Yup, it's this time of the year again. Castlefest is over, though only the festival. Everything else that came with it - friends, emotions, light and life - are things we keep carrying with us.
Castlefest is not just a festival. It's one huge pagan gathering, in a tiny country in the world. There, together, we bring traces of the old ways and ancient brotherhoods back into a modern world. Like daimonie beautifully said, Castlefest is the home of a pagan revival-movement.
Last year that's where I met my new friends and family and it seems our bond has grown stronger with every time we came together. Especially after this weekend, I believe the bonds of our friendship have grown even stronger still. We all stood together as one - arm in arm did we celebrate the good times and we supported each other in moments of sadness. Each of us have also grown closer to particular friends I believe, even though we didn't really get to know each other that much better... Castlefest - festival of friends.
On thursday I arrived on the campingsite with my friends Gilian, Bibiche, Nick and Christ, to join the rest of our brotherhood, who had already arrived there after their lughnasadh pilgrimige. We sat together, laughed a damn lot (so much that eventually I couldn't even stand up straight anymore ) and then unpacked our stuff.
Friday, we grabbed our bikes and went to the festival terrain together (count like 30 people). There we found our usual hang-out spot in the grass near the main stage and then went to do our own thing. We walked through the markets, watched the wonderful bands playing and basically had a great time. On that day, I got a ring from my good friend Linda, my first real ring ever! It's a silver broad ring with a rune charm carved in it. I've never worn rings before really, because they always bugged me. This ring though, doesn't bother me at all, but on the contrary: I actually miss it when I'm not wearing it!
I also bought the most lovely little dress that I wore the rest of the weekend, just because it was damn cool.
On saturday, we were so damn glad to finally see the band Valravn again! Damn, how much we looked out for that and they were as awesome as ever. This is also the day when we put our sacrefices into the Wickerbeast's belly. I had written a letter with my frustrations and prayed for the ashes of my pain to be swept away, and for my dreams to be lifted into the universe and rain down on me. On this moment, Sietse was there to support me. At night, our brotherhood gathered at the Beast for the sacrefice of our banner - we held it together and walked through the terrain, singing "The River is Flowing", before returning to the beast and offering it.
The Wickerbeast ritual at night was simply too beautiful, we stood at the front with a group singing as loudly as we could, as Omnia played Auto Luonto while they sat the Wickerbeast on fire. We sang together with Old Man Tree and that's when I wished we'd be together for as long as possible, if not forever.
Sunday started as quiet and rainy day, though it cleared in the afternoon when the crowd came in. I had bought a little bottle shaped like a turtle with a cork in it, that was actually a small necklace. Then I noticed my friends all had one too and they had put ashes of the wickerbeast in it. I thought it was a really cool idea, but I had my doubts of whether I, personally, should do it too.. Since the ashes of my letter were supposed to be swept away by the wind. I decided to try it anyway and there suddenly it went wrong. After having a conversation with my friends about a subject that fell too hard on me, I suddenly went completely downhill.. As quiet as my head was before, it became a total chaos again and my belief was totally broken, I couldn't even enjoy Omnia anymore because I was too absent. Then Gilian said that I could still spread the ashes personally and that's what I eventually did, with him by his said. As I spread the ashes of the creek near the terrain, I prayed for a phoenix to arise from the ashes - a phoenix of life and light. After that moment, everything went back to normal and better. I noticed my bond with Gilian had grown stronger after that.
After this last day of Castlefest, we went to the beach with a group where we said our goodbyes to the sea, to Castlefest. We wrote our prayers, names and thoughts in the sand as the tide came in, to let the sea take them along. There we sang Old Man Tree together, and just enjoyed each other's company, and that of the sea... Then we waved our goodbyes and went back to the campingsite.
The next morning, yesterday morning, it was time to say goodbye to each other again. Which is never easy, but this time it was simply painful. But at the same time, we all slowly realized that we were very happy, in spite of everything each of us is going through. I promised myself I wouldn't cry when I said a dozen of goodbyes to Nina, but eventually in the train when Gilian started singing Caledonia, my first real tear came out. At home, when my father played Old Man Tree on his radio, I started crying for real, which last till I finally went to bed... But you know, I don't think I cried just because I was sad about having to leave my friends again... but I think I cried more because I am happy - happy that I have those friends, no matter where I would go. Our brotherhood is not decided by distance, after all.
Dear Tuatha de Lugh, our brotherhood, it's been a year since you became my family. And therefore, happy anniversary! I never dared dreaming I would be a part of a group as special as you guys, I love you very much, my pagan brothers and sisters.
Castlefest - festival of brotherhood.