A week from today will mark the beginning of the 30th Annual Heartland Pagan Festival. There’s a lot that could be said, perhaps a lot that should be said, about the speakers and bands and history of the festival. I think for all that, however, I will permit the HSA to speak forthemselves, except to point out the pink elephant: that this is also the first year that the festival will be facing direct competition. What makes this coming festival significant for me is that, having attended far, far more often than not since 1998, this will be the first festival that I have helped put on.
The HSA is a public organization, and I could have paid my dues and “membered up”, as they say, at any time. There are a lot of reasons I didn’t, but they mostly revolve around a few highly negative encounters with influential members of the organization, and my personal distrust of any org large enough to handle money. Several events at the 2012 festival, however, fundamentally changed my relationship with the fest and the organization.
Firstly, staggering back broke from my first year at real college, I came to the festival not as a paying customer, but as work exchange: twenty hours of labor for “free” entry. Working for parking and security, I got to know a lot of the people who actually run the org. More importantly, though, that was the year I started a massive public shitstorm over the gendered implications of the public ritual arc. At the end of those mediated discussions, I was asked to join the organization. Living and attending college in Indiana at the time, however, I was unable to do so.
I graduated in the Spring of 2014 and celebrated with a victory lap studying abroad in Greece then going on a three-week road trip with Aradia. We made it back to civilization and the internet with exactly enough time and money left to join the HSA, vote for committee chairs, and join the Sacred Experience Committee. From June to December, we helped hammer out the theory and framework of the three main rituals. In January, the first prose drafts of the ritual appeared, and Aradia and I recruited Chirotus and Pasiphae from the old proto-coven to join the SEC. Last week, I got on the phone with Brianna Misenhelter of the ATC Pagan Information Network and HPS of the KC chapter of the Wite Ravyn Metaphysical church, and talked a little bit about what y’all will be able to look forward to at the festival.
Over the course of the last year, I’ve gone from hiding behind a shroud of plausible deniability (anyone with a serious interest in doxxing me could probably do so without much difficulty) to being a public pagan. Whoops.
I can’t begin to say how excited I am about the rituals we’re going to put on. From the brouchure:
Over the course of this year‘s three rituals we will cleanse ourselves of the preoccupations
which prevent us from fully participating in the festival, reclaim our Promethean light,
and launch ourselves back into our lives with power, passion, and purpose.
Opening Ritual—Thursday, 6:30p
In this wordless ritual we are each killed and resurrected in order to cleanse ourselves of
the baggage which prevents us from seeing clearly. The first priestess appears and obtains
the tools of magic.
Main Ritual—Saturday, 7:00p
The priestess draws her consort from the crowd and, with his aid, restores the Word and
the Light to humankind. Tokens of power will be handed out to attendees.
Closing Ritual—Sunday, 10:00p
Final ritual focuses on turning words into actions and manifesting our visions in our lives.
You, my dear readers, get an additional sneak preview. Below are four of the ten masks that I’ve made for the ritual.