presents Need help? the 2002 starwood festival - july 23-28, 2002 - brushwood folklore center

Andrew | Kelle | Kevin | Heather

From Andrew (8/3)
I don't really have a story to tell, per se.

My first Starwood was two years ago, and it was... not exactly a bust, but certainly more than a little strange. I'd come down into the fields for twenty minutes, and then go hide in my tent for two or three hours. I wound up not coming last year. This year, I resolved, things would be different.

I went down to the Roundhouse Monday night, intending to sit and watch for a while, and then go do something else. Then I remembered that at my first Starwood, I'd carried water for a while, and I'd met more people as a result of doing that than anything else. So when the guy in the Roundhouse got tired of carrying a waterjug, I stepped in, and started doing it myself.
And then did it every night.

I wound up meeting about a hundred and fifty people over the course of the week; people wanted to know who I was and I wanted to know who they were, and so it worked out great. I met some of the vendors and merchants, and 'ordinary' attendees, kids and adults and teenagers. Some people were desperate for water, and I felt like I was saving lives; some people were doing their own thing and happy to do it. Thanks to Phil, Michael, Joe, Lyle and Ingrid for helping me give out water at the Bonfire. Thanks to Marcus for red suspenders; doing an O with you around the fire was the highlight of my week!


From Kelle (8/9)
Ok - here's my two cents.

When I arrived at Starwood, I found that there were a lot of chaotic energies running around the site. I had not ever thought to ward my area at a festival, but my only experience with festivals has been the Earth Spirit events which are far more closely guarded by the Earth
Spirit community than Starwood is. This is due in part to the size of the events (max 600 at Rites of Spring) and the ways they are handled.

This is neither good nor bad, it just is.

So, I felt that the site was not warded in a way that I would want to be warded in my down-time, so I set up wards on my campsite, inside each of my tents. I was careful not to exceed my tents themselves (each one had its own ward) so that no one would accidently walk through them and feel uncomfortable (something that happened to me in my initial set-up search for a site, so I'm not the only one casting my own wards). I used physical items (candles for the screen tent and copper balls for the tent) to represent the wards, so that when I packed up, the wards went with me. In this way, I protected myself from the energies that I didn't want to be part of.

Thus, my life was not interrrupted by spirits, or statues, or anything else I didn't consciously choose to become a part of. I have made the mistake in years past of being on land with magickal people and not warding my space. In those instances I had very disturbed sleep and
all sorts of problems. I have learned from those events and highly recommend taking a conscious action to protect yourself and your space. This is a highly diverse community. People from many different paradigms working with a variety of energies. Many people are altered physically through the energy or alcohol or what-have-you. With this many magickal people on site, it just wise to set some space up for yourself that is shielded from these energies. Not because they are bad, but because they are not something in which you wish to swim while you are unconscious.

Just my two cents. - Kelle

From Kevin 8/13
Hello Everyone,

This year I had the pleasure of attending my first Starwood Festival as well as having the honor of being able to perform as a musician on the main stage with the Dirty Mothers on Thursday. Unfortunately, the time slot that our band was given was not very conducive to video projection, as we played at noon for a crowd of about 10 or 11 people in 100-degree heat. I am not complaining about the experience at all, it's just that I was kind of expecting a better turn out at a festival that is attended by thousands of people. Even though the performance was not what I had anticipated, the festival more than made up for the disappointing turnout for our show.

I must say that I have never seen anything like this place anywhere, nor will I probably ever. The culture shock that ensued when I first stepped foot on to the grounds of Brushwood was enough to completely disorient me. I was immediately stripped of all the pretentiousness of modern industrial society and thrust in to a strange world of nudity and excess, which I learned to thoroughly enjoy. That is not to say however that the first night was not difficult. In fact I was quite sure that I would go completely insane with the incessant drumming and chanting, but I soon learned that if one becomes intoxicated enough, one can sleep through just about anything.

It only took a short while before I became accustomed to such things as public shower facilities (which I aptly named the "prison showers") and shitting in a plastic outhouse. These things became quite normal over the course of the week and I even learned to strengthen my resolve enough to survive and even to thrive in this environment, which was so alien to me at the time.

However, I must say that the overall experience of Starwood made these minor inconveniences insignificant. I was stunned at the magnitude of beauty that I encountered at almost every turn. It was impossible to walk the grounds of Brushwood without encountering something on a nightly basis that made me want to break down and weep for the overwhelming joy of it all.

I remember specifically, the first time I entered the roundhouse to participate in the activities there. The solid rhythm of the drummers and the languid movements of the dancers as they encircled the fire enthralled me. I remember clearly that it was about 9pm when I entered the roundhouse, and after paying my respects at the altar I picked up my drum and got in to the groove of the rhythm. As I began drumming with the others I noticed that the beat became everything. It sort of sucked me in like a maelstrom and held me in a place that was without fatigue, pain, or any physical limitation. I became one with my instrument and with everyone present as well as with some other indefinable force that seemed to be draped over everything. I was truly lost in this trance for many hours. The next thing I became aware of was the light in the sky growing brighter. It was then that I realized I had been drumming all night and when I looked around there was hardly anyone left in the roundhouse, yet the intensity of the energy there never diminished. This was truly one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced and I can't really explain how it felt adequately in words.

I was also fortunate enough to happen upon a sight that filled me with joy at the possibilities that exist in this place. This incident occurred while stumbling around one evening, bottle of mead in hand, looking for more libations. I happened across a fire circle (don't remember where I was exactly) around which were belly dancers. The most calming and soothing music I have ever heard was emanating from this circle and the dancers were simply breathtaking. I'm not sure how long I stayed to watch, but they had finished and were leaving when I finally decided to do the same.

I also must say that this trip would not have been nearly as fun if not for the generous hospitality and warm friendship of the COPA. These are some of the most beautiful and insightful humans I have ever had the joy of befriending, and I would just like to thank Ken, Al, Aspen, Mark, and everyone in the COPA for making this an extremely entertaining and hilarious time. These guys definitely know how to use humor to make it through the hardships of life, and when things got rough for me these guys always made me smile or laugh, or just plain forget about whatever it was that was bothering me. That, and these guys knew how to have FUN. I never thought I would ever find myself clad in nothing but tinfoil dancing around a 3 story bonfire, following a man in a gorilla suit and a disco ball chanting COPA, COPA, COPA…. I love these guys.

I was definitely able to bring back some valuable lessons from this experience, which I would like to share.

1. Life is too short to take everything seriously all the time. Lightheartedness is just as important as anything else, and we all have to remember to have a good laugh every once in a while.

2. It is possible for a community to live in peace and harmony without restrictive rules and overbearing enforcement or policing. If left to their own devices, people do not go in to some sort of destructive frenzy, but behave more like family and treat each other with love and respect. This realization gives me great hope for humanity and the future direction that people should move to make this type of community oriented living (unburdened by bullshit bureaucracy and laws) possible in our every day lives.

As a final note, I would like to thank ACE, and everyone else who made this possible. I will definitely be back next year and many years to come.

Blessings to all,

From Heather 8/18
While preparing for the bon fire the last night of Starwood 2002, I had the good fortune to meet a Shaman from New Mexico. We talked about philosophy for a while and then he asked me if I was interested in taking a spiritual journey in search of wisdom from my inner being. He agreed to facilitate the journey by guiding me through the process based on his experience with many such journeys in the past and by using his skills as a Shaman to help me navigate the realm of the superconsious. Being an Anthropologist, I live for opportunities such as this and jumped at the chance. Our ceremony began with a blessing and the burning of sage to clear and consecrate our ritual space. He then led me through a ceremony that was intended to take me out of my normal consciousness and into a world of spirit beings and alternative dimensions. Almost immediately upon closing my eyes, I saw an enormous bon fire burning large and bright from a shifting perspective. My inner vision was surfing between the dark, moist and cool of the Earth at its base to the universal expanse of the star dappled sky above it. I marveled at the fire’s brilliant colors and seeming sentience, twisting and straining higher and higher into the night; wild, powerful and unpredictable. My breath quickened and I experienced time and space bending and twisting in upon itself as glittering embers sailed higher and higher into the black and expansive night of my mind’s eye, taking me out of my waking consciousness. Simultaneously a spirit messenger, part of me yet separate and distinct, filled my mind with a certain knowing and timeless wisdom. It’s message was not communicated through a voice, nor was it a symbol, a picture or even words, instead the very idea of what I was being shown in my mind’s eye was being communicated to my inner being in a way I find difficult to describe now in retrospect. The message included the idea that fire itself was a manifestation of divine energy; essential to our existence and a crucial part of all that is. The image and energy flooded my consciousness as the beautiful rhythmic dance of the fire climbed higher into the still night of my mind’s eye. An understanding that this divine energy exists between all things in unseen realms and has properties that can be recognized and worked with was the foundational revelation of this experience. Specifically, the idea that love is more than just an emotion intermittently experienced by humans. Rather, like the image of the fire as a manifestation of divine energy on the earth plane, it is something that is an essential element of all that we see, experience, and know and is in fact directly connected to and part of what I describe as divine Spirit. The manifestation of love exists simultaneously on another plane that envelops us and is directly, inextricably a part of the life force. Love has the power and unpredictable nature of the wild and passionate element of fire and travels between us all of the time in this often hidden realm. I was given a gift that night that has allowed me to let go of having to control the nature of love in my own life. Perfectly in tune with the multidimensional ebb and flow of universal love, if only for a moment, I touched and connected to the fire that night in a way I never imagined existed. Consequently, now when I see and experience the power and beauty of fire, I remember that connection and feel comforted by the gift of wisdom I was given that night in the arms of the Mother at Starwood. The real bon fire that night held very special meaning for me and is among the most memorable experiences of my life. Thank you ACE for providing a place and an environment for me to meet and experience the Otherworld and myself.

- Heather Kyle

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