Every stranger is a friend we haven’t met yet. This is a saying I learned from Loreena McKennitt, and I’ve always admired it. It speaks to an attitude of life that I find both adventurous and healthy. How might it change us if we were to adopt this view? Might we have less fear of one another, less tendency to dismiss each other out of hand? I suspect so.
These are the thoughts that engaged me on the second leg of my journey. To keep my hotel expenses down, I made use of a service called couchsurfing.org. Couchsurfing.org is a community of over a million members who open their homes to travelers. It warms my heart to no end to learn there are so many people in the world willing to open their homes to a stranger. It speaks of trust, and faith in our fellow man. Three families put me up on three separate nights, knowing only what I chose to share on my online profile, knowing only what their gut told them about me.
The accommodations run the gamut on couchsurfing.org so learning to ask the right questions is important. You can find everything from the dilapidated hippie couch with partying college students to guest bedrooms in elegant homes, all with fellow travelers eager to hear of your adventures. I plan to explore the couchsurfing community quite extensively over the next several years.
I arrived in New York Friday evening exhausted and amazed that I had driven all the way across the country. My little car is a trooper! Bernadette, the local mover and shaker and producer of the Beltane Festival, put me up in a gorgeous Victorian house that used to be a safe house for some of the gangs of New York, and treated me like a rock star for the next three days. The festival itself was lovely. I performed last and right before the main ritual. My guitar playing is definitely bumpier than I would like but the audiences seem to enjoy it well enough. I suspect I am my own worst critic. Bumps aside, it felt wonderful to sing and play instruments. It engages my whole being in a way that singing alone does not. The feeling of evoking the spirit of a song, commanding it, seducing it, and delivering it to others is one of the most satisfying things I have ever known. There is just nothing like it.
The ritual itself was lovely. Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone were over from Ireland and led it. There were about 120 people there, in a glorious meadow with blooming trees all around and frogs singing their twilight song. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a Beltane ritual and it definitely evoked the best of earth magick. Gavin and Janet both brought with them a feeling of ancient magick that I haven’t felt since I was in Ireland myself several years ago.
This little town, Cornwall-on Hudson, is right on the Hudson river and is green as can be, with old world buildings mingling with natures abundance. I could easily live here, in another life.
Today I head to another retreat center about an hour from here, to settle in for a performance tomorrow. I love this life. I know it is a lifestyle that doesn’t make sense to many, but for me it’s the only thing that has ever felt right. Blessings to you all from gorgeous upstate New York, and may you all find and live your passion.