30 March, 2014

New Moon in Aries-- time for a Spiritual Retreat!

From Sylvia Brailler's Events Page

I am going on an Adventure!

The first of April 2014, I will be flying into Mexico for a week-long Spiritual Retreat.

I first worked with Sylvia back in ~Summer 2009, at Free Spirit Gathering. She gave numerous workshops, and really helped me to kick-start my own personal Spiritual Path with confidence and compassion. Since that summer, I have tried very hard to make my way to any Workshop or Conference offering that she does, but numerous things would block it (timing was off, didn't have vacation time available at work, no extra $$ funds, previous commitments, etc.).

For the first time in +6 years, ever possible obstacle has melted away... Each new synchronicity has highlighted the fact that I NEED this Spiritual Retreat time, and that my Spirits are helping me to get there. I was able to use Tax Refund $ for the cost, my Passport renewed in only 11 days, and I was granted the time off of work!

I am truly excited for this opportunity, and can't wait for this experience. I'm hoping to connect with new & different Land Spirits, Ancestors, God/dess, and perhaps find materials for a new rattle (mine is starting to leak dried corn, sand, and stones-- I think it wants to retire!).

With snow falling AGAIN in Baltimore, I am in desperate need of Vitamin D. And sunshine. And a break from all of my routines and care-giving of patients.

I will return on April 8th: renewed, recharged, filled with Spiritual Upgrades (ha!), and ready for a season of Teaching, Conferences, and Workshops. Can't wait!

29 March, 2014

Sacred Space 2014-- Saturday and Sunday

(for the previous days, see here and here)


Oh man, that Conjure Dance wiped me out! Trying to have the stamina to dance for a solid 3 1/2 hours has shown me that I may be fit, but I am still older than I think--oof! 

My calf muscles burned the entire day, and I learned that even though I dance often, when I dance for Spirits, I am on my tip-toes, using muscles that rarely get used!

I had every intention of attending Maggi Setti's "Shadow of the Tarot" (ugh, same as yesterday), but I could not move out of that bed...blargh. I was actually annoyed with my body, as I've tried to attend one of Maggi's workshops/rituals for the past two years (she's an amazing ritualist!). Soon--sheesh!

Another hot shower and a solitary lunch (needed the alone-time to get back to myself), and I was starting to feel more human (and less canine). I barely made it on time to Orion Foxwood's workshop, "Introduction to Appalachian Conjure & Southern Rootwork."  Orion is a wonderfully engaging presenter, and his style of teaching was very inclusive and genuine. He was filled with both stories and lecture, and I enjoyed his presentation immensely. Sadly, the type of magic didn't seem to resonate with me on a personal level (even with the shamanistic elements), although I loved learning about the culture (and it connected to some of my ancestors in the Maryland/Virginia area).

After his workshop, I headed back to my room for a needed lie-down & nap. My body was grateful, but I couldn't relax my brain in order to fully fall asleep. I decided to head back downstairs to the Healer's Room, for acupuncture.

I've written about this practitioner before, and absolutely love working with him for my own healing. I was able to relax much more deeply, and align my spiritual bodies (see previous post) in order to continue absorbing knowledge within this conference. When I felt more human, I headed back to the Vendor's Room, for more "grounding through shopping" and to get an Oracle Reading. I also socialized with more friends, and that seemed to be the best thing to make me feel like myself again.

For the evening, I wanted to bounce between the Spirits of Healing ritual and the Party in the Ballroom. I dressed up and wore some of my favorite jewelry, and headed to UToS first. I was going to invite Eagle as a spirit of Healing, as Coyote got a full two days of fun this conference (Thursday presentation and Friday Conjure Dance). Funny enough, other participants invited Coyote, and invited him THREE DIFFERENT TIMES! Ha ha ha-- it's not just me!

It was difficult to dance at the Ritual and the Party, but I tried. I had more fun stealing small pieces of cheese and eating them while going back and forth between the two rooms (tee hee). Coyote also had some fun in Tricking high school soccer players (and their parents) into visiting the Trance Possession ritual (and in typical Coyote-fashion, they learned something and enjoyed it!). But the most fun was standing on a chair and encouraging participants to head to the Executive Suite for Good Conversation (at the end of the party & ritual). I split a bottle of mead with my dear Druids and we talked until the late late hours of night.


Oh gods.

Oh gods, I needed coffee.

I set three different alarms in order to eat breakfast within the hotel and make it to Selena Fox's Ancestors Ritual.

Ancestors Altar
Again, I wanted to be in two places at once (there was a workshop on the Picts--awww!), but this coincided with my "mythic theme" for the conference.

It was a very beautiful ceremony, and further cemented the connection that I felt when I fully opened and understood the power of the Ancestors Chakra (during Katrina's ritual). Selena was very open about her practice, the meaning of the ritual, and answered all questions that we had about increasing the Ancestors connection in our own lives. I really had fun at this ritual.

Selena Fox & Lonely Coyote
But as you can see from this picture, I was fried. I attended more rituals than workshops this Sacred Space, and my mind was reeling from the "spiritual upgrades." 

I packed up my room, did some final shopping in the Vendor's Area for family, made a few quick goodbyes, and drove home. I was exhausted.

This is always one of my favorite conferences, and it is sorely needed after a long winter (and this winter is Still Going). I hope that my blog articles inspire you to attend next year, as it is combined with Between the Worlds, 2015, which is very exciting!

What are your Sacred Space memories?

28 March, 2014

Sacred Space 2014-- Friday (Day Two)

(If you missed the beginning of this series, see previous post)


I had high aspirations of waking up on time for M. Macha Nightmare's class on "Meeting Death, Grieving Loss" but alas, I needed the additional sleep, due to really vivid dreams the night before.

Instead, I reviewed my notes from yesterday's classes, ate a leisurely brunch, socialized with dear friends, and purchased some goodies in the Vendor's Area (lots of stones, crystals, artwork, etc.). As my teaching duties were over, I was able to really sink into the energy of the conference, and catch up with those I only see once per year (I missed out on that last year).

After lunch, I attended Byron Ballard's presentation, "The Long Black Veil" a workshop within the "Death & Dying" track at Sacred Space. I was drawn to this workshop, after all of the Psychopomp work that I did for my recently-deceased client.  I knew that it was going to be healing for me, because of the tone that Byron used-- practical, up-front, and filled with love (and a bit of laughter). Many parts of this workshop were private, because of the nature of Death and people's response to it (and everyone's personal stories), but it was exactly what I needed. Byron sent around lots of literature, but I loved this joke the best:

Isn't this the truth?!
At the end of the workshop, I felt refreshed and grounded, as I was able to discuss/vent my frustrations about the most recent death that I experienced.

I attended a ritual next: Katrina Messenger's "Awakening the Desire & Will."  I originally thought this ritual was going to be a healing of the lower three chakras (root, sacral, and solar plexus), which are the chakras that are most out-of-alignment in the American public (we all have so many issues around sex & power). But I was blown away with the discussion of the Ancestral Chakra-- the chakra that is a good 2-3 feet below the Root Chakra, and something that I had never heard of before!

As Katrina took us on a Journey to that Chakra, my mind exploded with information about the Ancestral Chakra. I learned that it is the chakra that "feeds" all other charkas, and is a deep black/red (sort of looks like magma from a volcano in my brain). The eight chakras that I usually work with (root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, crown, and transpersonal) all have a tone that corresponds with the eight tones of a musical scale. But the Ancestral Chakra does not have a musical tone-- it is Rhythm!!! A light-bulb went off-- this is why drumming and rattling work to induce trance states (it directly links one to the Ancestors)!

Katrina and other ritualists led us in song, dance, and movement, to wake up our connection to the Ancestral Chakra, and I perceived it as the blood of my relations moving out of the chakra, up through the earth, and as it reached the Root Chakra, it changed to the deep red light of that area (and so forth, up the Chakra tube). It was amazingly healing, and the imagery was very powerful.

Healing the Lower Three Chakras
Well, after that mind-opening ritual, I was starving! I met up with friends, ate a burger from Five Guys (I would need the calories for later), and took a long, hot shower (another great reason to have conferences in hotels!). I also rested a bit, in preparation for the greatest celebration of Gods, Goddesses, and Others around the globe-- the Conjure Dance.

The Conjure Dance:

The Conjure Dance is the ritual celebration of the entire Sacred Space Conference. Patterned after the dances in New Orleans by Marie Laveau, this ritual is huge. Each pantheon (Orisha, Egyptian, Celtic, Norse, Greek & Roman, Nature Spirits, Ancestors, Hindu, Tibetan, etc.) has a full table of statues, plates, offerings, name cards, and decorations. The purpose is for each participant to invite his/her own personal Kindred with whom s/he he works, in order to honor them and celebrate them with food, drink, song, and dancing (and the ballroom gets quite full)!

I brought Coyote (his pelt makes for a good tactile reference to Him), and Odin (a recent purchase from a dear friend of Cedar Light Grove, ADF).

(c) by Lindowyn Ashely Bryner
Thankfully, I didn't lose or break any jewelry (as in previous years), and my big greasy burger from Five Guys helped me to have the energy to dance for a full 3+ hours.

Because of the bad manners of Coyote in past years, he is always invited Last to the Conjure Dance party. As we looked around, we saw that just about everyone was getting tired, winding down, and Not Dancing for Us. We grabbed the microphone from the gorgeous singer, and yelled at everyone to Get Moving and Shake Their Butts/Tails! And that did it-- it was one of the more silly, energetic, and playful possessions of the entire night (ha!).

The dance ended around 1am, and although I had helped to set up the altars to all the Gods, I was too far gone to be able to help take them down. So I headed back up to my room, changed into PJs, and tried to collapse into bed.

Coyote still wanted to party, so it took quite a good long while to calm down enough to be able to sleep. And I still had wild & wacky dreams!

Stay tuned for the next day(s) at Sacred Space!

27 March, 2014

Sacred Space 2014-- Thursday (Day One)

Wow. It has taken a good two weeks to fully come back from the amazing-ness that was Sacred Space Conference 2014!

This was my fourth year attending (second year teaching), and each year, I seem to have an overarching theme regarding the classes and rituals that I attend.

For me, this year's theme seemed to center around Ancestors, the Mighty Dead, and Death.

I wasn't planning on that theme, but with the specialized track of "Death & Dying" built into the programming (as well as an Appalachian Folk Magic track), I was drawn to that type of exploration.

I also had an absolute blast presenting on Coyote, and his silliness & laughter crept up in lots of places throughout the weekend!

Wednesday Night:

The night before the Conference, I was rushing around late at work; putting the finishing touches on my PowerPoint, printing out handouts (such an East Coast thing!), sending out the last of my work emails, and finalizing all of my duties while I was off for the next few days. I was at the office so late, that I could hear Coyote howling at the clock, telling me to hurry up and get home to pack!

Aooooo! Get a move on, Monika!

I slept in really late, knowing that I would not be sleeping too much once I made it to the hotel (too many excellent conversations happen late at night)! After unpacking and hanging up ritual clothes & tools, I went to the main classroom for the Opening Ritual.

The Patrons of Sacred Space are Athena and Thoth, and my dear friends Michael and Gwendolyn invoked them with beautiful and powerful prose. I had tears in my eyes, as I could feel Them enter the space with a energetic tingle up the spine (it's amazing to hear Athena invoked in ancient Greek!).

After the Opening Ritual, I went right into Michael's presentation on Thoth (one of my favorite Egyptian Gods). Although Michael had some technical difficulties (no PowerPoint with images), he was filled with so much information that the presentation flowed very organically. It had the perfect amount of myths, stories, legends, and personal gnosis, and I felt my connection to this god deepen.

As the presentation ended, it was a Mad Dash to Dinner. The Outback Steakhouse attached to the hotel was not prepared at all for our Conference, as the lines were long, and they were terribly understaffed (I did not eat there for the rest of the weekend).

I ran upstairs after I wolfed down my food, and did the final preparations for my presentation. I wasn't sure how many would attend, as I was right after dinnertime, and opposite the amazing Selena Fox, and her Brigid Ritual (oh, to be in two places at once!). And Coyote is rather an acquired taste, and Tricksters can sometimes scare people away...

I shouldn't have worried.

I had an excellent group (~20), and although it was really freaking hot in the classroom, and everyone was full from dinner, all seemed to enjoy it. My PowerPoint gave a good background on who Coyote was (in relation to his Native American mythology), the behavior of coyotes in the wild (and how this informs the perception of Coyote as a god), and who Coyote is Now (his evolution as a Trickster that loves Humanity and heals with Laughter).

PowerPoint + Journey = Happy Coyote!

The Journey to visit Coyote was very entertaining, as He wanted all participants to do something "funny/silly" in the Pathworking in order to truly meet Him. As I was drumming, I was able to see very funny faces on some of the participants-- a few looked confused, a few giggled, and one dear soul actually got up, wiggled her butt, and splashed water around!

A few people were comfortable discussing their Journey to Him, and some of the insights they received. One got confirmation of her skills as a comedienne, while another received insights as to dealing with work situations (hopping on one paw). Another received illumination on Laughter breaking through fears, and one received a powerful healing of the body after an asthma attack.

The presentation ended a bit early, which was good, as I had gone almost 40 minutes over last year! I was able to answer questions, tell a few funny stories, and run upstairs to my room to catch my breath and relax.

At the end of the night, I ended up attending Caroline's Orisha SoireĆ©.  The Orishas always make a exciting and boisterous presence during the Conjure Dance (and UToS rituals, too), but I don't know Them that well (sort of like "friends of friends"). Caroline gave excellent introductions to each, and spoke of Their different skills, realms, and preferences for offerings. And then, the party began!

Candy and Liquors as offerings--yummy!
The Orishas appear to enjoy meeting and getting to know people via shared offerings of drink, food, and stories. It was a perfect end to an amazing day, and really cemented the social energy of the conference. It also helped to release the last of "regular, work energy" and bring in "spiritual, fun, learning energy."

Stay tuned for the next few days at Sacred Space Conference!