Freedom Festival number 11 was another very good one. I am amazed by how each succeeding festival continues to be so good! The 11th annual Freedom Festival was a very nice! We were blessed with beautiful weather throughout the festival.
Mary came early on Wednesday before the festival. We had a good time visiting with her and she helped Delta and I get ready on Thursday. Kris and Larry came on Thursday (and some others I believe), and we had a nice time under the shelter hanging out and talking. It was a very nice evening catching up with good folk. SweetWood was gifted a very fine and restored wheel borrow by Richard. (Please if I forget something let me know or add it to this story).
The next day, Friday June 29th more good folk arrived and some helped Delta with registration for the Freedom Festival (Mary and Kris I know were helpful as were others). Then that evening just before sunset the good folk, who were at SweetWood Temenos, joined in an opening ritual that cast a Circle of Freedom upon the land for the Freedom Festival. I was caught up in the moment looking at all the faces of friends, and friends of friends who had come to the Freedom Festival. Some had been present many times to the festival, and for some it was something new. I remember breathing in the air and thinking this is good, and felt very blessed to be present and sharing water.
After opening ritual we had fire in the circle and a very nice time of fellowship that evening. What Magic it was with the torches lit, and to walk up the path through the woods between the circle and the green lawn of the shelter. What joy, mystery and pleasure it was to walk by the great old red oaks and hear laughter in the woods. Good Folk were reconnecting, and there was a sense of peace. How good is that?
Saturday was a busy day for me. In the afternoon there was going to be a baby blessing, and coming of age ceremony and a “Rock and Roll” ritual. I was to be a part of all three. I was blessed by participation in each.
I am still very moved by this second baby blessing in the circle and the first at the Freedom Festival. I could not but wonder, when this baby would be a young adult, would she be coming to the Freedom Festival? Would there still be one, and a land called SweetWood? I sure hope so, and endeavor to make that a reality for her and the children who come after her. I’ll be an old man then, hopefully with many more good memories of seasons and festivals past watching her and others grow up with love and freedom. Blessed be Nissa!
Then there was the coming of age ceremony. Already I have watched a boy child grow up over the years. Now, as an adolescent, he dedicated himself in a circle of his choosing and casting, with loved ones around him, to Sweetwood Temenos and its values. This was the first coming of age ceremony for Sweetwood Temenos and at the Freedom Festival. What a goodness that all the adults who came to his ritual blessed him. I can only begin to guess the impact that this blessing and his dedication will have on his soul and life. He has set a precedent; his circle casting is going to reach into the future, and may the fruit be very good. Blessed be Roywn!
Then I want to mention that the desserts at the campsite celebrating the coming of age ceremony were all very good. They were all yummy and shared in good company. Thank You Jack, Sherry, Joe, Becky and Dorothy!
Then I caught my breath and helped a little in the set up of the “Rock and Roll” ritual. We were not sure where to hold it, and the ritual needed some electricity…so a decision was made to hold it on the west side of the shelter on the grass. I was so in the present when honoring the directions…I could feel the energy drawing in with expectation and wonder at this ritual. Then the Priestess came forward after the circle was cast, Phoenix brought a strong magical presence forward, and it began…the songs were very evocative and energy was raised by dancing through the 7 directions of Fairy. Each direction had it own song and dance and each was powerfully invoked by Phoenix. Everyone was blissed out by the end. Phoenix had a good support team and honorable mention goes to Thomas for his great sound system! Ritual magic set to evocative rock music by the light of the night and starry host…what magic! I was smiling ear to ear. This was another experience you just had to be there, for the written word can only pale in its description. There was love in the circle, affection flowed like water, I openly expressed love for my loved ones, and they with me for all to see. Polyamory was blessed in this ritual. This lovely night was followed again with a fire in the circle and throughout the camp.
Although I was up late enjoying my self on Saturday night, I had to get up early next morning (Sunday July 1st.) to go get my mother-in-law (Delta’s mother Norma) from Madison and bring her to the festival. Mary got up with me (as she wanted to see Delta’s mother’s place and meet her. We had to get back in time for the SweetWood Temenos Thing (the annual general assembly and potluck), which we did in plenty of time. Kris gave the treasurer’s report and we discussed what the SweetWood Temenos vision is, what we have accomplished over the last 7 years, and where we are going for the next 7 years. The goal is that in 7 years to have the bathhouse done, so the “recreational camp” and religious center of SweetWood Temenos will be done and more accessible.
Some good folk left on Sunday July 1st, and some more arrived. The afternoon was spent attending workshops, visiting with friends, enjoying the land, and spending money by patronizing venders. The symposium was hosted by Mary and Rosa and held in scared space in the circle in the woods. The topic was “The Descendents” which was very appropriate, given the baby blessing and coming of age rituals. The cauldron was filled with half spring water and half wine (traditional Greek style of “sharing water” or drinking wine). During this discussion and fellowship it was my great pleasure to host and be a priest to the hand-fasting between Martha and Thomas. It was lovely ceremony, with a fire in the sacred circle, where words of love were said that committed two souls into a deeper sharing. There was drumming, dancing and many well-wishers for the hand-fasted couple! After the Symposium, some good folk went up the hill into the field and enjoyed a fireworks display by Rowyn as part of his celebration of his coming of age.
Monday July 2nd was a slow moving day. There was a discussion on the archetypical psychology and spirituality implicit in the concept of the “Horn God”. I worked on getting ready for the Sun Goddess – Moon God ritual. I was a bit tired and feeling a bit down about many good folk leaving and not attending the ritual.
Then a breeze came up and refreshed me.
As I made for the path to go down to the circle to prepare for the ritual I came across Sherry and Jack. They got me to relax, reminded me to trust the Mystery (Goddess and God) that the ritual will be fine and focus on the importance of the ritual no matter who attends. I really appreciated Jack and Sherry’s calming, reassuring words and countenance. All went well after that.
While I was setting up the altar for the Sun Goddess – Moon God ritual and Michael, Ariel and Benjamin were preparing to bless the good folk as they entered the circle. I still remember when Benjamin was nursed in the cool of the circle. Well as I was setting the altar, Benjamin came over and asked me what I was doing. So I explained as best as I could in language that Benjamin could understand. He was very satisfied with what I said and went back to mom and dad. It was very beautiful to have mother, father and child blessing the good folk as they entered the circle. Benjamin used a crystal to clean the aura of all who entered the sacred circle by waving it at them (scrubbing motion).
Mary and I took up the roles of priestess and priest. We cast the circle and Mary invoked the enthusiasm of the Moon God upon Iacchus. The Moon God invoked the enthusiasm of the Sun Goddess upon Delta. Delta became filled with the Sun Goddess, spoke words of wisdom and gave blessings to all. She blessed Norma for her part in helping SweetWood to come about. The Moon God spoke his words and they danced about the cauldron charging its water. Then we all shared water from the cauldron, opened the Circle for one more feast and another good time. Again drumming into the evening and many good conversations.
Next morning I hosted a small morning reflections with Amanda and Jim. We discussed the future plans for development at SweetWood Temenos. It was a good discussion. Afterwards the remaining Good Folk all came down to the sacred Circle for a closing ceremony. We took down the Circle of Freedom cast at the opening ritual, which embraced the four quarters of SweetWood Temenos. We shared water and said our good byes with hugs and kisses. We all sighed and waved good byes. Some lingered one more night and were treated to a very strong and nice rain shower.
I am sure there were many more wonderful experiences that went on, which that I do not know about. It was good to get feed back from non-members who were first time Freedom Festival attendees. They all liked the feel of the place, the good folk and the festival. It was particularly gratifying that my mother-in-law attended and felt at home with the good folk and with the festival.
Thank you All for making the 11th annual Freedom Festival another great one!