Heartland Pagan Festival
Article ID: 12634
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 4,005
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Posted: June 8th. 2008
Times Viewed: 6,120
Sponsored by: Heartland Spiritual Alliance
Location: Camp Gaea - McLouth, Kansas
Event Date(s): Memorial Weekend, 2008
Another Fest has come and gone.
This year, I took Friday off so I wouldn't miss any of the Friday activities. ;) Sitting at work, Thursday, I heard about floods around the Gaea area. Needless to say, I was a bit worried. I know, if nothing else, they had definitely got some rain!
I was able to leave a bit early, around 4:30, which is good because I hadn’t finished packing up my car. My boss was in meetings and I wasn’t able to catch him to make sure I was cleared to leave till about 4:30, but even that helped me miss much of the traffic! ;)
Sadly, Thorik had to work, so the plan was for me to go out and set up the tent before dark and then come back and get him. I got home and finished packing some clothes and loading the car. I finally headed out about 5:30 pm.
Got to Gaea around 7pm and wandered over to Elysium. It was a bit muddy, but I didn’t see any “flooding”, thank the gods! Sionna saw me and recognized me and welcomed me to their camp. She’s one hell of a lady! She showed me the area and helped me find a site. The first one she pointed out to me was a nice little area that would fit my 15x16 tent and still leave room for chairs and the small cooking stove. It was perfect. I thanked her and went to unload the tent.
I finally got my odd-sized, overly large but comfortable tent set up around 8 pm and started unpacking the car. Around 8:40 pm, I gave up on getting it completely unpacked and headed back to get Thorik. (I was also supposed to call my son around 9pm) In between all that, I finally met Shaggy. It was good to finally get a real hug from him instead of only virtual ones.
Anyway, I went back and got Thorik. I took a quick shower cuz I was covered in mud from putting up the tent. We headed out and managed to get there 20 minutes before the gates were closed and locked for the night! (midnight).
We unloaded the rest of the stuff and the cooler. By then I was tired enough I just wanted to go to sleep.
Friday morning, we got up around 11 am and went exploring. We strolled through the merchant area and noticed that there were quite a few more merchants this year and some great stuff being sold!
I tried to convince Thorik to get a sarong, but he didn’t find any he liked. We eventually headed back to camp. There really wasn’t any classes that I felt I had to go to that day, so we just took it easy and introduced Thorik to the camp and a “new” way of life. Camp Gaea at Fest time is a whole new world!
Around the time the bonfire was supposed to be lit, the winds picked up. I had planned on dancing around the fire, but the wind was eccentric and unpredictable. The fire and sparks were flying in all different directions. It was hypnotizing and beautiful to watch (as well as dangerous). It was swirling and twirling. *grin* It was almost like it yearned to be dancing around itself with all the fire dancers.
There were few times that the sparks twirled upward like a small glittering tornado. It was breath-taking. It also prevented me from being brave enough to try to dance around the fire. (Especially barefoot, which is a huge part of the experience for me.)
We watched for a couple hours as dancers were moved back and forth by the fire-safety people (including a fire-spinner young lady who I found out later is only 10 years old).
The fire-safety people would try to follow the wind and block as many sparks from going into the crowd as they could. They were having difficulty keeping up and there were times it looked as though they were dancing their own unique dance around the fire, just trying to keep up. (And when the winds took a break, the fire-safety people did dance around the fire, after all, most fire-safety individuals do this because they love fire!)
They did a magnificent job protecting us and I sincerely applaud their efforts. I am certain that they were absolutely exhausted after that night’s activities! The rain started later in the night, I’m not sure what time, but I’m positive they were happy to have a reprieve!
On Saturday, I woke up early to do my community service. Once again I signed up to do the fire pit duty. As usual, everyone was still sleeping so I had to hang around waiting. Fortunately, there was a guy there also waiting, so we spent our time chatting. R. was really awesome. One of those people who has so many stories to tell and has done so much.
He had spent time in Germany, in the military, so we talked a lot about Germany and how much we loved it there. We talked about the places we visited and such. It was very nice getting to know him. I guess his wife had come to Heartland the year prior, and she convinced him he needed to come this year. He was very glad he did! Thorik came up while we were talking and waiting, but he was on his way to a class so he didn’t stay long.
I roamed around the merchants a bit after that. Summer and Owl had mentioned they would be around to listen to SJ Tucker sing. She is so amazing! I love her stuff! I found her and soon Summer and Owl showed up! I stayed and listened for a while and then I heard a bark of thunder off in the distance. *sigh* Figures. We’d left the tent windows open and our stuff outside. I quickly scurried back to camp. Thorik showed up a bit after me. We ate a quick lunch and then headed off. (It never did rain at that point…)
I finally made it to my first class: Ancestors, Spirits and Mediums presented by Joy Wedmedyk held in the Pavilion from 12:15-2:15 pm. It’s description stated: “developing and using mediumship abilities are one way to create and maintain strong connections to our ancestors. Our ancestral connections bring about the fulfillment of our destiny and the path to healing. This workshop will cover the following topics:
*Our connection to the world of the spirits and the ancestors.
*How to make connections to the Ancestors and Spirits.
*Ancestor altars, Séances, Development Circles and Spirit Union Mass.
*How to create your own spiritual development circle.”
It was very fascinating. I was there for the spirit aspect, but they seemed to concentrate on the medium aspect. I did enjoy the idea of creating a spiritual development center – circle. However, group work seems to be involved so I want to do some research on doing something more solitary.
As the group began to split into smaller groups to try some ancestry insight / medium work, I chose to go back to the tent and get my drum, because I wanted to try Spiritual Drumming.
Spiritual Drumming, taught by special guest Russell Buddy Helm, was held in the pavilion from 2:45-5:00 pm. The description in the pamphlet stated: “Buddy’s workshops make the healing qualities of the drum accessible to all people, regardless of their musical backgrounds. Even if you’ve never touched a drum before, this workshop will help you learn the basic techniques and grooves you need. If you are an experienced percussionist, this workshop will give you new tools and insights to help you gain deeper meaning from your art.”
Thorik came with me for this one (and he carried my drum! Wasn’t that sweet!) The experience was amazing!
We started off with some rhythmic drumming. It was a beat I could follow. Buddy would speak to the beats of the drums. There was almost a hypnotic quality to this experience. He began by calling the corners. We all did. We chanted the corners in time with the beats. It was difficult for me at first, because I had never really drummed before, to speak and keep the rhythm at the same time. Buddy must have been used to this because he said that it was okay and the goal is to keep the downbeat.
Buddy used affirmations and self-enrichment chants. Power words. The energies were the most positive and powerful that I have experienced in a long time. All from drumming and chanting.
We “learned” various rhythmic beats. A couple of them I had a lot of difficulty with. There was one that was the same beat but he switched hands while doing it. I found this one tricky but I was finally able to master it.
Then, he mentioned that he liked to put people on the spot. Yeah. I was one of the one’s he chose. Yeah. I’ve never really played a drum before and yeah, I did a solo. No idea what it sounded like.. But I did it. LOL all by myself. I certainly am not a “natural” but Thorik said I didn’t embarrass him, so I thought that was sweet! *grin*
After the class, Thorik and I took the drum back to our tent and got ready for the evening. We ate some dinner and headed back for the main ritual.
The main ritual was an experience with a Norse Ritual, lead by Mark Stinson. It was a Heathen / Asatru ritual. There was a Toast and Boast that was part of the ritual. Sadly, there wasn’t enough mead to go around, although Mark did say it was some damn good mead! It was an intriguing ritual. I really enjoy the Main rituals and the introductions they give to various different beliefs.
Afterwards, I waited around while they started the fire. I chatted briefly with Summer and Owl and I told them I’d be back in the morning (figuring it would take a few hours.. waiting in line and then going through).
I headed over for the Venus Mound where the Vision Quest was set to start. I walked over with a couple of ladies and we chatted. Everyone is so friendly out here! That’s another quality of Fests that I absolutely adore. I’m accepted for who I am. I am not judged. And everyone is so very friendly!
There was a harpist playing at the Venus Mound. WyndSinger aka HarperBear is very talented. I sat and enjoyed his music for a while and the fire. The line wasn’t very long yet so I figured there was no rush. After a bit I got into line (well, the area where the line was supposed to be. People were mostly milling around.) One of the guards came by to check for flashlights and proper shoes. He warned us that the trail was very dangerous because of all the rain and that we’d be going through some treacherous parts. (I remember there were a lot of steep hills, odd corners, and such. Yeah… it was going to be interesting!)
I ran into some old friends, V and T, after a bit and chatted with them. We talked about everything from the wonderful time we were having at Gaea to our favorite Sci-Fi shows. It made the time go by much more quickly! (We tried night Frisbee, but we needed a Frisbee that glows in the dark.)
Finally, it was my turn. A young man escorted me down the first part of the path and then sent me onward and wished me luck and enlightenment.
After the Vision Quest, I went back to the fire. Thorik, Summer and Owl were still there! I wanted to go change clothes, but Summer wouldn’t let me. In fact, she had an extra sarong and told me to get changed. I had to pull my muddy boots off, my muddy pants off, and strip all the way down. *grin* Then she got me in a sarong and wrapped her bells around my waist and off we were.. Dancing around the fire.
After a few twirls around the fire, we decided to pull Thorik and Owl out, but by the time we got back around the fire, they were already up dancing!! Then the drummers took a break, so we all sat down and rested too. This went on for a few hours (I think. I have no idea what time I got back to the fire in the first place). This is one of my favorite aspects of the festival!
Sunday morning came bright and too early.
I ambled over to Women’s Mysteries at Venus Mound early. I wanted to meditate a while on the Mound and greet my tree. I also had an offering.
I greeted my tree, took off my shoes and my top and headed for Venus Mound with my offerings. I sat and mediated until my foot fell asleep. (Actually, technically, I didn’t realize that my foot had fallen asleep until I tried to stand up!) Then I joined the slowly growing circle for the Women’s Mysteries ritual.
I sat in partial sun / partial shade, drank my water and continued to contemplate in silence. I had a lot to think about from the Vision Quest. And of course, I had so much to be thankful for!
After the ritual, I thanked the ladies for their beautiful ceremony. It was very enlightening in so many ways. My friend from last year, V. waited with me and then we began the long trek back to camp.
After a while, the clouds started rolling in. The air became cooler around the time the concert was starting. Wendy Rule ROCKED!
Then it was time for the closing ritual. Everyone gathered around the fire pit. We weren’t able to get to the sand because the bonfire was at least 7 feet tall and there were rumors that there were fireworks inside. Storms were brewing, and they wanted to get through the ritual and get the fire started before the storms hit. The lightning was spectacular!
Joe Credit had been in an accident the prior year and his drum had been badly damaged. He saved it for nearly a year so that he could make an offering in the fire at Heartland. He wanted it to go in the ritual fire during the Heartland Pagan Festival.
Finally it was time to light the fire. There were trails of cannon fuse around the fire pit. Two spots were lit and they started snaking around the fire. They split into 4 or 6 lines and then different sides of the fire started to catch. People were clapping, screaming, shouting and cheering. The energies were unbelievable! The storms continued to come closer and then suddenly, the fire was completely lit! Next thing everyone knew, the fireworks were going off! I didn’t think it was possible, but the people got even louder! Then the rains came.
Earth. Air. Fire. Water.
It was indescribable Magnificent. Energies exploding, dancing, twisting. Drums beating, off in the distance (out of the rain) while the thunder beat his own drum: pulsing with a heartbeat of power as the rain showered down on everyone: bare feet pounding; winds whirling; flames reaching for the sky.
Wow. The power of words fails me…
Then next morning, the rains came off and on. We got the car packed up, thanked our wonderful host and hostess of the campsite for allowing us to camp with them and headed home (for hot showers and a nap!)
I can’t wait until next year!
Copyright: Heartland Pagan Festival Pamphlet
Location: Topeka, Kansas
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