Tag Archives: drumming

CloudCatcher 2019 – Evening Ritual – Day 2

Before Her altar I am dancing, moving to the interlocking rhythms the drummers’ hands coax out of the skins they play. I am staring into the marble-like reflective eyes embedded in a mask carried from another continent, across the ocean, to this camp: a mask for Erishkigal, holding the potency of Her. And tonight I too will be opening as a vessel to hold, to carry, to dance the potent presence of Erishkigal into this ritual.

Tonight I am aspecting the Queen of the Great Below. Last night our ritual took us through ever-deepening layers of entry into the Underworld. We explored the ways in which we are born into the Underworld, taken there against our own agency, by circumstance, by birth into pre-established hierarchies, cultures of domination, coercion, and control. Societies whose most privileged members benefit directly from the oppression of the marginalised… we listened to the voices of priestesses, and the soft tapping of the tar, entrancing us into a silent spiral-dance of mirrored eyes. And at the very last moment Inanna entered the Great Below and Erishkigal turned Her burning eye upon Her sister who was struck dead.

So tonight five aspectors, five vessels, five human witches writhe, kneel, pray, dance, stand still before the Western altar given to Erishkigal. Covered with Erishkigal. Throbbing with Erishkigal.

I hear the invocations, I sense the spirits, the powers are moving. And it comes to the point in the weaving of our sacred space, in the creation of our container for tonight, that Erishkigal Herself will be called to arise into These Ones. I am one of these Ones. My tender, a friend, is before me anchoring, grounding, tethering. I have given him a scarf a beloved gifted me, that I often wear in ritual. I trust him to hold this and hold me in this. I trust myself to navigate and negotiate this ecstatic communion with this Great One, this Mighty Goddess.

The priestess calls. Erishkigal comes. I am filled with Her presence, tangibly, palpably, I let Her in to fill my legs, my arms, my belly, my sex, my chest, my lungs, my throat, I reside at the top of my head and all through my back. I am present, She is present. This is aspecting. This One knows intimately what it means to carry a spirit, a god, a mighty one… and so the dance begins.

This is a ritual of the expression of deep grief, this is a rite of releasing, of giving it over to the compost of change.

And so we move, and we – the humans carrying Erishkigal – lock eyes and smile, snarl, weep, scream, laugh, and give ourself more deeply to the working at hand.

The Erishkigal in me is a sensually-awake Goddess, Her heart is radiating out to these witches doing this great work of grief. In groups of three they tell each other their stories of pain, grief, the deepest sadness, the sadness that I know – Erishkigal knows – because it has gone to the depths of the Below and has been known to us down here.

The drums change, the voices of the priestesses move toward a sharpened point, a fulcrum of energy…

For a moment I am lost, this one moment in which the mystery abides, and then I am on the ground, clawing at this purple dress, shrieking, sounds spilling out of me that aren’t Fio sounds, they are the screams of Erishkigal… I surrender, I allow Her to do this, because this is how the magic must be. I am still here at the top of my head and all through my back, but She is driving this car. She is pressing against the internal gauge I have given, but that is all She will do, because She has assented. And the Gods are creatures of their word, their oaths, their own bindings…

We speak. They ask us to speak after the Power churned and built and peaked and broke.

Erishkigal speaks of the power of grief, of this compost, and this spell, and this good work…
She speaks of the Dead as her lovers, and how She delights in the dense bodies of these animals we call humans. She speaks of darkness and beauty in each heart here and how we must let this grief move through us, cleanse us, wake us up to nature of things, and celebrate with each other, be with each other, make love, be artful, and do this magic.

Erishkigal falls silent, and mystery is alive.

CloudCatcher 2019 – Primal Witch – Day 1

The Path begins. I am nervous, that kind of physical excitement as my belly flutters with anticipation. I’m at WitchCamp!

As a farmer witch, I am used to having my hands in the soil. Digging roots and weeds, planting by the moon and composting. Listening to the trees chatting between themselves and practicing hands-on witchery and connection to the land. When first reading about the Primal Witch, I knew it was right for me. A path that ‘Calls to those who seek to explore the primordial rhythm of nature through drum, primal movement and plant witchery’.

Sign. Me. Up.

Day One

Our teachers Riyana Rose and Sue Blackfeather invite our large group into the ritual hall. Everyone is buzzing with excitement following the depth and energy of the previous night’s opening ritual and we settle in to cast our circle, honour allies and step onto the Primal Path. We share introductions and talk about body positive spaces, self-care and connection. As we share our heart as a group, I remember the heart is the gate key to plant communication and nature connection.

The rhythm is set as we learn from Sue the history of drumming and how rhythm was (and is) revered in ritual and trance work. Her Djembe has a tone that reverbs directly to my heart and deeply grounds me in the space as Riyana so beautifully leads the embodied experience and trance. I feel so held by the drum and Riyana’s voice. Such a deep place of trust allows me to truly relax let the work sink in.

We begin with bodywork and breath as we land ourselves into a connected state before we start with the plants. I surrender to the movement and begin to sense and remember my body’s wisdom. Moving slowly, I feel myself returning home. My hips circle and my breath flows from my base to my heart and back again, opening a channel for connection and flow.

This rolling movement enhances my felt sense of being and as I deepen into trance, remembering the dance of the plants is a SLOW one. A movement on its own timeline following the rhythm of nature; the Primal Witch is a path invites us into connection with our heartbeat and flow opening our senses to what the green bloods have to share …

This breath, sound and movement has the most profound effect on me and as Riyana suggests this as a daily practice to connect us in I can’t help but think ‘that’s the best homework I’ve ever been given’

I can’t wait for Day Two to begin….


Inner Path: Reclaiming Paradise Day 2

We enter Paradise in our underwear. I feel much more comfortable standing here than I thought I would. I chose my underwear carefully – solid black, stretch fabric one piece bra that ‘custom conforms to any size’ (the black is new for me, usually it’s flesh coloured or white) and gelato pink cotton undies to the waist. I convince myself it’s just beach wear. However, I never go to the beach without a surf shirt and board shorts over my one-piece costume. My Celtic ancestry and various medications mean I sunburn after 20 minutes under the Aussie sky. My profession as a science teacher (retired) meant that covering up was a really good idea for safety and child protection reasons. Add to this I’m shy by nature and have been in only one relationship for over 40 years. What am I doing here? Because I believe to the core of my being that our human body, in all its various guises, is the most beautiful thing we possess. The Eve story casts a shadow of cultural shame over me, and I want to become free.

Standing in a circle, we re-introduced Paradise from beneath the ground. We took turns to call the parts of paradise back. Magically, bird’s called and lizards drank, centipedes scurried and breeze wafted. One of the teachers suggested that wearing underwear is sometimes more uncomfortable than not. Be in the discomfort.

After reading from the Bible, a teacher led us into thinking and deeply feeling our shame stories both personal and cultural: “I did something wrong so I must deserve this.” Standing in a circle, one person stepped in at a time. The others then asked gently in unison: “What is your shame?” After naming our shame, each person stayed in the centre while others responded positively about what they saw in that person. Open eye contact during this time was encouraged, as it was throughout the entire advanced path. (Open eyes are encouraged during all pagan rituals and paths).

I have journeyed on an Inner Path now four times. Each experience has held surprises for me. I found myself saying: “My shame is my obesity. After a life-threatening illness, I lost 30 kg. I then allowed others to exclude me when my significant relationship disclosed his disorder to our wider social network. I put the weight back on again.”

Taking the supportive words we could remember from the activity, we started a tribal dance to the rhythm of drums. We were encouraged to vent our anger at a ‘jealous God’. “How dare you leave us to clean up your mess?” “How dare you punish us for a free choice?” Our chant developed and included words like: courage, honesty, truth, power and passion.

After this cathartic experience, I participated in a ceremony to remove the Angel energy from the Sword. Myself and another member later placed the Sword on the hearth in the ritual room.

We were left to ponder the question: “How can I bring myself to confront God? Overcome cultural shame? Overcome my own shame?”