Tag Archives: ritual

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.

CloudCatcher 2018 – Living Ritual – Day 1

It’s always the way with CloudCatcher Witch Camp. You want to take all the paths; they’re all delicious.

I had planned to take another path. Yet here I was, in Living Ritual, feeling a little unsure about my last minute decision change.

Our teachers call for volunteers to create sacred space as we prepare for our first ritual together. I put up my hand to call water, the element I am least comfortable with. But this is camp and I want to push my edges. At the very least, I told myself, I can talk about water’s associations and fumble through it. But Hermes heard my plan and he laughed and laughed. There was a trick; the teachers offered us a challenge – to pull a piece of paper out of a hat and use its message to inspire our calling.

Wordless sound,” mine read. Well there goes my plan.

My mind is in overdrive. Maybe I could – no, that involves a word. What if I – no, that has words too! I’m watching the others go before me. These crafty witches are rising to their challenges.

It’s my turn. I make the crashing roar of ocean waves, sound out the pitter-patter of rain, the deafening cracks of thunderstorms. Woosh, poosh, pa-pa-pa-pa.

“It sounds too much like air. You’ve ruined ritual,” my inner-critic snaps harshly. But other witches are joining in, encouraging me. Even so, I continue to dwell on this savage thought as I watch the witches go after me, invoking with beauty and meaning.

We’re now ready to call to Hermes. A witch steps forth and offers one of the most powerful invocations I’ve ever witnessed. He shouts Hermes’ name to the mountain but then his words become an unintelligible jabber. It speaks to something primal in me.

Now the circle is cast, we check in about our challenges. Wordless sound, song, silent movement, poetic language, gibberish nonsense. All the participants agree – we all rose to the challenge and owned it! I confess my fears that my invocation was too airy but I am reassured that water’s presence was felt throughout the circle.

I’m still buzzing as we continue other processes. We discuss ritual structures, what makes a good invocation, and we make pledges to ourselves and our co-conspirators in this path that we will push ourselves, we will be gentle if we make mistakes and we will explore our edges to transform ourselves into expert ritualists.

Now we hear of tomorrow’s challenge – total silence.