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REPORT BACK FROM BCWC #1 – by AJA

We’re back! We did it! And there’s so much to think about, talk about, write about, it’s hard to know where to begin. As anyone who’s ever been to a Witchcamp knows, time gets tricky and does all kinds of things that make it hard to pin down, especially in retrospect. I’ve been back for a few days and need to start now so I don’t lose it in a magickal haze….

Here are a few things, hopefully the others will share soon:

– path – Path was the best. It was like a sanctuary (while still being challenging) and it really gave me a sense that this work is important and that when folks come together with a willingness to be vulnerable, we can do amazing things. We were able to find a little mossy bowl of a space in the woods near the lake and it fit our group just right. We had 8 people from very different paths of life, representing very different perspectives and opinions when asked questions like, “would you feel comfortable invoking Ganesha at this gathering?”. Those folks with differing opinions were partnered up and did some work together around social positioning and how it reflects what we feel entitled to in our spiritual practices. We had a good mix of elders and youngers and everyone came with a lot of care and compassion, which allowed us to go really deep in a very short period of time. I felt so supported as a new facilitator, getting lots of helpful feedback and encouragement throughout the week. People were really good at stepping up and making it collaborative in ways that were a pleasure to accommodate and really flowed well with the group energy. As co-facilitators I felt we communicated really well, were flexible and attentive to each other while holding the pieces we were responsible for. I love everyone that shared in this work and I am so so grateful for how it went down. Yay path!

– nightly rituals – were the most challenging for me, as I anticipated they might be. Doing ritual in a group is so vulnerable and it’s really hard to relax and open up when I don’t feel safe. There was support and energy given to helping us all to “dare to open our guarded hearts” and while I tried, I just experienced so many “ouch” moments – that were perhaps more painful because they were in sacred space – that keeping my heart open was not actually what I felt compelled to do. I showed up every night, ready and willing to just take each piece as it came and not take a stance or position before feeling it out. Every night I came to a place where I needed to check out, step back, and assert some boundaries because what was happening did not feel okay for me. It was especially hard because I felt really visible, like everything I did or didn’t participate in was noted and had meaning. I tried to ignore this and just take care of myself, my close friends and the folks who I knew were also struggling. This became my priority in ritual and it meant leaving early a couple times. The hardest part was that because I wasn’t tapped into the ecstatic flow of magick – which usually builds up and is released every night – I didn’t find ways to release or replenish my energy for days on end. I most often went to bed feeling angry, anxious, nauseous and exhausted. This was the first time I have experienced rituals in this way and it was really hard, especially for consecutive days. This isn’t to say that there weren’t pieces of rituals that worked for me – there were certain invocations and parts that I felt very open and admiring of, even ones of the dieties or of energies that in other contexts felt wrong, and this is encouraging to me because it shows me that it’s not all or nothing. There are ways that this can be done that feel okay for me. But because at some point in every ritual there were multiple pieces that gave me the distinct “NO feeling”, that ended up being the dominant impression, despite things that worked. I just couldn’t get into it and it really affected my energy all week.

– optional offering on cult. app. –
on the first full day of camp, two of the teachers convened a conversation on cultural appropriation and a lot of people attended it, which was great to see. I think people were generally more open to hearing it from them than us. I only spoke once, which felt good, but I also let some big concerns go unaddressed. It definitely veered into talking about our communities relationship with the Squamish people (which is also super important but not what we were there to talk about) and so we didn’t actually go as deep as I think we had the capacity to as a group. It was interesting to hear people share their understanding of cultural appropriation in fairly nuanced and articulate ways, but at the same time not seeming to see a direct connection between their behavior and their definition, which seemed so obvious from my perspective. Taking things out of context and then passing those things on to others who have little to no understanding of where those things come from, for example. It was perplexing to see such a gap between our collective theories and practices.

More to come soon…

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