This year, my Heartland adventure started on Wednesday. (In 2007, I didn’t have time off, in 2008, I took off Friday, this year, I took Wed thru Tuesday. *grin* A day to recover!!) My son still had a half day of school and Thorik had his regular school day so I began organizing and packing while they were gone. (My son ended up going with Grandma and Grandpa this year. He wants to go next year, but I’m not sure I want to deal with a child who is so picky with his food choices. I told him so. LOL). Once Thorik got home from school and ate some lunch, we packed up the car and were on the road by 3pm. Not bad at all! :)
We arrived at Camp Gaea, and once again, driving through the gate was like coming home. It always is. All the stresses of life, bills and the economy went away. Now was the time for me to be selfish and just live, enjoy Mother Earth in all her splendor and be me.
The front gate, open but manned, had this nice lady who checked to see if we were on the early arrival list. (I was merchanting for my friend Denise, who owns Herbal Alchemy Teahouse and more. She paid my way in and in return, I managed her booth). We were, so they waved us through to registration.
Registration was simple. Found our names quickly and easily (Even Sylvye. yes, my KIA Rhondo!! LOL) We got our booklets, a copy of the Heartland Spirit and our pretty purple (merchanting) bracelets. (Don’t take these off!!) Then they sent us up to Aislinn to finish registration and get our merchanting plot.
We reached the merchanting area and were stopped where I had to pay $10 camping fee and sign up for Community Service. I signed up to do Security in the merchanting area. That sounded like fun, it was in the evening and the weather should be mostly cooled off by 8pm. :) Then, he had us wait for Aislinn to show us where to set up. Figured I might as well enjoy the AC for a while longer. *blush*
Aislinn came up to the car and I jumped out to give her a hug, sayin it’s been too long since I’ve seen her. (I love hugs!) Then she showed us where to set up. I told her that Denise was behind me still hopefully coming, but running late. She took us to a nearby spot, near the new stairs, next to the Fey Dragon (more on her later, I found a soul sister!!) Anyway, we were asked to first unload the car, then park it, then set everything up. *shrug* Not how I normally do it, but there was no reason not to at this point. It was warm but not overly hot. (Theme for most of the weekend!)
It was the first time setting up the Coleman’s Instant tent. I LOVE IT!! Highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. It doesn’t take under a minute, but it’s close. Of course it was the first time we had ever set it up, so that could make a difference.
Anyway, we got the tent set up and put everything in it. (Still no Denise). We took a break to eat some chips and dip and then set up the bed. As it got close to time for the gates to close, I texted Denise and reminded her the gates would be closing. My battery was dying so I was unable to leave my phone on for a response. A couple hours later, received the message that she would not be out that night.
Thorik and I chatted for a while and then he headed off since he had class in the morning. I wanted a shower, so I headed down to the shower house. I ran into some online friends and chatted with them for a bit. The water was warm, the sun and breeze dried me after my shower and the companionship delightful. The event was off to a great start that early eve when I headed back to camp.
Once there, I saw that my other neighbor had arrived. Aislinn had “warned” us that E.B. liked hugs. *grin* and he does!! :) After a hugged intro, we chatted briefly, but people kept coming to see him and help him, so eventually I wandered off.
As the sun began to set, I found myself getting tired. Another merchant showed up and their group was a bit noisy but I thought I might try to go to sleep early. I turned on my radio and crawled into bed. I texted Thorik letting him know I loved him and was heading to sleep.
I musta drifted off for a bit, but then the neighbors got noisy again, and I got up to visit the toilets. When I returned, I spotted my other neighbor, Mary,
sitting between her merchanting tent and her camping tent reading. I stopped to ask her what she was reading (Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief) and we started chatting about life, the universe and everything. She invited me to sit and offered me some wine. I brought out some of my Farmer’s Market Cheesy Italian bread (from the Mormon’s) and we made ourself a small feast, getting to know each other and in addition, for me, discovering a soul sister. It was absolutely delightful.
Down the row from our tents was the merchant’s circle with a small fire where merchants had gathered and people had started drumming. Mary wanted to dance and I ducked off to get my drum. I squeezed into the drum section and joined the beat. It was fantastic to be playing my drum again! Soon, I lost all track of time. A few other drummers showed up and my friend from the shower stopped by with his drum as well. This was becoming quite a party. We drummed for a bit, but our dancers apparently got tired and wandered off.. soon most of the drummers wandered to bed as well and just left me and my “new” friend. We’d seen each other before, but never really chatted. Never had time and were always going in different directions. We explored worlds of ideas, fires, science fiction, fantasy, Heartland and more. It was quite an enjoyable discussion. People came and went, joining and then leaving and we watched the Goddess Moon traverse across the sky until we realized the fire had mostly gone out and the location of the moon indicated it was quite late (or quite early depending on how you looked at it). I bid my new friend good eve and meandered off to my tent.
The next morning, when I awoke, Denise still hadn’t arrived. I ate some breakfast and then grabbed my bag and my book and headed over to the Pavilion for some cool breezes and a nice spot to watch people come and go as they entered camp for a glorious festival weekend. I read nearly 120 pages in my book.. (Swan Song, I hadn’t read it in a while). Finally I noticed Denise. Apparently she had already set up part of her booth and I found her in time to help her set up merchandise. Unfortunately, by this time it was getting warm and I wasn’t much help. I took lots of breaks and she had to do most of the work.
Finally the booth was set up and we were ready for people to come browse. Thorik arrived around 3pm and joined us in the booth. I was doing whatever I could to stay cool. (I still don’t like the heat..) Opening ritual was set for 6:30 pm.
The Festival Handbook described the HPF Main Rituals
“This year HPF is celebrating 25 years of gathering to commune with one another, our gods and our natural world. To honor our past, present and future, the Sacred Experience team will offer three interactive, ecstatic ritual opportunities focusing on these aspects of our history. Where We Come From Sacred Experience Committee.
Thursday Main Ritual Circle was described as “Once again we gather in community, strangers, friends and family, to create together a space for exploration and enlightenment. With respect, we acknowledge the wisdom of our elders and each other by sharing water and our stories. Honoring our past as a festival as well as individuals, we celebrate with joy our foundation.”
The Opening Ritual was amazing. By this time our friends, Summer and Owl had found us. They came to the opening ritual with us. HPF attendees were recognized from the group of first years, to the group for 2-10 years, 11-20 and then ultimately 21-25 years of attendance. Each group was given stones to represent their part of the circle. I was part of the 2-10 years (being that this was my 4th year attending..) and they didn’t have enough stones for everyone.
The people who had attended 21-25 times became the inner circle. First years were placed between the 20-25 and the rest of us. The first year newcomers became the link between the new and the old. It was a celebration of the past grounded by the people who are our future.
We were also introduce to Wanda, the wicker girl, for the Closing ritual. Everyone was invited to write their wishes and dreams on a piece of paper and stick the paper inside of Wanda. Wanda would then be an offering on the last night of the festival. I was very excited about this and had some great ideas for my wishes and dreams.
Friday set up to be a lazy day. Our friends Summer and Owl came by the booth fairly early and noted that there was a Drum Doctor workshop, which my Drum was in desperate need of help. It was nearly 1pm and the class was almost over, so I felt guilty going, but Summer and Owl drug me over anyway, and I’m so glad I did. With the expert help of Nels Linde (who happened to have a booth across the way from us, called Hawkdancing ) I was able to get my drum sounding good again. First he played a bit and then noted that it was a drum from Ghana that wasn’t terribly expensive, but to make up for it had lots of ropes, as it had nearly a solid rope along the top ring. The rope weaving is called “Mali weave”
He then taught me how to tighten the ropes on the drum so it would sound healthy again. There was a pattern and then I had to pull it tight. Wow. That was tough!! Even Owl had problems helping me, but he finally got it. I’m glad it wasn’t TOO easy for him. The second set I was able to successfully pull tight. We opted to leave it at that because of a possibility of breaking the head. I wanted the drum to last while before having to purchase a new head, assuming that will even be an option when it does happen. We had to adjorn to Nels Linde’s merchant booth because the next class was needing to start. There, he checked my row of threading and then knotted the rope off so that it would not come loose. My drum sounded GOOD again! I was thrilled!
The rest of the day passed uneventfully, and then a class I was dying to see started at 6:30pm. Thorik and I closed the booth so we could both attend The Awakening of Gaea with Oberon Zell. I loved it!! So many things rang true for me. Thorik thought it was an advertisement for his books and products, but I got so much more out of it. I had felt a lot of what he spoke about, but hadn’t been able to put it into words. Others felt the same way as Thorik and at the end I gave a solo standing ovation. Oberon acknowledged me and I nodded to him. Once the question and answer section was completed I went up for a hug.
I found a description of the class which sums it up better than I can:
“Gaea, or Mother Earth, is the oldest and most universally-acknowledged religious archetype in all of human experience, intuitively recognized throughout the world even by small children. A long time ago (in 1970) Oberon Zell Ravenheart had a vision that eventually became known as the Gaia Thesis– that all life on Earth comprises the body of a single living being—Mother Earth (Gaia) Herself. If we are willing to posit Gaea as a single vast planetary organism, we cannot avoid the implication that such a complex organism must also possess a concomitant global awareness, sentience, indeed—consciousness.
“Teilhard de Chardin proposed in The Phenomenon of Man a future coalescence of planetary consciousness which he called the “Omega Point.” Perhaps the emergence and rapid evolution of the Internet and World-Wide Web are already providing the seeds of a technological Noosphere of global consciousness through which this Awakening will inevitably manifest. We might equate such an event with the awakening of consciousness in our own minds, as the billions of neurons in our brains link up synergistically. Just so shall we participate in the Awakening of Gaea Herself—and our full Apotheasis.
“The Millennial Gaia” is Oberon’s artistic masterwork. This sculpture will be passed around while Oberon shares his story of Gaia and his vision for carrying this powerful image out into the world and the collective consciousness. As you hold Her in your hands, new experiences and vision come to light, and we will share these visions. From biology to thealogy; from ancient civilizations to projections, visions and prophecies for the future. Everyone who dreams with the Millennial Gaia adds their vision and feeling to Her.”
Magic Mama and then the Traveling Fates rounded off the evening followed by some dancin and drummin. What a perfect day!
My community service this year was set up through the merchants, so I had the chance to do security during the evening hours, once it cooled off. Unfortunately, at the time of sign up, I didn’t know the schedule of events and managed to schedule myself during one of the concerts I really wanted to attend. Fortunately, Dave, my partner in un-crime, also wanted to see Magic Mama, so our course of security swung us through the crowds near the pavilion and then back around the merchant area. Then it was time for the Traveling Fates. We did another merchant run during the switch over and headed back thru the concert. There really wasn’t many people in the merchanting area by this time anyway. My partner in un-crime managed to get us “released” since there wasn’t anything going on except where the concert was. At this point I decided that I needed to “secure” the “mosh pit” and went up and danced.
I especially wanted to be near the stage during the songs by SJ Tucker. A young girl was spinning during Fire Child (my best Fire Child experience was at GGG, but that’s a whole different story, but the feelings during that first time hearing that song LIVE is still my happy place when I need one…) , but I was able to go near the stage during most of the rest of the songs. :) They sounded AWESOME!! :) I love you SOOOJ! :)
Saturday started with a nice shower. Mine, that is. *grin* I got up early enough to have a warm shower down at the bath-house. Ahhhh…
I spent the day in the booth and Thorik went to a couple classes. He went to the Making Wrap Pants with Summer and then he attended the Advanced Magical Techniques taught by Avatar with Owl. He said he got a lot from the Techniques class. ;)
While gathering for the Main Ritual, I found my friend(s), Sky and her SO, and Val and her SO, as well as Summer and Owl. I had no idea what to expect from this, but we were all together. Thorik was napping so he did not attend.
Where We Are
Sacred Experience Committee
Saturday Main Ritual Circle was around 7:00 (pagan time)
“This night we gather in sacred community to claim our place on this unwinding path and to receive the gifts of our dedication. With beauty and love, we strengthen our connection to our individual Divine as well as to one another. Honoring our present, the within and the without, we celebrate with gratitude our present.”
They started by teaching us a song:
Rising up in passion
Endless I remain
The jewel of selfhood blazes in my heart.
Hades attended and performed. His presense was necessary for this. He was scary and powerful. He was ready to take away our choices. Hades called Demeter and she came but she was angry. She bitched him out about Persephone. You could see the fire between the two and the Horde hadn’t even built one yet. There was sparks flying from their anger. She, too, attended as a intense force whose presence was quite powerful and noticeable. I have no doubt that the god and the goddess themselves were in this circle. It was frightening and exciting at the same time. The depth of their presence and the ritual they performed with us was extremely intense.
During this ritual we were asked to list 3 things we had given up or lost or that which was taken away from me. My first thought, of course, was my son Christopher Defiance. In addition to that, was my choice over what was right for my ex and I and that it was finally my choice. Then there was the loss of my parents love and respect (or so it feels) and the question of if my love for Thorik may have caused this.
First, Hades claimed the things that we voluntarily give up, the pieces of our identity that we willingly sacrifice in order to gain
something else. For instance, if I choose to become a parent, I give up many things, but in doing so, I not only do not give myself up, I actually learn more about myself. This is where I gave up my ex.
Second, Demeter claimed the things that we did not choose to give up, but were taken from us. The job we lost unfairly, the romantic
interest who left us for somebody else, the friend who was killed in a car wreck. The times when we pay the painful price of risking
vulnerability and desire. This is the time I lost Christopher.
Each participant had the option of risking themselves in the present, as they are now, or of honoring events in their past that they wished to let go of. The purpose of the ritual was to experience very deeply that these things are not a part of our true essential selves – we burned the paper, destroying the symbols, providing a visceral separation of our stories about ourselves, from that which we actually *are* without the stories. Finally, I willingly gave up the love and respect of my parents.
By the end of the ritual, I was bawling and so were a few other people. My choices, my life, had been ripped from me by Hades and Demeter. It was necessary, but that didn’t make the pain any less. I had lived with the pain for a long time, but this time, this time, the pain was an ending. It was the final pain, as I released everything to the god and goddess. It was the beginning of a healing time for me. My choices and that which I did not chose but which was chosen for me would finally be able to heal. I could move forward. My past was cleared of the pain and I bawled my eyes out and let it go. I let it all go with Hades and his fires that burned in the pit. It was magnificent and liberating.
This was explained to me as the following:
“Take away my friends, my family, my home, my job, my service – I am still who I am. No loss can ever take that away. So we rebuilt ourselves, in the ritual, by noticing that those around us had also felt loss and had things torn away from them, and they have survived. In community, we support one another, and whatever we are once everything has been stripped away tells us what direction to go, gives us passion, gives us desire, sets us in motion, puts us back on our feet, no matter how much we lose. And that self, that unyielding, undying core, can never be taken away.”
I should have grounded after the ritual, but I was too excited about my Vision Quest. I exited to my tent and put on pants (military style) and boots. I was ready for the hike (although I knew it would be a bit better than 2008 when the rain made the entire Quest hazardous as well as enlightening)
Valerie, Tracy and I traveled the path around the lake to near Venus Mound where the Vision Quest was set to start. (Venus Mound was au’ naturale this year. — She had not been trimmed.. ;) Harper Bear was playing his delightful harp and up and down the line, people talked magic and movies and other marvelous topics. Amazing how long lines make instant friends. ;)
Finally, around 11ish it was my turn. I gave my thanks to the gate keeper and began my quest.
The first faery I met was the Greenman — I almost couldn’t see him as he was thoroughly enmeshed in the forest. The second was the Sidhe Knight, next was Puck, he made a huge impression actually interacting directly with me. He made me think and he lead me to my own answers. He was absolutely amazing. For him alone, the entire quest was a success, the rest was the icing and only added to the depth of my answers and questions. The moment of clarity came from Puck. Odd, when you think about it. Puck. “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” I’m honestly surprised after my encounter with Puck that I was ever able to find my way out of the forest!! He musta taken pity on me and lifted the fog from my eyes so that I could see what had been hidden.
The next was the Troll at the bridge who had lost his horse. I was able to help him find said horse, but it had been magicked and shrunk down to size. His words of wisdom basically told me that things are not always as they seem. The next was the Dream Fairy who pulled silk from a dream and handed it to me. She told me dreams are real. Then came the Tree Spirit who was able to hide even more than the Greenman did.. The Frost Giant was next. He handed me ice cubes and made them melt in my hand. His words of wisdom are now lost to me, but they were intense at the time, making the ice in my hand melt more quickly. The glittery sparkly fairies at the fairy gate where I was asked to make an offering and one jumped up in front of me just as I was passing through the gate and gave me quite a fright She was quite delighted by that and sprinkled me with fairy dust. *grin*
Finally the Elf at the end who summed up the experiences and basically told me to remember and learn. There was a Djinn wandering about somewhere on the middle of the trail. (And security/safety kept popping up outa nowhere.. LOL I still wonder if security/safety was lost in the fog.. and just pretending to be “helping” *giggle*)
After that, all I wanted was a hug and to go to bed. I had been on an energy roller coaster and I needed SLEEP. Wow. It was amazing.
Sunday I slept in more than I did the entire event, and it was so hot when I got up, it pretty much left me sicky all day. Kansas heat, OY!! I think I also had an energy hangover.. blah. LOL
Sunday originally was supposed to be the cool day, but sadly, as weather in Kansas is wont to do, it was pushed back and I didn’t get to attend the Women’s Mysteries. At the time, I was devasted, but since then I realized that the emotional highs and lows of the previous evening, I didn’t need to add to that equation. I had enough to digest and contemplate and certainly adding something new would not necessarily be a good thing. I heard later that it was hot there as well, so I made the right choice, but I am still saddened by it. I must go next year. Goddess provide me a good day.. (unless I can make up for it at GGG, which I hope to attend this year as well)
As the end of the day drew nigh, there were rumors of storms. I did get a phone notification that Topeka was in a t-storm watch.. but Gaea is an hour away from Topeka, therefore not always in the same watches. Soon, Shaggy came by with warnings of storms, and hints of a Tonganoxie split, which of course we all were hoping for. The skies got dark, and I knew Denise was on her way soon. (Found out later she took a nap first. Instinct I’m sure, she didn’t need to be out there or traveling in this weather.) Thorik and I got the tarp wrapped around her teas and stuff and closed everything up as tight as possible. I checked with Mary, but she planned on starting to pack up and just stay with her merchandise. The rain started and Thorik and I headed to the Pavilion. I was bummed because I was wanting to hear the speaker, but instead was late because of battening down the hatches. Fortunately, he was still presenting within the pavilion. I just didn’t wander up to hear him, but got to hear much of his presentation. At one point, he defied the gods and laughed in the face of the thunder. oooh.. that got reactions from the crowd!!
Here is an excerpt of his thoughts on his class during the weather and our reaction to his defiance to the gods!! :)
“There was a great deal of irony in me attempting to lead a workshop on elemental magick when the elements of nature were showing a great deal of fury and power. I would refer to the element of fire, and there would be a great flash of lightening. I would talk about the element of air, and the wind would shake the trees and blow gusts into the pavilion, and of course, water, the cloud burst of rain, and earth, the shaking of ground as the thunder broke overhead. It was a chaotic cataclysm of unbounded nature on display for one and all. I was able to use the powerful display of the elements as a kind of hilarious antiphon to the serious nature of what I was talking about. It was quite humorous, in a “Frater Barrabbas” sort of way.”
“I did get carried away at one point. I pointed to the stormy sky with the lightening and thunder, and said, “You there, gods, I defy you!” Some of the folks in the pavilion (most of whom were there just to escape the fury of nature and not to attend my workshop) actually booed me for saying that. I rejoined on them in an entreaty, saying, “Come on, haven’t any of you seen one of those old sword and sandal movies where Hercules shakes his fist at the sky and says, ‘I defy you, Zeus!’” The boos died away quickly amid a few laughs. I guess you could say that I probably went a bit too far on that joke, but sometimes I am amazed at how superstitious some people can be.”
Superstitious. Nice that he thinks pagans are superstitious. Either way, I don’t plan on shaking my fist at the skies and defying the gods at any time soon. Either way, I was bummed that I was late to the class that night because my time was spent protecting the merchandise from the storm. I did get to hear parts and it was quite fascinating. Perhaps Frater Barrabbas Tiresius will return at another time.
Next came two bands. Cory Phillips was a bit slower and mellow but beautiful. He was followed by Flannigan’s Right Hook. The music was awesome. The lightshow magically trippy. It was a blast to the past with some great old music and light shows to go with it. Flannigan’s Right Hook totally ROCKED!
Finally it was time for the Closing Ritual and Fire. It was nearly time for Wicker Wanda to BURN!!
Where We Go was the closing ritual. It was supposed to be held at 10:00pm, but as usual, that turned into Pagan Time and it was a bit later than that. Between the farewell blessings of the gods/ goddesses in the form of the storms, the Fire Horde had to work before, throughout and after the torrential rainfalls.
Closing the 25th Heartland Pagan Festival, together we share the profound impact of our history. With courage we embrace the sacred call to growth as community and to our own potential. Honoring our future as a festival, as well as individuals, we celebrate with hope our future.
At this point, people pared up for the Closing Ritual. We were to ask, “What do you want” and our partner could answer answer anything. Thorik and I both used a lot of: “Love”, “You”, “Happiness”, “Peace” and anything else that came to mind. Then, the next one was “What’s in the way?” (“life”, “money”, “stress”, “anger”, “fear”, etc) and finally “What do you choose?” which of course was what we wanted (“Love”, “You”, etc). It was powerful. Different people were shouting the same but different things. The energies were strong and we were all part of building these energies.
Finally, it was time to offer Wicker Wanda to the gods! People cheered and screamed and stomped as the Fire Horde started the fire they had worked so hard to make happen. Notice from the picture below that not only you can see Wanda on top, but you can see how the logs were at angles.
We were allowed to traverse the outskirts of the fire, but there was fireworks and other “hazards” in the fire so the Horde protected the dancers. The drummers this year seemed to have some issues, not sure if it was newbies, or just not a central heartbeat to follow, but dancing was not how I remembered it a few years ago. Perhaps it just a phase, but in the middle of chanting the fire to life, the drums just stopped. Other than the drums, though, the fire and dancing was magical! I should have gotten my drum out and added to the confusion, but I wanted to dance. I wanted to feel and play with the fire. My new path I wanted to burn.. I wanted to watch Wanda burn. I wanted to see into the depths of the fire and feel it head to toe.. and I did!! The drumming mattered not at these points, for I was one with the Fire… although the Horde did have to make me move back a few times.. Watching the logs be pushed into the center also was a thrill for me. The drums could have enhanced that, but it was enough to be right there. Wonderful!!
Then, I grew tired and we went to bed. I was drained. I was filled and drained.
I slept the sleep of the fulfilled, one with a new path, a new life, a new goal and many new friends.
The next morning, it was back to reality, but I keep the entire weekend in my heart and soul to hold me over until next year.