“Who could have predicted that a spiritual gathering of queer men would start out by being slapped around by a hurricane named after a dead queen?” That was the question asked of a sea of exhausted faces at the morning meeting on Friday September 19th after our men’s festival was inundated by 3+ inches of rain from the outer skirts of that tired old tropical depression. It provoked a raft of weary chuckling at the insanity of the situation, followed by busy stirring as people began dragging out wet bedding and clothing to hang in the coffee house on a makeshift clothesline. Others arranged for carpools into town to take over the dryers at the nearest Laundromat, or else helped one another dump out and re-erect their tents.
Thursday the 18th started as a fine day. The set-up crew from Green Faerie Grove arrived early and proceeded to erect the infrastructure necessary for the gathering. Guests began arriving in a steady stream by mid-afternoon, some from as far away as Los Angeles and New York City, and some from as close as “just down the road a ways.” The opening meeting and ritual set the spiritual tone for the weekend, and then the festivities began with some humorous short feature films in the coffee house, followed by the No Talent Show and midnight Margaritas. Dirty limericks, rings of fire, duck lovers, singing snakes, and tequila? We must be at Between the Worlds 2003. Please pass the popcorn, thanks!
The weather cooperated once Isabel retired to her boudoir, and people’s dispositions underwent a miraculous change once they had a chance to get some hot coffee and poppy seed pastry on the inside and a hot shower and dry sarongs on the outside. Between the Worlds prides itself on striking a nice balance between the seriously spiritual and the impishly playful (or even the seriously playful and impishly spiritual). Friday and Saturday afternoons were filled with an aggressive series of workshops – twice the number as last year – on a variety of scholarly and practical topics spanning the gamut from divination to aromatherapy, Buddhism to Traditional Witchcraft, queer spiritual history to herbalism, Greek theatre to the psychology of queer pagans, shamanism to sex magick to sacred geometry. Friday saw our hallmark community potluck dinner, where the tables groaned under people’s generosity. The healing and protection ritual Friday evening brought home the purpose of our being there, while the Minoan Brotherhood celebrated the Initiation of a new Brother at their first cross-country gathering in many years. David Wood kept the crowd spellbound with his divine inner Diva, and the Tea Dance rounded out the evening with Bacchus, music, dance, and sightings of a strange amoeba-like apparition.
Saturday evening’s keynote address by Dr. Drake Spaeth reminded each of us that the queer community is specially placed as walkers between the worlds, and that we have the responsibility to work to change the paradigm of society to one that enables all people to prosper. The Rites of Dionysos demonstrated one possible explanation of this story, as a young cartoonist transformed himself into a God and held us spellbound while the stars wheeled overhead clocking the cycles of birth, death, and rebirth. A shooting star punctuated the statement. So Mote It Be! The remainder of the evening was spent in scholarly discussion, raucous storytelling, and congress far more fit for that word than any action taken in a distant capitol building.
Sunday’s closing meeting and ritual was both sad and joyous. Many were still trying to figure out exactly how a group of men could come together on one day as complete strangers, and depart just a few days later feeling like they were leaving home. Trust the Gods, trust the Gods. As one man said, don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. Blessed Be.