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Article ID: 8486
Age Group: Adult
Posted: June 5th. 2004
by Diotima Mantineia
I hadn't really planned on going to a festival until July, but by the time Beltane rolled around, July seemed awfully far away. So when the email inviting me to Starfest 2004 arrived, I sat up and read it carefully. The festival was only a few hours away, on 50 acres with a five-acre lake, and the workshops sounded great. But the clincher for me was that Emerald Rose, one of my favorite bands, would be giving a concert Friday night. Without further thought, I sent in my registration, and in due time, packed up my station-wagon-with-an-identity-crisis (it thinks it's a truck), and headed over the mountains of Western North Carolina into the mountains of North Georgia.
I didn't know anyone who was going to this festival, but I wasn't worried. Pagans are generally friendly folk; I haven't been to a festival yet where I haven't made new friends, and this one was no exception. When I arrived, I was greeted warmly at the registration gate and handed a purple spirit bag containing mugwort and rose petals, a gift meant to help each of us connect with the land in peace, enhance our dreams, and bring us sweetness and strength. It was a nice touch, and the first indication of a thoughtful, well-organized festival.
Finding a campsite was the next challenge. Following my instincts and some friendly advice, I went about halfway up a hill, and stopped when a truck blocked my path. That was fine - there was a perfect campsite right about there, and the owners of the truck, Lisa and Laverne, turned out to be the perfect neighbors. They introduced themselves, moved the truck so I could back into my space to unload, and when they found out I had come alone, proceeded to take me under their wings. They seemed to know just about everyone, and sitting around their "campfire" (tiki torch innards in a stone circle) later that day, I met a whole bunch of folks, including Danae, the "Lady of the Land". Danae, a gracious hostess, invited me to take a walk with her and gave me a tour of the land, known as Starbridge Sanctuary, which is owned by her and her husband, Logan.
The place is lovely. Mostly wooded, there are cleared camping areas and a large ritual circle space with standing stones and altars at the four directions as well as a fire pit in the center. The lake is spring-fed, and has a sandpile full of toys on the shore, which is a favorite play spot for the children. Danae introduced me to yet more people as we made our way around, and by the time I got back to my camp, I felt right at home.
|The Bionic Priestess Project|
The Bionic Priestess Project (www.bionicpriestessproject.com) is a non-profit medical fund established by the Grove of the Unicorn in order to raise money for the cost of liver transplant surgery for Lady Galadriel. In December of 2003 she was diagnosed with severe cirrhosis of the liver. After release from the hospital and a near death experience, the doctors were able to stabilize Galadriel with a number of medications. These medications work to reduce toxins in her system and help her liver to continue to function at a fairly minimal level.
The allopathic doctors say that they can keep Galadriel alive for 2- 4 years on the medication, but without a liver transplant, she will eventually suffer complete liver failure. The cost of the surgery, along with pre-op and post-op expenses, is estimated to be $314,000.00. Insurance is not an option, as no company will accept her now, and their previous insurance had been through Athanor's work and was canceled by his employer prior to her hospitalization. They were in the process of applying for personal insurance when her illness struck.
All donations to the medical fund are tax deductible. The fund is being overseen by a qualified accountant, and the Board of Directors of the Grove of the Unicorn. Monies collected will be used ONLY for the purpose stated above. Should Galadriel die prior to the surgery, or miraculously recover and not require the surgery, the medical fund will be managed by the board of directors of The Grove of the Unicorn for the benefit of other Pagans or Witches with serious need.
It is an ambitious project - but with your good energy and financial assistance, it can be done. We have the technology (both medical and magickal) -- We can rebuild her!
For additional info visit bionicpriestessproject.com
Friday's workshops included a Native American Flute Circle, Runes and Yoga, and Wicca 101. Friday night, there was a potluck by the lakeside - what a great feast! - and then the Emerald Rose concert.
I can't say enough good things about this band. They bill their music as "Celtic American Folk Rock", which is a convenient and not inaccurate umbrella, but doesn't cover the Pagan-themed songs, such as "Freya Shakti" and "Never Underestimate a Woman with the Goddess in Her Eyes", and doesn't even begin to hint at their ever-present humor - for example, if you want to learn how to fight with a Celtic Warrior Chicken as your only weapon, be sure to pick up their "Live" CD. They also play more traditional Celtic songs with both skill and feeling. Basically, they just rock - so much so that they were recently invited to be the headline band at the Oscar cast party for the Lord of the Rings. If you've never heard them, you can remedy that by going here: www.emeraldrose.com.
Having thoroughly exhausted myself by dancing through most of the concert, I crawled off to my tent for a good night's sleep afterwards. Those with more stamina kept on going, and I fell asleep to my favorite festival lullaby, the distant sound of drumming.
Saturday brought more workshops, including a wonderful one by Chic and Tabatha Cicero on the Qabalah. They are they authors of many books on Qabalah and the Golden Dawn, and the workshop was followed by a "Tree Walk", a ritual that allowed participants to get a hands-on understanding of the various spheres on the Qabalistic Tree of Life.
Saturday afternoon I went to the Bionic Priestess Auction, a benefit to raise money for Lady Galadriel's medical expenses (see the sidebar for more information on the Bionic Priestess Project). Many wonderful items had been donated, and Arthur, of Emerald Rose, proved to be as talented an auctioneer as he is a musician. The auction went on for quite some time, and we all laughed a lot, bought some fascinating things, and raised a substantial amount of money in the process. (I should note that I purchased a copy of Lady Galadriel's "Magickal and Practical Scented Gifts" more to support the cause than because I really needed another book of recipes, but on a thorough reading, it has turned out to be a real gem. Highly recommended!).
Saturday night was main ritual - a festival feature I always approach with some trepidation. Large rituals are a unique challenge, and many people who take on the challenge simply don't think through all the ramifications of a ritual that involves a substantial number of people. Fortunately, this one was well thought out and executed, taking place in the above-mentioned circle space, with a group I estimated at close to 150. The focus of the ritual was bringing our highest vision into manifestation. We were each given a tea light on entering the circle, all of which were lit quickly and efficiently at the appropriate time during the ritual, and the resulting circle of light, which slowly coalesced as we all left our candles at the South altar, was a lovely sight. This was followed by an energetic spiral dance, viewed from a tier above by those not able or inclined to participate. I'm told it was quite beautiful to watch - it certainly was fun to dance, and the accompanying drumming was great!
Unfortunately, I had to leave rather early on Sunday, and so I missed a number of wonderful workshops, including an introduction to belly dance, a "Celebration of Song" by Kirsten, and a discussion on "Creating a New Paradigm for the 21st Century" facilitated by Logan and Danae. I'm sure this won't be the last Starbridge festival I attend, though, so I am hopeful that at least some of those workshops might be repeated.
Overall, I give this festival very high marks. The community focus was unmistakable, it was well organized, friendly and relaxed. As always when I am at a Pagan festival, I felt blessed to be part of an open-minded, caring, thoughtful, creative and spiritual community. I am grateful for all the new friends I made, and now I think I can make it through until July!
P.S. I gave my email address to several people at the festival, and then developed email trouble as soon as I returned. If you have emailed me in the last week, your email went to The Great Bit Bucket in the Sky, and I never saw it. The problem is fixed, so please try again!
Bio: Learn about Diotima at The Witches' Voice Staff page.
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Location: Hendersonville, North Carolina
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