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Posts Tagged ‘Wellspring’

Wellspring did more than invigorate my desire and need for further study and practice – it woke up a desire to create community.

Before I moved to the North Country, a couple friends and I started to play with the idea of starting a protogrove in the Mohawk Valley.  I requested that a fellow Druid to do a reading for me, asking if this was the right time.  Normally, I’m more DIY about such things, but he is a grove leader, number one, and needed to do readings for others as part of his initiation.  The omens suggested that it was not the right time.  I knew it was correct in my heart.  I was planning my wedding, preparing to graduate and find a full-time job…  Little did I know then that I would be moving out of the area!  Shortly after the reading, my other friends moved to Albany and that was that.  I concentrated on my other obligations and strengthened my bonds with Muin Mound Grove in Syracuse.  They’ve become a family to me, which makes it hard to even consider going in this direction, but I don’t anticipate any drastic changes in the near future.  Growth will be as fast as a speeding oak!  Focusing on Muin Mound helped mature me, preparing me for this possibility.  Not only do I feel more grounded in and knowledgable about Druidism and ADF, but I feel stronger spiritually than I did then.  I’m more practiced and experienced.  There are many miles and twists on the path before me, but I’m in a better place to once more feel the waters – one toe at a time!

As I attended ADF’s national meeting at Wellspring, hearing about the newly formed groves filled me with inspiration.  Could that happen in the North Country?  So often, I hear about solo Druids who send out feelers…then suddenly there’s a grove! With grad school done, I suddenly felt in my heart that it’s the right time to explore.

I recently joined two local Pagan groups on FB – purely for networking and forming friendships in my area.  Whenever I’ve introduced myself to new people, there’s always been one or two who said, “That sounds interesting!  I’d love to learn more!”  I shared my thoughts with my husband, who is also an ADF member now, and he encouraged me to look into it.  Suddenly, I found myself taking the initiative and setting up a Druidic “coffee hour” for this weekend.  A few people have responded that they intend to be there!  I’m very excited.  Who knows if this will turn into anything bigger, but it’s a positive step in the right directions.  I have to take the initiative.  As much as I love my grove, I yearn for local community.  Seeing how tight and active other groves are made me wish I were closer to Muin Mound for weekly or bi-monthly gatherings.  Right now, it’s impossible for us!  As we grow, and possibly expand our family, I’m sure it will become harder.  Something here would be amazing!  And Muin Mound would be a day trip away for two-grove gatherings, games, rituals etc.

I’m planning to keep things very informal and basic for this first meeting.  I want to get to know the interested people and share rather than lecture.  I pray Brighid grants me grace and eloquence  and helps me, possibly, start to form a tribe in the North Country.  How awesome would that be?  I can’t really count my chickens before they hatch, but I can dream, right?

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I recently posted about how I was anticipating Wellspring as a way to rejuvenate my Druidic studies and practice.  Weretoad and I were able to attend from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning.  For those of you who don’t know, Wellspring is a major ADF Druid festival held at the Brushwood Folklore Center in Sherman, NY.  There are large rituals, initiations, consecrations, workshops, competitions, concerts, and potlucks.  Always a good time!   This year was a busy and sometimes frustrating weekend, but it’s all worth it for the learning, fellowship, and reinvigoration that occurs.  I also got to meet fellow blogger Inahawksi!   I took a few photos to share but am quickly realizing that I much prefer a digital SLR to the built-in camera on my iphone.  It works well but it’s so hard to hold still and focus – especially in the sun.  I apologize for the blurry ones!

Stonecreed Grove, the hosts of the event, have been making improvements to the old nemeton. They’ve replaced the rotting, wooden idols of the Earth Mother and Gatekeeper with new stone versions made by an ADF artisan. They’re visually striking as you approach!  At night, when the flames shine upon them, they are truly breathtaking.

The  Gatekeeper with offerings.
The Earth Mother with offerings.
A major activity I helped to organize was weekend-long flametending  through the Brighid special interest group (SIG).  Fellow member, Bonnie, was absolutely amazing at coordinating with Stonecreed  Grove, providing incense for people to give as offerings  when needed, and working with The Magical Druid  to obtain special Brighid tokens as thank-yous for people who took part.  This kept me very busy as I made a point to tend to the shrine three to four times a day, sometimes meeting with other members.  It was wonderful to put faces to names and join them in such a sacred act.    We learned much from our first year of this and want to continue, possibly expanding to other ADF festivals.  It was interesting and moving to watch the shrine grow with offerings over the weekend.  Brighid is very much adored by many Druids.
As I said, there were competitions.  The Warriors Guild  showed their physical prowess on the field but I did not get an opportunity to attend what with all the other activities.  I participated in the Artisan Competition (I submitted the doll Blodeuwedd I’ve shown before).  That was a really stunning art show.  So many beautiful pieces in different mediums!  Meeting with my fellow Artisans was fun and we came up with a lot of great ideas for the next year.  Finally, Wellspring is known for its bardic competition.  Adults and children alike competed  and there were some excellent examples of voice, composition, poetry, and storytelling.  Ian Corrigan won in the end  so congrats to him!  He’s got such an impressive voice and personality.   Truly, ADF has so many talented folk.  I am very proud of us!
Near the nemeton is the Runestead – an area Heathens use to worship the Norse Gods.  I just love the runic fence!  Hubby and I made a visit to pay our respects to the Gods of the rest of our bloodline.  We especially wanted to say hello to Thor.
In  a shaded area, towards the back of the forest, is a dark, ghostly figure – a crone-like Goddess with sagging breasts  and decaying limbs.  She is an impressive, powerful idol.  I always feel a bit apprehensive approaching her.  I half suspect she’ll suddenly look up or reach out…!
Because of timing, I was only able to attend one workshop this year – but it was an interesting one for both me and my husband – brewing!  Robb (far left) lead the workshop, demonstrating how to make beer but also discussing the methods used to make wine and mead.  Robb is certified to judge brewing and actually handles yet another ADF competition – the Brewers’ Guild competition!  (I sampled a few entries – delish!)    He was very encouraging and knowledgable.  I really want to try my hand at mead soon!  Weretoad is interested in making beers.
A special, commemorative pin everyone received!  I was sad for a bit… I thought I lost it in the mad rush to change from ritual garb so I could dance around the bonfire in the drum circle!    I found it this morning mixed in with my makeup.  Figures!

It was a wonderful weekend.  I’m so happy we had a chance to go.  I feel a stronger bond with my grove, better connections with fellow ADF Druids from all over, a deeper relationship with Brighid, and a greater drive to study, practice, and worship.  I’m pumped to dive back into the Initiate study program!  If you live near Sherman, NY and have an interest in Druidism, I strongly encourage you to consider attending!  If not, I invite you to look into other Pagan festivals or conferences.  They are great sources of fun, education, inspiration, and friendship.

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I am not ashamed to admit that I very much look forward to, and even feel a need, for Wellspring. Graduate classes and graduation are done, yet getting back into my spiritual discipline has been difficult. There’s always so much going on… The fellowship with my fellow Druids in ritual, art, song, dance, and play always rejuvenates me in a big way. Then I will have the whole summer to throw myself back into my studies and deeper practice. Exciting!

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Ok, I really need to write about my experiences at Wellspring this year.  It’s taken me long enough.  This is entirely due to the fact that I’m just so busy right now.  I’m taking summer classes three nights a week and am preparing for a craft show next weekend.  I feel terribly behind on my mentoring and DP reviewing…  I’ve somehow been able to keep (mostly) afloat in my Nine Moons work.

So anyway…  on to the squishiness that was Wellspring 2011!  Forgive the disjointedness of this post…  It’s very late/early.

To be entirely honest, I was not all that thrilled about going the entire week before.  The forecast was not promising and I was starting to feel the stress of my current busy schedule.  Once we arrived, I was happy to be there.  It’s wonderful to see so many people that I know from the virtual world of ADF and learn, ritualize, and party with them.  My old friends Parallax and her husband were there.  Weretoad and I were delighted to spend time with them.  I got to know the North East Regional Druid (NERD) more and she is a wonderful, fun, and generous gal!  I talked to some of my fellow Artisans.  Though I did not have time to prepare an entry to the contest, I delighted in the creativity of my guild.  I felt refreshed and full of new inspiration!

Speaking of inspiration, the highlight of the bardic competition was, for me, seeing three of my grove mates participate, including Phoenix’s daughter!  Oh my gosh, that girl has the voice of a Goddess.  It was the second time I heard her sing “Colors of the Wind,” but it still brought tears to my eyes.

Sunday night, during ritual, there was an epic storm.  Weretoad and I were relatively comfortable under our rain ponchos, but everyone else was soaking wet.  It thundered and lightened so much that I worried about getting back to the camp safely.  Hubby and I prayed to Thor and still owe him some ale in return for our safety.

One of my favorite moments occurred after the storm.  Several of us gathered under the large pavilion.  I was in a group of friends and we started to sing random songs.  Eventually others joined us and it turned into a little drum circle (plus an accordion!).  There was much drinking and merriment.

I took a moment to visit the bonfire.  There was another drum circle over there and I delighted in dancing around the fire.  I had an incredibly intense dance-induced trance while there.  I literally felt like something was riding me and making me move.  Again and again, I found myself dangerously close to the fire then flung back as if yanked by a harness.  It was wild…  I’ve never felt that before.  It’s very exhausting.

We met a delightful couple in the hot tub.  They were a few generations older than us and shared some of their traveling adventures.  They weren’t part of ADF but it was a lot of fun to talk to them anyway!  I kind of hope we’ll see them at a future Wellspring.

I sold several of my plushies at Wellspring.  I’m always happy to see them find good homes…

 

So…yeah!  Wellspring turned out to be a fun, if soggy, adventure.

 

Now it’s time for sleep.

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Weretoad and I will be making the long drive to The Brushwood Folklore Center this weekend for ADF’s Wellspring festival!  We’re both really excited to go.  I love seeing fellow Druids from around the world, learning from the elders, and dancing in the drum circle.  Hubby just wants a relaxing weekend away from the rest of the world.  I’m really glad he likes Wellspring.  We still have a ton of packing to do, but this is what my list looks like for now:

  1. Snacks
  2. Drinks – alcoholic and non
  3. Sleeping bags
  4. Comforters
  5. pillows
  6. four tarps
  7. a tent
  8. a canopy to put over the tent
  9. my traveling altar
  10. a book to read (or two)
  11. belly dancing accessories
  12. lantern
  13. plastic bags for clothing
  14. towels
  15. sarongs (yay!)
  16. street clothes for our drive home
  17. warm clothes for the chilly nights
  18. rain shoes
  19. flip flops
  20. ritual garb
  21. camping cutlery and dishes
  22. sun screen
  23. new dolls and plushies for vending at the ADF store
Am I forgetting anything!?

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