Faerie Gatherings are always transformative affairs but this one would teach me a most important lesson. This was my fourth Gathering within the Tribe and for reasons I couldn’t understand, I felt sad and heavy within half an hour of arriving at Paddington Farm. Old insecurities around ageing, isolation and loneliness began to re-surface and though surrounded by love, laughter and trustworthy friends, I felt totally isolated.
If I couldn’t feel happy here, where the hell could I feel happy? The sadness persisted for two days, along with an increasing sense of irritation growing towards a number of individuals that both worried me and saddened me further. One sentence sums up my experience so far:
“Welcome to the family!”
This may seem like a grim start to a blog extolling the joys of a Faerie Gathering but it’s not the negative it appears to be. Indeed, I learned some of my most important lessons through this gathering. No one can be happy all the time and just because I was unhappy didn’t mean I wasn’t in a powerful and healing space.
Lesson no.1: Some of this shit may be ‘them’ but a lot of it is very much ‘me’ so let’s call it quits. I began to see the people pressing all my negative buttons were also having their own buttons pushed for different reasons. I’m learning if my inner child hits out, then for the most part I’ll only be hitting another vulnerable child. It’s taught me that by and large, hugs are much preferable.
Lesson no.2: Reliance on friends. My wobbly start to the Gathering has only served to reveal the extraordinary depth of care that flows from certain Faerie hearts. I experienced the unconditional love of one of my tribal elders and his gentle, almost unshakeable wisdom helped me navigate through the minefield of my own feelings. I also discovered everyone needs a Faerie Godmother from time to time. Mine has proved to be more of an Angel Godmother in this instance and she carefully wove a safe protective space around me during my time of vulnerability.
Lesson no.3: Role reversal – even my towers of strength can have feet of clay. On several occasions, the very people who kept me afloat during my own crisis began to crumble for varying reasons of their own. Ironically, I found myself as their pillar of strength, giving the same love and support they had given me. Lesson learned? Neither my friends nor I need be perfect to be strong. Being weak for much of the time is inevitable and maybe it’s time I accepted that. My hope is we won’t all be weak at the same time and there will always be someone to lean on for the person who needs support the most.
Lesson no.4: Most families are dysfunctional – Get over it. Through the course of any gathering I generally botch my way through a variety of interpersonal issues. I don’t always get it right. I very often get it spectacularly wrong. As a community, we also grapple with important issues, sometimes with heated or frustrating debate. This gathering was no exception. My lesson learned? I’ll never agree with everyone and I’ll never see the world through their eyes. Nor will they see the world through mine. I may upset you and you may also upset me. What matters most is that I learn to forgive and learn to permit difference. I may even learn to be more sensitive, when I learn to respect your wishes, even if I don’t understand where you’re coming from.
Lesson no.5: If it all gets too confusing, just bloody well escape for a couple of hours! On the afternoon I hit rock bottom, my Angel Godmother suggested we go for a walk to clear our heads. This walk was probably the most important event of the Gathering for me, for by that stage I needed solitude and detachment to navigate through my own emotions. We walked up Glastonbury Tor and from that incredible vantage point I could see for miles around and also spot Paddington Farm, looking small and insignificant in the wider landscape. For whatever reason I felt lifted and changed by the time we returned and better still, I felt less isolated.
Having periods of struggle through a gathering makes you appreciate the magical times so much more. These special times with logical family and tribe have to be experienced first hand. They cannot be fully described. The joy of this particular family is that it’s always growing, for each gathering I attend brings new and special individuals into my life, as well as strengthening and re-affirming previously forged connections. The most potent magic however was to be found walking up the Tor and around the fires with the drums. Faeries come alive when there’s drumming and especially this time as we invoked Brigid on the eve of Imbolc, the first flowering of Spring.
I may have begun the Gathering with a heavy heart but I left with a grateful heart. Partings and goodbyes are always sad but I know the Logical Family is always there for me, even though we are scattered throughout these Isles and further. My heart yearns for when we next come together.