Heartland Pagan Festival was a wonderful and incredibly moving experience – I wrote about my first few days there in Part One of this series. Sunday, the night after the torrential rains, had a bit of a rough start. The rain had gotten into our tent and we’d taken refuge in the car that night, so waking up was a little uncomfortable! After a few laps around the campsite meeting friends old and new, all the stiffness was walked out of me, and I was ready to take on the day.
Sunday morning I attended a workshop by Aislinn Firehawk on the Goddess Runes. Of course, they’re not at all historically authentic, but I have somewhat of an obsession with divination systems and I wasn’t about to miss this one! Many attendees stayed and made their own sets, but I had to scurry off to a workshop by SJ Tucker on music and magic. That was fascinating. As a young person in college, I once thought I would make a career of music, and it still holds a powerful place in my life. The workshop was fantastic, and included group discussions that spawned all sorts of ideas in me and a rite of healing magic manifested through sound. I’m hoping to incorporate more of this in my practice going forward, so I’ll elaborate on it as time goes on!
After that amazing session, I set aside some time to look over my presentation and mentally prepare for the ritual I was going to perform. Unfortunately because of the rain my workshop had to switch locations, and there was some confusion over where it would be – I ended up with only a few attendees, but thankfully the small size enabled some amazing discussion. My workshop and ritual were centered around the Goddess Nerthus, whom I have been devoted to for many years. I presented the scant historical information we have on Her, academic consensus and theories surrounding Her, and my own UPG on Her personality and functions.
Once I’d finished my presentation and we’d reached a stopping point in our discussions, we began the very simple ritual I’d written to invite Her and help those attending get a feel for Her energy and blessings. I will be posting the ritual itself in my next installment of this series, but like all rituals it didn’t go entirely according to script. I was feeling Her presence so strongly that day, perhaps because of the boggy wet earth that covered the campgrounds. One of the offerings I chose to give was a song though I am usually so nervous about singing or being musical in front of people, but I was so wrapped up in honoring Her that it wasn’t an issue at all.
The main goal of the ritual was to invite Nerthus into the land as She was invited into communities in days of old, in the midst of feasting and partying and general merrymaking – the kind you also find at a big Pagan festival! Her presence brings life and growth, the seed of the wild that a human-dominated landscape like a campground needs. Her blessings were also channeled into stones for each participant to take home, to bless their gardens or other places. I felt it was a great success, and have planted the remaining stones around my garden.
When the ritual was finished and we wrapped up some of the final questions, unfortunately it was time to head home. I would have liked to stay for the closing ritual and concerts that were being held that night, but my group and I were being often warned about the muddy state of the ground and the difficulty other campers were having in leaving the festival, and we didn’t want to attempt it after dark. We were rather apprehensive, not at all certain that we’d be successful in leaving – and since I had to be back at work the next day, we didn’t really have time to wait it out after getting stuck in the mud. Between my friend (who is a Kemetic and a Heathen) and I, we called on a great many deities to aid us in a successful departure. Thankfully, it was a rousing success, and we rolled out of the mud without a single cause for concern – and you better believe I gave some nice offerings when I finally arrived home!
In Part Three of this series, I will be posting the text of the ritual I performed for Heartland Pagan Festival!