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| Article Specs|
Article ID: 4690
Age Group: Adult
Posted: September 9th. 2002
Stones Rising 2002
by Drema Baker
I never know quite what to expect when I arrive at Stones Rising. Even though I've attended every single rising except the first, each and every year it is different... growing, evolving, adapting to the needs of the people who come both to give and to receive ceremony. Stones is not a festival. It is a reunion, of sorts, for folks who crave a connection with the land and with space that is always sacred, with other people who hold such things in high regard. It is a place where it is safe to follow the voice of Spirit, and a time to step outside the mundane long enough to realize that all paths to the center are equally holy. This year's Stones seemed to be mostly about discreetly pointing out all the similarities between the seemingly different journeys, and we were offered many opportunities to honor each other's spirituality, to learn about and see the beauty inherent in each, no matter what form it may take.
The land at Four Quarters Farm is ruggedly beautiful, rolling and rocky with green forests surrounding open fields in which the passerby will often see deer, wild turkeys, rabbits and other wildlife. Sound carries in the early morning fog, making it almost eerily easy to hear the camp sounds as you walk up the road from the parking field to the high meadow. Smoke from campers' fires hangs in the air, carrying with it the scent of breakfast mingled with the welcome smell of Sacred Bean from the Coffee Dragon pavilion. You can feel the excitement of the people gathered here, the energy they bring with them to this place of hard work, commitment and promise.
The first place I always like to go once I arrive at this event is to the Stone Circle. There stand the silent sentinels of Risings past, this year already shrouded and waiting when we arrived on Thursday. There is an air of reverence here, and mirth as well. No one speaks in whispers while walking through; they laugh gaily with companions, or stand silently touching the Stones, or walk quietly observing all the gifts made by visitors who have come before -- some long before.
The altars are never empty here. Offerings are left by many, tangible prayers to the gods of the people. At some time in the last few years, someone left what looks like a handmade ancestor figure on the Ancestors Altar - a hollow male head, mouth and eyes agape, almost disturbing at first glance. I've seen this figure decorated with flowers and dried seed heads stuck into the eye, mouth and ear holes; I've also see it laden with wax drippings and colorful beads. This year, it sported a rhinestone tiara. Directly before that altar this year, a forked branch stood erect, holding strung bones of small animals - perhaps chicken bones from meals, or leavings of animals who'd died in the woods - and a large cow skull... .the dichotomy of the crowned ancestor figure peering through the forked branch with its somewhat dark image of death and its leavings seemed an unlikely pairing of Earth and Air, here on this altar in the West. Yet somehow, I found it strangely comforting to know that here was a safe and supportive environment in which to face the sometimes uncomfortable facts of life in a material world.
As beautiful as the land is, the people who come to the event make it even more so. They walk the meadow, the Stone Circle, the roadways, and the Big Bottom in every shape, color, size and style, some draped with colorful clothing, others partially or fully clad in only the sky. High fashion means nothing here. Round bodies are just as beautiful as lean ones, old as honored as new.
Large and small folk alike contribute to the community feel on this land, for all lend a hand to make the Rising happen. Some bring ceremony, others bring labor. Stones is a weekend of commitments to sacrifice or service - to the land, to the people, to the future. Many pathways to this end are offered. Some attendees can help pull a Stone - hard work, indeed, and not for everyone. Others can offer to help prepare, cook and serve the food to the people, or to clean up afterward. Some drum. Some dance. Some sing. Some carry burning sage, or a steady drumbeat, or a jug of water to those performing heavy labor. This year, one group committed to read Homer's Odyssey in its entirety during the weekend, and truly they fulfilled their promise... they could be seen here and there throughout the weekend, always with book in hand. Some of those folks listening had their own copies of the book to follow along. But perhaps the most easily forgotten pathway of service among them all is that of Witness. All first-time attendees of Stones Rising are encouraged to be Witnesses, for without them, who could verify that the work done by those others was done in a good way? Indeed, lovely and colorful witness arbors are erected for the weekend above the Stone Circle, beneath which all observers stand, and beneath which all the Stones travel on their way to their permanent homes in the Circle.
Review: Aranea, PagaNet News
Photos: Lance, PagaNet News
Click for Part II of this review.
Web: Stones Rising and the Church of Four Quarters - www.4qf.org.
Web: PagaNet News - www.paganet.org.
For more info on The Labyrinth Project at the Church of Four Quarters, please contact Denise Scott, Dclausenscott@hotmail.com, (703) 719-7355; or Carrie Krystek, Ckrystek@yahoo.com, (703) 642-1912.
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