dreaminghope: (Starry Starry Night)
[personal profile] dreaminghope
The second of my posts about 2012's Gathering for Life on Earth.

The official theme of this year's Gathering was "Between the Worlds", and between worlds we were. There were a lot of workshops about different states of being (expanding senses, hypnotherapy, trance states), along with the usual magic of being in ritual. Besides that, there were just a lot of opportunities to dance, chant, sing, drum, and laugh into a whole new spiritual plane.

There were some big booming drums that vibrated my base chakras like the earth's heartbeat rising through the soles of my feet to my guts. Around the fire, the ground shook with the drums and the stomping of the dancers. I danced, alternating between swaying and circling my hips and pounding the dirt with my ancient tree trunk legs. I danced in and out of a trance state, never quite gone, but wavering in between.

Horse and hattock!
Horse and go!
Horse and Pellatis, Ho Ho!


I went to a workshop on altered states on Sunday. There was a huge amount of useful information about different ways to induce altered states, along with two experiments in reaching them: once with drumming and once with chanting. I skimmed and skipped along the surface of an altered state... closer, closer, but not there.

Strong like the ocean...
Gentle like rain...
River wash my tears away...
Aphrodite.


Sunday night, magic happened. Driven into the main lodge by rain, the drummers outdid themselves, pouring everything into the rhythm as the dancers absorbed and reflected back the energy. People were high on wine and mead, on dance and chant, on mandrake and magic. Women did divination on one side of the room while others chanted over the mad drumming.

I did some chanting and some drumming - enough that my voice was still roughened two days later and I have the start of my first drummer's callus - but I still felt that I drifted through the night, less present than others. Still, an incredible thing to have had even the smallest part in.

I was up earlier than most on Monday morning, woken by my anxiety that I'd miss getting a shower, that I'd miss breakfast, that I had too much to do to take down the Gathering and not enough time to do it. Of course, many people were up much later than I the night before, so I had the bathroom to myself for a hot shower and the staff hadn't even started making breakfast yet. I wrapped myself in my big warm cloak and wandered through the grey morning, enjoying the quiet. I found myself on the docks, watching the last mists drift off the lake.

"I should get in for a swim," I said to myself. I immediately dismissed the idea: I didn't have a towel with me; I didn't know how long I had until breakfast; I'd have to tuck my precious necklace into my shoe rather than leave it back in the cabin like I'd normally do when swimming; I'd been in the water on Saturday afternoon, and the lake had been cold on that warm and sunny day. When I thought about how cold the water would be, my heart started pounding.

If you are scared, maybe that's something you need to do.

I stripped quickly and stood on the rain-slicked dock. I made sure my cloak was folded up so it would stay mostly dry. I walked down next to the ladder, but didn't use it. I crouched on the edge of the dock and lowered myself in to the water in a smooth motion, not giving myself time to stop before I was submerged.

It was so cold that my lungs emptied involuntarily. It was a long moment before I could inhale again. I did a couple of quick strokes, than held on to the ladder, still in the water to my chin. Once I could breath, I hauled myself out of the water and wrapped the fabric of my cloak around me so I was bundled from neck to ankles. After another breathless moment, I felt a flush of heat and a rush of energy. I slipped from ordinary consciousness straight into a kind of ecstatic state.

I am here. I am here. I am alive.
I am here. I am here. I am alive.
I am here. I am here. I am alive.
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February 2014

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