What an interesting night at Constellations, comforting and confronting, and wonderful and less so. Wonderful is the bit that stuck as I woke up the next morning to the sounds of the birds and the breeze.
I am full of gratitude for the chance to attend Constellations at Spier, a walking tour after dark between curated fireside experiences in wilderness areas on the estate.
Groups of people move between campfires, where the ‘guardian of the fire’ (a healer/a singer/a storyteller/an outrageous cabaret artist/similar) takes each group on a journey for 30-40 minutes.
Each of the three campfires visited on the night reveals a new surprise. I was more than a little fired up after reading and re-reading Alex Dodd’s telling of her experience at the inaugural event in 2020.
Alex was very lucky to have been part of three beautiful campfire moments. It makes me wonder: Do we get what we deserve? Do we get what we need?
Phones off, partners and friends separated, we set off on a surprisingly cool December night after a picnic on the lawns at Spier (very generous portions of quite ordinary food with a lovely Sauvignon Semillon). Within a few minutes we were in the forest and then at a campfire with Lindy Dlamini, by far the brightest of stars in this constellation.
A practising sangoma (ancestral name: Gogo Masechaba), Lindy’s work is “centred around creating and holding safe spaces for people to acknowledge, tell, process and heal their stories through ritual and ceremony”.
What a start. Lindy filled me with respect, connection and hope as she brought us close and reminded us that we are held in the greatest embrace of all, between Grandfather Sky and Mother Earth.
She talked about why we come together in ritual or ceremony: to acknowledge, to mourn, to heal, to celebrate. She gave thanks to the mother of all mothers, the Earth, for absorbing all our joys and all of our pain, for carrying and supporting us every day.
Someone in our circle was inspired to share his gratitude and concern for the subject of his “deepest and most spiritual relationship”. Mother Earth supports all of us every day, knows each of us by name, he said.
It would be so easy to be cynical, to see this moment of braveness and vulnerability as whacked out hippy-dippy-trippiness …
It would also have been easy to be oblivious to the presence of the spirits. But then I wouldn’t have felt and absorbed the vibration off the body of Lindy as I thanked her and hugged her goodbye and she whispered “Enkosi” in my ear.
Maybe I do have a soul after all.
Soulfulness aside, my cynical self had its moment at the next fireside, and my ability to be totally absent while physically present at the one after that.
I am not sad or disappointed that it was not all connection and fireworks at all three firesides, maybe it will be one day. The mystery and the magic is often in not knowing what comes next and which part of you will turn up.
Constellations, a Third World Bunfight production designed by Brett Bailey, feels like just what we need right: Covid-safe and super soulful.