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Article ID: 4504
Age Group: Adult
Posted: March 26th. 2001
It's Tribal Time!
This weekend, Fritz, Peg (escaping from the frozen tundra of Boston) and Wren attended PhoenixPhyre in Land O' Lakes, Florida. While this is definitely one of our favorite Pagan festivals already, Wade Berlin and the entire Phoenix Festival staff once again proved that vision, organization and good old fashioned hard work are the key elements to any successful event. What days before was a relatively quiet country getaway off the county road was transformed within hours into a bustling Pagan tribal village. It is hard to believe that this encampment is not a permanent home for the hundreds of individuals, families, merchants, artists, musicians and wise Elders we met there. It reminds us of those old folk-tales in which enchanted towns magically appear for a few hours out of the mists of time before once again vanishing without a trace to who knows where.
Although we missed the performances on Thursday night (darn day job!), we did get to reconnect with the members of both Elven Drums (Wheeeee!) and The Raft. We sure do a lot of hugging at Pagan festivals! We saw lots of old friends from previous events and of course, each time that we go, we make some new old friends to look for at the next one. Making that face-to-face 'people connection' is the major draw for us. Sitting behind a computer keyboard for the many hours each day that the maintenance of a large site like TWV requires tends to leave us feeling a bit 'hug-deprived'. Getting back to Nature and back within the circle of humanity at a Pagan gathering recharges our emotional batteries and renews our pledge to serve such wonderful people as these.
In the older tribal model, the entire community was responsible for the well being and success of the village. In today's world, we often as individuals and as families and even as Pagan groups are focused in so closely upon our own model of 'success' that we do not see the entire village that has grown up around us. Because the goals that we have set for ourselves are narrowly defined and the culture is so fast-paced and soulless, people who want to 'get ahead' in the world often spend all of their energy on just a few things: those things that will aid them in attaining that goal. Distractions are kept to a minimum by keeping the rest of the world-with all of its problems and general social 'messiness'-outside of our own little circle. That sort of focused-on-a-goal-and-not-much-else attitude works in the corporate business world that expects one to sacrifice a lot in order to get ahead. It is often touted as one of the 'virtues' of highly successful people. Tunnel-vision-like focus is highly productive and in the realms where high productivity is highly rewarded, separatism works extremely well. And it works well when everything...well...works well. But things don't always work out so well now do they? And that is when we often find that our comfortable non-distracting cubicle of a life has no doorway to the village around us.
What if one day you woke up and found out that you had just been diagnosed with a painful, disabilitating or terminal illness? What if in the afternoon, you learned that your money is all gone and you and your family are going to be put out into the street? What if your child went to school in the morning and never came home again? It is when things aren't going well that we often realize that we ourselves have never seen a family that we personally know out in the street or spent hours just listening to another person talk, cry or rage at the death that is hunting him/her down or sat up all night worrying along with another parent when a child is missing or late or seriously hurt. We haven't seen these things happen before to anyone that we know- and now it is happening to us and we don't know how to talk about it or who to talk about it with or even if there is anyone else out there to talk to at all. All we see are the rows and rows of separate cubicles that make up the average town or city and the people who 'live' in them going about their business like nothing has happened.
If you have ever said, "Why is this happening to me?" or "I want my life to count to for something." or "I didn't know that anyone else ever felt this way, too- or believed this way, too- or had experienced something like this, too", you have realized at some level that you are missing (perhaps yearning) for a tribal connection. In a tribe, everyone knows what happens to everyone else, has seen what happens to everyone else and then goes through the experience with everyone else. They know that sometimes bad things DO happen to good people, not just to you. They know that people reach out to help to other people and that they will help you, too. They know that people get hurt, get sad, get lost, get found, get married, get abandoned, get sick, get well, take their own lives, either find their own way back or need to be searched for. They know because they have seen it, experienced it in the lives of the other people in the tribe. It is no longer experienced as if the 'Universe' out to get you personally anymore, but simply as another of the joys and the sometimes consequences of life on this planet. It puts things into a larger perspective.
Pagan festivals give us a taste of what tribal living could be like. Of course, few of us are willing to give up our separate residences for communal living nor our individual mobility to be tied down to one geographical spot. But the 'concept' of tribal perceptions, of a tribal "consciousness" as it were-IS something that we can nurture by maintaining ties with the people that we meet there. It is an oddity of human nature that we often tell complete strangers things about ourselves that we have never told to anyone else. Most of the time, we do so because we don't think that the people that we DO see often would understand or even care about these deep things inside us. How very sad for all of us to miss hearing about the very things that could bring us together in the bonds of happiness or sorrow or fear or insecurity which we all-in our most honest moments-know lie within ourselves as well.
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