As I write this, I feel a long way away from the summer fields of the Forest of Dean, and Mark Graham’s Druid camp. It’s an August event, and here we are, shivering in January. No going barefoot in this weather, no exposing skin to sun, no grain ripening in the fields. It’s less than a week – under 2% of a year, but it’s become over the last three years something of a key part of my summer.
Druid Camp is a community space, which means I get to spend time with a bunch of people I really like, and seldom see. Being a community space, there are inevitably other people I don’t get on with as well, and about whom I feel anxious. I’m not the most socially confident life form, and generally avoid people who rub me up the wrong way. The field is big enough, and there’s always enough going on that there’s no obligation to be in close proximity to anyone else. Which is as well. It takes a lot to make me fall out with a person butI’m not all peace and love and light, by any stretch of the imagination.
In more involved, more intense spaces, relationships can be forged that endure. There’s room at camp, and time, and situations that encourage openness, emotional intimacy, even physical closeness. As a person who really struggles around all things physical, that’s always a big challenge for me. Over the last three years, there have been people who knew what was going on with me and have done all manner of things to help me move forward, to be more confident. So now I feel secure enough to use the showers, I can get in the sauna, and I’m much better at hugging people. And at not hugging people and feeling able to say when I’m too sore or otherwise out of sorts.
In workshops, in ritual, in dance spaces… people find opportunities to test themselves, to take risks, and to encounter other people doing the same. It can be really exposing. Encountering another person in this way, you rapidly learn things about whether you want to move closer, or step back. As someone who tends to feel obliged to appease, it’s been an important experience for me, to realise that I don’t have to suit everyone. I don’t have to be totally acceptable to all comers in all ways. I can be an awkward misfit in some contexts, and still have a place.
January, for me, is a most obvious time to be thinking about Druid Camp. I’m waiting for Mark to announce the speakers and music list so that I can run around and tell people. I know some of what’s in the offing, and am already excited. Tickets are already on sale, because I’m not the only person who gets to January and wants to make plans for the coming year. With the way events work, it’s important to be doing that. I will be at the South West Pagan Federation conference in April, I’ll be at Festival at the Edge in July, and at Conscious Connection Camp, I’ll be at Asylum – the huge Steampunk event in Lincoln on the August Bank Holiday weekend. And of course I’ll be at Druid Camp, and nearer the time I’ll figure out what I’ll be contributing. I’m not a main speaker, so there’s more time to pin that down.
In the meantime, if you’re keen to get things moving, tickets, as previously mentioned, are already on sale… http://www.druidcamp.org.uk/