Below are interviews of two new attendees to Sacred Harvest Festival. What they both found on arrival was that unique sense of community created by our experienced Minnesota festivants. Zach attended as a practicing Lutheran, Rachael as a dedicated Gardnerian student.
Zach, – Festival Virgin, Practicing Lutheran
I identify my self as a Lutheran. I teach Sunday school and do a lot of volunteer work there. I don’t make it every Sunday, but I try to be active.
This is all completely new to you?
Well it kind of started out with me asking a friend of mine about it, I asked him what he does for his religion. I’m kind of a religious nerd I guess. I have gone to Native American reservations, gone into Islamic Mosques, and talked to people. I just like to gain perspective I guess. I was curious to begin with and when invited to attend, I said , “Sure, sign me up!”. I’ll see what it is all about.
What has your experience been like?
I was a tiler for The Hunt last night. That was really awesome to see the breakdown of how it went. I have never really done a ritual like that before, never one that was that in-depth for people. A friend was a hunter, and so it was fascinating to see the three days fasting and the change from then to today. I don’t know if I can feel the ‘energy’ and stuff that people talk about, but I could definitely tell that spiritually there was a lot going on.
I like how everyone is really accepting here. You might have different campgrounds from different covens or whatever, but all together they identify as part of the Sacred Harvest community. I think that is awesome.
You felt welcome?
Yea, people have been asking me if I’ll be back next year, so I feel more than welcome. I have made some great friends here at the teen camp.
Did you have any fears?
I was nervous a little bit because there always seems to be a stigma from other religions towards Christianity. There are people with Christianity that are in you face a lot, or get up on their horse . In my church we were always told that was not acceptable, we don’t condone that. I was afraid I was going to come here and have a harsh attitude toward me., like. “oh. Here comes a Christian:. I also thought me coming here might break down a barrier that may exist on this side as well. I am here to do it all. I have had a lot of questions, and I am sure they sound stupid to some people, I don’t know what is going on half the time because I have never been exposed to it. People lead me by the hand and tell me what’s happening, what this or that means. You know, there are a lot more parallels than there are differences, I have noticed. It is a different way to go about it, but generally it is on the same page, the more you get to know it.
Is this something you would come back to?
I have been thinking about that. I don’t know if I would ever ‘subscribe’ to being Pagan, or Wicca or whatever. I definitely know my roots as Lutheran.. The community here, I’d love to be a part of it. I’d love to come and express myself just like everybody else. It is definitely a safe place, and I really like that. I feel like people are very understanding, and are thrilled that I came. That I would move out of my comfort zone and try something new. My youth pastor, when I get back, is going to take me out to lunch and ask me about it too. I feel like I am doing home work, but am enjoying every second of it. Whatever deity you subscribe to, it is all about what makes you better as a person. If Wicca works for one person, and Islam works for one person, it’s all great because in the end we are just working to make everybody happier.
Rachael Goodman, -Minneapolis, MN., Festival Virgin
Have you been exploring Pagan ideas?
Yes, I am associated with Hedgewalker Coven out of Minneapolis. We are Gardnerian, and I am in my year and a day. I met them in October of last year, and started with them in January, so I am about eight to nine months in. They made me aware of this festival and I decided it would be a good time to explore the options.
What was your biggest fear coming down here?
Camping is kind of my forte’ so guess really it was the unknown. I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t know simple things like are people going to camp together and sit around the camp fire or have more of a group atmosphere.
What have you found?
I have found that you guys create a temporary community. It was pretty incredible, because you don’t see that, this type of thing virtually anywhere. I’ve never experienced anything like it.
What things have you participated in?
I did a drumming workshop. I was fortunate enough to get to tiler for The Hunt, which was incredible. So much fun, very exhausting, but the best part of that was the procession back after the ritual was finished. Being welcomed by everyone, and the singing and celebrating and being served. I really did feel like those of us that participated were being honored. I have very rarely experienced anything like that. I’ve been helping out wherever I can, I have been volunteering wherever they need me.
Is contributing a joyful thing?
It really is because if you really want to get to know people you really can’t hang out at the outskirts or by your tent the entire time. You have to get involved, and one of the ways to get involved is to volunteer your time. The best way to get to know someone is to work beside them .
Will you come back next year?
Oh, for sure I am going to spend the whole week next year, providing I can get away from work. It is difficult to get an entire week off, but it has proven itself to be well worth it. I’ve only been here since Wednesday and today is Friday, and I am already thinking Sunday is going to come way to soon.
Have you felt welcomed?
Oh Yes. It was actually a really good thing that I came on Wednesday because that is pie day, I read all the guide and wanted to participate and one of the things it said was to bring a pie to share, and so I did. I brought a pie, and I got to feed people. Actually feed people. I got yelled at for using forks so, I got rid of the fork . It was good because I got to go around to other camp fires and merchants, and introduce myself, and feed them if they chose. If they didn’t, it still gave me the opportunity to break the ice.
Words really can’t describe this, it is something that you have to be a part of. You can say the word community, you can say camaraderie, you can say family, but this is somewhere in the happy circle of that!