SpiralHeart Witchcamp 2018

Events

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Join the collective of witches known as SpiralHeart for their annual Witchcamp in the depths of Artemis, PA from July 16th – July 22nd! Every year, community members vote on a myth to open together in sacred space that will allow for deep, meaningful transformation within each witch and all of the Worlds. Read on to find out more about this event from SpiralHeart’s event page:

2018 Intention: Transforming amidst forces greater than ourselves, we steadfastly turn the Pentacle for all the worlds.

GENERAL INFO

Spiralheart Camp is a week long, magical, intensive in the Reclaiming Tradition of Earth based spirituality. Participants spend a week in sacred space exploring, living, and participating in deep, powerful ritual with a supportive community. You will have the opportunity to study magic and ritual with like minded folks in a truly stunning setting. Camp is hosted in South Central Pennsylvania on the beautiful land of Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary. Witchcamp is offered to all persons (18 and over) at all levels of experience. Newcomers can learn the basic skills of magic and ritual, while those with more experience can deepen their practice and hone their skills. We aim to interweave intensive daily pathwork with evening rituals to facilitate the transformation of self, and world.

STORY

This year we are working with the story of Cerridwen and the Pentacle of the Great Turning. Our Ritual Arc Team (affectionately called the RAT) spends all year working with the story to craft the energetic arc, and evening rituals, of camp. Engaging with the camp story early in the year is a great way to begin sinking into the magic of camp. Once you’ve read the full story there are lots of ways to start connecting with others who will be sharing your camp experience. You can head over to our Facebook page to keep up to date on camp info, and join the discussion. In years past we’ve even had special Facebook groups for connecting with the energies of the story; this year, there may be one designed around connecting with Cerridwen! More details to come soon.

PATHS

Each year Spiralheart is privileged to offer a number paths of varying course material and skill level. In 2018 you will be able to choose from the following paths:

FACILITATORS

Spiralheart is proud to function as a Camper-Led Camp. This means that we believe in recognizing the skill inherent in our own community, and doing our best to invest in our community members. Most of our workshops and paths are facilitated by folks who volunteer to do so, and who are members of our own, local, community. Because we also believe in broadening our range of experience and skill base as much as possible, we also try to bring in mentors from outside of Spiralheart to act as Community Enrichment. This year one of our Guest Mentors will be facilitating a Ritual Energetics Path, while the other will help facilitate a path on Dispelling White Supremacy. Click on any of the names below to find out more about our 2018 Facilitation Team.

REGISTRATION & COST

Registration can be submitted online HERE and payment can be submitted via PayPal. The registration fee includes all lodging, workshops, activities and food for the week. We do our best to balance the individual needs of our community members with the necessity of remaining a financially viable non-profit organization. Every year the Spiralheart board meets and decides upon the fee for that year. In order to ensure camp is accessible to people of all economic levels, we offer a number of different options for those in need of financial assistance— including a limited number of scholarships, work-exchange, and discounted registration for those who qualify. Details are available on the registration form, which will open up in late March.”

Stay up to date regarding this camp, community meetings and all of their magical happenings by visiting Spiralheart’s Facebook page or Spiralheart’s website!

 

 

Taking Action

Events, Mundane Magic, Tarot

It has been over one year since my last post and I find myself in a state of reflection. 2017 was a time of great transition: uprooting myself and moving twice; serving as a ritualist for a Reclaiming witchcamp; beginning an apprenticeship with a seasoned astrologer; adopting a kitten and shifting my daily life to embrace deep levels of intimacy with another person. Sure blog posts could have been written that narrated this journey of new magic in the mundane (and trust me, it was there) but these were things that I felt oddly compelled to keep to myself. I chose not to over analyze my experiences, remaining as present as possible as everything unfolded.

However there is something calling to be shared about where I have been, where I am now and what is coming to be. The story that connects the ends of that bridge happened last summer during a festival where I was offering tarot services to the public.

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Doing this outside of pagan circles is always interesting as society tends to associate this work with fantasy movies and phonies declaring when your doorbell will ring next. Most people came and went, likely more excited about the fire juggler nearby, except for two visitors passing through whose eyes I caught.

It was an aunt and her niece who was about seven years old. When they slowly made their way over to my table, I assumed that it was the older woman who was interested in some advice to pair with the drink in her hand. I was stunned to watch her bend down to the girl and ask, “do you want to talk to her about your dad?” As the three of us chatted I was told that recently her father had passed on and a tarot-witch might be someone who she could talk to about death. The young one, seemingly unfazed by her question, plopped herself in the seat across from me. The aunt promised she would be nearby (allowing for some privacy) and told us that we should let her know when the reading was finished.

Normally, I do not perform readings for anyone under the age of 18. However, my agreement with the event organizer was to spend just ten minutes with each individual that was interested and willing to donate some funds, plus I had the consent of her caretaker. So I handed the deck over to be mixed and prepared to do some deep listening. When it finally came time to ask the tarot-witch a question, I found myself delightfully surprised:

“Are fairies real?”

This charmed me for two very specific reasons. First, I had just returned from co-facilitating SpiralHeart‘s annual witchcamp where we Worked the Ballad of Tam Lin: a myth of love between human and fae (so I certainly had some opinions.) Second, this kid chose not to do what her aunt had suggested. She did what made most sense to her: she asked the witch about magic.

We both decided that we knew fairies were real, but that finding them could be tricky. So we consulted the deck about where and how they could be found. The Empress arose and we learned that being creative was a signal for them to join her. The Nine of Cups revealed to us that making wishes was a good idea. We pulled another and she just kept smiling: likely satisfied that a grown up confirmed something she Knew to be true. She politely said thank you before she walked off with her aunt and I was left alone with a feeling of pure love swelling in my heart.

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As months have passed and I witness the world today, I have been wondering how our interaction will serve that girl in the future (or if she will remember it at all.) We are living in a time of national trauma. The news cycle reminds us daily of how our leaders are betraying us. Kids are murdering each other in the hallways with military-grade guns. Storms due to climate change are devastating entire communities. Healthcare is denied to those in poverty and we are regularly taunted by the threat of nuclear war. Hopelessness has become a disease that seems to be swallowing the vitality of so many people.

What about the next generation? What do they have to work towards and dream into being? How will they relate to or use magic? Will they be able to find it amidst everything else demanding their attention?

I recently read that witchcraft was originally gifted to the poor from the Gods as a way for them to fight back against the oppression of unjust rulers. This idea has me thinking back to spells I have done, difficult conversations I have had and choices I have made among friends that have empowered me and created change in my surrounding community. I would not have these memories if it was not for what I have read about witchcraft, the lessons of priestesses, refining my magical skills and connecting with those who are willing to stand up for what they believe in. I am grateful every day that I found the witches’ road. I know that it is my responsibility to give back to those who are doing their best to find the same path towards right-sized pride and power-from-within.

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This is the year I break out of my comfort zone. This is the year that I initiate alliances and create opportunities for others to learn. This is the year that I say yes and take action. This is the year that the gifts that have been given to me must move; because there is a generation on the rise that desperately needs guidance and support. Faeries, magic and immanence need to be acknowledged by humans so that our Work together may be strengthened.

Brave leadership is required or else those being told they “have no power” and “resisting does not matter” will actually begin to believe those lies.

I am scheduling events online and in-person this year with other witches from around the world: offering them to everyone who is willing to do the Work. I am also nurturing a local community of Reclaiming witches in Pittsburgh, PA with other priestesses so that our city will be resilient amidst conflict, empowered to speak up, willing to demand better and welcoming to all.

Stay tuned and take action, because now may be your time too.

Sharing Experience

Mundane Magic

Recently, I have found myself being asked questions about witchcraft by curious, non-pagans more than usual. Sometimes it’s a late night conversation with a co-worker, other times it is a pre-planned lunch date with a priest who is genuinely interested and supportive of my spirituality. The most common topics have been about dreams, tarot cards, astrology, numerology and intuition, but it feels like what I am really being asked is “what is the right way to experience these things?”

This is where I believe some people think my religion falls flat. There is no copyrighted text that reveals all secrets to those willing to seek them out or guru that will tell them for sure the way our Universe works. Witchcraft is an experiential spiritual practice and every single person’s experience varies. So while I will admit that I love rambling on about anything that has to do with the occult (and I keep my soapbox shined and ready JUST in case it’s needed) it doesn’t feel particularly helpful to fill in the hazy spaces of someone else’s mystery.

It can be nice to have something to relate to though, and that’s where I feel my perspective is useful. If I am asked “what is magic?” I can think back to the times where I felt magic and begin to share personal experiences that someone who doesn’t chant at an altar or cast a circle before driving can identify with. So how might I explain magic through my experiences in 2016?

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In the spring and summer, I felt so many things poking and growing inside of me… and this gestation was incredibly uncomfortable. While I have never carried a human child in my womb, my center has definitely served as fertile ground for potential. I know the magical feeling of being filled with something big that has yet to exist in this world. I have been a storehouse for things that I had a role in creating and taken responsibility for bringing them to life with zero guarantees of what they will become. This pregnancy of sorts required patience, inner-listening and a willingness to allow the wee cherub to take shape without trying so hard to control it’s growth.

So like any mother that Knows something big is coming, but has NO idea what it is… I asked myself questions that were more stressing than reassuring: What is it? How can I plan for this? Do I need to be doing more than I’m doing? Can I trust that what will come out of me has a purpose? What if it destroys everything I have created up until this point? Am I ready for a responsibility of this magnitude? Just waiting and wondering until the delivery…

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The catalyst that burst me wide open was initiated by deep personal Work I did at workshopswitchcamp, and rituals over the past few months. These special events served as opportunities for me to take a break from daily life to ask my soul some difficult questions in safe, supportive communities. The ironic part about this process is that my questions were met with even MORE questions, but somehow lead the way to the answer I was looking for…. Questions that sounded something like this: What is the consequence of desire? ✴ In this world, what work is mine? ✴ Will you allow your passion to inform your wisdom? ✴ What is your gift to the world? ✴ What will you do with the responsibility of knowing that there will never be another human being just like you ever again? ✴

The whole process magically inspired me to take ownership of the things I already know, but have yet to claim as Truth. It was the act of lighting my spirit on fire with fresh energy and solid conviction.

When I allowed myself to own my Truth, it set off a switch somewhere in The Universe. It was as if this shift of consciousness translated into the things around me clicking right into place. It felt ridiculous, laughable and almost too-perfect… like an over-the-top romantic comedy where everyone but the main characters foresee the ending.

This magic makes itself known to me as a sudden realization that all the pieces that feel separate are actually connected. Those things that happened earlier? That feeling? The idea that popped into my head a few times then faded to the background? It all lead to a gift that is more stunning than I could have imagined or made all by myself…. Yet I know that I had a role in making it a reality. It’s what lead to late hours, a jam-packed schedule of joy and exhausted hands that clack on this very keyboard.

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This year’s energy is now asking me to take action and I am finding myself in peak creation mode. Every hour that I have available is being used to manifest my ideas and work towards making my deep desire a sustainable reality. It’s the effort that doesn’t feel like work; I am giving birth to the favorite parts of myself and the source is endless. I will continue to do this until I am gifted another clue that will alert me that it’s time for the next step. This magic is faith that whatever comes next is an opportunity to level up.

My experiences have helped me to understand that practicing magic is a choice to train one’s eyes, ears and heart to recognize one’s Work as it presents itself. As much as I wish that The Universe would just scrawl my destiny in a book on sale for $19.99, I have found It’s messages to be etched on the walls of my soul. Somehow though, I have found this to be the most worthy text of life guidance I have ever ✴read✴ and each new paragraph is even better than the last.

Unflinching Prayer

Jewelry, Mundane Magic

I have allowed myself to sink into the story of Medusa, which is the myth we will be Working at this year’s SpiralHeart Witchcamp. It tells a tale of shame, betrayal, seclusion, authenticity, acceptance and sacrifice. (Feel free to read the whole story here.)

So often we are told stories of heroes. These (often male) protagonists answer the call to adventure, slay the demons, get the girl and score a kingdom. But this time, the monster is the hero. She is grotesque. Her eyes are lethal. Onlookers fear Her, but the darkness of her nature is powerful. And that’s exactly where the truth lies in this myth: where there is fear, there is power.

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

 

We will gather together in July to open this myth and live it from the lens of our own personal experience. We apply the qualities of these characters to our own tendencies: When have I been considered a monster by others? We feel our response to their actions: What emotions arise when I’m all alone? We realize that the story of the Gods might not be too different from our own.

Prayer can be a really useful way to cope with accept these deep truths, which might be one of the reasons why I have made a few rosaries lately.

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“Sacred Depths” rosary by VasalisaTheWitch

 

Originally used in the Catholic tradition, these beads of prayer feel like a useful way to connect with the divine to manifest a desire. Same practice, new poetry.

SpiralHeart has chosen it’s intention for this year, which has been a warm blanket for my spirit. It reminds me that this Work has a purpose when I feel lost in the story. Every bead on the chain holds this carefully crafted statement of intent; as I run my fingers along each one, I am chanting transformation:

“We seek the Monster’s Unflinching Gaze. We are willing to Look, and risk the Seeing. Striving to hold the divine and monstrous both, we turn the gaze outward. We listen deeply, as allies, and work together to dismantle Privilege and Oppression.”

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“Steady Eye of the Serpent” rosary created by VasalisaTheWitch

 

Made of a variety of Serpentine stones, silver wire and chain, as well as a glass snake-eye pendant; this piece inspires integration. It is a softening of my rigid ego that strives for perfection. It’s also a reminder that the darkness that lies within me is an influential force that I cannot disown. As a wise witch once said, “oh honey, if you deny your Shadow you give up your power to shape it.” A lovely reminder that where there is a willingness to accept what is, there is the potential for transformation.

Kind Reintegration

Mundane Magic, Poetry

I’m finally sitting on my couch at home, adjusting to life outside of the bubble we created for one magical week.

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

 

Reintegrating from camp is similar to resting after a waltz. During the dance we move and are moved: embracing partnership, fluidity, synchronistic flow. Completely in the moment, it feels like nothing else exists. Then the song ends and the spell has shifted. What just happened? Now what?

I have yet to process everything. I don’t have words to sum up the experience at this point in time. Both of these things are normal and I’m not rushing the process. But while the sparks still fill my heart, I’m allowing them to inspire my hands to write. The following is an ode to my Tejas witches of Wonderland:

As Light divides the dust ahead,
Darkness slides between.

A middle marking post stands stiff,
loyal to all truths.

My spirit’s heels sink deep in dirt,
Stories clouding sight.

But crossroads call, the bellow clear,
what a magnet, choice.

My heart’s the part that holds the map,
Paradox, it pumps.

Eyelids collide, chest opens wide,
feelings: lead the way. 

Call of the Crossroads by Vasalisa
Samhain 2015

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

Witchcamp Whispers

Events, Mundane Magic, Poetry

I’m headed to the south in a few days to attend Tejas Witchcamp.

Witchcamps are both completely unique and reassuringly familiar. Reclaiming camps will often choose a myth or a story as a lens for campers to experience, as well as an intention to help facilitate personal transformation. These camps are an opportunity for witches from all over the world to come together, raise energy and learn about themselves from one another. I could describe the two camps that I have attended (prior to this one) as: transformative, difficult, ecstatic, necessary. There are “workshops.” There are “vendors.” There are “get-togethers.” The rest is a delicious mystery to those that have yet to experience one.

This time, I get to experience Samhain in Texas through the filter of Alice and Wonderland…

 

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

 

Down the rabbit hole and into the land of our Ancestors to seek truth through connection and respect.

We witches do these things, you see.

My intention for this camp is to connect with my flavor of prose and write some poetry as I weave my spirit with the Unknown. The following is an ode to the parts of myself that I hope to cultivate: the part that puts words together in an agreeable arrangement and the part that allows inspiration in even though I cannot always understand it.

Whispers waft toward humming ears
Our distance less than tidy,
Connection’s a hiss from darkness
The slithering song of fate.

Our veil’s silk sewn mystery
Pulled back for prying eyes,
Vision strikes and penetrates
Venom of truth seeps then steeps.

Slithering Song of Fate” by Vasalisa
Samhain 2014

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IMAGE: VasalisaTheWitch

 

Camps happen only a few times a year, which makes this a very special event for me. Some of you might be thinking, “this doesn’t sound like mundane magic… This sounds like ‘REAL’ magic!” And you would be right. Going to witchcamp is not something that happens every single day. So where’s the mundane in this entry?

The mundane is recognizing what I want: community and adventure. It’s committing: making the scheduling arrangements and paying for it (even if that means living modestly for a while.) It’s allowing myself the time and space to have an experience that is desirable without guilt. It’s not just saying what I want to do, but actually doing the thing that invigorates me and makes me feel whole.

How do you allow wholeness?