“Clouds are gathering”
I began my morning by reconnecting with the mountain and revisited the small altar we assembled the day before. The rain had been steady, but it has stopped for the moment, so I went deeper into the forest in search of pademelons, and hopefully a snake or two.
Not finding any wildlife, I explored natural bower formations made of wattle, fern, and vine, which involved fending off persistent wild raspberry.
It was a gentle, grounding introduction to my day, one that was welcomed before starting my work on Air and Fire.
We were introduced to further breathing techniques, and concepts that supported a greater integration of air into ourselves as an expression of unity with the element. The vernacular was somewhat different, but I found the techniques familiar and comfortable to perform, so was settling into a relative space of security and wellbeing.
Then we were asked to perform an activity where we chose three pieces of paper that were printed with extracts that formed part of a much broader statement known as the ‘Reclaiming Principles of Unity’.
I randomly chose three, and then we began to move around the workspace amongst ourselves and read through them silently. The first instruction was to choose one that most closely resembled something we felt strongly about and share that with someone close by. Then, we were asked to choose one that we didn’t have a strong connection with, and once again share it with a different person and this time explain why? Lastly, we were asked to think about the remaining statement and imagine what the world would be like if it was true?
Emotion, that unwanted companion I was never comfortable expressing caught in my throat as I pondered what the world would be like if we, “worked to create and sustain communities and cultures that embody our values, that can help to heal the wounds of the earth and her peoples, and that can sustain us and nurture future generations?”
I couldn’t, and the pain I felt at that moment washed over me and left me feeling hopelessness and an overwhelming sense of loss. Tears were in my eyes by now, as I allowed the rawness of my loss, your loss, my descendants’ loss sting my heart. I simply stared into the eyes of my companion who I shared this with and silently saw in their eyes the same deep knowing that such a world is a foreign place.
We then returned to the circle and read the entire statement as a group before checking in again and describing which part we identified with. To single out a single statement was near impossible, the statement was beautiful, challenging, confronting, and exquisite in its authenticity. One principle however stood out above all others because reflected what I try to do with my Druidry, “…our tradition honours the wild, and calls for service to the earth and the community.”
I was beginning to hear the calling.
The next stage of our path through air was going to take us deeper into our quest. We were instructed that we were going to take the same path up the mountain as the day before, however this time we were going to be challenged three times along the way. The first challenge was to develop a creative expression to Hermes that conveyed our desire. For me it was a variation of something I sometimes say when acknowledging fire:
Creative and vital Hermes inspire,
My vision, my passion,
Your honey, my desire!
I made my way further along the track and was confronted by Apollo, and this time the challenge was to look deeper into the desire of my quest. I was still under the delusion that my quest was the noble task of finding the balance of creativity and passion between both paths – Druidry and ecstatic practice and carrying home the sweet honey that reclaiming inspired.
Finally, the third challenge came as a surprise, as I was confronted with the desire to find the elements of creativity to build stronger ties with the wilding of my spirit, so that in my practice I can become closer to the animal ancestors.
Gathering our breath, we returned to the hall and moved once more around the circle to the element of fire!
I had the good fortune of pairing with a beautiful soul and together we cast the circle in a fashion we had already witnessed several times throughout the short time we’d been at camp. While not unfamiliar with ritual, leaning into the uncertainty of what words would tumble out of our mouths, we simply leaned into that edge and stretched it that little bit further.
Something that features in almost every ritual is chanting. This served the ritual on many levels, for me it allowed a deeper connection with the people around me, and a device to raise and focus our ritual intention. I was really surprised at the ease of which I was able to grasp and hold onto the chants! Usually I have to work a lot harder to retain them, but in the loving support that was developing between us all, I was beginning to lose my self-consciousness and just allow my imperfections to show. Raising energy in such a large group was transformative, and completely new to me.
What was most apparent, was that our path was developing into a deep container that was starting to expose our vulnerability, our weaknesses, and our willingness to share and support each other through it.
The fire was drying my tears for now, but I was beginning to feel raw and exposed.
Emotional. I don’t like being emotional, if only I knew what awaited me on day 3.