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Article Specs

VxAcct: 13651

Article ID: 15151

Section: festivals

Age Group: Adult

Posted: August 12th. 2012

Views: 8496

Sirius Rising & Summerfest 2012

by Don Waterhawk

[WVox Sponsor]

So to begin, I'm sure you all are wondering why I have put, to the right, a picture of a young lady on a stripper pole...well...I'm glad you asked, and I will trust that I can explain. To begin with, it’s at Brushwood. I know, you need more than that, but to us who have gone to Brushwood, no explanation is necessary. But...I will for those of you that have not been to Brushwood:

#1...Creative movement, what Brushwood is about. No stagnant art in the community of Sirius Rising! The art that is there is constantly moving like the leaves on a tree, or maybe better yet, like the colorful people walking down the road.

#2...Beauty, beautiful movement, like one has seen only a few times in life.

#3...Spiritual control, but yet with an inner freedom to express oneself.

#4...It's at Babylon. (That’s where the pole has been placed, deep in the ground so the dancers can dance with the grace and strength of their movements) , and being at Babylon gives the art of Diversity, the freedom to express oneself without fear and without judgment.

#5...Gratitude. The dancers performed their art not only to enthrall and captivate the audience, but also this night’s dance was to help a couple who had lost their home to a fire. All of the money collected from the dancers and the auction went to them, to help these two to get back on their feet.

#6...And it’s a Sirius Rising. Oh right, I already had said that should explain fully, why I chose to post this particular picture first. Art, Grace, Beauty, Spirit, Freedom, Diversity, Gratitude, and summing it all up...Sirius Rising at Brushwood. Okay, I'll stop about this now. Look at the picture again...and you'll get it!!

Brushwood... Now I could go on and on about Brushwood Folklore Center, but if you are really interested in the individual facts about this place, then start at their website. But, of course, I'm going to go on and on about it anyway. So either bear with me, or just deal with it. Brushwood is...well...home! Not just to myself and Daniella, my daughters and granddaughter, my family and my friends, but it is also home to literally hundreds, maybe thousands of other people. I would venture to say that 99% of the people who arrive at this incredible land call Brushwood a home of sorts.

Now, for 22 years, the Barneys -- Frank, Darlene, Teresa and Dave Guzzman -- have worked hard to make this the most available land to pagan and like-minded people. And they have succeeded in most every way each and every year. It is the only festival site of its kind in the United States and maybe the world. Having been to many festivals around the country, I think that I have the experience to say that. 180 acres of truly Magickal woods and fields. Indoor swimming pool, both community showers and private showers. Electric from 30 amps for the big RV's that have need of a few light bulbs to light one's campsite. Sacred sites throughout the property, from the woods to the fields. It’s hard not to walk for any distance without running into some set altar of some type. The Labyrinth in the field is nothing short of stunning. Just to walk down the seasonal campers’ road, which is set up like a trip to a small Disneyland of color, lights, sounds, and fragrances, is an incredible treat because people who come many times during the season have planted colorful gardens and decorated their spaces with chimes, trinkets, lights and such.

I took my granddaughter, Oceana, down one night and watched her, wide eyed, looking left and right, running up ahead softly yelling with her sing-song voice "Look at this Papa, and I love this Papa, and can I touch this, Papa?" I don't think there is anything more gratifying than looking at things with child's eyes all over again. And Brushwood has that.

I haven't mentioned the four- flushers yet, the clean, picturesque (someone had taken the time to paint the four elements inside) toilets in the woods. No shit! the woods! Water spigots abound so one will not have to tread too far for the most vital element needed for survival. A first-aid building staffed with folks who are pretty wondrous, taking care of hundreds of people who --by accident or stupidity -- hurt themselves and need medical help or a few minutes of some "poor me" medication. There is a security staff that was rarely seen because they were taking care of us, and there are the volunteers who did everything from paperwork to trash pickup (I will expound on that later) . And there are the fire tenders, who for 24/7, kept the roundhouse going and built the big fire (again, I will get to them later) .

I could continue to go on and on; there is much to talk about with this land of the Barney's, which they have decided to share with the people. Am I saying all of this to get brownie points from the Barney’s? NO, you can't get brownie points from them, and everyone knows that Frank has no friends. I still get yelled at from time to time from one of them (Okay, I will admit that they are my friends) , but this is all about the land and the community, not about the owners.

A family runs the festivals that happen here, for profit, but also...for the community of the wonderful people here. There is no king or queen leader, high super priestess, squabbling committee, and fake church-like group getting rich for their retirement from the people. The festivals at Brushwood are about reality of the people, with the people being allowed input just as much as the owners. So now you have an idea of what things are like even before you step onto the property to enjoy the two festivals that I am going to talk about... Sirius Rising and Summerfest. Whew! Gonna get there yet!

This is Sirius Rising 2012, bringing in 1600+ people and the largest outdoor pagan festival in the United States, and Summerfest coming in at the closest second with 600+ people. To look at the layout, one would not think that there were that many people there, but you have to see the land and realize just how many people were camped out in the woods this year because of the heat that had hit the north this summer. Even Daniella and myself, coming from Southwest Florida, thought it was damn hot this summer up here. But hot or not, Sirius and Summerfest hit it off big time, and kept people from thinking that they were going to melt. Contrary to popular belief, witches will not melt if you pour water on them. (Unless your name is Dorothy!)

But the weather worked fine, giving us only four days of rain during the two weeks, and the land needed it. And the rain was gentle, with the biggest storms always going around us. No knee deep in mud, no getting everything wet and staying that way… Although there was a sizable puddle on the side of the road… and so I decided to bring both a bit of humor and do some research of human behavior.

I grabbed my fishing tackle box, my fishing pole, a chair and an unopened beer (I don't drink beer) , and headed out to the puddle. Setting up my fishing space, I baited my hook and cast out my line and sat in the chair, waiting for the first nibble. No, there were no fish in this shallow pond, and I knew that before hand, but I did this to check out the reactions of the people walking by. Now, creative humor can put in place some odd reactions, and it did. Most of the people walking by only saw what I was doing with their peripheral vision, and when they got about 20 feet from me, they would stop and look to see if what they saw was really what they saw. My research was set, and once again, knew I was at the best festival in the United States (hint, what’s to come) .

The price of both Sirius and Summerfest is the most inexpensive price in the states, being that both festivals are seven days long, and that no one has to do the four to six hour work shift that most other festivals require. I could never understand why people would put up with paying a large price to go to a festival, and then have to work. Well, it did give more money to whoever put the festival on. But paying to work.... duh? Brushwood has both paid and volunteer staff. And once again, paying just $135.00 for the 7 days, (or paying for only the days one would be there) , well...'Nuff said! And when I asked the Barneys how they did it for just what they charged, Darlene and Teresa, looking down, said quietly, "We may have to charge $5 or $10 more next year because of all the prices going up". $5 or $10 more? For all that you give the people, and that's it? If someone complains, have them check out the prices of other festivals that have just a third of what Brushwood offers, $250, $285, $300 or more. Well, if you complain about the prices here, I think you are just one of those people who like to complain.

The workshops at both festivals were great, with just enough of the good teachers and sharers to give the community a chance to pick and choose just what they wanted to without slamming them with hundreds of workshops. It's like having a mini college at your fingertips for a very low price and no scholastic grading, except for the teachers of the workshops. This I thought was great; the people who attended the workshops had the chance to rate the presenters as to their knowledge and ability. It's a good way to keep the idiots who "think" they know what they are doing down to a bare minimum, and give the community the best of the best. Thank you Billy Woods for your Qi Gung and Ti Chi, Lilith Dorsey for your truths on Voodoo Myths, Elspeth, for your stories for children of all ages, Skip Clark, Eli, Ken Day, the Rowan Clan and our own Peg Aloi. If I have not named you, please excuse me, for there is not enough room for the many fine teachers. All I can say is thank you workshop presenters, for sharing your knowledge to the people.

The Firetender Clan...Thank you, Wah Do!, for all that you have done for the people. You who have tirelessly worked day in and day out to provide the best and safest fires for the community. Thank you Jason, and tell your people, thank you. We may not tell you all each day, but I know that we think it. Its wonderful when one sees the true service to the people take place. And to the community of Brushwood: next year, if you don't already, each day you see a Firetender, give him or her thanks, maybe a glass of water or lemonade, or even a hug. They not only could use it, but they have earned it and deserve even more. And to Lesilie, a Firetender who got hurt, we trust all is well and you are getting better. And if you should need anything from us, please have earned the right to ask. Thank you!

To the performers, holy cow.... you!!!! I have never been to any festival in the last 24 years that have had so many, not good, not great, but absolutely fantastic musical artists/performers. I usually ask Peg Aloi to write this segment, but I'm going to give it a shot. D...A...M...N. If I were to have gone to these concerts outside of Sirius Rising, I would expect to pay hundreds of dollars for this type of entertainment. All of these nightly spots of music drew me in. They were everything from 80-year-old members of a big band rocking down the house to hot Latin dance music, where the band actually taught the audience the dance steps before each number. And it was the point I had to go back to my camp and change my sweaty clothes for dry ones. But there was one performer that stood out, and stood out big time. And that Was Ginger Doss.

Ginger, formally of Dream Trybe, formally of Velvet Hammer, is now taking herself on the road to share her musical spirit. And share she did. Putting on a concert with Billy Woods, NightHawk, Kenny Klein (and please excuse me for not getting your name, the kit drummer) , Ginger played the best concert that I have ever heard at a Pagan festival. Her music touched people of all paths, and even dropping a number she calls "Ganeesh is Fresh", a pagan rap tune. Ginger is this quiet, humble, beautiful woman who flows out her Spirit with the gentleness of a butterfly wing to the roar of a Mountain Lion. I even got my drum for the cut she calls "Come Down", where she literally rocked the house by making us all dance and stomp to her beat. If you ever get a chance to hear Ginger, or the chance to buy one of her CD's, don't miss the chance -- You won't be sorry. Thank you, Ginger. And thank you Brushwood, for getting her to play.

I trust that this will not be the last time a performer of this caliber plays at Sirius and Summerfest. The Dragon Ritual Drummers were a smash as was Phat Man Dee and the Transdimensional Jazz Experience & Kabaret Vulgaire Burlesque and Sideshow with special guest Foxy Moxy. Wow to all of them; they made our night and day!

Brushwood has the best Kids play area and Kids workshops in the nation. Sirius and Summerfest always pay special attention to the young, which is our future. The Teens did their thing and were afforded the respect and honor that they deserve. Brushwood has now seen three generations of festivals and camping. And they always pay much attention to the coming of the future people, the children and young elders. Without them, we would whither away. Thank you Teens, , for the work that you do for the community.

Brushwood has trash pickup twice daily, and I want to thank all the volunteers who do this dirty work to keep our area clean. It’s funny how it's the young elders who pick up the trash for us older ones. Thank you for your service to the people. We always made an effort when they came around to go up to them and give thanks.

Thank you, Medical staff. You worked hard this year, tending to all the little things and a few big ones. There was an auction for monies for a De-Fib machine, and we made approximately $2, 400, not only for the De-fib machine, but monies to build a much needed new First aid building. The auction was pure entertainment, and the people gave back. Thank you to all the generous people. It shows that the community can come together and build itself up for the future.

And thank you, drummers. Now here’s the way the fire circle works. The firetenders begin the energy with the fire and give that energy to the dancers, who then give the energy to the drummers, and the drummers give the energy to the people. Like all drum circles, there are three shifts. First shift is generally the people who do not want to stay up late, the novice drummers, the drunken drummers, and some of the drummers who do make it to the other two shifts. The second shift lets the drummers start to meld into the circle and become "one" as they say. And the third shift is generally the older drummers, more advanced drummers, and the ones who enjoy watching the sun come up. They were fantastic. The drumming was just as it was supposed to be, and it was great as it grew up with all circles. I have only one thing to say about the fire circle.

One night, a lone drummer – let’s call him the "Village Idiot" -- came into the circle and put a bunch of plastic buckets three feet into the dancers’ realm where this person of the "Look At Me" tribe decided that he wanted to be the center of attention. The dancers had to yield and go around him because he was in the way... but it was important for him, I guess, that people notice him. Well, we did, We noticed him as the "Village Idiot" that he was and is. When he went to use the bathroom, a young dancer went to his pile of buckets and threw them out of the circle. Thank you young lady, for stepping forward and taking care of the "Look At Me" person and dealing with his "Village Idiot" ways. But, enough of that.

The circles were great, both at the round house and at the Digedome. And the Saturday night fire at the center field...well...WOW! They say that you can see these fires from satellite, and I believe them. Watching the effigy of the sea dragon, sitting atop of the big fire, go up was nothing short of amazing. And the big fire at Summerfest was no less amazing. Thank you, Firetenders and Brushwood, for making it a memorable time.

I got a chance to sit in a small group and trance out to the wonderful sounds of Evan Hugh Worldwind, Billy Woods, Josh, Miguel, Tia (my daughter) , making some of the most beautiful dream sounds I have ever experienced. It took only a few minutes to trance into another world and listen to the fine sounds of the drums and diges. I live for those 60 minutes each it carries the energy for me to go on for the next year. Thank you all for coming and sharing the sacred space with your Medicine and Magick. I trust that next year we will do it again and share the Magicine with the people.

There are so many people that I want to mention and give thanks to...but not enough space. I do want to thank Bruce for being there always, Michele for her talented beading art, another Michele, who is by far the best massage therapist ever. Pantera for her smile, Josh and Jessica for just being and showing their love. My daughters Tara and Tia, who remind me how old I am (lol) , and to my granddaughter, Oceana, for showing me how young I can be. Peg, and her wonderful dinners and friendship, Lilith, who keeps me on my truth. Billy Woods and Evan Worldwind, who show me that I can. And thank you Bella Via, for your amazing beauty and dance and Spirit. And my Daniella...who reminds me just how wonderful being in love is.

So there you have it. Sirius Rising was "Home is where the Spirit is". And Summerfest was "Celebrating the Creative Spirit". Two of the finest festivals that Daniella and I have ever been to. If you have been there before, you will understand the truth I am talking about. If you have never been to Brushwood...well...maybe it’s time. Here's what will happen:

You will arrive and go to registration and feel a familiar wanting feeling. And after one day there, you will quietly say, "I'm home. I'm finally home, and this is my true family...!" I know...I did...and was the first camper at Brushwood 22 years ago. So I can't wait to share this incredible feeling of home and family with you. You'll say it’s about time...

At Brushwood during Sirius Rising and Summerfest, you will not feel that you need to belong before you believe… instead, you will believe before you belong...and belong you will.

Wah Do
Nyeh Weh

Don WaterHawk

Ginger Doss Website


Don Waterhawk

Location: Fort Myers, Florida


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