|A ritual honoring Badb at the Retreat|
Some things did remain the same throughout. We saw an amazing mix of people from every possible background, witch and Wiccan, Druid and CR, Avalonion and eclectic, coming together to honor Her with one voice. We saw the same sense of kinship across lines that normally sharply divide, created by the common ground of a shared respect for the Great Queens. And we saw the same spirit of community ensuring that people were taken care of, that jobs were done, that when the unexpected happened there was always someone there to step up and make sure it was covered. Oh, it was far from perfect, and there was frustration and displeasure and things that went entirely off the plan but somehow the diverse strands were woven together anyway.
The first day, as always, was the most chaotic, with people arriving and settling in, the Temple being set up through community effort and donations of material and sacred items (for the duration of the event). There were several great classes the first afternoon that I would have loved to attend, but I was teaching a workshop myself and then participating in the ritual. All of the ritual's at the Retreat are part of a larger arc, first cleansing, then challenging, then blessing; participants face the three Morrigna one at a time and, if circumstances are right and the priestess is able, may face Her in truth as She is channeled, aspected, or otherwise chooses to appear during ritual. The first night's ritual was dedicated to Badb and was very much about releasing and washing away what need to be let go of. The ritual itself was done next to a river and due to unanticipated circumstances started after dark with only a single fire at the center of the ritual space to illuminate the area. I cannot speak for the people who attended but I found it both a test of our commitment to Her and a very sacred experience.
|the main altar in the temple|
The second day began on very little sleep and with a packed schedule ahead. I had two workshops during the day to teach and a second ritual to help with. My first workshop was directly after breakfast and was on the topic of Macha in mythology, always a fun subject. I was able to attend only one workshop all weekend and that was Jhenah Telyndru's class on Morgan and Avalon, but I enjoyed it and learned a new method of meditation called embodiment that I look forward to doing more with. I co-taught a workshop on grounding, centering, and shielding with Mayra Rickey and Melody Legaspi-Seils which I think went very well. Throughout the day I had many great random discussions with people and I both reconnected with old friends and made new ones. The second ritual was for Macha, and was - not surprisingly - the one I anticipated the most since she is the Goddess I am dedicated to. It focused on the theme of facing Her blade and declaring what you would fight for in life. One of my tasks as Her priestess is to carry Her sword in this ritual, and I am always honored to do it.
After ritual there was a community feast and concert by Mama Gina, who is an amazing storyteller and singer that truly, I think, deserves the title of bard. Hearing her perform her song "Ruby" live raised the hair on my arms; its so much more evocative live than recorded (although that is still worth hearing too). There seemed to be a nice feeling of conviviality among everyone as we shared food and great music together. The cake that the caterer, Dawn DeMeo, had prepared for the feast was beyond amazing, and I must add that she made a second smaller cake for those of us who couldn't have the gluten/regular flour version which was equally amazing. (And yes, for anyone wondering, the first pieces went as offerings, to be sure that the Gods and spirits shared the feast too).
|The epic cake from the feast|
Afterwards I had to prep for the final ritual, dedicated to Morrigan as Anu and to people reclaiming their sovereignty. In the ritual people were asked to come forward and place their hands on a stone, representing the stone of sovereignty, and to say out loud if they were ready to reclaim their power. This was meant to be a simple act but as sometimes happens it became a bit more complex. Everyone also received a small rough ruby as a symbol of having gone through the three rituals and claimed a place - symbolic, literal, or however each person chooses to incorporate it - as one of Her ravens. For that, truly is not for us to decide but for the individual to find meaning in, based in how the rituals effected them personally.
In each ritual I did my best to serve Her, and Them, and my community. I wore a small silver pendant, of the type that people keep ashes in to commemorate loved ones; this pendant carries clay from Uaimh na gCat, the Cave of Cats, from Cruachan. The earth was a gift from a friend who visited there long ago, and carefully kept the wet clay that coated her clothing when she came out, saving it as it dried. I felt that having soil from her sacred place present at the rituals was significant for helping to have Her present as we called Her in to a new place. One of Her other priestesses, dedicated to Badb, bled into the river as the river took its due before the first ritual, and in the first Her people called her with chants and shouts and screams. And I truly believe she answered with Her presence.
I received some personal messages through various means throughout the weekend, through an amazing Avalonian priestess and through omens and portents, messages of empowerment and of affirmation. It will not be easy to move forward in the strength other people are telling me I have, or that I know she wants for me but I will try. I will try.
The Morrigan's Call Retreat was once again an amazing experience. I will never cease to be amazed at seeing so many people from so many backgrounds and who follow such different paths coming together in fellowship. Knowing that we can overcome these differences to come together and honor the same Goddesses without argument or judgment gives me such hope. And the irony that a Goddess of War can inspire such unity and fellowship among Her followers is beautiful and joyous and somehow entirely appropriate.
Copyright Morgan Daimler