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The Journey Home

Greetings from Laurelin! The leaves are beginning to change and fall, even while the daytime sun is still bright and warm. There is an unmistakable scent of autumn in the air. When we last blogged (about our Ostara ritual) we were just gearing up for our summer season. As happens every year, the wheel of summer picks up speed and advances so relentlessly that it’s not until the leaves begin to change that we have a moment to reflect on the experiences we’ve shared.

The gang under the tent at Lughnasadh. Photo: Terence Ward

We marked the summer solstice with our Laurelin tradition of rolling a lighted wheel down the big hill, along with a short and powerful creative ritual.

The Firefly Arts Collective (FAC) rented Laurelin Retreat for their epic 1,000-person arts festival over July 4th weekend. Check out their website to learn more about this ticketed event. This is the eighth year FAC chose to use Laurelin as the site for their event, and we are honored and amazed every year at the level of creativity and professionalism (and dollars for local businesses!) that the Fireflies bring to Bethel. Next year the Laurelin community and/or Pagan-friendly Bethelites hope to have a theme camp (“Backyard Magic”) at Firefly to share what it that happens at Laurelin the other fifty-one weeks of the year.

Lughnasadh 2016

Our largest Laurelin festival is Lughnasadh, and our theme for this year was “The Journey Home.” Over the years we’ve had a number of folks come to call Laurelin their spiritual home. Therefore, part of the ritual was to honor and celebrate that. But there are many people who lament online and elsewhere that they haven’t found their spiritual home yet. So another part of the ritual was to send out magickal intention that people find their own appropriate spiritual homes, whether at Laurelin or elsewhere. For this reason we built and burned a beacon to light the way for all seekers to find their homes. We were very fortunate and honored to have community member, Andy Van Ness, use his professional woodworking skills to create this powerful symbol.

Photo: Catherine Lahousse

Photo: Catherine Lahousse

Photo: Catherine Lahousse

Laurelin Community is a Do-ocrary

We always feel excited to see new faces and to watch the community of committed Laurelin folks grow and develop. Laurelin is a “do-ocracy” ( ). If you are willing to take responsibility for and do something, then you get to be in charge of it. This allows community members to take Laurelin in directions they feel passionate about, push themselves to grow and learn new skills, and share in the responsibility of keeping things running. We are honored that in the last few years there have been so many who are willing to share their time and talents.

In a shining example, this year our community pulled together after a microburst storm during our food and site prep weekend downed trees and left us without power for over 24 hours. We thought we heard thunder from the woods; it was actually the sound of trees falling. An enormous aspen fell just behind the house, thankfully missing the deck but crushing several poles of the attached tent frame. It is a testament to the community that we were able to find help chain sawing and moving fallen trees, and finding and cutting new tent poles in time for the event.

In addition, this year we got a new fire circle courtesy of welder extraordinaire Dennis Harper. Our kitchen goddess Valerie Harper had an array of folks step up to help nourish us at this event, and we hear next year’s collaboration is going to be even more awesome. We had community members share their homemade spirits, and this is not even mentioning by name all the other sacred and mundane efforts it takes to put on a five-day event for about 80 (!) people. (This was our largest in many years, and showing signs of growing still.) Next year’s event is already starting to take shape and it is very exciting.

For a perspective on this year’s event, Laurelin community member and Wild Hunt reporter, Terence Ward, wrote this piece about Laurelin:

This Weekend: Harvest Ritual

The fall may be a time for us to catch our breath, but it is certainly not a stop.

This coming Saturday, September 17 will be our annual Harvest Ritual. Some community members will roll in at noon and begin constructing our wickerman for offerings. At 4 p.m. we will have our simple harvest ritual followed by a potluck feast, drum circle/ music share, fun, friendship and sharing. A few folks will be camping overnight. Please join us! We will post more about the rest of our fall and early winter offerings in a few days. Check back soon!

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