The Allure of WitchCamp
Article ID: 10891
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 4,060
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Author: Wolf [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: August 13th. 2006
Times Viewed: 9,833
Solitary practice and the occasional public ritual are not enough magic for me. Once a year, I have to retreat to sacred space for a week to recharge my magical batteries, to remind my self (small s) what I’m really about, what my true preferences are, to reconnect with that part of me that is always in contact with Divine Spirit.
A wise teacher once told me, “It’s not hard to be your authentic self, it’s hard to remember.” That’s why I go back to camp, to remember.
I don't usually try to explain Reclaiming WitchCamp. I just tell people, "You should go." I plant the seed and let it go. Saying more is invariably confusing, because mere words cannot convey the essence of a spiritual transformation. I know in my bones the value of my camp experiences, but words are as elusive as the Fairy Queen.
But I was recently challenged to explain why I return to camp year after year, and I wrestled with this question for months. Words flowed like molasses at first, but when I pictured camp scenes, memories began to flash vividly like some internal video. The music of the voices raised in improvised harmony, stirred my blood. When I close my eyes, this is what I see.
Skyclad bodies leaping in the firelight, whirling figures in flowing robes fanning the flames, drummers beating a frenzied rhythm, Witches dancing their passion for life in this amazingly beautiful world, each heart a blaze of prayer. Young and old, women and men - gay, lesbian, straight, bi and trans - the music moves each to dance in their own way. Each brings to the circle their art, their music, their culture and their own unique voice.
All are welcome to this feast of the spirit. All are welcome to this celebration of sensual world.
Each year, WitchCamps rise up like little Brigadoons across the face of Gaia. Communities form as stars from the scattered dust of our diaspora, each of us drawn by the irresistible power of love, and our belief that magic is real and can transform the world. More than Pagan festivals, WitchCamps are intensive spiritual retreats that are nevertheless great fun. Each camp is created in sacred space and provides a safe venue for practicing magic and exploring the myriad ways to connect to the divine within us all. Each is a place where mundane inhibitions fall away and our true Selves can emerge and be celebrated.
I was drawn to my first Reclaiming WitchCamp by a strong intuition that the experience would change my life in ways that I could not imagine. I only knew that the WitchCamp tradition had been created by Starhawk and her fellow Reclaiming Witches. I was nervous, and I was intrigued, for it had been my reading of The Spiral Dance more than a decade before that had led me to begin to identify myself as a Witch.
I practiced as a solitary for 9 years before my first camp. Frankly, I was afraid that the people I would meet would be too weird. I was a "normal" guy attracted by the religious aspect of Witchcraft and turned my nose up at the trappings. You know, the Goth garb, the knives, the hierarchy and what I imagined was the general strangeness. I told myself this story. That's how I kept myself from finding and accepting my true Self.
My awakening began at my first camp in August of 2001.
I had three desires when I went to camp that year. I wanted to know what Reclaiming Witchcraft was like. I wanted to know what it was like to do ritual with a hundred Witches. I wanted to find out if magic was real. All those desires were fulfilled the first day, but there was so much more. On that first day, I was introduced to my authentic Self and began the long, hard work of reversing the damage that a lifetime of self-repression had wrought. On that first day, I met a beautiful Witch and together we radically changed our lives. On that first day, I traded my khaki shorts for flaming rayon pantaloons. On that first day, I sang and danced with abandon in praise of the Goddess.
Each day of that magical week brought new surprises, new pleasures and blessings. I was given my magical name. I dedicated myself to Aphrodite. I met the people who I would choose as my spiritual and physical family. I was given a vision of the world that I want to live in, a world that I know is possible even in this cynical and acquisitive culture in which we are steeped.
Not since childhood had I made such fast friends. I had never experienced such welcoming, accepting and loving embraces as I received from these strangers who were like long-lost loves. And though we are scattered all over the country, I know that we hold each other in a web of affection and love that is unbreakable.
I have become an organizer helping to manifest my local camp (SpiralHeart) each year because I want to share this treasure with the world. This is the work that I want to do. I want this tradition to live and grow to be here for my children, and for generations yet to come.
Words – they seem so inadequate. The results are more impressive.
When I look into my heart for the feelings that camp memories engender, I realize that of all the people in the world that I love, I have met most of them at camp. Of all the people in the world that I trust, that I admire, that I respect and that I treasure as true friends, I have met most at WitchCamp. When I think of those who have awakened in me a desire to explore the deep recesses of my soul, who have taught me to know and accept myself, and shown me how to reclaim my power to shape my world, they are all camp mates.
But, hey, that’s just me. You should go and see for yourself.
Find out more at http://www.witchcamp.org
Location: Cheverly, Maryland
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