Face your Fears Day

Face your Fears Day through Grouch Day and Day of Rural Women

I think we’re in the middle of peak color where we are, it is spectacular, even when it rains or is overcast, but even more so when the sun hits the trees. The morning glories and Sweet William, bless them, still bloom- I don’t think we’ve had a hard frost yet, but the ferns are turning from gold to tan, and the poison ivy from scarlet to maroon (I feel that there’s a word associated with blood that describes it, but I’m spacing it- I’m spacing a lot more words recently and resent the heck out of it).

Indeed, I spaced writing the letter last week, for which I apologise. I didn’t even think about it until the next day when I was packing the car, and trying to remember everything I’d intended to get done before leaving. And this week I continue my inertia, and add more days tardiness, for which I beg your pardon. Somehow each task seems to insist that it has priority… until I consider the next.
Most of last week was spent in the last month’s planning for Changing Times-Changing Worlds, and the last week of planning for Twilight Covening. I had thought that since I had done the same clan last year with Jane, all I needed do was go over the program with Chris LaFond- this year’s co-leader, to spot what if any differences there would be. Last year Chris, a professional astrologer as well as extraordinary harpist and college professor (spanish language), had come in as a guest speaker on astrology. This year Jane, although running the Walrus clan (focusing on hut and hearth) likewise volunteered to come and teach rune-casting and seed casting while her clan was doing its kitchen shift.
Saturday Chris came up to go over the program with me, and our thoughts on the balance between giving the history and theoretical basis of divination and the teaching of assorted techniques was very similar. The greatest difference between working with Chris and Jane was that he understands the Earth Spirit focus on ritual much better than Jane and helped me integrate our curriculum in with the various Twilight Covening goals better- whereas Jane was far more relaxed about it.
It will probably not surprise you to hear that knowing that Chris, whose opinion is important to me, and who’d never been here before, was coming, I spent a good deal of effort on Friday cleaning the front hall, kitchen, and bath, as my housework- always relaxed- gets worse when I’m involved in other projects. Chris was over in the morning, and in the afternoon Steve came by. Since September was so busy, it had been a long time since he’d been up, and we had a pleasant chat- and, I’m not sure how it came up but we put on the pilot of Star Trek the Next Generation.
My kids had been oblivious to the charms of Star Trek until the recent movie came out- at which point curiosity spurred them to check out the original, and they discovered that even with the old filming techniques, old styles of nearly everything, it has it’s virtues and appeals. I think it may be Kat’s quest to create a “science fiction quote game” that spurred her on, but she fell into STNG (Steve gave me the collection of the original for Yule and Next Generation for my birthday last year), and I must say it’s nice to have my taste if not validated, at least better understood by the kids.
This was helpful as Kat seems to have hurt her back hunching over her sewing machine last month, and spent much of the last two weeks taking aspirin and lying in bed with hot backs on her back, and as she got better, when vertical, binding and bracing it. If I were not very aware that doctors are really not very good at doing anything about back aches (bed rest being the usual best treatment) I’d consider taking her in to be looked at.
Willow has been baby sitting for Avi and Trevor off and on the last couple of weeks. Avi has gotten a job at the Verizon store in Milford, and is having a hard time finding a baby sitter so she can leave her kids. It is a hard fact of modern life that parents may well be making less than $10 an hour and yet be obliged to pay more than $5 an hour to get someone to watch their kids- thus reducing the effective benefit of leaving them to $3-5 an hour, or only a hundred or so dollars a week more than if they didn’t work, and yet, not only do they need that to break even, they much have the history of employment to be able to show when the kids no longer need watching 24/7. Before Willow agreed to fill in occasionally (most of the time I think the Harts attempt to reduce the need for sitters by off-setting their hours), the last sitter Avi found would neither feed, nor change the kids diapers. Willow found Bianca’s sticking her hand inside her diaper to scratch rather nasty, but if she’d gotten a rash by having been let sit in wet for five hours, one can understand why she’d itch, poor thing. Willow reads and plays and tries to avoid having Bianca and Kierin veg in front of the TV, and she’s willing to be caught up when Avi get’s her check rather than asking to be paid day by day.
I discovered that Avi was working there when I took my cell phone in to find out why it wasn’t taking and holding a charge and found Avi there with Shannon (who’s been there since we got these phones). Looking inside they saw that the signal dot said that the phone had gotten wet. I know I never dropped it in any puddles (they told me that carrying it in my cleavage can do it- sweat is enough). Well poot! But Shannon had upgraded and just sent me her old phone to replace it- although I have yet to figure out how to program it to my number. When something technological is hard, I have a bad tendency to just put it off.
Sunday I managed to get in a run to the recycling center before going up to Dartmouth with Honour to the Williamsfair- the Dartmouth Medieval Enthusiasts annual demo. It was fun watching the fighting, and talking to the prospective new members, and on the way up and down I got to talk to Honour. She’s having to defend her lifestyle again- a social worker has said she has hoarding behavior. I guess it’s “hoarding” when you only have an apartment and still can up applesauce or whatever you find on sale and put the food under your bed (or have a home business and no where else to store the stock but in your closet). It’s not like she’s keeping stacks of papers or string… although she has adopted a lot of books and videos, and I’ve read that the average American household only has one bookcase of books. Good heavens! What a thought! It’s amazing how the well off who have the ability to toss out things and then replace them with new stuff when they feel like it seem eager to tell the poor that they have no right to save something that they can’t afford to replace for later use, so it will “look less cluttered”. She also has become infested with bedbugs and has had to bag many things and get stuff packaged for exterminators to come and try and get rid of them. What a pain!
We also listened to the Terror of History- one of my audio courses (which I’ve now finished) on Mysticism, Heresy and Witchcraft. It’s such a complex subject. I avoided it for years. Oddly enough I found myself disagreeing with some of his statements. They seem based on research from earlier in the century which has been updated in more recent studies- although he did know about Carlos Ginsburg’s work. All these years I’ve felt so badly about not having a degree, but more and more I’m coming to accept that diploma or not, I have a great deal of knowledge. I suppose it may come down to what Mother used to say- all a diploma proves is that you can finish what you start. Still, I think the professor quoted some exaggerated numbers about the number killed, although there were some pretty bad instances- and, optimist that I am, I may prefer to accept the less awful conclusions from the witch craze.
As the fall has progressed and cooler weather come in, I am learning the joys of little aches and pains surprising me. For some reason my side started hurting- was that because I was standing funny because of my knee hurting? It’s a downward spiral. I am annoyed to find myself “hitching myself” up stairs like Walter Brennen in old cowboy movies. Swell. But then, I’m years into the cycle of taking Glucosamine and Chondrointin for a few months until I lapse because I have no pains, and then get back to taking it again. When aching joints remind me to take that, I also go back to taking my cod liver oil, calcium for my bones, silica for my nails and hair, B vitamins for energy, etc. Of course large doses of vitamins also irritate one’s bladder and I have to go a lot more which is another reminder that I’m getting old. In Wyrd Sisters Prachett refers to the Maiden, the Mother, and the … the Other One. Maybe we should do a workshop on “the Other One” (that no one wants to talk about).
Over the weekend we figuratively held our breaths as Megan waited for the biopsy to come back on a lesion on her hand. Happily, when the results came in on Monday, it was benign- it must still be removed, and she, as an artist, is looking for a surgeon who can do it without callously impairing her livelihood. Who cares if you can’t do what makes your life worth living as long as “I’ve Saved You From Cancer by removing a non-cancerous growth?” (OK, I probably project negative attitudes on the large unknown medical profession based on a small sample.) I also got a packet from a charity that’s supposed to be helping Autistics. “We don’t want your money, but could you please send these requests out to your neighbors?” What they didn’t say was that they expected me to then personally collect the money and send it back and do follow-up phone calls. I sent out the literature and in the place where I got to put in a personal request, I suggested that my neighbors look up the group on the internet before they sent any money. I did, and I was left wondering how much of what they collect actually goes to the charity they claim.
Sometime during the weekend the water pressure disappeared, so we shut off the (hot) water pump, and Monday called the plumber. It seems that doing a huge amount of laundry had simply emptied the cistern- we were out of water, which rains gradually helped. The plumber said, as he’s been saying every time he’s come over for years, that we MUST replace the water pump which is decades old- and I fear that this time it’s true. When it got hot this time the seal seems to have been damaged, so that it’s leaking onto the cellar floor. That’s not a good way to keep the cistern full. I hate replacing old stuff that lasted a really long time with stuff that only lasts a few years. Willow replaced the fixture in the upstairs bathroom- again. We’ve replaced it a half dozen times since Ælfwine died- and the new ones just keep breaking. We had the electrician replace it once, and it didn’t last any longer- just cost $80 instead of $8. But the new fixtures just break. It’s shameful.
Most of the week I spent getting ready for Twilight Covening. I got sent a list of who’d been assigned to our clan and invited them to the yahoo group. I made each of the clan members a set of runesticks, and Chris and I divided the printing up between us. Luckily there were only 8 clan members this time, because when I added it all up, the folders we gave them had more than 100 pages of copying in each one. Chris took the black and white pages- which he ran off at work, and I did the color pages because I had that ability. As much as I could I made a single copy of anything that I only needed to display- like the images of a liver, and the liver divination charts from Rome and Mesopotamia. This year I added a new sheet: internet sources. With that I was able to reduce the actual number of pages I had to print out. (“100 plus is reduced?” I hear you ask)
The basic outline of the program was this-
The first kind of “divination” is simply learning about the world. Things like when a doctor looks at symptoms and signs and does medical diagnosis, or a meterologist studies the weather patterns, or handwriting analysis, or many other studies are simply learning to read how the world works. This extends to palmistry and such.
The next kind of divination is figuring out how to understand our psychic abilities. Just as we learn to differentiate between heat and pressure, between textures and different flavors, and tell whether what we see out of the corner of our eye is there or is our mind filling in a pattern of what we expect to be there, we can learn to recognize (better) what we perceive psychically. As with artistic or athletic talent or various kinds of intelligence, individuals have these abilities to greater or lesser extents- but they also can be enhanced- a lot- by training and instruction. We started with dousing, because that’s pretty universally available, then we moved on to psychometry, which encorporates the important lesson of learning to accept what comes to you- because it may be valid whether you recognize it or not- we were supposed to move up to scrying, but that got crowded out of our the schedule.
The next thing we addressed was symbols and symbolic vocabulary. Just as we have to teach children to recognize the letters that represent sounds, and what the names of colors are, images (tones, scents, etc.) are powerful communicators between the conscious and unconscious brain. The reason we had Chris as a guest speaker last year was because so much of the Western tradition is bound up in the vocabulary of Astrology. Palmistry uses it, and Alchemy which also uses the language of the Qaballah, and the northern areas use the runes, and there are associations with numbers and all sorts of other symbols- all of which get layered and combined. All of which simply give us a way to understand and discuss these concepts.
Once you have a symbolic language, we can get into the areas of synchronicity, and quantum mechanics- how the observer effects what he observes, and how sortilage (casting or choosing lots) works. There’s also the question of other worlds- when we are talking to God, or the gods, or the ancestors, or ghosts, or other spirits- to whom are we talking (and if we get answers, who’s answering, and how useful and reliable is what we hear)? I think I was more organized this year- either by virtue of having done it before, or because Chris is a college professor with 20 years of teaching under his belt to help organize it. (I preen myself because he didn’t offer much by way of correction, so I must have already have gotten it fairly well organized.)

Aside from the lesson preparations, assembling all my divination toys (tools), and books (I was relieved to discover that they weren’t still packed from last year- although I haven’t gotten them back on the shelves yet!), there were other preparations to make. I discovered that of warm clothing, I didn’t really have five outfits that were free of stains or rips- darn. (I got a few new shirts, and some fabric to make some new skirts.)
Also the clan leaders come in a day early, and the kitchen isn’t feeding everyone so it’s pot luck. Luckily while trying to consolodate the freezers I noticed some leftover dolmas from Kat’s kitchen and took those (sadly, they were still frozen when I got there). Last year I took one of my mabon loaves, as long as I was taking dough for the Visioning Ritual, so this year I wanted to bring it again. I’d also told Jane I’d bring her rabbits.
This year is the first year I wasn’t assisting or co-leading a clan with Jane. She was working with Ulf, and they were doing “Walrus Clan” which explores hunt and hearth. While Ulf took the guys out into the woods all night (which I figure had to have been fairly traumatic for city boys- still, they asked for it) exploring the spiritual aspects of hunting, Jane had the ladies exploring the spiritual aspects of cooking and nurturing: they prepared a welcome feast for the hunters when they returned. I gave her rather a hard time because there was no actual hunting involved. While the feast consisted of a huge haunch of roast venison and venison stew and a wild mushroom soup and roast rabbits- they were all prepared from ready to use ingredients. Last spring Jane asked me if I could provide the rabbits and I said sure (as we were practically swimming in rabbits last spring). However, breeding them didn’t work this summer- and I had become convinced that we’d picked up a breeding trio of three males this spring. When I looked, we had only six rabbits. I called around to everyone I knew who raised rabbits- but most people have switched over to the little ones that sell as pets. I really didn’t want to kill off my breeding stock- but if they weren’t breeding, well, why not? Finally I took all my rabbits over to Vicki and she showed me (again) how to sex them, and we picked which “dud” males to cull and eat.
When all the reservations were in, Jane’s clan had gotten sixteen- probably because it split to an indoor and outdoor group, and she’d asked if I could bring four rabbits not two. I had to tell her two was all I could manage- but they were big. It’s a good thing I didn’t have four- after their feast, they sent the leftovers up to the dining hall for everyone else to help themselves, and there was still a lot of rabbit. Heck, there was still about 8-10 pounds of meat on the venison roast! But that meant that Wednesday I was driving around with looking for and with rabbits and Thursday morning I was dressing them out. Sadly, I had a harder time than I used to do. I am noticeably weaker than I am used to being, and that made it more difficult. (At any rate, that’s probably why I spaced doing the letter last week.)

I left Thursday afternoon with quite a full van, and didn’t quite get there before it got dark. I try not to drive after dark. We had the potluck supper, and a leaders meeting where Deirdre went over what the ritual was going to be about- still very vague at that time. The cabin for Snowy Owl Clan had sleeping bags and pillows and towels and stuff all over it. Someone suggested it might have been done on purpose to display what an “in-use” cabin looked like. It’s hard to believe that people would desert that much stuff. It was like those weird “where did they go” mysteries. Then when I was taking out the food for the pot luck, I inadvertently closed the back hatch (which can only be opened with a screwdriver from the inside). So after the meeting and dinner, I just shifted stuff, and wiggled and squirmed to the point where I could get into the back (which is hard because it was so full, and the back seat has head rests that go nearly up to the ceiling, leaving a hole much more suited to a person a hundred pounds lighter than I am crawling over it. I shall leave that image to your imagination- try to keep my skirts down.) And I did, in fact jimmy the lock and get my bedding and clothes inside so I could go to bed- although it probably took a half hour. (This will become important later.)
The next morning I got up eager for a hot shower, as we’d been avoiding showering at home while we waited for the cistern to recover (Willow also took the laundry out to the Laundromat.) First I went to the kitchen and made my loaves of mabon bread (sweet saffron dough with raisins, cherries, apricots and almonds in cinnamon and cardamom sugar), and set them to rise. This also allowed the sun to warm the air up from about 40º to 45º. Then I took my towel and eagerly approached the showers. I should not have been surprised, as the camp has composting toilets to discover that they have “water saving” showers. You pull down on a chain to turn the water on, and it turns off the instant you release it. With the chilly air pouring in over the top of the stall, when ever the hot water stopped it was somewhat distressing. Yes, I know it’s better to wet down, lather up, then rinse off- but I couldn’t help recalling that these showers were intended to be used during the summer months- not in mid-October! My first adventure.
A camp representative showed up with broom and garbage bags and simply tossed in all the mystery items from our cabin. I snagged an hungarian cookbook (and noted that he adopted the very nice cooler chest on wheels that I’d dumped the water out of). We also asked him to change the batteries in the smoke alarm because it had chirped all night as they are wont to do when the batteries are low. I slept through it just fine, but figured other people might not. He said he would- and at least it wasn’t chirping for the rest of the weekend.
Chris and I then had to put all the massive amounts of printing into the 8 folders I’d brought. Last year I’d had paper that came with three holes- but this year we brought a three hole punch and had to do them two or three at a time. And there was another meeting- about the same as the last only more people were there, the leaders who hadn’t been able to take Thursday off. We also started to make the props for the ritual. One thing that happened in it was that each person got a bag to hang around his or her neck with a rock in it. Later in the ritual they were able to take it out and the rocks each had FEAR written on it, because the ritual was about getting rid of your fears. Deirdre had asked if anyone had bags, and I was able to tell her where to get them cheap. Then we had to cut cord into lengths to hang them from. I was shocked that I was the only one who seemed to know the trick of finding a table or desk the right length and wrapping the whole line around it and cutting all the lengths at once, rather than measuring and cutting each piece one at a time. When I’d whipped through that I did the same with skeins and skeins of embroidery floss (to be braided into bracelets), and help cut fabric into 170 blindfolds in different four colors.
Oh- the bread took until lunch before it had risen enough to bake, so I popped it in the oven, and went out to put my car in the parking lot. Like SCA events, they want the feeling to be timeless, and all modern stuff hidden away. Sadly, as had occurred to me while I was extricating my stuff from the car in the wee hours- I had run down the battery. I got a jump from a friendly stranger- Dave, and ran the engine for 20 minutes or so because the parking was only a half a mile away. When I tried to drive- it stalled, but had gained enough to start again. I drove to the parking, then down to the beach and back- but stalled out each time I released the gas. Finally I drove back out to the main road (2.5 miles down the camp road) and only stalled a few times. I did it again without stalling, and finally parked. To discover that the bread had burned. Oh darn. So much for showing off! (Some people ate it and said they liked it anyway.)
Around four the clan members started arriving. While I was out driving one had shown up, looked around and gone home. I thing she was the one who had written me that she was coming from Maine, but originally lived in New Orleans. I think it may have been the gorgeous (low 60ºs with a breeze) weather and unheated cabins that scared her off. Most of our clan had been to the camp before and had brought cloths to hang from the upper bunks to make the lower bunks into curtained beds, and that really is all we needed. Chris, as many other leaders, had opted for a “staff” cabin. I’d grabbed only the non-bunk type bed (with a real mattress) in the vestibule. Since I had brought a feather bed and down comforter, the open screened windows did not bother me at all. At home I’m still sleeping with the window open (although I keep my room and the hall to it closed to prevent losing heated air). Last year we had 14 clan members, and could barely fit our chairs in. This year we were able to have Liz, Wolf, Wick, Lanna and me in the clan cabin, and Martin and Erik slept with friends somewhere else. This allowed us to have only four tables for practicing our techniques, and still sleep in there. Eric wasn’t originally in our clan, but having lost one, he (by some process I missed- probably while driving in circles) joined our clan and he was a great addition.
One thing I find interesting about the Earth Spirit people is that they seem to find hanging twinkle lights around cabins (and the dining hall) just something they expect. It did look cool, but I’m still surprised that they think of twinkle lights as camping gear in the same category as coolers, dry socks, and flashlights. I guess that indicates that they are used to camping in cabins with electric light. I brought my portable propane heaters, but only used them on the last morning- and that perhaps because I wanted to justify having dragged them along! The weather was actually the best I’ve seen, and the best any of the earth spirit folk could remember. One amusing thing that happened during set up was that I was hoping that no one noticed how gassy I was (what HAD I eaten?) when the smoke alarm went off- and there was nothing else I can think of that could have done it. The ladies present graciously suggested that it was a glitch caused by the battery replacement, bless them.
The food is actually rather good. One of the things Earth Spirit promotes is creating community by having work shifts together- in the kitchen. This means that except for the kitchen directors (they call themselves the Flamingo Clan), no one really knows what they are doing. We signed our clan up for the first shift Saturday morning, and the instructions we were supposed to have been given disappeared into the ether. (Of course, we also found a dozen quiche that had apparently spent the night in the oven- 9″ hockey pucks! Luckily there were several dozens and even left overs. I got to make the oatmeal- so it was not gluey.)
Friday night there was an opening ceremony. Each person brought a “harvest vegetable”- a lot of carrots and squash, some potatoes, onions, garlic…. These sat on a table/altar looking pictuesque for most of the weekend. And we all said where we’d come from. Bev, who’d been in the Moose Clan (herbalism) Jane and I had done years before had flown in from England, but others came from Arizona, and Michigan. Most were from New England of course.
Aside from that, I passed out there packets and some tools, and we were off and running with the dousing. We had to break for Releasing Fire (go down, dance around a fire, make a fetish to represent something you want to get rid of, and toss it in the fire). I was able to use my bum knee as an excuse not to go down to that, but some of our folk did. When they got back we did psychometry and talked dream interpretation. I passed out journals to record dreams, and referred somewhat pretentiously, to the midnight to six period not as sleep time but “Dream Incubation”- which is a fancy way of saying that you are planning and hoping to get a meaningful dream. Since we had to be in the kitchen at 7, there was not quite enough of it.
Saturday as soon as we were done with the kitchen shift we got into the Palmistry and Astrology, which everyone loved. Around 4 Chris went down to play his harp for the Walrus Clan’s feast, and the rest of us pulled out tea cups and did tea leaf reading. It’s always really bizarre when you do it the first time knowing and expecting that what you are going to get is clumps of soggy dead broken leaves- but then you look and say: “that looks just like a witch on a broom with her cape flying out” and darned if it doesn’t! Of course, the ones that look like something are scattered among the far more frequent “blobs”, but there are enough of the bizarrely evocative ones to make you wonder how it happens. Best guess? Man is a pattern spotting animal. We see what we want and expect to see whether there’s something there or not. I simply have faith that what we “see” is directed by our psychic subconscious. Then we took everyone’s palm prints- which they really liked and will give them something to study at home.
After dinner we had another (boring- pointless) clan leader meeting. Deirdre finally decided how she could use me since I couldn’t walk or stand but “have an amazing presence”. I got to watch the fire at the end, and do energy healings for anyone who’d gotten hurt during the ritual. Saturday evening is VERY ritual heavy. There’s a Trance Dance on the beach and Clear Space (which never having been to I don’t get- even though Chris explained it to me), and then there’s Dream Circle- where people can come between ten and midnight to drink herbal tea with dream stimulating properties, and chant or listen to chanting. Once again Chris was called on to play his harp- the same two chords for two hours. (I suppose it’s supposed to help you zone out)
Twenty-five years ago when they started this, someone wrote a (very nice) chant which they still use. It’s call and response- the call is All Beings of the Earth… (over and over) and the response cycles through:
Sing the Healing Song, rising…
Will the Healing Fire, changing…
Swim the Healing Deeps, feeling…
Walk the Healing Earth, being…
(only it’s Ri-i-sing, cha-an-ging, fee-ee-ling, be-ee-ing) and just thinking about it makes me start to zone out again. Having had the alarm go off at six, it was a loooong day.)
This year the clan members were actually willing to talk about the dreams they’d had over breakfast, which we hadn’t been able to get them to do last year. After breakfast I ran them through the basic meanings of the runes, and how one reads cast sticks, then Jane came (while her clan had kitchen shift) and showed them seed casting- followed by them practicing it. We had to do that first because we sent the beans we cast in to go into the soup (which was what was being made at the time- all those harvest vegetables- except ones that could be common allergens like peppers. Everyone is supposed to be able to share it- like a communion. It is REALLY bland.
After lunch was the final meeting- after which we all split up to put out the props and get into the costumes for the ritual.
Jane does an alternative ritual for those who aren’t physically up to the main Visioning Ritual- which is kind of hard to tell since they don’t tell you where you have to go or what you have to do. I’ve never done it, but apparently it’s really good sacred theater- because people come back from it really impressed- sometimes changed. I do find the organizers fantasy that the people going through it shouldn’t recognize the actors but only see the Archetypes and Beings they represent as ridiculous. In normal theater I can watch Cyrano de Bergerac and be able to tell it’s Kevin Klein or Jose Ferrar or Gerard Depardue- I even know what’s coming, and many of the lines- but I still end up crying as he says goodbye to Roxanne again. Knowing the ingredients does not make the ragu less delicious. In the alternative ritual, Jane talks them into a trance and leads them on a “trance journey” through the same experiences that the people out in the main ritual are going through. In that case the individual’s mind should create an even better image of these archetypes- but there’s a reason bodies are powerful things. Stumbling blindfolded in the dark, and then suddenly having the blindfold taken off in a blaze of golden torchlight, or dealing with the cold, or other discomforts- there’s a certain aspect of “ordeal” in the ritual. This year was about fears, not of spiders or heights or things like that, but of failure, of apathy, of being controlled or out of control, that sort of fear- I think, because I wasn’t there. And really, I think part of the nebulous aspect of the design allows each participant to have the experience he or she needs. And if you’re dealing with 150 or more people- some can have powerful transformative experiences and some can have a cold walk in the dark. There’s room for a lot of variety.
And while the leaders and helpers were out putting up settings at the stations where each scene of the psycho drama would take place, the clans had time off- except our clan, who had to face a different fear: reading for strangers. It’s one thing to learn about, and even practice a system, but when a stranger comes to you and is hoping to get guidance for a problem that is important to them, you have to begin to trust the system. They had to deal with people who might cry, or give them a hard time. They had to deal with feelings of inadequacy, and being rushed (there were 6 of them and about 120 people who could come to get readings between 3 and 5, so they had to do fast readings). This was their “public service”, and they did GREAT!
Because Jane was doing the alternate ritual, in THEORY she was supposed to have been able to go teach rune casting from 2-3, but she got held at the leaders area and had to do a very abbreviated session. Me- I got a ride over to help decorate the cabin where everyone got to wait from when the first people finished the ritual, until the last came through. We moved some furniture. I swept acorns off the porch so no one would step on one in the dark and fall down like people stepping on marbles in a cartoon. Later we hung up some twinkle lights.
We went back and had the soup. This year it wasn’t just bland, it was the nastiest stuff I have had in my mouth and not spit out in years. Mostly pumpkin it was kinda slimy, but also someone had put in a bunch of big chunks of garlic recently enough that they weren’t cooked. And it wasn’t salted. I salted mine, and it barely helped. Then we went off to wait. From 6 until about 8:30 I mostly embroidered. Then we lit the fireplace and people started coming in. I did do some healings on some twisted knees and headaches, and that felt good. But then two of the people I’d worked on started crying and while the chances are that they’d asked for help because they needed it, I felt like I’d done something wrong. There was MY big spiritual crisis for the night.
The theory is that these people who’ve just gone through this major cathartic experience are then supposed to put it on hold until everyone gets there. (I understand that they also “hold the energy” at the dining hall from where they started too.) One aspect of this is “no talking”. Someone tried to shush me while I was doing a healing. Also their explanation that this service was available was “come sit by the fire and be healed”- which doesn’t sound like “if you’ve twisted your ankle, we’ve got someone who will try to help” to me. Time passed. Slowly. The building filled up. I added logs to the fire. In the next room they were chanting. Star was wandering around with a bodrun doing a heartbeat rhythm. I zoned in and out. People were slumped in chairs and on the floor. The image I got was of the London Underground during the Blitz. Dozens and dozens of people, shell shocked, tired, without chairs, and unable to leave. I have great faith in dream incubation and think the best thing for these people would have been to send them back to eat and go to bed.
But the final feast is also communal, and so once everyone was in, they were all called to the outside fire where they joined in raising energy, and having a big, group, cathartic scream- and then walking back the half mile to the dining hall. When they were gone those of us who needed to be driven back were taken. The “feast” was eggplant or sausage parmesan (which had no parmesan cheese- Chris checked because his daughter is allergic to parmesan). They were out of sausage when I got there, but Chris gave me one of his. I ended up talking with him and Ulf until 2. (dumb!)

Unsurprisingly, I slept in until past 8, and only got up because the section on Omens was scheduled for 8:30. The Monday plan is a quick breakfast then a big brunch consisting of all the leftovers from the weekend at 11. Between that we covered omens- or reading the world around you (wrapping back to the observational stuff at the beginning), but we the Clan Leaders also had to “debrief” our clan on the Ritual, and debrief them on their public readings. We then did a wrap up, and got to the part where they were to generate their own system of divination. One of them actually had come up with an excellent system based on Texas Hold’em. It is good for any question in which you are trying to pick an option from among several. You deal a poker hand for each option, and the one with the winning hand is clearly the right choice. I’d have never considered that as a system, but for someone who does know how to rank poker hands, it’s great. As we said often in the weekend, the main trick is defining the question. If you can’t figure out what the right question is, you’ll never get the right answer.
After the brunch we were to pack up all the stuff in the clan cabin, and to prepare our presentation for the Closing Circle. Because there are a dozen clans, and everyone is standing (except those who need and bring chairs) each clan is supposed to do something to to express what we did during the weekend (but keep it brief). We even rehearsed ours to make sure it took no more than three minutes. We made them come up with something on their own, and they came up with The Right Question to help the rest of the attendees help them maximize what they’d gotten from the ritual- essentially “where do we go from here?” Each used a different method- casting seeds, the bones, cards, horary astrology, or other system. Each found a different but appropriate answer, to share so that each person in the crowd probably heard the one that pertained to him. I was not happy with my runecast, but pulled a quote from the Pirate Game- “Keep to the Code” (Them that falls behind gets left behind), which was a lot more brief (and discarding that which needs discarding seems good to me).
So they all helped take down and pack up the cabin, and Chris even brought my car down for me (and it started, yay), and packed it for me. After the presentations, they had a spiral dance (which I sat out in the middle with others less mobile). That was followed by much hugging, and that by yet another leader meeting. (sigh) I did get out by 3:30 and home by 8. I was VERY tired, and sadly had to nibble and drink my way back home. I tried the McDonalds fruit smoothy, and found it good, and then a Starbucks bottled mocha drink. I think that perhaps because I don’t drink caffeine often (and intentionally avoided it to stop over stimulating my bladder during the weekend), so it hits me more strongly.
Sadly, it turned out that the refrigerator had died while I was gone. (Willow wasn’t sure when it died- maybe even before I left?) They’d put the frozen stuff in the chest freezers in the cellar, and luckily the keeping room was cool enough for the refrigerated stuff. (Mostly- but then, sometimes things get moldy in the refrigerator too.)
So the next day we went out to the local appliance place- where we’d brought the dead refrigerator years ago. I remember getting it. It was when the local radio station was having promotions and when you went to different places you could get “something bucks” (I can’t remember) for 90¢ on the dollar. We hit them all and paid most of it with those. It was the first appliance we bought. I was very cross with them for years because we’d told them to take away the old refrigerator and they didn’t. But looking back in my journals I saw that it was over 15 years ago, and so probably there was no one at the store who was the same as back then, so I shouldn’t bother continuing to be cross with them. We’d have liked a bottom freezer as before. (It was hard to find back then, but they are now common- although more expensive.) It occurred to us that we are fewer and could get a smaller one, and that having the chest freezer below could get a fridge with no freezer- but apparently those are even more expensive. We decided to look for one with side by side freezer and fridge- but discovered that they all have ice dispensers on the door these days. This seemed annoying because as ours sits in the keeping room, a dispenser there would provide no convenience and also would be nearly impossible to attach. Then when we asked after floor models- perhaps scratched or dented, the saleswomen remembered that they had a side by side in the back with no ice-maker- and that was only $300. Yay! Go us (now to find a water pump!)
Wednesday John and I went to Mark’s, and having removed the car seat, were able to transport Bruce’s old entertainment center which Mark didn’t want down to the van and fit it in. I even had the camera in my purse, so I could get pictures of the ridiculously large burgers at Fudruckers- but sadly, it fell out of my purse and is still in Mark’s car. I discovered this when I took the “card reader” I’d bought to be able to upload pictures back to Best Buy (since Customer Service guys at the website for the camera couldn’t help). The Geek squad there determined that my computer is “too old to support” the card reader. I got got a refund, but phooey! Too old. I bite my thumb at modern planned obsolescence!

As I write it is indeed Friday- but as I hope to get back on schedule, and midweek has more often time available to write than weekends, I’ll put off the last few days activities until next week. Besides, I need to go to bed.
“There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. that’s what sin is.” Granny Weatherwax
“It’s a lot more complicated than that-” Mightily Oats
“No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complciated than that, they mean they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.” Granny
Terry Prachett in Carpe Jugulum

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