Archive for May, 2016

Post PUF

I am home from my week in the woods with Pagan Unity Festival! I survived another one, the nineteenth one. We go out on Tuesday to get ready for the guests, who arrive on Thursday. We clean the cabins, spray the mattresses down with Lysol, bug bomb (yes we kill the little critters, bad Pagans I know, but I ain’t sleeping with spiders), open the shutters and make sure there are no snakes or mice or bird nests in the closets. We unload our storage unit which is packed from the top to the bottom, in fact it is so full you can barely slip a mouse in there. Then we deposits large, plastic tubs of stuff to the appointed places. We set up the kitchen, front gate, vendor row, kids cabin and put linens on the beds in the VIP house. In between, we joke and tease and act silly. In fact the staff is so giddy to be back together and in what we consider to be our sacred space and with our chosen family, we actually sing while we work. I never realized it before, but Selena Fox who came in a day early, commented on it.So we do sing while we work and we love each other even when we are smelly, and sleep deprived and snappish. It is kind of amazing.

My staff works like rented mules all week-end long. If you are on staff and you don’t pull your weight, other members of staff will call ¬†you out and then they will tell me and I will call you out. I firmly believe we should all be equally as tired at the end of the day. By the way the end of the day is about 2 AM for most of us.

One of the things I really love is when the staff pitches in to help anyone who needs it, as they should, but the guests help each other too. We had monsoons on Friday and winds, both of which play havoc with tents. I watched as people ran into the pouring rain to help save the tents of friends and of strangers. Everybody was running around in the driving rain knocking the water off tents, holding tents down so they wouldn’t blow away (by the way hanging on to the metal poles of a tent when we had lightening was probably not the smartest thing), catching things which did blow away, and in general getting soaked by a cold rain trying to save the belongings of others. I personally changed my clothes three times on Friday and probably should have changed the fourth time but couldn’t summon the strength.

We were all exhausted, soaked to the skin, and cold. But we laughed and drank hot coffee, probably a gallon of it, afterwards. People apologized to other people for failing to prevent the damage to their tents or belongs or merchandise. They actually said, “wow I am sorry I couldn’t save more of your stuff.”

I saw strangers befriend other strangers and make new friends. I saw people helping in situations which might have gone a bit volatile and handling the situation in a kind and compassionate way. I saw people helping those with physical disabilities without question. I saw people offering their gifts of music and storytelling to our kids. I saw our teens working like switch engines not just in the kitchen but everywhere. I saw people participate in the annual parade and throw beads and cheer at the by-standers. (Selena really enjoyed the silliness.) In general people just being NICE. It was wonderful and refreshing and soothing, and touching, and amazing.

Great and fantastic things occur every year; people have epiphanies, or someone shows a kindness to a stranger or someone really feels the presence of god. I do not take any of it for granted but revel in the wonderfulness of humanity every time I see it, humbled by it and have my faith renewed each time it happens. Every year the things that occur at PUF touch my heart and makes me remember that humans have an untold ability to reach out and help those who need it. We have in us the inborn capacity to rise to the occasion and let our godness shine out from our souls. And we do.

The untold man hours it takes to present PUF to you is staggering, probably the reason we have never counted. But we do it out of love for our gods, our fellow pagans, our community and each other. It was a wonderful festival this year, many people said it was the best one ever. I won’t argue with that.We had 42 workshops, many ran into the night, there were seven rituals, seven musical acts and it was amazing and wonderful. This year I really saw the next generation of young people who will run PUF in the future, this must happen as the current administration is aging. They are there and they worked their asses off for us.

We also allow those young people to play and have many activities for them, but try as we might to introduce new things to them, what they really love best is beating on each other and any adult who will play with foam swords. Go figure.

As I sit here and write about it and remember it, I am crying because it was so wonderful, so fulfilling and so much damn fun. I wish I had better command of the English so I could make you understand how fantastic my week was, fantastic that I cried as I said good-bye to the members of staff and guests who live far away and I will not see for another year. I cried as I drove out of the park and left the magical site behind. I am tired still, but I have slept 23 hours since I’ve been back. I have not unpacked and washed laundry yet. I thought washing me (since I smelled like bad decisions made in a swamp) and sleeping took precedence. At this point I am almost afraid to open the suitcase.







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