Circle of Friends at Spring Festival (Feb 2005)

The front cover photograph was taken by Richard, my partner, at the Spring Festival of Awareness last year. As I downloaded the photos off the camera and into my computer, I named them for reference. Afterwards I looked at the list, and most of them started with the word “circle” Circle in the Great Hall, Circle in the Healing Oasis, circles sitting, circles dancing, circles meditating, the list went on … People seem to naturally choose circles when they are allowed to create sacred space the way they feel comfortable.

The Circle of Friends photo on the front cover seemed special because of the beautiful weather and the exquisite setting of the Naramata Retreat Centre. Circles also turn into spirals or fractals as we evolve … repeating the pattern of life with new understanding. There are few words to express the gratitude I feel for my spirit having connected to the “Spirit of the Festival” and Nora and Harry Jukes, who started it twenty-seven years ago, and who treat me like family.

As the saying goes … We don’t remember days, we remember moments … and there are two main moments that I still clearly remember about the first Spring Festival that I said “Yes” to organizing. The first occurred just before opening circles were about to start. Laurel Burnham and I walked into the Great Hall and as I looked up, the starkness of the walls surprised me. I remember leaning forward and saying in a loud whisper, “We should have decorated.” That was the start of an idea that has grown beyond what I could have imagined, one that helps to make the Spring Festival extra special.

First, a native lady volunteered to paint shields with a native influence and suggested altars for the four directions. We had already started buying cut flowers and potted plants to dress up the tables when my mother, who loves orchids, decided to have some beautiful potted Catalaya orchids delivered to the festival site via one of the instructors travelling in from Vancouver. The flower decorating continued to expand until at one point, it would take two women all day just to arrange the flowers … Now it is a bit simpler as I prefer more live plants.

Then someone suggested a rainbow for a backdrop to the stage, and a young lady volunteered to paint the thirty-foot rainbow on paper. When it fell apart a few years later, I sewed a fabric one together that still goes up every year. Then Susan Lopecki showed up, who was a clothing designer selling her collection of unique and colourful clothes in our little Festival store. She loved the rainbow look and developed a line using those colors. I bought lots of her outfits, which I love wearing, and then contracted her to paint me rainbow-coloured cloths for the registration tables. I did my best to convince the crew that walking around looking like a rainbow was good because participants could easily spot us to ask questions. I even had Jester hats made.

As I type, Nywyn, a gifted artist and long time supporter of the festival is painting four “Angels of the Seasons” on canvas. These new images will enhance the new tablecloths that Claire Ince, the daughter of the Healing Oasis coordinator Christina, is sewing for the altars. Many of the original creations were left in the care of the Wise Woman organizers who will use them for their celebration in September.

Another large amethyst crystal has joined our entourage to hold the energy for the weekend. It will add sparkle to the Great Hall as will the beautiful candles that are being handmade in Creston. Our crew will soon be making new schedule boards and directional signs. I still enjoy coordinating the event and love hearing people’s stories, whose lives have been transformed because of the connections made.

The second moment I still remember from first Spring Festival happened to me on the way home. It was late and I was tired. I could feel an intense welling up starting from deep within, and I didn’t know what to make of it. I pulled my Datsun off to the side of the road and cried as a bolt of lightening zapped me from within. I felt so grateful and connected to the Divine that there were no words to describe it: I just knew I needed to do it again. At the wrap-up dinner the following week, I told the crew that we made ten dollars’ profit after expenses and asked if they would help just one more time, for I wanted another chance to do it better now that I knew what to expect. They agreed, and life has not been the same since.

If you have never attended a Spring Festival of Awareness, then perhaps it is time you checked it out. The biggest challenge will be choosing which circle you want to be part of. With a choice of ten workshops, you will need to trust your inner guidance system. The schedule and program form are in the back section of this magazine.

For me, the highlight of the weekend will be the Dances of Universal Peace at the opening and closing circles with Akbar and Sharda. Imagine three hundred people dancing in circles, sharing their love of spirit with each other and the Earth. And as with all cycles, it is now time to bring the Wassabi Collective back for a Saturday evening, electro-groove, worldbeat flavour dance. See you there!