WS is held annually on the last weekend of May.
Ancestors of the Land: Raven’s Knoll is located upon unceded Algonquin land, this landscape properly belongs to the Pikwakanagan First Nation. The name “Pikwàkanagàn” comes from the Algonquin, meaning “[beautiful] hilly country [covered] in evergreens”. This landscape also has a history of French Canadian trappers, as well as British, Polish and German settlers. Raven’s Knoll itself has been witness to a great deal of history; from the First Nations, to white settlers and traders, and farmers. At some point it became a campground, then an abandoned campground used as a managed forest and tree farm for growing telephone poles. Then a bunch of pagans came along and started building sacred sites and cleaning up the land. As you walk upon the Knoll, and give offerings to the spirits and ancestors of the land here, we ask that you keep this history in mind. Walk softly, be respectful, leave your campsite in as good or better condition as you found it.
Bed Time: We go to bed fairly early at WS, unless we are holding a ritual at night. It’s an intensive, not a festival. We have very full days, punctuated with intense rituals and workings. Some years include the use of entheogenic herbs. It’s important, for everyone’s safety, to be well rested and not hung over. We ask that you respect your fellow attendees and be quiet if you choose to stay up after the fire has been put out. Even better if you move well away from the Standing Stone Grove. WS is not a party event, it is a working event.
Charging Phones & Devices: A table can be found in the Rookery to charge your phones and laptops. To cover Ontario‘s outrageous hydro costs, we ask that you put $0.50 for a cellphone charge and $2.00 for laptops/tablets into the comments box that is located in the Rookery by the entrance. You are on the honour system. We are not responsible for lost or stolen items.
Etiquette: At the Witches’ Sabbat at Raven’s Knoll, all paths and traditions are automatically valid and we welcome all comers. Everyone who attends an event like this is very serious, eager and earnest about their Craft. Within the context of this event, we can assume everyone has good intentions, and is well meaning, even if they may be misinformed or lack the appropriate vocabulary. Respectful education and using “I” statements instead of using “YOU” statements is the proper etiquette at WS.
This is not the correct space for debating the validity of another person’s practice. Feel free to share what works for you, without disparaging how others may do things. Discussion and the comparing of other traditions and cultures is encouraged. However please be mindful of cultural appropriation, stereotyping, and power imbalances. Always be respectful and mind your manners. If someone claims to be a reincarnated Space Elf from planet Zubu, simply smile and back away slowly.
All identities are to be respected, WS strives to be inclusive to all. Please use the pronouns, names, titles, and other descriptors to identify a person that they ask you to use. Bigotry, harassment and prejudice of any sort will not be tolerated.
If any person makes you feel uncomfortable, please speak to a staff member so that we can assist you. If someone tells you that you are making them uncomfortable, please apologise and allow them to remove themselves from the situation.
Fires: Fire safety is everyone’s responsibility. Absolutely no campfires or open flames in the pine forests. Please be very careful with lanterns and gas stoves. No charcoal BBQs or naptha stoves permitted. If you smoke, always dispose of your butts safely—one smoldering butt can cause a forest fire! We keep the fire in the Keyhole Pit running most of the time, it may be used for cooking and such. Please check with the Firekeeper before placing anything in the fire – we mean anything! Always maintain an open Firekeeper pathway from the stack of firewood to the pit. Obey the Firekeeper, if they ask you to do something, to move etc, please comply immediately.
First Aid & Medical Emergencies: We have staff who are first aid trained an certified to provide first response for moderate to serious injuries and other medical emergencies. For minor cuts and scrapes, please bring your own first aid kit. If you are experiencing or witness a medical emergency, any staff member will know how to summon the medics. Our medics CANNOT provide any prescription or over-the counter medications, including painkillers or antihistamines like Bendryl. If you are likely to need medications, make sure you have them.
Flying Monkeys (WS Security): They are here to help everyone have an enjoyable fest by ensuring a safe and secure environment. Do not hesitate to approach them with any problems or concerns you may have—from walking you to your campsite in the dark to serious issues. And please, if a member of security asks you to do something—or to stop doing something—be respectful and comply. They are only doing it for your safety and/or that of your fellow attendees. Gypsy Birch is head of the Flying Monkeys for WS.
Food: The squirrels are assholes. They will attempt to steal your food, even toothpaste and shampoo. This is black bear country, keep everything remotely edible stored in a properly sealed cooler or tub.
You can place any snacks that you are willing to share on the “kitchen tables” located in the Standing Stone Grove. The fire in the keyhole pit can be used for cooking, just check in with the firekeeper first. Fire safe pots and pan can be borrowed from the kitchen tables (except the cauldrons). There may be a propane BBQ available to use if you do not have one, just as the staff about it. The fry truck (YAG) is not usually open during WS.
During the lunch break on Saturday we will have a potluck and enjoy stone soup. Bring your soup contributions in the morning for the pot, and your potluck additions during the lunch break. We encourage everyone to help with the preparation of this meal.
Garbage and Recycling: Please do not toss any garage or compost into the bush! It attracts wildlife, such as skunks, raccoons, porcupines and even bears. There are marked barrels for garbage and recycling, the way things are sorted may be different than you are used to, but please follow the labels as they are correct for Renfrew County. The Knoll does not have a compost program due to bears.
Ice: Ice can be purchased at $3/bag. Please speak to Maryanne the RK land steward and administrator extraordinaire, Kadri who is one of the stewards of the land, or Myst who is Knoll staff and is easily recognizable as she moves on wheels.
I Need Help: If you require the immediate assistance of a staff member use the magic words: “I NEED to speak to you”. When asked “if we might have a minute” or “are we free right now”, staff assumes that whatever it is can wait until we are actually free. So use the magic word “NEED” and we will drop everything and give you our full attention. Please do not abuse this.
Partners and Families: This is an intensive for adults. Children under the age of 18 are NOT permitted to attend any rituals and are strongly discouraged from attending workshops, with the exception of babes in arms. They may attend the Bardic Fire, meals, social times around the fire, and breaks. Partners and friends who have not paid to attend WS, may not attend workshops or rituals.
We recommend that you keep the lines of communication open with your partners and camping friends. We wouldn’t want them to worry that our rituals devolve into drug fueled sex orgies that they are missing out on!
Pets: Dogs may join us for all events except Main Ritual and the Night Ritual. Dogs must be on leash at all times. Dog doo bags go into garbage cans only please.
The Yellow Dog Project allows people to know when a dog needs its personal space respected. These dogs wear yellow—usually a yellow ribbon or glow stick attached to their leash or collar. When you spot a yellow dog, do not try to pet or touch the dog. Do not bring your own dog over to greet it. Do not feed him any treats or scraps, as he may have dietary concerns. In fact, it’s best to simply ignore a yellow dog. If you see a yellow dog running loose, do not attempt to catch it. Take its description and location to registration (we have dog and owner information on file). Remember yellow dogs are GOOD dogs who just need a little space or who have health issues.
Raven’s Knoll: Raven’s Knoll is many things to many different people. However these three things are perhaps the most important to keep in mind. 1) The Knoll is a place of business; it has insurance, a business license, approval from the city council, a bank holds the mortgage, it must pass annual inspections from the Health and Safety Inspector as well as the Fire Marshal. The Knoll is a “home” to many, but this is not your buddy’s backyard. Follow the rules and don’t do stupid things that could cause the insurance premiums to go up. 2) The Knoll is a community project. Everything you see at the Knoll is the result of a communities’ volunteer labour, love and hard work. We do our best with the skills, knowledge and resources available to us. If something is a little wonky, or not as clean as you’d like it to be … please consider volunteering during a Work Weekend this summer. Your help would be greatly appreciated. 3) The Knoll is the festival grounds. A place of pilgrimage. It is sacred space. Every inch of the campground is a temple. Please treat it as such. The gods, spirits and ancestors are watching.
Skyclad: Raven‘s Knoll is privileged to be part of the local community. As such, we strive to be good neighbours, including but not exclusively, to the children‘s camp next door. Therefore, you may be skyclad at your own campsite (except those campsites near the beach or visible to the public from land or water) and at the drumming fire, in the spiral, and at the pond, but clothing is required for common areas. Because the river is public space used by our neighbours, there is no skyclad or female topless bathing there. We thank everyone for their support and understanding. Mothers may breastfeed wherever they are most comfortable.