The Tribes of Spoutwood
In the time before time, people lived in family groups and friendship groups, supporting each other in times of struggle, rejoicing in times of celebration. They sought a balance between work, rest, and play, and they watched as the balance between day and night changed through the year. Because their lives were closely tied to the land and to the time of year, they celebrated each season in turn. And because they watched the sun rise in the east and set in the west, they noticed also the importance of the four directions to planting. Thus, a custom evolved of celebrating the coming of summer, with four tribes representing the four directions and the four seasons, each bringing a special gift. A King and Queen of the May were chosen each year, and all the tribes came to make merry, dance around the maypole, and sing.
This, then, is our mythic custom, and Spoutwood Farm has four tribes. Guests are invited to “join” a tribe and march with it to the daily midday ceremonies. There are no requirements, paperwork, or dues. Simply find the tribe that “fits” what your heart tells you and join in the celebration!
“Unite and unite and let us all unite, for summer is a-coming today, and whither we are going, we all shall unite, in the merry morning of May.”
These words echo on the winds in Britain at this time of the year, as people gather to sing in the May. Here in Glen Rock, we add our voices, and take joy in stepping into the light half of the year. The May festival is often thought of as the coming of spring, but as we see in this song, in earlier days it was the coming of Summer. In some communities, a May King and Queen were chosen. This ‘union’ may have been symbolic of the ancient marriage of the high king to the land. It was believed, some say, that when the leader lived in a right relationship with the land, all would prosper. Here at Spoutwood, we gather to celebrate this ancient rite, and our four mythic tribes come together to witness the oath of the Royal Court. If this is your first visit to the Fairie Festival, make plans to join the colorful throng as the tribes wend their way to the Royal Stage by the Maypole, carrying the ancient treasures of their peoples.
The River Tribe’s totem is the Salmon of Wisdom. Like the Danube in the heartland of the ancient Celts, or our own mighty Susquehanna, this mob of revelers threatens to overflow the riverbanks, for they represent the West and they carry with them the Cauldron of Youthfulness and Regeneration. This is the place of love, of community and prosperity. Their leader will recite an oath on Sunday upholding the virtues of the West. We the people can look to our own lives and ask: “How are we showing love to our communities? How are we fostering prosperity for all beings in our lives?”
The Mountain tribe marches vigorously into the assembly, with voices echoing on the winds of truth. Symbolized by a swift hawk, they carry with them the Stone of Destiny, the wisdom of the North. Their leader swears an oath to continue the arduous climb of self-development through life. Life on a mountain is beautiful and exquisite, but it is also a climb requiring strength and courage. All of us experience the struggle to start each leg of our ascent, going higher and reaching deeper within for strength. Are we willing to face the struggle against physical and spiritual gravity with courage and authenticity, and to speak truthfully of our ordeals?
The Meadow tribe sweetly skips into the court, bearing a banner with their totemic stag. Their number is small, yet they are no less impressive, for their song is rich. They bear the Flute of Inspiration, and their leader will swear an oath upholding the virtues of the East. This is the place of expression, of music, song, poetry, dance, laughter, and story. The meadow tribe reminds us of the stories of all our people, and unfolds them into a collective weave. Here in the East, we are challenged to live an inspired life: to dance, to tell our own story, and to live the vibrancy of each note in our unfolding poetic song.
The Woodland tribe bears Acorns of Oak Knowledge, a token gifted to all tribe members by their fearless leader. They twirl, jump, and wildly chant as they represent the South, and the Vision and Hope of all beings, seen and unseen. They carry the Staff of a Just Peace, and are symbolized by a mighty Bear. They swear an oath to hold in their minds a bright and passionate vision for a glorious future, and a resplendent present, which is the most important moment of our lives. They encourage each of us to ask: “Am I willing maintain my passion in the face of my own shadow, and follow that passion to attain my
In the center, where the Tribes gather, we hold our ceremony, looking in each direction at the horizon. We ask, “is there a land beyond the horizon, a place beyond the fields
we know?” We hope that each time we hold a ceremony, we will do so with a slightly larger “known world.” Yet we hope also that we will retain our desire to explore, to venture beyond the known. We need only pick a direction.
In the ceremony, our King and Queen will swear an oath to live their lives for a year, in a way that maintains balance in the world. In so doing, they will help maintain balance in
the world of faerie as well. As their oaths grace our ears, giving us all hope for ourselves and the children yet to come, we can all make an individual oath. We invite you to consider an oath along these lines: “I swear to serve my community, offering them the depth of my song and story, striving to create a vision of authentic truth in each life that I touch. I vow to strive for these virtues: the strength of a mountain, the passion of the woodlands, the inspiration of the meadow, and the love and compassion of the river. When I fall down and forget, I will climb up again, and remember to remember who I
-The Gathering of Tribes Ceremonial Text by Andrew Steed and Stephen Winick
A Message from the Tribal Leaders: Join a Tribe!
Come with us and gather in the meadow. Feel the soft grass beneath your feet, sit in the sunshine and be surrounded by the sweet smell of the new flowers. Laugh and play like a child, and giggle as the wind whispers its secrets into your ear. The Meadow tribe is a happy go-lucky bunch. We like to frolic and dream. We are led by Chrissy who, along with her family of fun-loving fae, sings and dances in the May! Before the coronation ceremony, members of the Meadow tribe gather by the brick home, on the edge of the meadow where the Gossamer Stage is located. Look for a banner depicting a Stag. We hope you will join us.
From the rugged high lands we come, the Mountain Tribe, bringing the faeries of the air and the Sacred Stone of the North. We are symbolized by the Hawk, who makes his nest
in the rocky heights. We welcome all who live in or love the mountains, all you hikers and environmentalists, all of you with a clear view from on high as the winter sun slants through the tree limbs on a brisk cloudless morning. Okay, so that’s the lofty stuff. We are also fun-loving and freewheeling. Our co-leaders are mother and daughter, Anne and Olivia. Anne (in addition to being a rowdy, card-carrying Appalachian) is a specialist in the care of magical creatures. Olivia is a time traveler who will welcome anyone of any era, or imaginary era, and each and every Time Lord. Join us as we march and chant, bearing dragons and our Stone and our timeless traditions. Let’s rock it on over! Mountain Tribe meets at the top of Frodo’s Hill, fifteen minutes before each midday ceremony, under the banner of the three mountains.
How loudly can you scream? Can you jump? Sing? Clap hands? Make silly faces? If so, this might be the tribe for you. We embody the motion and enthusiasm of rushing waters. We love the rush of movement and the joy of dance. Nothing is constant, and neither are the waters of the worlds around us. River Tribe is there when the music touches you deep in your soul and you have to dance, when your breath catches at the sight of the sunset, when you spin around a bonfire, and when you race for the sheer pleasure of the wind upon your face. The squish of mud between your toes, the scent of lilacs on the wind, the laughter you can’t choke back, that is all River Tribe. We meet prior to coronations by the stream across the bridge from Glimmer Court, under the banner of the salmon.
With acorns in hand, the Woodland Tribe comes from deep in the forest bring tales of enchantment and merriment to all they encounter. Come join us in the Woodlands and feel the peace and solitude that is found with the trees. The Fairies of the Woodlands can help you get lost or help you get found. Join Ticaleha the Woodland Tribe leader, dig your roots deep, and raise and shake your branches high into the beautiful sky. Be granted your very own acorn from Ticaleha to join the tribe and to discover that you are an acorn that has the wonderful opportunity to grow mighty as the Oak tree. Leaf to leaf we will march to the ceremonies to celebrate the bringing in of the May! The Woodland Tribe gathers in the woods near the habitats, under the Banner of the Bear, fifteen minutes before each midday ceremony.