Festival Sanctuary

We had a wonderful time at the Wood Sisters Winter Festival!
As joint festival co-ordinator it was also a very full time... but after months of admin it felt very special to finally focus on my own creative offering for the day and set up the sanctuary with my friend, Miriam, in a beautiful space at the South Devon Steiner School.

There are many magic moments and also challenging ones during a festival, especially when one is holding the overall event, holding a venue within it and offering sessions within both the wider event and the venue - it's a great opportunity to be big and also to let go at moments and receive and be held by others and to feel held oneself by something bigger still.

Here is a glimpse of some personal highlights:

One: There's a quiet moment in creating sanctuary space; after a lot of heavy lifting and moving furniture, a great draping of cloths and distribution of everything from flowers and candles, to paper and wax crayons. There's a Sabbath moment of completed creation, after the candles are lit and before everyone arrives, a moment to step back and see that it's good and to sink into silence and an opening of the heart which prays wordlessly that this may be a sanctuary for all that enter here, a place of peace, of authenticity, of healing, of spirit.


Two: Walking away, letting go and leaving Miriam to welcome the first Sanctuary visitors - that's a good gesture to begin the day... to co-create and then let go and let be. Feeling deep gratitude...
Walking in then to the Opening Ceremony and being swept into the dance of winter into spring, of Cailleach and Bride. I'm mesmerised by the giant puppets as they dance together around the central altar with its circles of candles, greenery, snowdrops and a small spring pool - as Sue and I speak the words of an ancient story and invite all present to place their wishes and blessings in the central pool.

Bride blesses the Spring

Three: After the ceremony I join as a participant in Ian and Gail's exploration of the spirituality of Imbolc and Candlemas. What a blessing it is to receive their reflections and Ian's poetry, to feel held and guided in meditation and have someone else watch the time and the group dynamics during an invitation to share with my neighbour, so all I have to do is share and listen - bliss!

Gail on her Green Throne

Four: I come back into stillness and peace in the Sanctuary with gentle lyre music playing. Then into the rhythm of a day of guiding meditation, trance telling and holding collaborative ceremony. Mostly the space is very full and there's beauty and depth but not necessarily silence! Heavy duty colouring, whispering children, background strands of music, voices and laughter are all woven into sacred space.

Five: For me there's always interesting moments in holding sanctuary... how to make sure children are free to light prayer candles while not setting themselves or anyone or anything else alight. How to pitch the words of a guided meditation over an enthusiasm toddler settling in for a long stint of using a hole punch, on a wooden table, for her prayer card. How to simply be deeply present as people come and go and weep and sleep and are hurt and angry and full of joy and love and...

Six: Magic moments as other artists and priests come in to offer stories, music and more. I get to sit back and watch children entranced as Iwan and friend transport us to other places and times... and I am washing along with everyone else by Abigail's beautiful harp music during ceremony and inspired by Debbie's steady voice and words during our shared trance telling.


Seven : The day draws to a close and the open sanctuary time is finished. I'm back in the silence after a day of creation, with the candles burning in the evening darkness now and it's good to feel the fulness of all the living and sharing that's unfolded here and to feel that fulness of the heart that wordlessly gives thanks and wishes blessings upon all at the Festival and beyond...

Miriam's Goddess sculpture on the Sanctuary Altar

And at the last I return to receiving, joining the audience for Carolyn Hillyer's soul stirring music and words. I'm travelling with her in imagination to the Far North and joining in the passion of songs to herd the reindeer. Then there's a final moment as Sue, Victoria and I step forward into the dark, mysterious space beyond the light pool of performance, to thank all the artists and volunteers and visitors, all those hundreds of people that have gathered with us to co-create this incredible day.


Post a Comment