Sacred Harvest Festival – Shrines Unveil the Sacred

This years Sacred Harvest Festival ended Sunday and down came at least twenty five festivant shrines expressing worship and devotion to deity. Festivants were asked to bring shrines and they sprouted like fall mushrooms after a rain. I am sure I didn’t photograph them all, they had to be sought out in both public and hidden spaces. Some shrines had a clear focus, others were a reminder of our diversity. These photos on a windy day give a casual look, at night they transformed and were all lit and tended, and offerings of incense and libation graced many of them. Some grew as the week progressed, others disappeared or re-appeared in new forms. The theme of the event was “Unveiling the Sacred, Immersed in the Luminous Light of Love”, and shrines were an important aspect of this years festival experience.

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Nels Linde

Court Rules Flambeau, Wisconsin ‘Model Mine’ Violated Clean Water Act

A federal court ruled Tuesday that Flambeau Mining Company (FMC) violated the Clean Water Act on numerous occasions by allowing pollution from its Flambeau Mine site, near Ladysmith, Wis., to enter the Flambeau River and a nearby tributary known as Stream C.
The lawsuit was filed early last year by the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council (WRPC), the Center for Biological Diversity, and Laura Gauger. The complaint charged that Flambeau Mining Company (a subsidiary of Kennecott Minerals Company / Rio Tinto) was violating the Clean Water Act by discharging storm water runoff containing pollutants, including toxic metals like copper and zinc, from a detention basin known as a biofilter.

Flambeau Mine in September 1994, when heavy rains caused flooding at the mine site.

The federal Clean Water Act makes it unlawful to discharge pollutants from a point source to waters of the United States without a permit issued under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”).  Both the U.S. EPA and the DNR (which has been delegated authority to issue NPDES permits in Wisconsin under its parallel program, the WPDES) commonly issue permits to point-source discharges of industrial stormwater such as the discharge from FMC’s biofilter.  The most important function of an NPDES permit is to ensure that all applicable water quality standards are maintained. FMC never had an NPDES permit authorizing the discharge of copper, zinc, iron, and other pollutants from the biofilter to Stream C, and therefore was in violation of the Clean Water Act.

Yeshe Rabbit – Sacred Harvest Festival Guest – Interview

Lady Yeshe Rabbit
Sacred Harvest Festival Guest

I talked to Lady Yeshe Rabbit of the Come As You Are (CAYA) coven. We talked about her work in the San Francisco Bay area, her appearance at Sacred Harvest Festival, and her thoughts on gender issues in the Pagan community.

How do you like to be addressed?
For the most part you can call me Rabbit. My title in my coven is Yeshe, it is a word that has a few different meanings. In Tibetan it means “primordial wisdom”, and that is why I took the title, because I wanted to be guided by that primordial wisdom that resides within. It was also a childhood nickname, because I am Polish and my birth name is Jessica.

Tell me about CAYA?
CAYA coven is my coven.   There is within CAYA several different layers of membership. Some people have a casual relationship and may just attend our rituals. There is also an inner circle of trained clergy. These are people who have been with the group for a number of years. They would be my ‘closer’ coven you might say.

What is the role of CAYA in the Bay area?
CAYA stands for “Come As You Are”, and it is a coven that is built around the principles of eclecticism, inter-faith, and support for a wide variety of different paths. An individual who maybe has a very strong personal path, or, one who might be  just starting out and wants to learn about many different paths to see which one is the right fit, would find themselves very comfortable in CAYA. Each of us in CAYA feels that it is the utmost importance the we determine our own personal relationship with the divine. We then share our own individual practices and spiritual beliefs in the spirit of generosity without presuming that we know the one way that is right for everyone. What that means is that we are a coven “filled with solitaries” (jokingly), because everyone has their own individual practice. When we come together we join around a central core of protocols of how we do rituals in an outlined format, a baseline of ethics that we have all agreed to, and principles of community that we think are essential:  Cooperation, conflict resolution, clergy conduct and comportment. When people come into CAYA they feel very welcome, even if a beginner, or if they are extremely experienced and just don’t want to be told what to do because they are confident in their own path.

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Dawning of a New Day – Editorial

My wife,  Judy Olson Linde,  and I  appeared as guests this year at the Heartland Pagan Festival near Kansas City, Mo. I wrote this article for their newsletter, which was also published in their festival guide. It is excerpted below;  The theme of the festival was  “Dawning of a New Day” and I was thinking about what it would take for us, as a Pagan Spiritual community, to achieve that dawn.

Guests at Heartland Pagan Festival 2012 – Judy and Nels Linde at far right
photo: Aaron Smith

The Heartland Theme this year  really attracted us to contribute differently this year, as guests. In recent years most Pagan communities, organizations, festivals, and even small groups have experienced some kind of internal turmoil, and so have we. Our easiest reaction to this is to withdraw to personal isolation. We attribute conflict to, “Just politics, Pagans can’t agree on anything”. We may have just stuck our head up and tried to get involved in a community just in time to get it bit off, so back we go into the safety of isolation. If you persist and stay involved in community work you often see the same destructive processes repeated over and over. Working together to build a community of support, something beyond ourselves, can seem a hopeless task.

Respectful disagreement is a sign of change, and can be a motivator toward moving in new directions. When change can be so beneficial, why does it so often end up being harmful to individuals and communities, instead of an opportunity for growth? Is it an essential truth that Pagans working together is like ‘herding cats’? It doesn’t have to be. Working together doesn’t have anything to do with ‘herding’, and, have you ever seen film of a pride of lions hunt? Differences don’t need to be a source of disruption. Diversity of views in decision-making can be a group’s greatest asset.

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Largest Upper Midwest Pagan Festival opens in 10 days! – Interview

Sacred Harvest Festival (SHF), located in southern Minnesota near Albert Lea, opens Saturday, August 6th, The last day to register online  and before gate rates is Sunday, July 31st.  I had the chance to interview Bress Nicneven, festival site director and board member of Harmony Tribe , the event’s sponsor.

Why do people continue to return to Sacred Harvest Festival?

SHF has gained a national reputation for quality and timely speakers and musicians. Celia’s video for the song ‘ Symbol’ was filmed at SHF, before the Pentacle Quest  became a household Pagan word. It is known for having a defined theme each year, and presenting profound rituals and speakers that all build on that theme for a complete experience. One of the few festivals that does this each year. In stressful financial times, this festival offers the cheapest per day rates of any festival in the country for the quality of the programming and activities.

It is a really reasonable family vacation for Pagans. It is an upper Midwest tradition, going on 14 years. SHF is really a place for everybody. There is a Kid’s cauldron, operated by parents and volunteers, that keeps kids happy all week. Families get the time and space to worship together as a family. They get time together and also adults have time for individual experiences. It is really strengthening for both families, individuals, and our community relationships. We have a great location in a shady oak grove with easy access from Des Moines, Madison, and the Twin Cities.

What is this year’s theme about?

Forest Family, Roots and Branches Intertwined  is our theme this year. It encompasses the roots of the Tribe itself, the thousands of people who have grown this festival over the years. We come each year to celebrate at this magical grove, and this year we specifically want to connect with the marvelous shady and protective trees there. Trees are an appropriate symbol of how we are also all connected, and essentially like the forest that we camp under. Like the burr oaks, we are still growing, and changing, and each season together we reach out within the festival and our home communities to integrate our spiritual experience back into our foundation, our roots. Continue reading