Pagans & Maypoles

Back in the summer months of last year, my interest in witchcraft had suddenly revived, in full force. This revival led me to visit Salem once again and buy a ton of books on the craft. In, what was it, September or October maybe, I attended a workshop called “Art for Healing” and one of my acquaintances there told me about a Pagan Pride Festival here in Connecticut. I wanted to go really badly, but it unfortunately fell upon the same day I had to go to the Madonna concert. Luckily, they seem to have festivals throughout the year and I finally managed to go to one.

The particular festival I attended was for Belatine, which is a celebration of the coming of summer (there’s actually more to this day, but I’m too lazy to go research it for proper information). It was being celebrated on April 27th though, instead of May 1st.

I woke up early, thinking where it was being held was going to be at least 45 minutes away. I was surprised that, according to Google Maps, it was only 25 minutes away! It gave me enough time to go get some cash and take my time getting there. I was pretty excited to get there – I really wanted to go and I just happened to have work off that day. As I came to the final stop light, I could feel the festival. Okay, sure, it hadn’t started yet (I was about 10 minutes early), but I could still feel it.

I pulled in, parked my car, and awkwardly sat in my car until 10 AM (when the festival properly started). People were setting up almost until then.

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Once 10 AM came, I paid my admission fee and began walking around, looking at the shops. The first place I visited was this crystals booth. The guy who ran it was kind of annoying and kind of pushy, but you could tell it was his personality. I became attracted to this particular necklace, a quartz infused with another crystal (which I unfortunately can’t remember). The guy told me the metaphysical properties and I knew I needed it. It suited me extremely well.

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(The above picture was taken at home later of me wearing the crystal.)

Anyway, I continued exploring the booths. I was really surprised at how many people actually took cards. People either had Square or Paypal. It made me really excited and is currently making me consider selling my artwork at anime conventions…

I ran into this girl named Dakota three times, before she disappeared off with her mom.

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I felt kind of bad not watching the morning festival. One of the reasons why I wanted to go to the Belatine festival was to observe how everybody does the rituals. I do remember that they walked out in a line, while someone played a drum, before standing in a circle, and talking about something I couldn’t hear because I was so far away and too busy look at all the pretty things to buy. (And I bought things because that’s how I am.)

Workshops started after the ritual and I went on over to the one I think was called “Potions of Spring”, which took place inside the building the grounds were part of, a place for veterans of foreign wars. As I was walking inside, I asked some guy if it was where they said the potions workshop was going to be and he said he thought so. After I mentioned I was missing my potions workshop on Monday and so I might as well go to this one, he said he was just going inside for the restroom.

Anyway, I went inside, sat down in the back, and watched. It was kind of funny being in a potions workshop that took place in a building that had display cases of guns, grenades, and propaganda over the walls. Seeing the history was cool, but it felt so contrasting with the nature-loving, peaceful pagans image I have in my mind.

My mind kind of started wandering off during the workshop (which was kind of more like a lecture. I was pretty surprised potion making pretty much just involved her dropping herbs into some water (that she charged with moonlight).

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She kept eating dandelions throughout the lecture. It was actually kind of funny – I never thought of dandelions as an herb. Apparently though, they’re a good alternate to coffee.

I meant to go on her nature walk afterward, but I got distracted by shops. Lots and lots of awesome shops. I bought more stuff. I don’t really have to go into details about what I bought, right?

I think it was 1 PM when the Maypole ritual started. The pole stood tall and the ribbons slightly danced in the wind. They had everyone participating go under a stick with feathers on it and a bit of smoke from a burning sage. Eventually everybody was in a circle and the man and woman who were in charge of the ritual walked around in opposite directions, the man with a athame, the woman with a chalice. They eventually called the quarters (i.e. making the space sacred). They talked for some time about something I don’t remember currently. At some point they had people jump over broomsticks, if I remember correctly, which was kind of funny to see, but also really nice and looked fun.

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Eventually they started the actual maypole. Yeah, I didn’t participate – I just wanted to watch this time around. They sung a version of a song called “The Earth, The Air, The Fire, The Water” while they went around the maypole. The song made me feel pretty at home: I felt more like I was witnessing some ancient ritual of life, rather than some robotic droning. I kind of started singing along with the music too.

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It was awesome watching the maypole. I’ve done it once before – back in Elementary school. I don’t remember what it was for. I remember feeling stupid and fat though, like my cheeks were puffed out. I was fat though, so that might be why.

After that, I shopped around a bit more and ended up buying two plants – a Tarragon French and an Angelica – from the Gayle’s Thyme (an herb store I sometimes visit) booth. Both are culinary herbs. I then went inside because I was hungry. I wanted pizza, but they were out of it, so I decided on a cookie and a water.

I went inside the building where they were selling food and saw Gayle was working there. She got excited that I bought two of her plants and offered to water them for me, since they were a bit dry. After she returned back and told me a few things about them (like where to plant them), other people came in and started asking for things. I just stood there, waiting for it to die down. Once there was less people, Gayle apologized, since I had just been waiting there, I had bought two of her plants, and she was ignoring me (not on purpose). I said it was fine and bought a water and a cookie, in hopes to make my headache I had since that morning go away.

Of course it didn’t.

I sat down to eat my cookie and drink my water. I also took a picture of my new plant buddies to show my friend.

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After that, I went to go put my stuff in my car and returned in time to attend Gayle’s workshop on magical oils. When I walked in, Gayle had me sit next to her so she “wouldn’t ignore” me. It kind of (?) was an inside joke.

There was quite a few people in the panel. I was surprised at how easy making magical oils was: just a few drops of various different oils in some base oil (like apricot oil) would make it. Actually, it was so easy, I want to make some myself now! Okay, no, I didn’t have a chance to make some myself, but I was sitting right next to Gayle when she did it, so I was able to see how to make it up close.

After the workshop ended (which went overtime), I hung around a bit longer for reasons I can’t remember and offered to help Gayle clean up. I didn’t really want to leave yet, but there wasn’t really much else for me to do. I helped her clean up the kitchen area and put stuff in her car. She ended up giving me some peanut butter M&Ms she didn’t want and showed me a bit of her herbal certification course she teaches (which looked awesome and I totally want to take it at some point).

I feel kind of awkward because usually if there’s someone who seems fine with me sticking around with them, I totally will. Social awkwardness much? I realize too I don’t really know how to interact with people too well.

Overall, the day was good…no, it was great! And it was exactly what I needed to revitalize myself. I’m looking forward to September’s. Hopefully I’ll be able to attend it.