Several years ago, my husband and I were part of a group from Missouri that was invited to a Lamas camp out. This event took place in Illinois and we didn’t get there until the sun was just going down. We were left setting up our tents in the dark by feel and unsteady flashlight. After wrestling canvas and poles we followed a narrow trail through the woods toward the sound of drums and ritual voices. It led an air of mystery to the adventure. Here I was in unknown surroundings going to a gathering with unknown individuals. I didn’t even know what to expect from the ritual. The whole thing was a last minute decision to attend.
Tentatively, my husband and I joined in as people made room for us around the large fire. There were about twenty people in all spread out in the dim light. It was difficult to make out their faces. The Priestess stood in the center of the circle and held up a bag. “Tonight we will let fate decide which oil will be used for the blessing.” She pulled out an oil and dabbed people on the forehead saying a short blessing as she went from person to person. From the far side of the circle people began to grab their faces and scream. I froze in terror. “What the hell kind of ritual is this? What happened?”
People started lifting up their skirts and shirts to wipe off their faces. The priestess said, “Oops.” Then she huddled by the fire trying to read the label and announced, “It’s concentrated cinnamon oil! They’ll be okay. They’ll be okay.” She checked on each person. The circle mumbled and shuffled nervously. This time she pulled oils out of her bag and checked each one carefully before continuing with either sage or something else. I don’t recall.
The rest of the ritual was beautiful and empowering. The chanting and dancing moved me deeply. A few people, including myself, were moved to tears and not just because of the cinnamon oil.