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| Article Specs|
Article ID: 4708
Age Group: Adult
Posted: September 21st. 2002
Fall Gathering of the Tribes 2002
by Don Waterhawk
It wasn't to bad of a drive from Southwest Florida to Virginia, about 14 hours, but a nice drive up I-95. And when we got off of the interstate, and started the rural winding drive to the site through small towns and farm land, we noticed a large Banana tree planted in one of the yards we passed by...not one in a pot, but a 15 foot tall banana tree in the front yard. I smiled at Daniella, and kinda knew we wouldn't be needing our thermal underwear that all south Floridians brought once they went north of the Caloosahatchie River...I was very happy! We ended up on a small one lane road that wound tightly in "S" curves and came to Blackwater Campground....Betsy and Maggie's place. Now Betsy had bought the campground and in 11months had renovated it to its readiness. Already there had been three "Gatherings" at this new place for Pagans. And there will be many more to come, I'm sure. So we stopped at the "General Store" and registered, and met Betsy and was crushed with a big family hug. Now, I have to tell you, I truly love Betsy, I love her honesty, brashness, openness and no bullshit attitude....and the fact, that this woman has buried her "Promoters Ego", because it simply was not there at anytime....ever. Come to think of it, Betsy may be totally devoid of ego...which...is a bit scary, but refreshing, for it teaches us that we truly don't need so much of "it". So we filled out the proper paperwork to enter the land, and Betsy offered to take us for a tour, saying that it would shorten the knowledge time of the campground, for it is big.
The tour consisted of Daniella, Betsy, Grithorn (Betsy's dog) and myself in a what looked like a four wheeled golf cart. Now, in knowing Betsy like I do, I should have known that this was not going to be a soft, leisurely drive throughout the property. Apparently, the long drive up here softened my brain. So Daniella sat in the back, Betsy climbed in the drivers side, I waited for Grithorn to get in the middle, and I climbed in after the "Dog". As Betsy started the vehicle, Grithorn turned and looked at me...and I could have sworn I heard the Dog "gulp". I soon found out why. I was right, this was not going to be a leisurely drive, as we hurtled (and I mean hurtled) down the winding, bending, bouncing road that led through the campground. Good Goddess Betsy!!!! I'm sure that we were only going 25mph, but it felt like I was on Disney's "Space Mountain" ride. As I gripped tightly to the cart, I didn't dare turn around to see if Daniella was all right, but was calmed when occasionally I would see one (or More) of her legs bounce by my shoulders, and at the same time saw Grithorn completely levitate whenever we would come over a hill. And all the while, Betsy, speaking calmly about the campground and the sights, never showed any concern of the drive, even when we flew around a corner to come to a screeching halt in front of a huge fallen tree. And Betsy mumbling about how that wasn't there this morning.....So we were shown the sights of the campground, the 50 amp RV sites, the beautiful, large (I mean large) in-ground pool next to a building that will be a Great Hall that will hold around 400, the incredibly wonderful hardwood trees that fills this piece of land, a gorgeous lake next to the merchants and camping area, then driving down (this is where I know we were doing over 25mph) to the Drum circle. A winding road that runs throughout the campground, leading more places than either one of us could visit during our stay there, then to the Shower building (yes, "building"), to Betsy's "Habitrail House" (I'm not going to touch that one, you have got to see it for yourself), then back to our car. Betsy then hopped out, told us to follow the road we had just been on, and go get settled. So we did, follow the road, and yes, we got a bit lost, but not for any length of time, and ended up in the Merchants area.
The Merchants area is near perfect, no..., it is perfect. Underneath the tall trees (which are everywhere), alongside the road that encompasses the Tribal Village. There is no crowding at this festival, with plenty of room for merchanting, camping or whatever. There is limited merchanting, Betsy does it this way to insure that everyone gets a good chance, and the attendees are not overwhelmed or overcrowded by merchants. And it was a good selection, even though its not juried. Thank you Betsy, its nice to see a promoter that cares about the merchants, instead of caring about the money from merchant fees.
Now, "Gathering of the Tribes" (the real Gathering of the Tribes), is a good festival. It seemed very geared for and to Families. And families we did see....more than any other festival this year. One of the things that were the most notable about the "Families" here, was, that all of the young people were behaving responsibly. Day and night, teenagers and young elders were having a ball......responsibly. I know, I know...maybe I'm spending to much time on this, but it was great to see. Waves of young people having a really good time...without the young people good time bullshit...! Wow...it can be done in a festival arena. Even at the main ritual, the Young ones had a responsibility of a Main portion of the Magic. So if you are looking for a good safe/secure festival for your family, then this is one at the top of the list.
The workshops were diverse and well attended. That says that the opportunity to learn was there, and the hunger to feed off the workshops were there. That's a good sign. Hey..its alright to party, but ya gotta learn how to do it correctly. That was given at this festival. Everything from making masks, learning about Voodoo tattooing, Laws of Magic, making sand candles, and Rune lore and more...much, much more. Outstanding selection of workshops! And great locations for where they were held. There were several sweats done throughout the festival by Grey Wolf. You will come away from this festival with an Eclectic degree.
Here's a good one.....about Dogs! Yes, dogs are allowed at this festival. Now, I make no bones about not liking dogs at festivals. I have never seen it work yet. Dog bites, dogs barking, and the ever famous dog shitting (they gotta ya know). Most promoters that allowed dogs in at one time fail , then trickle it down to just allowing a few "close personal friends" in with their dogs, and that makes it an even worse failure. 'Cause everytime, the dog(s) would bark, bite and shit all over the place. Well folks....it didn't happen here at this festival. I asked Betsy about how many dogs were here, and she replied "Fifty dogs". I 'bout fell off my canvas chair. I asked her about the problems with dogs....she said there isn't any. I 'bout fell off the ground. So I asked her what Magic did she use to overcome these problems. She said "none". I 'bout fell off, well, I would have if I was on anything that I could fall off. And she then said, "There is no second chance, you come to this festival with an animal, you will be completely responsible, or you will leave....period!" She said that she had someone leave the first day, their dog barked, so they were told to leave. Wow!!!! responsible pet owners at a festival??...very hard to believe. And a festival with 50, yes that's "FIFTY" dogs (oh, and one snake), big dogs, medium size dogs, and those little tiny pretend dogs (hey, I grew up on a farm, we used little dogs for fishing bait and paint brushes), and even they didn't bark at this festival. I just couldn't believe it, and in a way, I still don't. Is it Magic?, is it owner responsibility?, or.........could it be that when each person stopped at registration, their dog met "Grithorn", and Grithorn had a talk with them? Whatever the case, whatever was happening, it worked. And it was cool seeing all these dogs! Remember, our "Familiars" help us get closer to the "Wheel of Harmony", we just have to learn to listen to them. Which brings me to "Grithorn", Betsy's dog. Well, maybe I shouldn't use the term "DOG", this magnificent canine is so cool...he can even drive the Golf cart. (and I may have him drive me around next time). But this is the best behaved earth creature that I know, so..."Thank you Grithorn, you made my day each time I saw you"!
The Main Ritual was put on by "Coven of the Raven" and facilitated by HP Wayland Raven and HPS Morgaine AutumnWolf. It was a very eclectic ritual, and I was overjoyed by seeing the young people that helped put this Ritual on. Once again, I will comment on how Family oriented this festival was, and how much I am pleased with that. It really is better to be working Magic and Medicine with the next Seven Generations. This is a festival of the Future....it is a festival concerning the Children of what will come to be! Is everything perfect at this festival. Almost....I feel that the Ritual Circle is to far from the main village, the energy is not shared or held by the village. But I understand that this site is changing all the time, it is still new. And there is no real need to have workshops on the last day. Few, if any showed up for them. And that's it. This is an exciting site, not only for Festivals (and yes, its open to anyone/group to put on a festival here), and also just to camp. Remember folks, this Campground is Pagan run and Pagan owned. There are three festival a year being held, with more surely to be scheduled. Did I forget to mention that it is very reasonably priced. I even asked Betsy about her pricing for the festival and she said "it makes it affordable for families. Kids under 16 are free." One other thing, you will notice that there are no pictures of the festival. This is a very firm boundary at Gathering of the Tribes. No photography. Only one or two people on staff have this privilege and it is held in utmost respects to festival attendees who this boundary is set for. I had to beg Betsy for the few pics you see. I wanted to give you all a bit of the layout of this awesome place.
Daniella and I had a good time talking with people of the community, with workshop presenters like Rev. Lilith Dorsey, Morgaine AutumnWolf and Wayland Raven, Isaac Bonewits, Dorothy Morrison, Oxun Olakari' Al'aye, Trish Telesco, Mike Short, Arawn Machia, Grey Wolf and many more. I thank all of you who taught and shared their wisdom and Magic. I thank Maggie who cooked for us helpless presenters and filled our bellies with both food and laughter. Thank you all for making this a wonderful festival. And a special thanks to Betsy.....you are so sincere, so wanting to work towards the future of the Pagan Community, thank you for placing your heart towards the "ALL". And yes, we will be back to this one......Nyeh Weh!
In the Realm of the Sacred Circle
Gathering of the Tribes Website: Visit www.pagan.com on the world wide web.
Photo Credits: These Beautiful photos were captured digitally by Don Waterhawk of Waterhawk Creations
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