Article ID: 15504
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,705
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Posted: September 22nd. 2013
Times Viewed: 3,662
Sponsored by: Connecticut Wiccan and Pagan Network
Location: Camp Cedarcrest, 886 Mapledale Rd, Orange, CT
Event Date(s): August 15 - 18, 2013
Welcome Home, we love you just the way you are!
When the outside world gets chaotic, and humans struggle to find the space inside to nurture themselves, they hunger for something deeper and more real than a daily yoga class or a guided meditation. Chaos can breed fear and uncertainty about anything, yet love and support from your fellow Pagans seems to turn down the roar of its call. In any spiritual life, trust is a vital ingredient for feeding the soul. When envisioning going to a Pagan gathering, your imagination may carry you away, but always with some element of trust.
When you arrive at the Harvest Gathering hosted by the Connecticut Wiccan and Pagan Network, there is an element of openhearted kindness that calls you down the path of trust. "Welcome Home!" is the first greeting you hear, and it is what you are met with at every turn in those first hours where your trust is being incubated.
This group of people understands that seeking is an act of courage, and that is apparent in every detail of this event. From the first winding drive up to a sunny, tree-lined parking area to the open field in the center of all of the activity, there are smiling faces conveying a sincere desire to see you happy. Get your car smudged once you cross the bridge, settle into the cabins in the woods, hang out in the dining hall and enjoy a cold drink. It doesn't take too long for Pagans to realize that a growing community of fellow earth-focused spirits that have gathered to explore and celebrate surrounds them.
Opening ritual sends goose bumps up our arms and across our shoulder as the drumming begins with the setting sun. We are marking the first harvest, and hence the time when we begin to turn inward and focus on what must be cut from our lives, and what needs further nurturing. This ritual focuses on these natural patterns, letting the night sky bring dramatic effect to the death of John Barleycorn, to the deep voices that echo off of the surrounding trees, and the torch lit procession to a huge fire circle.
Energies strengthen around you, pulling at the last bits of the mundane world that cling to the edges of your consciousness. Drumbeats wear away at logic and structure, pushing inward into your heart and settling into your bones like old friends. The bonfire pops and sparks as the visage of John Barleycorn goes up in flames to the howls and chants of fellow Pagans initiating the season and the start of the Gathering.
This is a gathering, not a festival. It is intimate in nature, focusing on the power of the human connection with both mother earth and our fellow travelers as a means to evolve. There is love here, honesty, and humility in everything at HG. Everyone is encouraged to participate: everyone sings; everyone dances. It doesn't take long in this cozy community to find the perfect niche for your heart to sit back and start absorbing all of the wisdom and information that is being taught. Learn about Reiki energy, magickal energy, ritual and trance dance, everyday herbs, resonating in ritual, and ways to energize your body, soul and spiritual tools. Learn about different spiritual traditions from the history to the current practices, and see how your beliefs fit in with others.
Shed your mundane life, and fall fully into your magickal self. Published authors instruct alongside respected community elders. There is something for almost every interest in the list of classes offered. And if you are like me, and get drawn more to the Noonday sun in the open field, then skip one and bask in the sun instead. Everyone supports your freedom to explore, and nurture your inner self. They want you as you are, pure and open. The heat and tingle of curiosity keeps you on the edge of restraint, and laughter spills out to signal that in everyone. Laughter signals the release of tension and the start of a bonding experience, and the dining hall was filled with it! Good food and good company was flanked by quick Harvest Gathering announcements to keep things running smoothly.
Yet, It isn't all light and laughter. As the dark curled around my sense of sight, the rest of me rose to fill in the space. Ethereal tendrils of mystery tickle the soft spots of my awareness, feeding curiosity and encouraging exploration. We all know how powerful the forest can be at night, add a glow-in-the-dark labyrinth to that power and you have a magickal tool guaranteed to unlock answers to your deepest unspoken questions. Stepping carefully through the dew soaked grass, cold kissed the instep of my feet and my connection to reality was locked.... but only until the call of my wild self drew me back to the flow of energy around me. This energy carried me on a journey far away from civilization, along a candle-lined path to a stone circle lit with candles. This magickal place elevated my energy from that grounded place, and restored my faith in the wonder of earthen magick.
Yes, it is chilly in the morning -- it's the end of the summer in New England. But that chill is sacred to the blend of natural energies needed to craft our relationship with the divine spirits. We need a bite to push us together sometimes, and when the classes end after a long, hot day.. the chill of a late summer night nipped at us while we wound our way down that dark path to the ‘IO Pan’ ritual! Cold stone under our bodies told us that we were in the presence of an ancient energy that lay dormant around us. Chills went up our necks when the wood nymphs cried of pain at the death of Pan echoed into the dark sky. Sacred fires within us fought back against that chill, as the ritual leader drew us out of our selves, connected us with the world around us, and called the nymphs forth to wake us from our ego-centric slumber. Huddled together against the nip of night was how we fed each other sweets to resurrect our spirits. And when the nymphs’ shrieks of delight called out to us to catch them for a blessing, the late summer chill was the bite that kept the sweat at bay. The cold was refreshing after being set afire with the passion of the resurrected Pan!
The sweetest sting of the experience was the powerful closing ritual, which left me feeling empowered and humbled at the same time, a loving blessing woven by each and every member of the gathering to carry all of us out into the world. One at a time, we locked eyes, opened hearts, and poured love all over each other! If you're curious about what that feels like, I encourage you to attend the next Gathering in 2014.
Location: Stoughton, Massachusetts
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