So – I'm just back from two back-to-back neo-pagan events at Brushwood Folklore Center near Sherman, NY. I have been making this trip every year for perhaps 15 years or more, and it provides me with an annual milestone of sorts – checking in with myself each year to see where I am relative to where I was.
Brushwood has been hosting gatherings of this kind since the early 90's, and has gradually grown into one of the premier sited for the neo-pagan movement to hold large festivals.
Over the eight days there – teaching workshops, attending workshops, chatting with interesting folks, catching up with friends who I only see during Brushwood time, and just hanging out with my dear friends at Camp Sashu – all this served to open my heart and move me into a fairly deep altered state. Leaving that space and driving home has been a kind of movement from one world to another. Over the past few years, I've noticed that there is less of a shift.
The shamanic perspective is that we are living in many different worlds all at once AND that all these worlds are the same world – perceived from slightly different perspectives. The ideal is to – eventually – integrate all the worlds (and all the parts of the Self) into one, unified whole.
Coming home from Brushwood, I stopped for gas and noticed that I was scowling slightly at the people around me. I wondered why, and looked at what was behind this. I realized that I felt vulnerable and disconnected from these "others" because I had spent the previous eight days connecting within a limited community setting. This had created within me a sense of "us and them".
Taking a few slow breaths, I attempted to extend my sense of "us" to include the rest of my fellow humans. I'm not sure how well it worked, but I stopped scowling.
And I'm very happy to be home.