I had the great pleasure of heading out to a new friend’s land in Mississippi this weekend for gathering and ceremony around the autumn equinox. I met Kezia just the week before in New Orleans at a full moon workshop she was hosting at Rosalie Botanicals. A practitioner who focuses on dreams, Kezia lead a beautiful soul-centered event that integrated the astrology of the day and ritual around uplifting our waking and sleeping dreams alike. We got to talking after the workshop and I told her about my travels, and she told me that she and her husband owned land on the edge of a national forest an hour and a half away in Mississippi. She invited me to join them and other friends for the equinox gathering the following weekend and I immediately said, “Yeah I’ll probably do that.” And I’m so glad I did! It was great to get out of the city and be out in the fresh air, connecting with nature and meeting new people.
Kezia and Jordan are currently developing their space in Mississippi, called The Burrow (named after the burrows of the gopher tortoises throughout the land). They plan to make The Burrow a retreat center and a place for learning about sustainability and permaculture. When I arrived, Kezia and I went for a short walk on just a slice of their 111 acres. The landscape is really interesting there. It’s very sandy, and just like in New Orleans, there is no natural rock anywhere. There’s some really diverse growth out there though - there are pine trees next to prickly pear cacti, next to yuca, next to wild blueberries and crabapple trees. The area is in the middle of a drought at the moment unfortunately, which seemed strange to me considering that this is the hurricane season. Kezia explained to me that it can be like that in the Gulf sometimes, either you are getting pummeled or there’s no precipitation coming at all. I've noticed it in New Orleans too. When I first arrived in early August, there was a lot of rain for a while, but it pretty much hasn’t rained at all for the last 2 or 3 weeks.
After we got back from our walk, I was excited to see another van pull up, plus other folks began to trickle in as well. We had a delicious dinner cooked over the fire and had a check in about the weekend and where were/how we were feeling emotionally and spiritually. I met a fellow Chicagoan, Snow, who was our photographer for the weekend. We ended up talking late into the night about the stars, astrology, and the role of technology in spiritual evolution.
The next morning after breakfast, Snow, Kezia, Eli (the other van driver), and I went for a hike where we saw a lot of the aforementioned natural growth and burrows. Kezia was in the middle of asking me if I had ever seen a golden orb spider before when we literally almost ran into one with their baby and massive web! It was pretty much impossible to capture the beauty of the spider or the web with my little iPhone camera, but it was breathtaking. The threads of the web were shimmering gold, and the mamma spider was so big and fierce looking. Totally harmless to humans, and a sight to behold.
After the hike, we took a dip in the pond on the land. The water was perfect, just the right temperature, and cozy feeling enough for my comfort zone while still being large enough to kayak in. We then had a totally unplanned and amazingly liberating photo shoot - we all stripped down out of our bathing suits and Snow took photos of us playing in the water and connecting with the land. It was so freeing and comfortable, and perfectly magical. Snow is really talented - I’m excited to share some of those photos soon.
The afternoon brought lunch, resting, and chatting with folks in the camping area. I got to talk with Sivani, who was one of the three women who were leading the ceremony in the evening, while laying in a hammock and reading. That evening we had a group photo shoot on the nearby sand hill, lead again by Snow, followed by a delicious and hearty vegan dinner prepared by Eli and Damon, one of the carpenters building the structures on the property.
Then came the ceremony. Kezia, Sivani, and Jamila, whose birthday we were also celebrating, built an altar to honor the Goddess on the Equinox. Gathered around the fire, they lead the group, numbering around 15, on a journey of reflection on the land, harmony, balance, and community. The ritual lasted for 2-3 hours, I don’t remember exactly how long. But I do know that I felt so very grateful to be able to be in sacred space with such thoughtful and spiritually engaged souls. It’s not easy for me to be in groups of people, especially such a big group of folks that I didn’t know at all, but I know that that was the best place I could have been that weekend, surrounded by the beauty of Mother Earth, with the cicadas buzzing and the sounds of coyotes howling into the night.
I honestly could have stayed on that land for another week. I think they would have let me, if I volunteered to do some labor in return. But it also felt right to head back to New Orleans and return to working and writing there. I gave Damon a ride back to his spot in the Lower 9th Ward and we talked the whole ride about divinity and the interplay between light and darkness.
I had been feeling a bit isolated and uncomfortable over the last few days, and the community that I found at The Burrow was just the medicine I needed. Thank you so much to Kezia and Jordan for hosting, and to Sivani and Jamila for leading such a beautiful ceremony!
Alia Walston is a traveling writer and intuitive making connections between the challenges and ecstasies of our evolution