June 13, 2016

Retreat Weekend

This weekend, I went on a Bacchic retreat with a small group of likeminded folks on the Oregon coast. We rented out a house on the beach and spent the days in ritual, conversation, prayer and divination. There was wine and there were gifts. There were processions, a mad prophet, raw meat, roasted beef heart, dancing on the edge where the water lapped, chanting and singing, and for the first time, I played my drum in front of people. I saw again people I'd met before, and met in person for the first time people I'd only corresponded with online. It was pretty incredible.

For the first time, I helped to write and then perform a ritual for a group. I had quite a bit of stage fright about it, but it went very well, and was a wonderful experience for me.

I brought along the beginning of a project I've spoken of only a little here. I'm engaged in writing mortuary and funerary rituals for the Starry Bull tradition. I've done a great deal of reading and research for it, but very little writing. I am too conscious of the weight of the responsibility, too worried that I'll get it wrong to write much. But this weekend I knew I was going meet in person someone who had invested in my research, and I wanted to show her that I wasn't wasting that investment. So I finished writing the one ritual I'd gotten traction on, and brought it along to show people. The response was so positive that I am again fired up about it. I have more confidence in my ability to do this. I'm thinking of starting a second blog specifically for the project, collecting my research and notes and talking about the process. Rewriting Death is the name I have in mind.

There were two big disappointments for me, both involving only my own body and no fault to anyone else. First, I sliced the underside of my little toe open stepping on broken glass late Thursday night, and spent four hours in the emergency room getting it stitched up again. Not only did I get very little sleep before the long drive down, but I had to be very careful of it all weekend. I couldn't get sand in it. I couldn't go for a cleansing ritual plunge in the cold Pacific. I couldn't enjoy the hot tub. There is very little less conducive to a ritual mindset than double bagging one's right foot. The mad prophet helped me out, though.

And then, hauling supplies up and down the narrow and twisting path to the beach, I sent my back into a nasty spasm, and suffered some pretty serious pain the rest of Saturday night and Sunday. A good night's sleep in my own bed and some care taken of it has helped that enormously, though.

It was a weekend that made solitary me want to do more ritual with other people. Preferably without injuring myself.