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Answering the Call of the Wild

Twelve hours ago you were sitting in your office watching the clock tick slowly by. Five hours ago you were driving through another state to get to your destination. Three hours ago you were pulling up the gravel path to the registration tent. Two hours ago you met someone whose name you knew from an email list whose posts you admired. An hour ago you sat down with your new friend by the fire and listened to the storytellers tell stories and the dancers dance. Now, there are drummers and singers and dancers.

The drums and the fire and the laughter and the dancing and the mead and the songs and the joy and the smiles . . . 

And it hits you: this is what "fellowship" means in "A Druid Fellowship". The festivals are where it's all happening, face to face, mixing ideas we've only just begun to ferment. The festivals are where we finally meet those members that we've been watching on the email lists, and where those of us who talk too much get in touch with those who never talk enough.

It has been interesting to me, over my past four years in ADF, to go to the various festivals put on by ADF Groves and individuals. Sitting around the fire on a chilly night at Trillium, listening to Bard Dafydd read a poem; mastering shadow puppets to the delight of a small crowd at Walking With Fire; or relaxing in a hot tub for four straight hours at Desert Magic: these are the things I remember best, and each festival has new memories and new friends to add to the growing list.

The ideas that bring new life into Our Druidry also get their test runs at the festivals. At Desert Magic in 2004, I saw John Michael Greer describe how ADF could create its own magical system. At Wellspring 2004, I heard Ian Corrigan present his thoughts on the ADF Initiate Program. At Wellspring 2003, I heard the presentation of the idea of Kins, and at Summerland in 2002, I saw the workshop that would later become my essay "Three Bowls and a Stick" that now appears in the Dedicant Program Handbook.

If you've read my reviews of festivals for the past few issues of Oak Leaves, you'll note that I always talk about the virtue of hospitality, and I have a tendency to praise each host. Part of this is that these hosts have really, truly been that good: each festival, from Desert Magic to Summerland to Walking With Fire, the hospitality shown by the organizers (and even the attendees!) was simply amazing. The organizers were helpful and genuinely cared about their guests, and the guests did their best to take some of the burden off the organizers where they could.

Always, though, the thing that astounds me most is the closeness of the community at ADF festivals. I was amazed when, at my very first festival when I'd been a member for about 4 months, I was able to walk right up to the Archdruid, sit down next to him, and ruthlessly question him about the Two Powers requirement in the DP. Over the years since then, at all the festivals I've attended, I've noticed that I can do the same with any ADF member. I love to sit down with new faces over a mead horn or in front of the fire and just talk. In the end, it's the conversations outside the dining hall at Summerland or the late night I stayed up with Narabali and Ratrija at Walking With Fire that I remember best, the one-on-one time with other members that keeps me coming back for more.

There are so many festivals that I still want to go to sometime: Muin Mound Madness, Fall Fest, and Three Realms are just a few of them. Work and life don't always let us do everything we want, though, so it might be a while before I make the full circuit, but I am intent on trying. There's so much of ADF left to meet and be a part of!

In the end, I suppose what I really want is to encourage every ADF member, no matter how long you've been a part of the organization, to get out and go to the festivals. If your new or feel disconnected from the organization, or if you're a involuntary solitary just looking for some physical connection with people of a like mind, festivals can rekindle an excitement and vigor to your practice you might not have known you had. If you're a longtime member who just wants to reconnect, getting together with other ADF members can remind you why you're with the organization in the first place.

Festivals can be a wonderful experience. But you have to go to them to get that experience!

You can find a full listing of ADF festivals on the ADF site, linked from

If there's a festival near you, especially one less than two or three hours away, I very much encourage you to go. I can promise you that you won't be disappointed. Plan ahead, stay warm (and stay dry!), and hopefully we'll see a review from your next festival in the next issue of Oak Leaves!


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