Pagan FestivalThis week I’ve noticed how the angle of the sun and the quality of its light are changing as we approach autumn. It brings back sense memories of a special time for me: my first pagan festival.

This was a little over twenty years ago, not long after I discovered the neo-pagan community. The Northwest Fall Equinox Festival was held in a rural part of Oregon at a site that combined sprawling meadows with shadowy evergreen forests. The weather was sunny and warm during the day, the air crisp with the change of season, and the night cold but not freezing. I was in a sort of honeymoon period with my exploration of this new spiritual path, blossoming, breaking free of the strict religious upbringing that had caged and confused me all my life. And as my spirit expanded, so did my sexuality.

I had many revelations that weekend, but the most significant one came during the main ritual on Saturday night. I don’t recall the details of that ritual now, just vague impressions of moving from place to place through the campground, surrounded by wild and uninhibited people, being guided by priests and priestesses who took us on a spiritual journey. We finished with a spiral dance, and that was when my personal bit of magic manifested.

Lovers kissingHolding hands, over a hundred of us formed one long chain that snaked about in chaotic curlicues, going faster and faster until the momentum broke us apart. I clasped the hand of a gorgeous young man, slim and lithe, with curling black hair, and oh, my, did I want him. In the euphoria of the moment, self doubt and self consciousness lost their hold on me. As our chain of dancers disintegrated, I pulled him close and kissed him. And he kissed me back. With enthusiasm.

Before long, we were in his camper, giggling in the small bunk, and we made love for the rest of the night. I had never felt such joy in that act of pleasure. It was only later that I understood why.

I had chosen him, instead of waiting for him to choose me. Until then, I had always taken an indirect route to get what I wanted sexually. If I desired a man, I flirted, angled to get noticed, examined his every glance, and waited to see if I could coax him into making a move. But not this time. This time, I took simple, straightforward action. I claimed my sexual power without artifice or manipulation. And the result was pure magic.

I never saw him again, don’t even recall his name. But every year at this time, as the breeze carries the first hint of a chill, and as the afternoon light takes on a cooler hue, this memory bubbles to the surface. Whatever is weighing me down falls away in that moment, and I pause to close my eyes and smile.