Beltane was spectacular this year. Overall it had a mellow energy, tinged with spurts of silly. Which was perfect for me and Kender. Our spot overlooked the Santiam River, the maypole dance (in the pouring rain) was hecka fun and I loved being able to connect to my community, fellow pagans and freaks. All hail Queen Jen and her King, Ogg. ‘Tis the year of Bellydancing and Booze!
Of course, it took a lot of planning and packing to get started. I was at CA on Wednesday, helping the code team get their manuals in shape. At the last hour, Flare had a major manual meltdown which caused me to panic because I had no idea how long it was going to take to fix. I ended up rebuilding one Table of Contents, outputting three manuals, and finally… done. Once they were checked in, Kender and I rushed outta the warehouse to hit Whole Wallet and then home for packing.
Kender packed all the gear as I gathered all the toys and clothes I wanted to bring. I took the usual things: my camp ritual toys, the Queen’s gift, my tarot deck, 3 tarot books and 2 journals. It never fails that I’ll pack a box of fun things with me and NEVER get to play with it all. But I know I need these things… they give me a sense of home. When it comes to clothes, I always have a hard time with the “lighter sabbats”. You see, most of my clothing runs on the dark side. I laid everything out, showed Kender and pouted at the lack of color. His response, “Of course you don’t have many frilly colors, yer a GOTH!” Which is so very true but at Beltane, I find that I want color. And lots of it too. When it was all done, I took a long, hot bath and went to bed.
We woke up around 7am Thursday. Got dressed and got ice for the car and left home around 8am. First stop, getting Ember and coffee. Then the caravan set out, making good time. I love the drive down to Detroit Lake as we go from flat to hills to mountains. Upon entering the camp area, we found ourselves behind a familiar car. Green, with a gray “hamburger box” resting on top. Only one person we know owns that set up: FWAP. I opened the gate and let the cars in. The air felt soo good on my face and the excitement of the first festival of the 2009 season rushed through me.
I was worried that we’d not get a good spot and was happy to see that I was wrong. Hardly anyone arrived early so we had our pick of most of the river spots. This year we choose site 14, which opened up to the river. As in… you could SEE it from our spot. It was quite a lovely sight. We unpacked the two cars and set to work to make the site home. Once that was done, we wandered down to the other sites to see who was there. Saw a lot of familiar faces and got a lot of good hugs. I also noticed that a lot of folks had new campers this year. It’s always fun to see how festivals change as the years go on.
The main fire area was just getting set up. A few guys were dumping logs into the long pit and I noticed a box sitting in between some of them. “What’s in the boooox?” I begged. James, with a mischievous smile, proudly announced that it housed a special cocktail of “thirteen flares and a few chunks of magnesium.” He figured it would not only help kickstart the fire but it would make it shiny. And boy was it shiny. And bright. And HOT!
Drums began to show up around the fire and we went and got our drum and my firekit for the evening. I plan on turning Kender into a drummer. He’s less anxious if he’s got something in his hands to keep them busy and dammit, the boy loves music. I gave him my drum and kept his mug full of “Second from the Left” beer to keep him calm and happy. Once it got dark enough, I broke out the fire poi. Swinging felt so good. I love performing in front of the community. Everyone cheers and is so appreciative. The energy was very mellow and lowkey that night. We left after awhile for hot, cozy fire plus an early wake-up makes for a tired inno.
Woke up early Friday, after not getting much sleep. Cold weather and excitement keep my body slightly awake. Had a wonderful egg/bacon breakfast and good conversations. Ember and I decided that we wanted to spend the day doing tarotwork and journalling. So we got dressed in festival clothes and went to go find a perfect spot in the sun to commune with our arts. Of course, just as we found one, Tig runs up to us and lets us know that the Women’s Scrapbooking Mysteries was going to start in a few minutes. So, we packed our stuff up and toddled off to write pages for the “year in review” book.
That evening, the bellydancing group put on a fun “naughty and nice” dance (complete with whips). And when they were done I decided to play with my glowstick poi as Kender and the others drummed away. Some folks watched me dance, asking me questions, which sort of convinced me to actually go light up the fire poi. I dunno what happened but as soon as they wooshed up with fire, I instantly got nervous. And it wasn’t like I got nervous from dancing in front of an audience. This was new, and intense and deeper. Shaking, I went through my moves slowly and carefully, hoping that the feeling would shake off. It didn’t but I finished the dance without incident.
I got back to our spot at the fire and got compliments from many people. Jen told me that I improved since the last time she saw me swing. I’m more fluid and my moves have a better transition. Grim told me that I was great and good enough for the Burningman Confluence group. Hearing that made my night. I’ve never thought of myself as being that good. Hell, I usually think I’m the lamest dancer around, my right arm is weak and usually doesn’t do what I want it to do. I feel like I have a long way to go in really dancing with the fire. So hearing others tell me how “awesome” I am really cheers me up about it all. As we chatted more around the fire, I grabbed my drum and tried to get something going, but couldn’t. Ended up beatboxing a bit with Ember because while my hands couldn’t beat something out, my mouth could keep cool beats. Soon after, the rains came and everyone scattered. Went to bed feeling rather proud of myself and loved.
The weather continued its gradual, downward slope Saturday. Once again, mostly because of the rain, I got little sleep. Hearing rain droplets drip off the side of our ubartent for hours upon hours gives me a feeling of waterboarding. Hung around the small communal fires and had a lovely breakfast of french toast (Thanks Zira!). I wore my skirt and jingly belt for ritual, even though I bundled up under a longsleeve shirt, jacket and hat.
The rains made this year very interesting. It was hard to dig the hole when no one wanted to get dirty, and when we danced the maypole the rains “pissed down” on us. I loved it as it made things a bit more chaotic and keep the energy on an even level. The men came back with the pole, many stark naked (which was a pleasant sight for us women). Kender and I danced the pole together, putting our energy into it. We also grabbed our Yellow ribbons together, running the full length of the fabric. And we danced the pole together! He thought it was fun but silly (cos it was raining so hard). I loved it, I totally got into the rhythm of “over, under, over, under, top, botttom, topsies, bottomsies, etc”. and made a game of it.
We broke for dinner before picking the new Queen in the hopes that the rain would calm down. It did a bit, but it was still wet. When we got to the campsite we found that either the wind (or the energy we raised) had slammed into Ember’s two room tent and moved it into itself. It was quickly righted right away. After dinner, we went back down to the maypole and watched Queen Char select her replacement. Each drew a lovely feather, wrapped in leather. Jen, who held a white feather, was crowned our Queen. Then she picked Ogg as her consort because she is a brew master and he likes her beer. It’s going to be a great year for the community and I can’t wait to see what they come up with.
Then we went into the temple to give gifts to Queen Jen and words of wisdom. Lots of jokes and laughter went on during that time. I had a great time connecting to the women and hearing the stories they had to offer. The rains came again and this time they didn’t stop. So the evenings festivities weren’t as wild as they normally tend to be. We made a short appearance at the fire (sans drum and firekit) to warm ourselves up and to celebrate the new crowning. I danced a bit and wiggled around Kender. Then we decided to head back to the tent. As I wanted to perform a Beltane tarot ritual. The cards, as always, had some good advice and was rather spot on. I now have a lot to think about for this upcoming year.
Spent most of Sunday morning packing and saying goodbye to everyone. But we did manage to get a chunk of the maypole. We even sawed it ourselves. The drive home was spent in reflection and silence. I felt sad leaving but feel more connected to myself, the land, and the community. I’m very much looking forward to the Garden Party and the Fall Equinox “Dracula’s Ball” festival that Tig’s putting on. With luck, I may get to help out with it. Which would rock.
The only downer of the festival came when we dug the yoni. Every February, when we get the email invite for Beltane, Kender and I struggle through a dance of, “Do you want to go to Beltane and will you be okay?” We spend hours talking about how uncomfortable it makes him. He doesn’t feel like he fits in with many of the energies present. He’s not comfortable with going out to get the pole, so this year I suggested that he help dig the hole with us women. After all, he does seem to carry more goddess energy than even I have. So, he bravely stayed with us and set to work on helping dig the 4 foot deep hole.
However, some folks didn’t feel the same way. They “didn’t want penis” around while the yoni was being dug. I found out later that some people assumed that he (as well as another man) were there without having gone through a basic “majickal etiquette” lesson. Which pissed me off a bit because he HAS had that training and that EVERY YEAR we spent MONTHS discussing Beltane and how it makes him feel. And JUST as we had this major breakthrough this year, someone had to go off and undo years of work. Grrr… so much for open mindedness this year. Next year, if anyone says anything… I’m going to stand up for my boy and say a few choice words myself. As I should have done that this year but didn’t.
Other than that incident, I feel that we had a wonderful Beltane festival. Kender did really good with his anxieties and I can only hope that next year will be twice as awesome! Long live Queen Jen and King Ogg. May your reign bring you lots of insight and happy times.