Tag Archives: reclaiming witchcamp

Cloudcatcher 2018 – day 4 – Elements Path

The calm…

My experience with water went deep and needed space to properly settle in my mind, let alone open up to conversation about it. I knew it was all part of my personal journey, however I felt like the journey was still quite deeply personal.

Over the few days I’d been at CloudCatcher, I had already made some really wonderful connections, people that I was drawn to, others I needed to work with to cast a circle or an element, and then there were the unexpected connections that arose from simply being in a particular place at a particular time.

They were – for the most part, with people in my path, which made sense considering that we were all taking a similar journey, in our own deeply personal way. However, something that I was inspired by above all else was the collaborative approach taken to perform daily rituals within the path. When asked to participate everyone did something – movement, breathing, inspired utterances, whatever spoke to them at the time. This was something I believe to be fundamental to Reclaiming, the acceptance of our own vulnerability, the acceptance of our own spirituality, and the acceptance of our own agency. It was ok to ‘fuck up’, it was ok to say something that might not have made too much sense, and it was ok to say nothing at all! It was ok to simply move – feel, what was being processed at the time, we were our own agents, and only with consent were we ever expected to step outside the comfort and safety of our own boundaries. Reclaiming is ecstatic, and therefore seeks out the inspiration of the moment, and we were invited to let it manifest in whatever way felt appropriate at the time, respecting the agreements in play when working with a group.

The last day of our path focused on Spirit, and we were introduced to concepts that are familiar to me, but were expressed and experienced with the vocabulary of in the Reclaiming tradition. This was primarily the concepts of the three worlds as explored using our breath to take us into parts of ourselves that connected and aligned our spiritual bodies with them. We also used our breath to focus our attention on the boundaries of the space we take up, the immediate awareness of the imminent self that I would describe as my aura. The importance placed on aligning the three worlds within wasn’t intended to take us away from this one – on the contrary, much of the work focused on connecting with the land, sea and sky which mirrored my own druidic practices.

The second half of the workshop was far more challenging. The teachers stepped away and left us with the task of developing a ritual that consolidated what we had learnt, and to focus our intentions toward achieving our personal quests. I have always been aware of my influence in group dynamics, and having been through this wonderful path with such gorgeous creatures, I was made acutely aware of the need to reel in my personality so everyone could have a piece of the ‘brownie’. This didn’t mean shutting myself down, on the contrary! I just wanted to provide enough space for others to speak and share their thoughts and ideas, and I had hoped that everyone would bare the same consideration into the exercise. When dealing with over 20 adults in this way, leaders quickly emerged, and I was comfortable going with the flow of the river, rather than trying to swim across it. We developed our own ritual intention that informed the whole ritual, and a chant was developed that incorporated elements from each day’s practice – it was beautiful! I felt it truly captured the essence of what we were trying to do, and created the egregore to carry our intentions back into the real world. Everyone placed either an intention or a token into the middle of the circle and we performed the rite. We chanted, and I cried some more as I held onto my quest – to allow myself to see the strength in my own vulnerability and to allow others to see that too.

In true Reclaiming style we finished off the day with another check-in, casting another kind of circle with our words, a circle that didn’t need to be uncast. Although I carried away in my heart my quest and promised to test that boundary whenever possible, I also opened myself up to a practice that will enliven my personal spiritual path, and I’m looking forward to sharing what that looks like with my fellow Druids!

Cloudcatcher 2018 – Day 3 – Elements Path

The rain has arrived…

Writing this blog has a lot in common with how I deal with emotions, with trepidation!

However I made a commitment to share my experience in a blog, and I also made a commitment to myself to lean into that uncomfortable edge when dealing with my emotions.

Water, by knot of one..

I entered today’s path with a certain level of unease, I didn’t like being emotional in front of other people, and I could feel the truth of my quest emerging. I was raised to compartmentalise my feelings and keep my vulnerable side hidden from view. However over the years that attitude never really served me well, so I entered the session knowing that I wasn’t just going to be pushing a boundary, I entered with the expectation that the very foundations of my emotional well-being were going to be uprooted.

By knot of two…

I was already feeling vulnerable from the day before, having carried with me the tenets of the unity statement and how it still in some ways, challenged my sensibilities regarding identity and how I saw the world and me in it.

So, as we prepared for the session, in the centre of our human circle was placed the sacred objects for the day; a bowl of water symbolising the element in focus, a candle to light our way, and a box of tissues!

Oh dear….

Take a breath.

By knot of three…

Our check-in was a little different today, breaking into two groups we entered deeper waters. We were taken through a light trance where we visited a watery place. For me, it was the wintery coastal region of Illawarra in a place called Gerringong. It was a place that I visited with my family as a child, and I enjoyed nothing more than heading down to the beach in the bitter cold winds, and watch the waves break on the rocky fringes of the shore. I would always climb to somewhere complicated and remote – yet close to the rocky ocean edges, and I would just sit, listen, and feel the chilly ocean spray on my skin feeling the slightest chill as it would slowly seep into my clothes.

It was here I returned that day, to enter the water and immerse myself in it.

By knot of four…

We would experience the depth of water in three levels. We were invited into our watery places and experience it. I waded out into the shallowly water and I was buffeted by the swell. I could feel the chill of the salty ocean water wash over me in the gentle churn as it moved with the tidal forces of the earth and the moon. It washed over my face and I could taste the saltiness on my lips. The tension on the surface was evidenced in my struggle to stay afloat in the churn without breaking on the rocks.

Next, we were taken deeper, here the sounds of the ocean crashing on the shore was swallowed up, replaced by gentle sounds reminding me of the perpetual motion of the water all around me. The currents tugged on my limbs, but I wasn’t being carried away, simply moved with the motions. It was a loving embrace, the tension of having to hold myself together on the surface was gone, and I was able to stretch out and allow the movement and churn simply wash around me, and through me.

By knot of five…

But I was asked to go deeper still, and asked what that felt like. Here it was darker, I definitely couldn’t see that well, and the churn above stirred the ocean bed’s sedimentary layers so they obscured my vision, scraped against my skin, and softly exfoliated my body as I laid bare on the ocean floor.

It was here where the shadows lived; the shades that whispered uncertainties in my ear, that reminded me of ancient hurts that I thought were buried deep, they swirled all around me. I was feeling vulnerable and weak.

By knot of seven…

In my deep discomfort I was brought back, and in our groups we formed tight circles around the tissue box and we conducted what was known as a deep check-in.

I cried – deeply, and I hadn’t even said anything yet. The pain, and suffering I saw in the eyes of those around me, in their voices reminded me just how poorly we’d all been treated by the world in some way.

By knot of eight…

It came to my turn, and I wept. I wept for the father I didn’t make space to mourn, I wept for the sense of separation and loss I felt with my family, I wept for that man who never allowed himself to be vulnerable enough to show those he loved, just how deeply he felt – for them, those he cared about, or himself. It was such an incredible moment of vulnerability, yet I have never felt so supported in my vulnerability before in my life. I didn’t see this side of myself as strong, I had never allowed myself to be so raw in front of anyone. But in that moment, in that perfect container of love, of vulnerability and compassion, I allowed myself to be strong in my vulnerability and I let it be known.

A major part of the exercise was to allow each and every one to be vulnerable. We weren’t to interrupt their moment with a hug, a call to support, a gesture, nothing. Just to allow every one of us to have our moment at the depth of our watery place, wherever that was.

Having finished the deep check-in it became apparent what my true quest was, a mission that would reverberate throughout my life: my quest was to ‘allow myself to be strong in my vulnerability.’

By knot of nine…

With our cords of magic that we’d worked into a knot spell, we danced and raised energy to flood our being with watery nourishment, refreshment and renewal with a beautiful chant.

The experience left me feeling raw and exposed, and I spent most of the day quieter, more contemplative than usual. I had a breakthrough in that perfect space, and it needed gentle nurturing to allow the process of integration to commence. It’s going to be a long journey.

 

CloudCatcher 2018 – Day 3 – Rituals – Affinity Group and Bardic

Affinity Group Ritual
Today’s ritual is different – today we will create a ritual in the afternoon with our affinity groups, for tonight is the Bardic Ritual. Affinity groups are small groups created at the beginning of camp to not only help people get to know one another better, but also to help them work through anything that might be coming up for them at camp, especially in their path workings. Since we’ve been meeting every day for discussions and have been doing a few chores together as a team, we’ve already grown close – something easy to do in the container created by camp and the first evening’s ritual. Today we’ll be growing closer still as we work our own magic with each other, and with the energies most often associated with Hermes.

As with other rituals, the entire camp has an intention that we’ll be working with, although the exact words of the intention escape me, the magic having run its course. As an affinity group, we begin by agreeing what we want to do for our ritual – how we want to connect, what we want to offer the land, and what energies we want to work with in the process. While we’re planning, we all agree the trickster energy of Hermes has already started working with us, and we agree to continue working with that energy to offer our laughter to the land.

When the ritual begins and we call on the energies we’ll be working with, and the laughter comes in full force almost immediately. Writing about the belly-laughs and and snorts can’t do justice to the offering we gave, but at one point in the ritual I got to pause and reflect on how magical it is to be able to celebrate the holiness of laughter, how sweet it is to be able to connect with others who also know that laughter too can be sacred. It is for this sweet connection that I come to WitchCamp regularly, and our affinity group ritual was no exception.

Bardic Ritual
The Bardic Ritual is and is not a ritual, per se. It is not a ritual in that many of us are seated; it is not a ritual in that there is a stage and lights; it is not a ritual in that there are no specific energies called into the space. And yet, it is a ritual in that it happens every year at camp; it is a ritual in that people gather and raise energy together; it is a ritual in that lives are transformed together. During the Bardic Ritual all of the amazingly talented people at camp share their gifts, skills, and crafts with others. The entertainment is full tilt with emcees introducing each of the amazing acts. There are poetry recitations – one to the planet(oid) Pluto, for wreaking havoc on the solar system, and one an ode to air, for all the ways it kisses us. There’s a monologue of a camper explaining his experiences to his mother on the other side of the planet (misunderstandings can be hilarious!), and there’s a luscious dance, with the audience of witches providing the wholly improvised music. And there are songs and tunes, too. One piece is played on the ukulele immediately transports me to ancient Greece, and another brings me to tears, as a trio sing their offering to their gods. At the end of the evening I find myself marveling at the amazing group of people assembled here and the beautiful art they create and I do a little spell that the rest of the world may experience the same joy as I have.