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Starwood Festival 2011 (A Review by Oberon Zell)

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The 2004 DC Pagan Pride Week

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Starwood 2003 (1)

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Starwood 2000

Author: Don Waterhawk [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: August 6th. 2000
Times Viewed: 13,459
Sponsored by: Starwood/ACE
Location: Brushwood Folklore Center, Western NY
Event Date(s): July 18th-23rd, 2000

O siyu!

Well, Sirius was over (Wvox Review) Sunday evening set in, people drumming through the encampment, temperature dropped (long underwear back on), and the Fire was started in the Roundhouse where drumming continued throughout the night, Monday came, some people left, most stayed. On Monday night, being that Sirius had began drumming patterns at the Circle, it seemed that the beat would follow into and throughout Starwood. Well the drumming was really, really sweet, and good! No you don't understand, I mean really good. The kind of drumming, that when you are lying in your tent, tired, knowing that you have to get up early, but you listen to the Drums, and well, indecision creeps in. I gotta go and dance/drum, no I gotta sleep, no I gotta, no, I, no, damn! I thought, that if the patterns holds true, that this was going to be a really good Starwood (held at Brushwood).

Tuesday came, by the sound of cars and vans rolling into the field, we went down to registration, the line looked like an "E" ride at Disney world on Easter break. Went and took a shower, back down to field and watched Starwood build its energy. With of course, the people from Sirius, that had worked up the Magick/Medicine from that festival, and now this was directed towards Starwood and the people coming in. Felt very grounded, nice to feel that at a festival. The A.C.E. staff was working their asses off in knowing what is in front of them. We only seem to see them in the background for the most part, but maybe we should go out of our way to sometime say thanks to these unseen ones for the space they create for this very large festival.

To write a good review, one must participate in everything. No *&%$#@&^ way can that be done at Starwood by one person, But here's a few, Puffer Dome!! I had talked some good friends, Barb and Steve, into coming to Starwood. Now, up until recently, they had done Art shows and Pow-Wow's for the most part. But I had to show them this. So one night we walked in the dark for about 15 minutes, winding our way through the lower fields, turned the corner and there it was, this huge balloon lit up from videos and pictures being splashed throughout the inside of this very large dome, attached to it was a Marquee' lit up with colorful lights, techno-rock blaring from inside, with people both inside and outside watching this Music/Media happening. When we saw this, I looked at Steve, we both turned around, scanning the beautiful land in the evening light, seeing the trees, hills, ley of the land, then came back to the Puffer Dome, all lit up, in the middle of a field. Only at Starwood, friends, only at Starwood.

Thank you Ian and Susan, for the always wonderful Opening Circle that you present to the community. Each year I see the Circle getting bigger and bigger, I guess it's what we want and need. We get to share something special with each other without having our different Paths interfere. Wah Do!

Once again the ACE staff put together a wonderful array of workshops. I know of no other Festival in the country where a person can go to get knowledge from so many good teachers and with the variety that is offered for the price paid. And the musical entertainment each night was well put together. Except that when Saturday came around, one of the heralders came around to announce that Baba Olatunji had canceled. That was a big disappointment to a lot of drummers and to everyone! IF you wish to find out who was there, and what specific workshops were available, and also to see an great site go to this is where ACE lives.

The Drums, oh the Drums! I had thought that at Sirius Rising the Drums were flowing like I'd never heard. I was wrong. Starwood this year, well it was the BEST drumming, period! All night long, every night. There seemed to be less drummers this year than the last couple of years at Starwood. And maybe, because of that, there wasn't any of the chaos that there had been before. The Drummers were truly in tune with each other this year. They jelled well, from the preceding festival, and were like a well tuned band for Starwood. Each night I would find myself at the Fire Circle, listening to this Magik being pounded out, feeling the Dancers work the energy, watching the community sway with this Fire Magik and singing Abby Spinner's chant's "Oh Mama" and "Let the way be open". It was truly beautiful hearing all those folks singing her songs even though she could not be there. Thanks Spinner! To all the Starwood drummers, thank you for awakening the Spirit of the Circle within us.

"The Fire Clan", the Fire tenders at Brushwood are in the process of Birthing themselves as a "Clan". I wonder how many people realize the work involved not only with the nightly Fires, but at the same time, with building the "Big One"? These Fire workers amaze me at the responsibility they have excepted 24 hours a day. I have watched you Jason, for ten years now, and the Fire Clan, you people got it! I trust that the community will watch closely as this group initializes as a clan. It is now one of the Seven (and Growing) Fire Clans around the country. Let us know when your "Clan Name" awakens! Da Naho! During Starwood, the Brushwood Elders(?), did a clan accepting ceremony, and acknowledged their standing within the Pagan community. It was a beautiful ceremony initiated by Elsbeth of Haven and about 70 people attended. The Birthing of an Elders clan is to look at ones responsibility within the community. Just to be older does not place you into the clan, I know a lot of the Young Elders (Clan), that have acted in the spirit of Age or Elder. It was a way of letting the community know that there is a family here if it is needed by anyone. I did find it interesting that someone from ACE attended the ceremony, and this person stated to everyone that this Elders clan is not sanctioned/recognized by ACE. Odd, for one to say that. What is there to be afraid of here? Da Naho!

The night life at the Brushwood Cafe', Bar, Phil's Grill and the Coffee house. YESSSS! There is now a Coffee house at Starwood. Expresso, Flavored Coffees, Cookies and, LATTE'S!!!! One has to experience the flavor of a good latte, the feeling building up in you, as you slowly anticipate the first sip of the sweet nectar of the cream atop the latte. Then as you tilt the cup up towards the heavens and feel the gentle rush as the rich coffee slides under the cream and slowly cascades down my waiting throat, oh, oh... ooooh! Be right back, going for a smoke, Yes I'm a coffee addict, and that I use it as a drug, I admit it. And I'm not alone, there were dozens of people each night sipping at the tables, talking to each other in the night. You don't have to like coffee, , to enjoy coffee drinkers.

I also want to say thank you to the Torch Bearers of Starwood. Once again unknown/unseen people that do more than just light the Saturday night bonfire. These Children of the Flame work their Spirit into this Ceremony. I truly honor them for what they carry within their Spirits. Thank you Bill! And to the people that worked the main dance, whoa, you people are good. Thank you!

So Saturday night came around, and there was and unusual quite that went out over the festival site around 7:00PM as people got ready for the night. Pagans were getting dressed up (or dressed down), glittered, glued, painted and tattooed. Went down to the Main BonFire Circle to begin my yearly "job" as one of the inside fire circle security nuts. I say nuts, because you have to be to do this particular task. You are there to keep people from roasting themselves. Thus you tend to roast yourself. You learn to do the Rotisserie dance, turning around to get all sides even. We always have a couple of people that weave around us with their "Hey look at me!!, pay attention to me!" one day they will hatch out of their egg and grow up. Anyway, Jason and the Fire Clan were working like crazy to get things ready. There was a rumor that it was going to be on time, 12:00 midnight. Could this be true, we won't have to wait for 2 or 3 hours for the Fire. Yippee! And the rumor was true. We could hear the drummers starting to drum and then saw the light of the torch bearers and the multitude of people behind them as they paraded down to the Circle. There were many huge puppets dancing and swaying and a couple of stilt walkers. It truly was a celebration! As the people began Circling the Field, the Dancers and Torch Bearers started moving to the drums and the Dance began. What an impressive site. Really good job, people. The Torches came to the center, the drums rose up in crescendo and the Fire was lit. And by the Goddess, was it lit. I was told that there was 50 tons of wood used for this fire. Maybe 30' high and 45' around, flames shooting a 100' up, the flames lighting up the 1700 people around the fire. It was a wondrous sight and a most enjoyable time that went on till the sun came up the next day.

Been waiting for me to get to the other side of the wheel huh? Well, there is one. There were some complaints that need be mentioned. One is the excessive merchants. I was told that there were in the nature of 150 merchants. I believe that there was more than that. I walked the entire merchants site, and found that out of all the merchants at Starwood, there were only 11 that were original craftspeople and artists. The rest were retailers/wholesalers. I would direct your attention to a new organization called "O.P.A.L." (Original Pagan Artist League, This new organization will be talking about this plight of "over Merchanting" and very other issues in the near future. Most merchants made no money, as the talk has it. The other complaint, was from the campers. The merchants have taken up so much space that there is very few places to camp anymore. One has to go into the woods or on the hill. The attendees are what keep the merchants coming. If you make it that there are no boundaries within the merchant totals, and let the merchants eat up the space from the campers, then you will lose the attendees. Sponsors and Promoters of festivals should be aware of what happens when you over merchant. Money is not everything, and more people are upset over the circus atmosphere. Starwood has been a first class festival for a number of years, this could drag it down faster than anything else.

All in all, We had a great time at Starwood. We came to learn, participate, grow, and be with wonderful friends. I thank all the Chameleons, Brushwood staff, Jason and the Fire Clan and all for the wonderful time they have helped create. And for the community for using it.

Will I be back? Trustingly, Yes! Thank you Starwood for the memories to begin the new Millennium.

Dah Naho, Nyeh Weh Swenio.

Dream Gently

Don Two Eagles WaterHawk

Photo Credits: The Beautiful photos in this coverage were captured digitally by Don Waterhawk of Waterhawk Creations, Jim Buell and Tony Bautista

Article Specs

Article ID: 2922

VoxAcct: 13651

Section: festivals

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 7,042

Times Read: 13,459


Don Waterhawk

Location: Fort Myers, Florida


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