Artemis Gathering 2017: A Hare’s diary

A Hare’s write up of the Artemis Gathering 2017:
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Friday 11th AugustDancing Hare website
The M25 motorway was up to its usual tricks, so as our Sat Nav kept telling us to avoid it, we eventually did as they suggested and went cross-country, getting back on track at the M40. As we had the whole family with us, we took a break at Oxford services, finally arriving at about 3.15. Being gold members, we could go straight in and pitch our tents.
We pitched up in the family zone and then all went off to investigate. I went off to the main marquee, also known as the beer and food tent, but also where people generally congregate. As there wasn’t much going on yet I decided to take a look at the stalls which were still setting up. Steve Frost of Nightstar Flutes were there, and I had a lovely chat with the gentleman who runs it, and he let me play on the flutes. There was one there I fell in love with, and he said if it was still there on Monday morning, he’d let me have it at a discount price since I was a returning customer (I’d bought a drone flute from them at the enchanted market earlier in the year).
Got back to our camp site at 5.45, had some pasta, then we all headed down to the marquee for the music. The first band was a duo called Corvus. They were a very nice band, and I ’d been speaking to them earlier as they were setting up, and they are quite new. They did mostly their own stuff, and one cover. After Corvus was the great Damh the Bard! What can I say, apart from excellent! He was up to his usual standard, even surprised us with a new song from his upcoming album the Mabinogion, possibly called Rhiannon, not sure, and I sang so much I nearly lost my voice! I tried to talk to him after, but he was very busy–and very hyper after playing his home crowd and he didn’t stay long. So spent the evening tasting hubby’s alcoholic creations of flavoured meads and vodkas and chatting to friends and Dagda (C o A security) members. All in all, a very good day.
Saturday 12th
A fairly slow day today. Although there were plenty of talks scheduled, nothing caught my eye until one pm, so I spent the morning getting a henna tattoo of two dragons on my left hand/arm. The very lovely Henna and Hat lady remembered that she had promised me a freebie since she wasn’t available to do my hand fasting henna, so she refused to take my payment! Wandered around the stalls as they were beginning to open, also played on a little bone flute that I had in my bag.
Then at one pm went over to the re-enactment area for the dying, spinning and weaving talk. I have an interest in this, having been a Viking re-enactor myself. They were very knowledgeable. Nothing caught my eye at two pm, so I started some knitting that I had brought with me.
Three o’clock saw me at the bar tent for professor Ronald Hutton’s talk on Village Witchcraft and Magic. Very interesting, as he always is. Nothing again at four
–more knitting! Then back to the re-enactors at five for a workshop on runes by the Ealdfader, aka Pete Jennings.
Back to our campsite for food, we could hear the band from a distance but didn’t go and investigate, instead going to see the fire sculpture before it gets burned. Then back to the marquee for some quiet drinks as most people had gone to see the fire sculpture get burned. Shopping purchases today included some perfume from Domina Luna Apothecary, some butterfly wings (like a very lightweight cloak)in purple, two drawstring pouches, one with a hare design on and another to be collected from Herstmonceux with the longman of Wilminton image placed on it.
Sunday 13th
Hubby is also known as Elmcloud and did a woodland walk as the subject of his talk at 10 am. Very interesting and you wouldn’t know how terrified he was beforehand. He came across as very confident.
After his talk came the second instalment of dying spinning and weaving, so more knitting and retail therapy! My shawl is getting longer, and my wallet is getting lighter by the minute! I bought a lovely holly leaf necklace from Indigo Forge and some tumble stones which I didn’t have in my collection. Also bought a cloak clasp for a friend whose birthday was today. I also picked up a couple of glass items,a necklace and a statement bead from Baked Glass Creations.
There was a talk at 2pm I was interested in, but I had been informed that they weren’t there this weekend so I wasn’t sure if the talk was going ahead or not, so I didn’t go. Three o clock saw me in one of the lodges for a talk by Pete Jennings, then the lovely Nisha Vyas-Myall spoke about the Hindu gods. Both very interesting talks. Had dinner, then quickly got back to the marquee for the raffle at 6.30, where hubby and I both won about three prizes–after having bought five strips of tickets each!
All the stall holders had donated prizes, and I hoped to win the flute, but it wasn’t to be! 7pm saw the start of the firewalk workshop run by Oona McFarlane. I have done this before, but it’s always fun to do, and I decided to walk for two reasons: the first was for our own Carrie, as she is having health issues at the moment, and the other was for myself, as I was made redundant in March and need to get a new job. Part of the workshop can involve breaking an arrow–basically, you put your reason, whether it’s negativity, job loss, a bad relationship, whatever, into the arrow, the blunt end goes against a board which Oona holds, the tip goes against your throat, you tell everyone what will help you break through the negativity, and then take three breaths while everyone chants your chosen phrase (for me, courage), step forward, and the arrow breaks.
By half-past nine the fire is ready to be walked, and I do it twice, once for me, and once for Carrie. Eventually, we go back to the marquee, have a few drinks, but it was quite cold, so I decided to go back to the tents. On my way back I saw a shooting star–hopefully that meant the firewalk will have results, who knows?
Monday 14th
Last day
I have to start packing everything up. No talks running today as the event closes at noon. So we’re up and breakfasted, then down to the marquee to say farewells and make final purchases before all the stalls close. I buy the flute! It sounds better than I remember, and I have his information, so I may try and go on a flute making workshop one day. Then it’s back to our campsite for the sad part of packing everything away. We get packed, are about to drive down to the entrance, then my daughter Coral and I remember that we want to get some coal from last night’s firewalk, so we go and get some while the others drive down and we meet in the bar tent.
Final hugs, chats and farewells are stretched out as long as possible, even though we will probably see them again in seven weeks at Witchfest! Then it’’s back in the car, and set off for the M40 and M25 to take us back to our muggle lives.
One thing I always love about this event can’t really be explained, it has to be experienced. There’s a wonderful feeling of both safety and family here. We as a family have been going for the last fifteen years, and it’s the only place where I know that I can not worry about my children; their safety, their whereabouts, whatever. I can just let them run off, find friends, do what kids do. If they get hurt, there’s always someone around who will help and if needs be to find us.
Also, if something goes missing, it almost always turns up again before you leave. This year we lost a chair from our camp site, but the next day it was back in our tent! Obviously someone had borrowed it, but remembered where they had borrowed it from. I always come back energised, and my faith in people restored.
Many thanks to the organisers Merlyn and Cathbodva- long may they continue their good work. This is only my experience, I can only mention the talks I attended and the stalls I visited. If I didn’t credit you, I apologise, it’s only because I can’t remember everyone! Other stalls were there, selling clothes, incense, masks and many more. Much money was spent!
Debbie Jary
Further details as detailed on poster below and for many more conferences and meets througout the year, you can also join up, next large gathering is Witchfest in Brighton UK
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