Tarot Reading by Laura González: The Energies of December 2017

The month of December brings us The Hermit (reversed), The Six of Cups and The Four of Cups (reversed).

In this combination we are told that we’re currently feeling the need to come out of our isolation, to have moments of joy with family and to be open to receive happiness!

The Hermit reversed is asking us to be out in the world. Our souls have had enough of being isolated even if it’s been by choice. This month of social gatherings and winter celebrations asks of us to be out and about, even if we feel dragged into it. Our true self wants to be social, so why not try and make the best of it? The world has enough challenges as it is. Flip that energy and come out of the cave, be that social butterfly you were meant to be!

Love and family, social situations and the feeling of yearning for our more innocent times and childhood is here represented by The Six of Cups. This is all about family (blood or chosen). It’s telling us to create the precious moments we’ve experienced around them in harmony and celebration. Even that weird uncle or cray aunt. They won’t be here forever, so take advantage of family gatherings and social functions to reignite the warmth of connection with loved ones.

We often try to run away because we’re afraid of being open and vulnerable like the Four of Cups reversed, but some magical memories can be made here. It’s okay to be a little messy with your emotions. This is not a time to be guarded, but a time to be open and willing to receive what life has to give you. “Pastito al alma” I call it, grass to the soul! Family is a precious gift, be open to receive it in this gift giving season.

May 2018 receive you with love, joy and laughter, may all the blessings of a new cycle welcome you and may you be healthy, wealthy, whole and loved on this year to come!!

Best of Fortune to you all!

Tarot Rider Waite Smith

www.BrujaLauraGonzalez.com

Tarot Reading of the Week (29 May 2017) ~ by Laura Gonzalez

Reading for the week of May 29th of 2017 for Lunatic Mondays – Lunes Lunáticos courtesy of Tarot by Laura Gonzalez

Tendency: Ten of Swords – The energies for this week are urging you to let go of old habits and old ways of thinking which are no longer serving you but rather hurting you. Take an inventory of your thoughts, ideas and; the negative opinions you have about yourself. Now which negative thoughts are in need to die for new positive thoughts to emerge? When we are so far down the only way is up. You cannot have positive actions coming from a negative mind. The pity party is OVER!

What to do: Seven of Cups – Again about taking inventory but this time on your emotions, what is really important and worthy of your time, energy and focus and; what is only an ideal or illusion you have created in your head. Time to stop dreaming about what could have been, and start accepting the reality before you. If you don’t like what you see, change your reality, you have the control.

What not to do: Nine of Pentacles (reversed) – Once you have cleaned house (thoughts and emotions) it is time for you to build your self-esteem, recognize your accomplishments and relish on them, transforming the negative thoughts and emotions into self-care energy and actions is the best way to go. Don’t ever forget about you and the little pleasures life gives you. We are in this world to experience the best of life and in yours, you SHOULD be priority No. 1!

 

Best of Fortune to you all!

Tarot: Rider Waite Smith
www.BrujaLauraGonzalez.com

Tarot Reading of the Week ~ By Laura Gonzalez

Tarot reading for the week of May 15th 2017 for Lunatic Mondays – Lunes Lunáticos courtesy of Tarot by Laura Gonzalez

Tendency: Strength (reversed) – This week you are feeling a disconnection with your own Strength; there may be old habits or even addictions creeping their way back into your life, this is making you feel weak and powerless. Avoiding or denying these things is not Strength, Strength is confronting them head on, recognizing that we have a pattern or addiction we have not been able to shake or even accept that it’s there. The moment we name our demons they become less scary and less powerful. Asking for help and being in touch with others (mentally and physically) is not weakness but rather one of the most powerful shows of Strength

What to do: Three of Coins– Get in touch with those who may support you, those who have helped you before, they are not going to be judging you they will help you build a strong alliance against whatever it is that is ailing you and making you feel powerless and weak. You have been there for them before, be reassured that they will be there for you. Think close family, spouse or partner and friends whom you call family, these people will help you, all you have to do is have the courage to ask for help.

What not to do: Wheel of Fortune– Do not deny yourself your good Fortune, there are times when being the victim of our own circumstances is “easier” than taking action, blaming our bad Fortune is just the easy way out! The Wheel of Fortune is constantly moving teaching us that there are times of abundance and happiness but also times of lack and sorrow. Well this is NOT a time of sorrow for you, Fortune is in your favor so don’t turn your back against it. Face it and count your blessings, pick yourself up and go with the flow. Regain your Strength and keep going, at this moment Fortune IS on your side!

Tarot: Rider Waite Smith

BrujaLauraGonzalez.com

 

A Declaration of Magickal Independence.

Hello friends, I am Tori, and this post will start this lovely journey of everything magickal and queer. I plan on talking on topics from Pagan basics to something more abstract like my pet project: Pink Wands, a gay editorial on Paganism. With that in mind, I do want to be clear on one thing and one thing only. I want to be as truthful and accurate of a blogger as possible. Meaning, I am not in it for the fame and fans. Rather, I am here on this earth that has been on loan by the gods, to give you information that you can take and run with. Lastly, I am excited to be on this journey with you as we explore everything magickal and queer.

Meditation for Sanity’s Sake: Meditation in Motion

meditation

We hear a lot about meditation lately, from all kinds of sources: television, medical shows, metaphysical shops, and even in controversies at schools about teaching it.  So, what’s the big deal?  What is it and how can we practice it with a daily schedule that often looks like we are three or four people?  Are there really benefits to meditation, or is it something that people hype without reason?  There are so many questions around meditation, but there is one thing I know for certain: taking just a few minutes a day to calm, center, and meditate is worth the time and energy.

What is Meditation?

Let’s start with what meditation is.  Mirriam-Webster defines meditation as “the act or process of spending time in quiet thought, the act or process of meditating.”¹  While meditation can include spending time in quiet thought, it is also so much more.  Calming your mind and body, taking an inventory of your physical being and adjusting to release tension or stress, and slowing your external senses to go deeper into yourself are other ways to describe meditation.  Meditation is a deeply personal practice which can be honed to be just about anything you want it to be, from calming to energizing.
Meditation has many health benefits, both perceived and scientifically determined.  In just a few minutes per day, you can reduce your stress, increase your concentration, and manage pain.  With repeated meditation, you gain long term benefits, such as help regulating emotions and improving your mood while reducing depression.  Scientists have noted that with regular meditation, in as few as five to ten minutes per day, anxiety is reduced while memory is increased.  It can be the best time you spend on yourself all day.

 

So how do we start on the path to daily meditation?  What if you are the type of person that has a hard time sitting down and just relaxing for even a minute?  There are about as many ways to meditate as there are benefits to doing so.  Depending on where you live, classes might be available through sources such as metaphysical shops, college courses, or even through the parks and recreation department in your area.  Books, CDs, and even DVDs are also helpful and are a great starting point in your path to meditation.

Learning to Meditate On Your Own

If you are nervous about trying to meditate in a group, you can learn to meditate on your own with little monetary outlay.  Find a quiet spot in your home where you won’t be disturbed for a few minutes.  This can be anywhere from your bed first thing in the morning, a room you set aside for magickal purposes, or even during a bath.  Close your eyes and let thoughts wander through your mind.  Accept them for what they are and let them pass through unimpeded.  Eventually, they will slow in their presentation.  Breathe deeply and acknowledge any points in your body that are uncomfortable.  Allow your breath to fill that spot and carry away the ache or tension.  Once your body is relaxed, breathe in, allowing clean, cool air to fill you and hold you in the moment, filling you with calm energy to get through the rest of your day.  Slowly come back to the conscious reality around you, feeling refreshed and alive.
Learning to meditate takes time, so don’t be discouraged if you spend the whole time dealing with thoughts running through your head.  Sometimes you need to deal with your mind trying to keep you in the mental checklist phase of the day, before you can move into deeper meditative work.  Keep trying, though.  Some sessions will be easier than others, but as you keep meditating, your body will remember what you are trying to do and it will work with you.

Guided Meditations

Many people enjoy recorded guided meditations, or even live-spoken meditations.  You can create your own guided meditation easily with a recording app on your phone, or purchase a prerecorded meditation on a CD or through a download source such as Amazon.com or iTunes.  Prerecorded meditations can take you on a journey, or just assist you in remembering to breathe and work deeper into yourself.  If one version doesn’t work for you, try something different until you find one that you are comfortable with that does work.

Create Your Own Guided Meditation

If you’d like to record your own, try this simple meditation.  Use a calm, easy voice that will allow you to visualize the view and immerse yourself into the scene.

 

Bring your mind to center.  Close your eyes and breathe deeply through your nose and  back out of your mouth.  Focus on your breathing, breathing deeply and allowing your breath to carry away all your stress.  Start in your toes.  Wiggle them.  Feel the stress leave as you work your way up your feet, into your ankles.  Move them in circles, allowing any tension to leave you.  Feel your calves and shins, releasing any stress as you relax.  Release your knees and thighs, letting every bit of tension just melt away.  Feel your hips, letting go of any hidden stress as you work your way up to your abdomen.  Take a deep breath and push out any stresses from your back and belly, letting the earth below absorb them and fill you with clean energy.  Feel your chest.  Breathe deeply, feeling your lungs and pressing out any unwanted tensions.  Let it flow down your arms and out your fingertips, leaving them soft and relaxed.  Move your neck slightly, letting go of anything lingering there as you move up to your head and face.  Let everything go slack and relaxed.  Tighten your face and let it relax into a natural position.  Take one more deep breath, pulling up energy from your toes all the way to the top of your head.  Envision the energy as a golden light that fills your body, every crevasse, with calming energy.  Blow out any last remnants of stress or tension, leaving the golden energy in place.  Again, take a deep breath, pulling up healing energy to heal any parts of you that need attention.  Hold that energy, releasing any dis-eases that remain.  Sit in quiet harmony with the energy for as long as you like, breathing deeply and allowing your body to remember this relaxed state.  When you are ready, come back to consciousness, realizing the temperature of the room around you, the light, and the furnishings.  Hold the energy you’ve gathered, as well as the relaxed state you’ve found throughout your day.

Music for Meditation

There are a lot of music choices available for meditation these days.  Your choice is merely a matter of what you enjoy and what works for you.  Nature sounds, such as rain forests, thunderstorms, or oceanscapes call to many people.  A simple drumming beat can assist you in journeying during your meditation, and that type of energy works for some people.  Ethnic music, such as Celtic or Native American chanting is also a good choice.  Check with your local metaphysical shop for options.  Many times, they have CDs open that you can listen to a sample of, which will help you narrow down your choices.  Services such as iTunes and Amazon will also let you listen to samples so you get an idea of what you are purchasing before you pay for it.  In the end, the music that works for you may be something totally different than the usual stereotype, such as Beethoven or even Metallica.  Meditation music is  a very personal choice.

This Shutterstock image #1353791 was downloaded on 5.21.07 for HSW: KNITTING THE EASY WAY 823775

Meditation in Motion

My favorite type of meditation is actually what I call meditation in motion.  There are certain things that I do that allow me a deeper meditation experience and a calmer sense of self, while having something to show for it in addition to reduced stress and better health.  While admittedly, these methods won’t work for everyone, they are great for people that calm their mind while moving parts of their body.  These tasks are always a repetitive motion, and one that I don’t need to think about to complete, such as crochet, knitting, and weaving.  Painting, drawing, and singing also can take you into a deeply meditative state where you can relax and remove the stress from your life.  Things with complex patterns that you need to follow aren’t good options, but if you have the pattern memorized, or there is no real pattern, creating art or textile goods are a great way to let your mind calm, and find that place within yourself where you can bring up the healing, relaxing energy to obtain a good, deep meditation.  Things like crochet and knitting can be portable, making them a great option for stressful situations or traveling, when you might not be able to create a calming space for yourself.  Immerse yourself in each stitch, stroke, or note, letting the conscious part of your brain work on the motions while the unconscious takes over, allowing you a calming experience with which you can refresh yourself.

 

No matter what form your meditation time takes, from meditation in motion to sitting in a quiet room concentrating on your breath, with practice, meditation can transform your life, reduce your stress, and create a whole new mindset for you.  The key is keep trying and don’t give up!

 

¹ “Meditation.” Mirriam Webster. 15 January 2014 http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/meditation

 

Pagans and Death: Holding Space for Other Faiths

Hands-cupping-candle

Pagans believe a wide variety of things when it comes to death.  Some believe in the Summerland, a place to go to rest after this life.  Some believe we die and our soul energy becomes part of the Universe from which we came.  Some believe we just die, plain and simple.  But what do we do when we are faced with the death of a loved one who believes in something different?

Every faith has a slightly different theology on death.  Working within the context of that faith can be hard for someone who doesn’t believe, but ultimately, it is the choice of the dying as to what faith they want to be surrounded by.  It’s our responsibility to make sure that happens for them, despite our own faith or sometimes lack thereof.

Recently, I reconnected with my uncle.  We had been apart for many years.  He was my Godfather, my Confirmation Sponsor, my mentor, and my friend.  He helped raise me in the Roman Catholic faith and he never said anything negative to me when I slid easily into the Pagan faith.  “You do what you gotta do.  Believe what you believe and don’t let anyone tell you something different.”  We picked on each other mercilessly, but he was like a dad to me.  But at Thanksgiving, I realized that he no longer embraced the faith that he was once so strong in.  I don’t know what brought him to that point, but it was clear when he was asked to participate in the Thanksgiving blessing and he refused, that something had changed.  All the while, he was dying of cancer.

In situations like that, how do Pagan ministers fit in?  How do we minister to the dying?  Do we minister at all?

090215103814_DC HOSPICE PatientRoom

Being Pagan in a Christian Family

I was there as family.  But I was holding space for him.  I was holding space for everyone that visited.  But what does that mean?  “Holding space”?  It means providing support for the dying.  Being nonjudgmental.  Being present and not thinking about the bill you need to pay or the grocery list.  It’s being able to take care of the needs of the dying.  Or maybe you hold space for the people taking care of the dying and give them the support they need.  Make sure they nourish themselves, stay with the dying and let the support people take a day off.

Holding space has no religion.  It has no faith other than the faith in humankind, that we live and we die.  By holding space, with no faith attached, only love, we ease the passing of our loved ones and allow them to die in the way they choose.  It’s not easy.  Watching someone you care about die is probably one of the hardest things to do.  Holding space for them is a gift for everyone involved.

What Does it Take to Hold Space?

Anyone can hold space.  You don’t need specific training or a fancy title to hold space for someone.  You don’t even have to hold space for someone that’s dying.  You can hold space for a woman giving birth.  Or a couple getting married.  Or even for someone who’s had a really bad day that needs some support.

  1. Patience: being patient in a situation that can be frustrating or scary is a necessity. You can be the quiet voice that provides a grounding point.
  2. Calm: keeping calm when someone’s world seems to be falling apart isn’t easy. But helping them take a breath and meet everything head on, with a calm head and an open heart can be a very rewarding experience.  Let them make the decisions that need to be made, sometimes with a gentle nudge if it’s an imperative subject.  All the while, maintain your calm.
  3. Knowledge: knowing the process the person is going through, whether it is death, birth, or anything in between, is helpful to know what is coming and how to help the person if they need assistance.  The internet is full of great, reliable resources for research.
  4. Be ready for anything: When you are holding space, be ready for anything that can happen. Have healthy snacks available, tissues, basic medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, and music of all sorts.

Holding Space in Any Faith

When holding space, sometimes that means reading to the dying or playing and singing music for them, especially when they transition.  You don’t have to be Christian to read the Bible aloud, or be Muslim to read the Quran.  The purpose of reading is known to the dying, and you can provide them the comfort they need, without judgment.  Playing or singing music can help calm the nerves of the dying and the people attending to them.

Listening to what the dying needs is paramount, as is having a plan, should they become unable to speak, which often happens near the end.

Don’t forget to take time for yourself as well.  Treat yourself well, do something nice for yourself every once in a while, and remember it is ok to cry out your emotions.  You need the release so you can take care of others.

Holding space for people is a gift given from a place of love.  Spread the love and help where you can.  Hold space when needed, and know that someone will hold space for you one day.

 

9 Reasons to Go to Pagan Spirit Gathering

PSG2016 logo (1)

 

It’s that time of year again!  Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG), hosted by Circle Sanctuary, will be ending registration on June 4, 2016, so if you are thinking of going, get registered!  If you have no idea what PSG is, keep reading for more information and reasons to attend!

 
For more information and to register, click here!

Nine Reasons to Attend PSG

1.  Coming Home!  For many PSGers, attending PSG is like going home.  If you’ve never been, it’s like finding family you never knew you had.  People are friendly, helpful, and ready to make new friends.  From the Gate Crew that checks you in to your new neighbors for the festival, you will be met with smiles and friendship.
ComeHomeLabyrinth2.  Merchants! PSG brings out the best merchants in Pagan wares, including (but certainly not limited to,) Taldish Castle which features all kinds of Pagan things from around the world as well as hand made items, Wizard’s Emporium that features clothing, Pagan things, and more, and Rainbow Dragon Dreamz which features stones, horns, and more.  At last count, there are 33 different vendors this year!

3.  Workshops! If you are looking for workshops, PSG has them in every flavor you could imagine.  PSG pulls in the best teachers out there from our communities to create a list of workshops that will satisfy your every curiosity.  Over 100 workshops are available for your perusal!  Check out the workshops here!

4.  Rituals! There are over 30 rituals at PSG, starting with the opening ritual on Sunday and ending with the closing ritual the following Sunday.  In between, there are rituals for Rites of Passage, opening different areas around town, Handfasting, and Baby Wiccaning.  There are small rituals and huge rituals, rituals for men, and rituals for women.  There’s even a ritual to Bast!  Check out the rituals here!

PSG Main Rite Bonfire 20125.  Pagan Leadership Institute (PLI)! The PLI is for any Pagan that is in clergy, ministry, or any leadership position, or is training to be in one.  These specialized classes help deepen our understanding of what it means to be a leader, as well as give us more tools to use when we go back home.  PLI classes are taught by leaders within our community.  Look in the workshop link above for PLIs!

6.  Community! PSG creates a village or town that is entirely Pagan.  It’s a great opportunity to be immersed in the Pagan community, which is unique to PSG.  Once you are there, you can let your Pagan flag fly and be yourself!

PSG Solstice Fire 2010

7.  Sweat Lodge! Have you ever wanted to participate in a sweat lodge?  PSG is the place to enjoy a good sweat!  The people that set up and facilitate the sweat lodge are amazing and they walk you through every step.

8.  Concerts! PSG brings in some amazing Pagan musicians that will teach workshops, hold meet and greets, and have concerts!  This year, Tuatha Dea, Celia, Spiral Rhythm, Sentinel Grove, Arthur Hinds, Brian Henke and Beltana Spellsinger will delight everyone with their own brands of music.

Musicians

9.  Nationally known presenters! Selena Fox, Byron Ballard, Kathryn Hinds, Lupa, Judith Olson-Linde and Nels Linde will share knowledge through workshops and meet and greets.  It’s a great way to get to know these great leaders in our community.

Presenters2016

10.  BONUS! Bardapalooza!  In this one night, all of the musicians will come together for a wonderful night of sharing music between the groups, to the awe of everyone in attendance!

 

If you’ve never attended a festival, you should seriously look into PSG.  It’s an amazing experience no matter how long you’ve been on your path.

Many Blessings!  Come see us at PSG under the Three Rivers Pagans banner!

 

PSG Registration is Now Open!

It’s that time again!

Pagan Spirit Gathering has opened its registration process for the 2016 PSG festival and now’s the time to get your registration in while the prices are lowest!

Why Should I Go to PSG?

The reasons are innumerable to attend Pagan Spirit Gathering.  No matter what you want from a festival, it’s here.  Top notch classes taught by knowledgeable instructors, phenomenal entertainment from the best Pagan musicians, as well as vendors whose wares cater to your every need, greet you at every turn.

Location, Location, Location

Pagan Spirit Gathering is changing location this year to Tall Tree Lake in Vienna, Illinois.  The site has a 40 acre pond for swimming and boating, wonderful camping areas, and a reinstated feature of “generator camp” for those RV’ers who would like power to their campers and bring a generator.  There will be more space for a variety of rituals, and of course, some of the best people to hang out with for a week.

The Particulars

When: June 19-26, 2016

Where: Tall Tree Lake, Vienna, Illinois

Who: YOU!

RSVP: Register HERE  

 

Pagan Spirit Gathering is a festival facilitated by Circle Sanctuary in Barneveld, Wisconsin.  Check out their website for Circle Sanctuary  for more details about the work they do!

PSG 2015: The Year of Community

The Green, lovingly renamed Labyrinth Loch ~ © 2015 photo by Chris Eldridge

The Green, lovingly renamed Labyrinth Loch
~ © 2015 photo by Chris Eldridge

Pagan Spirit Gathering 2015

I don’t really even know where to start telling you about Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG) 2015.  We had such high hopes for a beautiful week, filled with love, friendship, and community.  The theme, after all, was “Celebrating Community”.  What we didn’t know was how true that theme was going to become.

Three Rivers Pagans had a contingency of six, three that were 1 year veterans, and three virgins.  The veterans had told the virgins what to expect, what might happen, and what they would see that was vastly different than our conservative town has to offer.  For some, it could be quite the culture shock.  There’s no judgement at PSG, from how you want to dress to how you practice your faith.  There’s no “you’re doing it wrong”.  People actually ask how you are doing and they mean it.  They also pitch in to help when something happens.  That was totally evident when disaster struck at Stonehouse Farm, the venue for PSG.

Disaster Strikes

Rains had plagued the area leading up to the week of PSG, June 14-21, 2015.  The ground was wet, mud was plentiful, but everyone was in high spirits.  We set up our camps on Sunday in the rain, but a little rain doesn’t dissuade us from much.  Monday brought more downpours and a lot of mud.  As a Tribe, we became mud people, trudging everywhere through it, our feet covered to our ankles.  Shortly after 5 pm on Monday, the word came through: we were going to flood and we had to move quickly.  Guardians, people that take on the responsibility for keeping everyone safe during the festival, were assembled, along with anyone that could help.  Cars and tents were in the floodplain and it wasn’t going to be long before they were underwater.  A dam upstream was going to be opened to let water out of Shabbona Lake and we were in the path of that water.  It was time to move.

Teams fanned out, calling out to people to move their cars if they were in the lower parking lot.  Some of them were stuck, but people volunteered to push, pull, and drag them out of the mud and rising waters.  People stood at the top of the hill, urging drivers to slow down and reassuring them that they were on high ground, safe, and that nothing would hurt them.  Hours later, a mere 8 cars were left, their owners unknown.  Many of them were totalled, having taken on water and mud when the waters rose.
People who were camped on the lower end of the campground around the pond and Grandmother Willow were helped to high ground.  Many had to leave their belongings behind, watching as the water rose and engulfed everything they brought with them, leaving a sludge of mud coating most everything.  I helped direct traffic for a while, holding up safety tape to allow management vehicles to pass.  I watched as people lugged up their tents and whatever they could carry, a look of shock on all of their faces.  The displaced found lodging in other camps where they were welcomed with open arms.  New friends were made, families were forged through the trial of water.

On High Ground

At the TRP camp, we were floored early on when we were told that although we were on very high ground, some 10 feet or more above the floodplains, we were being evacuated.  We were on the edge of the flood zone and we needed to get to safety.  Fifteen minutes.  We had a mere fifteen minutes to grab what we could and find our way to higher ground.  It was hard, I’m not going to lie.  I set our virgins on a path that I knew would take them away from the flooding, but I stayed behind.  Two members of our camp had gone to move cars and I didn’t know where they were.  When one of them returned, we ran, praying to the Goddess that the last missing member was safe with guardians.  When she met up with us later, she had been helping push out cars from the mud, but she was safe.  The hardest thing I’ve ever done was take three people who did not know the terrain and send them to safety, not knowing where they were when I made the trek myself.

Monday night we were able to return to camp.  We were very waterlogged, muddy, and a mess, but everything was ok.  We were alive, together, and could support each other.

Festival Ends Early

Tuesday morning, our traditional morning meeting was mandatory.  It was announced that we all had to leave.  PSG 2015 was over.  It was time to go home.  Days early.  I looked around as the realization hit everyone.  In its 35th year, PSG was going to end early for the first time.  The land could not support us in its waterlogged state.  The shower house was overrun with water as was the septic system.  It was no longer safe for us to stay.  I spent the day organizing camp slowly, not aware of my own feelings yet.  I was shell shocked.  TRP members spread out through the camps, helping others less fortunate than we were, getting them packed up and out of the venue safely.  I’ve never been prouder of a group of people.

One Final Hurrah

Tuesday night, we grieved.  We partied.  We drank.  And we listened to some of the best music ever played.  Bardapalooza happened in the pavilion and it was glorious.  SJ Tucker, Celia Ferran, Mama Gina, Spiral Rhythm, and a host of others all lent voices and talent to keep us entertained and brighten our spirits.  We were blessed to hear a beautiful story from Janet Farrar.  Firespinners went all out on the only night they were going to get to spin.  And of course, there was drumming and dancing around the Sacred Fire.

Wednesday brought our leave.  We were helped by wonderful people to get our gear down to the parking lot, far from where we camped.  We loaded up and headed to showers at a truck stop.  They were glorious.  We hadn’t showered since Sunday, and it was much needed.

Decompressing

Now that we are home, we are working on healing the deep cuts to our psyche from seeing such devastation.  No matter how much you helped out, it never seemed enough.  No matter how many people you fed or pulled out of the floodzone, there were still more.  But as a community, we came together.  We got things done faster and more efficiently than any government agency could ever think to do.  Together, we celebrated community in the best way possible: by becoming that which we celebrated.

Getting Festival-Ready

camping-outdoors

 

It’s been a long winter.  The cold and snow seemed to really bring people down this year, and it seem to extend long into our traditional spring.  The energy and wonderful feelings of the last outdoor festivals of last year are fading a bit, but that wonderful season is about to start again.  It’s time to get out your camping gear, clean things up, and check you list twice before heading out to some great events with fabulous people.  But what do you really need when you go camping at a Pagan event?

First and foremost, you need shelter.  Whether you use a tent that’s been in your family for years or a new one out of the box, or even have a camper, you need to make sure it’s in good working order and you know how to set it up.  Consider if you are going to be by yourself or if you’ll have others staying with you and make sure everyone knows how to set up and take down the equipment.  Before you head out to your first festival of the season, make sure all the seams are waterproofed and that it’s all nice and clean.  There’s nothing worse than setting up your home for the week and realizing there’s a hole in the fabric or that it’s moldy.  Ok, maybe there’s one thing that’s worse.  Realizing you left poles or tent stakes at home.

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Along with shelter, you need bedding.  Make sure it’s bedding that you are going to be comfortable with for the duration of your festival, and take at least one more blanket than you think you need.  You never know if you’ll get a night that is a bit colder than normal, or if you’ll get a sunburn (like I usually do) and want a little extra warmth for a night or two.  Take care to make sure you have batteries for an air mattress pump, and that you have an alternative plan if your bed springs a leak.  My favorite that I’ve used for a few festivals is a thinner queen size air mattress with a memory foam mattress pad over the top.  The pad is washable, which is perfect after a hot and sweaty festival.  I actually hate going home to my big king size comfy bed after I’ve been on the air mattress.

Will you be cooking at the festival or are you going to eat from vendors?  If you’re cooking, precook everything you can.  Make sure you have a list of meals and all the ingredients, including spices.  You don’t necessarily need a list of what meals on what day, but don’t take your whole kitchen “just in case” either.  If you are planning on eating at the vendors, do some research as to what types will be there and how people like their food.  Take plenty of money and put it in a safe place.  And don’t forget to inquire about ingredients if you have allergies.

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Water or other hydration is exceptionally important at summer festivals.  There are two festivals that are a must for me in the summer, and I have to treat the water issue differently at each one.  The first one is held at a location that has very iron-filled water, to the point that it comes out of the spigot orange.  I can’t stand the taste.  The first year we tried to filter it with a Brita filter.  Even running it through twice didn’t make it better, although keeping it cold and adding lemonade mix made it tolerable.  This year, I’m bringing bottled water, in gallons to produce less waste.  At another festival I attend, the water is perfect with a Brita filter, if I remember to change the filter from the first festival.  So know the quality of the water at the location you are going to and make adjustments as needed.  Staying hydrated is very important!

Now that the basics are covered, it’s time for the fun stuff!  Clothing, depending on the festival, can be any variety.  Think of comfort, especially with the weather.  I love flowing dresses, capris, tanks, sandals, and just easy things to wear.  Don’t forget a light jacket or sweatshirt, and if you like, jingling skirts for dancing around bonfires.  Festivals are a time where you can shed your mundane clothing and get creative.  I see a lot of people, men and women, in sarongs and they look pretty darn comfortable.

Other things to bring to a festival are musical instruments!  Drums, rattles, guitars, anything that can make beautiful music and you are comfortable in playing is perfect for festivals.  I have a djembe that I adore and take with me, as well as a rattle egg.

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Lastly, take a moment and make yourself up a portable altar, if you are so inclined.  It doesn’t have to be fancy and probably shouldn’t be expensive, but pack up a few things that make you feel at home.  I usually add a few crystals, a Goddess statue I made, a battery operated candle, and an altar tile.  I have a little handmade table that packs flat and a pretty cloth I toss over it, and it’s a great focal point when I need to take some time and meditate or just get away for a few minutes.

There are a lot of other things you can and might need to take with you.  Before heading out to any festival you haven’t been to before, ask other people that go what you need to bring.  Most often, the festival has a list they can provide for you.  Camping at Pagan festivals is one of the most rewarding things I do during the summer.  The friendships I’ve made and connections I forged are wonderful things that keep me going through the long winter months.  I heartily recommend hitting up some Pagan or other festivals.  It’s well worth your time!