The East London crowd surges forward and a man in a mohawk wins beer for looking like a small Viking. Lucha Britannia showed me a good night, even when I was supposed to be packing to run away with the Faeries.
I stuff things into my camping pack, and fall into bed for a few hours. The Megabus to Newcastle leaves in the wee morning, and I'm surrounded by Scottish women offering me various tea biscuits.
Not bad for twelve quid.
In the thick trunk of England, my bus caterpillars towards the North. Before it all becomes Scotland, pastures and sheep uncoil for 6.5 hours.
In Newcastle, I wander along the Tyne river with a coffee until it's time to ride into the sunset towards Haltwhistle. The towns are named things like Angel of the North, Quaking Houses, Folly, Heddon on the Wall.
We bump down country roads so narrow that each time we encounter anything going the other way, the bus slows to a scraping crawl.
The town of Haltwhistle claims to be the geographic center of England if you balance it all on a pin.
I'm dubious, but dusk falls, a faerie car yoohoos at me, and I'm whisked off by Sprouty to Featherstone Castle right before dinner is served that night.
|Front door of our home for the week!|
I'd only met the Albion Faeries two weeks ago at a full moon drum circle in a Vauxhall church, but now I was in the midst of faeriespace.
I was Wombat again, and it felt like home. Modern living makes it hard to believe in people and things in a vulnerable way, and relearning how to do this is important.
That and Faeries know how to throw kickass parties.
There's a disco that night under garlands of starlight on rough blankets, the incense on the altar smoking.
In the drag barn, we crown each other in light and furs, and I'm swirling in an emerald sari until we fall asleep with sunrise.
|Better when filled with candles and faeries|
I creep up the turret to the roof and everything is pink but cold.
We walk along Hadrian's wall, clattering up small gullies rising into the air and using kissing gates like it says to do on the tin. Reading and yoga in the sunlit ballroom becomes a daily ritual for me, and the faerie fire is ablaze by 5 pm.
Theoklymenos feeds me the pale hearts of carrots as I dice cukes for massive salads.
We have meetings where the goddess hisses with approval.
I fail miserably at fire poi.
I've lost track of the days in faeriespace. I just know that I wake up feeling restful, satisfied.
After the blaze of Saturday, we seem to just wheel and swoop through in the thermal wake. Walks in the hills by the old prisoner-of-war camp, toast and tea throughout the day.
My right toe nails are still painted a dinosaur green a week later, and it makes me smile each time I see them in the shower still. Pixie did a bang up job.
Princess and I bake a caramel banana tart for 45 people, and I'm a model for the auction goods. I sell a capoeira class that I teach later in the week, and it's something I haven't done since college really, but muscle memory is there. Practicing for this while Qweaver played the piano was lovely, and I like the idea of holding onto this lighted holy space.
|Fresh garlic bread!|
I do manage to make it to meditation in the am as the schedule slumps throughout the week.
Heart Circles leaves me humbled and I forget how much you can learn just from listening to people opening up.
Trapdoors open, and I take deep breaths of forest air with my eyes closed. Baby sheep stumble towards their mothers, and om baa lamb ewe ram.
|Ferrero Rocher pyramid atop our altar|
|It's surprising how cozy hanging fabrics can be.|
|Campfires and faerie fires look similar sometimes.|
|Just a deck of various goddesses, no big deal.|
I didn't sleep at all the night before I left, and at 7 am, we're hugging down by the river, and I take one last look at the castle from the roof. Breakfast of champions (and shamans) is yellow corn, a single dried blue corn kernel, tuna fish, and the sweetest grapes I've had in a while.
I'm walked to town by lovely Faeries (props to Miqs and Turret!) and others see me off from Halt. I resist greeting everyone in town and especially nobody on the bus, just reading my journal entries from the week, smiling and remembering.
I'm leaving before the No Talent Show and three days before gathering's end, but David flies into Heathrow the next morning, and I can't wait to see him.
(After a week of vegetarian meals, I briefly considered the veggie life, but Newcastle's roast duck in Chinatown beckoned.
I mean, look at it.)