Circle Sanctuary’s Pagan Spirit Gathering; a Journey of the Body for the Soul
Chapter One: The Getting There
I dislike the TSA at airports with such serious passion that I am usually comparing my flight expenses to renting a car to get to my destination. It hits me with such anxiety about three days before takeoff that I repack my bags and recheck everything so many times that I might as well not even pack more than six hours before I fly. The anxiety only gets worse for longer trips, and a week away at Pagan Spirit Gathering had me nearly in fits. Everything fit into one bag, about four times and eight different ways, but the morning of I added two things and split my luggage into two: one bag with clothes and art stuff, the other with camping gear and accessories. Thankfully, my parents know how bad I am at this; my Mother was waiting patiently for me, and got me to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Here came the hard part: getting through the TSA. After checking my bags and gaining my boarding passes, I head up the escalator at San Jose Mineta International Airport to the ALL GATES security checkpoint. I am, thankfully, there before the morning commuters, and there aren’t more than fifteen people ahead of me. Shoes off, pockets empty, and beltless, I stand in our X-Ray imager, having a minor heart attack. The guard says I’m through and can gather my things. Several heart racing moments go by before my carry-on bag and shoes come through the machine, behind three hard-cased wheelie bags. I gather my things and go sit down to let my pulse come back down from the stratosphere. I made it through. I eat a snack and wait. And wait. And wait. Finally an attendant tells us that there were weather delays in Dallas and our plane is just taking off. An hour late.
Once our plane finally shows, it’s a mad rush as people are either too simple or unwilling to understand that rushing the gate not only will delay us further, but causes security to be very upset. After a slightly too long for comfort wait to get on and seated, we finally get to flight. Having been back and forth through Dallas Ft Worth airport a number of times I feel fairly confident that even though our flight was going well, it didn’t matter how good our headway was. The final thirty minutes on board confirmed this: even though I was on the ground, I missed my connecting flight. Damnit. Once I finally get ahold of someone who can change my flight, I find out that I’ll be there for an extra two hours just for standby, and my guaranteed ticket of four hours, just to fly to Oklahoma City. Which is all fine and dandy, except my Darling Gnomeo is already headed there, because it’s another two hours to drive from OKC to Tulsa, OK. I try to stop panicking and head down for free food at the USO. Thank the Gods for the kind people at the DFW USO. They are so amazing at easing the stress of travel. Once I have my dinner I head back to the gate to wait and see if I make it on this flight. I am twelve of sixteen waiting to board. The minutes pass too slowly, and they call the other standbys way too many times before they call me. I am offered a thousand dollars if I pass on my seat by the gent after me on the list. I pass on his offer, and I am the LAST person to board for OKCI. Blessed be my stars for getting me to my waiting knight in shining armor! His car is already packed for our roadtrip Home, which starts bright and early in the morning.
The Gnome Convoy to PSG consists of four vehicles: The Roaming Gnome in the lead with me, the Wandering Blue Faery as copilot; Sunshower Sugarbritches and her boy the Griffin next; our very own Dryad and her Satyr child next; and bringing up the rear is Captain Scotticus Poncho of the USS Blitzen (Earthbound vehicle of Starfleet Command). Bright and early we load in, gas up, and head North. Many hours of pee stops and long fanciful pagan ballads we hit what we hope is the only bad weather this week: a massive thunderstorm of the like that would keep me in my barracks room back in Kansas. It slows us down but we finally reach our first destination: the Hotel in Peru, Illinois, where we will stay the night. We refuel our bodies at IHOP and get to bed. Earlier than I had hoped we are getting up, having showers, and eating our breakfast courtesy of the Hotel. Our Convoy is now joined by two more vehicles: a Moonmother and her passenger Dryad, and our only RV Mamma. We fuel up and head to our Destination: Stonehouse Park
Chapter Two: Welcome Home, to the Festival
An uneventful hour and a half to the Park from the Hotel, and we pull in to a flurry of color and bodies. A chorus of voices sings out “WLECOME HOME” with such love that every little stressful thing melts away and is forgotten. We finally made it!
We drive around and find our camping spot: a small pathway off the back of Ritual Circle, in the middle of fabulous trees and greenery. Just past us, at the other end of the path and next to the Border Road, are our good friends the Sarong Family. (Their dynamic is still strange to me, since Mamma and Dad Sarong are now divorced, and there is a new Lady Sarong with an Imp of her own, beside my two Sarong Minions. My adjustment to their new family is a hard one, since I initially was with their camp, and am still part of their Tribe). I set to getting camp set up, raking away the underbrush and getting settled in. the Roaming Gnomeo has already gone to check in and get a schedule of events (he is holding a workshop, so he needs to know when to have his things in order). I wait for him to come back, write down everything I truly feel I need to attend, and walk my happy self into Town to check in and sign up for my work shifts. As I pass camps and merchants I see so many familiar faces, and many recognize me, even though I have only been Home once before, two years ago (I had to miss PSG2011 due to deployment; if you don’t have children, chances are you don’t leave Baghdad in the summer). I check in and sign up, then take my sweet time exploring Town and getting to know our new location. SHP is different from Camp Zoe: it’s smaller, has more infrastructures, and a better overall layout. I help out with setting up Psyche’s Grotto (where I spend all my volunteer time) and meander to the Opening Meeting and Ritual.
The week beyond that isn’t a blur at all. It is crisp in its detail and pacing. I remember everything: the smell of the grass at every Morning meeting I attended; the heat in the Moon Lodge where I spent most of my Noon hours, the Heat of every work shop and shift, and the sublime sunshine of this amazing Midsummer Week; the Call and Love of a Female Patron deity for the first time since I heard our Earth Mother call me to the Path ten years ago. Of all the Revelations I had that week, several are so prominent that they have ultimately changed my life. The first is that even though I have had numerous negative experiences with any identifiable group of people, I can overcome my own hang-ups and maintain positive energy to bring about positive changes: I have a new and deeply respectful view of the Dianic Tradition, for all of the Goddess Reclamation and Militant Feminism that path has been a part of here in California, it is about Female Empowerment and the Woman’s Mystery in a Faith that has extremes to maintain a balance; I also now don’t view Polyamoury as a swingers and sluts dominated Lifestyle, because it takes all kinds to walk a Path with the diversity and Love that dedicated Polyamourists have. My second Revelation is this: I was in my own way when it came to my inability to ground and center my own Energy. I have a few nasty habits, like saying “I can’t”, that kept me for being able to attempt it. To that end, a very dear StoneWorker gifted me a pair of powerful tools to bring my energy down from outer space, where it usually floats freely, to be within me so that I can use it for my end and means. This, in the two short weeks since PSG, has made such a significant difference in not only my magical abilities, but has made my mundane life so much more a place I care be that I don’t feel the need to separate the two any longer. My third Revelation: I am a much more complete, capable, and competent person than I have ever given myself credit for. The intuitive understanding of self has made all my relationships so much more significant in their own right that I have been able to let go of the meaningless and negative influences in my life and focus on making my time with my loved ones special.
Chapter Three: the Roam Home
The last morning is always the hardest. No one wants to leave their Magical Tribe. The crash and burn from the Wards being removed, and from physically leaving the Park, is so hard on our bodies and minds that we nap once we get back to the Hotel in Peru. After one uneventful and sobering evening, and it’s another Early Start back to Tulsa. A long and contemplative drive and by evening, we get back to our beds. I sleep two days away, waking only to meditate on the events of the week, and go to where the Gnome Roams. (We saw Brave at the theater, which is the only time I can remember leaving the house before actually leaving Tulsa). Since my flight to CA is out of OKC, it is agreed that I stay with one of the Tribe out there who wasn’t able to join us at Home. She’ll take me to the airport in the morning; in the meantime, its Pizza, Poetry, and Beer night. It’s my first OpenMic and Poetry Slam in nearly five years. The words that fall out of the mouths of poets slice and dice their corners of reality, regardless of whose words they are. My heading is buzzing from them by the time we get back to the LadyKitty’s CatHouse. Another night in a bed that’s not mine and another early start, but today I’m not panicked. This day, the TSA holds no untold horrors for me, and I walk through without a racing pulse or heart attack. I am in awe of my new self and my many accomplishments this magical week. I am ready for the next Chapter in my Life: I start school tomorrow, 09JULY2012. I am walking ahead, with my face held high to the sun and my heart freed from its own heavy anchors. I set sail, with Love in my Sails and Song in my Heart. I will no longer fear the Dark, for it is part of Light, and we are all made up of part of each. The Beauty that I now see in every Sacred Thing has me in Love with this World all over again. I am filled with anticipation!
As a Bard I know says: I raise my glass to Pagan Ways.