Thursday, June 11, 2009

witchcamp

Some of you might be wondering - why a camp for witches? In fact, why call yourself a witch, when pagan will do? Often, depending on who's listening I do call myself a pagan, or I tell people that I practice earth-based spirituality. But the word witch - well, it (according to some) is derived from the word wicce - which means to bend or shape. Starhawk described magic as "the art of changing consciousness at will." I believe that we have power to effect change. I believe that the earth is sacred and should be revered. I call the earth by many names, sometimes male, but most often female - representing different aspects and energies at work in the universe. Gaia, Demeter, Brighid, Aprhrodite, Persephone, Isis, Innana, Diana, Cerridwen, Hecate, Pan, The Green Man...and even Jesus has a role to play, if you consider his energy to be part of the Pantheon.

Witchcamp is a teaching tool - a way to bring like-minded people together for an extended period of teaching and learning. Most often, I learn about myself. I get to be part of a large group of women (and a few men), learning, creating ritual, raising energy, sharing the gifts and pleasure and sometimes pain of being who we are. The camp I go to is four days long - many camps, including the camps in BC and Vermont, are week-long intensives. Someday I'm going to Vermont - but not yet.

Wild Ginger is where I learned that I belong somewhere. It's where I met some of the women who continue to be mainstays in my life, as mentors and examples of out, queer women who are making a difference. It's where I literally found my voice - my writing voice, my singing voice. It's where, for the first time, I had the courage to sing in front of a large group of people (with the exception of church and community choirs, where I did not sing alone).It's where I began to come to terms with my own sexuality.

I used to long for it every year with an ache that I couldn't explain, because sometimes it was all I had to look forward to - in my emotionally empty home, with a relationship that was sterile, where I was seldom myself, except for once a year, when I let loose and partied with the Goddess. Now, especially after the last year, I have brought a lot of that energy into my day-to-day life. I'm no less excited to go - but I can also take the energy I raise and carry it home with me, use it instead of storing it up for next year, or for the next ritual with my coven. I am part of a coven because of WG, and the last four years of my life have been blessed with the energy of women that I feel so close to - always.

I leave you with a parting photo - me, last year - and the words of Doreen Valiente, as adapted by Starhawk:

The Charge of the Goddess
by Starhawk

Listen to the words of the Great Mother,
who of old was called
Artemis, Astarte, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite,
Cerridwen, Diana, Arionrhod, Brigid,
and by many other names:

Whenever you have need of anything,
once a month, and better it be when the moon is full,
you shall assemble in some secret place
and adore the spirit of Me Who is Queen of all the Wise.

You shall be free from slavery,
and as a sign that you be free you
shall be naked in your rites.
Sing, feast, dance, make music and love,
all in My presence,
for Mine is the ecstasy of the spirit
and Mine also is joy on Earth.

For My law is love unto all things.
Mine is the secret that opens
the door of youth,
and Mine is the cup of wine of life that is
the Cauldron of Cerridwen,
that is the holy grail of immortality.

I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal,
and beyond death I give peace and freedom
and reunion with those that have gone before.

Nor do I demand aught of sacrifice, for behold,
I am the Mother of all things
and My love is poured out upon the Earth.

Hear the words of the Star Goddess,
the dust of Whose feet are the hosts of Heaven,
Whose body encircles the universe.

I who am the beauty of the green earth
and the white moon among the stars
and the mysteries of the waters,
I call upon your soul to arise and come unto me.

For I am the soul of nature that gives life to the universe.
From Me all things proceed and unto Me they must return.
Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices,
for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.
Let there be beauty and strength,
power and compassion,
honour and humility,
mirth and reverence within you.

And you who seek to know Me,
know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not,
unless you know the Mystery:
for if that which you seek,
you find not within yourself,
you will never find it without.

For behold,
I have been with you from the beginning,
and I am That which is attained at the end of desire.




"All acts of love and pleasure or my rituals." Now that's a belief I can ascribe to!

Please note: I am not generally naked in my rites.



(This is me a year ago. I've lost another forty pounds and I've let my hair grow again.)

I'll be back on Sunday!

4 comments:

Dragon said...

That is one thing I would love to do is to go to one of those camps. The feeling you get from just going to rituals is amazing, can't imagaine a few days of just that. Sharing, the energy, being around others who share the same beliefs. Definatly amazing. Maybe when my son gets older and I don't have to worry about a sitter, I will try something like that.

Earth Muffin said...

I hope you have a great time!

Camlin said...

EM - I did. Thanks!

Dragon - the camp I attend offers two choices for parents. They're child-friendly, and for a small additional fee, you can bring your child. Child care is available during rituals and pathwork. There's also a children's path, where children create ritual and explore the theme together. Emily took the children's path for the first time this year, which was so cool - I went with her and we both loved it. Other camps are following this model - for example, Vermont is now open for children, and there are special family camps...I don't know what state you live in, but I think you can find a list of camps on reclaiming.org...

Cheers!

Dragon said...

Cool, will check that out. Thanks for the info!!