Tag Archives: CloudCatcher 2016

Cloud Catcher 2016 Day 4 – The Power of Song

Yesterday, I decided to make our allies a camp fire. As I walked past the art and craft tent, my materials presented themselves: a ball of variegated red and black yarn, cardboard and scissors. Magically, a pom pom of flame appeared. I now tossed it into the centre of our circle of allies. Relief, turtle soup was off the menu! The two turtles sighed. The words: ‘You go first,’ and ‘no, please, after you,’ were no longer heard.

I am feeling physically tired, mentally very wary and slightly jaded. Between Days 2 and 3 I usually have some kind of personal crisis: triggered by path or myth, I melt down. Outwardly swimming smoothly, my legs are generally paddling fast so as not to sink. Culturally, I do not cry. It is just not an option: I’m still working to change this. ‘Am I there yet?’ ‘No, but I’m closer.’ So, when supporters start asking: ‘How are you?’ I appreciate their kindness and care. In many ways they read me better externally than I read myself internally. They are a breath of fresh air in the human race.

This is my ninth Australian Reclaiming Witch Camp. I have only attended Australian Witch camps. In 2012, a chance encounter with a flyer in the small country town of Bellingen, NSW led me up the mountain to my first. It was the first Cloud Catcher. A seeker, I looked for a regular retreat and found Witch Camp.

Witch Camps give me personal growth and a time for self-reflection. Five years ago I had no idea of the treasure I would find at the mountain top. Arriving alone at dusk, I found a community of witches. The camp was on a site called Koonjewarre. It is bizarrely situated opposite a bed & breakfast called the Mouse’s House. I opened the door to the Orientation Meeting to find friends, support and a spirituality close to my own.

When the teacher says: ‘We are going into a deep trance today, and here are some portals for you to write from.’ I think: ‘What the … (insert expletive here)?’ I’m tired. She says ‘Trust the process.’ I think: ‘What harm can it do?’

She says: ‘Here are the portals: through the fiery dance; step into the mystery; love is our magic; I witness, I listen; love will hold us.’ Before I know it, she starts drumming. She’s saying choose one of the portals or choose as many as you like, or all of them, and just write.’ I’m still at the ‘What the … expletive?’ stage. I don’t like the (seemingly) unclear instructions. I feel a melt down coming on. She says: ‘Trust the process.’ I decide to go with trusting the process. I choose: ‘Love is our magic.’ and start writing.

After a page or two of ‘stream of consciousness’ writing I am led out of trance. The teacher asks us to look back at our writing, from this we are to write a chant, song or poem. Later, to the accompaniment of drumming we are invited to present our work in the centre of the circle. With ease I start dancing in the centre and chant:

Hand reaches out for hand,
We are stronger than we know,
Kindness creates a common bond,
Igniting the magic spark of love.

In our dreaming, imagine,
Tall trees, small forests,
Tiny seeds bursting through,
Climbing cliffs of love,

Flint strikes rock,
Fire cleanses completely,
There is nothing left,
But harmony and a new beginning.

We close circle. I have taken a step closer to finding my voice.

* Koonjewarre = an Indigenous word meaning ‘meeting place on high-ground

CloudCatcher 2016 Day 3 – Labyrinth Path

“We dance the labyrinth and the lands with Fae allies at our side, opening new paths, crossing edges that might have been closed before, and closing the doors that no longer serve us” (Day 3 Intent)

Today we had the opportunity to ‘Aspect’ our Fae ally and to be a ‘Tender’ to one of our peers when they did the same. Thibaut lead a detailed discussion on Aspecting and Tending before we began, and after ensuring that we had properly prepared ourselves, we paired off so each person could take a turns in either role.

Prior to Aspecting today, our group had altered the labyrinth path slightly so that we could walk through the ‘human’ gate, and out the Faery gate, into the lands of the Fae. The time spent walking through the labyrinth would be the time in which we were inviting our being to walk with us, in us, or around us.

I took on the role of tender first- My partner communicated to me that they would probably not need much assistance or guidance during their Aspecting; requesting for me just to witness, and carry their water bottle. They also suggested some personal topics to ask them questions about when grounding afterwards.

I hear a call, it comes from far away; I don’t know where it leads, behind the gates of night and day.. (chant)

Last night I had spoken to the ally I’d met first- a darker, more feminine being- and had planned to aspect them in my body, from my ribcage upwards. I was also to bring a red tie-on bracelet that I would put on during my time Aspecting, as a promise, sign, and reminder of the relationship I have and will continue, with both of the allies I spent time with in yesterday’s trance. I didn’t have a red bracelet at camp, so I had to create one this morning before path.

I readied the simple things that help me feel grounded daily, and the things I know have helped after previous experiences Aspecting. I let my tender know where I had my food, cigarettes, my beanie hat, and a water bottle- as well as my intentions for the ritual. When I began to walk the labyrinth, however, I could feel not just one, but both of my allies wanting to be with me. I decided I was okay with this, but renegotiated that my boundary would be that I would only aspect from my shoulders up (no arms).

My senses felt a lot sharper whilst Aspecting, but my eyesight seemed to slightly blur around the edges- like sharp, bright, tunnel vision. My Self felt somewhat disconnected, and the conversations I had with the two beings whirled around my head. I only Aspected for a short time- I know that for me personally, this practice takes quite a toll on my mind and body. I tied my bracelet onto my wrist, we had some laughs and giggles, and I gained some (more!) insights- particularly around things I can do to feel the Fae’s presence, and reminders of the things that kept me joyful in my formative years.

After ‘devoking’ them, I employed my grounding techniques with the support of my Tender, including things like using my name, patting down my body to feel my ‘edges’, and hugging. We then had the opportunity to get into small groups and discuss our experiences in both roles. I find it to be an honour to be a Tender to someone- feels quite intimate to be witnessing someone’s personal experience with a being that is not in this realm. Aspecting is a tool that I find extremely useful, but is also something that wears me out very easily, so I always try my best to keep my time purposeful with intent, so that the experience is fruitful and positive.

Cloud Catcher 2016 Day 3 – Optional Offering – The Tea Party

Over herbal teas with names such as: strawberry sensation, twinkle berry, pumping pomegranate or just hibiscus, we are encouraged by the facilitator to ‘share stories’. These are to be our own, no one elses. They are are own stories: positive or negative. I am seated in the Bower on comfy cushions. There are mattresses on the floor, and an altar at one end. Luxurous cloths and curtains are draped over windows and across walls. Inviting intimacy the colours are rich and warm. The facilitator reiterates the need for confidentiality and respectful listening.

My thoughts are triggered by the story I have heard. I think back nearly half a century. I ask myself the question: ‘What behaviour was expected of a ‘good’ girlfriend between the 1960s and 1970s? I was born in 1952 so I am a peak baby-boomer, on the cusp between the old world and that of sexual liberation. My peers fall into two stereotypes: those of the ‘swinging sixties’ and all the ‘free’ love and drugs that this implies. Many partners, divorces and (sometimes) children later they lead a parallel existence with myself and the other inhabitants of the old world. The latter appear conventional: long marriages (40 years or more), one or few intimate partners, the requisite average 2.3 children. Many of the inhabitants of the old world appear to have avoided the divorce ‘when the children leave home’ syndrome of the generation born ten years later.

So I share: ‘At 20, in my peer group, the ‘good’ girlfriend wasn’t having ‘sex’ with her boyfriend. She might masturbate him as his need arose. She didn’t have needs. The word fellatio existed in some foreign dictionary. With engagement, came sex maybe or maybe not: best saved until marriage, but there were practicalities. Pregnancy meant a hurried wedding or a break-up followed by adoption. The words ‘single mother’ were yet to enter the lexicon. Social benefits non-existent.

Contraception was unreliable: ‘The Pill’ was birthed into Australian market in early 1961; intra-uterine devices (IUDs) shortly after. These former were only a little more reliable than diaghrams or condoms used intelligently. Each of my peers knew directly someone whose contraception had ‘failed’ them. Two-legged walking treasures were the proof with fore-shortened careers or degrees the unlucky girlfriend’s reward.

Marriage was ’til death do us part’ in practice as well as theory. The standard joke that ‘lifers in Pentridge gaol got less time’. ‘No fault divorce’ a figment of the future imagination. Termination of pregnancy inaccessible.

I stop: there are so many other things I want to say, but I think my fellow tea drinkers have got a feeling for those times. This is the understanding I wanted to convey. I think how much times have changed for the better, and the conversation moves on.