Turning the Tide is an intimate gathering of Wiccans and Witches in South Florida. As Everglades Moon Local Council (EMLC) looks forward to an exciting year of planning for our 5th annual Turning the Tide this December, we decided to take a look back at our most recent successful EMLC TT for reflection, and to share our memories of the event.
For those of you who have never been to Turning the Tide, it is a camping weekend filled with ritual, workshops, druming, and more in South Florida. This past years’ activities also included a community pot luck, a wreath/centerpiece competition, and the Iron Witch competition, where contestants were provided a “secret ingredient” to utilize in a spell which they constructed within the contest’s timefrmae. It is always interesting to see how each person designs their spell around this secret ingredient, and fascinating to hear the different techniques and approaches that magickal workers will use. No two people tackle the Iron Witch the same way, and may horizons were expanded.
Many participants agreed that this year’s workshops were some of the best ever featured at TT. Each one was well done, well put together, and packed with lots of useful information. Those who enjoyed the workshops were really glad to have taken them, and were impressed with both the material and its presenters. Our workshop leaders are quite talented at sharing their knowledge with the community, and we are grateful for their time.
TT begins and ends, and is puncutated by, ritual. Each year, a different group volunteers to lead the rituals upon which the entire festival turns. This year, our Assembly of Solitaries (AoS) were responsible for main ritual. The AoS is comprised of individuals who are members of EMLC outside of a connection to a Coven, though some do belong to member Covens. Several participants at this year’s festival study Faery Seership with Lord Orion Foxwood, and those Faery Seers went to the river to open a passage for communication with the spirits of the place. During main ritual, Manannan and Cerridwen fished those in ritual out of the Sea, transformed.
A big part of Turning the Tide is the music. From Drumming to Yule Caroling, nothing seems to lift the spirits like the joyful noise of friends and family coming together in the spirit of community. All agreed that the drummers, the Roots of Magick, were amazing, causing many to dance ’round and ’round the fire until dizzy with holiness. For those who chose to simply sit by the fire, the drumming was no less magickal. Just being able to sit beside the fire, watching the flames licking the logs, listening to that wonderful drumming beats, and just relaxing completely without a care was, itself, transforming and grounding. It is so easy to be present in the moment in that space, and it is something that is desperately needed in the midst of an otherwise hectic season of commercialism and consumerism. And to have Pagan Caroling before feast is truly a blessing – nothing warms the connections of community like singing together, laughing, and having fun.
Of course, one thing that truly connects people is the breaking of bread. Everyone was asked to donate items to share at Feast. There was so much food that there was not enough room at the tables for all of it! Each person who attended was also invited to bring a cup of an item to contribute towards a Mulligan Stew, which allowed everyone to put a bit of their own magick into the evening.
The items decorating the Great Hall reflect the time of year. Included in the decorations are the wreaths and centerpieces that were contributed as part of the decorating contest. Each one was more beautiful than the next, and each providing their own interpretation of the meaning of the season. Voting was held at the end of the festival, and the winning pieces received stunning hand-painted herb racks filled with herbs to use for magick. At the end of the festival, each wreath and centerpiece is donated to EMLC to be featured in our annual drawing, along with other items donated by EMLC members, allowing these treasures to find new, loving homes at the close of TT.
Each person was also invited to donate a toy for the children at The Center for Positive Connections, which is a nationally-recognized, community-based, not-for-profit organization providing HIV healt and prevention education, social and emotional support, mental health counseling, and holistic health treatments for people living with HIV/AIDS and their loved ones. EMLC Has worked with Positive Connections for many years, and this was our third year sponsoring the toy drive, and each year our Yuletide Toy Drive is able to bring more and more cheer to these children.
Turning the Tide does not spring to live over-night. Hours and hours of work over months and months led to an event that seems to go off without a hitch each year. It is a hectic and stressful time, when you remember that these same folks have “real-life” obligations like school, family and community. But somehow, the stress falls away and dissipates like so much mist. Then the hugs start, and everyone’s heart is filled with joy. It’s the feeling of family getting together who have not seen each other in some time.
EMLC cannot wait for the next Turning the Tide! We’re already thinking of workshop ideas, rituals, and other ways to share our community space with all of you. Watch this space for updates as we draw nearer to the Yuletide Season!