The Witches’ Revival – A Weekend of Healing, History and Remembrance

This four-day festival aimed to commemorate the Pendle witches who were tried and killed in Lancaster in 1612, as hysteria and panic toward ‘witches’ rose. These women, and men, were not allowed to be mourned for; their whole families were eradicated in some cases, so we gathered to learn about them, remember them and in doing so heal and learn new things about ourselves and our connection with other women.

The festival took place in The Storey, Lancaster, and comprised of a set of healing workshops, a small market, an exhibition about witch archetypes and some dedicated time and space to connect with other women. I only went for the one day this time as I was a little unsure, but everyone was so welcoming and during the opening ritual – I’d never felt anything quite like it. We sang and chanted together, making eye contact with each other as strangers there for a common goal (that was tough!). As we did that, it all felt so harmonious and my sense of belonging grew and my anxiety faded away.

During my first workshop, Rowan Morrison led us through keening; a way to openly grieve the souls of the witches and women past. This involved creating a circle and setting intentions as a group, chanting together and picking names of Pendle Witches that we would pair with as ‘anam cara’ which means ‘soul friend’, wishing them well so that they might pass on from this world and feel at peace in the afterlife (I picked out Margaret Pearson).

The workshop ended with us being brought into a state of almost euphoria as we were taken on a meditative journey to the Loch of Tears. This underground lake was the wept and unwept tears of all women throughout history. While at the Loch of Tears we were asked to embrace the feeling of those women who came before us and suffered. In doing so, it mirrored my own suffering and I ended up sobbing on the floor, letting out my anger, indignation, grief and fears. I felt absolutely remarkable afterwards!

I decided after my experience I needed to spend some time restoring my energy. It meant I missed the second set of workshops but it was definitely needed – if there’s ever a time to remember to look after your needs, it’s at a festival like this! I ate and wandered around the market. There were a few wonderful little businesses and I supported them as best I could.

I then wandered around the exhibition space. Unfortunately we couldn’t take any photos but I’ll try to describe it! The space was separated into the seven witch archetypeswise woman, temptress, healer, sister, earth keeper, intuitive (diviner) and creatrix. Each of these spaces represented an aspect of the witch archetype and invited you to experiment, write, create, and explore all those many facets of yourself through the activities. It was something you really had to experience to understand fully, but I came out feeling a great kinship with other women I know, thinking of all the facets of the witch that we shared.

My last workshop was a meditative journey to meet Hekate, the witch goddess. I was the last one of the witches that they managed to squeeze into the tiny space and I felt so grateful that they managed to do this for me – I really don’t know where I would have gone otherwise. We drank Mugwort tea which helps you go into a relaxed meditative state and enhances dreams. Cindy Page, who ran the workshop, then guided us through the journey which involved meeting a crone in the woods and asking her a question. I won’t go into the journey here as it was deeply personal to me, but I felt so much more accepting of myself as a result.

The final part of the day was a closing ceremony. I am prone to leaving early from gatherings but I am so glad I stayed. We chatted with a stranger for 2 minutes and then wrote small encouraging messages to one another to take home and read. We then sang a short song which I hope to always remember. The words were simple – I am. A witch I am. Keeper of the Ancient Ways I am. As we sang them together, I felt like this day had been a success for all – some cried, some laughed and smiled, some were swaying with their eyes closed and we were all completely at peace.

The day was remarkable. I think I would like to go again next year if they do another, and I’d love to go for a little longer and experience more of the weekend. I hope by that point I will have done even more restorative work on myself and that I will feel a comfortable sense of belonging before I even enter the space. I want to feel powerful wherever I walk – that is my goal.

1 Comment

  1. […] months. It’s an uphill struggle most of the time, honestly. But anyway, Conclave of Chaos and Witches Revival which I attended last weekend, have restored my heart and my […]

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