This weekend the Riverina and Snowy Pagans celebrated our 2nd Ostara, marking one year of celebrating the Wheel within our region.
The group formed on Facebook in May last year after I moved to the Riverina from Sydney and missed the amazing Sydney Pagan community. I wanted to connect with others in my new region, to celebrate the Wheel and to learn with, but also to make new friends. With our first Yule and Imbolc events being very much “getting to know you” we decided this weekend that Ostara would be when we celebrate our Sabbat forming, our coming together as a community, and the growth of friendships.
This last year has been full of growth and rebirth, so incredibly fitting for Ostara. We have developed standards of practice, an understanding of Codes of Conduct and we have dispelled the negative behaviour that began to form. That, in particular, was a major learning curve for me as someone who has organised the majority of our gatherings, as I can often be oblivious. I’m so proud of our community for speaking up and saying, “this behaviour isn’t warranted, and something needs to be done” and we have become stronger and tighter because of it.
From a locale viewpoint, we span states. We have broken the boundaries of our FB group namesake and cover almost 500km north to south, 300km east to west.
This last year we have faced challenges, we have danced the Maypole, made besoms, poured our wishes and hopes for the future within seeds that we released into the world. We have drummed, and chanted, and sung, and we have raised energy. We have celebrated this land as we travel around our region, around Wiradjuri Country, each Sabbat. We have been in the dust within drought, and wiggled our toes within the fresh grass. We have seen the rivers break their banks, and huddled around the fire on the longest night.
I believe this Ostara was one of the most beautiful, magickal, energising rituals we have held yet. While the intention was to return to Pilot Hill Arboretum and Sugar Pine Walk (where we celebrated in 2018) within the Snowy Mountains, the rain decided it had other plans, so a community member allowed us to celebrate on their property half an hour down the road… and it was perfect. We played with the dogs and goats, we made magick, someone may called in the Fae way too strongly (!!), and shared food. Despite the rain (and later hail) we still made it to Sugar Pine Walk as has become our tradition. The trees danced and swayed overhead, the Fae lead the young ones on adventures, we felt the power of the forest.
From a personal standpoint when I look back at the first Imbolc compared to this weekend with Ostara, my own personal confidence in holding ritual and holding space has grown. Coming from public and coven rituals in Sydney where we all knew what was expected, I wrongly came into Imbolc with that mindset. While my first public group ritual may have been in 2008, others may experience their first group ritual at something I hold. Never assume! It’s something that I got reminded of recently at the AWC 2019 because I was within ritual outside of my Tradition, and outside of my own personal practice. Our first Imbolc was the first time I had ever held ritual for a group outside of a coven, so I see it very much as “teething” and “getting to know you.” I didn’t understand how to hold space, how to lead, how to express what I expected regarding participation. It was the deep end and my floaties were missing! I’m so thankful for that experience as I got to learn first hand what I did right, what I did wrong, and what I hope never happens at anything I run ever again! I was late arriving, flustered, and not mentally prepared.
These events have also taught me how to adapt ritual on the fly. Sometimes I can have an idea in mind of how it will go, but the energy of those attending will call for something else (Beltane). Or, we will have chosen a location in mind and nothing feels right on the day (Lughnasadh). Or the river breaks its banks so you’ve got to choose somewhere else entirely (Litha)! While this can be frustrating to various parties involved, we are then directed to do something we hadn’t thought of, or be directed to a location we hadn’t considered, and it becomes exactly what it needs to be.
I want to thank everyone who has come to one of the R&SP events travelling the Wheel this last year. Thank you for lending your energy, your laughter, your voice. Thank you for allowing this idea to grow to what it has become. Thank you to those who have allowed us use of your property. Thank you to those who have helped run, and thank you to those who have led the Sabbats. R&SP is a community, our events are run for our community, and they couldn’t go ahead without the active participation of our amazing community.