This one time... at witch camp

One year ago I met Jen Sinkler. We were old friends in mere moments and planning our next adventure together. I had just heard of the goddess gathering (a four day event of women celebrating the goddess) and it was just “out there” enough to be the right adventure for this duo. As it approached, my best friend Kim was just nearing completion of her cancer treatment and decided this was to be her gift for remission. My daughter would also attend the first two days. We were all set.

But for what?

We packed up my car full of anything we thought such an event might require and set out in laughter and curiosity. What on earth were we getting into?

I’m still not sure I can explain the experience. It was strange, ancient, foreign and familiar. It was kind of magic. So I’ll give you the moments I can articulate that have lingered for me.

The first night we arrived, had dinner and took the lay of the land. I was digesting the culture of this place with my very special people in tow. The opening ceremony introduced the goddess of Morrigan who we were to celebrate. She is the goddess of change and power. The challenge she presents, that we were to work through, is walking through darkness as a warrior. Facing fear.

Next up: Talent show. I had mentioned this to my wee one and she wasn’t into it. Which I was quietly grateful for. But after the charge to conquer fears, my girl told me we were singing. I drug my feet and she looked into my eyes and said, “Mommy, this is a fear to conquer. You have to.”

So we did.

 

This girl sang her heart out. I looked for her eyes. We usually sing together, cueing one another with eye contact. She didn’t need me. I watched in awe as baby girl belt out her song with the kind of confidence I didn’t know was in her quite yet.

After the talent show we danced around a fire. She asked me to dance with her and again stopped me to look in my eyes with a challenge. “Mommy. I don’t want US to be afraid of anything.” This girl brings me to my knees. I’m working through my fears, ever aware that I am doing that for her. To clear the way. Now she herself has named it. It was beautiful.

Her fear to conquer for the weekend was making friends. She leaned on the women with us for support. Her kindergarten teacher who was present and Jen, Kim. She told them she felt invisible but she wanted to know the other “maidens.” They coached her well. She frolicked with new comrades.

It was a weekend of wild women. Wild in nurturing, in darkness and in light. Mothers, grandmothers, girls and women. Breasts were everywhere but not for anyone’s gaze. Lola called them “boobs for freedom.” The second night her father picked her up in a neighboring town (men are not allowed on the property during the gathering), and the next two days were about the women.

It got weird (in the best way).

 

We danced. We drummed. We participated in ancient rituals. We fully entertained and embraced new ideas. We called to the corners of the earth and heard the owls and coyotes respond. You read that right. I told you I wasn’t sure if I could explain it all.

Having women I love immensely find they love each other was a joy. It is something to be friends with powerful women. Several times I was asked when separated from them, “Where are your people?” And I said without contemplation, “Doing exactly what they want to, I’m sure.”

Kim opted for yoga on the dock of the lake while naked women swam around. Jen and I got a couples massage at a gypsy tent. We each sought reiki energy work and learned shielding techniques at temple. We found people like us and discussed our likeness. We cleansed. We sang. We chose our own experiences and discussed them with delight over oreo cookies in our cabin. We giggled, slumber party style. Covered ourselves in glitter tattoos and spoke of things we never had.

That may be as much as I can explain.

I spent a weekend with women I love in a place only for women. The grounds had been blessed for decades. It felt like a safe place to be present. Over and over again I found myself memorizing moments. Snapshots. This is one of those “forever memories.” For my wee one, with my friends, for myself. It was indeed magic.

To jumping in,

Erin Brown