“I only ever see you between places, heading off somewhere” he said to me. “I don’t feel like I’ve had time to get to know you”. My first emotional response was guilt. Here was a wonderful new faerie whom I had somehow failed, by not being more available for him to connect with. But hold on. If this is non-judgemental space, why am I judging myself? And why is it incumbent upon me to facilitate that connection, if this is also co-created space? Why should I feel obliged to be present and correct for everyone else, who do I think is taking the fucking register here?
All these thoughts flashed through my mind but the words I felt best able to offer this most endearingly earnest of my kin were “If you see me passing by and you want to talk, just ask if we can get some time together.” Looking back it still seems the most Faerie of possible answers. It helps a newcomer to be aware that they are equally as responsible for their experiences at a gathering and it also serves to remind me I’m as entitled to my own way of being as anyone else. But perhaps it lacks some context.
You see, I am a liminal faerie. A will o’ the wisp. It’s rare to find me in the centre of big ritual or parties. Due to my bizarre and hilarious food allergies and intolerances, I usually have a separate kitchen and therefore aren’t around at communal mealtimes. I can experience social anxiety in large groups, so sometimes I’ll retreat from them. Yes, I’ve found myself leading workshops, hosting the auction or the odd heart circle before. The great swathes of time in which I find myself reverting to a solitary, more introspective state of being tend to be more natural for me.
It’s taken a number of years to find myself at peace with my liminal status. I’ve come to accept that this means sometimes I might miss out on some aspects of a gathering. Don’t get me wrong, I marvel in delight at those who dive into the throng, the supple social swimmers who glide through rivers of interaction while I barely paddle. But the benefits of my view from the sidelines have gradually become more apparent to me.
As with almost every gathering, while at Glastonbury for Imbolc I caught a cold. Kisses, hugs, puppy piles and dormitories spread colds like nothing else. As such, on the morning when everyone was getting up early to visit the wells of Glastonbury and mingle with the locals, I slept in. Hearing the yoo-hoo from bed, I could have grabbed the nearest frock and ran over to join them, but a shower was top priority to clear my overnight congestion and bring me close to humanity/faedom.
So I emerged a half hour later, foam-arisen like a hirsute Aphrodite, thinking myself alone on the farm. As it turned out, there was another whose joi de vivre was decidedly absent that morning. And so we passed an hour or two in cantankerous companionship, two grumpy old queens airing their issues, blessed by the knowledge that we had transformed our solitary experiences into a shared cathartic qvetching workshop, attendees:2.
The night before, I wasn’t feeling drawn toward the main Imbolc ritual. Instead I sorted laundry, read, was kind to myself in terms of energy. And as I was coming back from the laundry room, bumped into a faerie who was quietly leaving at that point. So I didn’t drum that night or sing and celebrate with the crowd. Instead I had the genuine honour of being the only person to be able to bid farewell to this thoughtful and enigmatic gentle man, to offer his last hug of his third gathering.
Where once I held a sense of shame, of lacking, in my moments of being on the edge of a faerie community, now I can start to find delight in these delicate little opportunities that such a position offers.
So in hindsight, if I could offer that new gathering faerie a more florid response, it would be this;
Come find me in the quiet spaces inbetween. Seek me out in the kitchen, when a boy has broken your heart. Look for me in the corridor, when you can’t find your room and are in just a towel. Discover me by the riverbank, when we’re both feeling disconnected. Here in the shadow, at twighlight, on the sidelines, this is where small gentle acts of connection and magic happen. In these moments we will see each other, share our hearts’ stories and find deeper understanding.