Tag Archives: WitchCamps

CloudCatcher 2017 – Elements of Magic Day 1 – Earth

In September last year, I was introduced to the Brisbane Witchcraft by catching up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in a few years.
I’m having a get together with some friends for Ostara, you should totally come!” he told me. I’ll admit, I was kind of oblivious to what Ostara was, but I wanted to see him, so I played along. Damn, what a life changing decision that was.

This introduction led me to make connections with some incredible witches (now great friends), participating in large public rituals, celebrating Sabbats and Esbats and starting to develop my personal practice; but something was missing. I threw myself into the deep end with these fully realised witches and felt like I’d missed out on the basic ABC’s of magic.

Enter CloudCatcher Reclaiming WitchCamp. A four-day intensive magical gathering focused our connection to the land, connection to the community and magical activism… I couldn’t sign up fast enough.

As a first time camper and a total magic newb, I took the Elements of Magic path. Each day of camp we learned of the wisdom and power that comes through earth, air, fire and water. I knew that the four elements are an important part of Witchcraft and life for that matter. However, I had trouble connecting with their abstract theologies. Sure, I understood what the books said, and I worked with the elements all the same, but I felt I was missing a deep understanding and relationship to these elemental forces.

Day 1 – Earth

I never realised how disconnected from the earth I had become. I grew up on a farm, and I’ve always loved getting out into the fresh air, climbing trees, jumping into water and hiking until I lost all sense of direction. But my metropolitan life had consumed my senses. In this new wild, I forgot my connection to my mother. “Earth is a necessity for oxygen, and every part we don’t need is paved over for our conveniences.” Do we kiss our mother with those ideas?

How could I regain this connection? Where do I even start? As someone who openly took part in these conveniences, of the oppression of the earth, I felt embarrassed to even attempt to reconnect. I knew if I were the earth I would be piiisssssseedd.
But a mother’s love is unconditional – I found my way back in the end.

At CloudCatcher we practised grounding every moment we could. Learning to let my awareness sink into the earth, past the bones and burrows, past the expanses of rock and hidden crystal caves, past the point where the earth melts away to molten rock, to where the white-hot iron core of the planet casts a protective shield over us like a mother’s embrace. Learning to draw energy from this place is a very powerful thing.

I could go into detail of all the exercises we worked through, the wisdom our teachers Jack Magick and Copper Persephone imparted and the practical guides they gave us on how to work with earth in magic. But I think the hallmark of a great teacher is someone who will give you the wisdom, point you in the right direction, push out into the world and say, “now go, figure it out for yourself and understand“. Relationship to the Earth isn’t something a person can teach you. When was the last time relationships came with a textbook?

My favourite place at camp (apart from the bower 😉 ) became the altar we were invited to build during the Elements of Magic path. Every morning or whenever I needed some solitude, I would walk into the woods behind my cabin where I set up my altar and just sit, meditate, ask questions of the earth and just listen to hear the response intuitively. My heart is so full of love for the earth, its gravity holds me, it’s life provides for me, and its core protects me – I know that the earth is full of love for me too.

Day one was truly the tip of the iceberg of what, to me, was a metamorphic experience.

Poem of CloudCatcher

The Poem of CloudCatcher (themes of 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

We dance the elemental serpent paths over the edges of the ordinary into the cauldron of CloudCatcher.
Birthed from the fiery core into the starry heavens, this living earth is formed.
We come to learn from you.

Here is Animal. Here is Land.
We are Family of Blood, Bone and Spirit, dancing our Surrender into Love.
Our Hearts Blaze –

Reclaiming our wild blood, we return with fierce love.
The crossroads open and stars rain down into the dark heart of the land.
This tribe rises –

Falling, sinking, rising, dancing. We are caught by the cracks.
Bewildered, we listen to our land.
Re-wilded, we serve with joy.

Wild love becomes a fierce blessing.
Through the fiery dance of poison and nectar,
we trust the darkness,
and re-join the chorus that colours the dawn.

Cradled within the arms of our mountain, we turn deep within.
Vital forces rise.
Labouring with our familiar shadows; fierce feelings and gritty parts, we flow into a song of synthesis.
Reforged, our tempered dark hearts become our armor of love.

Inner Path: Reclaiming Paradise Day 2

We enter Paradise in our underwear. I feel much more comfortable standing here than I thought I would. I chose my underwear carefully – solid black, stretch fabric one piece bra that ‘custom conforms to any size’ (the black is new for me, usually it’s flesh coloured or white) and gelato pink cotton undies to the waist. I convince myself it’s just beach wear. However, I never go to the beach without a surf shirt and board shorts over my one-piece costume. My Celtic ancestry and various medications mean I sunburn after 20 minutes under the Aussie sky. My profession as a science teacher (retired) meant that covering up was a really good idea for safety and child protection reasons. Add to this I’m shy by nature and have been in only one relationship for over 40 years. What am I doing here? Because I believe to the core of my being that our human body, in all its various guises, is the most beautiful thing we possess. The Eve story casts a shadow of cultural shame over me, and I want to become free.

Standing in a circle, we re-introduced Paradise from beneath the ground. We took turns to call the parts of paradise back. Magically, bird’s called and lizards drank, centipedes scurried and breeze wafted. One of the teachers suggested that wearing underwear is sometimes more uncomfortable than not. Be in the discomfort.

After reading from the Bible, a teacher led us into thinking and deeply feeling our shame stories both personal and cultural: “I did something wrong so I must deserve this.” Standing in a circle, one person stepped in at a time. The others then asked gently in unison: “What is your shame?” After naming our shame, each person stayed in the centre while others responded positively about what they saw in that person. Open eye contact during this time was encouraged, as it was throughout the entire advanced path. (Open eyes are encouraged during all pagan rituals and paths).

I have journeyed on an Inner Path now four times. Each experience has held surprises for me. I found myself saying: “My shame is my obesity. After a life-threatening illness, I lost 30 kg. I then allowed others to exclude me when my significant relationship disclosed his disorder to our wider social network. I put the weight back on again.”

Taking the supportive words we could remember from the activity, we started a tribal dance to the rhythm of drums. We were encouraged to vent our anger at a ‘jealous God’. “How dare you leave us to clean up your mess?” “How dare you punish us for a free choice?” Our chant developed and included words like: courage, honesty, truth, power and passion.

After this cathartic experience, I participated in a ceremony to remove the Angel energy from the Sword. Myself and another member later placed the Sword on the hearth in the ritual room.

We were left to ponder the question: “How can I bring myself to confront God? Overcome cultural shame? Overcome my own shame?”