Beltaine in the Lone STAR State|
Posted: April 29th. 2002
Times Viewed: 7,020
The Witchvox Review of CMA Beltaine
There are many good things that can be said about Texas. One of them being that the 'Lone Star State' is simply littered with 'pentagrams'. The star in a circle emblem greets you wherever you go and we noticed that right away. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why Texas Pagans are so active. State for state, Texas has always been at the top of the TWV Witches of the World list for the sheer number of groups, organizations and community activities. Texas Pagans are busy Pagans!
And so, Fritz and I very much appreciated the hospitality shown by the folks at the Council of Magickal Arts Beltane 2002 celebration. As busy as they all were-and they were plenty busy!- many of the CMA staff and friends took time out to inquire if we had everything that we needed or to simply wish us welcome. The TWV Worker-Beez are really not used to being on the receiving end of the energy exchange, but during our two day stay on 'The Land', we felt nothing less than..well.. pampered. And it all started as soon as we got off the plane...
The weather in Austin is very much like our weather here in Clearwater, so the heat and sun were not a problem. Standing outside the baggage claim area waiting for our ride to the festival, we had a few moments to stretch those plane-pretzel limbs. And then suddenly here come Murlyn and Joy, all smiles as usual, but looking strangely wind-blown. That was a clue. Which we didn't get. The giggles were another clue. We didn't get that one either. Even if we had known then that the theme of this year's CMA Beltane was "Laughing at Ourselves", I doubt that we would have been able to guess what was about to unfold. Under any other circumstances, I'd be worried that my Witch radar had a short in the system, but these Texas Pagans can be downright diabolical, as it turns out. Okay. We give up. What's going on?
We meet up with Seamus as he directs us over to his vehicle. The one with the 'CMA V.I.P." flag flying from the antenna. The one with the motorcycle escort. Yep, we have a two-person motorcycle escort. It was originally supposed to be a four-cycle escort but one of the bikers- who shall remain nameless to spare him the embarrassment (See, Chainsaw, I told you that we could be discreet!)- ran out of gas on the way in. We would meet up with the stragglers later and we all had a great time grounding over Texas beef burgers. Then it was on to the adventure that is CMA!
We had been to a CMA event about five years ago, but this was a whole new experience because the festival is now being held on CMA's Pagan-owned land. Thanks to the hard work and fund-raising expertise of the current director, Greg Evans, CMA purchased a very beautiful multi-acre piece of Gaia. The work of clearing and cleaning still continues, but what they have done already is nothing short of a modern marvel. A lot of the credit for that has to go to Gary Park, John Gerace and Tiny Peterson for leading the teams that work so hard to make the land beautiful and usable (along with all the volunteers who show up to the work weekends and work). I told you these Texas Pagans work hard. And they really, really do! It shows at CMA.
After stowing our gear in the RV that Joy and Murlyn generously provided, we got the 'short tour'. A maze of tents and pavilions, the layout was like that of a small village. Once we got our bearings though, we could find our way around pretty easily and we were soon off on our own to explore and do the meet and greet. One of our best friends, Lisa Knorra, had moved to Texas in Oct '97 and so it was Babylon South reunion time as we hugged and got caught up on the latest news. Other old friends were also there, such as Trish Telesco (hardest working Pagan author in the multi-verse), Charlie Murphy (Pagan Uber Bard), Loke E. Coyote (funniest satirical Pagan songwriter ever), Dana Davis (aka The Gorgeous One) and, of course, the gals and guys of Dreamtrybe (who always rock our world). We found out that the diamond ring on the beautiful Amanda's finger means that she and Ginger are engaged! Whoo-hoo! Now THAT is gonna be one heck of a handfasting. And we had better be invited, gals! Gee, wonder who they'll book as the band...
We settled in at CMA 1- the pavilion for 'all things CMA'- for a bit to get out of the sun and to share some great frozen lemonade treats. (Thank you, Kerridwen and staff for feeding us!) Greg came by and we got to chat with him for a bit. The CMA staff has a schedule that allows time off for the various staff members during the festival so that they can actually-gasp!- get to enjoy the fruits of their own labors. Having witnessed many festival staffs burn out from overwork over the years, we think that this is an excellent plan that more festival promoters should implement. We then went to say hello and howdy to Charlie and Bruce Denney at their coven camp and stayed on for some delicious fried chicken and shared a killer chocolate daiquiri whipped up by their in-tent bartender. We don't drink as a rule, but even we had to sample one. They were that good! Yep...Feelin' pretty mellow right about now...
After changing our clothes for the evening festivities, we wandered over to the stage. What a treat was in store for us there! As Fritz and JC traded old roadie stories and Fireside Theater quips, Dana Davis hunted us down some coffee and we settled in for the 'Canvas' concert. These guys are terrific! If a Pagan band can be considered to be 'alternative' already, then Canvas would be an alternative alternative. They rocked! And when Dana swore that the lead singer, Joseph King, was channeling Jim Morrison, I couldn't disagree. If you ever have the chance to see this Austin based group, take it. You will become a fan, too. And speaking of fans, it seems that Dreamtrybe has more than a few of their own. Like we didn't know that? (We love you MORE!) One camp commissioned the Trybe to put on a 'private' concert. Weaving our way through lamp-lit grassy paths, we settled down for a few more hours of magickal melodies. As the incredible vocal power of Ginger and Linda took us once again (as always) into the place between what is and what can be, our spirits soared even as our weary feet headed back to the camper for some much needed winks.
Saturday morning and Fritz was already off on the coffee search. Caffeine deprivation finally got me out of bed and as I meandered slowly in a b.c. fashion (b.c.= before coffee) through the camp, I paused here and there to speak with some folks (Hi, Jana and Sidney!) and finally found Fritz-and my coffee! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Cathy and Alan Eddy!- sitting at the stone table with Oberon Zell. Oberon showed us his newest creation- Odin, the Wanderer - and you'll probably want to get this one for sure. Oberon's detailed work is simply outstanding and he carves all the molds. He also has a 'God' and 'Goddess' figurine set in the works designed especially for the young folks. The 'Moon Maiden' and 'Forest Faun' set is whimsical without being cutesy. They are perfect, in fact, for the young Pagan's personal altar. (We hope to have some images of these and other works by Oberon for a future TWV feature.) JC stopped by and then Troy joined us and soon everyone once more was trading music industry stories and talking about the 'good old days' of the sixties, seventies and early eighties. We met Alexandria who autographed a copy of her new book, 'Wiccan Feng Shui' (Citadel Press; ISBN 0-8065-2296-8) for us. Can't wait to read it! Goliath, aka Bill, the Fire keeper, brought forth the official CMA Fire Clan staff (made and donated by WaterHawk Creations at CMA Beltane 2000) and he wanted us to tell Don and Daniella that he and the Clan were honoring the intention and magick of the staff. We know that the main ritual and revel fires were outstanding! So that fire magick is really working! We found that we had a front row seat for the Beltane parade- and who doesn't love a parade? - and so we clapped and hooted for the May King and Queen and oohed and 'awed' over the wonderful costumes. Donal stopped by to invite us over to his camp and we then did a bit of shopping. A gal can never have too many sarongs, I always say!
The sun was hot. So were the showers. Now anyone who has been to a Pagan gathering knows that the quality of the showers is a big deal. The new showers at CMA are simply the best anywhere. The water is always on and it is always hot. The stalls themselves were hand decorated by various staffers and volunteers with many more plans in the works to continue to improve them. Even in their present state, they are a luxurious perk that one really appreciates at the beginning, middle or end of the day- and sometimes all three. Since the water is a steady stream, the lines are short and so your shower buddies are all in a real good mood! There are even scheduled gender-only times for the more modest amongst us. Cathy McNulty (bless her heart!) conjures up all those little amenities-like tents, tables and toilets- that become so important when you are out in the 'wilderness'. The CMA staff has pretty much thought of everything. But then again, they are pros at putting on a festival.
We didn't get to any of the workshops- which is a shame- because now I'll never know just where those 'Acupressure Points for Lovers' are or who won the 'Battle of the Sexes'. Darn! But we did get the 'extended tour' from Greg that took us into the Meditation Woods across the wooden bridge. What an enchanting place! There are carpets of wildflowers everywhere in various shades of red and pink and blue. The butterflies- and, no doubt the fairies too- seem to bless the scene with their presence. Even with a huge festival going on just yards away, it was like walking into another world.
The evening slowly drifted in and we had plans to attend the night's concert and then trip the camp fantastic. Well, THEY had other ideas apparently and we found ourselves sitting in the CMA I pavilion most of the evening just yakking it up with folks, Since we love to go to festivals in order to personally meet and talk with the Pagans who have previously only been known to us via their email addresses, this was hardly a heartbreak. And since we had a window view of the stage from where we sat, we didn't have to miss Dana Davis' kick-butt performance to do it. The Wyrd woman is truly a Goddess of Song and her new band added depth to the sound without diminishing Dana's own powerful performance one bit. It was a great blend of rock, blues and soul. If you have ever heard and loved Linda Ronstadt or Kate Bush, then Dana is definitely your kind of diva. Talking over pagan community related issues with Lil Ferewing and Lady Diana of B&B, the hours just flew by. Loke E. Coyote came by and invited us to join him for a little non-Pagan political debate, so we settled into his bus-camper, sipped on some excellent coffee- Can you tell that for me it is ALL about the coffee?- and discovered that beneath the biting wiccabilly satire and ironic wit, Loke is an extremely intelligent and savvy guy. Of course, we solved all the problems of the universe before we reluctantly bid him farewell and thanked him for such an engaging and fulfilling dialogue. We had a great time, man! Thanks for everything! And let's do that again real soon...
The drumming seemed to be everywhere and great drumming, it was. Probably some the best that we have heard, in fact. As we gathered up our stuff and packed it into the car which Danielle and Shawn most generously let us borrow to drive to the airport at-gulp!- four a.m., we spent the next few hours just hanging with Dana and Sidney (a Pagan lawyer, no less!) and talking about music and love and friendship. We have determined over the years that "good friends never say good-by" and so we simply hugged and kissed and said, "See ya soon!" to everyone as we drove out of the gate.
Fritz and I would like to thank everyone at CMA-the staff, the volunteers, the old friends, the new friends and the spirits of 'The Land' for making us welcome and leaving us with so many fond memories. Thank you to Kimberly Blackwell who makes sure everything gets done (she leads the work shifts), Mary Wolf, Chris Clark and Gella for keeping everyone safe and secure, and John Horrall, Ron Smith and Marie Smith for keeping us healthy; to Shorty (Virginia) who gets the 1,000 plus people registered, and Skelter who keeps the CMA database and to Amanda Guinn who gets everyone in and counted and to Troy Lockwood at the community center. Thank you, Loke, once again for all that you do. And our special thanks to Greg Evans, his beautiful lady, Caliope, and to the enchanting Sarah Riley, who seemed to be everywhere at once, for sharing so openly your visions and dreams for the future while working so very hard in the present.
Yes, indeed. There are many good things that can be said about Texas. The fact that so many good -hearted Pagans call it home is one of them. Thank you all for sharing your home with us. Blessed Be--and serve that up Texas Style!
Walk in Love and Light,
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, April 29th., 2002
Photo credits: Images for this feature were captured quickly by Troy and Fritz during a brief photo op on 4/20/2002. Sadly we didn't capture many photos this time out... Too many beautiful people too little time for shots.
Note I: We are sure that we missed many good workers and spirits and for this we apologize in advance, kindly email us with any errors (spelling and other) that you notice.
Note II: 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.
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