Frequently Asked Questions
Who Should Come to this Retreat?
Those who feel called!! If you are new to earth-based spirituality and magic, come with the open mind and heart of the Fool to learn the elements of magic, spell work and ritual. If you have been practicing for years, come and reconnect to the wisdom of the Fool in a gorgeous and restorative setting. If you want to simply rest and reflect around the swimming pool or make art in the art house, you are welcome to come and do that. A big part of the magic of this event is in who shows up. If you are called, you are part of the magic.
Who is putting it on?
We are a group of teachers and practitioners of earth-based spirituality and magic. The majority of us have been involved with a feminist spirituality tradition called Reclaiming which started in the early 1980's. We have taught classes in the Bay Area for many years on a variety of spiritual and magical topics. Many of us have also taught nationally, and internationally, at Reclaiming "witchcamps"; week-long intensives teaching earth-based spirituality, magic and ritual.
Besides being involved in Reclaiming, we also include priestesses of the Feri and Gardnerian traditions and those whose spiritual practices are informed and enhanced by Buddhism, Hinduism, and other traditions.
We work collectively by consensus process and are committed to structural and financial transparency, believing that openness about whom and what we are is part of the magic of creating a culture of beauty, balance, and delight.
How did it come to be?
After years of teaching spiritual intensives, we became curious about what it would be like to teach magic with the intent of deepening our practice within the spirit of restoration. Finding Four Springs, with its library, art house, meditation room, meadow, woodlands, and swimming pool, we knew we had found a place where restoration and reflection could occur. A magical intent we have is for participants to take that spirit back out into a world that desperately needs less human intensity and more restoration, reflection and balance.
What can I expect?
Dropping expectations is part of being a Fool. We know there will be plenty of offerings to delight in a setting alive with magic. There will be ritual, spell making, art, and relaxation. There will be good food, woods to hike in, and sacred lounging around a big pool.
Fool's Journey is an intimate magical retreat, with limited space. We set out to provide a sacred spa setting for our exploration of the tarot, and there is no better place for that than our beloved Four Springs.
Four Springs was created by four Jungian women many decades ago, and you can feel the magic as soon as your arrive. Sense and connect with nature spirits in the meadows, springs, woods, and hills. Swim in the pool, hike in oak and pine forests, relax into a seaweed wrap and chocolate rose face mask, delve into the many books on mythology in the library, take time for reflection in the meditation room, and/or use the plethora of materials in the art room to create things of beauty... Fools Journey at Four Springs is rich in offerings.
When the journey began, Four Springs was much more comfortable and equipped for housing those with mobility challenges. The lodge had 6-8 rooms, some of which were specifically designed for those in wheelchairs, and all easy to get to and with bathrooms. Getting to the meadow, the pool area, and majority of offerings was doable.
With the lodge burning down before the year of the Empress and the rebuilding of the lodge without the bedrooms, this all changed. There is no wheelchair accessible cabins and very few that are not a challenge for those with mobility issues.
We continue to voice to Four Springs the importance of finishing the 2 rooms that at some point will be wheel chair accessible. But that seems to be slow going.
We’ve explored moving to another venue, but no venue has appeared that would suit our needs, vision, and budget.
We do our best to try and accommodate needs during the retreat, but at this point we are not wheelchair accessible and there are limited cabins that can accommodate those who are mobility challenged.
We encourage all participants to give feedback to Four Springs on the importance of finishing the rooms that would change this.
What does doing ritual entail and mean?
At Fool’s Journey we do ritual every night to deepen our understanding of the archetypes of the Major Arcana and and to use them to in ways that enhance our humanity. If you are new to this, don’t be afraid to ask us questions about why we do what we do. Part of Fool’s Journey is being a curious fool, a wise fool, open to new things and questioning how and why things are. The ritual structure comes from a spiritual tradition called Reclaiming. If you want to learn more about that, the best book to read is The Spiral Dance by Starhawk.
Structure of a Ritual
Copyright © 1999-2000 Vibra Willow and modified by Deborah Oak to fit Fool’s Journey
1. Grounding and purifying — we use salt and water, or incense, and herbs to cleanse ourselves spiritually and mentally, getting rid of any thoughts or feelings that might interfere with our participation in the ritual; and we meditate together so that we will feel secure and rooted to the earth, and remember that we are all connected. This meditation is usually a guided visualization done by one or more people where we sent roots down into the earth to ground us and connect us.
2. Casting a circle — we draw an imaginary circle around the place where we are doing a ritual, creating a sacred space. In each direction, we draw a pentacle, the five pointed star associated with the North and earth. The pentacle drawn is like an imaginary window that can let in the spirits and powers we will invoke.
In a group, as one person walks the boundary of the Circle in a clockwise direction, beginning either in the North or in the East, using an athame (a ritual knife associated with the East and air) she or he “draws” a pentacle in each of the four cardinal Directions and a line connecting them, ending at the same point where she or he began, and then walks to the center of the Circle and points the athame towards the sky and then towards the ground. At Fool’s Journey, the athame may simply be a pointed finger. All participants remain attentive and focused, using their own psychic vision and imagination to aid this process of encircling the space with a magical cord (or circle of light) on the psychic plane. When the Circle is cast, the participants are said to be “between the worlds” and the ritual begins. Following are traditional words for casting the circle, each part spoken in the appropriate direction: “By the Air that is Her breath, by the Fire of her bright spirit, by the Waters of Her living womb, and by the Earth that is Her body.” In the center: “The Circle is cast and we are between the worlds. The ritual has begun.”
Once the Circle has been cast, participants who must enter (or leave) it should “cut” themselves into (or out of) the Circle by carefully opening a space to pass through and closing it after they have crossed the boundary. This can be done, e.g., by miming cutting out a door shape, passing through a “door” as in a tent, or parting curtains. This prevents a “tear” in the circle boundary which would disrupt the focus and dissipate the energy of the Circle and is, at least, respectful. Circles are permeable, however, to animals and young children who need not cut the circle to enter or leave or those of us who forget to do it. But try.
3. Calling the directions — using words, song, chanting, and/or movement,
We call the powers of the four directions, and the elements associated with the them. East — air; South — fire; West — water; North — earth. In the Center, we invoke the spirit. At Fool’s Journey you will pick a card on arrival which will tell you what element you will be calling in over the weekend along with others. The calling in, or invoking can be simple or complex, the main thing is to tune into the element and be playful… what to do will come and for many, this is one of the most magical things in the ritual is seeing what groups come up with. No pressure, have fun, and listen to the element. It will let you know how to invoke it!
4. Invoking the deity — we invoke a different Goddess, or Goddesses, and a God or Gods, depending on the purpose of the ritual. A deity (or deities) is (are) invoked to witness and assist magical work, and to empower those who are working the magic, so generally we choose a deity who is known for particular powers or qualities. For example, the Goddess Diana is known for her strong and independent spirit, so she might be invoked at a coming-of-age ritual celebrating a young woman’s first menstruation; or the Green One, the God associated with growing things, might be invoked at a young man’s coming-of-age ritual. Often an invocation is composed in advance, and it may be accomplished with poetry, song, sounding or music of any kind, movement or dance. One person may take the role of invoking, or all participants may do it together. At Fool’s Journey we work with the major arcana of the Tarot, each one a sacred archetype, so this is what we invoke and work with.
5. Magical working — this is the heart of the ritual. We might try to heal ourselves, or something in the world. We might try to raise energy and send it out into the world. We might seek guidance, or power within ourselves. We might build a vision of a more peaceful world. We might be very quiet, and meditative, or we might make a lot of noise. We might sing, or dance, or make something out of sewing or other arts and crafts materials. We might be very serious, and some of us might cry. Or we might be very joyous and have a lot of fun, laughing and joking. At Fool’s Journey we structure the working around deepening our understanding of the archetype the card represents. We who organize it plan rituals in advance but depending on what is happening at the retreat, they may get replanned according to need.
We try to work in harmony with the forces of nature. For example, when the moon is waning, we get rid of things, casting out what we don’t want. When it is waxing, we try to increase the good things in our lives. With the full moon, we try to fulfill our promises, bring projects to completion, and remember the infinite possibilities in the universe. We might also harmonize our work with the seasons of the year, the phases of the tides, etc. At Fool’s we will most likely be letting you know how the work lines up with astrology as Fern our talented astrologer pays attention to this and let’s us know!
6. Sharing food and drink — we bless something to eat and something to drink by acknowledging them as gifts of the Goddess, and share them. This is sometimes called “cakes and wine” or “cookies and juice.” As the food or drink are passed around the circle, the giver may say to the recipient, “May you never hunger,” and “May you never thirst.” This part we don’t tend to do at Fool’s but it could happen
7. Devoking and opening the circle — At the end of a ritual, the participants thank all the deities that were invoked, and then all the spirits of the Directions, this time going in a counter-clockwise direction, inviting them to leave or to stay (sometimes called “dismissing” or “devocation”). Often, whoever invoked the directions or deities also thanks and dismisses them. Then we imagine the circle we cast being erased, dissolved, unwrapped. Often, people say together: “By the Earth that is Her body, by the Waters of her living womb, by the Fire of Her bright spirit, and by the Air that is her breath, the Circle is open, but unbroken; may the peace of the Goddess stay in our hearts; merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again.” At Fool’s Journey we cast a circle for the whole weekend so we don’t do this part until the last and opening ritual on Monday which is essentially this part. However we do call in and “refresh” the elements every ritual and cards/deities as each ritual has a different intention.
What about the Money Honey?
Please read our financial accountability info HERE
Sex, Drugs and ....... ?
We believe that we are our own spiritual authority and as such, we make our own decisions about what we do with our bodies.
Being in magical space can open up our creative selves and bring us into the beauty of our senses. Magic by it’s nature guides us to not tamp down our sexuality, but to get in touch with it.
Magic itself is consciousness changing and being at a magical retreat can resemble being on drugs. Add actual drugs and alcohol along with the magic, and boundaries can loosen, not always for the better.
We have the challenge of creating a space and community that is welcoming and respectful to those in recovery from addiction, alcoholic relationships and sexual and physical trauma while also exploring what it means to be our own authority, our authentic selves, and experience ourselves as the sexy, divine beings we are.
As the Wiccan rede advises, "Do what you will, but harm none." Whatever you do, be respectful to others, to yourself, and to the magic we are creating. We are not asking participants to be drug and alcohol free (except in ritual) or to not run sexual energy. We are asking you to be conscious and mindful. As organizers, we are trying to create a spiritual restorative, not drunken revelry (not that there’s anything wrong with that in the right circumstances!).
Please do not bring drugs or alcohol to the rituals or come intoxicated. Joining our energy together becomes muddled when people are altering themselves other than by the magic. If we feel there is use or behavior that interferes with the magic we are doing, we will be addressing it.
As organizers we have all been in situations which were said to be drug and alcohol free but weren’t and where the power differential between teacher and student were both ignored and used. As Fool’s, we strive to be open, honest, and transparent and recognize this will all be an ongoing conversation.
How do I register?