Turning the Tide, 2011 marked EMLC’s 5th Year hosting this great South Florida gathering of Wiccans and Witches! We spent a “Pentaculous” weekend together camping, singing, enjoying workshops, sharing ritual space, and so much more. It’s hard to believe that this festival has been going on for 5 years now. When we remember planning our first Turning the Tide, wondering who (other than other EMLC’ers) might show up… and now folks e-mail us and ask on our Facebook for more information about the next! It’s been amazing to be able to set up this sacred space for the Witches of South Florida.
The first thing that greated folks when they arrived at the campground was our Main Hall. As always, the witches of EMLC had transformed this drab hall into a magickal Yuletide space. Everyone “ooh’ed” and “aah’ed” during registration as they took in the decorations which included many handmade wreaths entered into the Wreath and Centerpiece contest. The decorations also included a festive Yule tree, under which were stored the donations of new unwrapped toys and gifts for the children at The Center for Positive Connections, a South Florida resource center for children and families living with HIV/AIDS. Coven Banners and lights were hung round the hall and, as always, on top of the fireplace was a giant pentagram, lit all in lights. To truly set the mood, the welcoming smell of the ritual cakes being made and baked filled the Hall.
From Opening Ritual to Closing Ritual, you knew you were in sacred space. EMLC has dedicated and consecrated this space for 5 years, so it quickly wakes up when we arrive. Perhaps at no other time was it at its most sacred than during Main Ritual. This year, members of EMLC used “A Winter Solstice Singing Ritual” as the basis for main ritual. Almost entirely in song, this was a rite like no other. Eight of our talented singers performed several songs in two and four part harmonies and in rounds, which allowed those participating in the ritual to join in. It was a unique and lovely ritual, definately an experience to be treasured for years to come.
Breakfasts and dinners, including our community pot luck, took place in the main hall. When folks were not chatting and building community, they were singing. This was possibly one of the most musical Tides that EMLC had ever hosted! Between the Wuzungu Tribe drummers who lured folks towards the fire circle or drummed them off to sleep, and the EMLC Choir who performed the main ritual entirely in song, there was no lack of music. We were even blessed to have, Witch’s Mark perform a concert for us, too, with their opener Armando of The Witches Garden! If you haven’t heard of Witch’s Mark, definately head over to their website.
When you were not eating or singing, there was still much to do. Workshops were held both at the Hall and in the ritual area. They covered a multitude of topics, including pagan death ministries, the Celtic Tree Alphabet, making Mead, and even a rocket stove demonstration. We also had a revisit of the popular Faery Seer Breathworking, led by Florida Seers who study under Lord Orion Foxwood. The weekend workshop schedule concluded with an Ethics Pannel of EMLC Elders. It was very informative, and many people were able to ask burning questions.
Even with so much going on, it was a relaxed atmosphere. There was always time to make new friends, catch up with old friends, or even just enjoy the fire.
One of everyone’s favorite non-ritual activities each year is Iron Witch, and this year was no exception. While the contestants whipped together a spell in the 15 minutes allotted using the “mystery ingredient,” we were regailed with more from our singers, Cat and Laertius, who both cheered them on, and occasionally heckled! Everyone had a great time, though it was sometimes hard to hear over all the laughing. Winners received amazing prizes for their efforts. This competition was open to anyone, regardless of age. In fact, our youngest participant was Owl, who at the ripe age of 12 gave a well thought out spell working and was rewarded with his own certificate for being brave enough to challenge his more experienced elders.
Completing Sunday was the announcement of the winners of the Wreath contest, on which participants were invited to vote all weekend. The creative witches of the Temple of the Sacred Mist had crafted fantasic prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. And who can forget the annual drawing? Tickets were sold all weekend long and those whose magickal tickets were selected went home with handmade items, including our winning wreaths!