Beltania 2014: A Year of Firsts!
Article ID: 15703
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,018
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Author: Michelle Cole
Posted: June 15th. 2014
Times Viewed: 2,668
Sponsored by: Living Earth
Location: Florence, Colorado
Event Date(s): May 8-11, 2014
“B14” was a festival of firsts: the first year of our Rainbow Welcome Center, the first year we held a Continuous Bale Fire and the first year our Pagan Military were honored for their service in an official manner, honored in person by Selena Fox! For the first time this year, festival goers had multiple choices of Main Rituals from various backgrounds to attend on Saturday night. In addition to the Living Earth’s ritual, we had a Heathen Blot led by the fabulous Wolf Thye and Kathy Burton or the Gnostic Mass led by the local group Crux Ansata Oasis. I personally felt a lot of excitement from people who were looking forward to participating in something new.
The Rainbow Welcome Center was in the able hands of a wonderful couple in our community: Erika and Roberta Valentine. As they like to say, there are plenty of beautiful folks out there who don’t quite “fit into the alphabetical soup” of GLTG, etc. I adore that my community accepts absolutely everyone 100% as they are. There is no room to pretend for there is too much pleasure in the freedom of being who you were born to be! And it is amazingly freeing to do so among an entire community of people who accept and support you with genuine joy and love that averages over 400 strong!
We were honored to have Rev. William Ashton II lead a group of ADF Druid Fire Priests in keeping an Official Bale Fire available with an oracle to receive omens and offer wise counsel continuously from Friday morning to Sunday. Guests were able to visit the Hearthfire Sanctuary at any time and honor the sacred fire; there are multiple fires going at any given time (as long as fire bans are not in effect!) but this fire is more than a social gathering place. It is a place of deep respect for all that the Beltane Fires represent to us.
Selena Fox herself stated that since she began the Warrior Service Ritual several years ago, she has never been blessed with so many of our communities Warriors accepting honor. In fact, some of the members of our Military who received honors and the Pagan Warrior Medal are currently enrolled at the Colorado Springs Academy. Some had served back in the 70’s and were given a lot of cheers and shouts of love from the crowd. Some were members of the Beltania Staff that I was blessed to be a part of this year; I can attest to the level of dedication they show in anything they do in service for this community!
I had quite a few Firsts myself, not the least was my first real experience and understanding firsthand the depth of dedication this festival’s Core Staff have to making this an enjoyable experience for all our Guests. I can honestly attest to the fact that the first 3 years I attended, I had not a clue how much goes on behind the scenes. I knew they were busy, but I now have a deeper respect and love for these people. My husband also had a first: he had a hand in an aspect of the festival that is a key element to the music end of the festival. And it went anything but smoothly, which gave us an opportunity to witness firsthand how amazing these leaders are under stress. Not to mention how selfless they are in those who serve with them in making the festival a success.
When I went to a morning Sweat Lodge without sunglasses, I emerged to bright sun. I squinted my way up the hill to the Center of The Universe and the moment Jean Loomis (our Facilities Director) saw me, she wanted to know if I needed Medical Attention, was I ok, what did I need. My eyes are extremely sensitive to bright sun and I look, well, tortured without sunglasses. I laughed and answered, “I need sunglasses!” She immediately, and I mean without hesitation, whipped hers off and demanded I take them. She put everyone’s needs before her own in every instance I witnessed her given the chance. She is an amazing, and very accurate, representative of what this community and this festival represent.
I presented a painting I had created for Joy Burton because she has had such a powerful impact on me and my growth as a Spiritual Being. I painted two squares with a picture of our beautiful Maypole in all His glory, ribbons stretched from high atop his crown of flowers. One of my favorite places to be is next to him, looking up at this beautiful sight! In the other corner, a picture of Joy herself and her youngest daughter when she was still a toddler touching the Maypole, absolute joy across both their faces, the young one looking up in awe and happiness. In one corner it says “Beltania is not a Destination” and in the other “It is a Frame of Mind!” She was touched by my gift for I think I nailed the proverbial nail on the head! (Plus: she clearly recognized it was herself and her Sylvia, BONUS! I’m starting to realize my art is becoming a more important part of my life and sharing it has been so much fun!)
My recent working with Reiki has brought me a high awareness of energy, which was apparent during Opening Ritual. When David Witkoff led us in a grounding exercise and I held my hands out palm up in front of me, I could feel the buzzing and whirling of energy surrounding them. It was one of the most powerful Opening Rituals I have been a part of!
Saturday morning rose bright and sunny, perfect for the Parade bringing in our Maypole, carried with the May Queen Belinda astride. Following our graceful May Queen and her Court (led by her Green Man William) , were a beautiful group of children making merry. Behind them came the Amazon Warriors carrying the ribbons. I adore the ceremony and absolute merriment that surrounds the raising of our Maypole! After much ado with the preparing the earth for her mate, he was raised with much noise and applause. Then before the dance began, our Green Man proposed to our May Queen before us all; she of course accepted among great cheers and tears of happiness. Now that is a man who understands the power of a well planned proposal!
The beauty of the Maypole often is created from the absolute chaos, which is also the Maypole Dance. It seems relatively easy to remember “Raise the ribbon your facing partner goes under, Lower the ribbon and you go under your facing partners ribbon…repeat until the ribbon is woven to the base” but still the tangles happen, the log jams happens. Much like life, there are parts that are picture perfect, the ribbons mating in perfect unison to create a beautiful weave of color and intentions. Then there are parts that are messy, with knots and long pieces that hang long and blow freely in the breezes. One word of advice, and also a request: please, please, please don’t let go of your ribbons on purpose. Hand them to someone else to take your place; don’t treat them with disrespect and let go because it’s harder than you thought it would be or you are frustrated because your ribbon is stuck in a cluster-phuck. (Stepping off soap box and Thank You!)
Aside from the feeling of becoming a more solid member of this community, which is wonderful in itself, this year I was so excited and thrilled to participate in five Sweat Lodges. Yes, I am addicted! It is a story unto itself, and one worth telling, but let me simply state entering the absolute Sacred Space that is Sweat Lodge, that is the Womb of Mother Earth with the Stars glowing in the pit before us…this is coming home for me. I have yearned to find teachers on this path, for I know exactly where my personal Sweat Lodge is going to live on my 8 acres; my prayers have been answered and all I can say is that Jordan Beard is a true Brother in Spirit and my love and respect for him and Heather Kent who assists him and runs Sweats during Beltania has only deepened in depth and strength this year. Do not be surprised if I am more intimately involved in Beltania Sweat Lodges in 2015!
As always, we were blessed with some amazingly gifted entertainers, playing lively music while we danced the maypole and to accompany Fire Dancers at night. We had some wonderful merchants in our Merchant Row. I know some people have mixed feelings, or absolute strong distaste, about having merchants selling their wares at a Spiritual Festival. I have no qualms, mostly because this is one small arena for our own community members to share their talents with us. Some people live in areas where they are lucky to have even one metaphysical store, much less any variety to choose from.
One of my favorite booths belongs to Manna, a sweet, talented and very much a person of Earth and she hand makes some gorgeous treasures. I personally heard the tale of shucking 50 pounds of Farmers Market corn with meticulous care to not ruin any of the husks from her sweet husband Ben. I saw the loving result, beautifully made corn dollies neatly folded, braided and sewn to perfection. I walked into her tent and instantly fell in love with an orange material stuffed kitty: her prices were so reasonable I couldn’t pass her up, or 5 of her darling Corn Dollies. As a community, we have some amazingly gifted artists who create amazing works of love: whether in painting, clothing, accessories, Craft Tools or simply the completely Whimsical that you simply must have just because. I see it as a way to support our crafty pagans who are attempting to make a life from creating beautiful things they love and that add sweet depth to the things we surround ourselves with.
I was pleasantly surprised by how many people were First Timers to Beltania; it was great to be able to look those I personally met in the eye and say with a smile “See you next year, you will be back!” The love, the joy, the sense of play and fun are far too pleasurable to not become instantly addicted! Even in the face of sometimes challenging weather we all walk away with at least one amazing experience that deepened our souls’ understanding of why we are here. We have connected on a heart level with someone we didn’t know before the festival, which is my favorite part of being a Beltania Junkie!
Since I began attending this festival, I have left knowing a handful of people that I didn’t know when I arrived and knowing the people I met previously a little better. I also can name the three different Wolf’s we have in our community and can recognize them on sight. I’d like to think that every year I make an impression on at least one other person, who remembers me as that bright woman with a joyful smile. The me I am becoming, the Me I want to be all the time, the infectious laughter of a woman truly content with herself body, mind and soul. And yes, Beltania has been a huge part of this continuing journey of becoming my Truest Best Self; the festival and the people are priceless in the Love and Support they offer. My hope is that every person following any path that might be considered “alternative” find a supportive and loving community as I have so that they too may find their inner courage to be who they were meant to be.
Who’s joining us in 2015? Do yourself a favor and mark your calendar: pull up the pages exposing December and write yourself a note “Beltania tickets go on sale Next Month!” …I already have.
Location: Elizabeth, Colorado
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