Some of the realizations that occurred over a weekend during a Beltane festival.
After checking in at the main tent and receiving our wristbands, we drive around to look for a spot to set up. We decide on an open clearing surrounded by trees not far from where we had previously camped. It's already crowded with cars, trucks and people trying to position their pop-up campers and motorhomes. After unloading everything, we sit down to enjoy the warm weather and lovely piney scent of the trees. Voices swirl all around us in the open expanse of nature, with much laughter.
Apart from the rituals like the raising and ribbon weaving of the Maypole or the jumping of the Belfire, during the four days there are some other aspects at work. The energy of all these people who practice magick or don't, the mixing of cultures and the genuine generosity and welcoming spirit of the weekend is exquisite and pervasive. It reminds me of a society in which I would very much want to live. There is little to no judgment, everyone shares whatever they have, greetings are exchanged in passing, nudity is seen as empowering as well as sexuality, and there is a right to each person to be in charge of their body and their space. It is considered a sacred space shared by a community. Therefore, negativity and isolation have no place.
The most significant interactions from this past weekend were from the campers parked on either side of our car. Bill, an older generation hippie was the first to share his medicinal plants with us. Smoking of any kind is allowed, but only on pavement, which is conducive to random conversations. We became quick friends with Bill and his witty banter. On the other side we had David, an older man who works for the Bureau of Land Management. He dazzled us with unbelievable stories of the excavation sites he tours and the artifacts he finds and then interprets for clues to our ancient ancestors. He literally talked to us for roughly 2-3 hours the first night. My partner and I don't believe in cutting someone's story short, so his seemingly endless tales kept going. But it was enjoyable! It really made me appreciate that there are people out there who share your same worldview and want harmony among all people and cultures. Plus, elders have the best stories and lived in a time that we can only dream of.
I am new to the spiritual Pagan community and am still learning, but I now know that humans need physical contact and things are better when you are part of a community. We were sad to leave but so happy that it happened. If you have the chance to go to a festival, such as the Rainbow Gathering, do it! It will really open your eyes and give you a different perspective. Plus, you might start friendships that continue a lifetime.