I remember her eyes. And the way that we connected.
I don’t remember her name. I don’t know if I even asked. I don’t remember if we spoke. But I remember this: the feeling of home.
It was 2008. I didn’t know a soul and there I was, in the first ritual. The drums called us to the circle, bodies moved around the fire. I didn’t know what was going to happen.
I took a breath. No turning back now.
On the car ride to the camp, I asked a lot of questions of the driver who I’d just met that morning. What was it going to be like? What should I worry about? What should I know?
(Inside, and quieter, was I ready?)
I’d read about it in Spiral Dance, I’d tried some of the exercises. I knew who Starhawk was. That was about it.
I’d heard about Witchcamp from a friend of my partner. She’d said I’d like it, that I should come.
I showed up. Unprepared.
But now I know (or think I know) that the uncertainty, the hesitant breath was the magick taking hold. That was me trusting in what was to come, that I could be held by strangers and a woods I didn’t know. Yet.
That night. Milling around the fire, invited to gaze deeply into the eyes of a fellow traveler, I locked eyes with her.
I felt I was a part of something bigger than myself, bigger than the world. More expansive than the stars.
Connection. Opening. Unfolding.
And when we danced the spiral dance that night, I saw the eyes of each person in that circle. I smiled and sang and smiled and sang. Each of those eyes would become names, and many would become beloveds.
I would return to the woods again. And again.
I started being a witch because of the Internet. Having grown up in the Midwest, I wasn’t exposed to much. I only wandered into witchcraft because of another spiritual group that was wonderful, but not for me.
I have no idea how I found the website that talked about casting circles and calling the elements.
I have no idea why I was drawn to a group that worked with the Spiral Dance, how I came to be in my first coven, how I created my first magickal name.
It all just happened, whispering the names of the Goddess and journeying to see a woman with long white hair. Rituals out of books, rituals that were five pages long and written over weeks.
I showed up.
And it all fell away. I left the coven or the coven broke up, it’s fuzzy now. After many rituals, many flower wreaths and moon phases and magick, we went our separate ways.
I felt into solitude and solitary work, happy to cast circles with salt, light candles, and trance out with a Lisa Gerrard CD.
Still, I knew there was more. I wasn’t home yet.
Until I was. I moved to the other side of the world — to the West Coast.
And then Reclaiming happened. That ritual happened.
I came home. The door was wide open — and I stepped in.
And while there are times when home has its challenges and I can’t quite find that moment of connection, I return anyway.
I return open and ready. Unprepared for the awakenings around every corner.
I wonder what happened to that woman in the ritual. I haven’t seen her again. I wonder if I ever will.
I thank her for the welcoming, the open arms, wherever she is.
That ritual. That moment. Home, at last.