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.

Brita-Ultramax

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.

Samsung

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!

Reclaiming Your Power

“You can’t be a victim, and a magician…”-Amber K

Within many sects of Paganism it seems there is a lot of thoughts, actions, and words that feed into a victim mentality. We blame others for our short comings. We blame being a minority for our lot in life. We blame others in our community for our own hang ups. Yet we don’t look in the mirror and see what is the biggest obstacle in owning our own power. We don’t see that at times we are our own worst enemies. I know I have been guilty of it, but improving bit by bit.

We also take away our power by apologizing for things we don’t need to. For example while at Chrysalis Moon some people were talking about how they were embarassed by how they sounded singing. The ladies running the workshop stopped the discussion there and stated that there is no reason to apologize. It is time to own their own power and their own voice.

This is a call for that. We as a community need to stand tall and take hold of our power. We need to no longer let the world around us make us victims. We need to realize the power of our own actions and words. After all isn’t that what magic is about? Isn’t it about the power of our words. The power of our thought. The power of our intent. The power of the action and follow through. If we don’t claim that power than what good is it to do ritual? What good is it to do any magic?

Our words and thoughts form our universe. We have forgotten this. Have been told that we are not able to shape the world around us. We let the noise and problems of the real world taint us. We are walkers between the worlds. We go between the magic and the mundane. We must remember this.
I understand how we all are victims of something or another. Victims of abuse. Victims of rape. Victims of class warfare. Victims of this and that. Sooner or later you need to move on. No longer letting others take your power. No longer letting others set the course you set. Set your own course. Use these lessons wisely. Just don’t let them put you in a rut. Don’t let them take away your power by letting them live in your head. By letting them live in your energy. By letting them consume your life. For then your power will be lessen.

To close out in the words of the ladies mentioned earlier at Chrysalis Moon, Lucinda Sohen and Corey Rose. “You are beautiful. You are Wonderful. Just the way you are”

In Service of the Lord and Lady,

Cadell Ea Wolfram

Making New Year’s Resolutions Work

Happy New Year 2015. 3d

 

The Julian calendar New Year is upon us!  A lot of Americans are planning out their resolutions, but how many of us really stick with them?  Not very many!  In fact, only about 8% of the people that make resolutions actually stick with them to completion.  So what can you do to achieve success with your resolutions?

  1.  When making resolutions, make them very specific yet attainable.  Saying “I’m going to lose weight” is a weak resolution, while saying “I’m going to exercise 1 hour a day, 5 days a week, increase my water intake to 10 glasses a day, and eat 4 vegetarian meals a week” is a much stronger goal.
  2. Find a resolution buddy.  Even if your resolutions aren’t the same, being accountable to someone else keeps us moving towards are goals.  Sit down once a week, maybe over a cup of coffee or tea, and talk about your progress for the week.
  3. Don’t make too many resolutions.  Many people fail because they have far too many resolutions to keep track of and make changes for in their lives.  Choose one or two areas of your life you want to improve.
  4. Instead of making “I’m going to give up X” resolutions, turn it around to an action resolution.  Replace “I’m going to give up smoking” with “Every time I want to smoke, I’m going to take a 5 minute walk.”  Make it achievable and a good alternative to the behavior you want to change.
  5. Don’t get down on yourself when you screw up.  We all screw up when we are making changes to our lives.  Habits are hard to break sometimes.  Explore why you went back to the old behavior.  Was it where you were or who you were with?  Make changes so you don’t sabotage yourself again.

Resolutions are good things to have.  They help you change directions in your life when you need to, replacing bad habits with good ones.  Just remember to make them attainable and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals!

Standing Up for Paganism

Goddess Shrine at Circle Sanctuary 2013

Goddess Shrine at Circle Sanctuary, Wisconsin

We’re Being Recognized

Pagan paths are increasingly becoming more accepted in the United States.  In recent years, we’ve seen the military place pentacles and Mjolnirs on headstones, which was a huge project through Circle Sanctuary and several of the ministers there.  At the beginning of November, Wiccan Priest Blake Kirk gave the invocation at the city council meeting in Huntsville, Alabama.  There are so many ways that the Pagan faiths are finding their way into everyday American life.

But what are YOU doing to show the positive aspects of our faiths and trying to dispel the myths that are abundant?  By our nature, we don’t proselytize.  In many of our different sects, it’s strictly forbidden.  This doesn’t mean that we have to remain quiet however when untruths are told.  I think it’s our duty to try to gently educate when these situations come up.

We’re Being Misrepresented

Take for example the recent article on Time Magazine’s website, “Why Witches on TV Spell Trouble in Real Life” by Jennifer Latson.  There are so many untruths in this article that you have to wonder if the writer actually sought out any information about the true nature of Witchcraft or Paganism in any form.  While this article is quite detrimental to the Pagan faiths, it can also be a launching point to show what we are really about.  For most Pagans, it’s not about damning people with spells or making lives miserable.  Many of us, but not all, are healers and peaceful people.  That was not reflected in the article at all.

Using Moments for Gentle Education

I once brought it up to a friend that was very firm in her Christian faith that the Pagan faiths are used as slurs nearly every day.  Saying such things as “She’s such a witch!’ may be a colloquialism, but it’s also degrading to Pagans and Witches in particular.  I asked her what she would think if someone said “Man, that woman is such a dirty Christian!”  She sat back and thought about it for a minute and said that she hadn’t realized that what she was saying was really offensive until I said it in that context.  A few weeks later I heard her correct someone she knew, saying that it was offensive.  It was a teachable moment.

We have teachable moments every day of our lives.  Whether it be something on the Pagan track or something else, stand up and make the point.  Gently.  Don’t get in people’s faces, but let them know why their speech is offensive.  Gently put it in context they can understand.  Don’t hate on any faith, and don’t let someone trample on yours.

Pagan Spirit Gathering – A Virgin Experience

Every year, between Father’s Day and Summer Solstice, Pagans from across the globe gather together to celebrate.  Celebrate the Solstice, celebrate life, and celebrate being Pagan.  And they also celebrate lifecycles, from birth to death and everything in between.  What is this wondrous occasion?  Pagan Spirit Gathering!

 

Selena Fox

Selena Fox

Pagan Spirit Gathering is a festival run by Selena Fox’s Circle Sanctuary in Barneveld, Wisconsin.  (Full disclosure here: I’m studying in Circle’s Minister in Training Program.)  Members of Circle’s community plans, organizes, and carries out PSG every year, since 1980.  While the location changes from time to time, the energy and spirit of the gathering remains.

This year was my first (aka Virgin) year at PSG.  And I have to say it was like going home.  From the moment I drove into the gate and heard the words, “Welcome Home!” to the moment I left, waving and shouting at friends new and old, I was home.  In a sea full of strangers.  There were 1100 people registered for this year’s PSG, held at Stonehouse Farm in Earlville, Illinois.  While that might be a lot for some, really, it created a wonderful village, complete with restaurants and shops of every kind, as well as literally hundreds of workshops, many rituals, and other fun times.

 

The Community Heart created by enCHANTment Camp for the main evening ritual

The Community Heart created by enCHANTment Camp for the main evening ritual

Workshops, rituals, and other meetings are run by prominent Pagan leaders, including special guests that are brought in every year.  This year, the guests of honor were H. Byron Ballard, Helen Bond, T. Thorn Coyle, Arthur Hinds and Kathryn Hinds.  They covered classes from Appalachian Hoodoo to music and chanting, to becoming your own battle Goddess.  It was a wide variety of topics, for sure.

 

Morning meeting opening with Arthur Hinds

Morning meeting opening with Arthur Hinds

Every year, Selena hosts a series of classes called the Ministers’ Intensive.  There is a theme every year, and this year, it was “Supporting Life Passages”.  As part of the Ministers in Training class, I was required to take these workshops, which were held in the afternoon.  The topics ranged from birth rituals to death and funerals, with everything in between.  It was a wonderful way to learn about the Circle Craft method of designing rituals.

Besides having special guests for workshops, there were also special musical guests.  Concerts were performed by Arthur and Kathryn Hinds, Spiral Rhythms, Celia, Diamana Diya, Picti, and Tuatha Dea.  The talent was beyond amazing, and there were several concerts every day that were meant to impress.  Whether you wanted to hear your music all amped up, or acoustic, in the bright afternoon sun or under the twinkling stars, it was all there for you to experience.  You could even sit and listen during a rainstorm on the right day.

Throughout the camp, there was a childcare center, place for teens and tweens to meet, as well as a Warrior Spirit Camp for those active and veteran military people.  There were also several other camps, such as Amethyst Camp for recovering addicts, Rainbow Camp for the LBGTQ community, and EnCHANTment Camp for those who love to sing.  There really is a place for everyone!

There was also a ritual for just about everyone.  From babies, both born and unborn, to Crones and Sages, everyone was represented.  New this year was a Daughters of the Dark Moon ritual, aimed at women who were no longer everyday mothers, and who might or might not have stopped menses, but didn’t feel ready to Crone.  I talked to several women who went through the ritual and they said it was very powerful.  We welcomed several girls into the tribe as young women, as well as several boys as young men.  It was a pleasure and an honor to witness all of these groups of people being transformed for their next chapter in their lives.

If you’ve never been to a big Pagan festival, this is one to surely attend.  There is truly something for everyone, and it’s a great way to meet Pagans from across the country and around the world.  Check out Circle Sanctuary for more details and to watch for the sign up period!

Pictures provided by Bob Paxton, used with permission.  All rights retained by Bob Paxton.

Chrysalis Moon: Best Little Pagan Festival in Indiana

Chrysalis Moon Logo 2014

Chrysalis Moon

If you’ve never been to a Pagan festival, or even if you are a seasoned veteran from way back, Chrysalis Moon is a festival you don’t want to miss.  Last year was the first year I attended and I’ve been counting down the days til I get to go again.  Seriously.  I’m counting.  90 days until I make the 2 hour trip from Fort Wayne, as of the day I’m posting this.  I’m excited not only to be going to Chrysalis Moon again, but I’m excited to be going with so many of my friends.

What is Chrysalis Moon and Why is it so Special?

Chrysalis Moon is a Pagan festival held in Tippecanoe River State Park, in Winnemac, Indiana.  There are special guests, musical guests, and classes taught by members of the Pagan community.  This year, the special guests are Pagan authors Joyce and River Higgenbotham, and healing practitioners Corirose Anjali and Lucinda Anjali.  The musical guests, returning for the second year in a row, is Murphy’s Midnight Rounders.  They were a blast last year and I can’t wait to reconnect with them this year.

Chrysalis Moon is special for many reasons.  The classes are amazing, with a wide variety of topics.  This year, one of our own community members, Mark Pope, will be teaching a class on Asatru practices.  Every night, there is a big bonfire with a drumming circle and dancing, as well as revelry and fun.  You can walk the labyrinth if you like, which is created by lit tealight candles.  (I encourage walking the labyrinth, especially if you’ve never walked one before.  It’s life changing.)  On Saturday evening, there is a large ritual based on the theme of the year.  It’s 5 days of fun, learning, and community, that is inexpensive and fantastic.

One of the things that sets Chrysalis Moon apart from other festivals you might have attended is the accomodations.  Instead of bringing your tent, cabins are provided in your fees.  They are wooden buildings reminiscent of Scout camp.  They have beds and doors and a roof and everything!  Four camps are set up in circles, with a lodge that has electricity, along with six other smaller cabins, a fire circle, and a flush toilet station.  The fifth, center camp has a couple of cabins where the special guests stay, as well as a kitchen for them and a larger fire circle.  Meals are on your own, so you do need to bring food and some way to cook it, as well as a screen tent if you like.  Sleeping tents are not permitted, but there’s plenty of space in the cabins.

Last year, we stayed only for Friday through Sunday and this year we are going to stay the whole event, Wednesday through Sunday.  We want first crack at the wonderful vendors and we don’t want to miss a beat when it comes to classes and community.  It’s a great way to get out of town for a few days on the cheap and chill in nature with awesome people.

How do I Learn More about Chrysalis Moon?

For more information, check it out at their website!  Classes and rituals are listed as well as prices and other important information.  There’s still time to get your registration in.  Tell them you are going to be with Three Rivers Pagans to get in our camp!  We are taking up residence in Earth camp this year, the northernmost cabin pod in the park.  Closer to the event, we’ll get together to plan things like shared meals and carpooling too to save money on the trip.  So let me know you’re coming along!  Chrysalis Moon is sure to be the best time spent this summer!

Chrysalis Moon logo used with permission.  Artist: Cern Greenman

Welcome to Our New Website

Welcome to our new website!

We are going to be filling out this website with all kinds of information, recipes, spells, and everything else you can imagine!  If you’d like to add something, send us a note!  We’d like to have many voices filling the halls here.

The forums will be up soon, and we will be populating that with anything and everything we can, from simple rituals to complex ones, and beyond.  We’ll be setting up a place for “newbies” to the path to ask questions, get answers, and find their way through the myriad of paths that are open to them as Pagans.

Everyone is welcome.  We ask that you maintain a level of decorum on this page and the forums, as people of all ages, from tweens to adults.  Please keep everything civil.

Many blessings and many thanks!

~ Jewels