Merry Meet Pawb
So here it is: the quiet after the storm. After months of preparation and hard work finally the week-end of the South Wales Summer Camp 2011 had arrived. We had one of the most perfect spots in Wales, we had excellent speakers, we had fantastic workshops, a big fire, lovely fellow Pagans; the only thing letting us down was the weather. Now, we in Wales are used to a bit of 'weather' aka rain and after a hearty chant to call the sun on Saturday, led by Siany, we did indeed manage the impossible: the sun appeared for the day. It was the wind though. The payment for the gorgeous views was the wind.
When we arrived on Wednesday, it was pretty dire. So we decided to do all the other jobs and leave the marquee for the next day, when there would be more hands available to help. In the night the wind was so bad that our tent nearly took off and our brand new gazebo folded like it was made from match sticks. This did not bode well for the raising of the marquee. Now, thankfully we had David and Karen from Hereford with us, very experienced festival visitors, who had helped put up a marquee or ten in their time. We were all set to lift the top onto the legs when disaster struck: a huge blast of wind and the marquee roof tumbled down the site like a child’s umbrella. Everyone leapt into action and together we finally caught up with it. What an adventure! In the end we managed to put two marquees up, a welcome area for our intrepid visitors as the weather was bad Friday and Sunday.
Regardless of these little issues, we all had an absolutely wonderful time. The excellent advertising by Lizzie brought in the punters from as far as LLoegr: Bristol, Gloucestershire, and Herefordshire – and obviously Wales. We had not expected anyone from North Wales but Steve and Moya made the effort and the long trip to be with us. It was lovely to meet many new friends, some of whom had never been to a Pagan Federation Summer Camp before and to see again our usual suspects like Sheila and Alan from Newcastle, Pat and Nicholas from Staffordshire, Lee and Lou all the way from Basingstoke.
We danced the night away to the sounds of DJ Psyborg, seeing two Heathens doing the Prince Charming dance was a sight to behold! The home made Blackberry brandy flowed and greased old bones, some of us reverted to their misspent youth and I think we had the better of the young-uns but I could be biased.
There was a lot of witchy cackling around the fire, many a naughty song was sung and dirty joke told, in between Pat French told us stories and played the flute as did our host Sid, both beautiful and haunting.
One of the highlights of the camp out for me was our panel debate: a concept blatantly stolen from the Witchfest gatherings by me but nevertheless, I could not let the opportunity slip by when I had so many eminent pagans in our midst. For many months now I have been worried about the backbiting and bitchcraft that is making itself felt in the Pagan community in the UK. Wherever I come across a forum, a facebook site, visit a moot, speak to individuals etc. there are often quite bitter exchanges about the right and wrong path, which leads to diversity when others are working hard to establish a closely connected community.
So the question was: What is Paganism? Kicked off by our own esteemed ex-DM, Steve Ludford, who has been a Crafter for over thirty years, the question was discussed by Ros Briagha, James Denning, Cyt Warwick, Pat French, Siany and members of the audience with myself as referee. The result was astounding: we are not defined by our similarities to each other but our difference from other faiths: we have no dogma and there is no right way to be Pagan. Tolerance is the keyword that connects us all. A lesson we should all take to heart, including myself. Be good to each other, until next time -