Posted: June 4th. 2000
Times Viewed: 15,224
Event Date(s): 5/25/99 - 5/29/99
Whoever came up with the notion that a 'bear hug' could be applied to human beings must have met Randal Schultz. As soon as we got off the plane in Kansas City, we were totally enveloped in his friendly arms and our cramped legs easily lifted up from the firmament as he swung us around in delight. A chiropractor would be hard pressed to do a better job of spinal alignment-and after the packed-like-sardines flight accommodations, we really appreciated Randal's therapeutic technique. As we jabbered our way over to his waiting van, we brought each other up to date on things that had happened in the year since we had last been together. One thing that we have learned traveling around to the various festivals is that good friends can pick up on a conversation pretty much where they left off the last time that they were together-no matter how long ago that may have been.
Coming into the place known as the Camp Gaea is a lot like entering into an enchanted realm. The Earth Rising, Inc. landholders are committed to preserving the land and respecting the spirits and nature's creatures that reside there. You can always feel that energy as soon as you pass through the gate. It is a wonderfully healing and magical place to hold a pagan gathering and we always enjoy our time there.
Merry Meet again! After we registered -- and hugged Angel Shultz, of course!-we got settled in our cabin. Clarity, one of the officers of Earth Rising and a fine man dedicated to preserving the natural setting of Gaea, lives on the other side of the cabin when he is 'in residence' at the site. He had previously emailed us that- "Yes! There WOULD definitely always be coffee!"- and so there was. We can't thank this wonderful spirit enough for all of his kindness and hospitality. Clarity and I got some uninterrupted time (a rarity for him at these events) to sit in the tree swing and have a heart-to-heart chat. When we parted more than an hour later, I knew that I had indeed been in the presence of someone unique and very, very special.
Fritz and I made our way slowly to the top of the hill (it really IS quite a hike for those of us pushing 50!) to visit the 'Marketplace In The Round." Familiar faces greeted us once again as we wove through the multi-colored vendor booths and campsites. We stopped to exchange greetings with Lady Elspeth of Haven, Alexian of Earth Tones Studios until we found the Waterhawk compound-our usual home away from home. Sure enough, Don 'Two Eagles' Waterhawk and his lovely lady, Daniella Bluestar Waterhawk were already set up and open for business. Hugs commenced, followed by some 'ooh's and aah's at the site of some of their latest creations, and then we settled in for some good conversation which always is the highlight of these events for us. Meeting pagan folks face-to-face and matching smile-for-smile is what this is all about for us. How could we not sleep well and dream such of many pleasant things when we were surrounded by the people that we have come to love and respect so much? Sleep well and dream pleasantly, we did.
Friday, we met Dorothy Morrison, author of "Everyday Magic" (among others), and she told us about her idea for a monument to be erected at Gallows Hill in Salem, Mass. Having spent a few years in the Salem area ourselves and having been part of many a ritual and photo shoot on the Hill, it wasn't difficult for Dorothy to infuse us with excitement about the idea. Gallows Hill is a forlorn and rocky area where the local young folks go to party and as a result much debris and trash is left at the site every year. Since this is the starting point of the Salem Witches annual Samhain walk through Salem, it certainly would be appropriate to have some sort of memorial put there. It may also encourage local pagans and town agencies to keep the area clean as a matter of pride. (Whether the actual physical setting of "Gallows Hill' as it was in the times of the Salem Witch Trials can ever be proven to be the spot that bears this name today or not, "Gallows Hill" nevertheless is accepted as a representative historical site for both tourists and pagans alike.) Dorothy herself proved to be charming in that 'ole Southern style" (her words) and both a lively and interesting conversationalist. We would spend many hours over the next few days chatting it up and laughing with delight at her stories.
It was hot in the sun, but happily our first workshop (Humor as a Magickal Tool) was scheduled in a shady nook of "Flora's Garden. Pagans really do have wonderful and often surprisingly sophisticated senses of humor. The time passed quickly as we exchanged puns and jokes and tales of magickal rituals gone awry. I think all of we frustrated comic came away with some new material and I know that we all had a good chuckle to remember on the way to supper.
Friday night's musical guests featured something for everyone and featured the maiden voyage of the fabulous NEW PAVILION. The fabulous Doc Mataeo and Wildcat productions once again delivered professional and magical sound reinforcement for the festival. Coven13 from Salem rocked out tunes for the younger set while Alexian delighted his fans with a combination of serious pagan tunes accented with a dash of humorous ditties. Hawk's Well's rounded out the evening with a varied program of instrumentally diverse songs that filled the warm air with mystery and magic.
And speaking of mysteries... Imagine our surprise to discover that an old acquaintance from Salem town, Shawn Poirier, was at Heartland! Acting as manager for Coven13, Shawn (sneaky devil!) didn't tell us that he would be coming to Kansas. So we spent a few hours catching up on all the latest Salem gossip and the latest comings and goings of mutual acquaintances. As Heartland was Shawn's first experience at a pagan festival, we were very moved by his obvious emotional reaction to being in the middle of all of this pagan energy from across the lands. "Welcome home. Shawn" several people whispered to him, "THIS is what the pagan community all about." I think that he left convinced.
Saturday, we ran into J.D. Stevens (Heartland Spiritual Alliance president-elect for the year 2001) who looked tired, but wonderfully alive at the same time. The entire Heartland staff works very hard on this festival. Like all festival organizers, they don't get to relax and enjoy their own project very much. Between keeping everything on track, picking up after people (which really shouldn't be necessary at a pagan festival, folks!) and then presiding over the main rituals, festival organizers and staff are always 'on duty'. If you ever attend a pagan gathering, do take a minute to thank some of the wonderful, hardworking people who make it all possible. They really could use your support. They certainly aren't going to get much sleep!
What's so scary about 'The Scary Guy'? Well, not too much really unless you happen to have a fear of plain talk about prejudice and intolerance. "Scary" is amazing as he is a 'living challenge' to those who judge by appearance, religious preference, ethnic background and just about anything else you could imagine that people could get all bigoted about. Able to level audiences with a single glare, Scary Guy is actually a mild-mannered fellow with an enormous capacity to reach out to others. We were glad to have had made his acquaintance. We certainly won't forget him-or his message.
We rounded out Saturday with another workshop, some impromptu bardic-type singing with our friend, Chris Bingham, the beautiful Sue and other members of Gaia Consort and lots of shopping pleasures. We were sad to realize that we were going to miss Chris' performance on Sunday (we were leaving in the morning), but he has since told us that Gaia Consort was very well received at Heartland. We are happy to hear this news as Chris is one of the most professional and talented singer-songwriters in the pagan community today. Linda of DreamTrybe popped in to surprise us all and after much hugging and kissing and giggling, we talked into the evening. Making that last long trek down the stone stairway to our bed, we felt at peace with the world and all of the creatures-great and small-that live in it. Life is indeed good!.
Watching the patchwork fields of the mid-west beneath the plane turn into the blue shimmering carpets of the Gulf of Mexico, we once again recalled all of the wonder of Heartland and what this particular festival has come to mean to us. Good friends, new friends, old friends and forever friends-we treasure you all as the children of the Old Ones and we honor you for your dedication, your power and your enormous capacity to love.
Always In Your Service,
(Chairperson - Witches' Voice)
June 5th, 2000
Websites: Speakers at Heartland 2000:
Websites: Musicians at Heartland 2000:
The Heartland Spirital Alliance HOME page: Click HERE.
Heatland is held at Camp Gaea:
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.
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