Shrine Trail: Development and Plan

The Shrine Trail is a forest pathway that will run along the Northeastern border of Raven’s Knoll. It will stretch from the Jötunn Ve all the way to the Æsir Ve, passing through forest, over bridges, and alongside a wetland marsh. (Assistance is required to execute on this plan, please see Gypsy Birch at Work Weekends to help out.)

Phase One

Phase One entails the basic physical creation of the trail. This includes marking the desired route, raking back detritus, removing undergrowth, and the construction of bridges over the swales and ditches. All bridges will be designed to accommodate the space required for two pedestrians to cross, and to withstand the minimum weight capacity of 2,000 lbs. This is to meet the demands of supporting the small utility vehicles that may be required to pass through the trail, as well as power wheel chairs. While the trail will be designed to be suitable for pedestrian traffic, utility vehicles will provide significant assistance in transporting the materials required to construct the later phases of the trail as well as assist in creating the shrines.

  • Route marked
  • Detritus raked
  • Undergrowth removed
  • Bridges installed

Additionally, once Phase One is complete, dedicants will be allowed to begin constructing their approved shrines. However, the locations for these shrines must be within the portion of the trail that has been finished within the span of Phase One’s requirements. This span will most likely be within the Southernmost half of the Shrine Trail.

  • Shrine theme
  • Desired location
  • Traditions and taboos/codes of conduct
  • Required materials
  • Construction timeframe
  • Designated and potential caretakers

To submit a request to build a shrine to the Stewards, please consult with others in your interest community and return this form to

Phase One estimated completion date: July 2015


Phase Two

Phase Two is intended to involve the general completion of the trail from the second bridge all the way North to the Æsir Ve. The trail will be widened to accommodate small utility vehicles as well as two side-by-side pedestrians.

  • Second section of trail widened
  • Some shrines started and/or completed

Phase Two estimated completion date: September 2015

Phase Three

Phase Three is the final phase in the construction of the Shine Trail. It is expected that the entirety of the trail will have been widened to accommodate utility vehicles, all bridges will have been installed, and multiple shrines will have been completed.

  • Entirety of trail widened for utility vehicles
  • Drainage ditch formed
  • Culvert installed
  • Path raised in Northern section

Phase Three estimated completion date: October 2015


Shrine Trail (Preliminary)

Shrine Trail (Preliminary)



Húsel Menu for Freya at HHG 2015

A central feature of the Hail and Horn Gathering is a sacred feast known as húsel.  Foodstuffs which we will offer at the Vé, will be collected and prepared in a way consistent with the cooking techniques of the Germanic peoples of old. Our communal efforts at the raising of the God-pole to Freya, the blót, bind gods and folk together through this ritual meal in her honour.  It is in the hall at the feasting board that frith is shared with every bite, growing in joviality well into the throws of symbel.

All HHG registrations include the husél feast dinner. Friends who are regular campers at Raven’s Knoll and are not registered for Hail and Horn may join the feast for a $30 fee, preregistration is required for this so we can plan purchases.

(Please note that this menu is tentative, as the exact menu depends upon numbers of feasters and other logistical concerns.)



*** “Smear-breads” – Start on the table ***


Homebrewed ale

Buttermilk (thin, unsalted version)

Switchel (a chilled honey-drink flavoured with cider vinegar)


Maslin Loaf

Rye Crispbread

Green Pancakes


Cultured butter

Lard with caramelized onions and crackling bits

Sharp mustard


*** “The Immortal Sow” – First Service ***

Apples, Bacon and Onion

Smoked Bacon with Apples and Onions (Danish style)


*** “Skause Warmth” – Second Service ***


Pork broth


Pork meatballs, poached in broth, spiced with garlic and mustard seed

Buttermilk Dumplings

Barley dumplings poached in pork broth


*** “Searching for Od” – Third Service ***


Grilled pork sausages, no filler, flavoured with sage and caraway

Millet frumenty

Glutinous millet ‘rissotto’ coloured amber-yellow

Horse Bean Salad

A salad of fava beans with chives, mixed wild mushrooms, fresh apples, toasted walnuts, blueberries, feta cheese, and apple cider vinaigrette


*** “Sweet Lady” – Ends on the table ***

Sweet Pottage

Thick barley and flax porridge, topped with crushed roasted hazelnuts and honey

Strawberries and cream

Strawberries with whipped cream



Hail and Horn Gathering 2015 – Freya

Hail and Horn is an annual gathering organized by Canadian Heathens to express in fullness of our ancient religious custom. The gathering is anchored by three intertwined rituals – blót, húsel and symbel – and a deep reverence for the Gods. This is the fourth year of the gathering.  This year, in particular, we honour Mardoll, the Lady Vanadis, Freya.



Hail Lady Freya! Raising a God-pole is the main ritual at Hail and Horn. Each year a log of red pine is carved in the likeness of a god/dess and ceremoniously ‘planted’ into the earth within the Vé. To date Odin, Frigg and Freyr have been planted and Freya will join them in 2015. The lore on such a custom is taken from the Risala of Ibn Fadlan, where the Rus would erect the likeness of their gods and ancestors to receive sacrifice. It is our aim to honour the Æsir and Vanir in a similar fashion, befitting our ancestral ways. Offerings of food and drink will be made to the Lady Freya in a blót ritual which will link directly to the main feast. The Vé at Raven’s Knoll is unparalleled in Canada due to its stature, vision and plentiful community use. As a permanent publicly-accessible sacred enclosure, it is one of the best locations in the country to experience our Elder Kin.


As our ancient heathen ancestors did (as among the Anglo-Saxons) we will be partaking in a sacred feast known as húsel. Foodstuffs which we will offer at the Vé, will be collected and prepared in a way consistent with the cooking techniques of the Germanic peoples of old. Our communal efforts at the raising of the God-pole to Freya, the blót, bind gods and folk together through this ritual meal in his honour.  It is in the hall at the feasting board that frith is shared with every bite, growing in joviality well into the throws of symbel.

High Symbel

Raise the horn! Symbel (pronounced sumble) is a communal ritual drinking within a hall. At Hail and Horn participants are invited to partake in a ‘High Symbel’, meaning to hail the gods of the historic Germanic and Scandinavian peoples. Loki may be honoured at symbel, as for what is stated in Lokasenna. Our symbel is based upon well-documented research by Stephen Pollington in his work, the ‘Meadhall’. The format is modelled on that of Anglo-Saxon sources as opposed to the popular American Sumbel.  This symbel features a non-circular setting devoid of a simple three round structure. Each participant may chose to speak over the horn by signalling the byrele (Cup/Horn Bearer) if/when they are so moved to do so. The thyle (Orator and Hall Challenger) will keep the pace flowing and enforce any rules of etiquette, if such a need arises.



This is a preliminary program based on the work of volunteers, so some times and arrangements of program elements may change. Once you are at the event there will be a board displaying the program for all to see.

Thursday (June 25, 2015)

Early arrivals can secure their preferred camping spot, though there is no lack of space, and meet other early birds. Some activities may be organized if there are a fair number of folks on Thursday. Possibilities range from a movie night, board games or the age old art of storytelling. Heck, grab an ale and pull up a stump for a relaxing evening before the festivities begin.

Friday (June 26, 2015)

Carving of the God‐Pole (All day)

During the day, as you set up camp, come and witness Erik Lacharity carving the likeness of the Lady into the godpole. Get a sneak peek of the craftsmanship, envision the hidden form emerging from the rough red pine.  This will be the fourth heavenly pillar erected in the Vé and the second depicting a goddess.

Welcome Reception / Landwight Offering (5:00pm)

In the evening, after dinner, join together shoulder‐to‐shoulder around the hearth to meet one another and make offerings to the many wights of Raven’s Knoll whose land we will be meeting upon over the weekend. (Auz Lawrence & Erik Lacharity)

Welcome Fire (9:00pm)

As people from farther afield arrive into the evening, we sit in conversation around the fire reacquainting ourselves with those who we have not seen for a while and making new connections with our friends. (Folk)

Saturday (June 27, 2015)

Sausage Making (10:00 – 11:00)

Join Stephan Lebeau as he prepares the sausages we will enjoy at the Húsel feast. Listen and learn as he crafts these delectable morsels surely fit for the gods … but primarily for we mere mortals to indulge in.

Freya, Lady, Vanadis: Goddess of Many Faces (1:00pm – 2:00pm)

There are many sides to Freyja: love and sexuality, war and death, magic and seið all of which make her who she is. This will be a guided discussion of those many sides. From her time before the written word, all the way to the Medieval Nordic witch cults, to our experiences of her today. Participants are encouraged to bring their knowledge of lore, archaeology, and personal gnosis to the discussion. (Jade Pichette)

Ég tala ekki íslensku [svo vel] (2:00pm – 3:00pm)

No Problem! Have you ever wished to pronounce Old Norse words and names of gods and goddesses appropriately? Are you baffled by ð, þ and funky accents showing up in ritual texts and sagas? Join us at this workshop to learn about the Icelandic language, the closest language to Old Norse that is still spoken today. Tips on the phonetic values of letters and where to put the accent when using Icelandic will be discussed, but bring along any question you may have on grammar, history and use of the language. Questions on Iceland, and on where to turn if you also wish to learn Icelandic, are also welcomed! (This workshop will be given by Annie Langlois, who’s been studying Icelandic for the past 4 years and has achieved half-decent fluency. Because believe me, only half-decent fluency can be gained in 4 years.)

Freya Blót (4:00pm – 7:00pm)

At this holy rite we honour Freya. We plant her idol, her god‐pole; deep into the ground to rise high into the air to open the permanent holy enclosure that is the Raven’s Knoll vé. In a manner inspired by the account of Ibn Fadlan’s travels amongst the Swedish Rus, we provide offerings of flesh, leek, ale and grain to the Vanadis, the Falcon-skinned, that she may know of us and we may know her. We give a gift for a gift, for a gift deserves a gift. (Tracy Thillman & Assistants)

Folk Fire (9:00pm)

The blót rite having ended, we then regain the world of mankind and the social joviality which makes us a part of this world. By the hearth-fire, we will wile away the hours or, if we are yearning and brave enough … to prepare for the journey into the realm of the Unseen and meet with a Spá. Would we know more? …

Esoteric Rite, Prelude (9:30pm – 10:00pm)

At this time those interested in taking a fateful adventure will be briefed on the upcoming experience and some pre/after-care topics will be discussed before being led back to the Vé.

Esoteric Rite (10:00pm – 11:30pm)

In the Saga of Erik the Red, the Seeress performing oracular seið stated that she was the last of a band of nine sisters. In this spirit, let’s turn back the clock and experience the same tremendum which shook the centres of elder folk. May we find a good oracle with which to guide our coming days and shed light upon the winding ways of Wyrd. (Linda Demissy & Assistants)

Esoteric Rite, Aftercare (11:30pm – 12:30pm)

Folk attending the esoteric rite will have a subdued fire at which to come back to Midgard and discuss their experiences with one another before joining again with the rest of the gathering.

Sunday (June 28, 2015)

Preparation of the Húsel (Early morning)

During the day, those who wish can devote themselves to their community by creating the recipes of the blót feast. From the same ingredients offered to Freyja we will fortify the folks’ connection to our gods and our ancestors when we sit at the festive board. A number of discussions will surely be had regarding the archeology of Heathen food and religion, as well as the symbolic association of the ingredients, to participate in said discussions offer your hand in the crafting of the feast. (Sarah Clements & Folk)

Archery (10:00-11:00)

Warfare in the Viking Age Northland was not all groves of spears, songs of sword and shield, or arcing axes.  It was also storms of arrows! At this workshop basic archery skills will be taught and tested.  We may try some catching of arrows out the air and clout shooting , if there is the equipment and the interest. (Gypsy Birch)

The Meaning of Symbel (11:00 – 12:00)

Symbel is a holy ritual of Heathenry, the depths of which can sometimes be hard for people coming from other religious traditions to fully comprehend. This is a vital ceremony of modern Heathenry with deep and ancient roots in many places in the Northlands. Using “The Meadhall” by Stephen Pollington as a launching point, this workshop leads participants through some of the meaning and lore of symbel and will help familiarize the participants prior to the event. (Erik Lacharity)

Art of the Tale (1:00pm – 2:00pm)

Do you have a burning desire to share an epic tale? Have you ever crafted an entertaining yarn? Whether or not you have experience in the art of the tale, let an experienced bard share with you some tips and tricks to captivate your audience and lead them through a maze of punctuation and gesticulation. (Gypsy Birch)

The Werthana: Presenting a Canadian Heathen Archive (2:00pm – 4:00pm)

For many of us, we feel that we are living in a time of greatness … maybe even a new Heroic Age. Many of us have spent numerous years building Heathenry in Canada and leaving a footprint everywhere we go. Some of us have many stories to share about the early days of our religion as well as impressing memories of more recent deeds. Some of us feel that if we do not begin the work to document and collect these memories, in a fast paced world that accelerates with each passing year, we may lose them forever. After doing some research on smaller archives which specialize in sub-cultural Canadian spheres of society and ruminating on what a future digital archive may look like, the presenters wish to share their ideas and engage in a discussion of how we best preserve our fledgling legacy for those to come. (Jade Pichette & Erik Lacharity)

Húsel (5:00pm – 8:00pm)

After a formal welcome and greeting, we toast Freya with horns held high and sit at table together to experience the blessings of the húsel feast. With traditional food in our bellies, sitting on the benches one with the other, we know in our bones that we are a folk in communion with the Gods and ancestors. We receive a gift for a gift, for a gift deserves a gift.  (Auz Lawrence with many others)

High Symbel (8:00pm – 9:00pm)

At this formal, High Symbel ceremony, the banners that flutter behind groups and individuals that have come from far and wide to meet one another in the Hall sit and hear the sacred words of one another. It is honour and fortune we strive for in our lives, our virtue that brings gifts from gods and ancestors, good thoughts and words that bind us in frith. At symbel we honour the Aesir, Vanir and their allies, our ancestors, and the good deeds of our folk. Over the mighty horn, filled with the holy ale, it is through our actions, words and gift‐giving through which the images of the mind’s‐eye become reality in the weave and weft of wyrd. (Erik Lacharity with many others)

Skalds’ Fire (9:00pm)

The formal symbel continues into an evening of skaldic display about the hearth‐fire. Oh, wordsmiths! Oh, music‐weavers! Bring your ear‐mead that the folk can revel in the finery of our traditions. Stories and songs of our myths, of the Lady, of the folk‐lore of your place and people, are particularly appreciated. (Gypsy Birch & Folk)

Gifting of the Rings (after Skald’s Fire)

One of the important traditions at Hail and Horn is that of gifting arm rings. Each year a portion of each attendee’s entry fee is reserved for the crafting of beautifully ornate rings to be given, by the folk, to two deserving recipients. These new recipients are chosen by the body of past years’ receivers, one could turn to Pollington’s work and refer to them as the “doughty” or those who have proven themselves to be good and hale and inspirations for other’s to look up to. These rings, physically given by Auz and Erik on behalf of the folk, should be viewed as a constant reminder to strive towards excellence and to toil in service to folk, land, wights and gods. To stave off the wyrm, it is good to give generously and to be proud of our deeds whether great or small.

Monday (June 29, 2015)

Redemoot (11:00am – 1:00pm)

At this workshop we assess how the fourth annual Hail and Horn Gathering went. We start the planning process for next year. (Auz Lawrence & Erik Lacharity)

Farewell Blessing (1:00pm – 1:30pm)

At the end of the morning, a formal farewell blessing is offered to everyone who attends.  (Because a fair wind in your sails or a healthy horse are better than a storm rocked barge or a broken down wagon on the moors.) (Auz Lawrence & Erik Lacharity)



The cost of registration for this camping event is $120 per adult (18 and older). Registration for youth (aged 13 to 17) is $50. Registration for children (aged 7 to 12) is $25.  Ankle-biters (6 years old and under) are free. (Electrical hook-ups, trailers and shared cabin space is available by pre-registration, and rates as per the regular rates.)  All prices include taxes.

All HHG registrations include the husél feast dinner. Friends who are regular campers at Raven’s Knoll and are not registered for Hail and Horn may join the feast for a $30 fee, preregistration is required for this so we can plan purchases.

A registration form is available to download by following this link. Although registration and payment at the door is available, to plan the event, we would really, really appreciate your preregistration even if you cannot pay until you are at the door. We accept payment by Interac transfer or on-site.  Please arrange all payments and the submission of your registration form through

There is also a “Draupnir Benefit” for groups; for every group (kindred, hearth, banner, etc.) that includes eight paying adults, the registration fee for the ninth paying adult is waived.

Odin and Frigg

Hail the Landvettir! Hail the Ancestors! Hail the Gods!

Concerts at the Kaleidoscope Gathering 2015

Cory Orr - Wednesday (July 29, 2015) (Might be another day)

Cory Orr is a local musician performing all over Ontario. Last summer he quit his job as a cabinet maker so he could travel and play music. He spent two and a half months performing everywhere from the streets, beaches, festivals, cafes and bars! Currently he’s working at a skateboard shop and playing as much music as possible. This summer is going to be another great one! Let’s kick back relax and enjoy the tunes! You can follow him on Facebook and check out his music on SoundCloud.

Corey Orr

Fiddlehead Soup – Wednesday (July 29, 2015)

Fiddlehead Soup is an Eastern Ontario trio transports listeners to Scandinavia, southern Europe, South America and beyond with a wonderful collection of folk songs sprinkled with a garnish of Scottish and Irish tunes and original music. Featuring veteran musician Douglas Hendry on cittern and 12-string guitar, and mother-and-daughter team Glenna Hunter and Ursa Meyer on fiddles (and other instruments that come to hand), this delightfully earthy trio provides a most pleasing pottage of international folk.

Doug Hendry

Doug Hendry

Glenna Hunter

Glenna Hunter

Ursa Meyer

Ursa Meyer

Tara Rice – Thursday (July 30, 2015)

Rice’s voice has been described as haunting and otherworldly, ebbing and flowing symbiotically with her propensity for bending genres. Throughout her music we can experience a heartbreaking vulnerability expressed in one moment, playful inquisitiveness or sensuality in the next and then the hiss of barbed vitriol. Yet somehow, it all seems to happen at the right time, delivered with emotionally wide-ranging lyrics and melodies that endure in the soul. You can find her work on the Gaia Gathering album “Songs of the Northern Tribes,” or check her music out on her website.

Tara Rice

Mumbo Jumbo Voodoo Combo - Friday (July 31, 2015)

From the dark crossroads comes the classic rock and soul, New Orleans Mardi Gras, R&B, Zydeco, Voodoo and Latin Jazz Grooves of the hoodoo bretheren, the Mumbo Jumbo Voodoo Combo.  The band has been around since 1991 after instigator Steve Lund (Vocals & Drums) worked the root on some talented musicians. With Steve, the band consists of Brian Magner (Sax, Vocals & Percussion), Grant Tomkinson (Vocals & Bass guitar), and Guido Guzzo (Organ, Piano & Vocals).

Mumbo Jumbo Voodoo Combo


Jenny Robert – Sunday (August 2, 2015)

Jenny will keep your heart and soul activated with her velvety smooth vocals, her sweet and loving personality, and her undying passion for life.  Jenny was born and raised in the small town of Timmins, Ontario Canada.  She is always on a journey towards fulfilling her musical passion. (You may remember her from a Bardic Competition win a few years ago.) Check out her music on her website.

Jenny Robert

Ginger Doss – Sunday (August 2, 2015)

Ginger Doss is a spiritual seeker, performing songwriter and music producer from Austin, Texas, whose work spans multiple genres, including pop, rock, alternative and spiritual folk. Six years ago she gave up having a permanent home and began living the nomadic life of a highway hippy, seeking to unite, heal and uplift the human tribe by strengthening our connection to the divine and each other through music. She now performs her award winning music, a.k.a. Chakra Rock, internationally to a wide variety of diverse and spiritual communities where the focus is expanding human potential through the strength of community and the pursuit of enlightenment. (If we are lucky the talented bass player, Lynda Millard, may be able to accompany her.  As when she visited us in 2013, she love to play with skilled local fest drummers.) Check her out on Facebook or buy her music on-line.

Ginger Doss

PVC Bows and Archery Dodge-ball

This is a guest post by Gypsy Birch about a project he is working on for Raven’s Knoll.

How It Started

A couple of months ago, sometime around mid-February, I was visiting Auz (Austin Lawrence) and the topic of archery came up. He mentioned to me that he and a few others had recently tried to make a bow out of PVC pipe. Due to circumstances, they had been unsuccessful. Personally, I found the idea of a bow constructed of PVC pipe to be rather ludicrous. A bow made from materials that weren’t naturally occurring? Of course, a moment of introspection had me realize my notion was flawed. My own hunting bow is made of composite materials, and my arrows are aluminum. I had no reason to feel so negatively about what I assumed would be a crude piece of work.

Undeterred by my hesitation, Auz had me sit and watch an online tutorial for making these bows. The video was straightforward with simple, easy-to-follow instructions. After seeing how plausible they would be to make, and how functional they really were, I decided that perhaps I would give these bows a shot. Auz still had his supplies from his recent attempt, and sent them home with me to get started. In retrospect, I believe that this had been his plan all along: get me interested in making PVC bows, and rather than risk that I not follow through, he put the supplies directly in my hands so that I had no excuse. The fact that I am writing this right now is testament to his successful efforts.

One of the ideas that Auz and I discussed was a game that would essentially be archery dodge-ball. Put simply, people in a field shooting padded arrows at each other. This was my primary driving force behind making an assortment of PVC bows. Make enough bows for two teams of players, get some foam safety arrows, and play some games. Masks would be purchased from an outside source. The entire concept, still in its infancy, was entirely dependent on my success or failure at making the bows, and I got started right away.

I struggled, at first, at not only making the bows, but understanding the entire process. I watched and re-watched the videos to make sure I had everything right, but my failing was patience. Waiting until the PVC was heated through to a properly pliable state took too long for my short attention span. Understanding that this was the issue, I decided to pair my bow making with watching old episodes of Star Trek. This proved to be a very wise idea.

Applying the heat gun to the PVC to soften it.

Applying the heat gun to the PVC to soften it.

Tillering a bow in the workshop.

Tillering a bow in the workshop.

After a few weeks of off-and-on attempts, I had created my first two bows. They were very simple, with slightly recurved limbs, and while they were functional, they were not nearly flattened enough to be of proper use, and I was using a crude rig of polypropylene rope as a bowstring. I showed my work to Auz, and his delight in seeing functional PVC bows was quite infectious. We set off to the hardware store and procured all the supplies needed to keep making more. For reference, a standard length of PVC pipe is 10′ long, and we cut ours in half to make two 5′ bows. In terms of diameter, 3/4” pipe was the way to go; I tried using some 1” pipe, but the amount of time needed to heat it entirely through was frustrating. Plus, that additional 1/4” made the bows significantly more powerful, beyond anything that I was looking to make for this project. One of the most important factors in making these bows was ensuring that they were not too powerful for shooting safety arrows.

Six bows on the right are ready-to-play, aside from needing handle wraps and some cosmetic works. Two smaller ones in the middle are for kids. The small compound (which, of course, I did not make), is a youth bow with low enough draw strength that I feel safe using it in archery games. Three large ones on the left were some of my first attempts, and while they work, the bowstring length and the flexibility of the pipe are far from ideal. Small one on the farthest left is not even close to flattened enough, and the small size of the limbs means that it is stupidly powerful.

Six bows on the right are ready-to-play, aside from needing handle wraps and some cosmetic works.
Two smaller ones in the middle are for kids. The small compound (which, of course, I did not make), is a youth bow with low enough draw strength that I feel safe using it in archery games. Three large ones on the left were some of my first attempts, and while they work, the bowstring length and the flexibility of the pipe are far from ideal. Small one on the farthest left is not even close to flattened enough, and the small size of the limbs means that it is stupidly powerful.

As I worked on this project, the weather had begun to turn towards the warmer side, even if only slightly. This allowed me to begin constructing the bows outside in the garage, providing me with the proper work space needed. I was becoming significantly more successful with creating higher-quality PVC bows, but the problem still remained that I did not have anything resembling a quality bowstring. So, back to the online tutorials. I looked at the two most common methods of making a bowstring, and was really hoping that I could pull off making a “Flemish twist” string. I can’t. Laziness is a factor in this inability.

Close look at the grip for the faux-wood bow. Same as the bowstrings, I am making the grips with no knots.

Close look at the grip for the faux-wood bow. Same as the bowstrings, I am making the grips with no knots.

I moved on to the other style, the “endless loop”. I was very hesitant to learn that nowhere on the bowstring is there a knot. Of course, this makes sense, because typically a knot will reduce a string’s strength significantly, and having weak points on a bowstring is a bad idea. It turns out that a combination of twists and wax keeps everything quite solidly in place. Beeswax, one of the suggested waxes, was not too hard to come by, but I also picked up a stick of actual bowstring wax to get started. For the actual string, I used 50-lb braided fishing line. As per some of the tutorials, this was a suggested alternative to professional bowstring material, and much easier for me to come by. The last item for this was some basic cotton string to hold it all together, not much bigger than basic thread.

This is my string-making rig. It sits across my lap while I watch movies and TV, casually making bowstrings. The dealy sitting on the plank is a beeswax candle. Random amusing note: This piece of wood used to be part of a ping-pong table, other parts of which were used to make the wheels on a the cart used to carry Nerthus at the Procession of Nerthus ritual.

This is my string-making rig. It sits across my lap while I watch movies and TV, casually making bowstrings. The dealy sitting on the plank is a beeswax candle.
Random amusing note: This piece of wood used to be part of a ping-pong table, other parts of which were used to make the wheels on a the cart used to carry Nerthus at the Procession of Nerthus ritual.

Suffice it to say, working with waxed, tightened strings can be very painful on the fingertips, especially when constant pressure is required.  I will say with some measure of pride that I think I might actually have a talent for making bowstrings, as this was the most immediately successful of all my undertakings related to this project.

A nicely wound string.

A nicely wound string.

Bows and bowstrings made and ready, the last step for me was the acquisition of arrows. I priced out LARP safety arrows online and spoke with the organizers of the local LARP, and while the options were not quite as expensive as I had feared, they were still pricey enough to make a large-scale purchase rather daunting.

Fortunately, just as online tutorials provided me with instruction on bow-making, I was able to find numerous sites that showed how to make safety arrows using regular arrows. Completely remove the arrow’s point, permanently secure a piece of flat metal (pennies were often recommended) across the end of the shaft, and use a combination of open-cell foam, soft-cell foam, and copious amounts of duct tape, hot glue, and superglue to seal it all together. In my case, I elected to use a screw and washer at the end of the arrow. The screws were able to thread into the shaft of the bow where a typical point would screw in, which gave the washer additional security beyond just glue.

The primary point of contention among the instruction sites was the material that the arrows should be made of. Some said only fibreglass or carbon fibre, some said only wood, and some said only aluminum. While each of the sites gave some reasoning as to why they felt their material of choice was the safest, my personal experience is that aluminum shafts would provide the most safety. Fibreglass will split over time and leave painful, invisible splinters. Wood arrows have too much potential to snap and create sharp points, especially if accidentally stepped on. With people running through the playing area, this would be a risk. I have personally (accidentally) shot an aluminum arrow at a cinder block from less than twenty feet away with my compound hunting bow. The result was that the end of the arrow shaft was nearly crumpled, having bent at an unfixable angle. No sharp exposed points and no splinters. For this reason, I settled on aluminum arrows.

Despite the cost-saving methods I had devised, I still had the issue of finding the core components of the arrows. For the price of a new aluminum arrow, it would have been just as worth buying the pre-made LARP arrows. My best bet was to find someone I knew who might have a few extra arrows sitting around. After contacting a few people, I managed to find someone willing to trade fifty used aluminum arrows for the price of one of my highly-coveted thrift shop finds, to which I agreed. The arrows had all their points removed (which was, in fact, ideal), and were missing a few fletchings, but they were straight and ready to be worked on. Once I got them in hand, I began to try my hand at the safety arrows.

A montage of the arrows being constructed.

A montage of the arrows being constructed.

With the exception of my first attempts, the arrows were also made in the garage, on the same table that I make the bows. The arrows did not require standing still with a heat gun, for which I was very thankful, and I was able to make safety tips that I was personally comfortable getting struck with. I have taken the bows and arrows with me when visiting people, and I have personally been hit in the right butt-cheek with one of my arrows, and have struck others square in the belly. Regrettably, my poor aim is to blame for accidentally hitting the funny bone in my wife’s arm (the padding minimized the tingling sensation). I can land four padded arrows within a four-foot radius from thirty-five paces away, but I can’t hit between the shoulders from seven paces. Regardless, I was confident in the safety of my arrow design.

Now that most of the supplies were ready, it was time to decide on how the game was going to be played. While there are multiple variants that will be tried over time, the next section will detail the core game setup and rules that we will start playing with.

The Game

Of the utmost importance to all aspects of the game is safety. Any equipment that shows signs of excessive wear or any damage will be immediately removed from game-play. Players must be over 18 or have signed permission from their legal guardian.

Protective face equipment is to be worn at all times when playing. While every effort has been made to ensure the full safety of the bows and arrows, face-masks are required. Masks designed for Paintball or Airsoft games are acceptable. Some masks will be provided, but supply is limited. If participants are able to bring their own, it would allow for more players on the field.

The game variant we will start playing with will be more akin to dodge-ball than the individually-focused game of tag, with the playing area set up in an open field. Teams will be split evenly (ideally by skill level), and each team will be assigned half of a large, rectangular playing area. In the middle of this space, bisecting the rectangle and separating the teams, will be an area somewhere between ten to twenty feet across (dimensions to be determined). This space is considered a “No-Man’s Land” or “Neutral Zone” in which players are not allowed to enter (except in certain cases, as to be explained). The purpose of the space is to ensure that no arrows are fired from very close range.

The exception to entering the safe zone is to retrieve arrows. Any player entering this space is to leave their bow behind. These players are also not eligible targets for the opposing team.

Once the game starts, players will shoot safety arrows at their opponents. A hit anywhere on the body aside from the head counts as a hit and the player is “out”. Any out player must immediately leave the playing area. An arrow striking a player’s bow does not count as a hit. This also leads to the rule of not using heads or bows as a shield. Furthermore, players are not allowed to catch airborne arrows. If an arrow bounces up off the ground and makes contact with a player, it does not count as a hit.

When a player is out, they are allowed to remain around the outside border of their team’s playing area to retrieve arrows for the players still active.

While it is desired to have referees present at each game, this may not always be feasible. The Honour System will be in effect. Any player found to be cheating will have to leave the game.

That is the core game to start. Future variations may include players being armed with safety/boffo swords for close-quarters combat, or some players being in an unarmed “Monarch” role that their teammates must protect.

Aside from the bows and arrows themselves, the following is a list of equipment:


  • Mask


  • Thick shirt
  • Running shoes
  • Gloves
  • Arm guard (or form-fitting long sleeves)

Well, there it is. Archery dodgeball will be at Raven’s Knoll sometime this year. For those that are interested, I will be posting a series of photos detailing how I made the safety arrows.

I won’t be posting a step-by-step process of the bow-making; check out the Backyard Bowyer’s Youtube video for that. I followed his process for the making of basic PVC bows. His videos are very simple and straightforward with easy-to-follow instructions. He has a number of bow-making projects that I may someday feel experienced enough to try.

I also recommend this guy, Tim Piatek. He does PVC projects beyond just bows, and tends to lean a lot more towards the artistic side of bow-making and painting.


Raven’s Knoll Work Weekends 2015

Raven’s Knoll is a collective labour of love and a gift we give each other.  The Knoll is a physical place that provides a special place that is a home for a number of Pagan and Heathen. It only exists because of volunteer effort.  There are six work weekends schedule this year.

The Stewards (Auz and MA) and the Groundskeepers (Brendan the Handy, Lugh Sulian, Gypsy Birch) of Raven’s Knoll host Work Weekends where people volunteer to help contribute to the upkeep of Raven’s Knoll or assist with any number of Knoll projects.  Any skill level or aptitude is appreciated and welcome.

Camping on work weekends is free for the people volunteering.  If you have a friend or partner along, who does not volunteer they can feel free to camp at the regular rate.  They can still join in on the meal program and socialize around the fire at night, too.  All parents of teens and teens take note: we sign for high school co-op and volunteer hours. We are also pleased to act as references for teens, should you wish it.


Usual Schedule

Most people arrive on Friday evenings. Others may do a day trips rather than stay the whole weekend. It is recommended you stay for as long as you can on the weekend, in order to be able to socialize and learn from other volunteers.  It is amazing what fun and learning can be had on a “work” weekend!  There is almost always some ritual or activity to attend on the Saturday; be it a movie night in the Rookery, card games, mini-Bardic around the campfire, horseshoes, archery or axe throwing.  (Some volunteers may be asked to take on the planning of these events.)


5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. – Folk arrive and set-up their campsites

5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. – Early arrivers and hosts get a few jobs prepared for Saturday (collecting tools and the like); Kitchen witches prep for Saturday meals

9:30 p.m. to 12:00 p.m. – Socializing around a communal campfire


8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. – Breakfast

9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. – Discussion of day’s tasks; division and assignment of work

9:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. – Working on tasks

12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. – Lunch

1:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. – Update on tasks; re-assignment of tasks

1:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Working on tasks

4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. – Clean-up for Dinner; while some prepare a few jobs for Sunday

5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. – Dinner

6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. – Free time; and most work weekends, a ritual or scheduled activity

8:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. – Socializing around a communal campfire


9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. – Breakfast

10:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. – Discussion of day’s tasks; division and assignment of work

10:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. – Working on tasks

1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. – Lunch

2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. onwards – Working on tasks

3:30 p.m. onwards – Some people continue a few tasks and clean-up; others break camp and return home


Meal Program

We offer an optional meal program run by our volunteers for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday, and breakfast and lunch on Sundays. The cost is $6 for breakfast, $6 for lunch, $10 for dinner, or $30 for the entire weekend, prices include HST. Children under 12 who are with a volunteer will eat free.

Unless there is an event at the same time, all meals will be at the Rookery. If you do not wish to join the meal plan, you are welcome to bring your own food and join us. We will be having some type of short blessing or toast before every meal. (Don’t forget that we need volunteers in the kitchen to clean, cook, deliver and prepare.)

On a typical menu you can expect the following.  The only major variation will be on the Saturday dinner, the option which will be announced in advance.

Coffee and tea are always freely available.  (Soda pop is available for purchase from the Y.A.G.)

Saturday Breakfast

Steel Cut Oatmeal

Corn Flakes


Orange Juice

Bananas and/or Banana Bread

Brown Sugar

Saturday Lunch

Crudité Vegetables (carrots, celery, sweet peppers, etc.)

Vegan Dip (like hummus)

Dairy-based Dip (like tzatziki)

Sandwich Bar (bread with gluten-free option, meat, cheese, condiments)

Iced Tea and/or Switchel

Saturday Dinner

Two crock pot options (meat or vegan) with starch accompaniment (with a gluten-free option)


Meat Chili or Vegan Chili with Cornbread

Jerk Chicken Gumbo or African Peas over Yellow Rice

BBQ Meatballs or Greens with Tofu over White Rice

Pirate Pork Coconut Curry or Chana Masala (chickpea curry) over White Rice

Beef Stew and Colcannon (mashed potatoes, onions, cabbage/kale)

Hot Sauce

Iced Tea and/or Switchel

Cookies and/or Squares (vegan, with gluten-free option)

Sunday Breakfast

Scrambled Eggs


Baked Beans (vegan version)

Toasted Bread (Brown Wheat and Gluten-Free)

Orange Juice

Sunday Lunch

Crudité Vegetables (carrots, celery, sweet peppers, etc.)

Vegan Dip (like hummus)

Dairy-based Dip (like tzatziki)

Grilled Burgers (buns with gluten-free option, beef burger, vegan burger, American cheese, condiments)

Iced Tea and/or Switchel


What to Bring

  • “Ditty bag” a mesh bag containing bowl, plate, cup, utensils
  • Travel coffee mug
  • Travel water bottle
  • Towels (for shower and swimming)
  • Sunscreen, bug spray, toiletries, medicines
  • A hat and/or sunglasses
  • Protective work equipment, such as work gloves, boots, hearing and/or eye protection
  • Bedding
  • Tent (if not indoors)
  • Beverages
  • Musical instruments (if you play)
  • Special equipment related to the special activity of the weekend


Electricity for medical equipment

On work weekends, electricity if fee for medical devices, such as powering CPAP machines or recharging power chairs. Other electricity usage can be purchased at the regular Raven’s Knoll rates.


Indoor Accommodations

Indoor accommodation in the Nest (the dormitory-style cabin) or trailers is available, especially for early work weekends!  There are a limited number of spaces.  Please contact MA at to secure your spot. (Please be 100% sure you will be attending, before booking a space.) These spaces are sheltered, but are not heated. Pack accordingly.


Children, Non-Working Partners, Physical Ability, Pets

Children are welcome to attend. Depending on the ages and numbers, a child wrangler may be available from among the volunteers. (Children under 12 who are only attending with volunteers eat for free on the meal program.) For those with small children or babes in arms, as well as those with physical limitations, we will happily find work that is suitable for your needs. Pets are also welcome, but they must be on-leash. In addition, please be sure your pet has shade, water and food, and is not left to bark.



Coordination is done through the Raven’s Knoll Work Weekends Facebook page. Scheduled work weekends are listed as “events” on that page.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact MA or Auz on Facebook or write us an e-mail (


LebowskiCampFest – “Art is Strongly Vaginal”

My art has been commended as being strongly vaginal

Which bothers some men. 

The word itself makes some men uncomfortable.

- Maude


We have heard the Word, and it is “Abide.” The Raven’s Knoll congregation of the Church of the Latter-Day Dude and the Lost Dominion Screening Collective are holding our second annual tent revival to learn from, and apply, the teachings of the Dude. This fest is a camp out where we commune with the wisdom of the movie the Big Lebowski.

The theme this year is “Art is Strongly Vaginal.”

Date: August 7 to 9, 2015

Dress: Your best attempt at costumes from the movie, bathrobes, what have you.

Cost: $45 for an adult, includes camping. Kids only pay the regular Raven’s Knoll camping rate. (Pre-registration opens in May.)

Listed below you will find our draft program for this year’s event.  As you can see it is highly participative. It’s a complicated program.  Lotta ins.  Lotta outs.  And a lotta strands to keep in your head, man.  Lotta strands in an old Achiever’s — And, below the program, is the menu for the Ralph’s Place (the on-site) chip truck.  Open for your convenience, so you will not have to cook for yourself the entire camping weekend.


Friday, August 7, 2015

6:00 p.m.

Throwing of the Ringer

Hosts: Rev. Shane and Gypsy the Apostate

Location: Raven Stage

“Take the Ringer. I’ll drive.”


8:00 p.m.

Jackie Treehorn Presents:

A Johnson Sketching Contest


Telestrations Tournament

Hosts: Rev. Auz and Gypsy the Apostate

Location: Rookery

“Wave of the future, Dude. 100% Electronic.”


9:30 p.m.

Nighttime Bowling

Hosts: Rev. Shane and Gypsy the Apostate

Location: Raven Stage

“Let’s go bowling.”

Night bowl

11:00 p.m.

Whale Song Contemplation

Host: Rev. Courtney

Location: Beach

“I am the Walrus.”


Saturday, August 8, 2015 

10:00 a.m.

Yoga Challenge

Hosts: Rev. Earthsong, Rev. Brynn and Rev. Dood

Location: Rookery Grove

“Hey, careful man. There’s a beverage here.”

Yoga Challenge

12:30 p.m.

Cowboy Bowling

with Bluegrass DJ

Host: Gypsy the Apostate, with DJ Doc Abider

Location: Horseshoe Pits

“Got a whole cowboy thing goin’.”


2:00 p.m.

Maudeist Aerial Painting

Host: Rev. Auz

Location: Rookery Grove

“My art has been commended as being strongly vaginal.”

Original Art Maude Painting

(To purchase this great print, visit the artist.)

3:30 p.m.

Greek Chorus Interpretive Dance

with Dudesong Readings

Host: Rev. Wolfsong and Rev. Auz

Location: Raven Stage

“Dude, I finally got the venue I wanted.”

Marty Dancing

5:00 p.m.

Costume Contest

Host: Gypsy the Apostate

Location: Dude Shrine

“You don’t go out and make a living dressed like that.”

Dude Shrine

7:00 p.m.

Sacramental White Russian Mixing Contest

Host: Gypsy the Apostate

Location: Rookery

“Another Caucasian, Gary.”


8:30 p.m.

Baby! LoveYour Body!” (Short Film)

The Big Lebowski” (Feature Film)

Hosts: Church of the Lost Dominion Screening Collective

Location: Raven Stage

“A way out West there was a fella. Fella I want to tell you about. Fella by the name of Jeff Lebowski.”

The Big Lebowski Movie Poster

10:30 p.m.

An Achiever Trivia Contest

Host: Rev. Brynn and Rev. Dood

Location: Raven Stage

“Is this your homework, Larry?!”

Larry's Homework

Sunday, August 9, 2015

12:00 p.m.

Mass Dudeist Ordination

Hosts: Rev. Auz and Rev. Shane

Location: Dude Shrine

“Dude, at least it’s an ethos.”


1:00 p.m.

Scattering of the Cremains

Host: Rev. Brynn

Location: Beach

“In your wisdom, you took him Lord.”


Ralph’s Place 


Friday: 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. & 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.



Coffee & Tea

“Make sure to stay and finish it. It is your right.”

A Selection of Non-oat Sodas

“To wet your whistle when tellin’ tall tales.”

Non-alcoholic White Russian

“For the Little Lebowski Urban Achievers.”


Instant Oatmeal


Waffles (Regular, Lingonberry, Honey, Chocolate)

The Big Johnson Breakfast

“When you need that extra big sausage for a day of logjammin’.”


Fries or Rings


Bunny Chow

“Wonderful woman. Very free-spirited. We’re all very fond of her.”

(“Bunny Chow” is a South African curry in a bread bowl. No bunnies are harmed.)

Stranger Cowboy Chili

“Too thick for a moustache to strain.”

Vaginal Strawberries and Cream

“Luscious, moist, red fruit makes some men uncomfortable. Strawberry.”

(Please note that Ralph’s does not accept post-dated cheques. All cream is fresh.)

Van & Kettle 2015

Van & Kettle is a weekend event at Raven’s Knoll for the present-day exploration of Victorian traveler caravans, cooking, and culture.

Date: June 12 to 14, 2015

Cost: $45 per adult (tax incl.), regular camping fees for children. (Price includes samples provided by the cooking workshop. Pre-registration will open in May.)

Dress: Comfortable camping clothes, Tinkers rags, Gentleman’s and Lady’s hunting tweed, Steampunk garb, &etc. (Canes, bustles and top hats are acceptable recommended.)

The main crowd will be camping around the Keystone Firepit, where all of the workshops will be held.

What follows is the draft planned agenda, which may change somewhat depending on who shows up at camp that weekend.  We Travelers are a flexible bunch of folk.  For more information or to contribute to any of these activities, check out the Facebook group.

Old Style Vans


9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

‘Round the Yag: In the old language, “yag” means fire. And, in the old language, stories were passed on through the spoken word, not the written one. We will gather in the flickering firelight and entertain each other with songs and stories about ourselves, about our friends, and about the great and wonderful world in which we live (significant exaggeration is acceptable). This will not be a judged event, but rather a gathering in which we come together and grow as a community through the storytelling tradition. If you are a musician, bring your instrument, because even if you do not intend to present as part of the event, other presenters may welcome your assistance.

If you wish to tell a story but are not familiar with any tales that you feel are appropriate, here is a suitable resource:


9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

Caravan Lore: A brief introduction and discussion of the English lore regarding Traveler caravans. (Feel free to read ahead like a toff by taking a look at the book “The English Gypsy Caravan.”)

The classic wooden caravan was first created in the first half of the 1800s in Britain for “showmen” (what we call today “carnies”), they later became used by itinerant trades people, through them to Scottish and Irish travellers (many of whom were “tinkers”), and then was popularized amongst the Roma of the United Kingdom (i.e., Romanichel, Kale, etc.) just after the turn of the 1900s. The Victorian public began to call all these people “gypsies,” even though not all of them were ethnically so. The name stuck for the ‘vans they used and their related lifestyles and cultures. They stopped being used in reverse order, the first to stop using the English gypsy caravan were the showmen and the last to stop using them were the ethnic Roma (by the 1960s). – Professor Aldridge Von Belgrave II, esq.

10:15 a.m. to Tea (6:00 p.m.)

Hands on Caravan Construction and Painting: We will tour around the various caravan builds and renovations that are on site at Raven’s Knoll.  There will also be the opportunity to work on each other’s caravan projects or one of the Knoll projects, regardless of if they are in the preliminary design phase or not.  Some of us are rank amateurs and some are more experienced. No worries, pal. We will learn from each other.

Vardo Painting

12:00 p.m.

Traveler Cooking I: Cooking in a small caravan or over an open hearth is no easy task, particularly considering the limited crockery and fuel available.  At this pre-workshop, we will prepare one recipe to share at the evening potluck dinner:

  • Haypot Stew: the original slow cooker stew, made by burying a pot in the ground; chicken hearts, leeks, spring potatoes, turkey wings, and herbs

1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Bartitsu, Fisticuffs, and Tomfoolery: Physical culture has always been important, and at this self-defence workshop we will be playing at the mixed martial art practiced by Sherlock Holmes, “bartitsu.”  Bartitsu is a combination of French savate, Irish and Indian stick fighting, jujitsu, and English traditional wrestling and boxing.  No prior experience is required.  Most of the workshop will likely focus upon cane- and stick-fighting techniques.  (We may throw in a velocipede defence for good measure.)


4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Tarot Card Reading: When travelling the road, being prepared was always an important part of life. Having guidance in what might be encountered, be it spiritual or physical, was a welcome tool for survival. Just as was done in the past, today you can come and visit a soothsayer, an oracular prognosticator of the feasibly imminent, and have your cards read. Please note that terrifying readings are not grounds for a weekend fee refund.

The Fool

4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Traveler Cooking II: Cooking in a small caravan or over an open hearth is no easy task, particularly considering the limited crockery and fuel available.  At this workshop, help people out as they explain and cook a few recipes to share at the evening potluck dinner.  Possibilities include:

  • Victorian Temperate Beverages: Non-alcoholic drinks incorporating fruits and vinegars;
  • Jigs Dinner: a one-pot boiled dinner of beef, carrots, potatoes and cabbage;
  • Damper and Bannocks: two traditional breads cooked at the hearthside; and
  • Steamed Pudding: steamed sweet cake-like dessert (and maybe a savoury one, too).
  • Spatcock: grilled quail


8:00 p.m. until later

Whist Tournament: Whist is a wonderfully witty English trick-taking card game which was widely played in the 19th century. Although the rules are extremely simple, there is enormous scope for scientific play. None of us are experts and we will learn and play the game together.


9:00 p.m. until the wee hours

Sipping Bevvys by the Blaze and Gabbing (all)


10:30 a.m.

Wildcrafter’s Walk: The land of Raven’s Knoll has many natural resources, and knowing the qualities of each new landscape was necessary for Travelers. Walk with us as we tour through the fields and forests searching for the native flora and fauna that would help keep us healthy, wealthy, and wise.

12:00 p.m.

Fair Trade, Trade Fair: In the Traveler tradition, meet-ups involve trade.  Bring your secondhand ‘rags,’ bit’n’bobs, object d’art, &etc. to swap with other campers.  Tables will be available to set up outside of your ‘van or other spaces around the Keystone Firepit.  Remember, everyone is from the Traveler clan, so fair trade rules apply. No sharp dealings!  No cash allowed.  Leftovers can be taken home or donated to a local charity through Raven’s Knoll.

VK Poster 2015 B


VK Poster 2015 A

LebowskiCampFest 2014 Report

(In 2015 LebowskiCampFest will take place on the weekend of August 8th and 9th. In honour of Maude and her entourage the theme for the event will be Art is Strongly Vaginal. To learn about the program, please check out this other blog post.)

Brothers and sisters! We have heard the Word, and it is “Abide.” The Raven’s Knoll congregation of the Church of the Latter-Day Dude held a tent revival to learn from, and apply, the teachings of the Dude. The first LebowskiCampFest was held from August 9 to 10, 2014 at Raven’s Knoll campground near Eganville, Ontario, Canada. This fest is a camp out where we commune with the wisdom of the movie the Big Lebowski on the weekend of August 9 and 10, 2014.

The Pagan community in Canada are really laid back and recognize a good ethos when they see it. Around these parts, over the years, the theology of Discordianism has been popular, as has the Church of the Sub-Genius. But now that we have heard the word of the Church of the Latter Day Dude, the evolution of introspective hilarity and slack has reached its logical theological zenith. Although, LebowskiCampFest was established as a weekend for volunteer staff to chill after KG, it was indeed created by a bunch of event organizers. Thus, like a Dude getting wrapped up in events beyond his control, we could not help but organize lots of awesome stuff to do.

An article describing the amazing event was published in the Dudespaper, we really encourage you to check it out.

In 2015 LebowskiCampFest will take place on the weekend of August 8th and 9th. In honour of Maude and her entourage the theme for the event will be Art is Strongly Vaginal. To learn about the program, please check out this other blog post.


It should be vaginal.

Bone Dance: Theme for the Kaleidoscope Gathering 2015

The theme for the Kaleidoscope Gathering in 2015 is “Bone Dance.” It is a theme that touches parts of the spiritual traditions and philosophies of a number of paths that cross at Raven’s Knoll, in the Pagan community. It is not a simple theme, and it may be challenging to explore in all its aspects. We invite everyone to dance your thoughts around this theme, within the bone box of your skull, before next year.  Provided here are a few concepts and ideas to get you started.

‘T ain’t no sin to take off your skin, and dance around in your bones

The Bone Dance is about freedom from social categories.  To dance in your bones is to exalt in existing beyond gender or class categories, beyond your body type, or your physical abilities.  Ironically, in the dead skeleton our common living humanity is unmasked in its most potent form. That knowledge and joy in pure camaraderie is the music of our common dance.

Activities related to this element of the theme could include discussions of gender, race or oppression in Pagan societies or our modern spiritual paths. It might involve how archaeologists and osteologists actually read social categories back into human remains. Body positive, expressive movement or dance activities could be appropriate.

Roll the bones

From the Ancient Levant to Ancient Greece to the Mongol steppes, the “knucklebones” of sheep, their astragalus, have been used both as games of chance and to determine the will of the gods. Like the dice that they evolved into, they fall in unique ways.  The tumble and dance of these bones, the foot of the sacrifice, the life we offered to the gods and ate ourselves, is a staccato tune that voices a message.  A message in which we can see our fortunes rise or fall. The dance of these bones can foretell or change our future, but we cannot. Our roll is merely to accept it.

Games of chance, particularly those involving dice, are related to this part of the theme.  Also too fortune telling using bones, shells, and associated objects comes directly to mind.  Discussions on the nature or meaning or ethics of sacrificing animals for religious or life sustaining purposes is in keeping with the theme of Bone Dance.  Viewpoints or understandings of fate that involve acceptance rather than a desire to change are to be considered.

Memento mori

The Bone Dance reminds us that we all must die. The Black Death brought to Europe new folk philosophies. The grateful dead danced with the living to remind everyone, woman or man, serf or lord, of the vanity of materialism and the transient nature of all goods and pursuits.  In the certain knowledge of death, and the uncertain knowledge of what lies beyond, cultivating detachment and other virtues rises to the fore. In memento mori, understandings of what was meant by the relationship between life and death are expressed in the artistic or symbolic reminders of spiritual teachings.

Discussions on this movement of the Bone Dance could relate to how spiritualities resolve the issue of death or how religions change due to catastrophic social upheavals.  Specific figures such as the Grim Reaper or the Grateful Dead or Kali or Santa Muerte have arisen as objects of special devotion.  Art dedicated to that which is beyond life describes the bone dance so people can see it.  Many religious philosophies, like Roman stoicism or the zen of the samurai class or Odin’s cult, can exist in the place of momento mori.

Buried in the sky

Within the flesh, below conscious thought, moves the bones. When the living body dies, it becomes a corpse and rots to carrion.  Carrion is consumed by the vulture, by the eagle, by the raven.  Upon wings the memory of life flies into the sky, circling high above, joining the circling wind that envelopes the Earth.  In many traditions, the white bones stripped of all else represent pure, egoless consciousness.  The still bones only exist for a time, before they too join the rest of the body to circle and dance through imagining that is beyond the individual one, to the One that is greater.

Examining eastern religious philosophies such as Tibetan Buddhism or Hinduismism can deepen an understanding of the theme of the Bone Dance. Scientific understandings, whether biological or psychological, of how we individuate as people from the rest of the world, human or animal, are possible ways to engage with the theme. A common shamanic initiation and transformative dream or vision is having ones’ flesh stripped away to the bone.  Thus, initiation and religious transformation into a new mode of being are a way to explore the bone dance.

Rattle the bones

As is known, the Danse Macabre, no matter what any of us may do or think, unites us all. Music too unites humanity over time and space, from the bone flute of the Neanderthal to playing the rib bones to beating a Sámi drum with a reindeer bone hammer.  Any such dance needs music to set things in motion. Within our ribs is the beating heart, over bone white tooth our breath sends sound to swirling.

Concerts, workshops and performances using bone instruments would be fascinating. Music made using simple and ancient techniques strip music to its core, as a body is striped to the bone.

Plate of bones

All living things are fed through cycles of death and rebirth, whether nurtured by a dying star or the sister creature beside them. One day we eat and another we are eaten. Whether cloaked in skin, fur, feather or scale, whether in joy or despair, love or hate, wonderment or fear, the form of life clings to the bones. Before the final transformation, the bones remain.  Remaining a moment longer to rattle and to remind us of the gift of life. Many hunter gatherer traditions form a direct relationship with the spirit of the animals and plants that they hunt and gather.  Giving thanks for their gift of life, using their bones to commune with them and respectfully beseeching their assistance in staying alive.

Many religious traditions use dance and use bones to connect with the spirits.  In particular, shamanic traditions are ones that dance the bones. Art, workshops and rituals exploring these traditions are within the theme. Discussion of the craft and science that describes how different life forms are connected to one another or how parts of ecosystems support one another are of interest. How to make ritual tools that connect to the spirits or the gods using the natural products of dead fauna or flora is part of the bone dance. How religions teach of the importance of life in the midst of the knowledge of mortality is a wisdom to pass on to others, too.

Psychopomps, powers of the beyond and ancestors

Our own flesh and bone is given to us through our ancestors’ experience and their very DNA. We are their continuity; we share their flesh and their bone. In both a physical and metaphorical sense, they are we, the dead live. The interactions of ancestors and spirits with the living are the purview of the shaman, the witch, the priest, the elder. The veil, the river, the rainbow, the earth, time … whatever separates the living from the dead, can be spanned.  Spanned with mind and thought, but in many traditions, also by a designated god or a spirit guide. These psychopomps protect and provide traditions for us to interact with our ancestors, the mighty and belovéd dead.

Gods and Goddesses are often associated with the ancestors or spirits of the dead, take Baron Samedi and the Gede or Lady Freya and the Disir as examples. Workshops and rituals of gods and goddesses that span the space between living and dead, or those entities that receive and protect the ancestors are part of this theme.  Obviously too, the act of ancestor worship, or how the living are received themselves as ancestors or transformed again into the living after their death are part of the bone dance. The techniques and application of graveyard or burial mound practices, magickal bone-work, and ‘tapping the bone’ rituals are all recollections that could be shared and explored.

Enjoying the clouds and the rains

Death arrives for us all.  But death happens throughout life, too.  We are always dying, yet our cells constantly renew.  Sometimes in life we exist beyond ourselves, beyond time, beyond thought.  It is at these times when we die to ourselves to become immortal.  This experience of living in the bottomless beyond may be found in sleep and dream, in sex and ecstasy, in contemplation and mind, in plant or brew, in drum and dance. In the bone dance, nothing matters, but it all does.

Techniques for exploring dissolution of the self and the creation of spiritual understandings of transcendence are within the theme.  As are explorations of the biology of longevity and aging, how they occur, and how we respond to them medically, socially and spiritually.

We have come to Be Danced

(by Jewel Mathieson)

We have come to Be Danced
Not the pretty dance
Not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance
But the claw our way back into the Belly
Of the Sacred, Sensual Animal dance
The unhinged, unplugged, cat is out of its box Dance
The holding the precious moment in the palms
Of our hands and feet Dance

We have come to Be Danced
Not the jiffy booby, shake your booty for him dance
But the wring the sadness from our skin dance
The Blow the chip off our shoulder Dance.
The slap the apology from our posture Dance

We have come to Be Danced
Not the monkey see, monkey do dance
One two Dance like you
One two three, Dance like me Dance
but the grave robber, tomb stalker
Tearing scabs and scars open Dance
The rub the Rhythm Raw against our Soul Dance

We have come to Be Danced
Not the nice, invisible, self-conscious shuffle
But the matted hair flying, Voodoo Mama
Shaman Shakin’ Ancient Bones Dance
The strip us from our casings, Return our Wings
Sharpen our Claws and Tongues Dance
The Shed Dead Cells and slip into
The Luminous Skin of Love Dance.

We have Come to Be Danced
Not the hold our breath wallow in the shallow end of the floor dance
But the Meeting of the Trinity, the Body Breath and Beat Dance
The Shout Hallelujah from the top of our Thighs Dance
The Mother may I?
Yes you may take 10 giant Leaps Dance
The olly olly oxen free free free Dance
The everyone can come to our Heaven Dance

We have come to Be Danced
Where the Kingdom’s Collide
In the Cathedral of Flesh
To Burn Back into the Light
To unravel, to Play, to Fly, to Pray
To root in skin sanctuary
We have come to Be Danced

We Have Come.