At the end of March, I'll be heading west to Seattle for the Aquarian Tabernacle Church's Spring Mysteries Festival. I love an adventure, but for me, this one's particularly important. For one, I'll be going alone. Flying alone, arriving alone, exploring alone. I'll pretty much be living at the Festival site for several days, and I won't really know anyone there. I've never gone away without at least one member of my family in tow. In short, I'll be way, way out of my comfort zone. With Saturn in my sun sign (Sagittarius), I'm not surprised, but this is an opportunity and a challenge that I must take. I'm excited and, truth be told, a little scared. But that's what sacred pilgrimage is all about--for me, another first.
I've gone on many spiritual journeys--they're all pilgrimages in a way--but nothing like this, nothing so focused or with such purpose, or in or with the spirit of the wider community. What became evident right away was that my journey has already started even thought the Festival is weeks away. The coming days will be filled with preparation both practical and spiritual--an important part of the whole experience.
The first thing to do was to immerse myself in the myth and mystery driving this event. The Festival revolves around the Eleusinian Mysteries--the story of Demeter and Persephone (Kore), and brings them to life through ritual, drama and shrines of living deity. The Mysteries are a thousands-year-old rite that the ATC has celebrated annually for over thirty years. My spiritual leanings have never really included the Greek or Roman Pantheon, but thinking back on it now, a Hellenic presence has, in many ways, been quietly inserting itself into my life: In Sirenz and Sirenz Back in Fashion, in the research I'd been doing for for Magical Destinations and later in the the recent founding of a Hellenic Temple in Washington, D.C. Even if I was unaware of it, a flame has been burning.
As part of my preparations, I visited the the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. There, among the Greek and Roman collections is a fragment of the Great Eleusinian Relief, a Roman copy of a Greek original depicting Demeter and Kore. There's something about being in the presence of ancient objects that inspires; these touchstones to the past somehow make things real--but the Relief is also a representation of deity. Even though there were crowds of chatting people all around me, when I looked into their faces, all the noise and people and distractions melted away. These were not strangers; I'd known them all along. Soon, I'll be walking among them in the shadow of Mount Olympus.
The Spring Mysteries Festival is a little less than two months away, but the journey, for me and so many others, has begun. Over the next eight weeks, I'll be preparing, praying, packing, pondering, and sharing my experience here. Are you going to the Festival (or thinking about going?)? Let's get ready together!
♥ #SMFPilgrim ♥