It’s just after noon, and I am sitting under the canopy of my friend Sarah’s booth in the merchant circle of the Heartland Pagan Festival. The heat is punishing this year, with temperatures in the 90s and humidity is pushing the heat index up into hundreds, and most of our fellow pilgrims are hiding, languid, in whatever cool spot they can find. If I weren’t scheduled to lead a workshop in an hour, I would have sequestered myself in my cabin, spread out under the inexcusable luxury of a ceiling fan, but alas. Instead I am here, plucking out the chords on a dulcimer in my lap and whispering the lyrics to “Wild Mountain Thyme” under my breath: Well the summer time is comin’, and the fields are sweetly bloomin’…
“That’s a very soothing sound,” says Sarah, being generous. I’m not much good on the dulcimer.
I want to acknowledge the passing of legendary folk musician and activist Pete Seeger, who died on Monday at the age of 94 of natural causes.
“Mr. Seeger’s career carried him from singing at labor rallies to the Top 10, from college auditoriums to folk festivals, and from a conviction for contempt of Congress (after defying the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s) to performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural concert for Barack Obama. For Mr. Seeger, folk music and a sense of community were inseparable, and where he saw a community, he saw the possibility of political action.” While not a Pagan, Seeger did briefly belong to a Unitarian-Universalist church, and ascribed to himself a kind of pantheistic view of religion.
“I feel most spiritual when I’m out in the woods. I feel part of nature. Or looking up at the stars.