A light rain falls in these California redwoods. I am walking back to my nest, the VW camper van that is my home for the next week at Witchcamp where I have come to be with witches of all genders from all over the world. It is dark: no Moon is visible, though Her fullness above the clouds makes Her presence felt, tugging on every cell of my body’s oceans. It is not a cold night, damp but surprisingly mild. There is a small footbridge crossing the shallow stream before I get to where I am parked. I am alone in the sweet darkness. Walking to the edge of camp after the opening ritual. I am still barefoot, shoes in hand, and, instead of taking the bridge, I wade into the creek. It ﬂows around my ankles and halfway up my calves. It is also surprisingly warm and so I stop and turn off my ﬂashlight and let my skin do what it does best: feel. There are no more shoes for me at Witchcamp, this is too powerful a place, too powerful an experience to miss anything through the soles of my soul.
The next day someone asks, “Don’t those rocks at the stream’s edge hurt to walk on?” I reply, “I go barefoot a lot. I have Hobbit feet.” But the truth is that if I walked on those rocks the way I do in shoes, it would hurt. The faster pace and heavier trod would bruise me. Yet, because I am barefoot, I walk slower, lighter, with greater intention. And, because I am barefoot, I don’t have to avoid the mud puddles in those ﬁrst few days of camp before the sun ﬁnally dries out the ground mid-week. I can, with glee and full abandon, splash right in and feel the mud squish between my toes.
As the week progresses we dive into the myth of the Sumerian goddess Inanna. Together we descend into the underworld realm of her sister, the goddess Ereskigal. I walk Her descent barefoot. In the story, Ereskigal strips her sister of something at each of the seven gates to the underworld until Inanna ﬁnally arrives naked. As we wade deeply in the story, I too relive a time thirteen years ago when my life was stripped away. The memory is vivid as if it were seeping up from the forest ﬂoor through the cells of my soles.