The Village Witch
Walking Between the Worlds--Pagan Conference and Pagan Festival
This has been a busy time for your Village Witch...mostly because she keeps leaving the village and hitting the road.
I've only just returned from the Pagan Unity Festival in Burns, TN and am pondering the differences between festivals and conferences, since I was fortunate enough to be included in the Cherry Hill Conference several weeks ago.
All these gatherings. What draws us into these artificial communities? And are they really so artificial?
The Sacred Landscapes Symposium was held at a university and had all the cool accoutrements of an urban setting, with actual buildings and flush toilets. For the most part, we sat in a well-appointed lecture hall and we listened to interesting papers from smart people. In between we chatted and exchanged business cards. It was an exemplary group of people--including Ronald Hutton, Holli Emore and M. Macha Nightmare--and our brains were abuzz with the possibilities of scholarship, of travel, of unweaving the complex tapestry that is the modern Pagan movement and seeing where all those threads actually originate.
There was a box lunch, too--very civilized.
I loved it. I love to go to conferences and read papers that no one will seriously judge and talk to smart people about this wyrd thing we call religion. It makes me happy. It challenges me mentally.
It's a good thing.
But those festivals...they are good things, too. Sure, there are bugs (the spider bite on my ankle has finally subsided), the food is terrible and your choice of tenting or being in a cabin still doesn't guarantee a waterproof bed.
We walk around in our garb, our finery. Large women in long bright skirts. Bearded men with walking sticks...and kilts. There was this one guy...
There are plenteous rituals and classes and drumming. Stuff to buy, stuff to sell. And the joyous patter of a village fair--bragging and stories and songs.
It may take you a couple of long hot showers to get all the wildwood off your skin. If you choose to do that. There is drama and high emotion and it verges on the not-very-civilized-at-all.
As a woman who is blessed with a strong community at home, it is always a blessing--a revelation--to be amongst the people who are like me but are not my own village. I learn from both of these communities equally. The wisdom, the fire, the depth of scholarship, the call of drums.
It is festival season now. I have at least four more ahead of me--Glastonbury, Steampunk Fair, SE Women's Herbal Conference and the Hoodoo and Rootworkers Heritage Festival. Each one different, each one its own delight.
And I am looking ahead for possible conferences in 2014. So much to learn, so much to experience.
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