Alright, everyone wants to know what happened at Starwood – here are the details.
I left for Starwood from my friend Carin’s house in Framingham, MA at about 9:00 Sunday morning, July 21st, 2002. After a long and speedy trip, I arrived at about 5:00pm Sunday evening. I went through the registration line and proceeded down the hill to find my campsite. Ruby (my car) was very happy that she was about to be unloaded. She’s been a little grumpy recently about being considered a hauling vehicle.
I took my camp lawn ornaments and headed out to find a campsite. There was an area of the camp ground that I was immediately attracted to, and I spent 45 minutes or so walking around and around, searching for a site, but to no avail. Then I headed over to the other side of the Fairy Woods and found an ideal location right near the edge of the woods. I set up camp and luckily met a man named Scot who offered to help me set up my tarps over the tents (I had no idea how to do this). He helped me get organized and also helped me lug in the ton of stuff from my car. I spent that evening visiting with him and his family.
I spent Monday wandering around and getting a feel for the site and where things were. I touched base with a friendly acquaintance, Earil, Voodoo Priestess (Mambo), and spent quite a bit of time in her camp hanging out. She let me put my jewelry out for sale in her tent. When I I brought my jewelry case down to her tent to make an anklet for her, I hurt my back in the process – the case weighs about 50 pounds. Luckily a wonderful man by the name of Christian (very funny in a pagan man) was there and he did the most amazing rocking/cracking technique on my back that put it right back in place. So, no worries for me there. I wisely decided to leave my box at Earil’s until the end of the event or until I could find some strong person to carry it back up for me. Must stay mobile.
That day I also met with Tony and Sam/Linda. Tony is an intuitive shaman (meaning he has no training, not that all shamans aren’t intuitive) and we had a long talk about the nature of shamanism and energy work. I recognized the Buffalo energy he was working with from my time with Tom. [As I re-read this, I realize that it was the very first full day of the journey and spirit was foreshadowing who I was to become. I am now that intuitive shaman – trained by spirit and by the other shamans, priest/esses, healers, etc. along the way.]
I went to the hot tub with Scot that evening and we met a woman and her husband there. She was having an allergic reaction to the chlorine fumes, so I showed her the lung points and gave her some other random information I don’t remember now. I had also been sharing my story about leaving home with no intention of going back which she had evidently already heard. More on that later.
I went back to visit with Earil. There had been a lot of drama stirring at the camp. Two things were driving the energies.
- The site planned to erect a new standing stone and there were people who were upset that the stone didn’t seem to be happy with its new location. They were worried that people would get hurt if the stone wasn’t soothed.
- The Discordians had brought a life-sized statue of Cthulhu (although being a mythical creature, I’m not sure how it could be identified as being “life-sized”, but whatever.) This was causing quite a bit of upset amongst those prone to it – which, I believe, is exactly what the Discordians were going for. 🙂
Earil, being one of the spiritual elders on site, was receiving all of these complaints and requests for permission to do ceremonies to shift the energies. As all of this was fomenting, there was also a fog settling in (which I am convinced Earil drew in to make the evening more mysterious for those participating). Each time someone would come into the tent upset, Earil would give them a sacred duty to carry out to help dispel the energy they were upset about. In between these visits, she and I would be amused at the drama unfolding and wonder what everyone was so upset about. She had many people running around that evening, working out their upset in physical action – smudging the entire site, doing cleansing rituals on the stones, etc. Each doing what was necessary to soothe their own spirit. None of it was required for the site because there was nothing energetically wrong with the space in the first place. I spent the night dozing on the ground in Earil’s tent waiting for a cleansing ceremony that she had planned, but which we never did. At about 3-4am I gave up and went back to my tent for some real shut-eye.
I got more into the swing of things on Tuesday morning as I discovered the real use for a clothing-optional event. When you wake up in your tent in the morning and all you have to do is pee, you can get up, naked, put on your shoes and trek to the port-a-johns with no worries that anyone will be offended. I have discovered that I am not shy or body-conscious. I am only acutely aware of others’ reactions to my nudity. Damn that empathic attitude. So Starwood was very freeing in that respect. I had no issues doffing my clothes at opportune moments. I did, however, stay mostly covered during the event because my lily-white skin burns easily and in the evenings it was cooler, or I didn’t want to get eaten by mosquitoes. But my first trek to the bathroom every morning was done in the buff, and a lovely trek it was.
After sharing breakfast with my friends from Canada in a campsite down the way, I headed over to the radio station to check in. We were told that all DJs had to meet for training at 11am on Tuesday. Well, I got there and they were just done setting up the tent and just pulling the truck up to off-load the equipment. They were not prepared for training. It had been raining earlier in the day (yet another reason to go skyclad), so they had waited to get started. I came back in an hour or so to check in and was talking with Jeff (very cool person) when Thaelo and Chuck walked up. I was instantly attracted to Chuck, but he didn’t take much notice of me, so I went about my way. I spent a lot of my time wandering from place to place. I did my required work shift that afternoon and then wandered some more. I didn’t have any sense of grounding. I had no plans for what I was going to do there (other than get my tattoo) and no idea what was in store for me. I didn’t even know what I was supposed to be working on, so I wandered and went where I was called.
I checked in with Abraham about the tattoo that evening and we scheduled for close to the end of the event so I wouldn’t have to worry about cleanliness, infection, or sunburn. It also let me put it off a little longer.
That evening was my shift at the radio station. I had the 7-9pm shift during the opening circle. I did a guided meditation to join the energies of the people together. It was a good meditation, but I had a hard time concentrating with people and trucks rolling by constantly and people smiling and waving to me. Overall, it fell flat energetically, I’m sad to say. I really enjoyed doing the radio show though. After I got over the technical glitches, I really got into creating the show. It’s much like creating a good mix tape, something I used to really enjoy doing. At the end of the show, I went to sign off and in an effort to break my pattern of no sex at festivals, I signed off with the following. “Yes, and I have one more shameless plug for the evening. Men, if you have been by the Starwood radio booth in the last two hours and liked what you saw, come back on by and see me. I’m single and I’m open to invitations.” or something like that. Jeff, who was sitting next to me laughed hysterically. Chuck, who was in the booth and was standing in front of me a few minutes before turned and looked at me and said “Well, I guess I beat the rush. Right place, right time, I guess.” I took him up on his implicit offer and we spent the evening together.
We went wandering around camp talking, and I got a lot of background on him and how his life was going at the time – just got laid off, middle of divorce, soul searching, etc. Big surprise he had set off my radar earlier in the day. A woman’s work is never done. I spent the evening listening, questioning, and flirting. Sadly, he missed the latter and we ended up talking until late and then he crashed in my tent under penalty of death if he tried anything while I was getting some much-needed sleep by then.
I was going to do the radio show with Jeff on Wednesday morning since he and I have this fun combative thing going, but I was too tired. So I slept in and then Chuck and I grabbed breakfast. I finally got Chuck to jump me by going down on a banana and then asking if he was going to kiss me now. We had a lot of fun and I’m pretty sure I rocked his world.
I spent the rest of the day on my own. I was out there with the intent of finding the person/people I would be going home with. I stopped by Earil’s tent that afternoon and met a woman by the name of Kelly/Cheshire who was holding a get-together for BDSM people. She was posting fliers and the workshop was starting in a few minutes. I tagged along getting to know Kelly – whom I instantly liked. I went to the workshop and there was a guy there who sparked my interest. I motioned to him before the end of the workshop and asked him to stay for a minute to talk. He greeted me with a kiss on the lips (unexpected, but not instantly rebuffed as most people would have been). I found out in short order that he was a friend of Kelly’s. We started hanging out and I told him the story of what was going on in my life. He said I should come to Indiana and started regaling me with the stories of how great Bloomington, IN was. I listened intently while letting my head reel a bit. We went to Camp Babylon for the evening, we hung out with each other and were mostly anti-social. We parted ways for the evening.
[Once again, looking back, the pieces are falling into place. A couple of years ago, it was suggested by a random person I met that I really needed to read The Red Goddess. It was about the Goddess Babalon and the engagement with the Divine Feminine darkness. That book amplified the path that took me to the place where I am now – working the lower chakra path with spiritually advanced practitioners to bring their higher work into the world. It’s so interesting that my opening experiences should be so steeped in this concept as well. I didn’t mention it in the original text, but Camp Babylon was a BDSM encampment – so everyone was dressed in leather and playing in that space.]
I got up early for the radio show and had a great time bantering with Jeff. We were a hit. Everyone was talking to us about how much they enjoyed the Jeff and Kelle show. I didn’t make it to many workshops since I just couldn’t get up the impetus to go.
I touched base with Daniel again and asked him if his suggestion to come to Bloomington included a place to stay with him. He said yes and that was settled. I walked back to his campsite with him to get his change of clothes and realized that the site looked mightily familiar. He was camped right in the center of the radius I had been making for 45 minutes trying to camp when I first got there.
We parted ways for the evening. I was going to the potluck at CAW (Church of All Worlds – see Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land) and then on to the fetish ball. I caught up with Chuck and we hung out for the evening. I took him along as my little sub boy for the evening. I did a scene with Chuck at the fetish ball, not a great location for a scene since many of the people had no idea what the etiquette was, but not terrible either. I did some good work with Chuck and then, after bringing him down and making sure he was OK, sent him back to his tent to sleep.
Later that night, I ran into Daniel again. I found out that he had been there watching for the scene I did with Chuck (funny it seems a lot of people were watching – I was totally oblivious – lost in the work I was doing). Daniel’s teacher, Rebecca, and her husband, Kirk wandered up at some point in the conversation. After a few minutes of conversation and us telling them that I was going home with Daniel, they recognized the story. They had been the couple from the hot tub. We hadn’t recognized each other with our clothes on. Kirk shared with us then that he had thought to hook Daniel and me up, but thought, “Nah, let them find each other on their own.”
I did the second morning show with Jeff that day and we taped the banter as an audition tape for me. It wasn’t as good as the first day, but it was still funny. I did a couple of interviews including one with Kenn Day whom I had never met but whom I knew to be well-respected by the people I knew and respected. I went to his workshop the next day to find out about his practice of Sheya(sp?).
I arranged with my good friend and former roommate, Lorelie and Daniel, the guy I was going to go home with, to sit with me for my tattoo on Saturday. And that evening, I gave my workshop on combining energy healing and tantra in BDSM. It’s funny how you don’t really recognize what you do until you try to teach it to someone else. I really learned a lot about my healing work process in the BDSM venue when I started talking about it. I realized the mechanisms I use to accomplish the goal of creating safe space and creating an opening. I did a demonstration of my work with one of the other DJs as my sub and it was very effective. Chuck also shared his experience from the night before which helped to put it into context for people. I’ve gotten a lot from doing that workshop. I think I’m going to be able to integrate that form into my regular healing work with a few modifications. Very cool. I also got interviewed for a book one of the other Dom’s is putting out on magick and BDSM. Ought to be interesting.
Later that night I got to watch Magnus and Spinner do their show. They are truly amazing. I’d like to get to know them better, but I’m not sure that’s meant to be right now. We work in different realms at the moment.
The next day, I went to Kenn’s workshop on Sheya(sp?) and really enjoyed watching someone else put into words the work I’ve been doing for the last few years. I’m tempted to explore that further and may do so if the opportunity arises. He lives in Cincinnati, OH, so that’s not far from here. We’ll see what happens. [You’ll see later in the journey that I got to Cincinnati and met the other members of Kenn’s group. In fact, I attended their LumensGate event for several years after the journey until they discontinued them. I even helped run a shorter version of Lumensgate in Massachusetts in 2007. One woman, Kathy (Keter) Scheiern and I became close friends (she’s the one I ran the 2007 event with) and she is part of the retreats that I’ll be running starting this Fall.] [Kathy (Keter) here adding my two cents to this blog entry. Kelle and I almost met at this Starwood! I was there. I was hanging out with Earil and Kenn Day. I was one of the ritualists for the “controversial” stone raising. Kelle and I had to have crossed paths at that event. But we didn’t actually meet until later. And I didn’t realize this until I read this blog entry! The world is a very interesting place.]
I ran into Lorelie who was falling asleep at the workshop with me. She was beat. She had spent the entire night up at the fire circle and was crashing hard. She didn’t think she was going to make it to the tattoo ritual for me. I also talked to Daniel who was coming off his 16-hour work shift for his Starwood work exchange. He also said he wasn’t going to make it. I was disappointed, but OK with this, thinking that it just meant that this was a personal, internal process for me and I should do it alone.
I went to the tattoo tent to find Abraham. I was thinking about chickening out the whole time – what else I could do with the money, etc. I got there and woke him up. He too had been up all night drumming in the fire circle and at 2pm was just barely rested. And, as if I needed yet another sign (which I guess I did), there in the center of the tent that he does the tattoos in was a spider hanging by a single thread at eye level. The minute I acknowledged it, it crawled back up the thread and left. I was committed.
A bunch of people came and went from the tent as Abraham woke up, got his breakfast and worked on my design. One of those people was Emily Care Boss – but I didn’t remember that when she arrived. She walked up to me and said “Kelle? Kelle Sparta?” I said that yes, I was me. She tapped her hands against her chest and said “It’s Emily Care Boss! We met at Rites of Spring a couple of years ago. You helped me calm down when we couldn’t find our friends!”
All at once, I remembered. Not her in particular, but the evening. It was that night when Earil and I had first bonded. We were both working the registration table and people were all coming in frazzled. It had been raining and everyone seemed to be having breakdown in their process of arrival. Cars were breaking down, tires were going flat, caravans were splitting up, friends were losing one another, and suitcases were falling off the top of vehicles, breaking open, and dumping the clothes in the mud. People were walking in panicked, pissed off, wet, and exhausted. Earil and I saw the pattern emerge with the first few people and she opened an energy at my feet so that as I greeted people, I could siphon off the frantic energy and drop it into the sink hole.
Emily told the story of how she came in, upset that they had lost their friends on the trip to the site. They had been travelling in a caravan and had gotten separated. She was distressed. I said “Your friends are coming here, right?” And she agreed. Then I said “And you’re here, right?” Once again she agreed. And I said, “so they’ll be here and they’ll find you. You’re exactly where you need to be. Everything is fine. Welcome home!” And I threw my arms around her and hugged her, taking the frantic energy and grounding it. She said that she had immediately felt better and that her friend DID arrive shortly thereafter and everything WAS fine. She thought I was a miracle worker. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I had done exactly the same thing for about 300 other people that night.
That event would come to be known as Rites of Rain or Rites of Sprinkle because it poured the whole time – I don’t know what the organizers were thinking when they sent out a message to a list of 600+ pagans that if there wasn’t rain soon, there would be no fire circle. Oh there was rain – but very little fire circle. The rain didn’t stop long enough. But back to Starwood.
Just as Abraham and I were about to get started on the tatoo a woman wandered in. She spoke with us for a while and asked to see the pattern he had just transferred onto my back. She asked if she could stay and watch. I took a hard look at her, knowing that whoever was in the tent when the work was being done would be part of the energy of the tatoo forever and, to my surprise, I said “yes”.
Abraham asked me to state my intention for the tattoo and the ritual. I said that my intention was to learn to spin and weave the web of life. The woman said it was funny that she was there because her entire life revolved around spinning and weaving. I started to cry and Abraham started the tatoo, toning as he worked. The woman toned with him. As the tattoo bit into my skin I went inside with it.
Grandmother Spider appeared before me. Even in the vision, I had tears running down my face. I was so grateful that she had deemed me worthy of sending someone to support me. She backhanded me and sent me flying across the room. “I never want to hear the word “worthy” come out of your mouth again”, she said. “Come over here!” I walked back to her, confused. She led me to a well, where a perfect web had been built across the opening just inside the lip of the well. She pointed to a strand in the web that was beginning to fray. “You see that strand there? I shore it up because it needs shoring up. Not because it is “worthy” of it. There is no such thing. It is a part of the whole and if it breaks, the whole web is weakened.”
She noted that I had no issue standing in support of others, no special sense of connection to them, no sense of their worthiness to receive my support, but I attributed all of those things to others who stand in support of me. The web is. Each of us are a piece of it. There is no good or bad, just what is. If part of the weaving needs shoring up to be strong, then that is what is done. It’s that simple. Also, I was told that I must learn to walk the web with grace before I start to try to spin it myself. That’s another big lesson for me. I think I’ll be working on that one for a while. Hence the walkabout, I think. There was other stuff too, but that’s just for me.
My tattoo is designed as a spiral to reflect the movement into the underworld and the upperworld with part of the web left unfinished as a testament to the fact that this was one small part of the web of the world.
I spent Saturday evening coming down off of the tattoo experience. I watched the bonfire from a distance because I still felt too fragile to go into that chaotic a space. Daniel and I watched it start, watched the fire and air elementals dance and then watched the sky turn dark as the storm blew in. We retreated to the warmth and safety of our tents before the storm hit. I slept soundly that night and awoke only slightly damp at my feet from the driving rain (bless Scot and his creative tarping).
It took Chuck and I almost two and a half hours to pack out my camp. Some of that time was spent pulling the tents and tarps out of the woods and onto the field to dry some before they got packed away. Thank God for Chuck. I didn’t realize how much crap I had dragged into that stupid camp site. I thought we would be leaving sometime between 3-5pm. I was packed and ready to go at 3:30pm and was making a necklace for Chuck. We finally got on the road at about 6:30pm after several gyrations about whether we would stay for another night after all. Thus began the grueling 11-hour journey to Bloomington. I wanted to call people to let them know where I was going and how I was doing, but it didn’t feel right to talk to anyone from home until I had gotten to Bloomington and settled in. I was really glad when Lorelie called on her way to NY City. I had seen her at the camp, she was part of the experience, I could talk to her without messing up the energy. I spent the entire drive alone. Kelly who had intended to switch cars half way to keep me company in the wee hours, fell asleep. So the last hour of the trip was spent with me doing a force of will process to stay awake. But we finally arrived in Bloomington at 4am local time which is 5am in the time zone we started in. The moment I drove into town I realized that this wasn’t home and thought “Oh, crap! I’m on walkabout!” This came as a surprise to me, but not to Daniel. I wish people would tell me these things! We got here, unpacked the overnight bag I had packed specifically for the first night, and went to sleep.
Anyway, that’s the journey from Starwood – and a long journey it was (looking back over this message). Hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. I’ll catch up with you later.
*During this journey, I was told that I wouldn’t know the full import of these events for 10 years. The items that appear in brackets in purple are observations from my life now, 11 years later, looking back – things that are coming clearer as I re-read these entries.
* This is part of an ongoing series of posts detailing what happened on a spiritual pilgrimage that I took in 2002. To start from the beginning, go to July 2, 2013. To see the entire journey as it gets published, click on the category “You Want Me To Do WHAT?!!?” to see all of the posts.