Through the magic of modern technology, Phoenix and I have been co-writing this piece on two separate continents. She’s been writing it tomorrow and I’ve been writing it yesterday, depending on which of us you ask! And, just as this installment of The Witches Next Door is landing in your news feed and on Patheos, Phoenix is arriving back from her two-week trip to Australia. We began writing this a week ago while she was in Brisbane during a particularly trying time.
Phoenix is in the Land Down Under (cue Men at Work ear worm). She is one of the Reclaiming teachers at this year’s CloudCatcher Witchcamp. The site for the camp is in the shadow of the imposing Mount Warning volcanic caldera, or as it would be known to the Bundjalung people, Wollumbin. This is Phoenix’s first trip to Australia and her first adventure out of the US by herself, and that brings up a whole set of fears and apprehensions for our intrepid Pagan Priestess.
Phoenix – Originally Gwion and I were going to take on this adventure together. However, due to circumstances beyond either of our control, I am here on my own. It became apparent to me in the early stages of this trip that my personal work for this camp will be around facing my fears. And there are a lot of them: traveling this far all on me onsey, going into a new community environment, knowing just a few of the witches here, and, of course, being away from my partner and family for two weeks. Any one of these things would be hard for me, but put them all together and you might see this introvert running for the hills.
Gwion – For the next two weeks my job is simple: Keep the household running smoothly, don’t lose my car keys and be ready to talk to Phoenix whenever she calls.
Phoenix – I’ve started writing this on my first day here and I have a long two weeks ahead of me. Somehow I know that today will be the hardest. Right this minute I feel lost and isolated. What’s crazy is I feel oppressed by the distance. It’s not like I can just go home. Like literally, I couldn’t afford the plane ticket if I had to. When I start to think about the vast distance it kinda freaks me out a bit. I might just try and tell myself that I’m just in Los Angeles and see if that helps. I don’t really know where I am or how to get around. It’s like being a kid and having to depend on everyone around me to help me out. This makes me feel extremely vulnerable. I am tired and confused and out of sorts. My body thinks its midnight, but the clock tells me that it is 5pm yesterday. After travelling half-way across the planet, I suppose that’s normal.
Gwion – Phoenix’s first call – She’s naturally tired. Remind her that she’s only had snippets of sleep in the last 40 hours. Of course she feels out of sorts. Encourage her to find a patch of ground outside and sit for a few minutes just breathing in the air. Everything will be better tomorrow. Drink water and remember I love you. Call me any time.
Phoenix -Even though my host is amazing, wonderful, and generous, ties to my “normal” life feel tenuous and stretched. My every day comforts aren’t available – my bed, my shower, you know. Again, I feel vulnerable. I’m really recognizing how much I depend on the simple day-to-day interactions with my family, friends, and Gwion, specifically. And that’s a good, solid understanding for me to take to heart: how connected I am and what a source of power and comfort my local Pagan community is for me. And, I’m supposed to be having fun, dammit! This is an amazing opportunity for adventure, and I have to keep reminding myself of that. Why can’t I just shake off the “blahs” and enjoy the ride? What the heck is wrong with me?Gwion – Phoenix’s second call. It’s only the second day. Give yourself the space to relax, nap, or go outside. I know it’s hot and you aren’t sure where you are, but that’s okay. A trip to the back yard is just fine. I know how it is to find yourself on the other side of the planet with only a few links to the place and the people you are with. I’m here. Call me any time. Remember to eat and drink and get outside if you can.
Phoenix – Today I traveled out to a wild life preserve and saw kangaroos and koalas and platypuses (I know it’s platypi but that just looks weird!). I’ve ventured out a bit am getting more and more familiar with my surroundings. Soon, I’ll be meeting with the rest of the teaching team and we’ll be getting down to the business of refining our rituals and path work for the camp to come. I’m remembering to ground and reminding myself why I am here.
Gwion – Phoenix’s third call. Oh good! It seems like you are settling in and getting your travel legs underneath you. Tell me about your adventures so far. What have you seen of Australia? How’s your daily practice?
Phoenix –I am a Priestess and I need to draw on that. I am here to do spiritual work, to teach about magic, and facilitate rituals. This is the work that I love to do. With each teaching opportunity, I also learn more about myself, about magic, about mystery. This is hard work. It is a delicate balancing act of holding the needs of the community where I am facilitating and holding my own needs and process. This brings me right back to missing my family. In the present I am homesick (even surrounded by kind, caring, and loving people), and yet I hold the work first and my needs second. Actually, It’s more complex than that. Both are so intertwined, but it feels like if I sink into the work and pour myself into why I am here and why I love teaching in this tradition, then that eases the homesickness. I am discovering that this trip is teaching me about what I value. What I really need. What I truly appreciate. And what it means to be vulnerable.
Today I’ll be heading out the forest to teach magic and to learn magic. It seems so witchy and cool when I put it that way.
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