Warrior Blessing Ritual at Pagan Spirit Gathering
Good morning everyone and happy Saturday once again! So yes, I did something terrible; I missed writing an article for a week! I do apologize, but I came back from Pagan Spirit Gathering and got thrown immediately back to work. It took me until Wednesday (or was that Thursday?) to get the mountain of laundry cleaned and stuff put away, but it was all worth it. So let’s get into my adventures, shall we? And, I’ll go over Ryan’s status and the recent news events as well. Get your favorite breakfast munchie and a pot of coffee going, because this is going to be a long article.
The drive itself was pretty easy-going and only a couple leisurely hours long. I was able to get everything in the car without really squeezing anything, so for sure I would have been able to bring someone with if they didn’t have a whole lot of stuff. I didn’t use the luggage rack for one thing, so now I know for next year how much further I can take things packing-wise. I also have a hitch with a towing capacity of 3000lbs, so there’s always the option of a light trailer, too. Good things to know! I’ve been to Stonehouse a few times before, so I didn’t even need a map, and that’s in spite of me taking state routes and stuff. I remembered every turn without second-guessing myself.
When I got close, I realized I was five minutes early and was prepared to “circle the block”, but I was waved in. So, I got into “pole position” with a half dozen other vehicles and was witness to the official countdown to the big Welcome Home! I was very tempted to start blaring my horn, but I reined that in. I got to my designated camping area for media folks, unloaded, parked the car and spent the rest of the day slowly setting up to get things just right. Cara Schulz showed up in the late afternoon/early evening, and she had set herself up while I was passed out in my tent. Which, I think you’ll find my tent to be rather comfortable:
Photo courtesy Cara Schulz
If you look close enough, you’ll see pics of my family on one of my dressers/nightstands, my protector statue to watch over me while I slept and a stuffed animal version of our cat on the bed – the spot he always takes up here at home, crooked on my arm. I did that specifically so I could not only sleep well in strange surroundings, but to spare me from a bit of homesickness. I’m very rarely ever apart from my family, especially not for such a long period of time, so I felt I needed that – and I did. Many people had their own ways of making themselves more comfortable, and mine, well, I did it with a little bit of flair. Next year, I’ll probably take it up a few notches!
I had a wonderful time in our encampment. In fact, I didn’t really venture out beyond that too much besides showers, a workshop on homeschooling just next door and stuff like that for the first couple of days. It really did feel good to slowly acclimate and just be, especially after such a stressful week at work. I did get pretty chummy with our neighbors, and Child Center was right around the corner, which gave me a crazy sense of Baby Fever. But what I really enjoyed was the 2pm cocktails Cara put together, inviting folks over to our camp with deliciousness, and especially the Symposia she put together. And as the Shake and Bake commercial goes, “…and IIIIIIII helped!”
Now as you can gather from the very first picture that lured you in, I had the opportunity to attend the Warrior Blessing Ritual. That top pic – it doesn’t do the ritual justice, but I wanted a nice shot just to tease. Let me tell you, there was not a dry eye in the house, and that includes me, the one with the hard candy shell and yet the sweet center. It was a moving experience; I’m talking that scene in Old Yeller-moving. I really had a hard time being objective and unbiased, trying to be all professional-like, so I probably missed out on some incredible shots. I do apologize for that.
Below, you’ll find a collection of photos. Please note I have intentionally blurred people’s faces just in case there was someone who later decided they did not want to go public.
Colorguard getting things started, in which they went deosil around the main altar.
Just after they played the Star Spangled Banner if memory serves
I think this is where they were calling quarters, and allow me to show you what a quarter’s altar looked like (and I do apologize for the eastern quarter’s pic not turning out)…
This is the southern quarter, represented by the U.S. Marines.
This is the western quarter, represented by the U.S. Navy.
This is the northern quarter, represented by the U.S. Army.
This is the main altar.
This is the POW/MIA altar.
And this – I wanted to highlight the ribbon ceremony – awarding our Warriors for their service.
I have been Pagan now for about 18 years, and I have never, ever been completely drawn into a ritual before – not even spellworkings I’ve performed by myself without interruptions. (Isn’t there always some kind of interruption though?) I’ve never had that “peak moment” so many people talk about, and while certain aspects of rituals have felt genuine, I’ve never been whole-heartedly, completely moved by them until that point. I thank each and every one of you who put this together and who participated, for your sacrifice, your service and your continued dedication toward helping others feel whole and welcomed. My own wish is Ryan would have been able to come to PSG this year, which I’ll get into that in a moment…
The rest of the week was filled with many adventures. I did a goofy poem for the talent show, or aka the Performers Right of Passage, based on my observations of restaurant chains, which most folks thought was pretty funny. (What? You expected something deep and meaningful coming from me? Seriously?! You must be new here.) I also started a new yearly addition to Pan’s Ball by hosting a photo booth complete with designing a back drop. Here’s a pic of that:
Yup, that’s me, and yes, I’m wearing a concert shirt from the band Morbid Angel. What?! It’s Pagan-ish. That’s a dual Lilith! I guess I’m just not the hippie, sarong-wearing type (except for going to the beach – with a swimsuit).
The greatest adventure though was dealing with the horrible storm that swept through starting on Friday. In spite of our best efforts, everything got pretty soggy, muddy and rather funky-smelling by Saturday afternoon. But in spite of that, I was sad to pack up on Sunday… at least until I went to get my car. When I turned over the ignition and my favorite CD was playing, it had dawned on me how much I missed certain aspects of Mundania. Yup, Aces High will do that to a Metal girl I guess.
So that was just a smidge of all that went on for me out that way. I didn’t do a whole heck of a lot there, oh, except maybe giving Marty the Drama Llama some love, because hey – I think he’s a Drama Llama because he’s misunderstood! Now back home, I had mentioned Ryan wasn’t able to come with, and that’s because he was supposed to go to MEPS again for another evaluation to get the waiver he needs for his balance/flexibility issue. Well, that was canceled if you can believe it, so he had at home for nothing. BOO! But this past week, he got the call to go, but once again he was kicked back. They’re giving him one more chance, and he can call to schedule when he feels he’s thrown everything at it. Many people suggested in addition to his personal training at the gym, he take up some yoga for that. Hopefully that solves the problem, because wow is he getting frustrated! I ask everyone to please keep him in your thoughts, because he really wants to reenlist!
Now the other tiny, little bit of news that happened this week was DOMA was repealed! WHOA! And you all know what that means – gay partners of military personnel will now be able to get benes just like everyone else, among a million other things. I joked now gays can be just as miserable as the rest of us, which yeah, that’s a given, but at least when they’re fighting over whose turn it is to do the dishes, they’ll be recognized as equal human beings and not second class citizens. I called the repeal to DOMA to be March of 2014, so I will happily admit I was wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Maybe though, I can still save that and say gay marriage will just be known as marriage across the land by then.
Well, that was a long piece for me to write and probably a longer one for you to read. I have a lease signing in an hour, so I need to get my butt in gear. Many blessings to you and yours, and I hope your journey these past couple of weeks have been just as memorable. Take care!