10 MINUTES AND COUNTING!!
Spiralheart’s 8th Alchemeet starts tonight (7/28) at 8pm EST. Tonight’s topic is Intersecting Faiths in the Neo-Pagan Tradition and will be led by Jibrael. There’s still time to join, so head on over to www.tinychat.com/spiralheart and grab a spot!
See Ya soon!
"INTERSECTING FAITHS IN THE NEO-PAGAN TRADITION"
While many of are proud to call themselves “Pagan,” for others naming our religious identity is a bit more complicated. Some may hold a deep relationship with Jesus, or follow Buddhist practices, or incorporate various folk traditions from our family heritage. How can I be authentically who I am if my sense of the Divine doesn’t fit into a single religious label? Is there a place in Neo-Paganism for those with multiple faith commitments?
Join us for our once-a-month Pagan meeting-of-minds! It should run about an hour, give or take, and is available to anyone who would like to join. Read more about Alchemeet. And remember, we’ve updated our policy regarding the tiny chat password— so check out the Alchemeet Page if you need a reminder!
Campfire Stories: A Week at Camp — Debrief
This year I attended the SpiralHeart WitchCamp at Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary in Artemas PA. This was my third WitchCamp; as always, I had an absolutely amazing time. I want to summarize a little bit about what it was like, what happens at a camp and why it is that I’m drawn to them so strongly.
WitchCamps are a product of the Reclaiming Tradition of Witchcraft. They are a several-day long intensive in the arts and practices of our lifestyle, including empowerment, community building, magic, activism, eco-feminism and ritual. Of course, there’s so much more involved!
I think probably one of the most stark contrasts to mainstream culture is in the answer to the question at camp: Who’s in charge here? The answer: We all are.
Our tradition is non-hierarchical and the setup and functioning of the camps reflects that structure. Committees and focus groups are chosen to represent the needs and wants of the collective. For example, the RATs (the Ritual Arc Team) spend a year with the story that themes the camp and carefully blend the story arc with the evening rituals which serve the campers. The OPS team ensures accessibility and facility needs. The consensus process is often used to iron out the rough spots, to ensure all voices are heard, and to make sure that decisions match the intentions and values of the group.
As I mentioned, there is a story that overarches the entire camp. This year it was a story about Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion. It was a tough story, however I believe the Ritual Arc Team did an excellent job of translating it into Reclaiming-style ritual. Several points throughout the story were selected and each of these milestones became focuses for the rituals for each successive night of gatherings.
To highlight a few points of ritual work, there was ritual drama and a spiral dance; some community building; a healing ritual with aspected Kuan Yin in attendance and healers in the center; a bardic circle (a sharing of the arts), excellent music, dancing, a camp-fire — all in-between-the-worlds.
Each morning was dedicated to path-work. This year’s path offerings were: the Pentacle of Elements, Music as Ritual, Cornerstones of Community, and Aspecting the Modern Myth. Each of the paths contributed their path-working in major ways to the evening ritual arc.
For beginners, the Elements path is the recommended starting point. it orients the basics of Reclaiming ritual structure, and the foundation concepts of our spiritual technologies. I will be working towards arranging an offering of Elements of Magic for our local community later on this year.
This year I took the path “Aspecting the Modern Myth”, having taken the Elements path in one form or another the previous two years. I chose it because of my interest in modern myth, and also because of some of the technologies it touched on (aspecting, anchoring, deep witnessing) were areas I had not previously explored (See here for information on what these are). It was well worth it and I have some really grounded inspirations for how this learning can contribute to our local community, specifically the technologies and the power of modern myth.
I should also mention the grounds and the staff at Four Quarters: What an amazing and caring group. The meals were perfect for my high-maintenance dietary needs. The dining hall was even better than last year. And the stone circle.… WHOOSH! I spent some time down at the Fairy Cairn and even got to play with the Fae! Hooray!
Last but certainly not least, the people. I am confident that we each have the ability to enact “the art of changing consciousness at will” and this week enforced that confidence in me. I can recall little and large miracles, the synchronicity effect, the subtle and not-so subtle changes that occurred within me as I learned, walked towards, around, and through some of my rougher edges and witnessed others doing the same — all powerful things. I leave camp a different person, a better person, than when i arrived.
These things, in truth, are complimentary to the means itself. The community’s ability to draw itself together, to share compassion, to turn none away, and to creating the space for these things to happen: in empowerment and strong solidarity, making a space for this to happen in the first place. This is the true magic. And that is why I come back, every year.
Campfire Stories: “Who was that Old Man?”
I often consider myself one to follow a very different path than most. Maybe because I see things differently. Maybe because I simply think differently. By this I mean more differently than the average differences between people. It is a difference I’ve learned to embrace because of the wonderful things I get to see and experience by following this different path. As someone I consider to be wise once observed to me, “you follow the beat of a different drummer, and you are that drummer.”
I have been a ritual arc team member several times, this year marks my third year in a row. And yes, I do hope to be selected to be on the team for next year. As such a person, spending months marinating in the theme and story for so long allows me time to learn from the story and entities involved before I even reach camp. This means I expect to follow work in camp that may not even relate to the story at all. This year however, I had a deeper experience with the story than I’ve ever had. Probably because I was the author of the specific version of the story we used for camp and then followed through by being on the ritual arc team.
It was fascinating to see what the team members pulled out of the story. Often they were things that I never would have guessed someone would see. I don’t claim to be any sort of accomplished writer, but it was very interesting to me to watch these things drawn out of something I wrote. I am also happy that I was able to accept these things people found without feeling a need to say “that’s not what I intended at all.”
Those who attended camp were introduced to an old man. He appeared three times during the week. He had originally only planned to appear twice. However, his presence was requested for a third time as the magic of camp evolved. He was kind enough to answer that request and speak what needed to be spoken.
He was presented as a character in ritual drama. I wish to make clear that he is more than a character I made up. He is an entity who appeared to me, and decided to remain with me during the lead up to camp and throughout camp. He simply watched things unfold for the most part. He did wish to have his presence be made known but not so much so that he interfered.
For each ritual he did not appear in, he asked me to leave something associated with him somewhere in the ritual space. Each day, I did not know what he wanted to leave until the afternoon of that ritual. That is when it would be communicated to me with just enough time for me to place the object.
The first ritual, he was there to greet everyone.
The second ritual, he left his lanterns on the benches in the middle of the space.
The third ritual, he appeared again at the request of the ritual arc team.
The fourth ritual, he left his hat in a chair with the king’s purple cloak.
The fifth ritual, he left his staff in the stage area behind all the performances.
The sixth ritual, the old man’s guides with their lantern staffs led the procession.
The seventh ritual, he appeared once again to speak, and then to reveal his identity.
No, I did not know his identity prior to the morning of that seventh ritual.
In case anyone is feeling left out, the old man was Quan Yin’s dragon companion in a human guise.
My experience was that this particular dragon wanted to help. However, it was heard that we did not wish to have dragons present for this camp. This dragon took the form of the old man to honor that wish. He also did not wish to be dishonest and chose to reveal himself at the end.
Thank you for allowing the space for that magic to happen. And thank you for allowing me to take that journey with the “Old Man”.
TAKE THE MUSIC OF SPIRALHEART’S 2014 CAMP HOME WITH YOU!
This year all of the amazing, wonderfully unique, music made during the week will be made available at the end of camp for a small donation (suggested $5) to the SPH Scholarship Fund. Just be sure to bring a thumb/jump drive (preferably 8GB or larger) with you to camp. Let Orion know that you’re interested in a copy of the music, and the files will be downloaded to your drive at the end of the week. That’s it. No waiting two or three weeks after you get home for a package in the mail, and no trying to figure out how to download a huge file from some website. Come to camp, take the music home with you. And help send another witch to camp in the process! Don’t forget that 100% of the revenue raised will go straight into the SPH scholarship fund!
See you all soon!
Orion and The Spiralheart Media Cell
Registration for our 2014 Samhain Workshop is now open!
In this workshop, we will engage with the magics of desire, death, and liberation so that we may live our lives to the fullest. We invite Quan Yin and Freyja to share their wisdom with us about life, death, and love. We call on the watery aspects of Quan Yin’s compassionate love for all beings and honor the face of Freyja, mistress of the Hall of Fallen Heroes, with her passionate love for life and the in between ways, to be with us through this time of transition.
Click through for more info and to access our online registration form!
Join us tonight at 8pm EST on tinychat.com/spiralheart for our once-a-month pagan meeting-of-minds! Tonight’s discussion will be lead by Orion and will focus on controversial magic, spells that are sometimes even “taboo”.
Visit our Alchemeet Page for details on how to join if you need a reminder. See you all soon!
If you haven’t yet registered for this year’s camp, now is definitely the time! There’s only a week left before registration closes and we will no longer be accepting additional campers. All the gooey details about what your days will be like, what paths will be available, this year’s story and who will be facilitating is available on our Summer Intensive Page at www.spiralheart.org/summer
Hope to see you soon!