“We’re jet-setters living the life!” he said with only a hint of mirth in his voice as we bounced in the turbulent skies above the Atlantic, “Hardly” I retorted, somewhat grumpily, “if we were jet-setters we’d be in business class!”

The journeys both to and from Georgia in the U.S. were not pleasant, and that is an understatement. I had not been looking forward to the travelling and to be honest, the quote from Bilbo Baggins (it’s often either Tolkein or Monty Python quotes that jump to mind in these situtaions) seemed most to the for in my mind, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your front door”, and so it turned out to some extent.

On the way out we had a gridlocked M25, which caused Damh to have a total meltdown as we honestly believed we would miss the plane, the border control in Atlanta was without a shadow of a doubt the worst we have had so far and we nearly missed our plane at that end too because of it. On the way home Damh was so paniced by the outward journey we got to the airport and spent what felt like a life time sitting on uncomfortable seats, just waiting, before embarking for the ride back across “the pond”.  The Virgin plane for home was somewhat nicer than most and the crew were lovely, however approaching  Britain we were warned by Captain Camilla, with her awfully nice voice, that we would be flying into storms and it might be a bit bumpy!  She was quite correct. In fact it was so “bumpy” that the plane was tipping from side to side as well as dipping and bucking as we aimed for the runway! The atmosphere in the cheap seats was a mix of mild terror, nervous laughter and muffled screams as the plane bucked and swerved. It seemed as if  the earth and the plane were in some kind of fight to the death, the ground was pulling us downward at a rate of knots and the plane was resisting with all its might, but the goodly Captain Camilla was unphased (at least we hope she was) and landed us with only a single bounce and not too much sidways drift. The relief was palpable as nevous laughter broke out, along with a round of applause for the pilot and her team. In truth I am not generally a nervous flier but I can tell you now I was praying to every God and Goddess to get us down safely in those moments and I am very happy not to be flying again this year.

Still I did see the films Deadpool and the Lady in the Van on the way home, both of which were excellent. Can I just say for the record, Maggie Smith is a British treasure and a true acting legend!

Travelling aside, the actual time in the U.S. was fabulous, bloody hot! oh my Gods it was so hot and humid between 83-90 F.  I thought I might expire in that heat but I didn’t and it was a fantastic event. We met up, spent time and had indepth chats with friends from every event that we have been to over the past ten years of travelling to the States which was just brilliant. The music was fantastic bringing together a wealth of talented, not to mention dedicated bunch of people. Twenty nine bands played over the weekend, everything from singer-songwriters like Damh to full on Heavy Metal bands and each musician brought their passion to the proceedings and entertained the seven hundred or so people who made it to the event; both musicians and fans endured the baking sun and humid environment to come together in a magical exchange. It has been dubbed the “Pagan Woodstock” and it really did feel like a landmark event.

Living as a pagan artist, whether that be a musician, writer, dancer or visual creative of some kind, is an interesting journey. As with every style of artist there is an intimate and intensley private journey that eventually provides you an internal symbolic language and though it is deeply personal, as an artist you are compeled to try and express yourself in that language.  You feel the need to share parts of  your soul, at times the need is to expel the ideas haunting your dreams either waking or sleeping. These thoughts and concepts pull at you, they demand to be heard or seen, so you find a way to put them out in the world and hope that some of the meaning comes across to others.  Sometimes you come together with others who are on the same journey and the languages mix and mingle to create something far and above anything that the individual could have conceived and that is how this weekend felt.

The level of creativity in the field not just from the musicians but also from the venders, many of whom had made their wares, to the costumes people chose to wear, the hula hoopers, the poy whirlers, the children dancing and so many other wonderful and unexpected treats, made the place vibrant and delicious to be part of. When people come together and truly let themselves express their joy, their personal magic and their individuality it is a powerful thing that no conservative ideology can contain. We need more of these events in our lives, where imagination is cherished and encouraged, where children and adults express themselves freely in song and dance with no inhibition and the energy that this manifests over a few intense days creates a magical environment that shines a bright light in what can often be a very dull world.

I am tired and a bit worn out but to give Bilbo his full quote “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

I kept my feet and had a magical time with inspiring people and I look forward to travelling there and back again at some point in the future.

Blessings to those who allow themselves to step out and follow the path.