The workshop started badly for me—with a prayer to our Lord Jesus.
No disrespect towards Christians; it’s just that I felt it was an extreme case of misbranding, seeing as the workshop leader had given herself a pseudo-Native American nickname. As a practicing white witch and total Pagan, I did not expect this from a workshop led by someone calling herself Sunrise Crow Goddess.
Indeed, as we were instructed to bring along cushions and blankets, I was expecting a sort of Shamanic journeying workshop. These items, however, were never used.
Still, seeing as the theme was “resistance”, I felt I should at least try to step out of the role of cynical witch, and stop trying to resist other people’s belief systems. After all, if we are all one and we are all connected (as I believe we are), then surely it was only a matter of getting over the Christian-Judaic terminology and semantics and attempting to see the similarities between our belief systems.
The differences were all down to words and cultures.
I was willing to try and leave my comfort zone in order to hurry along my spiritual growth and open up my narrow witch’s mind. I am also a firm believer in what ever gets you through the night is alright by me—just as long as you don’t subtly and subliminally try and force it down my throat in a misnamed workshop and charge me £75 for the pleasure.
I tried to get into the spirit of the thing, really I did. Cut through the dogma and get to the karma.
The problem was that Sunrise constantly referred to the divine as a force outside of ourselves, and that, I could not buy.
It turns out, however, there were many other things to buy.
I glanced around at my fellow seekers; mostly middle-aged women, all single and whinging about the lack of men in their lives. It was odd that four out of the 10 participants, including myself, had been widowed within the past few years. Perhaps, subconsciously, we were here to try and make contact with our deceased partners. Perhaps we were seeking some comfort in our loss, trying to make some sense of it all, and a lady with a groovy Native name sounded like she might just be the ticket and might just impart some wisdom. Perhaps we were drawn together by our collective pain on a similar path of healing.
Maybe, because of our bereavements, we had become a bit more desperate to connect with the divine, to find some deeper meaning to life.
In any case, I found the proportion of widows a bit eerie. There was one token bloke, a “therapist” in too-tight, white trousers who had come along to “see what his clients might experience.”
I felt sorry for them already.
A lot of self-pity and tears as we introduced ourselves in a circle using a talking stick, which had been selected from several crystal encrusted wooden and horn emu trimmed wands laying on a table in the centre of the room. One of the participants commented when it was her turn to speak, that the fluffy wand looked like it belonged to Ken Dodd (an English comedian, naif or brilliant, depending on your taste, known for his “tickling stick”). Sunrise did not crack a smile, nor understood the sarcasm.
Initially, I assumed that this display table was an altar with its single candle glowing in the centre, but no, it was actually a table of things for sale.
There were also strings of prayer beads on this “altar” that were offered to us at extortionate prices. A few desperate participants got out their wallets and the cash registers rang. We were shown how to use these beads, starting with “The Lord’s Prayer”, which Sunrise assured us was “the most ancient prayer of all.”
At no less than four points during our workshop were various services and jewellery items offered for sale. Indeed, I totalled up over an hour of workshop time spent trying to sell us other stuff.
At one point I confessed that my relationship with my mother was pretty dysfunctional. Sunrise Crow Goddess pounced upon me like a—shall I say—hungry bird of prey.
“What would Jesus do?” she demanded after a long anecdote about her family.
I stared at her blankly. I am the wrong person to be asked this question—really, I am. I had no idea what Jesus would do, nor did I care, and I told her so. It just wasn’t a relevant question.
It was suggested that I cut off my bum-length dreadlocks to mend my relationship with my mother.
I came home with a headache.
The best thing I got out of the workshop was realizing just how well-balanced I already was. But did I really need to spend £75 to work this out?
On the way back, I stopped off for some chips (Brit-speak for fries) to console myself. The lady in front of me in line was trying to order two portions of chips with three sausages; one portion in a cone with one sausage and one medium portion with two sausages. It became unnecessarily complicated and confusing. An elderly gentleman sat nearby, bemused by the fuss. He winked and said, “As my old dad always used to say to me, ‘keep it simple’.”
Best bit of wisdom I’d heard all day and it didn’t cost a penny.
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Assistant Ed: Jane Henderling/ Ed: Bryonie Wise