AutumnMeet 1999 (3)|
Posted: November 7th. 1999
Times Viewed: 7,508
Location: Land O' Lakes, Florida
Event Date(s): November 6th, 1999
There's a Whole Lotta'
Huggin' Goin' On!
Wren: Saturday morning dawned late. No doubt the sun came up at his appointed time, but we lagged a bit behind after a long and much needed snooze. Got lots to do yet before we can run back outside to play with our friends!
Peg: I felt like I had a Chianti hangover except I had had nothing to drink the night before. My friend Darragh offered to loan me a tent the night before to stay on site but I think it is probably just as well I headed home with Wren and Fritz; I probably got more sleep that way. Normally when I attend a gathering I am prepared to be sleep-deprived for the week: living only an hour from the site had me spoiled, I guess!
As for our fuzzy heads upon awakening, we think the combination of some plant in bloom and the smoke from the fire clogged our heads a bit--not that I would have missed dancing around the fire for anything. The drumming at this festival has been some of the best drumming I have heard an any festival in nine years: consistently energetic and synchronized and always shifting with fluidity and energy. Nothing is more magical than really good drumming, and really good drumming at a festival is sometimes hard to come by, since it has become so ubiquitous over the years.
Anyway, after updates to the website and stopping to get doughnuts and coffee, we got our butts there just in time for the humor workshop.
Wren: "Just in time" is an understatement! With just ten minutes to spare, we were off to facilitate our workshop on 'Humor-The Other Magickal Tool.' Needless to say (and with a title like that, what else would you expect?), the session attracted others who share a similar sense of the absurd. Soon we were all yukking it up over tales of rituals gone askew and drawing parallels between comedic styles and magickal timing and rhythm. If nothing else, we all left smiling as we hugged new friends and made promises to stay in touch.
Peg: It was an interesting talk by Wren about how useful humor is in the magical communities and the ways we can communicate. And by the end it had become a joke-sharing session--we all left with more humor to share.
After that we had some time to hang at the Waterhawks' campsite until the religious rights panel. I wandered over a few minutes late and ran into Wade, who said he was looking for me. I said, "Oh, for the panel?" and he slapped his forehead and said "Oh, I forgot, that's right now!" So we headed over, chatting about when we first met (in Connecticut, at Craftwise), and planning to sit at the back unobtrusively. No such luck, as Wade pointed out the only empty chairs were at the front near Bill Kilborn of AREN (formerly WADL), Wren and Fritz. So we joined in on the very interesting discussion, sharing stories and ideas about the changing face of pagan organizations and the way we interact with the "rest of the world." That gap is getting smaller all the time, which is very exciting.
Wren: Do problems still exist? Yes, they do, but pagans today are well equipped, well informed and well organized. We can handle it.
A nice community dinner was set up at Wade and Diane's camp for the staff and guests as the sun began to settle into the horizon. As we sat about the comforting campfire, the Velvet Hammer folks, Walker and Rowan, Renee, Don and Daniella WaterHawk, Maya Heath and many others wandered in and soon we were all munching happily and sharing our personal highlights of the day-and of course as you have probably guessed-this included hugs, hugs and more hugs!
Peg: They served a yummy stew with potatoes, corn, shrimp and sausage (I have no idea what the vegetarians ate, but they had a separate choice--these guys had a very impressive meal plan!) We sat around their cozy fire and shared stories and gossip. As we sat, Don came around the fire to a few of us, pressing sage into our palms and offering a solemn invitation to pipe ceremony at 8 o'clock. I was very moved to be invited and said "Absolutely!" We spent a good two hours in total at "Uncle Wade's Camp" and it was a time of warm conversation and much fire-gazing.
Wren: Just as we were scraping the last of the shrimp out of the bowl, Don slipped us a sage leaf and asked us to join in a pipe ceremony. We were both honored and intrigued of course, but at that moment we had no idea that such a powerful experience awaited us. What followed proved to be one of the most intense rituals that many of us had ever participated in.
Peg: As we headed back to the Waterhawks for the ceremony, we could hear the gathering of the Bardic Circle beginning. Wade had just given a bunch of us rainbow glow sticks, so as we walked past the main fire circle people called out "Rainbow People, come join us!"
We said we had to do something else first. Although we all intended to attend the Bardic Circle (and several of us, including myself, and Graywolf and his partner, were going to perform), we ended up missing it because of the pipe ceremony. But I know we all were in the right place and time and space where we needed to be. I learned more there than I might have in a space with more people and higher energy at that time.
Wren: Under the canopy of the tent, we sat in a circle as soft candlelight played about Don's face. Billowing clouds of sage filled the space as we smudged and mentally prepared ourselves. Fascinated, we watched as Don prepared the pipe. Softly, as he worked, he explained the pipe ceremony and the importance of bringing our own heart-felt prayers into the ritual. With the pipe blessed and filled and the people prepared in mind and spirit, we began.
Peg: The ceremony was extraordinary: magical, healing and offering us all wisdom and peace. Don is a teacher and shaman (and I mean that in many senses of the word) of exceptional light and generosity. We all felt honored to be there sharing this most sacred of ceremonies from the indigenous peoples' traditions. Near the end of the ceremony, Don offered a humorous moment of release when he said, "Grandfather, we neglected to ask you to return the blood to our legs!" (Yes, some of us were a bit stiff sitting there on the ground for so long.)
But time passed somehow both quickly and as if it was standing still: we were truly between worlds as we offered thanks and prayers to the Creator and felt ourselves truly blessed in all we have and all we have yet to learn and see and hear and feel and understand.
Wren: How does one describe a transformation except to say that something-or someone- has been transformed? Heart to heart, we sat and spirit to spirit, we shared. Words that were more than words arose clothed in the sacred smoke and none present there would ever doubt that those words had not been heard-and answered.
Peg: The pipe ceremony was followed by some more conversation. I briefly walked by the fire with Tony and it was a scene of incredible magic, joy and intensity. I merely watched for a short time, and although I felt drawn to the energy and thought about joining in the dancing as I had the night before, I decided to retreat and listen to it from across the road. The sound of the drums was still just as affecting, and we all swayed and tapped our fingers to it, and it pulsed like our blood in the chilly air. Not a large fire, but crowded with dancers and drummers raising some powerful energy, there under a cobalt blue sky at the dark of the moon. Pleiades, Orion and Sirius were lined up in the sky, watching over us as we danced, talked, chanted and drummed our worries away.
Wren: When the last of the sacred tobacco had been offered up, and with more than one of us brushing tears from our eyes, the hug-fest commenced. Warm embraces, whispered thanks and lots of kisses warmed the tent. The candles burned a bit brighter, the spirits felt a little closer and a family of pagans from all over the country had found a home with one another.
Peg: We celebrated life in the season of death, honoring the ancestors of this beautiful land. I can not remember a more magical time at Samhain (did it turn unseasonably cold here this week because I was missing New England? Fritz wondered if I brought autumn south with me!) The balance of cold and warmth, sun and stars, ocean and beach, and the many wonderful trees and animals, has been nothing short of thrilling. I look forward to returning to this lovely spot and this loving community again.
Wren: As Peg, Fritz and I bid good night to all (but not good-by), we gathered up the beautiful wooden lantern gifted to us by Chris, the newly purchased painted gourd with the butterfly motif that shall soon hold our altar incense and more sweet memories of family and friends than it seems three mere human hearts could ever hold. Yet, hold them we shall and they will remain with us-and within us-forever.
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Autumn Meet, lovingly sponsored by Phoenix Enterprises, resonates with a real feeling of community-almost like a small and friendly village-that is both comforting and exhilarating at the same time. We had a wonderful time and can't wait to go back in March for Phoenix Phyre!
Maybe we'll see YOU there...
COOLNESS: Also check out Bill Kilborn's wonderful Photo Essay of Autumnmeet
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