We’ve been weaving the most supportive container possible for Pleasures of Beltane, knowing how important community agreements are to a camp of this nature. The information below outlines the values and agreements that have formed the foundation of the camp. It also covers the screening and accountability processes. It is shared here so campers know what to expect and so potential campers can see if they align with them. It is expected that anyone attending camp agrees to uphold these values and participate in these accountability processes if needed.
We all make mistakes. Our expectation at Pleasures of Beltane is not that nothing will go “wrong” – it is that we will hold each other accountable when it does, including participating in repair where possible. At PoB, we are working towards shifting from a culture of shame to one rooted in risk awareness, harm reductionist practices, trust, accountability, and open communication. For us this means engaging with each other assuming that we're all trying our very best, given our emotional resources and circumstances, to be as excellent as possible to one another while also taking care of our own needs and boundaries.
Screening Process and Pre-Camp Consent Training
The work we will participate in is deep, transformative, and vulnerable. Particularly at this, our first Pleasure of Beltane camp, it is important that we’re all operating from similar understandings around how to engage in our shared activities, rituals, and social interactions. Therefore, every potential camper will be expected to participate in a screening interview with members of the organizing team. This is a chance for us to get to know you, and also for you to ask us questions and see if camp is a good fit for you. Before the beginning of camp, each camper will be expected to participate in some shared content that further develops the themes of consent, agreements, and conflict resolution (we’re hoping this will be in the form of an entertaining video we make - but you know we’re all volunteers so bear with us if it takes another form!)
Consent is a foundational piece of the magic we will be weaving at Pleasures of Beltane. When participating in all activities at camp, everyone is asked to keep awareness of and sensitivity to the issue of consent as we engage in our pleasure, magic, and play together.
Consent in practice is much more complex than can be defined here (especially considering consent in magical practice with elementals, deities, fae beings, etc!) We acknowledge that simple definitions cannot encompass the myriad elements that can impact consent in practice such as power dynamics, past trauma, and altered states of consciousness. We start with a shared definition of consent as roots to anchor us as we navigate that complexity together.
We choose to define consent as an ongoing collaboration between two or more beings in constant verbal, physical, spiritual, and emotional dialogue about what each other needs to willingly, safely, and pleasurably engage in an interaction with one another. In short, consent is the explicit expression made by participating parties defining actions they will have done to themselves or actions they will do to someone else.
Affirmative: The absence of a “No” is not consent. To be consensual, everyone involved in an activity must give an affirmative “Yes.”
Informed: Everyone involved in an activity must have a shared understanding of potential risk factors and risk tolerances.
Unpressured: If someone says “No” or otherwise expresses hesitation, their choice should be immediately accepted and respected. If someone agrees to an activity because they were pressured, intimidated, threatened, or manipulated in any way, the activity is not consensual.
Specific: Everyone involved in an activity must understand the boundaries of the activity. If an aspect of the activity is vague, this should be acknowledged explicitly and lead to heightened caution and care.
Ongoing: Consent can be given and revoked at any time during an activity. Partners should check in with each other often. Partners should check in with each other whenever the activity changes unexpectedly.
***With gratitude to The Bonobo Network https://www.bonobonetwork.com/ and San Francisco Sex Information https://www.sfsi.org, for their concise definition of consent.
Pleasures of Beltane aspires to ensure a welcoming, safe, and respectful environment that reflects the diverse interests and needs of our participants. We are committed to providing an inclusive environment for all, regardless of gender, age, gender identity, race, health status, national origin, relationship status, sexual orientation, ability, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.
We acknowledge the systemic hierarchies under which we have lived. And, we aim to create a space wherein all participants (particularly those of marginalized or minority identities) can feel they are as much a part of the fabric of our magic and activities as anyone else. We also acknowledge that such an environment is counter to the dominant culture and requires the sensitive, continual, committed efforts of everyone in attendance.
We expect all those who participate in Pleasures of Beltane to hold these views. We also endeavor to hold them when handling harmful behavior (see accountability processes below).
We acknowledge that the practice of accountability and following a shared set of community agreements becomes more challenging when power dynamics are at play. These include power dynamics from larger systemic hierarchies that are still at play at camp, as well as those created by camp. We aim to be as transparent as we can when power dynamics are a factor, and to be open to hearing when we have not seen them.
This means that organizers, teachers, and any one else in a role that holds power at camp is held to the same expectations as all other camp attendees.
All Pleasures of Beltane participants agree to and actively support:
Power: That working with sex magic, shadow, and transformation is incredibly powerful; to understand that such work has the potential to magnify or rupture the conventional hierarchical positions of the dominant culture; to be sensitive to the ways in which such traction positions and impact all of the following areas.
Confidentiality: To keep all Pleasures of Beltane activities in confidence, to not share other people’s stories or experiences;
Assuming the Best of Everyone: That everyone (including oneself) makes mistakes, and to think the best of everyone unless apprised of other information.
Respect: That all identities, body types, abilities, races, ethnicities, sexual expressions/orientations, and personal space and privacy are to be honored and respected; in consent interactions, demonstrating respect of the right to say no to all advances, conversations, overtures of friendship, or to express feeling uncomfortable should be expressed by “Thank you for taking care of yourself.” EVERYONE has the right to pass on any exercise or activity.
Individual Experience: That we cannot assume what others are experiencing, that everyone has their own individual experience, and to speak only of one’s own experience; to be willing to express one’s own boundaries and respect those of others; to recognize that one is one’s own spiritual (and sexual) authority.
Accountability: To acknowledge and own one’s mistakes, to make restoration as quickly and appropriately as possible, to learn and grow from one’s own (and witnessing and respecting others’) mistakes.
Impact: To acknowledge one’s impact, to accept feedback on one’s impact in ritual, scenes, and individual interactions.
Expansion: That everyone has the opportunity to experiment, try new things, make choices, and change their minds; to respect the navigation of growth and change in the moment and afterwards.
Substance Use: To abstain from drugs, alcohol, and other numbing agents during camp. All medications are allowed.
Age and Duration of Attendance: In recognition of the intensity of the work, to only apply if 18 or older and to attend the entire event.
Consent: That all activity must be consensual, both inside and outside play areas. Participants agree to only touch or perform any activity with someone else after obtaining prior explicit permission. Participants actively affirm and support our Definition of Consent.
Photography: That NO photography, video, or sound recording is permitted during camp. Violation will result in ejection from the camp without refund.
Electronic Devices: That NO cell phones, tablets, smart watches with cameras or other electronic devices may be visibly displayed in the dining hall, play areas, or ritual. If you are using a device for other purposes camera lenses must be covered by a sticker. These stickers are available at registration.
Scents: That due to sensitivities, this is a scent-reduced (perfume, essential oils, fragranced-toiletries) venue. There will be cabins designated as totally scent-free. Please observe these health-related issues.
Smoking: That smoking is only permitted in designated areas outdoors.
Nudity: That nudity is permitted (and encouraged!) in all camp halls, play spaces, and ritual. Please be sure to be dressed with all bits covered when near the roads. When in contact with furniture, a barrier (towel, personal cushion, sheet, etc.) needs to be between bits and furniture. There is no nudity below the waist in the dining hall and kitchen.
Animals: To acknowledge that live animals and non-human pets are prohibited in the Mendocino Woodlands.
Cleanliness: To clean up after ourselves. Don’t leave garbage around—deposit it in the proper receptacles. This particularly applies to the smoking area.
Emergencies: That in the event of a medical emergency or problem, to remain calm, find an organizer, clear the area and let the appropriate personnel do their jobs. Please respect the privacy and dignity of all humans.
Special Considerations: That if anything is unclear or if there is concern, to find an organizer who will direct you to the appropriate person. The organizers will do their best to help everyone have a wonderful time but not all requests can be accommodated.
Accountability and Handling of Harmful Behavior
Pleasures of Beltane is committed to ensuring that interactions are safe and welcoming to all participants. Incidents of harmful/unacceptable behavior by any participant at Pleasures of Beltane will be taken seriously and will be addressed as follows:
Pleasures of Beltane organizers will handle incidents involving harmful/unacceptable behavior.
Pleasures of Beltane organizers will provide assistance to those participants to whom the incident occurred.
Pleasures of Beltane organizers will work to resolve the issue as quickly and fairly as possible while prioritizing the needs and concerns of all participants.
Pleasures of Beltane organizers reserve the right to remove an individual from the Pleasures of Beltane Camp without refund, and to prohibit an individual from future participation in Pleasures of Beltane activities.
In creating these agreements we sourced language, ideas, practices, and more from a number of people and groups. We’re naming them here to acknowledge and thank them for the work they’ve done from which we benefit:
American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: https://aamft.org/
Black Rose https://br.org/br/
Bonobo Network: https://www.bonobonetwork.com/
SF Citadel https://sfcitadel.org/
The Eulenspiegel Society http://www.tes.org/