I am thrilled to be part of the Surrender organizing team again. This year, I will be performing original EcoSexy songs, chants, and spoken word, as well as helping to coordinate the large-group rituals. When I’m not at Surrender I live in Eugene, Oregon, where I dance, make music, and work with developmentally disabled teens. I also practice shamanism. For more information and to hear my music, please visit ospreyhealing.com.
Surrender Profile: Osprey Melissa Huffsmith
This post is our first in a series intended to give Convergence newcomers a chance to feel more deeply into the inner workings of Surrender. We are kicking things off with a reflection by Osprey Melissa Huffsmith—a shamanic practitioner, dancer, and musician offering their talents this year to the ritual and musical aspects of the Convergence.
Initially I was very skeptical about Surrender. I only felt comfortable attending after I had a one-on-one conversation with organizer Teri Ciacchi, who graciously gave me an in-depth description of what this Convergence is all about. Teri spoke about honoring women and queer people, transforming sex from something recreational to something spiritual, and healing our wounds so that we can do a better job at helping to heal the Earth’s wounds. She spoke about community, support, and the power of the collective. She talked about the necessity of us humans bringing our spirituality back into our bodies—honoring the raw physicality of nature as sacred and magical. Coming from a background in Earth-based spirituality, the ritual aspects of Surrender helped me to feel safe and at home with the edgier topics I was just beginning to explore.
I think that overall Surrender does a good job of creating a safe place for people to explore their growth edges as well as providing a spectrum of activities to serve a diverse group of folks. It’s not all just about sex in the woods (though that option is available!). My Surrender experience has been primarily about discovering my gifts, sharing my voice through song, and feeling safe enough to speak my truth in each moment. The first consent workshop I ever took was at Surrender, and it changed all aspects of my life—not just how I communicate around physical touch, but core issues of self-trust and self-love. It was incredibly empowering to be held in a safe space where I knew my “no” would be respected and my requests for connection would be met with authenticity. It really wasn’t an option for me not to share this work; I knew from my experience that I would bring it back to my community to educate people about consent. I took notes at that first workshop and started facilitating consensual touch workshops in Eugene a couple months later. When I returned to Surrender the next year, I was invited to help lead cuddle parties… what a turnaround! To go from a novice workshop attendee to a facilitator in just a year was a huge growth for me.
Part of consent education involves coming into our voices in a new way: Learning to speak up when we’ve been too silent, listening when we’ve been too loud, having curiosity, asking questions, and being vulnerable. I have been a creative artist my whole life and wrote my first song about ten years ago, but there is a big difference between writing songs for yourself and sharing your songs with a community! Surrender was one of the first places I began to share my songs with larger groups of people—my first year, tentative and shaky, around a small campfire, and my second year, loud & proud at a large group ritual(though still shaking inside!). I am grateful for the ways this Convergence has helped me to grow as an artist and a human being.
Surrender really is a cultural and societal movement of people who are empowered to love the earth and each other in more sustainable ways. The community is what keeps bringing me back! Since attending for the first time two years ago, I have grown in ways previously unimaginable. It isn’t just the material presented at Surrender that has helped me grow—although that is excellent—but rather the people I’ve met who are now supporters in my life and members of my extended family. For anyone who is considering attending but is unsure of whether or not you will feel accepted, know that there is a large community of kindred spirits waiting to welcome you with consensual, loving arms.