Exploring the crossroads of religion, culture, and science through a Pagan lens

Templefest 2015: Earth, Stars, and Heart

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“We are a people of the Earth,

We are a people of the Stars,

We are a people of the Heart,

We are remembering,

We are remembering.”

 –      Orion Foxwood at Templefest 2015

Templefest 2015 was a bubbling cauldron of remembering.  Held atop a hill on beautiful, green farmland in southern New Hampshire, the three day festival attracts a variety of people from all over New England, the United States, Canada, and even some from the UK.   While the event is sponsored by the Temple of Witchcraft, it is open to all; witches and pagans from a variety of backgrounds, traditions, and experience levels attend.  Each one brings a unique set of skills, ideas, and needs to the cauldron.  The brew is cooked all weekend under the summer sun, stirred constantly by classes, rituals, and lectures.  Side discussions and fireside drumming added extra flavor while a Saturday night bardic circle and a midnight ritual added a little spice.  By the end of the weekend, each person is able to drink their fill of a delicious and transformative potion.

The elixir allows attendees to remember.  We remember who we are.  We remember why we chose this path.  We remember those things we hold sacred, but so easily take for granted in the business of everyday life: the Earth we walk upon, the stars that gave us birth, and the love that binds us all together.  The potion brewed at Templefest helps us remember that we are magick.

We remember the Earth.  While the festival site may be less than an hour from the urban sprawl that is Boston, it might as well be across the country.  The road to Templefest winds through tiny hamlets and open land.  For those of us who come from other concrete jungles, this is one of our few chances to truly get out into the green and reunite with the planet that sustains our lives.

Simply getting out into open space like this is a cleansing, magickal experience.  Yet there is more at Templefest.  Those of us who are part of the Temple of Witchcraft mystery school are afforded a rare opportunity to commune with each other and explore the mysteries and traditions that connect us together.  We learn from each other, whether it is over a simple hug and a quick conversation or a long, philosophical debate stemming from the last workshop or lecture.

Since the festival takes place over Lammas weekend, we also get to commune with the Earth through honoring her natural cycles.  This year’s Lammas ritual was an intense re-enactment of the grinding of grain into flour, as we all must take those things we have harvested from this year, grind them up, and utilize the nutritious portions to help us thrive. Leader Christopher Penzack challenged us to contemplate the Mystery of Bread.  We may have harvested this year’s crop and ritually ground the flour of our lives, but what good is that flour unless we can bake it into something delicious that feeds our hearts and souls?

Re-establishing our connections with each other and with Mother Earth is an important and healing part of the path of the Witch.  But there is more than that.  We are also a people of ideas.  We think; we wonder; we challenge  Just as the stars above us once inspired our ancestors to create myth and story, we continue to draw ideas and inspiration from the world of spirit.

The classes offered at Templefest were a prime example of this.  For such a small festival, there was an extraordinarily deep variety of challenging discussions and topics.  Devin Hunter challenged us to fearlessly tap into our own frequencies of power and to boldly use magick for personal gain.  Other program offerings included Chris Giroux exploring the meaning of sacrifice across cultures and throughout history and Temple’s lead Cancer Minister, Silver Lyons, helping us find and work with the symbols of our souls, and Storm Faerywolf treading somewhat controversial ground by connecting his classes to both the Peacock Angel and each individual’s Holy Daemon.

Ideas often clash against each other, a process that is good and healthy.  While it is tempting to expose yourself only to ideas that are already familiar to you, growth and wisdom are achieved when your brain is challenged.  Challenge was available for everyone who sought it out. Templefest offered a variety of opportunities to start with our natural connection to each other and to the land, then, through listening to the panoramic wisdom of its many speakers, to expand our understanding more and more toward the eternal stars.

Beyond the starry wisdom of the speakers, though, was a true heart – a palpable love that could be felt everywhere.  It could be seen in activities provided for children by the Cancer Ministry.  Children got to turn the Wheel themselves as they held their own Lammas ritual.  They had their own safe space, and the kind face of Simon Hewett was always there to help them.

The love could be seen in other simple things.  It could be seen in the large number of volunteers who lent a helping hand to assist with everything from parking to security to ritual setup.  One of my favorite examples of love was in the water.  Under the hot sun, groups of volunteers roamed through the vendor area, offering to refill water bottles for vendors who were unable to leave their tents to get it for themselves.  It may seem like a small gesture, but this simple act of taking care of others revealed the Cup of Compassion that lies deep within the heart of Templefest.

Ultimately, that love led us back to our connections to each other.  Pulsing at the heart of the weekend was the theme of the Witch Blood, that undefinable something that flows within us, brings us to our path, guides us, and binds us to each other.  In Saturday’s midnight ritual, we gathered under the full moon to honor the Mighty Dead.  We danced in their honor and shared a sacrament blessed by the light of the moon.  We came together to honor the Witch Blood, past, present, and future.  Under the stars, upon the Earth, and within our hearts we honored the ancestors, knowing that someday we will become ancestors. We remembered and we will remember that the blood runs within us all.  We are remembering.


Author: Tim

I am a teacher, a theater lover, and a High Priest in the Temple of Witchcraft. I love to point out the places where the everyday world, arts, science, and religion intersect. I stand for interfaith cooperation and the belief that people of all religions, political beliefs, and nationalities have more in common with each other than differences.

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