The second day commenced early as we had a full day of workshops scheduled. The theme of this year’s conference was Kith and Kin, community in the Pagan community. It is something that for the past year I have thinking quite a lot about so I was eager to learn and listen about what it is that makes our community (if we can call it that) so unique. The first workshop discussed on the feelings of ‘coming home’ that many pagans (I included) feel on initial contact with fellow pagans. It also discussed the unique challenges that faced the pagan community given its transient nature. However unique challenge create innovative solutions.
Something that I hadn’t really considered before (which is silly given the obviousness of it) is that as Pagans we don’t go around proselytising. We all come to paganism from our own unique perspective following our own particular journey. This is in part why our community can feel so disjointed and transient at times. However it those that are really committed to following a pagan path, and putting the work in that builds a lasting spiritual practice, which will ultimately build religious and spiritual community.
I also learnt how distance is overcome by the pagan communities that do not necessarily live in highly urban areas. I though I had it bad at times feeling disconnected from other pagans in Sydney! For pagans in the NT, or anywhere else for that matter that isn’t in a major city, technology plays a big part.
The most memorable workshop though was one that was held underneath the shade of a tree near where we had cast circle the night before. Run by one of the women from the NT, she shared her experiences as well as her knowledge, and her loves. She let us touch her crystals, each charged with the energy from the land. She also drummed for us. She had been lucky to participate in a drum making workshop and the sound that the instrument made was magical. We all lay on the grass as she played beats on the drum. At the end of the actual workshop she let me play it as well. I went and sat beneath another tree and blissed out to the energy and sounds of the drum.
I need to make a drum!
We had group ritual at dusk. This is where things got a little more interesting.See we weren’t the only group staying in the Park. There were other ‘civilians’ whom we were sharing space with. So when it came to preparing for rituals, we noticed how curious they all were, watching us from the safe distance of the pool, on the small knoll overlooking our ritual space.
We just carried on with the Ostara ritual. I was chosen to be the maiden’s consort and played a part in the ritual blessing the wine. With the maiden I gave all the participants wine/juice and blessed them.
The ritual was small and simplistic but meaningful. Everyone in the circle was acutely aware of the energy shift that occurred after ritual had finished, with the weather turning slightly (for the better I might add).
It was at the post ritual feast that the other guest at the park piped up and asked what it was that we were doing. They had thought we were some eccentric Christian sect due to the scarfs most of us were wearing on our heads! I don’t know what they thought was worst – having eccentric Christians or a bunch of pagans!
The scarfs were the elemental flags we each received with our registration to the AWC. They determined which quarters we would call upon in circle. Some of us wore them around our wrists, but for the most part we had them on our heads as scarves.
Howling at the Moon
As we enjoyed the entertainment for the evening, we were also lucky enough to witness the rise of a Hunter’s moon. I had never seen one I Sydney. The moon was a blood red, caused by what I was told was the smoke in the atmosphere due to the back burning that had been going on. The Moon was huge still being the 2nd or 3rd night of its fullness.
So what do pagans do when there is a full moon out? Well we Howl!
In a circle we started with a low and quite “aooooo” which grew in sound and intensity until we lifted our voices and hands up to the moon, before grounding the energy we had all released.
If you’ve never done it, I highly recommend it.
The Third and Final day
Sunday commenced slowly, as some of us had gone to bed quite late and I am sure some were also sporting hangovers. We only had 2 informal workshops on Sunday, where we learnt more on how remote communities tackle the challenges of distance, and stories from the NT.
I took the opportunity to explore a little the site we that had hosted us for the weekend.
One of the most confronting things was seeing warning signs before any body of water warning of the presence of crocodiles. The place is littered with salt and fresh water crocodiles!
On a side note, Germans apparently are the most killed tourists by crocodiles in Australia….
Our bus arrived in the afternoon, and we commenced our trip back to Darwin.
And so my adventure at the AWC ended in the same way it had began, with road. Lots and lots of road. One thing I find difficult after a gathering is to settle back into regular life. This by all means was no different, but the travelling time from the NT to Sydney did help somewhat (Life just got crazy on arriving to Sydney!)
Events such as the AWC are touchstones of the pagan community. They provide us with space to which ritual and connect with one another. Having gone to my first interstate AWC, I have made connections with pagans from across the country, the network of friends, forming a lattice type pattern across Australia. It reinforces (to me at least) that the community is out there, just in different forms from what we would expect.
It has strengthened my practice and connection with my Gods and others.
Bring on AWC 2014!