think: ‘I cannot stop the clock, nor can I turn back time.’

I swing mentally to my oasis. I hear the drumming and instructions change. Our individual naked bodies form a tableau. We move to a central point, get as close and as low to the ground as possible and build a mountain shape rising from the floor.

Towards my edge: We are asked to extend one finger and/or toe to touch another on foot or hand. I choose a simple posture but It is difficult for me to keep my balance for the extended time required. What if I tumble, fall and break our agreement? I know my sisters will understand but my heart breaks at this thought.

Oasis: We meld, hold the pose and then dissolve: individuals shaping into community.

As a check-in we ‘popcorn*’ a few words summarising our experience. Mine are: jealousy, rage, envy and disquiet. I’m taken aback at how angry I am. 

Later, in small groups, we contribute to a ritual linking our community to Mother Earth. I am the element, Earth, I hear my voice rumbling like a stirring volcano. It is angry, constricted, not the sound I want to make for the mountain. It is not what I feel the mountain is telling me. She is calm, not pent up. She is a crone. She is wise. I have found another edge to investigate: the unintentional, seething anger my voice is expressing.

It is clear that I need to do more work around this issue of my ageing.

I have an image in my head of a young maiden running from cave to cave at the base of the mountain looking for some place to hide. She wants to be invisible. She doesn’t want to come out and face the mountain and see how old she has grown. Where did the green lush forests of the mother stage go? The mountain feels old, eroded, scarred by her human experience. She is wounded and wants gentle tending. She is tired, weary of human impact and wants to be healed.

Path Day 3 closes.

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popcorn: a term used to describe sitting in circle and individuals speaking as they feel the need, rather than going around one by one. The first to speak may speak again at the end.