This past Sacred Space Conference was a complicated jumble of spiritual headspace and social headspace.
Usually, at most pagan workshops/gatherings, I attend each class I can, trying to stuff as much information into my brain as possible (before I have to rejoin the regular world). I find that each conference has a "theme" that is apropos to my life at that moment... This year's theme seemed to be "understanding the 'Lonely' in 'Lonely Coyote'!"
I found that I had very little socialization with others, and seemed to prefer small snippets of interaction, combined with lots of rest and reflection.
I was blessed to be the Travel Hostess to one of the featured presenters, Christopher Penczak, and found him to be a wonderfully grounded and compassionate Soul! Of course, my Kojote car began playing tricks on us as soon as we left the airport (Kojote = "coyote" in German)... I kept getting turned around in DC, not trusting my GPS, and generally being embarrassed as to the silly driving shenanigans (Christopher was a very good sport).
Once we finally arrived at the hotel, we were able to join the Opening Ritual. I found this ritual to be very powerful and compelling, in large part due to the excellent ritual skills of Gwendolyn Reese and Michael Smith. The Patrons of the conference were Athena and Thoth, and were asked to watch over and protect the attendees, presenters, and all those traveling to the conference.
Most of the time, I am able to "plug in" to the egregore of a pagan gathering, but I found that I still couldn't shake off the workweek. I went upstairs to my hotel room and tried to Ground, Center myself, and relax away the tension. Sadly, my mind was racing too fast, and didn't attend any other workshops until late that night.
Thursday evening, I attended the Oracular Seidh ritual, run by Diana Paxson, Laurel Mendes, and students. I always enjoy attending this ritual, as it is a powerful combination of Pathworking, group/community healing, and seeking information from the gods. The previous year, Laurel worked with the spirit of a beloved family ancestor (recently passed), which brought me so much healing and closure. During the ritual this year, I spoke with Diana as oracle, and received some needed guidance for my own pagan/shamanic path.
On Friday, I stayed in my room almost the entire day. Part of it was due to procrastination regarding my own presentation, and part of it was my own inability to fully let go of my own shadow issues in my head (working with mentally ill clients, difficult interpersonal relationships, Saturn in Scorpio (my own issues of Power, Sex, and Death), etc.). As a true coyote, I stayed in my "den" until my self-healing and knowledge was done (or at least more balanced)!
I prepared myself for the highlight of the conference, the Conjure Dance. Caroline has helped to enlarge this phenomenon, as well as UToS, and it is simply incredible. All gods, goddesses, spirits, ancestors, Kindred, etc. are honored with either a statue, a plaque, or a section of a GIGANTIC altar that covers over 5 tables. Music is played while everyone in attendance honors the Spirits that they know, love, or heard about (friend of a friend!) with drink, candies, and peeps (chicken sacrifices)! The dancing gets rather ecstatic, and different Spirits are invited to party, and they join as They See Fit (sometimes with funny synchronicities, sometimes will possessions). Coyote was put in the Dog House, as he broke my jewelry last year, but I think He really enjoyed being last on the list. We danced together, and encouraged everyone to howl with laughter, joy, and energy, and nothing beats the image of Diana dancing with my Coyote pelt, shaking her tail!
After the Conjure Dance, Coyote was Everywhere. He sneakily got people to howl during my presentation on Mental Illness and Spiritual Experience (will discuss in upcoming blog post). He intrigued attendees who had no idea who He was (they will soon). He reminded people of his Awesomeness (those who had forgotten how to work with him). He rekindled relationships with those who missed him. And He began new friendships with those who fell in love with his humor, his eyes full of the star-field, and his Sexy Tail.
I enjoyed watching his influence in different parts of the conference, and giggled at the Joy he inspired. However, his greatest lesson for me involved the first meeting of our Souls (will discuss in another upcoming blog post).
During the evening on Saturday, I found that I had a difficult time socializing with other attendees. I couldn't make sense when talking, I had a hard time keeping track of my thoughts, and I felt I was still not "plugged in" to Sacred Space as a whole. It was not due to any one thing, but I was in such a certain type of headspace, that I felt most comfortable being alone, being outside, and floating on the outskirts of the Party. Eventually, I made my way to the Trance Possession ritual down the hall, and felt much more comfortable in my skin.
Finally, it hit me: I talk to lots of different spirits in my head during Shamanic Healing appointments, and so sometimes, they talk with me in regular, everyday life. I have a hard time explaining what that is like, and sometimes I can't translate what is in my head into English for others (I have many moments like that, and felt a bit embarrassed trying to explain it eloquently). So, when I'm feeling that type of energy, it's just easier hanging out with those same Spirits during celebratory rituals! Once I realized that, the last of my social awkwardness melted away, and I was able to better balance my social-time with my alone-time.
Sunday morning arrived very quickly, and very painfully. The clocks had jumped forward an hour, and I had lost much-need sleep! But, I asked the gods for strength, and was able to facilitate a really powerful, educational, long (~3 hours!) and joyful Shamanic Healing Ceremony. I was incredibly grateful for my dear friend Xtian (Rune), who taught me a lot about his own healing methods, and we worked together to facilitate healing for all who attended.
After that, I was pretty wiped. I returned Christopher Penczak to the airport, and really loved hearing about his own Sacred Space experience. Of course, the Kojote car had a few final tricks (who drives all the way around DC's baseball field for NO REASON?!), but we safely made it on time.
I have many more blog entries to come, as I try to reflect on the very specific and profound lessons of this conference-- stay tuned!
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