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Pagan Pride: Suncoast

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CMA Beltaine 2001 Festival

Author: Don Waterhawk [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: April 19th. 2001
Times Viewed: 18,449
Sponsored by:
Location: Fayette County, Texas
Event Date(s): April 12-15, 2001
Attendance: 900+

Well... we packed; we left; and we drove 20 hours deep into the heart of Texas. What the hell were we thinking? Leaving our home in warm pleasant Florida to go to... Texas? I never knew that there were Pagans in Texas. I envisioned being welcomed by a group of people on horseback wearing hats, guns and maybe tie-dyed leather chaps. Wrong... ! We pulled onto the land, were warmly greeted by a young lady (not wearing a cowboy hat, no guns, and a tie-dyed T-shirt... we were safe), and told to follow the road and to look for someone wearing a radio. We did, drove onto some of the most beautiful landscape I have seen, found lots of people wearing radios, and four hours later decided that the drive was not as long as we had thought because of what we had arrived to.

Charlayne (a.k.a. Charlie) gave us a tour in the Pope-mobile golf cart (Wish I also had a post-hole digger hat and knew some Latin... I could have had so much fun!) and we were shown what we feel is the best festival site in the country. The mesquite trees were just coming out-flowers of all colors and stages of bloom were bursting about- and we saw forests (yes plural!) that were so different from each other that it felt like we were going from one Disney section to another. What a Magical land this is. During the tour, Daniella was riding in the front seat. I bent down and whispered in her ear that we will be coming back to this place. My blessings of thanks to Greg Evans (Director of Council of the Magickal Arts - aka: CMA) who I was told had searched a long time and had found this land for the CMA people. Daniella and I have never been so graciously welcomed to a Festival as we were at this one. Texas Pagan hospitality... one of the many things that can be learned from all... is quite evident with this community and this land.

We then excused ourselves to go set up our space in vendors row. We quickly learned about finger cactus, or rather "I" learned about the cactus. There are very few plants like this as they have removed or moved them from the camping area. Of course, I would find one. Did you know they use duct tape to remove the spines? Did you know that duct tape also removes leg hair? Oh to be a woman then and there! While we were setting up, I heard the sound of a bulldozer and looked across the field to see many people working at clearing a small section of this land, flattening it out, digging up roots, removing rocks and such. Now people... this started around noon on Wednesday... stopped around dinner... started the next day ... and finished in time for the Festival Fire that night- all plus gathering the wood.

What a trip to see chopped land become the Ritual Fire area... sort of an 'add water and presto'! No, I understand that it took a lot of hard work. I watched as people sweated and did the work... but here at CMA, it was more like organized fun with an intention. This community, as we saw it, seemed to work with a special cohesion to bring about what is the best 'land feeling' that Daniella and I have ever been a part of. That's what I pay attention to when I go to a new place/people. Does the land want us to be here? At CMA... the Mother seems to go through one Gaia orgasm after another. She is happy, happy, joy, joy here , with these people and what is a growing magic/medicine that is consistent here.

So we finished setting up; asked where the showers were; and started to walk towards one of two frame buildings on the land. Showers... listen up promoters and sponsors of Festivals. Showers are real important... I love to get close to our Mother... but love to clean that closeness... Showers here... Well, there are 4 showers outside for those that like to see the sky while washing, and 16 shower heads in two very classy separate sections that had hot water all the time. Let me say again... HOT water... ALL the time! On demand propane hot water, no waiting. The area, along with 8 flush toilets in the other frame building along side of the shower halls, was being worked on throughout the festival with folks adding the last minute finishing touches. When finished, this will be the finest set of bathing facilities within a Pagan community in the country: From how it was engineered and built (with thought of our Mother and the community) to being a model for those who want to know how to do it and do it right. (Thank you, Gary. I understand you had a large part in making it happen. Oh... by the way... those are really cool lights ya' all got on the sides of the shower house!)

Heading back to the vendors area, we decided to walk around and check out some of the areas that people were setting up... and walked into the "Pooh's Corner" circle. A large circle of tents (big tribe) with the opening of banners relating to "Pooh" at the entrance (which I at first missed, duh!!). We stopped; no one was around... And so already I'm thinking of any and all "Pooh" taboos that I might have broken by coming into the circle...

But then I remembered the "Pooh"s" ritual that I stood in at Florida's "Autumn Meet" festival, and felt safe... and sort of giggly... weird funny, ya know... All around the land, people were setting up the most elaborate camps we have ever seen. You could tell that this was truly "Home" to a lot of people... and that they made it that way.

We spent part of the night by the DreamTrybe campfire, reliving the Keys times, and mixing the warm energies of friendship with the land. We got to meet Ginger's mate, Amanda, and spend time with our Texas friends learning from the community about how this community is growing... ! Then, to an exhausted sleep for another day.

And not one Coyote howled... damn weird, if you ask me. But then, as I learned later... there are few "Heyokahs" within the spirits here!

Thursday, we awoke to the sounds of vehicles, driving down the roads (yes, plural), as they wound around the land looking for a place to set up. I love watching truly happy people sitting in cars as they drove past. It's a sight we often don't see much anymore. It seemed like an instant went by, and all of a sudden a colorful city sprang up. With the low overhang of the Mesquite trees, it looked like our beloved Florida with tie-dye moss hanging from the trees. The potluck dinner went on, then the opening Ritual and the Blessing of the Site. (Blessing of the Site... remember that.).Then the Fire began...

A lot of people pay very little attention to the FireKeepers. In indigenous tribes throughout the world, the Fire Keeper is the most blessed. She/He understands the importance of the Fire Circle... it is the initiating Magic/Medicine into the Community. It is the time of light in our darkness. It is the balance of having both light and dark at the same time... And it is the Fire Keeper who creates this. When we look for Heroes in our community, look for the person that does for the "Good of All". Brother Bill, I thank you for what you have done, are doing, and will do for the people. I have felt your love for the community. This community makes it easy.

Until Sunday, I thought that the CMA called the fire the "Rebel" fire... you know... Texas... yee-haw. ya' all! I blame my getting-older ears for that mistake. It is actually called the "Revel Fire"-- and it is appropriately named.

We were introduced to the Medical Staff and the Guardians of CMA on Wednesday and by Friday we felt right at home. Now, I have worked a few Med shifts and have seen many a Medical setup, but again, this is an area that gets first prize in the 'Medical staff and setup' category. While talking to the Chief Med officer, Jason (and meeting the beautiful Rene' AKA the Chief Sanity Officer for Medical staff), we learned that they have the most highly trained individuals that we have seen around the country at a Festival. They have a setup that would rival any other Med Festival Staff. These folks are Heroes of our community. They do it for... "the good of all". Wah Do! (I love the early "whining" detector). The Guardians of CMA are another good example of Pagan professionalism that is invisible until needed, if ever. They even have a satellite dish that keeps them in touch with the weather 24 hrs a day and is monitored throughout the same. Thank you Riverfire and your people. I watched you do a wonderful job for the community. You, too, are heroes. Wah Do!

The day came with festivities and workshops that were all wonderful and well attended. If you are new at CMA, you are given a "Newby" badge. Normally you can tell a new person by the smile on their face. Here, EVERYONE seems to wear a big smile so you start looking for other ways to tell the 'old-timers' from the new festival 'initiates'. And sure enough, you can tell the "Newby's" later in the day... They are the ones in the line at the Med tent... complaining about their jaw being sore from smiling so much. Its okay, your smile muscles will get used to it here. Takes time... no pain... no gain.

Then the night began with the Chocolate Ritual. We stayed away... Daniella is allergic to the cocoa. Let us pray for her. I could smell it... I longed to be there, but alas... I stayed with Daniella... and... well.. I also got to sit in on part of the Vendors meeting, listening to the growth of this particular tribe that Daniella and I are so much a part of. I thank you, Jo (Merchant Coordinator), for the work you put into this area. (I wouldn't have your job for anything!) Most people simply don't realize the importance of Merchants at festivals. They are the net-workers. A lot of workshop presenters are also merchants; they are the first to support and help when monies are needed for people or intentions. They work hard. And it's more times than not, they work for and with the community.

The evening stage came alive with a beautiful performance by a beautiful performer, Dana Davis, who enchanted us with her voice and music. And we were blessed with a special rendition of Kate Bush's "Wurthering Heights" with Lynda Mallard of DreamTrybe as the backup vocal.. Thank you Dana and Lynda! Later came a band called "Spoonfed Tribe". (They can be reached at Now, at my age, you start sitting more to the back of the concert area... but that's not where I was during this performance. These people were downright rockin' incredible. Texans, can rock, people... and rock big! When their performance was over my adrenaline was at its peak...or so I thought. And then a group of people called "Tantien" came on.

It was dark by this time. The lights were off..but you could tell something was going on at the stage. This wonderful music started and then the first flame appeared... and out of the darkness came first one green flame, then two, then four... then you could see the outline of a figure starting to dance with two, then four arms each holding the green flame. The performers of "Tantien" are the most talented fire artists that I have ever witnessed. And they are truly gifted in bringing one into a world they have never been to. I have no idea how long they captured me in their enchanting world of fire and dance; I just know that I wanted it to go on forever and ever.

What a absolutely mesmerizing performance that was given to the people of CMA. Thank you, Tantien. CMA gets a top grade for entertainment. This is the kind of stuff that I would think to see only in an HBO special. This is top grade stuff, people. To the festival promoters and CMA sponsors around the country, I would advise you to contact any and all of these performers for your festivals. To all the performers at this festival... Wah Do... thank you!

The Tantien Fire Artists (Zarah, Baruswla, George, David and Arashi, can be reached at Groovepharm #512-473-8922... we love you people), then led the people to the Fire Circle and into Firekeeper Bill's world of the Fire "Revel" for the long night of drumming and dancing till the Sun came up.

Another day came, but now we were thinking that it's the last day... wahhhhhh! Workshops, workshops, workshops! Once again, top quality... Then we were invited to eat at the Med Tent for Dinner. Jason was cooking a Texas gumbo-style meal. Rice with Venison, Rattlesnake, Alligator, crawfish, shrimp, beef... and we trust that no extra parts found at the Med station were added. We ended up, not there, but was graciously corralled (Texas "Gotcha") by Charlayne to eat at the CMA sponsored meal of barbecue beef, mashed potatoes, carrots, gravy and cobbler for dessert... Jason, sorry that I didn't make it to dinner with you guys. Please don't take it personally. I've eaten all the creatures mentioned in your dinner at one time or another, and certainly not cooked to the perfection that I hear your dinners are. And I did watch your Chief Sanity Officer, Rene', eat your dinner till she belonged to the 'clean plate club'... but... :)

And then came the Auction. Wellll... I would have to say that this came under the heading of "Entertainment". This was like no Auction that I have ever been to. And for doing so many festivals as I have, and having witnessed the considerable creativity of the Pagan community, this was "Tops". The Community put on the Auction for... the Community... Kinda cool, don'tcha think? It was a ball! Chief Medical Officer, Jason... seeing you standing up on stage... wearing a bright PINK tutu, with bright PINK pantaloons offering himself to auction whether to 'take it off'... or leave it on. (I understand he raised over $300, and yes..he took it off.) Damn Jason... seeing you in pink... almost makes a man want to jump the fence! CMA raised, I believe, over $3000. The community gives so generously because they know that the outcome of the money will go back into the community.

Then the stage whips up to a new energy and Dream Trybe ( sets the evening up with a journey through the spiritual energy of music and dreams that only they can drive you on, And they do drive you... sit back and enjoy. Then Sona ( , a trio of pagan musicians, played a delightful blend of bluegrass to rock-a-billy, which included a song called the 'Pagan Polka'. The Fireworks now began, which set the last Nite of festivities off to a time of drumming and dancing into the wee hours. And these Texans indeed know how "Revel"... !

So... coming to the end of this review... anything to criticize about this festival? Yes. It's too short! Three days is simply not enough time for most people to get grounded for the energies they are working with and especially if you have driven a long time to get there. And the Vendors' space sucks. I am a people first, then a vendor. I felt taken away from the community once nightfall came. CMA might want to give some thought to having the vendors within, around or through the community. Vendors' Row was a road that at night led to nowhere. Remember, Vendor Witches weave a magic of prosperity not only to themselves but for the "good of all". We are really "In" service to the Community.

In doing the numerous festivals that Daniella and myself have done, how would we rate this Festival? We both feel the same way. If there was only one festival we could do a year, this would be it... period.! This is the best Pagan land that we have seen, the best amenities for the community, the best entertainers that I have seen at a festival, best Medical staff, best organized Guardian staff, Best showers (Hey!). But most of all, the best organization I have yet to see in the Pagan Community. This is all done by the people for the people- seems I've read that somewhere before- and it has always been a good concept... but it's always been merely-up to now- a concept. People... it is working here and working well. There is no one group, no Queen or King, no high and mighty mucky-muck showering control and deception here. All is in the open from intentions to monies. This community runs itself and is now waiting for everyone else to catch up.

I sat at the meeting on Sunday and watched a large group of people process through the information and decisions that any corporation (which CMA is) does. They did this smoothly, quickly and with very few bumps. Greg, the CMA director, facilitated this meeting. He is a person who does not command attention or respect for himself, but has accepted the task of receiving it. I did not watch him as much as I watched the people watching him. The community has chosen a good person to sit the task of Director. I trust that he will teach well all those who follow his place in the community. To go to this Festival (or any that is held on the land), one must become a member of CMA. (Membership is $27.00 which also gets one a vote on what is going to happen for the future) The ridiculously low price for admission to the festival is extra, but, like I said, it is ridiculously low for what one gets in return. Do they do it Bigger and Better in Texas? Without a doubt... period.

Thank you, Joy and Murlyn, for showing us your road. Thank you, Thomas, for accepting us.

Thank you to the community of CMA for a memorable time and a wonderful learning experience of what my children are going to look forward to.

Nyeh Weh!

Don Waterhawk
(Proud Outlander Soon to be a CMA Member!)
Year 2001 - April 21st.

Photo credits: All Photos by Don Waterhawk (Web:

WebNote: For upcoming festivals and events in YOUR area, check out the Witchvox "Pagan Events" pages or visit our Major Festivals Page for a listing of the larger gatherings.

Article Specs

Article ID: 3399

VoxAcct: 13651

Section: festivals

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 6,754

Times Read: 18,449


Don Waterhawk

Location: Fort Myers, Florida


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