Long time - no blog.
I just got back from a week at Brushwood Folklore Center near Sherman, NY. I arrived late yesterday after driving pretty much non-stop except for gas, with my forearms hennaed with symbols of the work I've been exploring at more depth over the past week. I go there every year for the week before Starwood. Starwood is a really, really BIG neo-pagan festival and generally chaotic gathering put on by ACE of Cleveland, that has grown a bit TOO big for my personal taste. Sirius Rising is a smaller and more spiritually focused gathering that is sponsored by Brushwood and is smaller, quieter and more digestible.
I spend most of my time there in Camp Sashu - an encampment of folks from various traditions who have been pitching our tents together at the north end of the main field for quite a few years now. We are anchored to the east by Karen's "Crone's Nest," the only permanent structure in camp. We have a series of old pavilions set next to one another creating communal space and surrounded by our personal tents. It's a very comfortable and welcoming space with good people and stable, safe energy.
From time to time I emerge from this comfortable cocoon to wander the rows off merchants, get something to eat at Phill's Grill or the Café, take a shower and hang out in the hot tub solving the problems of the world.
Somehow I managed to teach a workshop, lead a ritual, attend Elisheva's workshops and an Efa Misse (?) ritual, all without keeling over.
The workshop on Post-Tribal Shamanism went well; good attendance and interesting people. There was a fellow shaman there - with quite a different background. His name is Jase and he comes from the North American Medicine traditions. He seems like a solid fellow, with some good teachings to pass on. I'm afraid I may have stepped on his toes a bit, asking too many questions, but it's rare that I get to interact with someone else who is doing this work in a sincere and effective manner. I didn't get to chat with him nearly as much as I would have liked.
The Post Tribal Healing ritual went well - as far as the participants were concerned. The healing work went well and was received, however I felt unhappy about the work, because I had been up late the night before at the Efa ritual and so my energy was low and somewhat sluggish. I think I was also remembering how powerful and effective the ritual I did there last year was and I was hoping for a movement forward from there. I suspect that I did make a step forward. It just didn't look like I expected or like I wanted it to.
I won't say much about the Efa rite, because it's not my story to tell. I passed along some messages that were well received and also some that were less well received. It didn't wrap up until after 1:00 am, so I was a bit crispy for my own ritual the next morning.
Eli's workshops went well and I got a couple intuitional breakthroughs that feel important to me. One was during the workshop on the secrets of the Menorah. Essentially it was a connection between Asherah/Ashrat who is symbolized as a pillar; the legend that the Asherah was present in Solomon's Temple; the description of the two pillars - one black, one white - which stand at the entrance of the Temple; and, the fact that the columns were "named" Boaz and Joakim, for which there is no other reference. A cover up for the presence of the Hebrew Goddess who later became the Black and White Madonna? The other insight came during the Neo-Tribal Ethics workshop, when I realized that the traditional elements of the communal ecology still exist in our post-tribal culture, they have simply become de-personalized and abstracted into "government" and "the bureaucracy". (Yes - obvious - I know.)
It was wonderful - as it is every year - to reconnect with various friends and acquaintances made over the years, and to make a few new connections with other fellow travelers. But the heart of it was - for the first time in many years - the fire. I used to be able to do tremendous work around the nightly fires at Brushwood, but for the last decade, the fires have been taken over by hordes who want to party and grope, with no interest in spiritual growth. This year was an exception. The drumming was much more focused. The energy was cleaner. And the whole setting was more supportive to doing work. I was actually able to trancedance around the fire for over 3 hours on Friday night. As I wandered back toward camp Sashu afterwards, I came upon a fire by the north pavilion which was clearly designed to be a more spiritual fire, but it had too much chanting and "performance" energy for me to really rest into it. Never-the-less I went to sleep happy that night, and I came home deeply satisfied and ready to hang out with my lovely and talented Beloved and her cats.