Western Gate Samhain Festival

Just days after returning home from Kelowna Canada by way of Spokane, I am still riding high on the energy from the amazing ritual, and witches I had met. New and old!
Thursday I had packed my bag, armed with ritual items, offerings, and a good book to read. I left for Spokane. The flight was uneventful other than a few interesting points in the book I was reading. I arrived late in the evening, and was picked up by Idalia, a wonderful friend that I had met back in my North Carolina days. She is married to a Marine, and we were both stationed together back in NC. We had worked several times together in ritual, and have a deep spiritual connection. Though we wanted so desperately to catch up, we decided it was better to sleep and catch-up on the drive the British Columbia. 

We arose early the next morning, I was half jittery from the wonderful cold, and excitement. We chose a healthy breakfast, and headed on the road. It was a leisurely drive filled with talk of the past, things we had learned, what the word "Witch" and "Priestess" meant to us both, and the intricacies of each path, how they can intersect but be very different. Some are called to one path, others to both. There was talk of initiatory energy as we passed over the large damn, and over the border and into a small town called "Summerland". Little did we know how important that would be!
We arrived in Kelowna, it was a cute peaceful town surrounded by hills and lakes. The perfect place for this Water Witch! We freshened up in the hotel, ate some food and set out for the evening's festivities. Unfortunately we got lost (a trait of mine I'm afraid) and so we missed the Gaelic Song workshop, though I am not too sad, I don't sing well in English, and it is better that I not butcher that beautiful language. I tend to be very shy in new situations, and Idalia not so much, so I let her lead as we arrived. We began to meet people, and I settled into my comfort zone. The concert was amazing. We had 2 wonderful singers Kerri https://www.facebook.com/KerriJoy?ref=ts&fref=ts and Ameila http://www.ameliaisaverb.com/ It is so interesting to me how wonderful and different they were. Kerri's voice is soft and sweet and makes you fall instantly in love with her. Ameila's voice is deep, and soulful. She is a true siren, the first note had me falling in love over and over, her music sent chills up and down my legs, it was enchanting. We headed back after the concert to get a good night's sleep, and I am so glad we did. 

We arrived at the UU church the next morning 15 min early. Soon after we began the opening ritual. It was a soft and beautiful ritual, perfect and fitting for the opening, and early morning! It was led by Andrea Hess, the organizer of the Western Gate Samhain festival, she did a WONDERFUL job. The first workshop started right after the ritual, it was led by Sarah Lawless, the Witch of Forest Grove. She not only lived up to, but exceeded my expectations. Her workshop was so informative, and was like validation to my own path. Though I follow a slightly different path than Sarah, her work with the ancestors, and bones has encouraged me to dive deeper into these mediums, as well as explore many new things she taught. I am so pleased to say that she taught a new form of Bone Divination, and I am so looking forward to using it during the Samhain ritual this Saturday. I told Idalia that this was the workshop I had come so far for, and I was so satisfied, anything that came after was the cherry on top, there ended up being several cherries! http://witchofforestgrove.com/
Morpheous Ravenna's workshop was next. I had read a bit about her on the website, and knew that Idalia would be excited as "The Morrigan" was her matron goddess, and this particular workshop was on her.  I have worked with Morgan La Fae, different beings that have several aspects that parallel, but the Morrigan's energy is that of a Warrior, something that I do not vibrate well with. Her workshop was very overwhelming, and informative. She spoke of Sovereignty, Morrigan's aspect as the Banshee, and then taught us a incredibly powerful chant. http://shield-maiden.blogspot.ca/2012/10/the-hollow-place.html

Brenden Meyers workshop was the last of the day. If you do not know who he is, you should. He is the only openly pagan tenured Professor. I will admit that I was not familiar with him, until the workshop. I was very intimidated by his professional accomplishments as I am more of an artist and "feeler" vs. a "thinker" his workshop spoke of Honor, Virtue and "Becoming the kind of person you would want to be over and over again". This is something that hit home on both a spiritual level, (Following your path, and dream) as well as on a "community" level. We as a community need to live virtuous lives, be the change we want to see in the world, and become an ethical community. For me is meant that we as a community should stop focusing on the little petty things, the things that we do wrong, who has wronged us, and step up our game, live a life full of Generosity, Friendship, Apotheosis, Courage, Happiness, etc "We are our Deeds" he said, this was a good reminder to choose to do those deeds that are kind, and not dwell on the negative. I highly recommend his lecture to anyone who might get a chance to go! http://www.brendanmyers.net/

We took a break and began to prepare for the main ritual. It was one of the most powerful rituals I have ever been to. Ameila, Seamus and Morpheous led the ritual, Ameila's soft voice rang out and spoke of Soverenty, Morpheous with the help of Seamus began to lead us in the chant we had learned earlier. Morpheous, began to fall into a trance, feeding on the rhythm of the voices, she entered the sacred space through the Western gate. Moments later I felt a strong chill run up my legs, like 1000's of spiders scurrying along. Not long after Morpheous's body began to writhe, her face turned pale, and her helpers helped her stand, just as piercing screams like that of a Banshee rang through the room, The Morrigan was present, the struggle between Morpheous's human body and "The Morrigan's" godly presence was evident, but Morpheous held the Goddess well. The rest was a blur for me, as I was not familiar with the Warrior energies, and was nearly knocked over by her presence several times. The chants continued, and The Morrigan spoke to us all. We formed a cauldron with our bodies as she opened the gates to the underworld and the ancestors poured out, A sword was presented and we charged it with our and the Ancestors energies. Just as I felt I could begin to breathe again, the Goddess was satisfied, and left, as Morpheous body collapsed on the floor. With the help of her friends, and other ritual members, she was delicately cared for with love, and honor. I am QUITE familiar with Ritual possession, as I have witnessed several before, including Odin, Herne, and The Umbanda People, they were all a slow possession, less intense, and different energy. The Morrigan was powerful, fierce, and I am still in awe.  

After the ritual, we ate dinner, taking 10 minutes of silence to honor our Ancestors. After the supper, Grant Led us in a beautiful ritual connecting us with and honoring the ancestors. We bound and charged Bear bones in a Seal's skin and then in a procession walked about a mile to the lake and threw it in. The rest of the night was filled with Fire performances, and merriment. I was exhausted and headed to bed, so I could be awake and alert for the next day. http://wulfricspiritcraft.com/
The next morning we met at the UU for a ritual procession down to the lake. This time we were to throw the sword we had charged the night before into the lake as an offering. Sarah Lawless a native of the area was asked to do this honorable task. It was beautiful to watch as the sword hit the water, I half expected the Lady of the Lake or a Gwragedd Annwn to reach up and grasp it. As everyone headed back, I stayed by the lake, I felt I needed to walk the bank a "tween" place and bask in the magickal energy surrounding me. I collected feathers, and drift wood, and of course found a lovely bone!

We attended the UU service where Morpheus expanded on sovereignty, and Ameila enchanted us with her voice. She sang a song that brought tears to my eyes. This song touched me so deeply I have listened to it a hundred times since I first heard it........
The shadows fell across the room as I lay down to rest
A storm was raging deep inside my head
I fell into a restless sleep
Of crazy changing dreams
But woke to find you standing by my bed
(chorus) Clohinne winds were blowing when you called me
First you spoke my name
Your voice was still the same
You beckoned me
and I arose To follow where you led
Out among the wild Clohinne hills
The mountain mist had lent an eerie whiteness to the hill
The silver spider threadings caught my face
You darted through the bracken
Trailing stardust in your wake
I knew you'd stop beside our sacred place
You stopped upon the fairy hill beneath the hawthorn tree
I thought I heard a lonely banshee wail
You held your hand towards me
And I reached to touch your face
But woke to find that you were just a dream
The years have passed
And I am growing weary of this earth
The magic of the dream alludes me still
I've lain beneath the fairy tree
I've shouted to the moon
I am the haunted woman of the hill

After a lunch of a strawberry and banana smoothie, I was able to attend Sable Aradia's workshop on trance. She is currently working on a book called "The Witches 8 paths of power" It will be covering everything from meditation, trance, dance, and the great rite! It will be out fall of 2013 and I highly recommend keeping an eye out. Her workshop on trance was a mix of science and magic. She started with " Magick is the art of changing consciousness according to will ~ Dion Fortune" This could give you a good hint of what it would be about! She spoke of the different brain waves, from Beta to Delta to Gamma and everywhere in-between. She told us where our brain was during ritual, during scrying, and during trance. How to achieve the different states, NOTHING was held back, and it was defiantly Adult only. She does sell a DVD of this workshop, and if you are even remotely interested in trance, you MUST buy it. www.Sablearadia.webs.com

We had to leave immediately after this workshop, missing a few more, but we had to make it back to the real world. Parting was sad, and I didn't want the weekend to end, but all good things must come to an end! We began to make our way through the mountains, and back to the States. We ate a delicious Greek dinner, and we crossed the border no problem, and chatted along the way, somehow we got turned around, and I am SO sure it was not on accident. We came to a screeching halt when we found ourselves at the edge of a river, waiting for the Ferry to come take us back. It all became so clear to me at that point what had happened. When we began our journey we traveled North West  over the boarder (hedge, veil, other side) and into a lush grape filled land called "Summerland" We partook in several rituals that took us to the underworld, through chant, and working widdershins. We were so lost in the energy we missed out on the symbolism until we arrived at the bank. As the ferry man waved us on to the ferry and we began to travel back over the water (south) I saw the weather vane change direction, and I began to think of Barinthus the Avalon boat man, who some know as Manannan mac Lir, who we had chanted to in the opening ritual! As well as Charon the ferry man on the River Styx. We had literally traveled to the underworld, and we now were on our journey back. It was sad to leave but I have the memories, and new and old friends to help me remember.  

"Don't ignore the cry of Destiny, instead claim it, take responsibility for your own destiny but with integrity
~ Morpheous Ravenna ( As close as I could get to accurate, sorry if it is not perfect)

As I wrote this blog, I thought to myself about how Idalia had such a profound experience, which I will not speak about because that is her tale to tell. I was content to have learned so much, and though not disappointed about not having a profound experience I knew that this would be a milestone in my own path, I just had not figured it out. As many of you know I have been studying the Avalon Mysteries, with Mara Freeman, as well as on my own. I had thought of Barinthus many times during the weekend, but didn't think anything of it till now. Most of my Avalon studies have been focused on the feminine. It was not until I wrote this blog, that I made the connection between Barinthus and Manannan mac Lir. Though my focus is on water, and healing energies, I work with the Sun deity Belenos, and the underworld God Gwyn app Nudd. I feel that with Manannan mac Lir, I may have found my watery male deity. He carries a crane bag (the Crane being my totem) and is associated with the Hawthorn tree (see song lyrics above for mention of the tree, interesting how the song touched me so much) .......... Thank you Andrea Hess for this weekend, as it has made a profound impact on my own path, as I knew it would. http://www.manannan.net/whois/index.html