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Article ID: 12023
Age Group: Adult
Posted: September 2nd. 2007
by Peg Aloi
It was another mellow but awesome Starwood Festival. This is a gathering that really does seem to be improving with age. There was a time a few years ago when rumors started to circulate that this was an event rife with drug use (perhaps because of a very flattering and well-written review which appeared in the magazine High Times), and it did seem to attract, shall we say, an unfortunate element. But in recent years the event has lost that somewhat negative connotation. It is also getting better organized every year and has a decidedly mellow energy that helps to balance out all the activity and excitement generated by the many performances, workshops and rituals.
We were blessed once again with excellent weather this year, like last year. We did have some rain at Brushwood the week before so the danger of brushfires was lessened, thank the gods! Normally Starwood happens during the week of July 23rd (there being all sorts of nifty occult, weird and magical associations with this number) but since it fell on a Monday this year and Starwood begins on a Tuesday, this was the first time in a long time the 23rd was not a part of the week. But it didn't seem to matter, there was still plenty of magic, weirdness and occult knowledge to go around.
The week before Starwood is a busy one so I often see Starwood as s time to relax and hang around with friends. But there are so many great workshops, talks and performances it is hard not to get caught up in all the activity. Alas, I also work several volunteer shifts for Brushwood so I can't always get to everything I'd like. This year the schedule was once again chockfull of cool stuff. I attended talks by Oberon Zell and Ivan Stang, a great elemental dance workshop by Ingrid Eyen, an elemental fairy workshop given by Beth Rosemarie, and some great concerts by the likes of Leo Starwind and the Raft, Cyra Baptista and Beat the Donkey, Scott Hellend and the Travelling Band of Gypsy Nomads, and others. I also went to (and performed at) the Bardic Circle which was well-run by pagan musician Kenny Klein.
The bonfire was all built and ready to go by the first day of the event, so that Jason and the rest of the FireTribe could focus on readying the pyrotechnic show on Friday night. I gotta say: this was the best Friday night fireworks show at Starwood BAR NONE and I have seen quite a few of them over the years. It started right on time (an improvement over the night a few years ago when we waited until almost 3 am for it to begin), and everything seemed to go off without a hitch (well, maybe that one final fireworks explosion happened a bit faster than it was supposed to? But it still looked amazing!). But the best part was there was a much bigger human element to the proceedings than ever before: a group of over a dozen fire twirlers and dancers gave a mesmerizing and graceful performance. No small feat, either; I mean, fire twirling is hard under ideal circumstances, but the terrain on the island is rough and hard to navigate in the dark. Kudos to all who put this performance together!
Let's see, what else? Another highlight was the always-awesome Whiffleball Tournament (you won't find it in the schedule, though!) played by the One Hat Band (and its minions) and the Arch Rivals (Chicago-area folk and friends who camp in the Arches site). This year's game featured a half-time pińata procession, and had a live commentary broadcast over a small speaker (Casey, great job on the play by play). Despite some lively disagreements over umpire calls, it was a fun and friendly game. The One Hat Band did not come up from behind to win, and the Arch Rivals got a well-deserved victory that has eluded them for the last couple of years. (That's River Breitbach and little brother Chiron in the picture, members of the One Hat Band team, right after the body painting event at Sirius Rising. I wish I had a picture of them from the game. Chiron pitches a mean whiffleball!)
There was also a bit of paranormality: a vision of a goddess appeared spontaneously on the ceiling of the camper beloning to ACE Chamelons and Starwood organizers Ian and Sue. I saw it myself! It was small but very detailed. I heard many people took photos but I have not seen any yet. There's talk of touring the country with the camper van so pagan pilgrims everywhere can pay tribute to this sacred miracle!
What else is there to say? Starwood is always a good time and a lot of people travel from a long way away to meet with their loved ones once a year during this festival. I know there are people I only see at Starwood, and that makes it a very special time for me. This year was enhanced even further as a rather exciting event took place: I got engaged! My sweetie proposed to me after the Elemental Fairy ritual, as we sat on a bench inside the Fairy Grove (which Beth and Zeeb set up every year as a charming and magical way to display their fairy art and statuary). I can't think of a more romantic spot or a more magically potent moment to be asked such a question?so of course I said yes!
Many thanks to the folks at Brushwood Folklore Center and the members of ACE who helped make this year's Starwood such a great time. Looking forward to next year already
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