Monday, November 21, 2011

Traditional Folk Magic Festival 2011 – Day One (of Three)

I scrimped and saved over the year in order to attend the 2011 Traditional Folk Magic Festival in New Orleans, held by the practitioners of Conjure CrossroadsMamma Starr, Orion Foxwood, Auntie Sindy Todo, Miss Susan Diamond, and Bloody Mary. I was extremely excited to get to meet these wonderful practitioners and learn some new things first-hand. The fact that it was held in New Orleans was just an extra added blessing – being an ancestral dwelling place for my maternal line, as well as the spiritual place of pilgrimage that it is, as well as where I was married my husband would be joining me after the festival for a week! So, it was going to be a powerful and uplifting 10 days for me that I had been looking forward to for many anxious months.

The festival did not disappoint, and I encourage anyone who is able, to make the effort and attend one of these. Not only is the opportunity to meet and learn from the practitioners of Conjure Crossroads extremely valuable, but the company of the other attendees is also priceless. It was an incredible bunch of loving and truly enjoyable, inspiring people. I made many new friends that I very much look forward to keeping in touch with, and hopefully even collaborating with in some way in the near future. I’ve heard that Conjure Crossroads is considering holding 2 Fests a year, one on each coast of the US, in order to try and make it easier for more people to attend and therefore disseminate the traditional knowledge as much as possible! International conjurers may or may not find this beneficial – but hopefully it will still provide more chances to take in some wonderful company and information.

The 2011 festival was 3 full days, which was an expansion from the 2-days they held last year. I could have taken in 5 days without an issue (hint, hint)! It was fantastic. Because there was so much to do, see, buy (my credit card is groaning from the copious purchases of truly mind-blowing conjure craft that was available), and so many amazing people to meet, I’ve decided to break up these blog entries day by day of the Fest so as not to overwhelm my readers with a marathon post.

The first day I arrived a bit early, and had to press my little nose up against the wrought-iron gate drooling over the vendor tables from afar. When the Fest opened, there was a rush on those tables! Auntie Sindy Todo had some really remarkable railroad spikes that were beautiful pieces of conjure art, each one a unique one-of-a-kind piece with a great backstory, and instructions for use. These flew off her table – you snoozed, you lost! I picked up one crafted for working with St. Michael which was named “The Knight”. It was painstakingly decorated with lengths of chainmail and beading, and was simply stunning. St. Michael has been wanting me to build up his altar a bit, and this was the perfect piece to begin that process.

After securing my spike, I settled in for the opening prayer, and scurried off to the first class of the day, which was Mamma Starr’s Black Hawk class. I was thrilled to be meeting her and getting to hear her teach in person. She is such a BIG energy, it’s very surprising. She’s full of joy and laughter and tough love, and infectious enthusiasm! This year she decided to expand on her class from last year, and primarily talk about White Eagle and Mother Ross, two spirits that work very closely with Black Hawk. I was a little disappointed, because I hadn’t gotten to attend last year’s class (during which I heard she called down Black Hawk), but hearing her speak more on these two spirits was really an honor. If you haven’t gotten her amazing book on Black Hawk, I suggest you do so, and also go through her BlogTalkRadio archives for the episodes where she speaks on Black Hawk, as you’ll get an idea of the kind of info and work that was covered during the lecture…but Mamma Starr doesn’t recycle info from class to class, so whenever you get a chance to hear her teach, do it! Be ready to write REALLY fast, too – when she starts, it’s rapid fire.

We then had a lunch break, where we were all treated to our choice of Mamma Starr's chicken gumbo, or beans & rice...and let me tell you, that woman can COOK! It was lip-smacking good, and I just couldn't get enough of it. There was also red velvet cake for dessert. Seriously - it doesn't get any more amazing than that!

Over lunch break, I finally got to really spend some time with Mamma Starr. If you haven't guessed already, I just adore her and have the utmost respect for her. I feel eternally grateful that she makes herself so available to those who wish to learn through her radio show, her Ning community, her growing collection of conjure books, and her truly excellent tele-classes. I recommend that anyone interested in learning more about traditional old style conjure take advantage of all her offerings - you'll learn so much practical old time work your head will be spinning! All weekend when she was not teaching, she was providing healings, cleansings, and readings. It was a total surprise, and a deep honor to be invited by her to watch how she does that work, and I learned a great deal. I look forward to spending even more time with her in the future to deepen my understanding of the practices I was shown. That lunch break was just about the best one I ever could have imagined!

After everyone had had their fill of home-cooked deliciousness, it was time for Auntie Sindy and Miss Susan Diamond’s class on Prosperity Conjure. This was really a great workshop that primarily focused on things like practitioner/client mindset, recognizing unhelpful patterns, really making strategic moves towards finding income that is suited to your temperament and natural skills, and is also joyful to earn (which Miss Susan refers to as Right Livelihood), and being willing to make sacrifices to manifest the things you really desire, and then claiming that goal as won: all really important things that as spiritual counselors we try to guide people – and ourselves – through the discovery and implementation process all the time.

Miss Susan also has a fantastic approach of finding spirit allies who are already aligned and working towards the same things you are, and who you can join together with in a mutually beneficial relationship, to help manifest your work rapidly and in a harmonious way that isn’t as reliant on contract-based arrangements. She spoke a bit on how to find those allies, and also about how to determine how many allies you may need for any one job.

That class culminated in a prosperity working where everyone dressed a candle with one of Miss Susan’s condition oils – we got to choose from 4 or 5 – and then lit the candle, placing it into a communal holder, which was later worked over by the facilitators. I have to say that I fell in love with the oils from Serpent’s Kiss that Miss Susan makes. I ended up buying a half dozen or so different blends over the weekend, including one called Right Livelihood along with its accompanying candle! I do believe that for unique blends, or blends that I am just not equipt to craft here at home, I’ll primarily be going to Serpent’s Kiss. Talk about feeling the power when you take a sniff!

That night wrapped up with a wine & cheese meet-and-greet. It was lovely to spend some casual time chatting with the presenters, as well as the other guests. I was blessed to spend more time with Mamma Starr and her daughters, Papa Newt (who happened to be one of my roommates along with the wonderful Randy Love), Brother Ash of Crossroads of Sorcery who is quiet but once you tickle his funny bone you better look out, Andrea and her husband from Crossroads Little Shop of Conjure – a name which just sets my Broadway lovin’ soul alight with joy, Jackie of the amazing Coventry Creations who I also plan on finding some way to pick her brain in a more concerted fashion in the near future because she KNOWS her stuff, Heatherleigh of the Boston Tea Room who has a wicked sense of fashion and spirit alike, and many others.

I admit to being completely exhausted by the time the meet-and-greet rolled around, and so I ducked out a wee bit early in order to get some shut eye before the next day which I knew was going to be a long one (in a very good way) with an evening Voodoo-inspired spirit communication session outdoors at the bayou’s edge after all the day’s classes. I fell right to sleep and had a hilarious dream about having a friendly Shakespearian soliloquy competition with Sir Patrick Stewart, and Peter Dinklage!

More to follow….

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