Sunday, 10 June 2007

What Will I Do With All This Summer?

For the past nine years I've made an annual summer journey to Glastonbury, to attend Avalon Witchcamp. Since the first magical year, in 1998, Avalon has been my once a year treat to myself. It's a place where for one whole week of the year I can live with people who 'get' me, fellow Witches co-creating a unique space of trust, sharing and deep magical work. My husband and family aren't Pagan, and although they're supportive of my spiritual choices they don't really understand. Some of it they have no interest in and some of it they find frankly amusing. I don't mind. I don't have any desire to foist my beliefs on anyone else and as long as they're happy for me to go off and do my thing it all works out nicely.

In everyday life, I'm 'in the broomcloset' about my Paganism. I live in a fairly conservative, churchgoing area and I'm not keen on standing out from the crowd. Also, to be honest, over the years I've got tired of being treated like a weirdo because of my beliefs. Pagans - like almost anyone from the 'alternative' end of the spectrum (vegetarians, eco-activists, practitioners of alternative therapies etc) are almost without exception portrayed as comic relief by the media - that is when they're not accusing us of eating babies. Therefore most people don't take us seriously at all, which is tiresome especially when you've heard the 'Witch, eh? Better be careful you don't turn me into a frog!' joke a few times. So by and large I keep in the closet, except for that one precious week each summer.

Sadly, it has just been announced that this year's Avalon Witchcamp won't be going ahead, due to low bookings and a shortage of organisers. It's hoped Avalon will be back in 2008.

I'm amazed by the depth of my feelings about this. I feel bereft, like I've nothing to look forward to this summer. I feel grief. I feel homesick for my community. I knew Witchcamp was a very important part of my life, but I'm almost embarrassed by the depth of my sadness.

I have wondered over the last few years if I ought to break out of my routine, go to an overseas Witchcamp (they have them in the US, Canada and Europe - see, or just do something else entirely. I am well aware that I'm a bit of an Avalon Witchcamp obsessive! But each year the idea of not seeing those familiar faces at Avalon kept me coming back. This year the decision has been made for me, and part of the time I feel like a kid who's been told Christmas is cancelled. Yet some of the time, I feel like my summer has just opened up too. There's such a wealth of other things I could choose to do instead that I'm worried I'll end up paralysed by indecision and not do anything at all.

It's a strange mixture, this grief and excitement. I note the shift in balance from one to another, notice how I shift from one 'grief stage' to another - denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance. Strange how one can become so attached to an event, the security of a familiar schedule, a part-time community.

RIP Avalon Witchcamp 2007. I hope Avalon 2008 will arise phoenix-like from your ashes, and I'll be back to tell you all about what I did while you were gone!


halfpintjack said...

I'm also having both the grief reaction (actually crying...) and also the feeling of possibility for the summer.

I so hope *something* rises from the ashes.

- Hol

Anne Hill said...

As Donald would say, grief is a force of Nature; there's no denying it, so best to let it run its course. I'm so sorry you all have to bear this crushing disappointment, and all the logistical ickiness that goes with it. Hopefully this fallow year will lead to even greater riches in the future, whatever form it may take.


Faerose said...

wow no Avalon ?!

Tori said...

Oh I am so sorry to hear that this won't be happening this year.
I hope that something else springs up that is truly unanticipated and glorious...

p.s. My best friend is an in the broom closet Pagan...she is a principal of a school and I get such a kick out of all those parents that would flip if they knew that about her.

Reya Mellicker said...

The one I used to hate was, "Are you a good witch or a bad witch?" Yikes....grrrrrr....

Sorry to hear about Avalon this year! Especially sorry to hear how sad you are about it.

Sometimes it's just right to take a break, even from the things you love the most. I'll be so curious to see what you decide to do. Your reviews of an American witch camp would be so very interesting!

Moonroot said...

Thank you all!
Tori, I know an in-the-closet-witch who works as an undertaker. She is very amused by constantly being told by vicars and priests in the course of her work what a good Christian woman she is!
Reya, I would **love** to come to an American Witchcamp but I am increasingly having guilt feelings about flying anywhere (and it's a damn long way to row!!!). At this rate I may never get to an American camp, which would be a shame as I would love to experience the cultural differences.

Anonymous said...

i am devastated as well, the project I started and then marginalised from (people know what really happened) has failed.
I always thought I would be thrilled to hear such news, and thought it would be good karma if that happened, but it made me sad as well.
ann F the person who started it all!