I really need to talk about the Earth House Midsummer Gather that we attended in Wisconsin. This was my first full week at a pagan gathering, and I was really excited about it. Spending a week living in a pagan community is an extremely empowering time. With so many people to talk to, workshops to go to, and the nightly community bonfire, it’s hard to know where to begin exactly, but I’ll try.
It began with a long drive on Sunday June 19th, about 5 hours including a stop for a meal. We arrived just as the opening ritual was finishing, bummer! We picked out a spot to pitch our tent and got to work unloading and getting things set up. Our new tent neighbors were a big help, since we had a brand new tent we had never put up before. It was bigger than we thought it was going to be, which is just fine with me! We actually had room for our queen sized blow-up mattress and a couple of folding chairs and a table.
We received a very warm welcome from familiar faces and a few new ones too. That first night was kind of a blur, but I’m sure we spent some time around the fire, I can’t remember if I joined in on the drum jam that night or not. Our tent was right across the dirt road from the community fire and ritual space, so it made it really easy to pick up our camp chairs and join in the fun.
The campgrounds themselves were truly beautiful, and there were even showers and real toilets and sinks at one end of the grounds. It was truly wonderful for my first full week out camping. The amenities sure help!
Each day began with Rick’s Cafe. While lying in my tent listening to the birds each morning, there was a 7 a.m. call out saying “It’s Coffee, Hot Water too” so I knew it was time to get up, get dressed, grab a coffee cup and my camp chair and stumble down to Rick’s. Usually I would wait for the sound of laughter before I got down there, so I would be assured of a good time.
After that there would be time for breakfast back at the campsite, and then the morning meeting with announcements. The first workshop would be at 10:30, then time for lunch and the next workshops would be at 1 and then 3. There was plenty of time to sit and talk, prepare meals, wander the grounds, browse the vendors which were scattered about everywhere rather than in one location.
There was rain almost every night, and some drizzling or mist most mornings, but it was cool and comfortable rather than muggy which was nice. A couple of days saw us taking refuge under canopies or the lodge for large events due to rain. The mosquitos are not as plentiful in Wisconsin as in Minnesota, which is a good thing, though it still did require attentive applications of insect repellent.
The rituals were lovely, the drumming was magical, the brewing contest tasting was fantastic, and when the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance went up the hill one night, they were joined by many of the Good Folk and Old Ones. As pagan gathers go, this is a small one with about 78 people in attendance. Many of us were there for the first time, and found ourselves quite at home in a village of friends. There was laughter much of the time, fun things for both adults and children to do, and fun times just sitting around talking.
I even got to bring out my trusty Autoharp and sing some songs around the fire with Bear of Folk Magic which was a really good time for me. Saturday night brought us the Barbarian feast followed by the Talentless Contest which was completely hilarious.
When the final morning came along, I knew that I’d be taking a piece of the gather home with me. I can’t recommend this gather highly enough. If you’ve never been to a gather, this is a great place to start. If you’ve been to some huge gathers, this is a great place to come home to. It’s one community, no drama, all ages welcome. It was a wonderful week in the woods. Blessed Be!