Back from Between the Worlds…

I arrived home safe and sound early Monday morning from my week of camping at Between the Worlds in Ohio. I’m still adjusting to “the real world” (whatever that means) but I wanted to take a moment to chronicle my feelings and experiences at the event.

I originally had some feelings of trepidation surrounding my attendance at the event. My experience with large groups of gay men (there were about 90 in attendance) have not exactly been all that kind; usually centered in places of addiction (i.e. bars) or basically focused on inflating some already over-inflated egos to the extent of coldness and cruelty to others. Perhaps I’m naive,  but I’m one of those people that feels that people should actually be nice to each other. Or, as carnivalia once put it, “You’re one of those who actually believe what they taught you on Sesame Street, aren’t you?”

My stress soon melted away as I arrived at the land: 625 acres of reclaimed land that as recent as 20 years ago had been decimated by strip mining. Today it is beautiful; paths and trees, and meadows… simply gorgeous, and a symbol of hope in a world that continues to exploit and destroy our natural places.

Whatever feelings of social anxiety I still had were alleviated as I met the individuals involved in the event; so caring and genuine. They put me at ease with their compassion, their laughter, and their fierce commitment to building a healthy intentional community. Never before have I experienced such a sense of profound love and acceptance, so much so that I was, at times, overwhelmed. My only other experiences with Pagan retreats have been the two Feri Camps that I have taught at, and one Feri Initiates gathering and while I found them all to be very powerful, transformative, and full of connection, it was BTW that spoke most directly to my heart and soul.  I have felt that certain individuals in the Feri community have been my “family”. At this little temporary mystical village in Ohio, I felt a profound sense of familiarity even though I had not met most of them before; as if I were truly “coming home” to a family that I had not even known that I had forgotten.

One lesson that I learned was just how much of my power leaks away by living in a straight society. When I go to the grocery store, or walk down the street, I do not feel comfortable showing any level of affection for my husband or lovers unless I am in a queer specific place or a private setting amongst friends. It’s an issue of safety, as I have been in situations in which I have been attacked and threatened for my sexuality. Until I got to BTW I had no idea how much of my attention and power is devoted to not showing public affection or being too “animated”. It was an important lesson for me to experience, and I am working on incorporating this insight into my current practice.

There were a lot of inspirational experiences at this event. Between the workshops, rituals, intense conversations, and even a surprise heart-connection that swept me off my feet, I feel invigorated to take my practice in a new direction. Certainly one of the very first things I will be doing is returning to the book I have been writing about Witchcraft for Gay men.

I had an opportunity to teach a workshop (“The Amethyst Pentacle“) which ended-up beginning with a little introduction to the Feri tradition. I received some good feedback and am honored and touched that so many people seemed to have gotten something positive out of it. The rest of the time I was simply attending other’s workshops and basically “smoozing” which allowed me to meet and get to know some amazing people.

I had an opportunity to hang out with Christopher Penczak (torcboy) and his husband Steve Kenson (xomec). They are both really down-to-earth and talented people. (And very geekish, which of course is sexy to me.)  πŸ˜‰

I also got to meet Doug and Joe from Otherworld Apothecary. They are both initiates in a branch of pre-Wiccan traditional witchcraft, and are ecologists to boot. I took their class on Land Based Craft which really opened up some stuff for me (and truth be told, kinda scared me a little, which to those of you who really know me will know that I then found it potent and cool!) I found their overall approach to be “very Feri” in places, or at least in what I was taught (as opposed to a lot of the public Feri stuff which has incorporated elements of Wicca and Ceremonial magick.) If you get a chance, go to their website. They not only have the finest quality traditional magical oil and herbal blends that I have found, but their bottles and labels are both beautiful and exquisite. Chas and I will be carrying as much of their products as we can after we take over Dolphin Dream in November.

The musical guest was Jeffrey Altergott, and if you are not familiar with his work then you owe it to yourself to check him out. His presence was soft, warm, and his talent is considerable. I didn’t get much of a chance to speak with him, but I am hoping to remedy that next year. And I just saw that he friended me here on LiveJournal! Yay!

The keynote speaker was Sparky T. Rabbit. This was of particular importance to me, as it was his work with the Pagan band Lunacy that really paved the way for me to embrace a Queer Pagan path back when I was just a witchling. I made the point of letting him know, since I think it’s very important to honor our elders, as they have provided the foundation for us to live and practice as we do.

There were so many more that made this event such a magical one and I would be hard-pressed to mention them all. Many thanks to lonespiritwolf2 and to technocowboy who have been trying to get me to this event for the past several years. I will indeed be going back and am already making my list of what offerings I’d like to present.

Now, I am getting ready for the next . I leave in two weeks for Massachusetts. I’m really looking forward to it. I even have a few new techniques to incorporate into my offerings there. It is promising to be a powerful event.


27 responses to “Back from Between the Worlds…

  1. It was a pleasure to finally meet you in person, Storm. Thank you again for taking the time to go over the Amethyst Pentacle with us! Sorry to say I think we’ll both be in Seattle when you’re in our neck of the woods for Feri Camp, but I’m looking forward to seeing you again at PantheaCon!

    • It was wonderful meeting you, too! And it was my pleasure to give a “make-up class” for the both of you. I figure that practice is a good thing, and it was important for me to be able to share a bit of what I do with the both of you. I’m definitely looking forward to hanging out at Pantheacon with y’all. And in the meantime don’t be a stranger… drop me a line whenever. And I’ll be watching your LJ.

  2. My big epiphany was that I don’t want to have to go a whole week without you in our bed, so next year we will have to figure out a way for us to both go. So glad that you are back.

  3. It was great to meet you and I’m glad to hear you’re both coming to the festival next year.
    I won’t be performing next year – at least nothing big and formal. I’m hoping to have more free time to talk with people and attend more workshops rather than spending 2 hours a day in the woods singing to trees…though, I have to do some of that still πŸ˜›

    • Well, I’m certainly looking forward to being able to talk with you… but I must admit that not hearing you perform will be a bit of a disappointment for me. I really liked your stuff just prior to getting to BTW (I saw a couple YouTube performances) and then hearing you at the event was really the deal sealer. I’ve been listening to your CDs ever since I got back. Beautiful!
      I really want to thank you for Dandelion. It makes me cry. In a good way.

    • Ditto! But now that we have met we will definitely have to make an effort to spend some time together. Pantheacon?
      And thanks for coming to my workshop. I hope you enjoyed it. And thanks for ‘blowing my cover’. πŸ˜‰

  4. I’ve read so many good things that came out of that camp.
    I had hoped to meet you prior, as I know a good number of the BTW people. (Technocowboy had said that their might have been some opportunity, but it appears that their was not.)
    Oi, if only I was a boy πŸ˜‰

    • I seem to remember Rune saying something about a woman wanting to meet me out there (maybe it was you?) but we honestly had no time. Crazy, crazy, crazy busy…
      Will you make it out this way for Pantheacon? Chas and I will be there all four days this time. We could meet up if you are there.

      • Yeah… I heard that it was to be in Columbus, but I didn’t even hear about it until I was already there and exhausted. Plus I’m not even sure that my informant had all the information anyway. It’s a bit of a blur, really…

      • Well, I doubt Rune would’ve called me crazy, as we barely know each other. Its Julian, Utu, Technocowboy, and others that I know better.
        Anyways, I am glad you had a wonderful time. My joke was in jest, because I love so many of the people who go to BTWs, but my gender prevents me from ‘belonging’

  5. “My stress soon melted away as I arrived at the land: 625 acres of reclaimed land that as recent as 20 years ago had been decimated by strip mining. Today it is beautiful; paths and trees, and meadows… simply gorgeous, and a symbol of hope in a world that continues to exploit and destroy our natural places.”
    Since Charlene is not on LJ to cackle evilly at this, I will on her behalf. (Insert evil cackle here). It’s called “The Wisteria Effect” and now it has you.
    I really wanted to go to the Amethyst Pentacle workshop, but that’s when Ursa Major had a massage opening and, well, workshop versus getting rubbed on by bear paws, guess which wins. I’ll just pester you and over the course of the next year about it. πŸ˜‰

  6. Although I didn’t get nearly as much time to spend with you as I would have liked, I was greatful for what time I did have. The Amethyst Pentacle workshop was wonderful. (It was one of those rare workshops that I felt I could immediatlely use the lessons learned in a personal path.)
    You are wonderful and I loves you mucho mucho.

    • Yay! I loves you too! I immediately felt drawn to you; you have such a great presence and genuine vibe. And you’re fun. Your soul shines, and I hope you know that.
      Thank you re: the Pentacle Workshop. I’ll let Chas () know, too (since he wrote it with me). If you have any insights that arise regarding it I’d be very eager to hear them.
      Do you have plans to attend Pantheacon?

  7. This sounds absolutely wonderful. It’s really neat to see you write here about this; it’s strangely encouraging to see one’s teacher constantly learning, and especially, being scared by something new.
    Also, look at all your hot new friends!
    Re: the top of your post: this frankly surprised me. It sounds like you’re living too far from San Fran proper! I’m sorry you’ve experienced such persecution. I’m bi and poly, and have gotten very mildly bashed occasionally, but it’s so much easier to blend with the former, and the latter is still so unknown as to be almost invisible. I do try, though, to live as out as I can about anything about my being that is key to it. It’s just so soul-crushing not to.

  8. Sounds to me that you had a good time! Living in a straight world, Man I so feel you. Being a slave to a man who lives to appear straight outside due to public persona… ugh. Switching back and fourth no fun. I think I’m just gonna be me like I wanna be and just be careful when my instincts say and hope for the best. I really need to make it to BTW & some of these events. SO many people I want to meet and the events in general just sound wonderful.

  9. Were was I when you posted this?
    Lost Between My Own Worlds, probably, as it often happens…
    Anyway, catchin’ up with it now: I’m so happy for you, and so touched by what you wrote.
    Much love to you!!

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