Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Autumn Waits in the Wings

This morning there is a tinge of autumn in the air. Although the last week or so has been perfect summer weather, early in the morning autumn is waiting in the wings.

Some scent in the air, or chill in the breeze, or heaviness in the dew seems to whisper of autumn. The birdsong has a mournful edge. The summer flowers have peaked and are in decline. Blackberries bejewel the hedgerow.

No wonder poets write of the fleeting nature of summer. She comes with such promise, but never stays as long as we hope.

As a witch I love the cyclical wheel of nature, relishing each season in turn. And yet I find myself wanting to hold on to each one too. The crisp clarity of winter, the freshness and promise of spring, the easy bounty of summer and the melancholy woodsmoke-scented autumn. Perhaps this wanting to cling to every last moment is age-related. It is true that time speeds up as the years pass. This world is so beautiful, who wouldn't want to savour every minute?

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Happy 140th Birthday!

This weekend, my Mum & Dad will celebrate their 70th birthdays with a joint 140th Birthday Party.

Happy Birthdays and Many Happy Returns, Mum & Dad!

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Simply Divine!

I have read tarot cards for many years now. My first deck, bought impulsively as I was just stepping onto the Pagan path (about 20 years ago now), was the Tarot of the Witches. It sounded impressively mysterious and magical, and I couldn't wait to start working with it. Unfortunately, I hated it from the minute I got the cards out of the box. I hated the artwork for a start, and then found they were hard for a beginner to learn as the Minor Arcana cards were just 'pip' cards rather than the type which have pictorial representations of the meanings (so much easier to learn!). The final straw came when I discovered the deck had been designed for use in a James Bond film - I loathe James Bond films! I quickly gave them away. Good lesson in buying any magical tool: shop around and check how it 'feels' before taking the plunge.

Luckily, I had a friend who read tarot cards so I was aware that there were pictorial decks out there. Next time around I was more picky, and looked at lots and lots of decks before I chose again. This time it was the 'Morgan Greer', based on the classic 'Rider Waite' (which I believe was the original pictorial tarot). The 'Morgan Greer' is clear, and I find it easy to use. It gives me great readings for others, though I've never been able to read well for myself.

I've also had other decks over the years, the 'Rider Waite Tarot', 'The Tarot of the Old Path', Kris Waldherr's 'Goddess Tarot', and non-tarot decks like 'The Druid Animal Oracle' and 'The Green Man Tree Oracle', to name a few (yes, I'm a bit of a card junkie!). Some of them I still have, and some I've passed on to new homes.

This last week at the Summer Gathering I attended two tarot workshops and had my tarot read by the wonderfully talented Diego. I think it's true to say I'm feeling more enthused than ever by tarot right now, and there's another reason too.

These are my new tarot cards. It's a deck called 'Songs for the Journey Home' that T bought for my birthday in July. And I am just in love with them! (if you click on the photo you should get a bigger image to study)

I love the artwork for a start. The arrangement I've laid out here is a selection of my favourite images from the deck. I actually had a hard time choosing! I find the artwork deceptively naive in style. The images look fairly simple, but the more I study them, the more I see. I also like that they're round - having never been a fan of reverse meanings for cards (too complicated!), it's great to have some that can't really be reversed.

The deck seems to be pretty earth-centred too, which of course appeals to me! And the little booklet that comes with the cards, whilst not shying away from the fact that Shit Happens, does somehow manage to mostly find a constructive message within the Shit. As a glass-half-full kinda gal, this echoes my preferred world-view.
And these cards seem to really know what is going on with me - leading up to the Summer Gathering I often pulled a card, asking 'What do I need to know about this situation?'. Though I shuffled the cards well each time, still I pulled the same card over and over - the 'Sixth Wind Song'. Look at the photo - it really expresses how I felt! Yet notice that as well as the clear image of feeling distinctly pressured, it also has a flock of birds flying freely above. The booklet says, '[this card] depicts the experience of being under a tremendous amount of pressure. If you are able to focus on trust, rather than on fear, you will rise above the turmoil of the mind. This is a time to rise above the gentle winds of change.' How on the nail is that?! Even more amazingly, since returning home I haven't pulled the card once, and actually had to look quite hard for it in order to take a photo.

Having never been able to read the cards accurately for myself before, I am very happy with the way these seem to work with me. I used to think there was something wanting in my card-reading skills, perhaps a lack of objectivity that stopped me being able to read my own cards. Now I think perhaps I just hadn't met the right deck yet!

It's still early days in our relationship, but I feel like these cards and I are currently having a great conversation, getting to know each other. I think we will be good friends.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Home Again

Back home again after the Summer Gathering, I'm still getting my breath back.

It has been a rollercoaster week of anxiety, exhilaration, joy, stress, hope, and a thousand other emotions. I have shed tears of both exhaustion and joy. I have also laughed until my face hurt, danced until I was breathless, and had my faith in the strength and power of community restored. I have reconnected with loved ones, deepened existing friendships, gained new ones, and - I hope - made progress in repairing damaged relationships.

It was a small group of us who gathered the first night and joined together in Sylvia's excellent opening ritual. That night under the stars we stirred our wishes and hopes for the week into an imaginary cauldron at the centre of our circle. During the rest of the week, at some point during most of the rituals we gave people an opportunity to stir the cauldron, adding to it if they wished. It was a rich brew that we created together, maturing over the week into a hopeful vision for the future of the community, guided by the Gathering's intention: 'To Nuture Our Community'.

As the weekend drew nearer, our numbers swelled, reaching a peak on Saturday and Sunday, then slowly waning again. This gave a different kind of energy to the week than that we normally get at Witchcamp; it had a more ragged, less intense quality that at times added a kind of chaotic dynamism to proceedings.

Everyone chipped in at the level they felt comfortable with: for some this meant dipping in and out, interspersed with trips into Glastonbury, for others it meant offering talks, workshops and discussion groups, or taking an active role in planning and priestessing the rituals. And what a diverse and abundant assortment of activities we ended up with - workshops on a multitude of subjects, including Energy Raising, Tarot, Mermaid Lore, Reclaiming-Feri practices, Ecstatic Dance, and a Buffy Path; and rituals including a Healing Ritual, a Climate Change Ritual, and a tripartite ritual held over three nights based around bringing the best of the community's past into the present and then visioning how we should carry this heritage into the future. We also managed a Bardic Circle; fascinating discussions on the whys and wherefores of naming ourselves 'witch', and our regular spiritual practices; an audience with Henry VIIIth; a concert by Caitlin & Sika; a Herb Walk; time in the hot tub and much, much more. Come to think of it, no wonder I'm tired!

Overall, people seemed to have had a wonderful time. We managed to cover our costs, infact making enough to be able to repay Avalon Witchcamp the deposit they had paid on the venue - meaning all Witchcampers will now have their full deposits returned. When all the fundraising was added in, we actually had a little left over, so there is seed-money for those who've expressed interest in staging a similar event next summer.

So after all the anxiety, I think the week can be counted a success. My own energies will now be focussed on Avalon Spring, the 5-day intensive planned for next April. But I'm proud of the Gathering that we created at pretty short notice and I'm hopeful that any future events can build on this foundation. I am so grateful to everyone who made the Summer Gathering so creative, fruitful and enjoyable, and I wish every success to those who choose to work on similar events in the future. Blessed be one and all!

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Que Sera Sera

Well, the anxiety and anticipation of the last few weeks is finally over. Tomorrow I leave for the Summer Gathering in Somerset. No more worrying and fretting about numbers attending or finances. Or at least, no point in worrying about them any more. I have now accepted that at this stage, there's no more I can do - the event will be what it will be.

I'm feeling a strange mixture of resignation and mild hysteria! The weight of responsibility is still palpable, but at least I feel I can do no more right now.

I'm now focussing on looking forward to a week in one of my favourite places with some of my favourite people. And also meeting lots of new faces! I'm just hoping everyone has a fun time and the weather is kind. It's not too much to hope for is it?

By this time next week I will know if it was worth all the nailbiting.

Wish us luck!

P.S. I look forward to catching up with all my friends in blog land when I get back. Sorry I've been neglecting you all but it's been pretty intense.