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Witchcamp 2016: What happens between the worlds, changes all the worlds

I stand on the wooden bridge on the way to the ritual circle where I can already hear the drums calling me to join.  I am once again with 120 Reclaiming Tradition witches of all genders at California Witchcamp. I hear the water ripple and flow beneath me. The creek is stronger this year, after four years of drought the land has found reprieve with a wetter Spring here amidst the redwoods.  It is the last week of June and the extra water also brings extra mosquitos.  My physiology is such that they rarely bite me, and when they do I hardly welt or itch, so when one lands on my forearm, I simply watch as it feeds off me.  It turns into a small glowing ruby before flying off to become food for the bats and other beings.  I can afford to leave a little blood offering here in the woods for the continuing cycle of life.


I am after all in magical space, between the worlds.  The first night of camp we put up a strong Circle to hold the work of our community of witches all week.  The final words of Circle casting are, “We are now between the worlds, and what happens between the worlds, changes all the worlds.” May a little bit of my blood freely given to the food chain here between the worlds, help end the cycle of blood being violently spilled in the feeding frenzy of fear and hate in the world in which I usually live.


Before I stepped onto the bridge to listen to the creek, I stopped to kneel at an altar set up to remember our Queer dead.  Camp came only two weeks after the mass shooting in Orlando.  I grieve for the forty-nine killed while they were dancing in joy, and the one killed while shooting in hate, their blood violently taken - they have all been on my mind and heart.  I thanked my Queer ancestor of spirit, Harvey Milk, along with a cloud of ancestors who I believe were there to help guide and receive those beloved dancing dead. After personal struggle I also hope that the fear and hatred of the shooter can be transformed in death so as not to live on, and that he too is received by loving ancestors. 


The drums pull me forward off the bridge.  It is twilight, the sun setting as I pad barefoot along the path.   The ritual begins, we ground and cast a Circle within our larger week’s Circle to contain this night’s magical work.  We are a few days into the camp week and ready to do some hard magic.


“The circle is cast and we are between the world, what happens between the worlds, changes all the worlds.”  


Our work that night is to begin to unravel the web of lies that hold our lives, communities, and world in bondage.  In a collective trance we see the dangling threads of those lies and begin to pull them apart casting them into the fire.  I watch strands of “the rape was your fault,” “Queerness is a sin,” “black lives don’t matter,” “manifest destiny,” “climate change has nothing to do with humans,” unravelled and burned.  More and more threads of lies are pulled out of the web, lies we’ve been told, lies we’ve told ourselves.  It is wild and difficult work.  After camp I was asked by several witches who were not there this year, what we did on that particular night because they felt something shimmer and shake and begin to come undone where they were.


“What happens between the worlds, changes all the worlds.”


The next day is our day of repose, a day to sleep in, spend the afternoon in a gentle community ritual of personal healing, and then the evening laughing, singing, feeding each other chocolate dipped strawberries.  Doing those acts of intimate gentleness and love in this magical space between the worlds, sends that energy and care out into all the worlds, including to where it waits for us in our individual lives outside of camp.


“What happens between the worlds, changes all the worlds.”


Our last few days and nights in camp are spent weaving a new web, one not made up of lies, but of personal truth, of love, of strengthened community, of hope for healing of all the worlds.  We dream together in trance, in workshops, in conversations over meals of what that might be, how that might become manifest particularly in the world to which we will soon be returning.  We share wisdom and concrete tools of activism, organizing, and ways to regenerate and support ourselves and each other in this new weaving.


Two weeks after camp I watch as the web of lies continues to unravel in our world.  I watch strands of “you can’t both support blue lives and black lives” unravel as thousands mourn and denounce the killing of brave Dallas police who were protecting peaceful protesters who were themselves denouncing new killings and calling for changes to the way my country, The United States, trains and does policing, particularly in relation to black men.


“What happens between the worlds, changes all the worlds.”


Now after camp I see the work we did between the worlds manifesting changes in this world, both as the unravelling of the web of lies and the beginning of a new weave of strong and clear truth and kindness.  And you, what do you see in this world?  What threads in the web of lies are you becoming aware of?  What must you untangle and cast into the fire?   What new weave, new threads of tenderness, and community, and hope for healing will you spin to replace them?


Blessings on those who have seen the threads of lies for years and tirelessly pulled on what has been such a strong weave for generations.  Blessings on those who are just seeing those threads and are horrified at it’s magnitude.  Blessings even on those who can’t yet see the web is lies, and are simply terrified that the weave of their way of life is unravelling.


But mostly, blessings on those who are changing all the worlds, weaving a new web, woven with threads of tenderness, justice, inclusive community, healing, a new web that holds as sacred and holy all peoples and beings in all the worlds.


The Circle is cast, and we are between the worlds, what happens between the worlds, changes all the worlds.  So mote it be.

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Lizann Bassham was both an active Reclaiming Witch and an Ordained Christian Minister in the United Church of Christ. She served as Campus Pastor at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley working with a multi-faith student community. She was a columnist for SageWoman magazine, a novelist, playwright, and musician. Once, quite by accident, she won a salsa dance contest in East L.A. Lizann died on May 27, 2018.


  • Elizabeth Creely
    Elizabeth Creely Thursday, 14 July 2016

    Oh, your beating, strong, loving heart. It does such needful & good work. Blessings on it and blessings on all the work of all the hearts that beat together at camp. :-)

  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Thursday, 14 July 2016

    Thank you Elizabeth. My heart appreciates the blessings!

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