How do I bring the magic home? Can I really dance and chant around the fire ring in the backyard for hours? Of course not, it would upset the neighbors. Can I drum in the morning to start my day? My night owl roommates would hardly thank me. This life of convenience has no community incentive, no village activities.
The world is lacking in beauty after PSG. There the men and women were natural, colorful, vibrant, and lovely. Here we are bland, mundane, and uninspired. We awaken to alarm clocks, not syncopated drumbeats. We use coffee to wake up, not ecstatic dance. We dress to be acceptable, not to be vibrant and comfortable. We mumble along to the radio, instead of chanting loud and proud in a crowd. We depend on electric lights instead of enjoying the luminescence of firelight and moonlight.
Though I can infuse my own life with the sacred, I will not feel that reciprocated in my surrounding community. Though T. Thorn Coyle, who was a fantastic presenter and wrote two lovely posts on PSG at her blog, makes a valid point that the groupthink that produces phrases like "Welcome Home!" and "Our Tribe!" can be a cause of concern, the fact that many of us have no community that even remotely resembles PSG makes that feeling of family, community, and homecoming not only understandable, but necessary. For some of us this is the only place we find of pure acceptance and belonging, and it is like water to a parched soul.
I must state that I adore my local coven. They are my lifeline and Gods-send in a world that ignores the basic sacredness of life. What I experienced at PSG was beyond their scope, and beyond the scope of most local groups. How can I convey to you the power and majesty of hundreds of people united in purpose and intent, living and working side by side for a little over a week? I fear I can't.
One of the most impressive things about PSG was the Rites of Passage for men and women. Even solitaries could be welcomed into the circle of women, take the tests of the men's rites of passage, be croned or handfasted with the support of a loving community. In fact I witnessed a handfasting and a proposal while I was there, and felt enriched for the experience.
It felt good to be in a community that embraced the masculine as well as the feminine. I've written before about how I am closer to male Gods than female Goddesses (although I'm currently trying to strike more balance in my spiritual life), so it was good to see rituals with both yang and yin energy, to see the God honored as well as the Goddess.
It felt good to be in a community that honored many different kinds of relationships. I heard "my partner" far more often than "my husband" or "my wife" regardless of whether or not the couple was married or of mixed genders. It felt good to hear people speak openly about polyamory and to disrobe without concern if they felt so inclined. After a few days at a clothing-optional festival, you find the things people wear are far more interesting than the things they don't. Naked is actually kind of boring.
It felt good to utterly exhaust myself in ritual. The spiral dance at the last ritual felt like an endurance test and I strove to dance and sing and push my body to ecstatic exuberance. From winding into ritual space between such amazing people as Jason and Zan to chanting about the power of women while rocking ecstatically back and forth with Misty, I pushed myself to limits further than I expected in tribute to my Gods, my community, and my own understanding. I cannot recall the last time I prayed as fervently as I did during that last ritual.
I sank into bed every night knowing I had lived to my fullest during that day, even though I could only accomplish perhaps 10 percent of what I wanted to do. Oh the things I long to do next year! The redneck ritual, both of Pan's balls (he has two, you know), more workshops, the Sacred Hunt, witnessing Rites of Passage, dancing ecstatically at bonfire circle, swimming at Echo Bluff, and maybe even performing in the talent show!
What did PSG change in me? It gave me a sense of pride and possibility in the wider Pagan community. It gave me the feeling my local community was full of unbounded potential and that my local community didn't have to bear the weight of all my expectations. My local coven can provide meaningful, intimate rituals and a local Pagan family, training in the deeper mysteries, and a foundation for my daily life. Those things are vital and sustain me.
These are things no large festival can hope to provide. Yet, PSG has given me membership in a larger tribe where love comes before praxis and every moment is milked for its sacred essence, in a way that might be exhausting or impossible in daily life. I was immersed in a loving Pagan world for a week and connected to the larger Pagan network in a new way. I now know Pagans across the country that I met in person before connecting with them online.