This is a time for celebration for the inner work done and insights we have gained.
I take a breath and reflect. I want to speak first, but I think I have had more than my fair share of doing this, so I wait. I hear someone begin. The person who speaks first has the option of speaking again at the end of ‘check in’.
Jane Merdith interrupts the first speaker, inviting them to speak and reflect while looking at their reflection in a mirror which she offers to them. My stomach crunches: it is a small thing but I dislike the teaching technique of ‘surprise, I’ve changed the parameters’.
As a teacher, I know it is a legitimate technique to create a disruption, disturbance or provocation. As a learner, I prefer permission to be requested before I am given a provocation: a bit like being asked for a hug in a neutral way. The participant can then choose legitimately: ‘yes, I’d like a challenge’, ‘no, thank you’ or ‘maybe later’.
My thoughts start to move towards this disturbance: the mirror. I decide that I will speak without it.
I become confused by the disruption, move between using the mirror, passing, or speaking without the mirror. My impulse is to pass, then speak later without the mirror. By the time, the mirror has reached me: all the previous speakers used the mirror. I concede and I use the mirror. Later, I think it is interesting to observe how easily influenced I am by perceived peer pressure.
My thoughts are confused and come out in a jumble. My Inner Critic calls it an ‘old lady’ rant. Finally, I say that I don’t like getting old, and haven’t dealt with it, but It is not what I wanted to say. It is however the most raw, gritty, difficult thing closest to my animal thought, and what I chose to say.
I say ‘check’ and start to hand the mirror on. Then, I hold onto the mirror. I want to say more but I cannot frame the words. I pass the mirror on.
I reflect on my boundaries and the reasons I did not choose sovereignty of self and simply choose not to use the mirror.
It will be interesting to work on making the boundary of self stronger rather than meeting the needs of others. This is a life lesson I continue to learn: to follow my first, natural instinct and not acquiesce to the needs of others. When surprised, I need to listen to my gut.
After our final check-in we celebrate: chocolate; aromatherapy oils; quiet conversation; drawing; making colourful art; choosing a tarot card; and, with consent, face and body painting or massage. As throughout the Path, there are ‘no bums, breasts or genitals’.
I use colourful markers to allow my mind to relax and drift. I start doodling. I’m pleased with my colourful drawing and what is coming through to me in it. By being in this relaxed, almost light trance state, I start to access what I learned during Path. I allow the messages of my subconscious, my Shadow messages, to surface into my consciousness through my drawing. I am surprised by what I have learned.
Someone suggests walking the Labyrinth naked.
I say: ‘That’ll make three times for me. That’s a spell’ and I readily agree.
I had walked the Labyrinth naked with some members of the camp yesterday afternoon after Path. We talked about grief. As the cumulus clouds scuttered across the sky above us, one camper gifted me the story of sending my grief up to the water molecules in those white clouds. Each molecule could hold one tiny element of my grief, and as it moved away, my grief would be carried away with it. I used the metaphor, and walked the Labyrinth with the intention: ‘Resolving my grief’.
I walk the Labyrinth naked for the third and last time at CloudCatcher 2017. My intention: ‘Celebration’. I kneel and kiss the ground feeling my labia become cold from the soft breeze gliding over them. I think how brave the male gendered persons in our Path have been with no choice but to reveal their genitalia from Day 1. All persons in our Path have been gentle, brave, respectful and sharing. I thank their generous spirits deeply.
We return to the Bower. The Naked Path is drawing to a close.
A maiden offers to use body paint on my skin to create an artwork. I am hesitant, but agree. She senses my hesitation, and says: ‘It’s okay. You don’t have to.’ She has not heard my enthusiastic ‘yes’, and understands that this is not true consent. I am so heartened by her clear understanding of consent: something I still struggle with. I have learnt so much from these beautiful witches.
I add my fear of mirrors and reluctance with body paint into my mix of issues to think about.
Jane Meredith has skilfully lead me to my edges: my Inner Critic and my rather permeable boundary of self. I feel supported and nourished, with a clear direction for my growing edges.
I reflect on my reasons for being naked with other humans.
With consent, it is simply a joyful, trusting experience. With clear physical boundaries, I feel safe. It puts us into contact with our animal being: with this embodiment we care for the natural world more fully.
Being in touch with our natural bodies in modern society is simply an act of revolution. It is an act of anarchy. In the broader activist movement it builds internal strength, personal integrity and a sense of interconnected spirit with others.
For me, it is empowering to be naked with others and know that I am in control of my own body: what happens to me is dictated by me and my own consent. I have confidence in those around me: I can trust them, and that is empowering.
Someone starts chanting:
‘My body is a living temple of love;
My body is the body of the Goddess.
O, I am that I am.’
By Michael Stillwater.
We chant for awhile. Later we close circle.
The Naked Path Day 4 is complete.