Photo: A close-up of Clifford - isn't he gorgeous?
Bookings were very slow coming in this year, and we mused on the underlying reason. Was it the economic downturn and a lack of funds that was preventing people from coming? Or had the Witchcamp model run its course in the UK? Was it just a quiet year, or was it in fact the end of an era? Avalon Spring is a labour of love for those of us who organise and teach it, and we didn't want to think that this could be the camp's last year.
To make it more affordable - in case the economic climate was to blame - we made the decision to shorten the length of camp from 5 days to a long weekend (23rd-25th May) and reduced the prices accordingly. After the change was announced, only two of those who had already booked decided not to come after all, and suddenly bookings were coming in thick and fast. Phew - so it was only a shortage of funds keeping people away!
Somehow we condensed things down into the new time slot. To our great amazement, time seemed to stretch to accommodate us, and much, much more than I would have thought possible somehow fitted neatly into our schedule. Nothing felt rushed or pressured, yet everything we had wanted to include was included. Bríghde Éire (Anne-Marie) and myself taught 'The Path of Devotion', examining a variety of devotional practices and the question, 'How many ways can we pray?'. Georgia Midnight Crow and Dawn Isidora taught 'The Sacred Sexual Soul', dealing with issues of sex, love, spirit, personal boundaries and finding our own authentic selves.
People enjoyed the work we did, they enjoyed the evening rituals around the fire, the venue, the food. The sun shone and the rain held off! The feedback we were given from everyone was without exception positive. Yes, they loved it. Yes, they want it to happen again. Yes, they would like it to be longer next time, and yes, they will be coming back.
Photo: L-R Georgia Midnight Crow, Dawn Isidora, Sylvia Rose. Also gorgeous.
After the campers had left, we remaining organisers planted two trees, an ash and a crab apple. We had brought them as a gift for Earthspirit, our venue for all but one of the Witchcamps we have held each year since 1998. Our initial expectation was that the trees would be something of a parting gift, in thanks for and acknowledgement of the good times we have spent there over the years. Many of us feel a deep connection with the Earthspirit land and the many beings who make their home there, and in thinking this may be our last year it seemed an appropriate gesture. And yet Avalon Spring 2009 has shown clearly that things are not over after all. Times are tough all round, but with imagination and flexibility we have been able to find revitalisation.
In the end, the tree planting was done in an atmosphere of quiet joy and hope, as we softly sang chants that sounded like lullabies to the young trees. This won't be our last year. We will return, and be able to watch our two small saplings as they grow into beautiful trees. May they and Earthspirit and the Witchcamp community flourish! Blessed Be.
P.S. Leaf's well-written and interesting account of his experience at Avalon Spring this year may be found here.