It stayed up for four days in the woods near Portland Oregon along the Columbia River at a spiritual retreat called SummerStar. It was my first experience with both camping and attending a Pagan gathering (or any gathering for that matter). The first day I was a little concerned. You see, I was not at all looking forward to the whole living with bugs part of camping. So when mosquitoes started to feast on me like Fangers on a Fairy in Bon temps, I was not amused in the least. The Repel spray was not repelling at all. Then while sitting around the Pavilion, Tricky Pixie began to play.
On their website, they are described as 'a fey fusion of three well-loved, whimsical talents who fearlessly tread the boards and the twilight roads alike, using a wealth of instruments to guide themselves and their listeners along, including all manner of strings, voices, and drums.' I couldn't word it better myself. The fun lyrics, and melodic voices made me forget that tiny winged vampire bugs wanted my blood. At some point after that, there was a ritual to light the sacred fire.
As we walked across the camp to each directional altar to honor the elements and invoke their blessing, finally making our way to Fire mosquitoes were the farthest thing from my mind. Following the lighting of the fire, we danced around it as drummers drummed. The energy in the fire circle was incredible. That night an intense thunderstorm rolled in. My tent was illuminated like a rapidly blinking set of string lights on the fritz! One of the thunderous booms probably made me jump about 3 feet off of the air mattress that I was laying on.
It was amazing and inspiring being in the middle of such a storm. You just don't get thunder and lightning where I live currently. Well, I have twice since February. Rain is something we pretty much get on the daily, so lightning and thunder, despite having to pe and waiting until there was a calm in the storm – was pretty incredible.
I woke the next morning to more rain. I'm not sure that it had ever stopped save for the brief calm previously mentioned. So I closed my eyes and quickly fell fast asleep until the rain stopped. After getting dressed and coming out of my tent I was greeting by the faces of my 'adopted family of water noggins' and some awesome breakfast Skillets! I'm not usually a Fan of breakfast, but Skillets just may change that! After eating I generously applied more repel spray and had John (the breeder) spray the back of my shirt and hair. Bug bites were not a problem really for the rest of my camping trip as I made sure to get enough repel on for the remainder.
There were different workshops throughout the four day retreat. I attended one called 'Stone People and Your Shadow Self'. (which was led by Robin Dildine-Gwin, a friendly lady who also gave me my first ever Reiki session the next day) There we went on a journey to meet our shadow self and then imprinted stones that we each found with visualization, and energy in ritual to change parts of ourselves that did not serve us. I also attended a Blacksmithing workshop held by a nice guy named Dan, and a workshop for witches Bottles held by a lady who went by Seanachai. All of the workshops were free to attend, though if you wanted to participate in the blacksmithing, they requested that you offer up a generous donation. As I wasn't able to, I decided to just observe this year.
Two nights when I looked up at the sky I was in awe of how beautiful and clear it was! You could see the 'milk' that the stars swam in. There are no words to describe how incredible it was. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and there was no light pollution. It was what I imagine seeing space for the first time must be like for babies, before we forget. Or if you're a True Blood fan, like when Tara looked up at the night sky for the first time as a new vampire. Some people also held a 'Druid Ritual'. I observed, but did not participate. It lasted for a few torturous hours as the leaders of the ritual read off of sheets of paper during the few speaking parts, and endless slow and sleepy drumming interludes.
I was not into it, and those who participated said that while normally rituals at Summerstar energize and get the blood flowing... that this one in particular was draining. Not many who participated in the few hour ritual came to dance around the fire after. There was a Doe who came out of the woods to see what was going on briefly before she disappeared back into the woods again. I don't think she cared for the would-be druids either. I'm sure they were nice people... it just wasn't for me. Luckily I had the stars and snack breaks back at the camp to keep me occupied while I waited for it to end and the drum circle and fire dancing to begin again.
There were some great people there and I am so happy that my best friends Michelle (Maybelline The Breedette) and John (The Breeder) invited me to go. Maybelline wasn't able to attend this year do to work, so it was just John, his three children and I. It was yet another way that I felt that they have welcomed me into their family and I'd say that I couldn't be more grateful, but they keep surprising me. I have to say, camping is pretty awesome (at least at a Pagan/Heathen spiritual retreat) and I can't wait to do it again. Life is treating me really well and I am truly blessed.