Harvest Home Gathering 2006 (picts added Oct. 18)|
Posted: October 15th. 2006
Times Viewed: 18,800
Sponsored by: CWPN - Connecticut Wiccan and Pagan Network
Location: Marlborough, CT
Event Date(s): Thursday, September 14 through Sunday, September 17, 2006
Harvest Home Gathering 2006
Enchantment, magick, and truth – Returning to the Harvest Gate
In walking a path of magick, it is good to remember that we need to stop and reflect on where we are and what it means to us. I believe that the power of ritual is intensified when we are clear about our purpose and then we release ourselves into the work to be shaped by its energies. Turning inward is a critical part of this journey, and returning to the Harvest Home Gathering has become part of the route for us. For the third year in a row, the CWPN sponsored a powerful gathering that ensured that this critical step was a powerful one in our journey.
What do you look for in a Pagan gathering? For some it is the cathartic release found around a fire circle, and for others sharing knowledge and experience with elders is the dealmaker. Whether your fuel is magickal experiences that transform you, or a sultry celebration where you can honor your inner freak this gathering offers it with love. ‘With love’ is the differentiating element that sets this gathering apart from others. While many gatherings offer love in abundance, this one carefully measures it out and ensures it is given at every opportunity throughout the weekend. From the radiant smiles that greet us after a long drive into the forests of Connecticut, to the comforting calls to join people around the fire circle or under a tent to share mead, love is felt in every aspect of this gathering’s events. This gathering is also well organized online, with the speaker list posted months in advance, and the class schedule posted a week or more in advance.( See: http://www.cwpn.org/hhg/main.php?page=Schedule)
My soul food consists of two things: event staff who are sincerely interested in the attendees’ satisfaction and classes and rituals with powerful people who seek to give and receive a real experience. This gathering is nothing if it’s not REAL. The speakers (see the list on the HHG page) gave us a human connection to their experience, rather than just 90 minutes of knowledge. The staff was omnipresent and tirelessly committed to helping new friends (as well as old) with anything they wanted or needed. This work created a connection. And whether it flowed out from the gathering’s organizers or out from its mind-blowing rituals we felt a deep connection to this gathering’s soul. It was the soul of summer’s dying embers mingled with the breath of autumn’s chill.
Perfect in its imperfection, this intimate gathering has embraced its flaws and celebrated its beauty year after year. What does that mean? It means that rain has become a tradition for HHG, but every attendee that I spoke with laughs when they talk about it because it never spoils the experience. It means that moving workshops and rescheduling things is part of the experience, and keeps it all so humble that our hearts smile with the first announcement that something is changing time or location. HHG is an intimate gathering, a loving group of under 200 people who all seek to embrace the changes that the earth brings at the end of summer. There are drummers and dancers who nurture and draw our freedom to express our emotions through movement around the fire circle. There are passionate teachers, whose eyes well up with tears when relating their experiences that feed our need for validity and courage in our work. And there were quiet heroes whose focus and commitment to caring for our safety and health keep the entire festival running smoothly. This gathering is young compared to many others, yet it feels seasoned and strong. I am always surprised to learn the things that were avoided due to the experience and commitment of the staff.
HHG changed locations this year, to a larger and more open plan at the 4-H camp in Marlborough, CT. This gave us all more room for dancing, better tenting areas, more comfortable workshop spaces, and the ability to cook (and eat) better food. While the cabins were more rustic than in previous years, the ritual spaces and public spaces were better suited to larger gatherings. A wonderful side effect of this new location was the impromptu drumming that happened between cabins as the sound carried so well across the spaces. The stroll from cabin to class, or from dining hall to fire circle offered more opportunity to talk to new friends and old, to center oneself before ritual, or to simply remember the power of communing with nature at this turn of the wheel. This new location definitely added a more powerful Gaia presence to everything, as we walked through the woods to get to many events.
Opening ritual around the fire circle was a celebration of the balance of energies through the eyes of the Egyptian pantheon. Anyone who has worked with these Gods and Goddesses knew how powerful their presence can be, and this ritual was no exception. The first night’s classes introduced us to the power of possibilities with ecstasy, evocation, and exploration of the world of magick and science. Everyday at HHG is filled with choices from the earthy traditions, high magick, ancient traditions, and newly developed ideas on blending magick with art and healing. Once our heads and hearts were filled with new experiences we prepared for an evening of excitement and power. The Mardi Gras themed Masquerade ball brought out the sultry beauty of the attendees in full opulence. This dance became the juicy morsel that whet our appetites for the full course satisfaction of a Voodoo Ritual: a ritual that melted into every corner of our bones and reminded us of the unique delight of dancing with the spirits. Rising on Saturday morning to the Sun’s warmth burning off the fog, we exchanged knowing smiles between sleepy sips of hot coffee. With little rest yet ample energy we tackled the day’s roster of classes and rituals that spanned the magickal world from Faery Realm to Gnostic Temple. As the heat rose through the day, so too did the spirit and passion of both staff and attendee to repeat the previous night’s celebration. That is one of the gifts of an intimate gathering; you are close to everyone, to speakers and staff as well as fellow attendees. Thus as the energy of the gathering moves, it is mirrored in the faces and actions of everyone involved. It gives a feeling of communion with the world around us that cannot be found elsewhere.
Saturday’s heat cooled into an evening warmed by the laughter and flirtations of a bawdy bunch of wenches whose beauty was only exceeded by their ability to spark smile after smile on every face they touched. Their sweet and saucy song haunts me still. The Renaissance Feast was a world where shameless displays of affection were applauded, and flirting was a language everyone spoke fluently. After the feast, we changed clothes and proceeded to the fire circle where we were carried deeper into the realms of delight by the music of Incus and the dancing it inspired. Isn’t it amazing how a powerful bonfire and soulful music can cast a spell of enchantment over everyone? The woods around the bonfire grew in energy and presence as the energy rose from our celebrations.
Sunday morning came too quickly, probably due to the intense stimulation from the previous three days! We wanted more, but our bodies, minds and hearts were so deliciously exhausted that we quietly accepted our fate. The tendrils of the mundane life pushed their way into our awareness, and we said goodbye to both the person we came as, and the people who helped transform us.
The Autumnal Equinox marks the end of Summer. Its energies call for us to turn inward and begin to evaluate and process the growth brought from the heat of the previous months. This gathering honors that work by providing workshops that teach tools for inward evaluation, rituals that allow practice of those tools, and celebrations in the evening to fuel the work. With a blend of published authors and powerful teachers HHG gives its participants exposure to both the trailblazers of the Pagan path and those who are still cutting news ways up the mountain. Though I didn’t favor the new rustic cabins, the powerful rituals and better common areas of the new location more than made up for them. If you want a good place to practice weather magick, to begin your season of personal work, and to meet and share with people from all areas of our magickal world then bookmark the HHG website and stay tuned for the next evolution in turning inward on your sacred journey.
Article ID: 11202
Age Group: Adult
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Location: Stoughton, Massachusetts
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