I just returned from the Lumberjanes’ gathering at Folleterre. It’s my habit to post a gathering report when I come back from the land, for those who couldn’t be there. I expect Junis will post a report too, in time.
My first impression upon arriving on the mountain was dramatic! Tazio stopped the car at the bend in the road, at the bottom of our driveway, just next to Lanai’s land. I didn’t recognise it. Where there had been dense pine forest on both sides, now there is a wide open rolling hillside. The tree-felling machine had begun its work! Our telegraph pole, with its Faerie banners and markers, now stands alone like a proud totem. We are no longer hidden.
For me, the next few days were involved with the Stewards’ Circle. We took three days in fact – I think that’s a record! But we probably arranged a record amount of business, too. We also arranged an exciting calendar of gatherings. I have agreed to be the Gatherings Princess this year, and will help the various organisers as best I can!
Whilst the Stewards were meeting, Fagus led other Faeries in a range of tasks to improve and maintain the land. There is a new Valley Garden, where once there was an overgrown swamp. There are ever more paths and camping spaces, and the land is cleared, tidied and pruned for Winter.
Alongside all this work we made time for lots of pleasure and play. Perhaps it helped that there were more Faeries than we usually have for a work week – twenty or so – bringing lots of energy, extra hands and new ideas. We ate well, we sunbathed in 23* heat, we enjoyed tantra and magical sex, fire-songs and Autumn sunsets. Finally we stomped through the first snows on Saturday morning, just as we closed the gathering.
The land is transformed as we leave it to rest over Winter. We now inhabit a beautiful open hillside. One day soon it will become a lush meadow, a fruitful orchard, a Faerie grotto. But for now it is an empty new space, bald and bright in the mountain sun. The machine that did all this was a marvel to behold, both fascinating and terrifying in its own way. It cleared the forest at a rate of about one tree per minute. It was precise and ruthlessly efficient. Thankfully it was controlled by a man, who understood and respected that this is our home. He left standing all those trees which were marked with ribbons, meaning that the hill is not entirely plain. We still have a mix of native trees and a few tall pines dotted around, as a reminder of what was once here. It was important that we held a candle-lit vigil in our pine forest, the night before it was cut, to allow the spirits there to find new homes before the machine arrived.
From destruction, come new beginnings. In April next year – 14th to 24th April – we will hold our biggest-ever community week, when we will begin to heal the land, plant new trees, and work to bring clean drinking water into the house. If you come to at least one gathering next year, please come then. It will be beautiful.
Fagus is leaving us now (more or less!) as he starts a new life in America. He’ll be back from time to time – but it’s bitter-sweet to see him go.
I also think of Junis, as he helps his family through painful times, and I think of Absinth who recently lost his mother, and was unable to join us for the gathering. Many of us will be thinking of Shokti and EW too, who are both experiencing illness and discomfort.
All of you, stay well and stay strong as we turn towards Winter. But it’s not just any old Winter; it’s the Winter Solstice of 2012! Please, make the very best of it that you can.