For 20 months now I have been living in Budapest and it is an incredibly beautiful city – despite having suffered from major destruction and neglect during the nightmare that, for Hungary and its neighbours, comprised much of the 20th Century. Running through it is the River Danube, the river named after the Goddess Danu. Along this river travelled the ancestors of the peoples of Europe from palaeolithic times. In the centre of the river is a yoni shaped island sacred for millennia to the Goddess and now named after a medieval nun and healer named Margit (Margaret). Around the city are hot springs renowned for their healing properties – the old Roman settlement having been named after them “Aquincum”. Above, on the western bank, are the forested Buda hills, where ancient Druids met in oak groves, while on the east is Pest and the Hungarian plain beyond. It is the geographical centre of Europe and the place where east meets west.
Before the Romans arrived here, the land that is now Hungary was inhabited by two great cultures, the Celts and the Scythians. In this year’s festival we concentrated largely on two of the principal Goddesses of this period, Brigid of the Celts and Tabiti of the Scythians. With the former we worked on healing the wounds of the past and with the latter on reclaiming the power of the amazons, who refused to submit to any authority save that which they chose for themselves. They stood for who they were.
(I was reminded of the necessity of both of these qualities - healing the past and having the courage to stand for who you - while walking in the Gay Pride procession two weeks after the festival. I have been on many demonstrations in my life and this is the first one I remember where the police were protecting and not attacking me. And protection was needed for the extreme right – nationalist, neo-nazi, fascist, define it how you will – were determined to show their disapproval with boots and fists, stones and sticks. I do not know what wounds they were nursing that they felt so much anger and hate, but I know that they were deep. It took three hours for the police to control and disperse those who wished violence but I am very glad that they succeeded. I somehow even avoided being hit by one of the hundreds of eggs and tomatoes that were thrown. It was inspiring, however, to be in the company of people of such courage and integrity.)
The festival, however, was wonderful and it is impossible to give more than a hint of what happened. The participants were mainly Hungarian although some were from neighbouring countries such as Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland and Germany and one visitor from as far as Japan. The presenters came from wider afield. From the US came Lydia Ruyle – whose Goddess banners had preceded her for the last two festivals – accompanied by her niece and two granddaughters, Alessandra Belloni – bringing the healing power of the tarantella, and the archaeologist Dr Jeannine Davis Kimball who spoke about her researches into the warrior-priestesses- the amazons?- of the nomadic peoples of the Eurasian steppes. From Australia came Anique Radiant Heart whose healing chants formed an essential part of the festival. From Glastonbury in the UK came Kathy Jones, Mike Jones, Lynne Orchard and Natasha Wardle. Kathy and Mike each focussed on the sexual wounds of women and men respectively, Lynne on the healing power of the waters and of Brigid, and Natasha on the Magdalen. Presenters from Hungary were Bori Hoppál who spoke about the long tradition of honouring the yoni, Szilvi Szentesi who focussed on the needs of the children and me who spoke and held a workshop about what I have learnt from my journey with Inanna and how She can lead to the healing of shame.
But what was really important in my view was not the speakers the presentations and the workshops – although they each played an important role but the interactions between the people who were there. Right from the initial sacred drama, written by Szilvia Simon, everybody felt a part of something much bigger. Together, we danced around the solstice fire to the music of Alessandra and a Hungarian troupe of musicians. In quieter moments, we met and talked over coffee and then at other times experienced the deep soul connection that occurred in the healing ceremonies. We felt an excited delight to see the looks of surprise and pleasure as we took Lydia’s “girls” (the Goddess banners) on their third procession through the very hot and busy streets to a ceremony and fruit feast on Margit Island. For all – both ceremonialists and participants - it was an emotional roller-coaster as we learnt to work together in the service of the Goddess. Some things worked better than others but all was done in love and trust. This is what it was all about. After the first two festivals in which we planted and watered the seed, the 3rd Goddess Festival was the one in which the various elements finally came together and we started to reach out to the larger world
Brigid and Tabiti were called and they came. Why this is still a surprise to me I do not know, for I have seen it so often. I am only now beginning to see how deep the healing is and how we are beginning to stand and be seen in our own power. The Goddess of ten thousand (and many more) names is emerging from the millennia of forgetting and coming back into human consciousness. The Budapest Goddess Festival is an integral part of this re-membering.
The festival depended on many people but I just have to mention Kriszta Veres whose vision, courage, focus and perseverance have been essential to the existence of the festival and of the Budapest Goddess Temple. I will say no more than that – except to invite everybody to the 4th Budapest Goddess Festival around the Summer Solstice 2009. Please come. The Goddess movement is very young over here but people are eager to meet Her and work for Her. We know how to have fun. We love to dance. We love to laugh. The new Hungarian priest/esses and lovers of the Goddess are ready to welcome all and to learn from all.