Each year thousands of people gather at magical retreats of every kind. Each year I personally try to attend as many of these as possible. This past February I attended PantheaCon and as we near the end of August we are preparing for the Temple of Witchcraft’s TempleFest. Attending these places of immersive magical learning has made me think quite a bit about the things that I do each time to prepare myself. Here are just a few of the tried and true preparations that I do for my favorite retreats each year.
1. Use Protection
All jokes aside (as a child of pagan parents I can only imagine what goes on at some of these retreats) please set up your wards and anything that you need to keep the “con-crud” at bay. Some ways that you can do this include:
- Wear protective charms and jewelry.
- Make a sachet for protection using herbs, oils and stones and carry it with you. If you are traveling pretty far it’s a smart idea to make one for safe travel as well!
One of my favorite things that I learned from my teacher and high priestess, Alix Wright, is to take a stone and create a tether to the underworld in order to process any excess and heavy energy. While you are at the festival the stone will act as a filter for this energy rather than having it stay with you. Make sure to leave the rock somewhere in nature after the festival instead of taking it with you, and don’t leave it in any trees!
2. Bring Offerings/Items to Charge
Each year I bring a little something to charge with the energy of community. This obviously depends on the festival though as some are more community driven than others. One of my prized possessions and something that has reminded me of why I do this work regularly is a small vile of ash from our community’s Sacred Fire. This should go without saying, but please be aware of the environment when you take anything or leave offerings and please ask permission first!
3. An Open Mind – Willingness to Move Outside of Your Comfort Zone
Some of the biggest moments of growth for me have been during these retreats with community. Allow yourself to be immersed in the experience and leave your cellphones in the cabin. Be open to experience and moving outside of your preconceived ideas of what magic and witchcraft is. If you only stick to the workshops and rituals of topics that you’re familiar with then you’re not really giving yourself the opportunity to learn.
4. Regular Grounding and Alone Time
On that note, don’t feel like you need to do everything. Give yourself time to reflect, be with the land that the event is taking place on and do some self-guided learning with the local spirits. Spiritual FoMO (fear of missing out) is real, but I can guarantee you that if you give yourself the time to be alone with the spirits and digest everything then you will learn things that will never be taught in a classroom.
Intent may not be everything, but it can make a huge difference in the experience that you get. Is there a personal working you’ve been doing? Something that you have been meaning to delve deeper into, but haven’t had the time or resources? Take this time away from the daily hubbub while you are surrounded by others of like mind to dig deeper into this work. Be mindful in all that you do and you will leave feeling much more accomplished for it.
All in all, have fun!
Do something that excites you and gets your heart pumping. Ultimately the experience you have is the one you set yourself up for, so make it one that matters!