There's been some discussion on the Web lately about varieties of public worship, with many Pagan authors advocating group rituals. A few writers like large festivals, but most don't. So, always the contrarian, I'm here to send in a vote for festivals.
Can't speak for anyone else, but I'm a nervous person. Perhaps I'm the only nervous person in the whole world. Could be. You don't hear many people admitting to being nervous ... like it's a failing or something. HEY! I'M NERVOUS! It's not a failing, it's just what is.
Small groups don't work well for me because I'm always second-guessing myself. It's very hard for me to ground and center within a small group. *Am I doing it right? Did I say (or do) the wrong thing?* On and on. I don't see this as a failing. I see it as my own personal internal mechanism. Then there's my other interior dialogue, which I do consider a failing. I've been to one small group where I kept asking myself, *Are they doing it right? This is not the way I like to do this!*
I'm not the ideal candidate for a coven or a grove, or a blot, or even a Methodist congregation.The one grove I was in that I liked broke up due to size (small). Loved those folks, but even there I was a bundle of nerves. Whereas the Methodists would have found me scathingly critical if I'd opened my trap.
Festivals are a much better place for nervous Pagans. A large festival with a widespread religious representation allows the nervous person latitude to enjoy things anonymously (thereby avoiding the *Am I doing it right?* pitfall). Also, at a festival, if you don't like the way it's being done, you can jolly well slip away for a nap or some quiet meditation elsewhere. People at festivals tend to be friendly but not looking for deeper bonds -- the kind that make me nervous.
I attend two festivals in the warm weather. the first is the http://www.spoutwood.org/fairie-festival May Day Fairie Festival at Spoutwood Farm in Glen Rock, PA. This festival celebrates faeries and Beltane, first weekend in May, and is convenient to Washington DC, Baltimore, Harrisburg, and Philly.
The other festival I attend is http://www.4qf.org Drum and Splash at Four Quarters Farm in beloved Artemas, PA. Artemas is not convenient to anything, which makes it a deep woods with swimming holes and mountain vistas. Well worth the long drive.
While Drum and Splash -- and Four Quarters in general -- is considered religious, Spoutwood is more about having fun and slipping in a little Earth Worship like a spoonful of sugar into iced tea.
For those who think festivals are "religion lite," just recall that praise and worship is a personal thing -- some people, some bored deities, just like it big, loud, boisterous, and relatively anonymous. Don't fault the solitary Druid who throws on her tribal and goes to drum and dance with people she doesn't know. Maybe that's the one way she feels comfortable, at home, and at peace with herself.
Thus endeth today's sermon. Thanks be to Vulture.
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