The Aquarian Tabernacle Church of Wicca, founded in 1979, decided to throw a little festival back in 1985 to celebrate the return of Spring. Now, 25 years later, the festival has grown to include more than 300 attendees from all around the world. The festival takes place at Ft. Flagler on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State over Easter weekend. 2010 will see the festival Thursday April 1st through Sunday April 4th.
Dubbed the Spring Mysteries Festival, it re-imagines the Demeter’s mysteries at Eleusis. Although much of the exact ritual from Eleusis, Greece has been lost over the 2000 years, each year, a cast produces a version of the Mysteries which inspires and renews the spiritual well of the participants. The story always involves the 12 Olympian Greek Gods and focuses on Demeter, the Goddess of the harvest, and her daughter Kore. After Kore runs away with the Lord of the Underworld to transform into Persephone, Demeter’s grief consumes her and threatens the well-being of all humanity. The participants go on a dangerous physical and spiritual journey to save her, working through many obstacles.
Over the years, the festival has gained many traditions including: a blood-curdling adult right of passage in the bunkers; a row of Shrines to each God and Goddess present at the mysteries which is attended by a Priestess or Priest of that Godform; and a trek down to the sea to give honor and thanks to the Goddess Demeter as they did over 2000 years ago.
This year promises to be extra special, as each participant will get an opportunity to interact with a different Olympian on an intimate level. The schedule has been changed to include a “flash from the past” presentation with pictures and memories of previous years, and an 80’s dance party.
The staples of the festival will still be present, including a variety of merchants, delicious and plentiful food including Vegan fare, a talent show, educational workshops, a healing shrine, and an auction of wonderful items. All proceeds support the church in their many ministries, including hospital and prison ministry. Funds are especially needed to complete the dining hall and gathering space at the church in Index, which threatens to be shut down if the project is not completed during the alloted time in the permits.
Expectations are high for the festival, and beds fill up fast. Registration is open now and the fees increase as the festival nears. A recent tax code indicates that if you pay more than $170 to attend the festival, you can write the rest off as a tax-deductible donation. Include a brief letter indicating your interest in the registration packet.
Production for the festival is well underway. The cast has been selected and this month began a rehearsal process which includes acting and spiritual training to prepare for the festival. At the Dark Moon ritual held at the church this last Saturday, the staff has been selected for the kitchen, registration, and all the other parts of the festival. 2010 promises to be an exceptional year for this long-running festival.
The fact that this festival has been around for so long proves just how Pagans value community and their Gods.
Like ’Dear Abby’ with a pointy hat!
Jamie is a freelance writer, tarot reader, teacher, and pre-service counselor. Oh yeah, and she's a Witch!
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