Every October for the past 8 years I have attended Witch Camp, Maia Toll's online program. I usually share the link on Facebook, encouraging others to take part in this community and reap the benefits of this style of work. And then it starts.... the onslaught of concern, "Are you a WITCH?", the questioning of my sanity and the genuine fear for my well being (I am pretty sure my mother prays for my soul every October). I cannot help but laugh, though I also feel sorry for people that are limiting in their beliefs surrounding a word as simple and as complex as witch. There is a lot trauma attached to that word from women in history, so it feels good to reclaim it in a more positive light.
For the whole month of October I commit to working the daily lessons which have included journaling prompts, grounding exercises, creating boundaries, and energetic cleansing. While a lot of these practices may seem too WOO for most, I really believe you should not knock it until you tried it. Some days I have sat there reading the lesson thinking, "WTF? Do I really feel like doing this?" But I push past my reluctance, complete the act and sometimes I even journal afterwards. My revelations have astonished me over the years; particularly learning to quiet the chatter of my mind, tap into my intuition, listen and follow my "gut". This is a constant work in progress, I need reminders and have to keep practicing, but the results are undeniable. I have suffered some of the hardest times of my life in the past few years and I am not sure I would be handling them in quite the same manner if not for this amazing group and all that they have taught me.
A few years into this annual practice I took it a step further by attending the Deep Magic Retreat in person. This 4 day event takes place at the beginning of November in Asheville, NC on Maia's magical property. Women gather in person to nourish our mind, body and soul individually and as a collective. We rest, reset and refuel ourselves in ways I never realized possible.
Dava, an amazing chef, prepares nourishing meals for us everyday while Maia provides nuggets of wisdom and guidance; food for our souls as we do the work. There are 25 acres of majestic woods with the most ideally positioned nooks sprinkled throughout the land in which to rest and just BE in nature. My most favorite part of the property is the labyrinth in which we walk daily, slowing down our minds while connecting us to the earth, spirit and our inner selves, AMAZING!!! Words cannot describe the healing that has come to me from walking this powerful, intentional space.
The women that attend the annual retreat come from all walks of life from all over the country. Some come with a particular bag they wish to unpack, others simple want time to decompress before the holiday hustle and some of us just could not imagine not having this healing time carved into their year. No matter what people bring, they all seem to leave with exactly with what they needed. That is the beauty of gathering a bunch of souls in a magical setting....shit happens! As you can imagine when a group of women gather every year, friendships forge and deep bonds are made. Each retreat we have about half newcomers and half returnees.....some will not come back for a few years, but then pop back in for a year or two. There is a loveliness to the ebb and flow of people that show up. We always seem to have the right ingredients for the particular medicine that is needed that year. The sisterhood that has come from these gatherings is lifelong and I freaking love these women!!.
I show up, I do the work and life unfolds in ways I couldn't conceive possible. Back in 2017 I wasn't feeling quite my happy self. I poked, prodded and explored all angles and was surprised when I came to the conclusion to leave a paying job at a medicinal herb farm. I mean, I was getting paid to make herbal medicine....literally my dream job! Things were just not lining up at the time and it was really hard for me to see that I needed to move on, but it just kept creeping back up. I hesitantly made the move and once I vocalized it I instantly felt pounds lighter. Fast forward a few years, I continued to do this seasonal work, still made herbal products for friends and family but then began to feel the pull to create my own herbal products business. Self exploration, being mindful of my inner stirrings and my weekly hikes with my bestie Keysha led me to take a giant leap of faith and begin My Herbal Apothecary!
I have heard from many women how doing this work has led to them change careers after twenty years, leave relationships and get divorced after decades, or on the flip side of that led them to create a deeper bond with their partner. I am not sure that Maia intended to create such a life changing shift in so many, but this is powerful work if you show up and embrace it. Over the past 6 years my role at the retreat has morphed into various forms. By the second year I started leading "crafty corner" where we bridge the mind/heart connection by working with our hands. Over the years we have made allll kinds of fun tools and creations for us to carry with us when we leave; so we can continue the work once we return to the chatter of our everyday lives. Giving back to a community that has given me so much makes my heart sing and fuels me in ways I cannot describe.
This will be the last year for Witch Camp and I guess I am getting a little weepy reminiscing about all that it has brought to my life. Working the daily lessons in Witch Camp has helped me grow and become the person I am today and continues to keep me working towards path I want to lead. It has also connected me to some pretty AMAZING women that I am grateful to have in my life. I will continue to show up for the annual Deep Magic Retreat and Maia for as long as I am needed. If I have learned anything over the years, it is that things happen for a reason and I need to be like water and flow with it;)
How do you find and connect to your tribe?