Kaleidoscope Gathering 2014: Field and Forest
Austin Lawrence, February 2014

The theme for this year’s gathering is “Field and Forest.” Since the early Middle Ages “field and forest” has been used as a poetic phrase that evokes the spirit and bounty of the natural world. In the modern age, we invoke these spirits and their bounty into our lives to celebrate High Summer and the Lammas-tide, to glory in our connection to the boundless circle of life. The fields and forests are where our ancestors’ herds fed on fallen acorns, where the hart fell to the arrow, where the furrows were plowed, where the corn swayed in the breeze.

Some sort of reconciliation with nature must accompany any higher work of the mind. – Nathaniel Shaler

Workshops at the gathering are all put on by volunteers; where our motto is “everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to share.” Let the theme this year guide prospective presenters in the development of their workshop ideas (even though any Pagan topic is good, really).

Lore and spirituality involving Gods and Goddess of field and forest

The sylvan and pastoral Gods and Goddesses, and supernatural entities of the field and forest have been humanities’ companions from time immemorial; from Silvanus, to Inanna, to Diana, to Freyr and Gerðr, to heroes like Gilgamesh and Enkidu, to the elves and the fey folk, to the Green Man and the Moonlit Lady.

Personal stories of earth-positive experiences or being a naturalist

Visiting natural places – camping, hiking, cycling, romping, hunting, gardening – can provide uniquely comforting and healthful experiences. How have you felt engaging in pursuits in the field and forest? Why do you undertake these activities, and what do you get out of them? We also have stories of the flora and fauna we meet amongst the fields and in the forests. Perhaps, you are a naturalist who can share information regarding the habits of animals or the uses of plants?

Discussions on eco-friendly lifestyles, permaculture, and natural living

Whether it comes from a place of deep ecology, pantheism, earth-based spirituality, worship of the Mother Earth, a polytheistic relationship with a goddess or spirit resident in nature, or from a reasoning mind, many of us have come to the conclusion that human lifestyles need to change to be more respectful and work more in harmony with the natural world. Feel free to share your skills and insights with others; be it permaculture or silvaculture, eco-friendly lifestyles or natural living skills.

Stories of myths and legends of forest or woodland creatures

Crow and cow, rabbit and raven, tortoise and toad, wolf or owl or fox … Whether spirits, totems, archetypes, or just characters, these creatures charm and cajole, teach and entertain us. From stories, dreams and visions, they are with us. Is there some companion or story that you wish to share?

Explorations of traditional witchcraft and reconstructionist polytheism

When Europe was converted to the new faith of Christ, it happened first in urban areas, from the thrones of power. Thus, those who kept to the old ways were labelled as paganus – the country-dwellers – or haiþi – the dwellers on the heath. But it was there, in the fields and forests, the countryside and wild places, where the old ways stayed strongest, where independent minds remained true. And, it is these places where the wisdom and spirituality of the ancients may be recovered.

Foods of field and forest, or the Lammas-tide

There are ancient methods of cooking when away from home in the woodlands, from gypsy recipes steamed over the yag, to pit-baking in leaves, to paste-wrapped foods in the coals. There are also fruits of forest and field to be had as sacred meals, from Lammas bread to acorn pottage. Try out and share the lore of traditional and heritage food production. (We expect to have the earth oven operational this Summer!)

Concepts of the liminal in Pagan theologies

Field and forest can stand for “where the wild things are;” were we can encounter the wild and untamed within our own souls. There are also boundaries within field and forest, between the dappled light of quiet leaves and the flowing sunshine of the meadow, between thickets of undergrowth and pastures of meadowsweet. It is by passing these boundaries, through the contrast that is felt and new states that are experienced, that wisdom and insight are gained. It is also by understanding how the natural world is divided that worldviews can be explored. How have you known a spiritual tradition to work with liminality and boundary passing to gain wisdom? Has it been done in the context of spirits or metaphor drawn from the natural world?

Costuming like folkloric fertility rites

Where are the wild men today? They still exist, in the fields and forests, and in ourselves. All we need to do is search for them, call them forth, and make them manifest. (A few woodwose have indeed alredy been sighted skulking around the Mirkwood at Raven’s Knoll.) Or, maybe, some of you have always wanted to be Morris Dancers or Horn Dancers? Well, make it so!

Music on the theme of the joy of Mother Nature

The heartbeat of the drum, the folk song, the traditional tune, the soulful singer-songwriter all have composed and performed on the theme of the natural world, as object, subject or metaphor.

To learn more about the Kaleidoscope Gathering you can visit the Facebook group or event for the gathering. Please note that we are pleased to receive workshop submissions until the deadline of July 4, 2014 on the Kaleidoscope Gathering web page for programming.

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