Chronarchy (chronarchy) wrote,

Harvest Nights Gathering: A Festival Review

Over the weekend, I drove out to Otis, MA, for the Harvest Nights Gathering, the inaugural festival for Charter Oak Grove, ADF. They'd requested some ADF Priests via our Traveling Clergy Program (ADF Member's only link), and I was one of the lucky ones able to make it out. I have a couple of things to say about the drive:

  • The first thing to say is that the drive up was spectacular: the weekend chosen was clearly peak color in the foliage department, and I spent a lot of time just enjoying the scenery.
  • The second thing to say is that it's a pretty long drive: at 12 hours (not including time being lost; more on that later), I'm not sure I'll do it again without breaking it up a bit more.
  • The third thing is this: I got lost, and I can sum it up in just a few short thoughts: "Lost. In the dark. In the rain. In Massachusetts. Very Lovecraftian." I had been to MA before, twice upon a time, and noticed that the Berkshires are just like the rest of MA in the dark: full of cyclopean, eldrich horrors that you're positive are waiting for you in the shadows.

But, all that said and done, I arrived, only about an hour after I was supposed to arrive, thanks to Robin, who came out to lead me back to the place where light and warmth were.

The space they'd chosen was amazing: it was a large lodge with two fire places, plenty of sleeping space, full facilities, a gigantic kitchen, and an outdoor fire ring that was steps from the front door. The only thing the site lacked was WiFi, but honestly, I'm okay with that.

I spent the evening chatting with folks and Drum built a fire. We talked about hearth cultures and a few ritual points. While we probably didn't talk about everything the folk wanted to, I hope we got enough in to answer a good number of questions.

We started Saturday morning off with a dawn ritual, which just threw the schedule into chaos: things were supposed to start at 8:30, but with dawn around 7 AM, everyone was up and things started nearly an hour ahead of schedule. This gave us plenty of space to work through things, including Kirk's "Basic Ritual Skills" presentation and Rob's "Crafting Invocations" presentation. We had lunch, and then came my scheduled workshop on trance skills. Word of advice to organizers: trance and meditation workshops right after lunch are a recipe for sleepy druids to get some sleep. But the feedback was good, and I only caught one person really dozing off!

That evening, we did ritual to bring the folk of Charter Oak into alliance with the spirits of the land there, so that they could build a connection that would grow and blossom as time went on. We also did a small healing working for an ADF member as well. I took the omen at the rite, and it was:

Have our Sacrifices been Accepted?

Berkano - the birch - New beginnings, fertility, and strength in flexibility.

What blessings do the Ancestors bring?

Fehu - cattle - Wealth that is tempered with generosity: we will have, but we must share what we have.

What blessings do the Spirits of Nature bring?

Wunjo - joy - the outpouring of joy and togetherness.

What blessings do the Deities bring?

Pertho - the dice cup - gaming in the hall, community, and togetherness again.

In the context of the work we sought to do, I think that we received a wonderful omen, and the Spirits clearly wanted this relationship to grow and develop over time.

Following the ritual, we had a night sky workshop, where we learned about all sorts of constellations and the way the moon and sun work. It was actually terribly informative (I even got some answers to the oddity I mentioned last week here on LJ). Then, we had an evening of discussion and we all rolled into bed shortly thereafter.

On Sunday, there was a smaller crowd for a dawn ritual, which again succeeded in throwing off the rest of the day's schedule. I napped through the nature walk because I knew I had 12 hours of driving ahead of me (and I wasn't feeling so hot by that point), then packed up and faced the long drive.

All-in-all, it was a remarkably relaxing weekend, considering I spent 24 hours of it driving. I am already looking forward to next year.

A couple of things stood out from the weekend:

  1. I have never been to a festival so kid-friendly. It was great to get to see the kids so well taken care of.
  2. Charter Oak will feed you until you're full, and they'll keep feeding you! Wonderful hospitality!
  3. Massachusetts is just fine in the sunlight and starlight. It's just the rain that makes it feel all tentacle-y.

Seriously, if you have the chance, consider going for the weekend next year (especially if you have kids). It's an excellent little festival, and I hope I get to see you all there!
Tags: adf, clergy, cthulhu et al, festivals, friends, workshops

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