Tag Archives: WitchCamp

Cloudcatcher 2016 Evening Ritual 4

I could feel the magnetic force of Janet’s and Tam Lin’s love. It throbbed through the circle once both of those Scottish legends were aspected. The two great lovers had an immense bond to one another. Gede had aspected Janet. What I knew of him was gone. During this ritual, Janet lived through his body. Energy ripples waved over him and I saw his body swollen with Janet’s pregnancy. Tam Lin, alive in Paul’s body had proceeded to offer an animated retelling of his side of the old ballad.

Tam Lin told his tale of how his father tried to kill him. He spoke of willingly residing within the land if the Fey. And he recounted that once his grandfather, his only tie to the mortal world, had died he gave up mortal life and even volunteered to undergo the Samhain rite. He shared his duty of servicing maidens who sought out his generous touch. However, his heart seemed to come back to life when he began telling his tale of how he and Janet slowly developed a love for one another. As such, Tam Lin’s courage and sentiment rekindled my own.

This type of love, slow to build but fiercely enduring, is the type of love I’ve developed with my Self. It wasn’t until my early thirties that I developed a conscious self-love. My early years were used desperately seeking love outside of myself. However, these years were not lost. I have been able to develop pearls from the painful formative relationships of my youth. Seeking love from solely “external” places did not serve me. However, allowing myself to be fiercely held in love by others has offered me a chance to see what it is in me that is loveable.

It took me many years of shifting shape through relationships until I understood who I was and how much I was intrinsically worth. The relationships with my family of origin, former lovers, friends, family of choice, community, and current beloved have been the mirrors through which I have become self-aware of how innately deserved to be loved. I needed that help. Just as Janet witnessed and held Tam Lin through all of his transformations, so too have my loved ones done such for me.

As Tam Lin told his story of the night Janet saved him, I relived his trials. My body shape shifted into a salamander; eyes swiveling in opposite directions, adhesive feet pads sticky, and belly close to the ground. The soft membranes of skin roughened and grew coarse brown fur as I shifted into a grizzly bear; half asleep in pre-hibernation, confusedly lumbering on all fours, roaring at full towering height. The thick grizzled hairs and musky smell fell from me as cold smooth scales emerged. Limbs receded as my serpent form wiggled and coiled forth seeking heat and prey. And in only an instant later my elongated neck grew feathers, my beak hardened and wings carried me singing into the evening sky as majestic swan. As my wings straightened into arms and my feet hit the ground I held myself gently in my very own human form.

Janet conjured her magic potion and gave oracle to the crowd lest we take our solidarity for granted in the challenging days to come. I sat in council with a handful of other witches and named my fear and my joy. I feared that I might amount to nothing but a disposable person whose life and story meant little difference to anyone. Yet the joyous nectar we conjured there in ritual undid this fear, this secretly guarded poison. The ways in which I could recount the innumerable people who have reached out to affirm that I matter to them were powerful ingredients in that alchemical brew.

There is deep value in being able to experience yourself through the embrace of loved ones. Sometimes when we cannot love ourselves we are blessed with others who can see in us that which has inherent worth. When I am faltering in being able to be present in a healthy form of self-love, I am able to gather those nectar ingredients offered by my heart-allies. With their inspiration I become able to brew a fortifying potion that brings a fecundity of self-love. And I am better able to lovingly embrace myself.

CloudCatcher 2016 Day 3 – Labyrinth Path

“We dance the labyrinth and the lands with Fae allies at our side, opening new paths, crossing edges that might have been closed before, and closing the doors that no longer serve us” (Day 3 Intent)

Today we had the opportunity to ‘Aspect’ our Fae ally and to be a ‘Tender’ to one of our peers when they did the same. Thibaut lead a detailed discussion on Aspecting and Tending before we began, and after ensuring that we had properly prepared ourselves, we paired off so each person could take a turns in either role.

Prior to Aspecting today, our group had altered the labyrinth path slightly so that we could walk through the ‘human’ gate, and out the Faery gate, into the lands of the Fae. The time spent walking through the labyrinth would be the time in which we were inviting our being to walk with us, in us, or around us.

I took on the role of tender first- My partner communicated to me that they would probably not need much assistance or guidance during their Aspecting; requesting for me just to witness, and carry their water bottle. They also suggested some personal topics to ask them questions about when grounding afterwards.

I hear a call, it comes from far away; I don’t know where it leads, behind the gates of night and day.. (chant)

Last night I had spoken to the ally I’d met first- a darker, more feminine being- and had planned to aspect them in my body, from my ribcage upwards. I was also to bring a red tie-on bracelet that I would put on during my time Aspecting, as a promise, sign, and reminder of the relationship I have and will continue, with both of the allies I spent time with in yesterday’s trance. I didn’t have a red bracelet at camp, so I had to create one this morning before path.

I readied the simple things that help me feel grounded daily, and the things I know have helped after previous experiences Aspecting. I let my tender know where I had my food, cigarettes, my beanie hat, and a water bottle- as well as my intentions for the ritual. When I began to walk the labyrinth, however, I could feel not just one, but both of my allies wanting to be with me. I decided I was okay with this, but renegotiated that my boundary would be that I would only aspect from my shoulders up (no arms).

My senses felt a lot sharper whilst Aspecting, but my eyesight seemed to slightly blur around the edges- like sharp, bright, tunnel vision. My Self felt somewhat disconnected, and the conversations I had with the two beings whirled around my head. I only Aspected for a short time- I know that for me personally, this practice takes quite a toll on my mind and body. I tied my bracelet onto my wrist, we had some laughs and giggles, and I gained some (more!) insights- particularly around things I can do to feel the Fae’s presence, and reminders of the things that kept me joyful in my formative years.

After ‘devoking’ them, I employed my grounding techniques with the support of my Tender, including things like using my name, patting down my body to feel my ‘edges’, and hugging. We then had the opportunity to get into small groups and discuss our experiences in both roles. I find it to be an honour to be a Tender to someone- feels quite intimate to be witnessing someone’s personal experience with a being that is not in this realm. Aspecting is a tool that I find extremely useful, but is also something that wears me out very easily, so I always try my best to keep my time purposeful with intent, so that the experience is fruitful and positive.

Cloud Catcher 2016 Day 3 – Ritual with Affinity Group

The Silver Bells sit in a circle. Protected by three thin layers: panties, leggings and knee length dress is my bottom. Remarkably, my sit bones press hard against the human-made concrete that I sit on. It amazes and amuses me: I’m obese but I have no built-in cushion.

I return to the present. Our task is to plan our own ritual and then, as an affinity group, perform what we have planned. A sort of ‘do-it-yourself’ spiritual experience. ‘Reclaiming’ is about participants taking responsibility: no ‘drive thru’ reclaim your ‘soul’ service is available. I sit, speechless. Someone suggests that we each reflect on our own personal needs for a few minutes. We all agree. Afterwards, we share our needs.

Before camp, I had dreams about ‘staying present’. Several people told me that I slip into my past in conversation: that I needed ‘to be more present’. I hear others saying similar: we decide to plan a ritual around ‘being present’. Someone suggests doing the ritual skyclad. My heart leaps: yesterday I had missed this opportunity. Now, I have a second chance. The weather is perfect: warm, humid and somewhat overcast with small, white clouds. Our group consists of just a few members. We are all comfortable with this idea, and agree to be skyclad after casting circle.

About twenty metres away a rhyolite tor breeches the surface of the grassed field. It is covered in circles of lichen: the lichen has bifurcated club-shaped outgrowths, like crystals that might grow within a rock that formed inside some ancient volcano. The tor’s surface is flat and about two metres in diameter: placed in the centre are a few twigs, leaves, sticks covered in lichen and chocolate for the faeries. This is our altar. A group member drums, and we sing a soundscape, each spontaneously taking responsibility for part of the circle: only the person grounding us has an agreed role. After grounding is complete, someone casts circle, spontaneously participants invoke the Elements and Spirit.

We shed our outer layers. Simultaneously, we are skyclad. In our planning, we agreed to step into the centre: each in turn to ask for what we need. We make primal sounds. We chant syllables (like om and ah). There is no formality to the chanting:no prelearned chants to distract us from being present. Listening to each other we make beautiful chords. The sound is healing.

I stand naked in a circle of the naked. I feel a gentle breeze licking at my skin. My drooping breasts stick to the skin underneath. My scalp hair is clammy. I feel fully alive. My spirit connects with the rough rock beneath the soles of my feet. I look up. The trees on the ridge of the mountain surrounding me loom closer. The trees relax, unwind, connecting their spirits with mine. Life force meets life force, bows, says ‘hello’ and ‘may I?': we dance, waltz, form quadrilles and even canter. ‘Between worlds’ anything is possible.

Birds accompany us. A dragonfly drifts by. I am joined with the Spirits of the Land. I expand. I feel like I fill the valley. Bliss. Spirit joins spirit. I stand with my peers in this ancient landscape. Rocks over twenty million years old. Before humans ever walked this earth, this existed. The Land communicates: ‘Your spirit is part of this. No more or less important than any other spirit.’

Another of the Silver Bells steps into the circle’s centre. They bend, twist, turn and venerate an ‘other’. With my voice, I support them in their journey. I remember that lips and labia are said to come from the same embryological tissue. I feel both connect.

I step into the centre. I sing: ‘I see you. I hear you.’ I dance a full circle, making eye contact with each in turn. I realise that I want to be seen and heard. It is so comfortable for me to be invisible: it is a survival trait that no longer serves me. I step back to the circle’s perimeter. My eyes wash over others’ eyes. We have not touched but we have connected deeply.

Dark clouds loom overhead. While we sang, the mountain has been catching clouds. Making eye contact with each other and the sky, we close circle, dress and retreat. Our smiles say it all.