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 http://www.witchcamp.org/), 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!