CMA Beltane

my campsite at CMA Beltane

I’m back from a 4-day weekend trip to the Council of Magickal Arts’ Beltane festival at Spirit Haven, CMA’s group-owned land near Flatonia, Texas. This was my first large Pagan festival – it was quite an experience.

I don’t know how many people were there – I didn’t get an official count, and the orientation leader said they vary from 500 to 1500. My best guess would be somewhere in the 1000 range, but that’s a pretty wild guess.

I’m not going to try to review the event, and I’m not going to try to do a “my first Pagan festival” report. Instead, I want to talk about what I saw that I like.

I like that a group of Pagans, none of whom could be considered wealthy, have been able to come together, buy land, make improvements, and host two major festivals a year. It speaks to what is possible when we share common goals, work together, and stick with something year after year.

I like that everyone had to work a shift at community service. By sharing the labor, we keep the costs down, we avoid burning out volunteers, and everyone is reminded that the work that keeps an event (or a city) running doesn’t get done by house elves.

I like that there were many options for activities but no pressure to participate in any of them.

I like that while the mead and ale were flowing I didn’t see anyone out of control.

I like that everyone I talked to was friendly.

I like that Phaedra Bonewits led a Saturday night ritual that honored the spirits of the land with the music of her late husband Isaac. Leading a ritual for 120 (or thereabouts) people is very different from leading a ritual for 25 or 30 – Phaedra showed us how to do a large ritual right.

I like that I got to spend three nights more or less unplugged. Only got half of one book read, though.

l doubt these events will become must-do’s for me, but it was an enjoyable weekend and I’m very glad I went.

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  • celestial elf

    Enjoyed your report thank you 😀
    thought you might like my Beltane Blessing machinima film
    Bright Blessings
    elf ~

  • TommyElf


    Thanks for posting the info about CMA. I've never attended one of their festivals before – but have had thoughts of doing so for a while now.

    Out of curiosity…and slightly off-topic…what kind of tent are you using in this photo?? Is that a one-person or two-person??

  • John Beckett

    My tent is an REI "Camp Hut 2" – a 2-man tent. I've never slept in it with anyone else and I wouldn't want to – no matter how close I was to them . But it works fine for me.

    I borrowed the canopy and was very glad I did – the few really shady campsites available at CMA were already gone by the time I got there on Thursday afternoon.

  • TommyElf

    Been looking at the Coleman tents, but hadn't thought about REI. Peeked at the Alpine line — and really didn't like them that much. I just peeked at the REI site and saw the Dome 2…that's really…uhm…small. Even for one.

    So, there wasn't a lot of tree cover out there at the CMA location? I was thinking of Samhain…but don't want to end up with my tent turning into a day-time microwave oven.

  • John Beckett

    My tent WAS an oven during the day. Thursday (when this picture was taken) was overcast and not too bad… but that meant the temperature didn't drop much at night.

    Friday and Saturday were clear – almost hot during the day, but cold at night. I slept much better on Friday and Saturday.

  • TommyElf

    ::nodding:: I can completely understand that. I don't sleep well in the heat at all.

    You going to Samhain?

  • John Beckett

    Maybe – depends on if anyone else I know is going. Don't really want to do it by myself again. If three or four or more of the Denton CUUPS and friends go, I probably will.

  • TommyElf

    Well…here's one…I'm already setting aside the funds (which is a lot easier now that I have a somewhat steady income). Perhaps we can talk Dave P. into going as well??