Sunday, August 03, 2008

Later Lammas

It's amazing how fast something becomes a holiday tradition., i.e., the Lammas Festival. I attended last year and returned this year, eager to experience some of the magical moments from last year, like swimming in the river, and singing the song "They Shall Remain" in the closing circle, and breakfast at the Acme Cafe on the way home.

But the beauty of repeating an experience is that it isn't quite the same the second time. And although all of those things happened again, I left with a whole new set of magical memories. Like singing around the campfire and sleeping in my car and waking up every few hours to see the shifting tableaux of the campground, like a series of camera frames.

When I first curled up in my front seat, I could look out my window and see the picture above, of the bonfire and sparks dancing upward into the night sky, like fiery snakes, and the people were only rosy glows moving in and out of the light. A few hours later when I awoke, I saw only a blazing fire throwing off great sparks; all the rest was dark though I know there was a fire tender keeping watch. The next time I woke up, fog had settled in the valley, and the fire was just a dull orange glow although the ascending sparks occasionally lit the mist above the fire with bursts of pale peach-colored light. I woke again a few hours later after daybreak and saw a circle of empty camp chairs around the fire pit. It was all so close, almost within a hand's reach, it seemed, though the bonfire had seemed so far away from my car when I retired. I closed my eyes again and when I next woke up, the chairs were populated. People were drinking coffee and talking. I rolled down my window and let their words drift in, along with the smell of dried grass (I love the smell of dried grass.)

Probably the best memory, though, was my recognition that I had become part of a tribe. Even though I hadn't seen most of these people since last year, I felt so comfortable, so accepted, so welcomed, it was easy to be myself (a shy person and a cranky camper). I have a feeling this gathering, in its own small way, recaptures the way people felt when gathering for the Teltown Fair back in the eleventh century.

A chance to reconnect with old friends, to hear the stories of what's happened in their lives, to sit back and watch the new babies being passed around the circle, to see how the kids have grown, to admire the talents each person brings to the group (clothing, song, art work, learning, embroidery, food art, ritual, etc.), to feast and sing and dance. I'm already looking forward to returning next year, knowing the magical memories will be completely different.


joanna said...

What a beautiful description of a wonderful weekend, Wave. Now I don't have to write my own! ;-) So glad you feel part of our tribe, because, of course -- you are!!

Waverly Fitzgerald said...

No way, Joanna! You still have to write your own description. I'm sure your experience was much different from mine. And I'm looking forward to reading different stories, to see how those layers add depth and meaning to this ephemeral event.
You know as I'm writing this I realize that one reason I treasure it so is that it reminds me of Helen's Harvest Mysteries which I never attended, and have only heard stories (yours) about.

Lunaea said...

To belong to a tribe... something I always yearn for, in the deep heart's core. Thank you for sharing this, Waverly!

KerrdeLune said...

I wish I had been there Waverly. I am going to have to do something here to organize a circle for cross quarter and quarter day celebrations.

Waverly Fitzgerald said...

I know what you mean about wanting to belong to a tribe but it wasn't until I was driving up to the Lammas Festival that I recognized how many tribes I belong to...there's the tribe of folks who took the Nearby History class (we gather once a year at Paradise Lake), the tribe who took Joanna's first priestess training (most of whom make up part of the tribe at the Lammas Festival), the tribe of tango dancers, the tribe of teachers of writing, the tribe of my writing group, etc. etc. Or maybe those aren't tribes. Maybe some of them are guilds. At any rate, the biggest problem I have is trying to figure out how to stay connected to all those groups. I know you have your own tribes. Many of them.

mama p said...

I remember being 19 and very shy, and newly adopting a pagan path for myself...and longing so dearly for My Tribe. 20 years later I'm reading so many wonderful accounts of Lammas and Lughnasadh in an online gathering of women, many of whom who have never met, from all over the globe. I've been a student of yours for a number of years, Waverly, through your newsletter and web site and now blog; and I couldn't keep from grinning all the way through this post :D The Tribe is everywhere! What a magnificent feeling.

(My own Lughnasadh account is here:

Rebecca said...

Waverly, your blog looks great!

Waverly Fitzgerald said...

It's so great to know you are still following my blog. For those of you who don't know Rebecca, she taught the first class I ever took on blogging because she became famous because of her blog, Break-up Babe, that turned into a delightful novel of the same name.