Tag Archives: CloudCatcher WitchCamp

CloudCatcher 2019 – Sacred Sexuality Path – Day 2

Witchery is a wonderful practice. For me, it’s a kaleidoscope of overlapping ideas. I am a practical witch: I take what I need at the time, and leave the rest. We are a very large group on a challenging journey, the more time we can make available for each other in Path the better.

At the end of Path yesterday, we had mentally popped our cast circle into a small brass singing bowl. Imagine our cast circle as a marquee tent enveloping us. It was now time to pack away the tent. A modern tent can be packed in minutes. in one minute, skilled witches can spontaneously tone and pack away their safe circle into a symbol of their choosing: the brass bowl. With great ceremony, Copper Persephone had placed the inverted bowl on the window ledge until Path Day 2. The bowl was now upended and our safe circle released.

Next, we ‘check-in’. To be an effective member of a large, deep Path, I want to be brief: I am balancing my needs with the others’ needs. Everyone in our Path is doing this. Copper Persephone suggests we keep it short: name, sound and gesture. I find myself making the sound of a cooing bird, and rest my head between my legs.

Here is my journal entry of my check-in (drawn after Path):

Now comes the thing I’ve been dreading: a survey on privilege. During ritual conspiracy, there has been some talk about language and labels. For me, it is becoming a theme at this WitchCamp. This is reflective of the discussion around language in broader Australian culture: white privilege, LGBTIQA+, People of Colour, preferred pronouns. All of these increasingly heard discussed in mainstream media.

As for the use of labels, I’m definitely an ‘old school’ fish trying to stay upstream, while my fellow swimmers are excitedly following the spring current out to sea. As an elder, I know ‘white privilege’ and ‘privilege’ are concepts used in academia. As for their use in broader society, I do not see them as wise choices in language or label. I have done this ‘privilege’ survey before: I score poorly on privilege. And yet, I look privileged. Sigh. I am triggered. I breathe. Count floorboards, wall boards, sparkly lights, knots in the floorboards and the lights again. Hold back tears. Cuddle my three soft toys (three is a spell). Breathe: every question triggers a past memory. Breathe some more, my ears are ringing. Before Path, I resolved not to go there if this discussion arose. I recognise I am a fish swimming upstream at snow melt. Finally, it is over. The current has slowed. Whew! I breathe. I sit with my platypus on the edge of the bank, and observe the flow.

So, what has privilege to do with sexuality? Simply, the more privileged, the more wealthy, the more access one has to pleasure. An example: as an elder person, a retiree, living with a person who avoids touch, my access to touch is limited. All forms of skin to skin contact cost money: from a non-sexual massage to sexual services (‘happy endings’, penetrative sex, shibari, kink, and so on).

Our society has become increasingly resistant to any form of touch: all carry legal risks, from the accidental brush as one passes by another shopper in the supermarket to the medical professional, who is loathe to lay a hand on their patient. Increasingly, safe touching, holding, safe sex have become the province of the wealthy. Not exclusively: of course, it depends on the circumstances of the individual, but, sadly, that is what the research shows.

Next, we discuss how to ask for what we desire: and how to ask for consent. It is not as simple as a ‘Yes’: that ‘Yes’ must be an enthusiastic ‘Yes!!!’ Here are some of my notes from this discussion:

  • Begin with: ‘I desire … ‘ (I couldn’t manage these words)
  • If appropriate say: ‘I’m a maybe, but I want to try it.’
  • The other person is not wrong for asking
  • Come from a place of trust and abundance, not from: ‘I may not get this opportunity again.’
  • ‘No’ is the path to pleasure
  • Responding with a ‘No’ doesn’t make the other person wrong
  • If you are a woman, you’ve probably been enculturated to say ‘No’.
  • If you say ‘No’, do so with a positive regard for the other person, and with gratitude

After a bio break, Copper Persephone leads us through an non-sexual activity where we have the opportunity to practice asking for pleasure, and receiving a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Copper Persephone leads us in a meditation before we start. I have drawn the arrangement in The Bower below. In its arrangement, I could not help but be reminded of the progressive barn dances I learned when I was 9 or 10 years old.

At first, I had no idea what to ask for: touch has become so limited in this elder’s life. {This is pretty typical of an older person’s experience: again verified by research). I hesitated. I waited. Eventually, I caught a few examples out of the corner of my eye. So, I asked for:

  • A light stroking of my inner and outer forearm.
  • A massage of my hands and fingers

And I gave:

  • A firm neck and shoulder massage
  • A gentle foot massage, with a focus on each individual toe.

Hmm … I wonder what the teachers have planned for Path Day 3 … ? I’m enjoying this Path a lot. So gentle.

CloudCatcher 2019 – Evening Ritual – Day 1

Outside. Standing. Ecstasy means to stand outside of oneself. I stand outside of the hall I have stood inside every CloudCatcher WitchCamp, acknowledging the sovereignty of this place, this land, these People, the Yugambeh, this Earth… grounding, opening my senses like the animal I am to the cold chill in the wind and beholding this beloved community honouring and naming our relationships to the sacred elements of life. Earth is Sacred. Air is Sacred. Fire is Sacred. Water is Sacred. Spirit is Sacred…

I stand forward with my kin of colour. We have decided to honour and invite our Ancestors of Blood and Craft by beginning with those of our ancestors that passed our colour to us. My beloved begins naming his mother’s mother’s mothers from Chile and whispering words of power into the listening wind… we blend our voices together, I call to my father’s ancestors who pray in the rice fields and make music in the mountains, whose lives are devotion, whose societies are intricately woven into everyday sacred knowing. I hear the words of my friends, we are calling through time, through spiralling space, to all those who allowed us to be, who fought for themselves and for us… I hear words from Indigenous languages belonging to this continent and I shiver with the potency of those vibrations.

I am standing at a gate. We have broken into three groups. One group of people is with Namtar, a child of Erishkigal: these are the people who feel themselves to already be in the Underworld. They walked straight into the hall, into the Underworld. Another group upstairs in the dining room above, the Upperworld, gone with Ninshubur, the beloved companion and holy servant of Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth. These are the people who are as far away as humans can be from the Deep Below, who might need to be counselled in good wisdom to descend, to understand the mystery. I stand on the stairs, on the steps, at the gate with Neti, Lord of the Portals. A priestess I know is enacting the role of Neti at the door to the hall; another door, another place. She is hooded and I feel the world begin to close in. In the voice of Neti, the priestess asks us, What is this last thing you would give up, sacrifice, to move into the Underworld? 

I realise that for me it is the always holding the edge, always being an edge-keeper, a hedge-rider; one foot here and one foot there. I realise that I haven’t lately allowed myself to fully immerse in one state. Instead of liminal suspension, why not depth, why not everything, why not the Underworld?

The priestess, and Neti, suddenly grip my wrist, they take me to the door. I walk through. Now everything will change, again.