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  • Maegan Clearwood

script of beltane ritual

performed April - May, 2021

co-written and performed by: Nicole Bates, Alison Butts, Maegan Clearwood, Matthew Gover, Percival Hornak, Jemma Kepner, Micki Kleinman, Helen Rahman, Parker Traphagen, Tory Vazquez


AT RISE:

The crackling of candles. Cameras off.


Maegan:

~Land acknowledgment~


We acknowledge that the members of our coven currently occupy the traditional, unceded territories of the Pawtucket (puh-tuck-et), Nipmuc (nip-muck), Pocumtuc (poh-cum-tuck), Nonotuck (nah-nuh-tuck), Timucua (tim-u-cu-ah), and Seminole (seh-muh-nowl) Nations. The Indigenous peoples of these Nations are still here and will continue to be here on their ancestral lands.


We acknowledge that we are contributing to the ongoing colonization and settlement of these Indigenous territories. We invite you all to share in the chat whose land you are occupying. You can find this out by visiting the website linked in the chat: https://native-land.ca/


As a coven with largely Western magick practices, we also acknowledge how much of modern Western witchcraft steals and appropriates Indigenous cultural and spiritual practices.


We can support Indigenous peoples by giving our time, money, and labor to Indigeous organizations, actions, and movements; by committing to returning land to Indigenous Nations; by prioritizing and uplifting Indigenous voices, and by learning and honoring the Indigenous histories of the land we occupy.


Parker:

This section contains mentions of police brutality, anti-Blackness, anti-Asian hate crimes, transphobia, and the coronavirus pandemic. Feel free to take space if you need it - the next section begins with a video of trees.


We also acknowledge that the past year has brought with it a stark increase in violence and harm for so many marginalized communities - a rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders that went unacknowledged for far too long; continued police violence and murder of Black people with no accountability; transphobic laws passed in multiple state legislatures that bar trans people, particularly young trans women, from accessing lifesaving healthcare and playing on sports teams that align with their gender; rampant inequity in access to Covid-19 vaccination that puts communities of color at risk. This and so much more weigh heavy on our hearts and minds. It has been a year of incredible grief and loss with very little justice, but as a coven we send the energy and healing generated by this ritual to communities coping with these traumas and to the people putting their bodies on the line to advocate for change.


If you are able, send energy and healing to the space so it may be absorbed by others here who are in need of it. If you are in need of energy, know that we are sending it your way.


We invite you to take three deep breaths with us - with each exhalation, send the energy you have to spare. With each inhalation, take the energy you need.


[Mics on: The COVEN takes three deep breaths.]


-- HELEN’S WELCOME VIDEO --


-- OPENING: SUN + MOON INVOCATION --


PERCY performs Sun + Moon puppet show under the following:


MATTHEW: The moon is a being of cyclical resilience. She has given plants instructions to rise and fall. She has given trees the right to bear oxygen, for dear Mother Earth, to cleanse many paletes. She has told both body and mind when to quiet and rejuvenate for the journey to come. From this quiet, The Moon has allowed us to redress our nights in cooling sheets of love. The Moon brings us to sleep, where our dreams run ferociously and our greatest manifestations take flight. It is here, the candle inside our souls begins to flicker, and the warmth of its glow takes us by surprise.


PARKER: The Sun is the center of our Solar System, A bringer of light and with light, life. She grants trees the light needed to unfurl their leaves. She gives Mother Earth the warmth needed to get through winter. She wakes us up and rejuvenates us. She wakes us from our slumber to put our dreams into action. With her shining rays she spurs us into movement and energises us for the coming day. Her fire tends to our own spiritual fires, kindling and kin.


MATTHEW: Together the beautiful entities of both Sun & Moon craft our sense of time and existence here on Earth.


PARKER: The Moon guides us in our dreams allowing us to reflect on our actions of the days past.



MATTHEW: The Sun propels us to act on those thoughts, reshaping our day’s present.


PARKER:The Moon recharging and recrafting our emotional wellbeing with her ever-changing faces;


MATTHEW: While the Sun ensnares us in an activated amber glow that calls our manifestations to mobilization.


PARKER:Both Moon & Sun are here for us when needed the most.


As they dance through the sky painting our world in light and shadows with each hour they help us all explore and search for our true selves. Now we invite you to take a small step in your large journey to delve deeper, braver, more lovingly, into this search of self. Believe what you feel, heed to your light, and make sense of your shadow.


Breath!


-- WITCHING HOUR VIDEO --


-- LIVE WITCHING HOUR --


Breathe.


The Witching Hour video has just ended.


MATTHEW starts to bring more candles on screen. His video is spotlighted, so we have the visual of souls to represent ancestors.


MICKI- The witching hour is the hour in nighttime when supernatural, witchy, or surreal things tend to take place; the veil between the living and the dead is at it’s thinnest. The seconds tick by, and our bodies pulsate in tune. At this time we allow ourselves to slow down,and enjoy the stillness of nights, or wind down and transition from the state of awakeness to the state of asleep. We have nighttime rituals, our actions illuminated by the moon above. The circular orb of the moon which lights up the night sky, which affects the push and pull of the ocean tide, and which waxes and wanes every month. The ever changing and ever constant that is the moon. The moon can get us to think about the cycles in our own lives. In this way, we would like to take the time and space to think about larger cycles which we may want to break. Both the personal intimate nature of nighttime rituals, and the all consuming, vastness of the moon and the night, gives us the opportunity to evaluate the cycles within our lives. Cycles, habits, and patterns passed down through generations.


TORY- We are going to engage in a ritual focused on ancestry. We understand that thinking about our ancestors can raise a lot in us, especially trauma. You may encounter strong feelings around oppression, generational harm, grief, and loss. We encourage you to participate with an open heart. However, if this subject matter may be too difficult to engage with right now, please take the space you need. Take care of yourself and listen to your body.


JEMMA- We define an ancestor as: a temporarily distanced someone---a ghost, often---from whom I inherited something invaluable; someone to whom I feel indebted; someone whose lineage I am humbled or desire to be counted among.”


TORY- An ancestor can come from your biological lineage but you can also look to an ancestor from a community or artist you connect with; these are chosen ancestors. You may find an ancestor from a religious group, spiritual practice, queer identity, or artist that you identify with. Your ancestors can be a community, an individual, or anything in between.


MICKI- Some types of ancestors include, but are not limited to:


Each type of ancestor will be typed in the chat as well for emphasis.


MAEGAN- Art ancestors


PERCY- Queer ancestors


PARKER- Trans ancestors


NICOLE- Blood ancestors


MATTHEW- Religious ancestors


PARKER- Spiritual ancestors


JEMMA- Chosen ancestors


HELEN- Science ancestors


MICKI- Scholar ancestors


TORY- Nonhuman ancestors- Including the Earth’s animals, plants, insects, and fungi who hold tremendous knowledge.


Definition above is pasted in the Zoom chat.


JEMMA- take a moment to gather a pen and paper so it is ready for you for journaling after we meditate. You do not need to answer all of these questions, they are merely there for you to ponder on or to be used as starting off points for your own reflection and empowerment.


Feel free to focus on Matthew lighting the candles, spotlighted for you, as each candle represents a soul. Feel free to close your eyes, make sure you’re breathing, whatever you need to center and ground yourself. Breathe in whatever manner works for you.

Try and visualize your ancestors. If you’ve never gotten the opportunity to meet your ancestors, or your ancestors are more abstract, you can imagine them as you please.


Stay with your body and with your breath.


What do your ancestors look like and sound like? Do they have distinct behaviors you’ve noticed? Maybe the way they laugh, or the music they listen to, or the way they breathe after they drink a glass of water. Do your ancestors smile wide, or in a more reserved manner? Is there a certain way they say your name?


TORY- If the ancestor you’re connecting to is nonhuman, envision the environment they belong to. How do they interact with the world around them? What abilities and traits have they developed for their survival? How might they communicate? How might or have they interacted with you?


MICKI- Are there life lessons, or nuggets of advice you’ve received from these ancestors? If so, what are they? Are there jokes or stories they’ve repeated over the years, or is every story of theirs a wild adventure you’ll never hear of again? Are there stories and narratives which have been sustained over generations?


TORY- Take a moment to return to the space. Open your eyes if they’ve been closed, slowly come back to us as we delve into journaling.


Pause.


There is so much we have inherited from our ancestors, getting in touch with how they have influenced who we are today can greatly impact our perceptions of ourselves and the world around us. To do so, we need to recognize these influences first, and then take a moment to decide what to do with what we’ve learned. You may begin writing or drawing, as we delve into the questions.


Make space for journaling throughout.


How have your ancestors brought you joy? Did they exemplify joy, or teach you about it?


Do your ancestors have toxic behaviors which you have distanced yourself from?


Are there traits and characteristics they have that you admire? Ideas or sentiments you disagree with?

Do you navigate the world differently because of your relationship with them?


Thank you for journaling with us, we’ll leave you with a few closing thoughts as we transition out of the witching hour into dusk(?).


JEMMA-With every encounter we have with the world, we need to keep something in mind. Every experience and interaction is just an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, what we feel comfortable with, what we cannot tolerate, what we admire. The testing of our boundaries is just an opportunity to get to know our own boundaries a bit better.


Now that we’ve identified things we’ve inherited from our ancestors take a moment and think about what you want to continue and bring into the future, and what do you want to leave in the past?


MICKI- Who do you want to be? What kind of ancestor do you want to be? What example and behaviors are you setting and perpetuating? What legacy do you want to bring into the future?


Turn off video.


DUSK VIDEO


Breath.


LIVE DUSK


MICKI: Dusk is the time after the sun has set, and after twilight, a time when the sun is no longer in the sky. A time when the world looks gray, and fuzzy, and the air cools down and envelopes us. Public parks are open from dawn til dusk, and when dusk hits it’s time to head home. Five minute warning to make your way home for dinner. Time seems to slow down, and make space for all the breathing, and unwinding, we need. Simultaneously, dusk is all too fleeting until the full darkness descends and time seems to slip through our fingers. The fleeting and the enduring, the stillness and the yearning, the transitioning from one chapter to the next, our bodies torn in two different directions.


TIME SPELL


Maegan and Nicole are highlighted.


Maegan:


This is a spell for lifetimes that are not measurable by clocks or calendars.


Nicole:

This is a spell for lifetimes that are not evaluated by profit margins,

Or new years resolutions

Or biological clocks.


Maegan:

A spell for lifetimes that are not limited by life.


Nicole:

Forever times composed of Nows.


Maegan:

This is a spell inspired by a woman

Who measured time by frosted windowpanes and poems.


Maegan turns camera off and turns Emily camera on. Nicole reads from her poetry book.


Nicole:


Some say goodnight — at night —

I say good night by day —

Good-bye — the Going utter me —

Good night, I still reply —


For parting, that is night,

And presence, simply dawn —

Itself, the purple on the hight

Denominated morn.


We invoke a timespace of unproductivity; we invoke luxurious sleep


Maegan lights spell candle.


Nicole:


Pain — expands the Time —

Ages coil within

The minute Circumference

Of a single Brain —


Pain contracts — the Time —

Occupied with Shot

Gamuts of Eternities

Are as they were not —


We invoke a timespace of acknowledged pain; we invoke breathability


Maegan lights incense.


Nicole:


AFTER a hundred years

Nobody knows the place, —

Agony, that enacted there,

Motionless as peace.


Weeds triumphant ranged,

Strangers strolled and spelled

At the lone orthography

Of the elder dead.


Winds of summer fields

Recollect the way, —

Instinct picking up the key

Dropped by memory.


We invoke nonlinear time; we invoke humility.


Maegan flips a tarot card.


Nicole

We have all the time in the world.


Cameras off. Maegan and Nicole’s screens are unhighlighted.


END OF TIME SPELL


EVERYONE TURNS VIDEO ON.


HELEN - Now that we’ve looked inward, we’re going to do a spell for convening together, Coven and guests, in our magickal space -- so we thought we’d go ahead and introduce ourselves.


-- INTRODUCTIONS --


Alison Butts (she/her) Stage Management Witch


Nicole Bates (she/her) Cinema Witch


Maegan Clearwood (she/they) In-Process Witch


Matthew Gover (he/him) GemWitch


Percival Hornak (he/they) Puppet Witch


Jemma Kepner (she/her) Jewitch


Micki Kleinman (she/her)Inquisitorial Witch

S. Helen Rahman (she/her)Poetic Justice Witch


Parker Traphagen (they/them) Moon Witch


Tory Vazquez (they/them)Astro Witch


Helen

We invite you to introduce yourselves by typing your name and pronouns into the chat along with where you are in the world and of course, your zodiac sign, sun, moon and/or rising!


The COVEN greets folks as they type in the chat.


-- BREAD & CANDLE SPELL --


HELEN - As we near the halfway point of our ritual, let’s take a moment to nourish ourselves. We invite you all to light a candle along with us, or turn on some kind of warm and special light source to keep us all connected to each other. If you do have an open flame nearby, please use caution and have some water nearby (obviously). You can look at this candle throughout the rest of the evening and watch it burn bright, bringing our ritual to life.


(Audience and coven members light a candle together. Cameras are on and out candles highlighted)


JEMMA- We invite all of you, coven and audience and ushers alike, to join us in breaking bread. You obviously don’t need an actual piece of bread, but if you have any food or drink nearby, let’s take a moment to feed ourselves, to indulge in our nourishment!


(the COVEN and the audience take a moment to eat a bite of something/take a sip of something delicious)


HELEN - As you eat, Jemma is going to offer us an incantation to bring the spell to life.


JEMMA- In mellem vitae descendant nostra corpēs.


Let our bodies descend into the honey of life.


HELEN - Eating is a sensual, and even an intimate experience. Make sure to chew that first piece of food at least twenty times. Sounds impossible, right? WRONG.

When you chew every portion of your food of choice, invest full acknowledgement to your taste buds, individually; savor each flavor, bold or mild, tangy or sweet, bitter or spicy. Search for a new flavor if you must. What’s the new flavor’s name? Are you immersed in that flavor, tongue, teeth, lips, and all? Okay it’s just food, don’t get too carried away


-- DAWN VIDEO --


-- LIVE DAWN --


Everyone’s cameras On.


Music plays.


PERCY: We’re going to call on the energy of some tarot cards to get our bodies moving - listen to your body, move in a way that feels good in whatever amount of space you have available to you, and if at any point you feel pain, feel free to take a pause and adjust. You can also feel free to turn your camera on for this section if you’d like.


PARKER: We’re going to start with The Fool:


The Fool is a card that is about freedom and being care free.


Move freely, listening to what your body needs or where your muscles may feel a bit tight. Take this opportunity to improvise - move without knowing exactly what your next action will be, and focus on what feels good in your body right now.


PERCY: Next, we’re going to embody The Hanged One:


The Hanged One is a card about release and surrendering yourself to a situation.


Move in a way that gives you a change of perspective - let the upper half of your body hang upside down, or just let your chin fall to your chest and feel the stretch in the back of your neck.


PARKER: Finally, we’re going to take on the energy of The Sun:


The Sun Card is all about celebration and Joy that is well deserved.


We invite you to stretch in a way that makes you feel celebratory - take up as much physical space as possible. You’ve worked hard, you deserve it.


PERCY flexes - music fades.


Turn cameras off (except Matthew and Helen).


-- Dawn Ending piece:--


Writing supplement:

MATTHEW: We are present. We are not living in past views, but we are filled with them. We are not ignorant of our time across and on this planet. We are needing though. We are needing and wanting and hoping and having to break what no longer serves us and our spaces.


HELEN: We are interested in breaking cycles that have been malicious, have maligned our beings, have taken space up in our souls. When we think of past, we think of ancestral journeys. We think of broken biases that have taken far too long to abolish. We think of strengths that were needed and are not too late to grasp.


MATTHEW: However, when we think of present, we mustn't neglect the love for the cycles that serve. We mustn't forget the communal love that captivates our families, both chosen and bloodborne. We mustn't forget the positive self-talk that builds up our minds instead of tearing them down. We mustn't look away from the special moments where we gifted folks with the education and wisdom to do better than the last. We mustn't forget that each of us is an original, a beauty just waiting to be fully blossomed. Just as you would spread love and provide support to your own heart, spread love to people and communities who have experienced a lot of trauma recently. Spread love with your own heart, with your whole body, to your favorite person, your favorite people, your neighborhood, town, state, nation, the globe. In terms of the movement of life, through the reflection of the practices that envelop this coven, of the practice of Tarot, and of the energy moving through this sacred space,


[Tarot Dancers turn cameras on]


we grant you these thoughts to blossom that very beautiful original inside of yourself:


Everyone flips through tarot cards in order.


HELEN:

  1. A time in your life where you questioned your beliefs (Hierophant)

  2. A time when you made a tough decision that changed your life (Lovers)

  3. A time when you rose up from a destructive/tumultuous event in your life (The Star)

  4. A time when you disciplined yourself in honor of your long-term stability and happiness (Emperor)

  5. A time when you honored the nurturing divine feminine, mothers, women, grandmothers, great grandmothers, feminine people, daughters, independent women, your own femininity (Empress)

  6. A time when unexpected change impacted your path in life (The Tower)

  7. A time when you kept quiet and listened to your inner guidance (High Priestess)

  8. A time when you changed your mindset and thus your reality with perseverance and persistence (The Magician)

  9. A time when you felt your egoic side die and you felt connected to the world and humanity (Judgment)

  10. A time when you had to moderate your intake of pleasure and short-term gratification (Temperance)

  11. A time when you chose to lead with love when others didn’t (Strength)

  12. A time when you took a leap of faith (The Fool)

  13. A time when you studied your dreams and the human subconscious and unconscious (The Moon)

  14. A time when you let positivity uplift you instead of succumbing to darkness (The Sun)

  15. A time when you couldn’t control your emotions and succumbed to any form of darkness (The Devil)

  16. A time when you took a time out and followed your inner light to guide you to the right path (The Hermit)

  17. A time when your or someone else’s karma, good or bad or ugly, caught up with you or someone else (Justice)

  18. A time when you took hasty and/or calculated action towards an area of your life (The Chariot)

  19. A time when you counted on life’s ups and downs to lead you to your destination (Wheel of Fortune)

  20. A time when your life felt like it made a beautiful “full circle” around hardships and successes alike (The World)

  21. A time when you found a pleasant and enlightening new perspective on life and events in life (The Hanged Man)

  22. A time when things fell apart just to fall into place (Death)


Now activated, whole, and in our bodies, we invite you to remain open to yourself and your ancestral energy.


PERCY - We have a tradition, as a coven, of brainstorming together on Google Jamboards - it’s a space where all contributions have equal weight and we can lift up and respond to each other in the moment. We would like to invite you to participate in this tradition with us - we’re going to put a link to a collaborative whiteboard in the chat, where you can double click on a sticky note to add your responses to any or all of the prompts there.


Link: https://miro.com/app/board/o9J_lJ0nVlQ=/


ALI STARTS SCREENSHARING


Alternatively, I’ll read the prompts out loud, and invite you to write any responses you’d like to share into the chat, and one of our witches will add them to the board for you. You can see the board grow on your screen in real time.


Jamboard Witches:

  • Boundaries:

  • Maegan

  • Parker

  • Time:

  • Tory

  • Helen

  • Love:

  • Nicole

  • Helen


READ EACH AS ALI MOVES TO THEM.


  • Are there boundaries you want to set?


Beat.


  • What do you want to spend more time on?


Beat.


  • What do you love about yourself?


Beat.


Now that we have reflected on ourselves and our ancestry, and set our intentions for the future, we can begin to call those intentions closer to us.


EVERYONE TURNS CAMERAS ON.


We invite you to join us in reading responses aloud and calling these things into being - feel free to be brave and unmute your microphone and join the coven in speaking the things you love about yourself, the boundaries you want to set, and the things you want to spend more time with out loud. We know the magic of bandwidth does not grant us unison, so for this portion of the ritual, we ask that everyone speaks in their own moment, at their own pace.


A wall of sound - the coven reads responses from the jamboard and the chat. When it comes to a natural end ...


JEMMA - We invite you to blow out your candle, let the smoke fuel and feed your inner fire. We love and appreciate all of you, we hope you may do the same to yourselves.


Blessed be.


COVEN - Blessed be.


The COVEN blows out their candles.


JEMMA - Thank you for joining us in this ritual. We’ll be here for a little while longer to continue the conversation in the chat, dance, or do whatever else is needed in order to come back to the real world before leaving this space - feel free to turn your cameras on for a moment. Stay if you wish, but no pressure - we’re grateful you joined us this evening and hope you have a magickal night.


(dance party - SHAKE IT OUT by Florence and the Machine plays)


NICOLE - Thank you so much for joining us - have a good evening!


END OF PLAY

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about the coven

preliminaries In summer of 2020, I was supposed to begin conducting research for my Dramaturgy MFA thesis, which at the time was a feminist interrogation of violence and intimacy in The Sweet Science

thesis proposal (sept 2020)

Thesis Proposal: COVEN-19, or Magicks for Unprecedented Times An exploration in feminism and devised theatre-making Maegan Clearwood Two things have kept me intellectually, socially, and spiritually