Thursday June 29th the festival started out with some early arrivals. The day was a nice early Summer June day. The folk sat around and enjoyed the shade and warmth. Some cooked out with their children, while others took walks on the paths in the woods.
Friday June 30th was warmer and Iacchus was mowing around some hedge trees on the south side of the land. Delta and Iacchus were getting the last details of Freedom Festival done. The Folk who had volunteered for Freedom Festival tasks stepped up and began doing them. Richard filled the torches along the path and registration was opened. Some good folk arrived from Minneapolis late Thursday night and were sleeping on the grassy knoll in front of the shelter Friday morning. Friday evening Mary did a Freedom Festival opening circle. She brought her web from Kansas and had all charge up the web with chants, good wishes and prayers. The web was a symbol of the community, the interconnections woven at the Freedom Festival and the good folk of Sweetwood Temenos. We spun the web with dance and chant and opened the Freedom Festival with water sharing in the ritual circle. A fire was built in the circle after the water sharing ritual. It was a night to catch up with folk and hang out. There was some star gazing, hand holding, talking into the night, kisses and sighs of being together again with our community.
Saturday July 1st. started with nice weather. The good folk enjoyed the moving slow and living among the trees. The birds each morning sang songs for us. We had some cardinals singing each morning during the Freedom Festival. Raven, an herbalist from Madison presented a workshop on herbs and their uses. She had samples that she had made and instructed on their uses. She spent some time during the rest of the Freedom Festival vending her herbal wares. Her presence, workshop and wares were much appreciated by the good folk of the festival. Then at noon there was a luncheon and discussion on Sweetwood rituals and their format. A Sweetwood member, Lady Lee, a priestess in her own right co-led with Iacchus a discussion on the elements of ritual as adapted by Sweetwood.
The discussion was good and was agreed that we would do this again next year. Then there was a discussion on Deep Ecology led by Urth. This was informative on just what was deep ecology and how a given writer’s spiritual views colored this perspective. There was a discussion on how western culture appropriates indigenous spirituality in service of deep ecology. Later Saturday afternoon Delta did a fun workshop with henna. The rest of the festival had henna decorated folk running around in lively henna designs and symbols.
There were more arrivals of folk for the festival all day. One of the folk was an invited guest from California. He was Richard Ely, an elder and retired priest from the old CAW. He got settled in and visited the good folk of the Freedom Festival. Just before the evening event of our traditional symposium it rained very hard complete with hail the size of rock salt. So the weather moved the symposium to under the Sweetwood Temenos picnic shelter. We got a fire going in there and share food, drink both non alcoholic and alcoholic. The cauldron had watered wine (1/2 wine and ½ spring water). We discussed the Sweetwood value of Attunement with Nature. This was a far ranging discussion and topic. There were toasted and libations made and all had a good time. The weather cleared to give us another starry night.
Sunday July 2nd started with another good morning. Thomas Christie did Tai Chi in the circle. It was very meditative in the quiet of the early morning hours doing Tai Chi. Thomas had several good folk doing it with him each morning of the festival. Then late Sunday morning Iacchus led a discussion on mature masculinity based on the “King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover paradigm. A good discussion of the use of the word warrior in contrast to steward took place. Also the need for a rite of passage in the community for some boys becoming men was taken up.
At noon the Sweetwood Thing, our annual Sweetwood general assembly took place during the potluck. There was a lot of good food at this potluck. President Iacchus presented the current state of the organization, including the amount in the treasury. He talked a bit on the vision of Sweetwood Temenos and so did other members. This year Sweetwood Temenos held its bi-annual election for it’s two members-at-large. The meeting was well attended, good questions were asked and suggestions made for the future development of Sweetwood Temenos.
Delta did a fun workshop on beading after the Sweetwood Thing. She helped people to bead a bracelet or anklet. Delta explained the color and stone symbolism in use of beading materials. There was heard laughter at the workshop and people came away with smiles. Later the day Phoenix led a chant workshop. The workshop included chants to be used in the main ritual that evening. It was nice to hear the chanting and is something that the Freedom Festival will have happen next year. Again all had a good time. Then at sunset we held the annual Freedom Festival main ritual. This year’s celebration was the Moon Goddess and Sun God. Sherry and Jack were the priestess and priest. The Lord of Fate, sage from the Age past was Richard Ely. Love that Sherry and Jack have for one another wove good energy into the ritual. The words of the Goddess resounded throught the circle and woods. The words of the Sun God invited all to enjoy the season and so we did. There was a give away in honor of the Moon Goddess that filled the blanket with gifts. The ritual ended with a water sharing and the circle was opened, fire light and drumming and dancing ensued. Aeona, a priestess from the old CAW came by for the afternoon and evening and visited with the good folk of Sweetwood.
Fireworks show done by Rowyn when dark came!
Monday July 3rd started out with over cast skies and haze. But by late morning it had cleared up. Iacchus led a discussion and speculation about the Neolithic Agriculture Myth, Astrology and Culture. He presented some interesting information on the beginning of the Neolithic cultivation of the land, the Neolithic development of astrology and culture. For example the word for earth derives from erd, which means to kick up dirt and is associated with a hand plow. Thus each new Age would be a field that has been newly plowed and kicked up… earth then would be a plane of existence with 4 new quarters marked by the cusp of the sign rising out of the ground at sunset on the spring equinox. Needless to say this was all fine and well but speculative…Iacchus needs to refine this a bit more however it was a good discussion. There was a community luncheon under the shelter and good food was had by all. Monday after noon was a very relaxed time. The good folk visited with each other and just hung out. Aine did a prayer flag workshop this afternoon. She had a good number of folk. They made strings of prayer flags and hung them on the Sweetwood Shelter where they still are. Thank you for the blessings of these prayer flags! Toward sunset there was a closing Freedom Festival circle and water sharing ritual. Richard Ely led a geologically correct grounding as part of the ritual. During the water sharing the good folk poured libations and expressed their feeling about the Freedom Festival. Iacchus and Jack took the cauldron, the good folk chanted Freedom three times and they poured the magically charged water in the cauldron from the Moon Goddess ritual upon the altar as the last libation to the festival. The circle was opened but is never broken and we merry met and merry met again. Monday evening it rained again for a bit so the last night of the Freedom Festival was held under the shelter. We built a fire and there was good drink and the conversation was lively. There were many smiles and good byes and promises to be back next year.
I want to add unfortunately several good folk became ill and had to leave early. We hope they get well soon and are back next year for the full festival!
A special note of THANKS to all the volunteers, they performed their tasks well! A special note of appreciation goes out to Lady Lee who though feeling ill completed her tasks regarding registration and the silent auction before leaving the festival.