Our day began at 5am as we drove from Northern Colorado to Black Forest, thoughts of what we’ll need to do for setup and preparation to receive our first guests taking up the majority of our conversation. This would mark our grove’s third year of offering Beltania Festival a 24 hour-a-day place to pray, have access to professional clergy and pagan psychotherapists, and receive guidance and blessings on their individual paths. Each year since the beginning, we’ve received nothing but incredible feedback from our guests for our service, and to see “regulars” returning to receive the next piece of life’s puzzle from “the Druids of HearthFire” is a blessing for all those who have given their time to this community service project.
To read more about how HearthFire came to be, and our previous adventures in sleep deprivation, click here.
I mention being deprived of sleep above, half in jest, and half in seriousness. We’ve learned much from the first time we lit the Fire, and each year, we get a little more safe and sane… including scheduled rest time, meals, and more trained, available volunteers. Even though we’ve grown and left behind our extreme asceticism from the first HearthFire, we still go twenty-four hours a day from the time the festival opens to just before it ends, and our warm Fire, and welcoming presence can be seen on each of our guest’s faces.
HearthFire isn’t all straight-forward and simple… just like the folk it serves, there’s an inherent diverse complexity. Challenges arise.
This year’s gifted firewood was damp and not fully cured, so keeping the Fire burning too extra vigilance, as well as oil. We took the challenge as an opportunity to practice, and held the space.
This year, during one of our scheduled mid-day rites, a guest in the middle of pious devotion, accidentally tipped over the 3’ tall pillar where our Well lives… the Well that holds all the offerings of coin given to folks’ ancestors. Down it came in the middle of things at the center of the Cosmos, holy water and shining offerings cascading across the courtyard… and then something tremendous happened:
Nurturing community arose.
Our guest was reassured that accidents happen (I like to say when things like that arise, “It’s a live show, folks”), comforted, and nurtured through what they experienced as very embarrassing. The folk in attendance all smoothly got up from their seats and went to work upholding the Cosmos… some to help the person who spilled the Well, others picking up sacred coins on their hands and knees in silence, while others yet started emptying their water bottles (a sacred act in and of itself in a high-plains desert ecosystem) into the Well refilling it.
No jokes were made, no ill feelings arose… in fact, there was a sense of peaceful joy in the whole scene.
We call what we do our ‘religious practice’, and that’s actually very skillful to do so. You see, when we make our offerings, build relationships, and receive guidance in our practice, we know what to do when it’s not ‘practice’ anymore. The questions we constantly need to ask ourselves is can we do what we do and see what we see when “shit gets real”?
The good Druids of HearthFire Sanctuary continue to put that question to the test…
… and our results are positive. Blessings, one and all!