It's been a while since I went near my blog, for various reasons but I'll go into them separately another time.
This past weekend I have been at the Artemis Gathering which is run by The Children of Artemis which holds a host of Workshops and Talks and events and its fab. This was my first year and I really didn't know what to expect, I had been to their other event Witchfest but I was told the Gathering was quite different.
The weekend got off to an interesting start when I ended up camping with friends Tom, Hannah, Hywell and Kevin. Kevin is a speaker at COA events and camping with him meant we ended up camping with some other speakers. Mostly initiated Wiccans who were really interesting and made for interesting listening for most of the weekend. They also ran the rituals that were heard at the event. That night was full of conversation, making friends early on and the beautiful music of Cephlalodidge and Damh the Bard. I'm already a massive fan of Damh and it was lovely seeing him play live again!
So the first day the first thing I attended was a talk on Oils, Incense and Brews. Not mediums I have really worked with beyond stick incense, but it was interesting. We got to make our own oils and after looking mine up I have noticed that their attributes are very relevant to an issue that I have at the moment, so that was a massive bonus. I've called it Artemis Oil after the weekend.
Next I went on a nature walk by Tylluan Penry. Now I am a massive fan of Tylluan's work, I have three of her books (although admittedly not all read), and I've gone to many of her talks in the past. The talk was interesting as she actually asked us what we would use individual plants for and pointed out that we don't all use them for the same things and that that is absolutely fine. There are, I'm sure, many who would disagree with that and that X plant has X attributes and that is that. Anything else is nonsense. She brought light and laughter to the talk too which was brilliant. I feel like I've learnt to open my eyes a bit more too!
Then came what was advertised as the opening ritual. It turned out that the opening ritual was the handfasting of Merlyn and Cath who run Children of Artemis. It was beautiful and I feel so blessed to have been included in the ceremony. It was overseen by Tam Campbell, a man I hold in high esteem as he damn well knows what he's talking about and is willing to help others. A lot of the speakers were involved in this as well and it was beautiful seeing them all come together. I wish Merlyn and Cath every happiness in their future and that the God and Goddess bless them many times over!
After a short break and vaguely listening to most of the ritual team again in Meeting the Witches I headed for three hours straight of Tylluan Penry. It made my bum most numb as I was sat on the ground but she had lots of interesting things to say from Magic for finding a Phallus and losing it again, writing and on creating a personal mythology. As ever I learnt lots from her and have bumped Stephen King's On Writing up my reading pile. I hope I have the opportunity to work with her in the future on writing and possibly a book.
The rest of the day was taken up with food, a burning dragon, a slight near injury experience, good company and a relatively early night and might have actually got some sleep too!
Sunday brought one of the best workshops for me. Jane Meredith spoke on The Dark Goddess and myths and how she can touch our lives. It was really really interesting and I really enjoyed it. A lot of it was a doing workshop, and we connected with others and looked at the dark aspects from our past etc. It was very opening and trusting. We also came face to face with the Dark Goddess in another later part of the ritual. The dark aspect of the Goddess is not one I have worked with but I think I might as it's a really interesting look at another side of my spirituality and also at myself and the moments where I have actually probably come across her without knowing it and knowing I can connect with her to get out of those moments. I bought her book later on which was kindly signed for me, and I spoke with her and she is a lovely lady. I look forward to reading it. I will probably do a more in-depth blog on this workshop later.
After yet another break, unfortunately missing Kevin's talk on Energy Work Based Healing due to Hannah and Hywell leaving early I headed to Steven Ward's Intro to elemental ritual work. In that he did a brief talk and then we did a ritual of what was basically the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. It was interesting as I've never done one before, it was quick and easy and it was a really nice thing to do.
I went to another talk by Pandora who did the one on Oils, this one was on Talismans where we created our own. I'm not so happy with mine but I know I can make another one! The information was given to us in an easily readable format so will be working on this in the future.
After a dinner break was the closing ritual. Once again I really enjoyed this, being with people who are all on similar paths working towards one goal was beautiful. The woman who lead the ritual seemed a little nervous to begin with, I am guessing it was her first on such a large scale but she did it wonderfully. At the end of the ritual we were each given a crystal as a memento, we had done a spiral dance to put energy into it to take away it was was brilliant. I ended up with mine in my bra until about Monday night so it now has a lot of personal energy in it too.
Then was the one thing I really wanted to do and was really looking forward to. The Firewalk Workshop. It was run by Oona McFarlane, a lovely Scottish lady who I could really connect with. The only things I have seen about firewalks have involved a lot of mental preparation before hand in an almost self hypnosis kind of way. Now imagine by "delight" when Oona said she didn't do that and that yes, we would be walking over hot coals, not imagining that we're walking over cool wet grass. Gulp! The first part of the workshop was a bit of a talk about how she got into fire, then we had a walk up to start the fire and putting in it things we wanted to be rid of or putting love and joy into it. And I can tell you, that fire was hot!! We threw incense on it next for another part to work towards or to gain from the fire such as peace, knowledge etc. The incense was amazing and I'm definitely going to need to get the recipe! We headed back to the lodge where we had a bit of paper and wrote down our goals, our vision of what we would be walking towards as we crossed the coals. Then came the arrows. The arrows were something to break through, with our necks. It was an odd thing to watch but when I realised there was no harm to come from it, I went and broke my own arrow to overcome aspects I don't like about myself. Then we headed up to the fire. It had burnt away a lot by now, and as they raked the coals I kinda wondered what I was getting myself into. I wasn't even sure if I was going to do it at that point but when I saw a friends 12 year old daughter practically dance across, I thought "well, why not." I walked the coals three times. And I got such a buzz from doing it. Definitely doing it again next year!
The night was filled with more socialising and a very late night. In the end I got 4 hours sleep on the last night. I went home exhausted but full of so many memories and laughs, knowledge and enlightenment and spiritually awakened.
Only 88 days until Witchfest in November when I hope to meet many of the same friends again.