A magickal life means cultivating a living spiritual practice
or what I did at Conjure Camp…
On Friday, June 26th, my car packed with camping gear and passport card in hand, I embarked to Ontario Canada, ready for a weekend of magickal immersion at the Canadian Conjuration Campout organized by the folks of the Dragon Ritual Drummers (and with many wonderful folk working behind the scenes to make this event possible). The purpose of the weekend was to bring together community and teachers to learn, experience and celebrate the spiritual working of Conjure and Voodoo while honoring Mama Moses, the roots of the tradition and its history.
Bird song, apple trees and mosquitoes
Upon arrival at this small, intentional gathering (the event is capped at about fifty attendees to maintain the intimacy of community and focus the energies of the group) I sent up my camp site in the Apple Grove, aka The Orchard, with about six other friendly folk.
Bird song, apple trees, a stunning sunset and mosquitoes greeted me as I made dinner and changed into all white clothing for the evening’s welcome fire and first ritual.
After sunset we gathered at the main fire area for the opening welcome by Utu and a brief talk to prepare us for the evening’s traditional Haitian Voodoo Ceremony facilitated by Houngan Andrieah Vitimus.
The focus was one of healing, compassion and love supported by the drummers and other folks helping channel the powerful flow of Spirit. This was not some sort of scary scene taken from a cheesy Hollywood movie embellished for promotional effect. This was an authentic, heart-spirit-centered sacred ritual wherein the Houngan guided us, the participants, and called in Spirit. Andrieah created a container to bring Spirit through; the spiritual workings and attendees supported by other trained folks. Traditional songs were sung. The drummers drummed. The dancers, danced and danced to raise and focus the energies.
Love, healing and magick
There is a ton of misinformation regarding Voodoo and Vodoun practices. I witnessed powerful love, compassion and healing. Were some folks “possessed” by Spirit? Yes, but it was not some frightening, out of control or dangerous event in this spiritual setting. It was clear it was healing and transformative in a good way. Were the Dead called into the circle? Why, yes they were. Again, all this was done in a respectful and contained manner with trained folks creating sacred space and ready to assist. We were encouraged to radiate love and compassion to the Dead that needed it; to bless them and raise them up. The healing was profound.
It some ways it reminded me of my training in spirit communication with a similar focus on the elevated vibrations of love and healing.
As the ceremony came to a close Andrieah, as Papa Gede, lead us as we paraded to the Altar set up for the weekend. There were we lit candles to place on the Cairn. We sang songs of freedom and liberation in honor of the Spirits, Mama Moses and those that suffered and brought these traditions to us.
Something that really stood out to me was much later when I was talking with Joseph Alexander Robicheaux , about the ceremony, was the similarities in what we sensed of the many spirits gathered around us all during the candle ceremony at the cairn.
The language of spirit communication
The second day of Canadian Conjure Campout brought torrential rains and featured teachings on the Spiritualist Church and traditions with Reverend Tim Shaw. Reverend Tim grew up in the Spiritualist tradition and shared his wealth of knowledge as well as entertaining real life stories from years working as a medium and paranormal specialist. Despite the rain, the community was dry under tents, brought by Tameika and Fox, and the scene was rather fitting in a pagan spiritual revival sort of way.
Throughout the day, we were lashed with intense, gusting winds and cold rains that destroyed some tents and drove us to put on all manner of layers and waterproof gear. However, the epic weather brought us closer as a community. One brave soul worked tirelessly to keep the main bonfire burning in drenching rains thus providing much needed warmth as we huddled under umbrellas. Others ran to help save tents and kept an eye out for each other’s gear even if it meant getting soaked. The light in our hearts was not extinguished and folks stayed despite the adverse conditions.
Later in the day was another workshop on Seance in the Spiritualist traditions that preceded the actual seance at nightfall in the old barn. While I have participated in seances before, I have never been in one in such an incredible setting and with such a powerful group of people. Reverend Tim and Joseph channeled Spirit messages while Utu and Sunnie stood at the central table. During the seance, many folks received messages and all manner of physical phenomena was witnessed; “unexplained” lights, mist-like smoke and the table shaking like crazy in the center of the room.
Honoring our beloved dead, ancestor work
Sunday brought us a day of lighter rain and we again gathered in the barn for Ancestral Altar teachings with Houngan Andrieah Vitimus that was beyond the typical introductory level of workshop usually presented at conferences and festivals.
I say this with all due to respect to the basic classes offered, they are of much needed value, but it was really refreshing and very informative to attend a class that was for the serious practitioner ready to take their ancestral practice to a much deeper level. I was very inspired to return home and bring these new teachings into my ancestor practice.
During my time at Conjuration Campout, I was able to have a spiritual tarot reading from Joseph Alexander Robicheaux, a compassionate, candid and gifted reader based in Salem, MA. Joseph is a Bokor (sorcerer) and Hounsi Kanzo in Haitian Vodou from Port au Prince, Sosyete L’afrique Genin. Joseph’s generous spirit and wisdom shown through the whole weekend and his reading offered me valuable insight to my path and instruction for steps to take next on the journey.
The importance of self-care; renewing the mind, body, spirit
I can’t say this often enough for the readers, healers and magickal practitioners out there, it is vital that you practice your own self-care regularly; get readings, energy work/sessions and be a “forever student” in your magickal studies and seek authentic community. We must tend to our spirit. It becomes even more important if you are working in healing service to others.
The Canadian Conjuration Campout was a fusion of learning, experience and spiritual communion with kindred souls that renewed and inspired me.
A huge shout out of gratitude to all the folks that work so hard to create such a great event; from the hosts Jan and Ron whose farm we descend upon, to Utu and Jenn (and the Dragon Ritual Drummers) to the presenters and readers, Reverend Tim Shaw, Andrieah Vitimus and Joseph Robicheaux (and other folks that worked behind the scenes). Much gratitude.
My adventure in Canada continued…
Monday morning dawned gloriously sunny. This was the view for my morning coffee.
The hosts were gracious enough to let me stay an extra day so that I could head off onto another leg of my adventure in a short adventure through Canada that included Petroglyphs Provinical Park (an active, sacred site to the First Nation Peoples of Canada) and ferry rides across Lake Ontario (that is a tale for another day).