I'm back from Feri Death Camp, and while it was a wonderful experience it almost killed me.
My first day there I tripped and twisted my ankle. It was very painful and it swelled up for a couple of days. I spent a lot of time hobbling around and being offered various pain killing concoctions, some of which in hindsight I should have taken, if nothing else but for their street value. ;)
The second full day there I started to get sick. This is in all likelihood because of the mold that was present in one of the rooms in the building that was set aside for the teachers. We decided that we couldn't sleep there, and so closed the door (which you had to walk past to get to the other rooms) and decided to use the other two for the four of us. anaar and I ended up sharing a bed which we decided would be the foundation for a good series of rumors about my sexuality. The second morning there I had completely (and I mean *completely*) lost my voice... barely a whisper could escape my lips. After making Kala my voice returned (if only to a frog-like state) and at least I was able to do my work. I had been stressing about it before then, musing that my voice was the only tool I had to offer; so I guess the Goddess decided to teach me a lesson, and one that I think I learned in full. The classes and meditations that I offered were well received and my voice was certainly nothing like what it normally is, teaching me that I have more than just that tool at my disposal.
My morning path was well attended, far more so than I was prepared for so I had to make some last minute adjustments to the final morning's ritual. But it all worked out. My path was about working with the spirits of the dead. Specifically about connecting to their realm, and then helping them cross over, the final class of which was more of a ritual involving Malek Ta'us and the Middle Eastern myth of how he extinguished the fires of Hell. We journeyed first into our personal hell (as put forward by my husband Chas' article for Witch Eye) and then we descended into the underworld dimension of Hell to help trapped souls cross over from that place. It was heavy work and there were more than a few tears shed, including my own.
The Saturday night ritual really affected me deeply. The only plan was that Karina would do a possession with Ana, and I would be possessed by the Arddu. While possessed, I/Arddu would walk the circle looking at the ritual participants and I got the distinct impression that he was examining them... looking closely not at their bodies, but at their energy fields. Some were taken from the circle and brought before Ana, presumably to hear her counsel. Others the Arddu spoke to directly, mostly about darkness and fear, of which he said were his food, inviting the participants to release it into him so that he was "fed". During all of this he/I began to dance, although I couldn't for the life of me tell you exactly what it was like. I felt exaggerated movements and various degrees of energy, which culminated in him addressing the entire circle, inviting them to release their fears into him. I remember seeing and feeling dark, smoke-like tendrils of power emanating from the participants and into my body (at which point the part of me that was still me uneasily trusted that the Arddu knew what he was doing with all of that power). We then moved over to Ana, who lifted her veil and received all that power into her, first with a breath and then sealed with a kiss. (Which I'm sure will elicit even more speculation about my sexuality!) I then collapsed at her feet, and I think she then addressed the circle. We then moved outward while she spoke and eventually moved into a dance in which the participants were asked to "dance the dance of their own death". Part spiral dance, part ecstatic madness, I remember being in the center of the circle, underneath the black veil and dancing clockwise, looking outward to see the firelight broken by shadowy figures moving counter-clockwise around us. This eventually morphed into a foot stomping, high energy dance that merged into a cone of power which I assume was the moment in which all that pain and fear was released and transformed. I don't know, actually. I was only the co-pilot, and for the most part I was simply relaxing, my feet up on the dashboard, just letting the Arddu do his thing. I have only done possession with him a few times before, and this was definitely the strongest that I have experienced. It was one of those times that either tells you that magic is real, or that you are quite insane. Or both. Yes... probably both.
Michele (mrj15) hosted the ancestor ritual on Sunday night, which was amazing. While she has a casual style, she really has a command of the room. We called the ancestors to come and join with us and my grandmother came to visit, as did Victor. I thought it might sound a bit cheesy, but I introduced them and my grandmother was very fascinated with whatever Victor was saying. (I later heard that Karina (loveandpower) had a similar experience, so it sort of validated it a bit for me.)
As Michele already reported, she and I upheld the tradition began at the last Feri Camp by staying up all night the final night. We laughed so hard we nearly choked. And we had some intense conversations... about Feri... politics... the world. When we started on Britney and Anna Nicole we knew we had gone to far. It was fun... but also a bit of a horrorshow. ;)
I met so many wonderful and caring witches at this camp, both student's and Initiates. Karina's students were powerful, intelligent, and responsible, definitely a credit to the Craft.
In retrospect, I see that everything was as it should be. My injury and my illness were lessons in my own power, but also in how my ego steps in the way of my work (i.e. My ego was bruised because, dammit, I'm supposed to be a powerful teacher and how can I embody that power when I'm hobbled and froggy?) Definitely Kala fodder. It was a good lesson for me.
In other news, I decided on a name for my particular line of Feri: BlueRose. It's both a tip of the hat to my Bloodrose-derived origins, while moving outward into the realm of my own trance experiences, in which I have seen the blue rose as my own Holy Daemon (God Self). The blue rose is the ever unfolding mystery; the holy grail which we strive ever toward, but is just out of reach. It feels very faery to me.
So I'm home now... rested... but still exhausted because I am sick. Happy to be home, but also hopeful that I will get to see everyone again soon. Point me in the direction of the next camp!