I woke up Sunday morning feeling nervous. It wouldn’t be that long until I gave my first ever talk on Paganism. I decided not to dwell on it, but with everyone asking me every two minutes how it was it was really hard not to think about it.
After the usual get up, breakfast, waking up Sam, routine, we headed to the first talk of Sunday which was a woodland walk with Elm Cloud. It started with a gentleman who had made a moth trap and some of the moths were stunning. My favourite was a Black Arches moth because it was fluffy and just so darn cute! The rest of it Elm went through trees and plants and what their properties were, elements of folklore and other things. It was a lovely gentle start to the day and Elm was as informative as ever, I do like his talks.
At 11 it was to be a talk that ended up cancelled so I had some down time to panic the crap out of myself, look at some stalls and very very slowly make myself to the Taurus lodge where I would be giving my talk.
By the time I had stopped at the tree for the next talk my nerves had tripled. People started turning up and asking if I was there for the talk where I informed them that I was the talk. When the previous talk finally finished I was really beginning to shake. Especially when most of the people from the previous talk stayed! I have no idea of the exact numbers that turned up but I’d say 30 maybe, it was certainly far better attended that I could have hoped for. Some shakes aside, and referring to my paper far more than I had wished to, I made it through relatively unscathed. People laughed at the jokes and I saw a lot of people nodding with what was being said. There was only one question, which was about my deities and it’s something I am going to have to go on and explore myself because it was an interesting notion. People took handouts I had made with book recommendations and tips, there was quite a rush when I said I had a limited number. Some people stopped to tell me that they had connected with what I had said and it made them feel like they weren’t alone. I had others coming up to me throughout the rest of the day telling me the same and even a messages since I’ve got home which was the final straw that made me weep. I’ve had one where someone who attended informed me that they have been inspired by it and taking steps back along their path which for me is amazing. I didn’t think my talk would have had that degree of inspiration or understanding with people. So if anyone is reading this who came to my talk, thank you, once again for coming!
Next was a break to dance with Inkubus Sukkubus who I enjoyed, as ever. Singing highlights for me were Wytches and The Corn King. Candia also threw me the ivy circlet she was wearing which made my friend Nisha incredibly jealous. It remained a feature for the rest of the weekend and I left it as an offering of thanks to the spirit of the place before I left on Monday. Unfortunately I missed the talk on Finnish Spellcrafting by my friend Tatja as Inkkies ran on a bit but I probably needed the time to chill after anyway. Will have to make sure I make it to her talks next time! I did manage to introduce myself and give her a quick hug as we’ve chatted online quite a bit but never in person so it was lovely to meet her.
Flavia Kate Peters was next with a talk on the Wheel of Fortune. I’ve not gone to any of Flavia’s talks in the past as they seem to focus a lot on faeries which I don’t know how I feel about yet so I’ve always avoided them. This one, I really enjoyed. It echoed a lot of thoughts I’ve had on the Wheel of Fortune and Wheel of the Year already and it’s something I hope to write an article about. We did a guided meditation with drum where we travelled through the wheel of the year spun in random at Fortuna’s hand. It was interesting, the different points of being up and down on the wheel. My thoughts were all over the place and Flavia later told me that she could pick up on my energies and that there was a lot to work through. It gave me a lot of things to think about and work towards as did the final talk on my schedule.
Barbara Meiklejohn-Free is someone I have seen speak before although it was a few years ago now, and last time I was at Artemis Gathering I heard great things from her workshop so I decided, bit spur of the moment, that I was going to go to Walking with the Ancestors. So we trekked into the woods (where I am pretty sure most of my bites came from…) and we started doing a ritual and meditation to the Ancestors. I won’t go into details as to what exactly happened for me but it was a deep connection and there was an important lesson for me at the beginning about speaking from my heart and not thinking which is something someone else had told me earlier. But it was deep and moving and I am not ashamed to say through throughout the connecting with the ancestors I just wept. I couldn’t stop and I have no idea why. But I thanked her and we chatted a little afterwards too. I know I have a lot to work through and a lot of what came from this workshop is what I will be working on or towards.
After the closing ritual, a quick plate of the nicest Tarka Dahl I’ve had, and losing miserably at the raffle, Nish and I made our way to the extremely packed Firewalking Workshop. I have done the Firewalk before but I don’t think that I wanted the outcome deep down. This year I was determined. I did the arrow breaking ceremony that I had done before, but this time I could feel that I was ready to do it. In 2013 I could feel a degree of resistance to do so but this year I went straight into it. I have plans with my arrow to turn it into something else, at least half of it and the other half I am going to put with my current arrow.
With this firewalk workshop we really get to know our fire, we light it with what we’re wanting to get rid of, putting the energies into a candle and placing it in and giving it fuel. We then sprinkle incense to put in what we would want others to get out of it. When we go back later, after learning a bit more about firewalking and the arrow breaking. I made it across the flames three times, each time as determined as the first. I had intentions in what I wanted to walk towards when I arrived on Friday but over the course of the weekend that changed. I have a lot of work to do to get where I want to be but following the workshop I am ready to face anything that comes my way.
There were ghost stories in the marquee afterwards and after shivering though it all Nisha and I decided to head to bed.
Monday morning is never a joyous occasion when it comes to Artemis Gathering because it means packing up and leaving. After a relaxed breakfast, where friends told me people had been talking highly about my talk, Nisha and I plodded back reluctantly to put everything away. Then it was a quick round of goodbyes before Sam and I headed for the station with full hearts and lighter purses.
In reflection I think I sell myself a bit short. The weekend was amazing and to think that I was part of the people giving talks was spellbinding. I am capable of speaking in front of people, especially when it’s something I am passionate about and can relate to. Knowing that others can relate to it too and take things away makes it all the more powerful.
So to the future, where I will end up doing yet another blog on my thoughts of that but I am going to be so very busy. I’ve already asked if I can go back next year and I’m hoping I’ll be on the schedule, possibly going down a slightly heavier route but we’ll see how it goes.
So here’s to Artemis Gathering 2016, if you attended, I hope you learned as much as I did, if you didn’t, there’s always Witchfest!