2014 Jedi Gathering Experiences

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This summary comes from Jedi Diamond, apprentice to Boom Darklighter with Chicago Jedi.

The 2014 Annual Jedi Gathering was yet another unforgettable event. This year we welcomed back Chris Langer to take portraits of our attendees, and we look forward to the great pictures. We also welcomed Laurent Malaquais to this year’s Gathering to work on his documentary and filming of the Jedi Movement. He previously filmed and directed the Bronies documentary. Here is a quick breakdown of the events that occurred:

Day 1: Upon everyone’s arrival at Skyline in Almont, Michigan, we reconnected with old friends and familiarized ourselves with first-time attendees. We all received swag from Chicago Jedi’s buttons and buttons for the 2014 Gathering. Other members outside of the Chicago Jedi received Chicago bracelets.

Day 2: Alex Bird ran the “Kali Basics” workshop, and we also had Noodle and Sand sparring time to either show off or learn more sword fighting skills. Many Jedi went to go swimming and participated in other water activities such as water polo, water basketball, and water volleyball. It was a good time to connect with one another either with the sports, poolside chats, or sunbathing by the poolside. After relaxing in the pool, many other Jedi participated in Jedi Karen’s “Feeling the Force” workshop. The following Knighting Candidates: Angelus, Hannigan, Kitsu, Luisa, Opie, and Perris went through their Trials throughout much of the day and were “missing in action” for dinner time and during a few of the free time events. They spent much of their time at the Labyrinth during the day and much of the evening with the review members. This year was a bit different in which the Knighting Candidates spent more time bonding during the review process to offer support for one another. Many of the Candidates have mentioned that this allowed them to reflect more on the entire day. Ultimately, by the end of the night/early next morning the Candidates were officially recommended to become full-fledged Knights.

Day 3: Andy Spalding presented information about Runes, in which quickly thereafter, everyone got ready for the Knighting Ceremony. Everyone looked spectacular, and the Ceremony was especially touching for Angelus, Hannigan, Kitsu, Luisa, Opie, and Perris. This Ceremony allowed their Knighthood to be officially recognized and received support from their sponsors (Andy, Angelus, Charles, and Opie) and the overall Jedi Community. Chris Langer took awesome group photos, and Begonia Cowan asked that we hold up a sign “May the Force Be with 2nd Grade” for her fall class. Unfortunately, as we ran over time, we were unable to experience “Lessons of Ego” from Vishwa Jay. Hopefully, he can present this at a future Gathering. We had many other fruitful discussions and workshops including: “Energy Healing” with Moonshadow, “Building Chapters” by Angelus, “Leadership: The power of you” by Crystal Neumann, and “Shamanic Journey” with Angelus. The night closed with the Blot Ceremony around a fire pit, facilitated by Andy Spalding. The Blot consisted of personal offerings to bring in the gods/goddess. The characters were brought in with a stage-like presence of the following: Freyja (played by Perris), Oden (played by Angelus), Thor (played by Charles), and Tyr (played by Andy).

Memories were definitely created. It was a bittersweet time to say our goodbyes, though we look forward to creating additional memories in 2015 in Colorado and Indiana.
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Falon provides a video summary of her gathering experiences here on youtube.

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Kai-An Tatok replied the topic: 2014 Jedi Gathering Experiences

Arrival:
My 2014 gathering started out very much like my last gathering, with me stumbling sleepily out the front door and into Sensei Ross’s car for a long drive through several states. After a pitstop at Kit and Mindas’s house, lunch, and my reunion with Chicago Jedi, we all pressed onward, this time with Li wedged in between me and the cooler in the backseat. Despite the two hours to go, Jen (Jedi Diamond) Li, and I stayed awake by telling increasingly ridiculous jokes. It was lovely to be with Jedi again.

We pulled up to the site and unfolded ourselves out of the car. The place was absolutely stunning: blue skies, sunshine, and lush and green as far as the eye could see. I finally got to meet up in person with the other California Jedi, Roz and Opie. After a short meet and greet and nametags (which each came with a gathering-specific pin, designed by Chicago Jedi’s Dan McCann!) we were left to our own devices. Being Jedi, naturally people started talking. Andy brought out his homemade beer (delicious beyond compare) and Kit produced pan after pan of lasagna. Amazing conversation abounded, and many of us stayed up until 3 or 4 in the morning, a pattern that is familiar to those who have attended a gathering before.

Day 1:
Somehow managing to get up in time for breakfast, many participated in Alex Bird’s Kali workshop, where he patiently guided us all through the Sombrada Drill. After an hour, even the least experienced of us was moving more confidently and smoothly. Despite the sleep deprivation, I lost no fingers.

After lunch, Jedi Karen ran us through her method of feeling the force, which was enjoyable and enlightening. Then there was Blood and Sand, which ended up more foam weapons and less blood, but extremely enjoyable. Laurent, our resident documentary filmer, had a tiny camera he would strap to people to really get in on the action!

Eventually everyone migrated to the pool, splashing, relaxing, and chatting. I got to listen in on some conversations that helped work out the logistics of the knighting process, and had a wonderful conversation with Alex on how wonderful and fascinating it is watching a spiritual movement grow from nothing to this, a real band of Jedi.

Several faces were missing this day: Angelus, Opie, Perris, Hannigan, Luisa, and Kitsu went through their trials, only reappearing for a belated meal as they worked towards their ceremony.

Again relaxing and chatting followed dinner as the candidates went up for their peer review, staying up late into the night. When I woke up the next morning, it was to the wonderful news that despite the grueling process, everyone had passed.

Day 2:
We started out day two with Andy presenting on the Norse Runes and their meaning and spiritual uses. The most fascinating thing about the presentation was the incredible similarities between the Norse spiritual traditions and the others I was more familiar with. For example, the Norse also had a conception of the chakra system, and used the exact same color and imagery for the crown, visualizing it as a purple flower.

Afterwards we all got dressed up in our various garb, some Jedi, some not. All the candidates looked particularly smart as they marched up for the Knighting Ceremony. One by one, they swore to be the best Jedi they could be and were knighted. I got a little teary in particular for Angelus, my master, and Opie, who I have grown very fond of as we’ve worked on California Jedi.

After lots of pictures by our favorite photographer, Chris Langer, Moonshadow had a lovely seminar on energy healing, where I was able to expand and practice my own skills, as well as receive energy healing from several people. I was also privileged to have Luisa do a private energy work session on me. Crystal led a workshop on Leadership where we discovered our leadership type, and that Jedi are really really good at jigsaw puzzles.

My favorite workshop though, was the Building Chapters discussion. Angelus had us all think about how wealthy our community is in terms of abilities, resources, and strengths. Alex is an award-winning poet. Vishwa has lots of experience leading groups. Ross is amazing at technology. We have so many skills to leverage in the long process of growing our community, and if we take advantage of that wealth of ability, we can’t fail.

That evening Angelus held another workshop, a Shamanic Journey to see one possible future self. After we floated back to the present, we all walked down through the darkness, many Jedi using lightsabers as flashlights, to the firepit, where Andy, a practitioner of Asatru, held a Blot, which is a Viking ritual honoring the gods, the ancestors, and the participants. The bonfire was roaring and it illuminated the gods that were present in the form of our Jedi friends: Angelus as Odin, Charles as Thor, Perris as Freyja, Andy as Tyr, and Opie as Loki. Getting into the spirit of the thing, many of us created charcoal paint from the ashes and marked our faces in solidarity and silliness. First, everyone gave something to be sacrificed: an object, a promise, a goal. Then everyone toasted each of the three rounds with mead or beer or water: the first round gathering many cheers to the force and to Tyr; the second round honoring our fallen teachers, family, and community members; and the third where we all boasted about our accomplishments this year. Many oaths to continue the fight for justice and self-betterment were also made. All and all it was an amazing end to the gathering that drew our community together more tightly, and made me proud to call all the Jedi there my friends.

"Close your eyes. Feel it. The light, it's always been there. It will guide you." -Maz Kanata
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Jax replied the topic: 2014 Jedi Gathering Experiences

Some additional reflections, along with pictures and videos, can be found here: gatheredcommunity.weebly.com/2014.html
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