An Unexpected Journey: Caribou Clan at Twilight Covening

This post is by Rose Starwind.  She started pursuing her magick at the age of 13, and has walked many Paths and followed many trails in pursuit of spirit.   A poet, environmental consultant, and mom, she has a deep love and respect for the Earth. Twilight Covening remains a significant part of her spiritual work each year.

The year I birthed my daughter was the year I birthed the Caribou Clan. By then, I had attended Twilight Covening sixteen times, and suddenly all the things I had experienced and been taught there fell into a big soup cauldron. My clan leaders’ combined energies, devotion, and love of their Crafts gave rise to something new: an understanding of what it was to be deeply magickal without compromising who I was as a woman. I knew clearly that any Work I did was Women’s Work, because I was a woman doing it! Coming to the Mountain as a new mother, my first time leading a Clan alone, with my six-month old daughter and her father forming the Kangaroo clan, something essential shifted inside me again, watching my daughter wander the Mountain. Her first tooth appearing during the Visioning Ritual, and the forms of nourishment that could be absorbed shifted profoundly — for both of us.

Looking into her eyes at that moment, I remembered the dance of the energy exchange in the Lynx Clan, the resounding silence

Photo by Bruce McKay

Photo by Bruce McKay

that fell after we had raised a sound with our voices. That sound had become a clear chiming as the energy blended into something other, a whole far beyond the sum of its parts. I remembered shuffling in a sodden circle, shape-shifting through the elements of fire, all of the Alligator Clan in Sarah Cooper, attempting to thaw in front of the fireplace. I really remembered what it felt like to Shift into bear form, my shoulders bunching and relaxing as I walked — or actually, as I lumbered along. As the room warmed and our chill faded, the bear gave way to the lion and I felt what it was to walk with intensity, to hunt, to take down prey, my eyes glowing like the fierce sun present inside me, warming spirit and form.

I remembered my first Reindeer Clan- immersion in the practices of the wild north- food (knekkebrod!?) storytelling, magickal crafting, journeying with the drum. I laughed, remembering my chagrin and the heart-felt laughter of my fellow Reindeer when we returned from a journey to meet our guides. I met a puppy. A puppy with big dangling ears that it stepped on and tripped over rather consistently. ME (?!), with a puppy for a spirit guide? Only in hindsight can I find the lesson there: yes, in many ways I was just a pup. My all-grown-up and magickally mature hunting hound had to find the places where we still stumbled on our ears and needed to trust, and gain both strength and grace.

I stayed with the Reindeer work and then into the Ptarmigan work at the forge: the creation of the sacred fire using specific woods to build it, the sound of the smith’s hammer echoing as we journeyed to its rhythm. I remembered my first snowfall at Twilight, flakes striking the forge and the hot iron with tiny hisses. The following year, one might say that I moved from the proverbial frying pan of the Ptarmigan Clan into the fire of the Gryphon Clan. And oh, the changes that came from that Work. Profound, intense, sacred, and silly, the Gryphon Clan changed me: my perspective of who I was, what I believed about myself, and how I contended with Pain, whatever its source. A new strength was discovered, and after years of suffering with physical pain, I was able to simply identify it as pain. That was the Secret: pain was nothing more, and certainly nothing less, than just pain. The Gryphon work in particular prepared me for the pain of childbirth, embracing it to fuel the change within myself, and allowed me to birth with confidence. Yes, it hurt, and yes, I hollered — there is no safeword in childbirth to make it stop — but the lessons from Gryphon allowed me to ride that pain, not allow the pain to give rise to fear, and therefore my child came into the this world without her mother’s fear coloring her birth.

In Albatross we shared the poems of the Norse, found our way through our experiences, and engaged each other to write our stories, poems, musings, the challenge being to write them in skaldic verse (a specific Norse poetic form). It was there I touched a grief I didn’t know I had; there I was enabled (yes, even as a clan leader) to be held in safety and trust by my clan, and there that I created poems and art that birthed my healing. In Elk, we used the stories of the Norse to reflect our own realities: what were Our Stories? How do we continue to stumble through we should have learned from our Ancestors? We became the Norse that find and express the laughter despite hardship, or pain, or fear, or cold, or wet. Exploring the wisdom of the ones that have gone before, fueled by laughter, rich stories, and trust, the Elk stayed warm and dry despite the eight (yep, 8!) inches of rain that fell across that Twilight weekend.

It is with a profound sense of gratitude – for the Earth and the mountain, for the clan leaders and participants who have helped to shape the woman that I am today, and for the opportunity for growth and change that Twilight Covening represents — that I approach my 20th consecutive Twilight Covening. But most of all, I’m grateful for the journey that began with a long drive up a steep mountain road, my first Twilight Covening, all those years ago.

———-

Twilight Covening is a weekend-long ritual where participants work in small groups focused on a particular aspect of Earth-centered spiritual practice and then come together for community rituals in the evenings. This year, it will be held October 11-14; registration is open until September 25.  Learn more or register now.  

Taking Flight

by Oriana Miller

Shhhhhh   Can you hear that?
There’s a keening just outside your door!
Does it make you fear me?
Or do you choose to look upon the pinking autumn sky?
Shhh Can you hear that?
There’s a rhythm on the waters edge!
Does it make you feel alive?
Or do you look for a mossy ledge upon which you may lie?
Shhh Can you hear that?
Such a clicka clacking in the air!
Does it help you to see me?
Or do you trust yourself to take that leap and begin to fly?
Shhhh Can you hear that?
There’s a silence in the herding.
Does it make you feel their strength?
Or do you need to search for me and look into my eye?
Don’t shy back or fear what lies ahead
But step out with the greatest pride.
For you must remember your Twilight story
About how the Reindeer are forever by your side.
(painting by Starwind, photo by Jennette Carter)

Earth Father

by Starwind


We sing of the Mother
The Nourishment
The Beauty
But lately
I am reminded
Of the Earth Father
While the Mother rages
In storms
In Change
In all the ways of nature
It is the Father that reminds us
To be Stable in the midst of change
To be Still in the midst of fury
To protect the gifts
The Beauty
The Nourishment
In times of stormy rages
Shelter from the storm
Bedrock to rest upon
Hunter
Farmer
Teller of stories
Wisdom Keeper
Yes, Earth Father speaks to us
A different language
If we are still within
Listening…
(in memory of Chet Sawyer)

Winter Court

by Starwind

Gently they move
Silent under star light
Drawing what nourishment they can
From moss, lichen, grass, leaf
Their hooves breaking the frozen snow

Gently they lift their heads
Watching me pass
Barely curious
But obviously concerned

I feel their gentle eyes
I sense their Knowing
The brightness of their spirits
Their sadness that I am sheathed in metal
Instead of running with them

How I wish it was we
Who could remember
To be gentle

How to move
Silent under star light
Drawing what nourishment there is
A gift to us
A gift from Her

In what manner do we Honor
Both Gift and Giver.

Choose wisely.

Still Life

by Starwind

Wednesday night
Running late
I noticed the sky was an odd shade of yellow
And started looking

I arrived to get Robin (late)
And emerging from the car
I found it
An enormous double rainbow
From horizon to horizon
Surely an omen, and a really good one at that

The drive to Twilight, as usual
Was peppered with anticipation
Arriving (late) I was afforded the opportunity
To be still
To truly Arrive
To breathe in the Mountain
The trees
The chipmunks

The Work was deep
The Work was true
The Work was
Good Medicine
And it was over too soon
Far too soon

The glowing moon grew
With or without our Dance
The Pearl of Wisdom
Reflected in our spirits
Sparkling in our eyes
A treasure beyond worth

Packing the car (again)
Hitting the road (again)
The drive home was slightly melancholic
Until I started watching the sky

The sun was setting
The moon was up
The clouds were shredded
Like a milkweed pod
Swollen to fullness
The Work was released
Each tiny seed
Tossed to the wind
Trusting the spirits to carry them
To fertile ground
Safely home

The sky swirled
Colors swelled
A tiny patch caught my eye
Glancing eastward
Another tiny patch of color
The sun, glowing white
Much like the moon had
Smiling, watching us dance

I drove
And I watched
The rainbow form
Bracketing our work
Before
And after

Still life
Pearl with Rainbow Frame

(October 12, 2011, Moon in Aries)

Heartbeat and Beyond

by Starwind

Twilight Covening has always presented opportunities to learn, to share, to experience, to develop lasting bonds — but this year I experienced something else. This year, I broke through a wall, and what might otherwise have been considered a personal “ecstatic” spiritual experience was infused with a profound sense of the Sacred.

Twilight can be warm (not my favorite years), can be wet (less favorite), can be very cold (fitting for the work), but for sure while my spirits are always revived, invariably I get tired — bone-deep tired. This year, confronted with the challenge of “holding the space” for the closing of the visioning ritual, I inwardly sighed and wondered how to contain/direct/keep focused the energy of so many people having such potentially profound experiences for a significant period of time…..

My tool of choice is the drum. So I drummed a heartbeat. And I drummed, and I drummed and I drummed — and sang. It made perfect sense to me at the time — few words, simple tune.

We are One
With the Soul
Of the Earth
Mother Earth.*

At first, I felt all my trained magical and physical muscles kick in, and then they began to quiver with strain (the drum is not small), and mentally I was continuously checking in with the groups of people coming in to the closing space, watching the energy, listening for “issues”. Moving with the energy into and out of the various rooms — I was doing what I considered to be my Job that evening. The folk were there, imminently present in the space and the moments as the chain of that ritual formed link by link…..and I drummed, and we sang. And time became a blur — until my muscles reminded me that I was human, standing, drumming for what seemed like hours and my back and neck and shoulders were singing a protest song. What to do? Common sense said take a break (I did relinquish the drum for a time) but I was uneasy about taking a breather and losing the tenuous harmony that had formed in the closing space — both inside where it was warm, and outside where the stars danced and more of the Folk were singing. So instead, I took a breath.

The Camel Clan had a wee space in the corner of the room where they were practicing some breath work and some poses, people were doing physical and energy work on each other, profound support was pouring from those overflowing to those in need — and in a clear moment of increasingly blurred vision, I Saw that the tapestry was not of human weaving; that the perception of my Job that night was nothing but my ego speaking — the entire concept of containing, directing, and focusing that night’s work was ego — and nothing more. The pain in my back and shoulders continued to increase, and I fought to ignore it. And I drummed, and we sang. And finally the pain said to me “sit and breathe”, so, slumping down the support pillar, my back resting against it, I continued to drum and to sing and to breathe — and with a tear of exhaustion, I released the need to succeed, to control the environment, to “manage” the energy of the closing space…I could no longer contain what wasn’t mine to begin with.

(photos by Tchipakkan)

I breathed — and felt the plants and the trees and the mountain and the stars and all the Folk breathing along. The drummed heartbeat, maintained for, oh, 5+ hours or so, beat whether I struck the drum with a feather touch or an earnest stroke or at all as my fingers had cramped around the antler beater. The song was now a whisper on my dry lips, and yet the Music flowed without effort. The tiny spiral of twinkle lights arranged on the floor whispered of continuity, of intent, of progression and creation — a spiral dance that we’d danced year after year as a Community.

We had Gathered. We had remembered. And the Pattern Endures.

*We are One With the Soul of the Earth, © 1981, Andras Corban-Arthen