Ritual at WitchCamp is potent and powerful, a truly remarkable experience. The evening rituals leave a mark on the soul, and I find myself referring back to them at times of need and dreaming throughout the year. This year, the story of Tam Lin and Janet took us through shapeshifting, magic potions in the Great Hall of the Faerie Queen, desire and consequence, and finding faerie lovers.
“With love as our magic, we embrace desire and pleasure and accept the consequences.”
The Faerie Queen. I could feel her longing gaze slowly devouring me. She smelled of the sweetest honeysuckle. Her cool breath crawling across my back sent chills down my spine and raised the hairs on my neck. She wanted to take me, ride through me, and fill me. I wanted her essence in me. I could feel her coming down from the forest peaks of the mountain. She came to me wild, untamed, and running free. Chaos. She was chaos to all the organized-ness of my life. And I was meant to convey her essence in my outer energy bodies until her priestess was ready to receive her fully.
As I called her from the high places, the low places, and the between places she coiled out from around me and into her ritualist, Suzanne Sterling. Deep in aspect, the Faery Queen moved through the ritual like a fierce living star that had risen from deep inside the Earth. And I, her tender, was pulled into the wake of her gravitational pull. I heard her speak at first in chittering Faerie speak. Slowly I began to understand her words. Whether she had learned to speak the human tongue through her priestess or whether I had begun to understand Faerie, I’ll never know. She whirled through the center of the ritual with a demand that everyone dance. “Don’t look at me…I am invisible”, she laughed sardonically. “ Look within yourself for what you desire ”, she called out as ritual participants reeled around the space in ecstatic dance.
They paused there merry making only briefly so as to hear the stories of the Queen’s pleasure and of Janet’s and Tam Lin’s. My queen would not have them resting long. For she wailed in a way that brings even the most sullen of beasts into a frenzied pleasure. And her wails whipped and rippled through the crowd and caused them to link hands and storm like a hurricane. I greedily watched on as they moved their bodies at great speed in a synchronized chaos of desire. I pined for them as the humans sought pleasure amongst each other and their lovers of the Fey Host. I, the Queen’s emissary, knight, and tender was committed to her… alone.
I felt not quite Fey and not quite human. For in those moments, I straddled both worlds and both peoples but I could not partake fully in their experience. I thought, “This must be how the Fey feel when we ignore their overtures for allyship.” I carried the Fey feelings of lust for the world of humans. It was a lust to dance with them to touch them, to delight in them. And now, in my desire for them, I was caught behind the veil longing to be with them. Longing for them to seek me out. Longing for the connection. I recognized this feeling of being emotionally lonely as the feeling that comes with being a priest-ess.
I have inherited the story that to answer the call to be a priest-ess is to walk a lonely path even when one is surrounded by lovers and loved ones. And somewhere along in my human life, I bought into it. I agreed to be Tam Lin: the consort and the sacrifice. But my truth is that my commitment to tend the Faery Queen or to tend my deities, ancestors, and spirits of the land is made from love, desire, and pleasure. I am only alone if I allow that old story to persist.
Somewhere beyond the essence of the Faery Queen, I could feel the human Suzanne. She and I were here together and priest-essing for the Fey Host. So, I chose to feel into my connection with this Fey-like human priestess. I chose to be part human and part fey with Suzanne. I chose to take deep pleasure in the hosts of humans and Fey beside us. And by remembering that she and I were in this together, my experience changed. As my perception changed, the old story of loneliness began to unravel and disintegrate. In turn, the Faery Queen drew Suzanne and me out into the fields beneath the full moon and far away from the passionate crowd. And as the Queen danced through the fields in her borrowed human body so too did I dance with her and Suzanne. The three of us were there but the veils between us were not.
Today’s ritual was a day ritual, as distinct from the previous two rituals which were held at night, since later in the evening we were to share merriment and our creative gifts through the offerings of a bardic night. This ritual was also held outside in the fresh air, under the warm sun and what for me seemed a more direct connection with the earth and the elements.
I love outside ritual, feeling the sensation of the grass beneath my feet, the breeze caressing my face, and the ability to breathe and feel that the earth breathes with me. In this ritual, after casting circle and calling the elements, the energy of Aradia was invoked, and two of our community of witches aspected the energies of Diana and Lucifer. As a nice subversion of traditional gender roles the energy of Diana was aspected into a male-gendered body, and Lucifer into a female-gendered body. We then danced a serpent dance to raise energy, moving our bodies to loosen the bonds of our minds and thoughts and to move the energy through us, for soon we would have to journey deep into the mythic realms and revisit our collective and individual choices…
We revisited the apple we had been given the night before; our choices, our decisions; to bite? To know? To fall? We had meditated, slept with and kept our apples, and we were brought to that moment in time when we had to make our choice about what to do with them. Going back to that moment was really potent for me, with the headiness of the idea that I was re-writing my story, taking back my power, reclaiming my innocence, my wholeness and my sovereignty. We were asked to take our apple and move out of the circle, and to sit with it, deciding what we would do. I sat and looked at my apple. I smelt it, I considered it. I thought about what it represented, and what that meant to me. How I felt about all of this, what I felt about my choice to bite it or not to. I glanced around and I saw people considering, the same as me, and I heard the crunch of bites near and far as people took the risk and made their choice. I seemed to be able to sense the ‘fall’ of beings all around me, but rather than a fall into sin and rejection, it was a fall into knowingness, conscious choice, acceptance and personal power. People were reclaiming their divinity, and rejecting any notion that they could in fact ever be cast from the garden, for they were the keepers of their own garden, and were subject to no one and nothing that had power to cast aside their intrinsic divinity. I closed my eyes, and as if in slow motion I bit into the apple, fracturing the mirror of the past and creating a new future, one with full consciousness and agency in my decisions, free from judgment and free from restriction. I welcomed myself into my own garden, and I opened my eyes as a new man, fresh, strong, empowered and whole. Welcome home.
Following this our affinity groups were reunited to go out onto the land and work to reawaken the flesh of the earth, and to bring a piece of this magickal working back to the full circle to offer to Diana and Lucifer. My affinity group returned to a pleasant and peculiarly Alice-in-Wonderland-esque glade behind the camp, where we had earlier joined to hold space for and witness one of us who re-dedicated herself to the mysteries, herself and the goddess earlier that day. We spoke to the land of our respect and admiration of its magick, its beauty, the damage that had been done to it and the damage that could be done to it in the future. We offered our love out onto this land, pouring out our wishes for protection, regeneration, and our gratitude for what it is and has been for us and for others. We sang and we found that this working, as a calm and respectful ritual, conveyed our sentiments to the earth, inviting it to live and thrive and grow. This we carried back to the circle, our offering to Diana and Lucifer a song, our reverence and leaves, flowers and seeds of that place blessed with our intentions. Diana and Lucifer walked around to each group, receiving the blessings and offering their wisdom. Their energy was radiant and to see their stares was to look into divinity. And we sang.
Open your eyes to the world around you, Open your mind to the wisdom within, Awaken your flesh to your heart’s desire, Claiming your place as a child divine
To end the ritual we danced the spiral dance, and the energy of this to me was so strong, and my heart overflowed with love and gratitude.
There are no gates in paradise, There are no gates in paradise, Open hearts as scars shine, We are holy and divine.
The magick contained in this song, and the act of looking at people deep in the eyes, holding that energy and moving around connected by the hand created rich and intense energetic connection which built up quite quickly and powerfully. Circling around, doubling back, keeping eye contact, with the chair tribe holding space in the centre was all so powerful and as we raised a cone of power and set it free, I felt quite woozy and affected by the intensity of the ritual, and it took some time that afternoon to find my centre and ground again. For me this was another very intense and powerful ritual. Rewriting our stories, creating lasting change, reclaiming our power.