Dark Moon Mysteries: Seeking the Shadow Self|
Sacred Harvest Festival 2004
Reviewed by: Sparky T. Rabbit
"There is no change which doesn't begin in the darkness."
- SHF 2004 Village Guide
From August 10th to 15th, 2004, the Harmony Tribe held their 7th Annual Sacred Harvest
Festival, near the town of Geneva in southern Minnesota. The festival site is a large,
beautiful oak grove, surrounded on three sides by the peaceful waters of Geneva Lake.
The theme of this year's festival was "Dark Moon Mysteries: Seeking the Shadow Self."
The rituals, along with many workshops and talks given at SHF, explored this deeply
personal and often challenging subject.
You wait impatiently at the Gate with the other Witches until the Shaman lets you in.
He sends you down a winding path through the woods, dimly lit with candles. You catch
the faint scent of sage on the air. Nearby, someone is drumming.
M. Macha NightMare and
Ivo Dominguez, Jr. were the
major presenters at SHF 2004.
You pass through dark curtains and enter the Land of Shadow, where you witness Inanna,
the Queen of Heaven, as She is stripped of Her adornments by the Portal Guardians of the
Great Below, and becomes a living skeleton before your eyes.
- from the Descent Ritual, SHF 2004
Macha is the author of The Pagan Book of Living and Dying as well as the forthcoming
Pagan Pride: Honoring the Craft of Earth and Goddess. Macha is also a teacher at
Cherry Hill Seminary, an online seminary for
Professional Pagan Ministry Education.
Ivo is a founder of The Assembly of the Sacred
Wheel, as well as an organizer of Between the Worlds, a Grand Magickal
Congress which takes place this November. His community, based in Delaware, is two years
into an ambitious project: building the New Alexandrian Library, named in honor of the
ancient Egyptian library, the destruction of which meant the irreplaceable loss of
innumerable Pagan texts.
In the Shadow land, you stand with the others on the dark edges of a large circle. In
the center stands a huge cauldron, hanging on a tripod over a roaring fire.
SHF is a very child-friendly event, with younger family members ranging from toddlers to
teens, and scheduled events for all of them: workshops and playshops such as creating
various Crafty crafts, cooking a meal for Mom and Dad, a talent show, and even a kids'
sweatlodge, guided by Frank Chartrand, the dedicated Lakota man who also led the daily
sweats for adults.
Suddenly, amidst a cacophony of thunder and drums, three Witches fly in, astride their
broomsticks, cackling. They are dressed in black robes and pointed black hats, and they
have come to confront you about your own personal darkness. "When I approach and peer
into your heart/I see that shadows fall on every part."
As the Witches fill their cauldron with ingredients of shadow and light, they speak in
rhythmic poetry that sounds somehow familiar: "Double, double, toil and trouble/Fire
burn and cauldron bubble!" You feel compelled to chant along with them, and you half
expect an infamous Scottish usurper to appear. And then the Witches cackle. They cackle
a lot. It is a sound you find both funny and chilling at the same time.
will dip your dark crescent moon bead into the bowl of shadows the Witches offer you.
- from the Witchual Ritual, SHF 2004
A laid-back energy permeates the land, tempting you to skip all workshops and rituals,
and instead enjoy the abundance of conversation, laughter, and intimacy (and heart-warming
food!) with friends both old and new. The oak trees are awe-inspiring in their
deceptively simple beauty, both by day, as the sunlight drifts through the grove, and by
night, as you look up through the shadows of leafy branches to behold the night sky
swimming with stars. Of course merchants also attend Sacred Harvest, and you can find
everything from incense and recordings to clothing and swords to meet all of your Pagan
shopping needs. And for those who simply are too busy or too tired to cook, the Wolf's
Den provides both carnivorous and vegetarian meals and snacks from breakfast through
suppertime, and on into the evenings, far beyond its posted hours.
Sacred Harvest also offers an evening of official entertainment, which this year
included Funk-N-Faerie Dust, an a cappella singing duo whose voices blend in lovely
harmonies accompanied by a poly-rhythmic drum, and Mystic Melange, who create a
unique and haunting sound with a combination of sitar, tablas, djembe, udu, bass,
keyboards, and beautiful vocals, both spoken and sung.
The "official" entertainment is complemented on a nightly basis as many gather at the
heart of the tribal village to dance and drum and sing around a central fire, which is
kindled during the first evening's ritual and kept burning throughout the festival.
Experiencing the drummers, dancers, and singers blending their skills in an unspoken and
graceful synergy is truly magical, and words fail to capture the deep beauty and wonder
of this spirit-filled blessing.
More nightly tribal entertainment came from the wondrous feats of fire-spinning by the
Faery Pranksters and their friends. As fire juggling first made its way into North
American Pagan communities in the late '90's, most of the pleasure came just from
watching the fire take on a life of its own as it swirled in patterns around the
spinner; but now that this skill has had time to grow among Pagans, some artists are
adding individual flavors to their spinning with costume, music, dance, and attitude,
and are creating unique spinning styles all their own.
Another delightful nightly pleasure came from several Harmony Tribe members walking around the fire at unannounced moments, sharing replenishing food, such as cold, fresh strawberries dipped in warm chocolate. Being hand-fed such luscious treats in the already warm and sensual mix of dancers, drummers, and singers gave a new - and decidedly Pagan - meaning to the concept of communion.
In the dark of night, you walk a familiar trail through the woods. In a small clearing, you catch a glimpse of the youth Theseus, who holds a large sword. You arrive at the gates of the Labyrinth, where Ariadne greets you and asks you to carry a burden of Shadow for your community. You walk the spiral path toward the Minotaur's lair, and you hear his bellows and rumbling as he slowly awakens. The sounds he makes are startling, and you hold tighter to Ariadne's gift, the golden thread of safety and return, which you and all the others carry together. The Minotaur and his Shadow servants taunt you by naming the Shadows that you carry.
After his long battle with Theseus, you witness as the collective Shadow-burdens burn in fire, along with the horned head of the Minotaur. -- from the Transformation Ritual, SHF 2004
Sacred Harvest Festival is a relaxed and friendly gathering, built by the hard work of
the Harmony Tribe. I deeply recommend that you come visit the Tribe next year, and
immerse yourself in the collective vision of their wonderful Pagan community.
For a glimpse of both past and future events sponsored by Harmony Tribe, take a look at the Tribe's website.
Sparky T. Rabbit
Photos.... Top to Bottom
- Heart Chakra Shadow Screen
- Ivo and Macha
- Renata with Fire Fingers
- Minotaur Mask Ablaze
- For additional photos Click HERE