My first foray into paper mache went over really well. As part of my coven's participation in Beltania, a local Colorado pagan festival, we performed a ritual for the full moon in Scorpio utilizing the energies of the Egyptian god Osiris and goddess Hathor. In order to expand the ritual drama we would be enacting, full costumes needed to be crafted. So my project was to create the white crown of Upper Egypt, the horned headpiece of Hathor, and the shen, a tool of the gods that was symbolic of eternity and grants protection, that Hathor would carry and use to grant eternity and protection to the participants of the ritual and later to raise the dead god to life. Each of these pieces came out beautifully and so much better than I really had expected they would. Yeah, there was definitely blood, sweat, and almost tears that went into it, but it was so worth it. I spent 40+ hours on it, granted at a moderate pace.
The festival had so many amazing things about it. Friday started off in true Mercury retrograde but ended up with us getting to the festival on time and all set to perform our full moon ritual with the lovely Wendy Rule! It went off beautifully with many of the participants really finding meaning in it and connecting with Hathor and Osiris. It was really amazing to see. Afterwards, we partied! Much needed after all the hard work that everyone put into the ritual preparations. The post ritual celebration also opened up to some really great conversations with other pagans at the festival and drinks all around. This was one of my favorite parts to the weekend.
The all-night drumming circle was another highlight. At midnight, the witching hour, a bonfire was lit in the Wild Meadows and drummers setup and started their rhythmic beating. People immediately flocked to the circle and began dancing. It was an awesome sight. Fire dancers moved around the outside of the ring of light creating mesmerizing displays of whirling energy and pagans danced. Danced just like they did around the Beltane fires a thousand years ago. And all the time the flicker of the bonfire lit up the drummers as they beat the drums and chanted songs to the goddess and the earth. It felt like a living rendition of the Beltane fire celebrations in Marion Zimmer Bradley's book The Mists of Avalon. I stayed through the frenzied fire dancing, the call and respond of the peacocks, and the quiet meditation as the dawn started to show in the east.
Saturday started off with a massive hangover and only four hours of sleep. My plans for attending the workshops that morning really went to shit. After breakfast and some quiet relaxing with fellow camping buddies and coven members I headed to Merchant Row to check out what was being peddled on the green. I found more cool stuff than I could believe. Masks, drums, staffs, wands, statues, books, cloaks of all kinds. It was inspiring. I now want to do every kind of craft out there. Just what I need. Lol. Then came the may pole ritual! It was fun and crazy. Joy from Living Earth did a beautiful job conducting the ritual with her partner who's name I can't remember to save my life. It was great though. Our own Shen-tat even participated in the ritual as the holder of the Northern energies during the weaving of the ribbons. So many people got to participate and it ended up being a lot of fun.
Come seven o'clock, we were treated to the Australian witch and pagan folklore singer Wendy Rule. It's really hard to relate just how awesome her singing is. Listening to her on CD is just not the same. Her concert began with the circle casting and calling of the elements and ended with a devocation of the elements and a downpour of rain. Magick would not keep it at bay any longer. But that's what you get when you camp. It ended up being a good excuse to huddle in the Taj Mahal at camp and drink some more and relate funny stories. Mention of a book of ghost stories came up and went down on the lists as part of our luggage for Dragonfest. Then it was off to a very cold evening in the tent and another short night.
Everything really wrapped up on Sunday with more people thanking and complementing the coven on Friday's ritual and the costumery which really helped my ego to get nice and fat. It was such a beautiful morning held all kinds of interactions with the pagans hanging out and waiting to leave camp. After a few goodbyes we packed up our campsite and got ourselves onto the road to head back to Denver.
Coming back from that mini vacation really was hard to do. My mind and spirit really wanted to stay there and revel in the openness and community that I felt while I was there. It was healing for me and something I will now get to look forward to every year. But all good things must come to an end. What is important is what I take home from that experience and how I choose to improve my life with it. Strength is the quality that has come to my mind each time I ask myself what I have come back with. Strength of being, strength of character, knowing that we are alive and strong in the world and that we can do whatever we set our minds to.