White Crane #69 – Donald Engstrom – Everyday Sacred

An Excerpt from the Summer 2006 Issue of White Crane  Col_everydaysacred_2

A Report from Witch Camp

We stood once again in Freya’s Hall. We had come to deepen our relationships with the Mysterious Ones of Place; Wind, Water, Fire and Earth, with Red Bloods and Green Bloods, with Rooted, Branched and Blossomed, with Furred, Finned and Winged. The Hearth Fires were relit, the Folk regathered. Our joyful obligations to each other held us in the strong arms of compassion. It was time for us to continue the on going work of Winter Camp.

We began our time together by dedicating Winter Camp’s new prayer bead set. The bead committee stood encircled by the beads facing outward towards the community. Mary held up the prayer book for each of the six members to read two pages at a time. The prayers beads truly awoke and found a place in the hearth and hearts of the Folk.

That first afternoon we also moved into our cabins, made announcements, formed affinity groups, met the teaching/facilitation team, met the three kitchen Witches that prepared our daily meals, listen to path invitations and renewed our delight in each other’s company. We welcomed old timers and new comers alike. From the beginning of camp till it’s last closing song, the graciousness of Hostess Law permeated the very air we breathed.

That first evening we set our camp’s intention.

In love, we open our hearts and minds to the spirits of the lands around us, listening deeply and respectfully to their stories. We seek to move ever closer to a co-creative relationship with all beings in our landscapes. We choose connection and courageously step forward into the new stories we create together.

Each evening’s ritual was a coming together of the whole community. The teaching team so skillfully held the work that each piece flowed invisibly into the next. There was a sweet blending of styles and of tools. There was always a spaciousness that left plenty of room for the community to actively participate in improvisational co-created magic and spell work. The teams commitment to beauty, love and joy was tangible. This team obviously held the growth and development of the community as paramount. They were courageous enough to truly be servants to the clan house.

The first morning we chose our path work:

1. Living the Moment
2. The Dance of Desire Lives Here! Mapping our Inner & Outer Worlds
3. Aligning, Attuning and Earth Healing With the Intelligences of Nature

Our resource teacher, Christine, moved confidently from path to path while feeding each evening’s work.

I have heard life changing reports from people participating in all three of the groups. I have heard stories of the work feeding and nourishing both the individual and the community. From my perspective, it was obvious that yet more components of the sustainable cultures of beauty, balance and delight were fully formed by the work done in each of the three paths.

I chose to join the "Aligning, Attuning and Earth Healing With the Intelligences of Nature" path. It was a brilliant choice for me.

We tranced with our Allies. I listened and heard:

Wind and Water
Bone and  Branch,
It’s all life
That we enhance.

Wind and Water
Stone and Dream,
It’s  all life
That we esteem.

Wind and Water
Womb and Web,
It’s all life
That must be fed.

We each wrote a poem with a shared common title; “When Water Becomes Frost.”  Strong work flowed from each of our pens. It led me to write:

When water becomes frost,
Human lovers spread flannel sheets
  On their beds of pleasure
  Knowing that desiccated lusts shall be restored
  By the frozen breath of icy lips on a hot belly.

We practiced trance postures. We worked with among others, the Corn Mother, the hawk and the bear poses. We gathered information, visions and instructions.

For instance, this came to me while in the bear pose:

My body flushes with pale green lightnings and storms.
    Dreaming a memory?
    Remembering a dream?

I listen to my bowel’s healing rumble with bear ears.

Singing Bear calls for his song to be sung.
I sing;
With just his voice
He heals throughout my body.
With just his voice
He shatters the virus.
With just his voice
He builds crimson blood,
He makes red blood healthy and vital.
And the ancient queer
Were bears,
Bear shirkers,
Bear healers,
Shake and tumble,
Dancing to bag pipe and drum.
The hurdy gurdy’s strings

Take us to a dream restored in bone and blood,
Stone and wood,
Tears and cum.
We breath deeply together;
In through the nose,
Out through the mouth.
Honey cakes are our healing desserts.
Dreaming a memory?
Remembering a dream?

The last morning of class found us standing in the midst of the Whitewater River declaring how we had changed the world as if we were years into the future. We dared this work knowing that it is by our conscious choices that we give Skuld the materials that will build the worlds that we shall all live in. Here is a sampling of our declarations.

Larry declared:

I chose to honor and nurture the healing powers of water and dirt.
I pulled the old bandages off my heart and stretched those scars.
I determined to become an athlete of love.
Most importantly I learned to see success.

Madelon declared:

I healed the world by opening my heart and healing myself.

Diane declared:

Opened heart, shed tears, touching, loving;
Daily discipline and Divine connection.
Blessings, blessings, blessings!
Compassion and hospitality, humility and healing, fairness;
Intention manifest in all that I did.
Spells, spells, spells!

Ashland declared:

I gave the world my full attention.

I declared:

I am an Engstrom.
I planted sunflowers, tomatoes and corn.
I made my bed every morning.
I planted wild weeds in every crack in the pavement.
I drew spirals at cross roads, on churches, on boulders, on hearts that risked to actively heal, knowing that each spiral transformed all the others.
I danced in bars,
  At weddings and picnics,
  In parks and in palaces,
  In hovels and caves.
I danced in the arms of my lovers and boyfriends,
  Tasting their tastes,
  Celebrating their glory
  As we dared to dwell in beauty, balance and delight.
I planted sunflowers, tomatoes and corn.
I made my bed every morning.

I must also say, that Freya’s Bower was consecrated daily with an offering of sighs, sweat, and cum from many in the community. The  Bower brought us both earthly delights and the healing of hearts. Praise be the powers of sex and it’s mysteries!

This Winter Camp has been for me a high light among high lights. It is one of the most powerful, nurturing, sustaining Reclaiming events that I have ever been a part of. I am deeply grateful.

We left with the words of the Norns still singing in the winds and the waters:

Listen to the stories.
You choose your own lives!
You provide us the weft with the choices you make.
We all co-create these worlds together!
May abundance and joy flow through our lives
like a wild untamed river.

Blessed Be.

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Donald Engstrom/Reece is a hero of ours.  A longtime activist in gay spirituality, Donald’s work dates back to the mid-1970s when he took part in early consciousness raising communities in the Midwest — communities that foreshadowed later Radical Faerie developments in the early 1980s.  In the 1980s he began doing work with the Reclaiming Community and hosted the first Faggot Witch Camps.  He lives in Minneapolis with his partner and travels around the country doing work in the Reclaiming Tradition.
A frequent contributor to our pages, we are now delighted to have his wise insights as a regular feature in White Crane under the title “The Everyday Sacred.”

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