I wasn’t sure I’d go to Templefest this year. After caring for him in my home for years, my father had just passed away six weeks earlier and Templefest was being held on Father’s Day weekend. I was torn; as much as I love my TOW family, I wasn’t sure I’d be up for happy crowds of people. Then a beloved Wichcraft classmate called from NYC. She was coming for the weekend and, for the first time, I could offer her a place to stay. It was just a comfy sofa, but she said yes and I knew the Universe was guiding me to go to “the Fest” that weekend and be with the Community that so enriches my life.Raye and I arrived early enough on Saturday morning to be part of opening ceremonies. We were excited to go to Stevie’s sand painting class, and we had a wonderful time! What fun this project was, and the beautiful pieces I saw were pretty amazing. When we were told to mess up our paintings so that the magick could be released to the universe, we sadly did (after taking plenty of pictures first!) and then collected and released all the sand into the breeze.
After that, we had to shop! The vendors were plentiful and well-stocked. The food guy got great reviews, and the weather was perfect! We had just enough time to get back to the main tent for Ellen Dugan’s keynote address. The tent was pretty full, but we found seats in the middle and for the next hour or so, I was actually mesmerized! Although I’ve only been practicing Witchcraft for seven years, and have been to a few large gatherings, in my professional life, I’ve been to countless conferences, conventions, and retreats in the last 30+ years, and have sat through more speeches than I care to remember, and I’m a somewhat tough audience that way. Ellen gets high praise!
Ellen’s talk was very funny. We laughed again and again, and when it was over, I was chatting with different small groups and when I said how wonderful Ellen’s talk was, every single person replied, “Yes, she’s so funny!” and I agreed. However (and there’s always a however), what I really appreciated was that Ellen’s humor wasn’t used as a kind of smokescreen to cover up a lack of content; I get very frustrated with speakers who use humor and cute antics to make up for a lack of substance. Ellen’s talk was all about substance (and, oddly enough, Taco Bell bean burritos), and it was full of information that was practical, informative, and immediately useful. I couldn’t ask for better!
After more shopping and schmoozing and sharing, it was time for Wren’s Sacred Sexuality class. Once again, we were able to share useful information with laughter and in an atmosphere of open-mindedness and safety. Wren’s wonderful ability to combine a vast knowledge base with the openness to embrace people at their own individual levels is widely known, and the class was well-attended.
Too tired to stay for the evening drumming, Raye and I went back to my house to rest up for Sunday. We managed to be there for the first set of classes, and went to Jocelyn’s “An It Harm None” class, where we tasted two kinds of bread (with our eyes closed) and talked about the differences between store-bought white bread and homemade bread. We talked about sustainability, and not just how big a footprint we leave behind, but the kind of footprint, too. We had our share of laughs here, too, and gobbled up most of the homemade bread, giving the white bread to the birds. After that, Christopher’s talk on the Nine Waves was held under an increasingly breezy tent, and at the close, we did a Working to Thank the Land of Jocelyn’s farm. At the end, Jocelyn shared with us that the land had responded for the very first time, and we were all (land included) grateful and very moved. With threats of rain on the horizon, we had a lovely closing Circle. It was during the closing, when we were thanking each other and the land and the Universe for all of our Blessings, that I started to cry. It was Father’s Day, and I was feeling in equal parts, the heartbreaking reality of life without Daddy, and overwhelming gratitude for all my father had done for me, and all he was still doing for me, even from the other side of the Veil.
I’m so grateful for my Witchy Family, my Blood Family, my Chosen Family. Thank you for all that you do to enrich the larger Universe and all who live within it. For me, the gift of Community means more than you know. May your days be many and your Workings always be for the Highest Best.
And may there always be fresh bread and bean burritos nearby.
— Spirita Dulce, TOW Rev. HPS