Back from Beltane 2008: FPG Festival Summary

***Photo of Lorna and Aislinn hamming it up in the cabin–the poster behind says, “Helpful or Harmful?  Know the Difference!”  (talking about bugs, not brunettes)***

We’re back from the Florida Pagan Gathering’s Beltane 2008, and it was a blast!  Kudos to the coordinators and staff of this festival–these folks really know how to put together an event.

Right now, I’m exhausted from the 6+ hour drive home, my calf muscles are so sore from all the walking I did that I’m hobbling like a crone, and I’m anxious to snuggle down in my own bed again.  I’ll have some particular stories to share later, but for how, here are the highlights of what I really enjoyed (that I can remember right now!):

I LOVED seeing Aislinn blossom in her element.  She volunteered for a total of SEVEN two-hour shifts, hung out at the Spiral Dance concert with Boom Boom,  latched onto “Auntie” Maggie Shayne at the Fire Circle until 1 in the morning, helped Raven and Stephanie Taylor Grimassi hand out Faery Stones in their workshop, and made new friends from all over Florida and all over the world.  I loved that she exchanged leis with two women who’d been left out of the lei exchange…and that she exchanged leis with the lead singer of Spiral Dance.

I LOVED seeing Shannon stumble upon some epiphanies of her own, reawakening some forgotten dreams and wishes.  I liked seeing her eyes light up during Christopher Penczak’s workshops and hearing her whisper little snippets to me that let me know she got it, really got it, when he was talking about the New Age aspects, Christian aspects, historical aspects,  scientific aspects, and various branches of paganism and how everything fit together.  She found someone who really connected the dots for her and couldn’t get enough of what he had to say.

– The two cranes that flew over at the exact moment the May Pole was complete and the May Queen and King announced.

The labyrinth–we’re already trying to figure out how to install one in our backyard out of Christmas Tree lights and string.

–  Blue margaritas.  No worries about designated drivers.  If I had too much, that wrist band had my campsite number on it….

–  Spiraling through the fires at Main Ritual and the fire-jumping.  I was tempted to jump the fire myself, but between my violet gypsy skirt and knee injury, I decided it probably wasn’t a great idea.  Besides, do I really need extra fertility?

–  Tish Owen’s Past Life Regression hypnosis session.  I haven’t played around with past life regressions in a several years, and this one was quite vivid.

–  Meeting Christopher finally in person!  He’s a phenomenal speaker, and pulls together many of the things I’ve been trying to connect for the past few years.  I really enjoy his energy, but even better…I actually learned some new things from his workshops and the meditations he led were very powerful.  In many ways, I feel the insights I had via Christopher were exactly why I was at FPG this time.  I’ll keep most of those to myself, but a few, I will share soon.

– I thoroughly enjoyed Raven and Stephanie’s Faery Stone Workshop, especially when the faeries took his stone away from him. He’s got to learn to drive that thing!

– The Fire Circle.  I love sitting and listening to drums and drums and drums and watching people dance around a bonfire.

– I loved seeing Maggie again after almost two years.  She looked healthy and happy–not too skinny, very natural, very relaxed.

– The Spiral Dance concert was fun and full of energy but my fav moment was when they suggested they’d love to see some dancers in front of their stage, and Shannon was the first on the floor, dragging Maggie right behind.  That was such a kick to see the two of them out there–and others joined in right after.  There is NOTHING like a live concert!

– I really liked meeting Gina Estevez and didn’t have enough time with her.  I felt like I’d known her for ages.

Things I didn’t like as much?

– The first night, we had campers wake us up to borrow our shower way after midnight….and then another set borrowed it at the crack of dawn to the point where the cabin residents couldn’t get a shower.  One of our roommates reported it to the staff and they took care of matters instantly.  Did I mention how well-coordinated everything was?  The staff did not put up with crap.

– As with any festival–of any religion–someone in a workshop has to be a know-it-all and play challenge-the-instructor.   Why is that?  I don’t really care that another member of the audience does it differently.  I’m there to hear the speaker, often specifically to find out how other people do things differently.

– The disorientation upon returning home.  I never thought much about it before but I think in the future, I’ll be very careful to attend the opening ritual (we arrived too late) and the closing ritual (we left too early so the girls could study for finals).  I didn’t “connect in” well until the middle of the next morning and I had a hard time disconnecting when we left.  Normally, if I don’t stay for a closing ritual, I do a walk-through of the area, sort of saying good-bye.  This time, we overslept and had to pack the car and leave quickly.  So adjusting to “reality,” as Shannon calls it, was difficult when we returned.

But as for now, I think I’ll burn one more stick of Nag Champa, put on some more iTunes drums, and have another cup of mead.  Well, maybe not the mead….