Growing Up at Four Quarters
by Coriander Woodruff
My name is Coriander and I have been going to 4QF since I was about three. I'm now 16 and this is the 16th year of raising Stones, so I'm as old as the Stone Circle! Four Quarters has affected my life in so many ways it is hard to find a starting place, but I guess the most important things have been learning responsibility, valuing community and having a spiritual home.
Because at Four Quarters people value responsibility more than age, I have become more involved through the years, starting with lighting candles, getting involved in ceremonies, helping take the Stones off with the crane and working with concrete, etc. My first memorable experience was when I was eight; they were doing an altar walk, but the Fairy Cairn was not on the walk. I loved the Fairy Cairn and thought it was important that it should be included, so I told Kailin, the Church President. She said that it would be on the walk, if I could take care of it. She gave me the responsibility to set it up and keep an eye on the candles. The fact that I was not just allowed to help, but really encouraged was a different experience. They treated me as a responsible person and didn't dismiss me as a little kid.
There was also another time that same year when the old sweat lodge was knocked down by a flood. I saw that people were building a new sweat lodge and I positively insisted that I was going to help. Since I was too small to chop down trees they had me help carry saplings. Then they put me in charge of the twine, so I could hand it to them and I even helped tie the knots. I felt like I was an important part of creating the whole lodge. I even got to attend the first sweat in that lodge.
Since they trusted me, I lived up to that trust. For example, each year at Stones Rising the "Kids Tribe" would provide water and refreshing fruit for the people pulling the Stones. When I was about eleven, a couple of us kids realized that in the excitement the adults had forgotten this bit. So on our own, we got the jugs of water together and we enlisted the aid of some adults in the kitchen to help us chop up fruit for the Stone crew. The thirsty crew was very grateful and we were proud of our good work.
People here have become like extended family to me. Richard Bach said, "Rarely do members of a family grow up under the same roof." I know I can go to my Farm Family for advice or help. When I first get to the Farm, I look for Mama and Papa Dragon to give them a hug. They run the "Coffee Dragon," and their work gives a great sense of community. People have brought fun games to share from Apples to Apples to Battleship. If you need to know just about anything, you can ask someone at the Coffee Dragon. If I'm waiting for someone, I can just wait at there until they show up. I remember a miserable rainy day, so I went to Coffee Dragon and someone lit a fire. Then another kind soul lent me a blanket and then someone else brought a game and between all of that, it became a fun experience. I remember sharing riddles, and playing games and sipping on cocoa.
I can always count on help from the people there. Several years ago, in the excitement of the festival, I had forgotten to eat for far too long. The wonderful smell of cooking lured me along like Bugs Bunny following the beckoning scent. I hoped that whoever was cooking would feed me. I came across Em cooking crepes in her campsite and she fed me until I was stuffed. Now that I'm older, I take care of feeding others. Like at Stones Rising, when we start at around midnight and bake loaves of bread all night. We put good energy into the bread, laughing, singing, chanting and baking lots and lots of loaves for the whole community so we can share the breaking of bread on the morning of the Rising.
It's a place of renewal for me. It's hard to describe, but it makes me feel filled up. I like being involved in the rituals. I don't even remember the first ritual I was involved it, but one of the most memorable was where all the kids were involved. The whole kids' tribe gathered with great solemnity atop one of the Stones that was about to be moved. The adults came around the corner to move the Stone and to their great surprise found the entire kids' tribe dressed up with elaborate sets of feathers, costumes and light-up head bobbles. I, myself, proudly wore a set of light-up bunny ears. We began to chant our own tribal kids' chant. The adults had to petition us to move off the Stone. After much negotiation and offers of chocolate, we granted our permission and hopped off the Stone. Even at that young age, I enjoyed the fact that we were an important part of the whole experience.
As I have grown older, I have become more and more involved in moving the Stones. I like when we are working together, we are all focused on the same goal. Last year I worked roller crew, just like I had always seen my father do. That's when I really realized the amount of community involved with raising the Stones. Until then, I hadn't really noticed all the different dimensions of the Rising, now I can see how everyone from the roller crew, to the singers, to the witnesses are important. It takes more than just hard work to move a Stone, it takes the whole community working together.
I hope that people always find the same spiritual home that I have and I trust that the energy of Four Quarters will call more people to be involved in this great place.