I was more than a little surprised to find myself at Heartland Pagan Festival this year. Although last year’s debacle was negotiated to an amicable conclusion, many of my friends had not seemed interested in returning. I had just completed the two most grueling semesters, personally even more than academically, of my life. Money was (and is) tight, and my spiritual practice was in shambles. But then Pasiphae and Aidan decided they wanted to go, and Aradia got really excited about it, and that got infectious. Then I learned that not only would it be a full moon, but Janet fucking Farrar was going to be there, and I have dabbled in Wicca/witchcraft for far too long to turn down an opportunity to see Janet Farrar and hear her speak.
There was one further complication, however: as a part of the aforementioned negotiations, I had agreed to join the Heartland Spiritual Alliance and get involved in the Sacred Experience Committee. That never happened: first I was broke, then I was busy, then I was overwhelmed and nearly crushed by the last year. So, before leaving, I sent an email to Bousiris, Mr. Crane, and Alexandros inviting them to Camp WTF to partake in my mead as an apology for my failure to act as I had intended. Ultimately, and to my chagrin, although all three accepted that invitation, either by email or in person, we never managed to actually meet up to clear the air.
Planning and packing were both achieved with unprecedented efficiency and alacrity. We arrived at the front gate for our traditional pre-fest camp out at shortly after midnight, despite the fact that preparations included baking four loaves of bread and two dozen muffins (Aradia is a badass). We were able to secure one of our top four pre-selected camp sites, despite the fact that one had been closed off to “rest” for the season, and another had been selected as the location for the Lushes in Exile, as their usual encampment was likewise closed. After setting up our encampment at a pleasant and leisurely pace, we set up the best camp-altar ever, and proceeded to relax for the rest of the day until opening ritual and public dinner… both of which were slightly disappointing, but inoffensive.
Friday started with approximately the average amount of confusion over my Community Service (after an above-average amount of confusion last year, the rest of my encampment bribed out), slightly complicated by an unusual number of musicians and merchants who felt the rules didn’t apply to them. Meanwhile, Aradia and the rest of our camp went to Ed Hubbard’s first workshop, which they enjoyed, and found me afterwards for breakfast. We went to the first Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone workshop that afternoon, followed by Ed Hubbard’s second workshop. After dinner, Aradia and I demonstrated the Stele of Jeu to Pasiphae (whom I think would benefit from doing the rite a few times) and Aidan, then went for a long walk before performing our own private Esbat. The results of those rituals were impressive.
Saturday was slow to start, and we ended up not going to any of the workshops we had considered. Instead, when we finally got moving, we went down to the lake, where we had the misfortune to discover a solid dozen unsupervised children, most in the single-digit age range. That disaster-waiting-to-happen was kind of a buzzkill, and by the time their parents showed up and then finally left, the day had cooled and the lake was too cold to be any fun. In the meantime, we did divination.
Sunday we caught a workshop on working with spirits and the final lecture by Janet Farrar. The former was disappointing, but the latter was interesting: the origin story of Lake Onessa and her name. Although much of our party crashed early, Aradia and I stayed up until the wee hours searching for a party. We were sadly disappointed.
Monday morning began a little before dawn with the threat of a storm. By dawn, the threat had been made good on with nickel-sized hail and a torrential downpour that made packing difficult and brought everyone’s temper to the surface—particularly mine. Although I won’t name names, I will point out that this is why we don’t do weather magic. Seriously: does anyone know any stories, mythic or personal, of anyone of European descent doing weather magic for good? It’s all crop-destroying, drought-causing, malicious evil-for-evil’s sake in the myths I know.