Beltane 2017, was wet! Extra, extra wet! I mean: wetter than I’ve ever been in my life, short of diving voluntarily into a swimming pool, or taking a shower.
We camped in “Lower Field,” which is exactly as the name implies. It is an area of the land that is lower in elevation – literally, though not by a whole heckuva lot – than the “Upper Field.” Upper Field is where the main Bonfire takes place, and it’s also where Merchant’s Row, the Pavilion, and the stage, are located. The playground is nearby, and the entrance isn’t too far away from there, either.
Anyhow, we camped down by the creek in lower field. We knew the weather predictions were pretty crappy, but … it’s life. We figured we’d be good. It’s just a thunderstorm, yada yada.
But there was a flash flood in the creek, and it jumped the banks (really high banks, actually) and flooded the entire lower field. So that’s a thing. Lost most of the gear – the tent was shredded, sleeping bags were crapped out, air mattress had a gash in it.
But, the good thing is, there’s an amazing Security Team, Fire Tribe, and others, at Our Haven. Volunteer Staff. They were amazing the entire time. They kept an eye on radar, helped us find spots to put our vehicles (so no engine flooding, thank the Gods), and then guided us up through the hills to safety when the actual flash flood took place.
I had to come home early because of not having the gear to stay. I didn’t get to dance the main Bonfire, and I didn’t get to dance the Maypole. But, there will be next year for all of that at Beltane.
But, no one lost their lives. Everyone was safe, if just a bit traumatized. But we’re none the worse for the wear, and material stuff is … well, stuff. It can be replaced. The point is that the community pulled together to help each other out. The hungry were fed, the naked were clothed, and the scared were comforted.
That’s the thing about community, isn’t it? I mean a real community – not that Big Institution bullshit I posted about in a previous post. If it had been a big corporation running this event, rather than an actual community of heart-centered people, it wouldn’t have gone as nearly as smooth. And any potential “rescues” would’ve had to wait hours for someone to actually show up with equipment. Instead, we had a large group of chosen family ready and willing to jump in and do what was necessary, and what was right.
Do you think an online “school of witchcraft” would’ve been there for us in that moment? Nope.
Do you think a central authority, like a “Witches Council,” or an, “Interfaith Council,” or any of those folks would’ve been there for us in that situation? Nope.
Because the Big Institution is unnecessary and does nothing but regulate.
I’d sooner have a community that is actually available to me in a time of need – a community of people who aren’t afraid to say, “We’re family.” A group of real-life, actual people who can jump in when the shit hits the fan. Because no Big Institution is coming to your rescue in a flash flood. Straight up, and no shit. #Jussayin
I noted some folks sort of griping after the incident, too, as if Our Haven was a weather-control center or something. So I’m just gonna go ahead and rant about that a little:
The thing is, we’re all adults. First, we chose to camp for Beltane, even though we saw the weather radar and what it all looked like about a week in advance of the event. We still made that choice. And you, if you were there, you made that choice, too. Second, you chose where to camp inside of Our Haven. If you camped on the creek bank, regardless of whether you were in upper or lower field, you knew the risk. Anytime there’s water nearby, there’s a risk of flash flooding – especially when you know the coming weather is going to be a shitstorm.
So no one can blame anyone for it. Mother Nature was angry as fuck for some reason, and She didn’t hesitate to let folks know. But it is what it is. That’s the risk you take anytime you decide to go off-grid for a week and live like a Forest Explorer. No one controls the weather. (Well, we could’ve, but folks weren’t all on the same page; that’s a different post.) So, I think folks should really just own up to their responsibility. I chose to camp where I camped, and I chose to ride it out. There’s no one to point a finger at. And again – folks are safe, and material stuff is just stuff.