Posted: June 29th. 1998
Times Viewed: 24,765
Event Date(s): 5/21/98-5/25/98
Although we don't "get out much", this week we did and headed off to the Heartland Spiritual Gathering just outside of Kansas City, Kansas. What a week it was... Everything we hoped it would be and much much more (Wren and I will be smiling for weeks).
We are honored to thank, the Rev. J. D. Stevens, Hawk, Randal, Angel and the entire Heartland staff for their love, light and wonderful hospitality. The weather was near perfect, the coffee always available, the music simply incredible and most importantly the Witches, Wiccans and Pagans in attendance were full of wonderful light.
The Heartland Spiritual Gathering
The Gathering: - by Wren Walker
The theme of the 1998 Heartland Pagan Festival was "Music is The Magick, Magick Weaves The Spell." Fritz and I will carry both the music and the magick of this wonderful experience in our hearts forever.
We had the privilege of sharing this incredibly beautiful space with about 800 other Pagans at the height of the festival, yet the gathering always retained that intimate feeling that comes with good times shared with friends and family. We met many wonderful folks from all over the country and from all spectrums of the Pagan community. We wish we could have talked with them all, but even when there were no actual words exchanged, the days were filled with smiling faces and the sounds of laughter, drums and song.
The site itself has had an interesting history. Now under the loving hands of Earth Rising, Inc., this powerful magical land has been everything from a Native American site to a nudist gathering place to a Baptist summer camp. The hilly terrain-while quite a challenge to the merchants camped on the summit and we "old folks" who thanked the Goddess for the bench provided halfway up!-was an initiation in itself as one climbed the newly formed stairway to the sky embraced ritual area and flower garden meditation site. (Our warm thanks go out to Clarity for sharing the history of the site with us and to Jo-Michael for his heartfelt and beautiful story of Flora and the birth of the garden.) Information and pictures are available at the Gaea Retreat Center website at: http://www.campgaea.org/. If you have the chance to visit this magickal place, you won't be disappointed.
The weather was warm and sunny for the most part, breaking the jinx of the previous 'rainy years', and the lake provided welcome relief from the heat. Wonder of wonders, there was hot water for showers and the food lovingly prepared by Sue and Michael-with the help of Jay and many other volunteers- of Magickal Feast was tasty, healthy and all we can say is, "THANK YOU ALL!" (Especially for having that magickal symbol of civilization, "The Eternal Coffee Pot" always available first thing in the morning!)
Sometimes there are no words to explain a truly magickal experience, so I won't even try to describe the cauldron magick that "happened' during the Velvet Hammer concert. People were affected, people were moved, people were changed...True Magick does that. This was the real thing and that flame will remain with us the remainder of our days. Thank you and much love to Rhavyn RedFeather (also known as Nikki) for carrying the flame within.
J. D., Terry, Carolyn, Randall, Angel and the rest of the Heartland Staff were incredibly gracious and we have never felt so pampered in our lives. (And yes, J. D. DID get his ass-kicking! Heh..heh..) We have never laughed so hard, loved so freely or had so much good clean -well, mostly clean.- fun at a gathering. We plan to return next year. (We figure that J. D. will have probably accumulated enough karma to need another ass-kickin' by then anyway!)
Faces lit with smiles and cauldron-fire, warm hearts and blazing spirits, kind eyes and sweet lilting voices raised in power and unity-These are our memories which will last forever.
| The Music: - by Fritz Jung|
To put it quite simply... The Musical portion of Heartland was a unqualified "High Point". An outstanding mix of folk - Rock - Celtic - Jazz etc etc etc... Lots of incredible energy and numerous talent. The big surprise for me were the sound and lights (usually anemic at most Pagan Gatherings). Thanks to the world class set up and execution by Wild Cat Productions (the wonderful Doc Mateo and his crew), the musicians and the audience were treated to a visually stunning and sonically inspiring performance. For once the musicians couldn't "blame the mix".
Friday Nite: The musical part of Heartland was kicked off by Francesca De Grandis and her performance was both diverse and interesting. She did several tunes accompanied by backing tracks from her CD, a couple of wonderful acoustic solo performances as well as some hilarious pieces including a rewording of Little Eva's "Locomotion" called "The Great Right".
Next up were the incredible Green Crown (a diverse blend of instrumentation that included: Harp, Cello, Upright Bass, hand drums and various percussion). Green Crown snuck in some Pagan cover classics including Donovan's "Season of the Witch" and Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" to name a few. Green Crown played a 90 minute set and then jammed with friends for the hour that followed. All in all a great opening night and one that set the tone for the rest of the festival.
Saturday Nite: The second evening was kicked off by Butterfly Tree (Dana Davis and Rick Del Castillo) and what an incredible set they delivered. What impressed me most was the depth of the tunes themselves, they were powerfully melodic, meticulously executed and always interesting. Dana's voice was versatile and strong and Rick treated the crowd to some burning lead solos. There was some real music magick happening here folks... Color this Witch a major fan of Butterfly Tree.
After a short intermission the crowd was "rocked out" by Uncle Dirty Toes. They started strong and crowd went wild for close to 2 hrs. Their testimonial from Ian Anderson sez it all... "Sitting down to enjoy the music of Uncle Dirtytoes is a real treat! It has all the inspiration, nuances and optimism that remind me of why I got into writing and performing music myself, so many years ago. Long live real music!".
Sunday Nite: The final night featured 3 completely different musical acts and the night opened with a local band called Elvendrums. They were awesome for sure. Combining African rhythms, folk music, Elf imagery with incredible light and a very diverse show, they captured the crowd and never let them go. Utilizing dramatic themes and capturing visuals this act was very special to us all. Expect to here much more from this act in the years to come. Good people and great energy.
Second up was that Witches' Voice guy Fritz Jung. <grin>. This "gig" pulled me out of retirement for the night and I had a blast. Rick from Butterfly Tree was kind enough to let me use his beautiful Taylor acoustic (it's a better guitar than my '66 Martin D-18) and the audience was wonderful. This, being my first and only solo acoustic performance of the decade, gave me an opportunity to have some fun and slam out some tunes. It was a very special night for me and one that I will never forget. My heartfelt thanks go out to all of the musicians for their support and encouragement and kudos to Doc for his incredible mixing magick. (FYI the guitar in the picture is not actually purple).
Velvet "Freekin" Hammer! Last, but not least was the hottest act performing on the pagan festival scene today, the powerful and magical Velvet Hammer. Great Goddess what a show they delivered! They started with a beautiful tune with Dana, reuniting the original VH for the first time this year. Next up was a powerful Stevie Ray Vaughn tribute that brought Linda and Rick (from Butterfly Tree) together. Their two HOT new drummers took the stage (these boys can "cook"), VH kicked into the opening track from their CD "Window" and proceeded to rock the crowd for over an hour. Big Time Note: VH is ONLY Keyboards, percussion and bass with Linda doing some hot flute work... The fact that they pull off a big time time sound is a powerful testimonial to Ginger's incredible skills and versatility. - So Mote it be!
At the end of the set Nikki, Merlin and Joy executed an amazing pc of cauldron magic with the support of Dana, Wren, Robyn, Amanda and several other "beautiful creatures". This was all backed by Velvet Hammer and Doc (off the mixing desk and now on percussion). This whole section was breath-taking and brought the crowd down to a dead silence as they actually got the flames in the 2 of the cauldrons to spin. Simply amazing! VH brought it back and closed the show with two powerful tunes. Many of us are still smiling from this wonderful night.
Websites of the Musicians performing at Heartland '98:
Velvet Hammer - Francesca De Grandis - Uncle Dirty Toes
Fritz Jung - Butterfly Tree - Elvendrums - Green Crown
The 13th annual Heartland Spiritual Gathering was a winner! Look for additional festival and gathering coverage as the season rolls on.
Always In Your Service,
Heartland Photo Credits: All photos were video still frames and sadly our camera was only on for a few of the acts. My apologies to all the beautiful faces that I could not feature here... (from top to bottom) Linda (Velvet Hammer) - Wren - Amanda - Nikki (Velvet Hammer) - Rick (Butterfly Tree) - Dana and Rick (Butterfly Tree) - Dana (Butterfly Tree) - ElvenDrums (some members) - Fritz Jung - Ginger (Velvet Hammer) ALL images link to the Artists Web Sites
Article ID: 2153
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