As I mentioned in an earlier post, I spent an amazing weekend with other Morriganists at the Temenos Retreat Center in Western Massachusetts for a retreat called The Morrigan's Call.
To say western Mass is pretty is an understatement to a Southern flatlander like myself. I've travelled a bit around the US, but this area is truly beautiful. Old hills, formed from glaciers, covered with green trees. My Florida forests are poor soil and hardscrabble trees that fight amongst themselves, oaks vs. pines. There's competition for water, since it isn't scarce but the sandy soil means it doesn't last. This kind of natural strife shapes the land and the animals who inhabit it. Even the humans, tortured by heat and humidity, lashed by occasional hurricanes, are a different, harder breed.
The land around Temenos is quite the opposite. The people were friendly and kind, and there's an expectation that the world will just work somehow. The fauna are easy to be around, with a porcupine sighting at camp. As we were toured and oriented around camp, we saw salamanders on the trails, my first time seeing a “wild” salamander.
The rituals were intense: The Washer at the Ford, Macha of the Red Tresses, and Anu were all honored each. A temple space was dedicated to altars of the various names for the Queen as well as the Dagdha, and Nuada. Open the whole event, anytime one wanted he or she could hike up a narrow foot trail to the space and be alone with Them.
Temenos is truly off-grid. There was no cell reception for most, no electricity, water drawn from a well. The place used to have a hotel, a folks would come for the curative mineral water properties. The water tastes strongly of iron and sulfur and is said to contain quite a bit of magnesium. I drank it frequently, and it reminded me of well water from my grandparents house in South Florida when I was young.
The most important thing I can convey is the sense of being in a tribe. For three days we ate, sang, prayed, learned and laughed together. I knew few of them by reputation, some from Facebook, and only Stephanie personally. I can say now I have dozens of friends all of whom share my devotion to Her.
I also met people new to Paganism. Friends I could show the way I walked, and maybe they could see some things in a new way.
Nights at the lodge were magical. We had only a couple propane lanterns, a couple kerosene lanterns and many tea lights to scare away the deep dark woods, and I often thought of what my ancestors felt as they gathered around small lights to listen to the harp that one person brought, the guitar another brought. We told tales from our homes and of our travels, laughed and helped each other through tough personal stuff.
I guess the only annoyance were the mosquitoes. Three days of rain prior had brought them on, but I joked about them during my workshop. It became an experiment to see what combination of repellents worked best. Not unlike when I was a kid slogging through the Everglades in summer.
My body was challenged a bit like my soul. Western Mass is rocky, unlike our sandy wilds, and being on the side of the mountain, every trip was up or down, or both. It felt good to move through that space, oftentimes it was easy to forget that I came from a world of internet and cell service. I felt connected to the land as I walked through it, my feet learning to navigate and old path both figuratively and literally. I became stronger, and moved more easily with time.
It ended too quickly, the relentless clock demanding I hurry back to an airport to ride in a metal tube through near space with strangers. I spent every waking moment staring out a window or reading devotional words to her, afraid I'd lose the feeling. And then all kinds of folks started finding me on social media. My tribe may be scattered, but we all want very much to keep as close as our technology will allow.