2008 Gathering

By Gary Q, Witches of Melbourne

It was my first visit to Mount Franklin at all, but I had Howie as my guide, and
Zoe with me to provide encouragement…

Pitching the tent in the dark was the first challenge, which was eventually
completed to the satisfaction of all, and then it was time to head to the
nearest glowing fire pit to find Morphix, Jim, Nikki, Brian, Silkin, Taliesen
and many others gathered. We borrowed a flat surface for our cooking pot and
joined the conversation. My efforts in the kitchen were rewarded with
‘surprisngly good’ from Anna and Zoe – leaving me relieved as I had promised to
be the chief cook (and bottle washer, as it happened)

Friday night was red wine night, and in true Pagan style we started with the
best bottles first – no point keeping the best til ‘can’t remember’ time…
The drumming called us and we wandered over to another encampment where an
impromptu jam session was in swing. I became the first casualty when I tripped
over a tree stump in the dark, on a mission for another bottle of red. I mean
really, who expects to find a tree stump in a forest glade?

Saturday morning dawned bright, and depending on your constitution, early. I was
up and about and had the bacon and eggs going on one end of the communal table
as Pyretta (I think!) whipped up the endless pancakes from the other end. After
a brief sojourn around the campsite, Zoe, Anna and I headed into Daylesford for
some ‘ishing’ (the first and last shop we encountered opened at 10ish) amongst
the sundry and various junk shops, new age and crystally shops and the 50s
kitsch emporium. I came out clutching a Barbarella mouse mat and the girls added
various bits to their collections.

The town was over run with scary pentagram wearing witchy types. It was enough
to give a poor boy the vapours.

Back to the campsite and it was time for a snooze, and then a walk to the
summit. What a view. The carpark on top of Mount Franklin is well worth a visit
if muddy car parks are the thing you yearn for. Depending on who you asked, the
walk down was easier than the walk up – but that is possibly because none of us
had enough breath to talk much on the way up.

Zoe met a familiar face from her days in the Adelaide Hills (Eamon?) who had
been to Mount Frankling before, and they nattered about mutual acquaintances
until it was time to prepare for the circle and ritual. In next to no time we
had made ourselves beautiful and Zoe produced her scented oil for annointing. We
made our way to the ritual space and joined the throng. A little deft juggling
of places allowed Anna to join the spiral dance – it would have been like
watching Tinkerbell dying to see her face if she hadnt been ‘chosen’.

Zoe and I took our places in the circle and the ritual commenced… the bonfire
was lit and the dance commenced, to the beat of drums. We were visited by a
troupe of revellers and a hobby horse who caught unsuspecting maidens under his
skirts… who knows what fertility rites were enacted before the giggling girl
was thrust back into the open…

The Goddess and God were thanked for providing the energy to the members of the
circle, and for the coming year. Wine and bread were passed around the circle
and the inspired took the chance to leap the bonfire – with almost no
spectacular tumbles.

The bubbly and drinkies were opened as the rain began with a little more
seriousness. Cooking garlic steak in the dark by lamplight was an excercise in
hoping for the best – I couldnt really see what I was doing, but I believe
everyone survived the experience. Some of us *cough* didnt last the night
through and were tucked up in bed around midnight, but there were some who
managed to keep the fire stoked throughout the night.

Sunday morning was a noticeably slower start, but the breakfast still had to be
made and Morphix pulled out a giant tin of coffee that had Anna and I grinning.
The hardships of camping pale when holding a hot coffee. Anna thought I was
being very considerate in remembering that she likes it black with no sugar, but
the truth is I just put in a spoonful of coffee and hot water and passed it
over. Blind luck disctated that I got it right.

The morning market was a quiet affair, but enough coin and shiny things changed
hands to make everyone happy. The maypole was danced a second time (the first
effort by various little ones was deemed unsuitable and the ribbons were
unravelled amongst much good natured cursing…). The actual dance was
accompanied once again by drummers, and the singing of Summerisle (from the
movie Wicker Man)

In the woods there grew a tree
A fine, fine tree was he

On that tree there was a limb
And on that limb there was a branch
On that branch there was a nest
And in that nest there was an egg
In that egg there was a bird
And from that bird a feather came
Of that feather was a bed

On that bed there was a girl
And on that girl there was a man
From that man there was a seed
And from that seed there was a boy
From that boy there was a man
And for that man there was a grave
From that grave there grew a tree

In Sumerisle, Sumerisle, Sumerisle, Sumerisle, Sumerisle

On that tree there was a limb
And on that limb there was a branch
On that branch there was a nest
And in that nest there was an egg
In that egg there was a bird
And from that bird a feather came
Of that feather was a bed

In Sumerisle, Sumerisle, Sumerisle, Sumerisle, Sumerisle

On that bed there was a girl (Sumerisle, Sumerisle)
And on that girl there was a man (Sumerisle, Sumerisle)
From that man there was a seed (Sumerisle, Sumerisle)
And from that seed there was a boy (Sumerisle, Sumerisle)
From that boy there was a man (Sumerisle, Sumerisle)
And for that man there was a grave
From that grave there grew a tree

Zoe showed me how to break camp and we had the tent folded up into the smallest
bundle I had ever seen it in. I think the manufacturers could learn something
from her. I could have fitted two tents into the bag in the end.

The car was much lighter without the wood and water, but somehow we still
managed to fill it to the roof line. Next time we may have to be more strict
when we cull the things we bring. The fondue set seemed like such a good idea
at the time…

The journey home was, of course, much quicker than the way there… we discussed
what were our various highlights of the weekend… Zoe and Anna talked about the
cameraderie, the sharing and respect that we all had for each other… I got a
giggle when I said my highlight was having two red headed witches along with me
who actually liked each other. Coulda been a disaster, I tells ya.

Pagans is good people – we’ll be back next year!

GaryQ

 

Fred and Bear of the Ballarat Asatru Garth, who ran the ritual in 2008.

Fred and Bear of the Ballarat Asatru Garth, who ran the ritual in 2008.