The closest ADF groves in my neck of the woods are two hours north or two hours south of where I live. So if I want to celebrate a High Day with the community, I have to make a rather long haul to one of the groups I can reach or celebrate with other pagan groups that are closer to home.
My original plan was to drive out to Circle Sanctuary and celebrate with their community. The nice thing about Circle’s festivals is that they have activities from morning to night, so it’s worth the drive in order to have a full day of engagement.
The weekend before the equinox, I ran across a brochure for a pagan sanctuary called Sweetwood Temenos. Their website indicated that they were hosting a weekend of camping, fellowship, and ritual for the equinox. It was a bit of a hike from where I live, a three hour drive into a part of the state I’ve not yet seen. But was in the mood for an adventure.
The website stated that all first-time visitors needed to call ahead in order to get directions. I did, and had a nice conversation with Jack, one of the two founders of the Temenos. I told him that I was affiliated with ADF and he asked me if I’d ever met Isaac or Ian. He seemed to hold them both in high regard.
So things were off to a promising start. I must have made a good impression because I was invited to join the group and given directions to the campsite. Saturday morning arrived, and off I went.
The drive up to Sweetwood was gorgeous. As a Southerner who relocated to the Midwest, my biggest complaint about my new home has never been the winter: it’s the flat land. Growing up near Chattanooga, I was used to rolling hills and complicated terrain. The drive into northwestern Wisconsin was the perfect remedy. This was farm country, which here meant plenty of corn and few people. This was a quiet place, marked by swollen hillsides and stunning Wisconsin forests.
I was able to locate the sanctuary with no trouble. It is a secluded place, off a county road and set back off the road between farmland and forest. The place offers a very private setting.
Upon arrival, I was greeted warmly and given a tour of the place. The temenos consists of 40+ acres nestled between farmland and forest, and includes
- a spacious, wooded camping area
- a large covered permanent structure that can serve as either a dining area or ritual space
- an enormous permanent ritual circle
- a shower house with flush toilets and hot water, handicapped accessible
- a number of small shrines throughout the woods
All of the facilities were well kept and clean. The ritual space was large enough to accommodate quite a sizable group (I’d estimate 50 or more could easily fit inside the circle) and I was told that standard capacity for the camping area was around 100. With some adjustments, I was told they could nearly double that capacity. I assume this meant extending the tent camping area beyond the wooded area and into the adjacent field.
The people I met at Sweetwood were kind and accommodating in every way. I very much enjoyed getting to know them. Most seemed to be interested in or influenced by the Church of All Worlds. I was the only Druid present at this time, but I’ve since learned of other ADF members who have spent time at SweetWood.
SweetWood is definitely a place to which I want to return. It’s a great location, excellent facility, and the company was second to none.
I’ll write a separate post about the ritual and fellowship.