Thursday, November 24, 2011

Traditional Folk Magic Festival 2011 – Day Three

The third day of the Fest began with a champagne brunch, filled with mimosas, crawfish pies, macaroni & cheese, and bread pudding. Yea. You read that right. Other than a noticeable lack of sauce for the bread pudding (wassup with that?), it was glorious!

I had a cleansing and healing scheduled with Mamma Starr, so I held off on the eating and drinking until after that session. It was so wonderful to get a chance for some hands-on work by her. It’s not only good for the soul, but it’s also instructive, and I tried my best to take in as much as I could. It was a powerful experience, and since having that healing I can attest to having many of the fears that had been plaguing me banished far, far away. And as a completely unanticipated side-effect of the healing, my long standing sensitivity to caffeine has disappeared!

For the past 10 years, I’ve had to either avoid caffeine all together when at my most sensitive (even decaf drinks and chocolate candy often had enough caffeine in them to cause me to become ill), or be extremely judicious in my intake (like anything more than ½ cup of green tea every other day would overload my system). At my worst, I was so sensitive to any stimulating substances, that I had to avoid spicy foods, sugary foods, and even peppermint tea! Thankfully, that phase passed a few years ago, but I still had to be very careful. Papa Newt can attest to how closely I was monitoring my caffeine intake during the Fest so as not to get sick.

Since that healing, I’ve been having REGULAR coffee – and New Orleans-strength coffee at that, and full mugs of green tea without any issues. Sometimes even 2 or 3 cups of green tea in a day. I’ve not been ill, and my sleep has not been disturbed. HALLELUJAH!!

I can’t express how much I’ve missed my coffee and tea, and how grateful I am to have that enjoyment back in my life. Thank God, and thank you Mamma Starr for being a conduit for that healing.

At the conclusion of my healing session, Mamma Starr gave me some very strong encouragement to start learning to read the bones. It’s not something I had really considered, but her method of encouragement was such that there was really no way to get out of it! I’m looking forward to spending time cultivating knowledge of how to work with that form of divination, and have had some bones already present themselves to me…so I seem to be on the right path.

The remainder of the champagne brunch was used to spend more time getting to know the other goers better. I had the pleasure of sitting and chatting with Coventry Creations’ owner Jacki, who did some impromptu readings with the new oracle deck that she’s made. It’s quite ingenious, using the labels from her extensive line of spiritual candles as the basis. Among them there are world deities, magical plants, condition formulas, and magical actions. When they are dealt in a 3-card draw, they create an extremely accurate portrait of the query, along with suggested courses of action. I didn’t even concentrate on a specific question when I drew, letting Spirit give me a message through the cards. And DAMN if it didn’t speak directly and unambiguously to a major challenge in my life at the moment. Jacki is an extremely gifted reader, and her elaborations on the cards were bang-on. Everyone around the table that was blessed with a reading came away feeling blessed with insight and clarity on a variety of issues! Those are some good cards!

After we’d all had our fill of delicious food, and most had at least a slight buzz from the bottomless mimosas, it was time to begin the day’s classes.

The first workshop I attended on Sunday was Creative Conjure with Miss Susan Diamond. This actually turned out to be more of a round-table discussion and brainstorming session than a class or lecture. Miss Susan opened up by speaking a little on using what you have available to you to do the work that needs doing, and not having your magic limited by lack of fancy supplies and exotic herbs. She also spoke a bit about finding the spirits in urban environments, and using a city to one’s magical advantage. Once the ideas starting flowing, the floor was opened up, and Fest-goers began just sharing different creative ways they had approached work in the past. Some really unique ideas were tossed around, and it was interesting to hear about other peoples’ styles.

The next class was the Candle Burning Workshop with Mamma Starr. This was really great, as she pulled up a huge table and laid out all kinds of the tools and supplies she works with. She wasn’t just talking about the work, she was showing us exactly how she goes about doing it! Her style is just so straight-forward and simple, it’s fantastic. Need to shut someone up? Tape their picture to a dressed candle, draw a mouth on top of it, and slap the hell out that mouth while commanding that person to shut it! That co-worker making trouble for you at every turn? Stick their picture upside down under a rock!

As always with Mamma Starr, the topic she begins with is really just a jumping off point. You’ll learn about that topic, but you’ll also get about 10 streams of related information along the way. Bottle work, controlling work, road opening work, blessing work – you name it. And the stories she tells to illustrate her points are just priceless. If you’ve listened to her radio show or read her books on these topics, it’s great to confirm that you’ve correctly understood her method of working by getting to see it performed first-hand. And if you hadn’t encountered her style before, it was a fantastic introduction that will make her other materials all the more instructive.

Over dinner break, the various presenters generously made themselves available to attendees so that anyone with additional questions or concerns could get clarification. Mamma Starr even held a little informal talk with some of the people who had asked about harder works during the general workshop. It was also a last-chance for people to buy from vendors there. I grabbed a few extra oils from Miss Susan’s Serpents Kiss line, and grabbed a few conjure crafts from Mamma Starr for my altars at home. Everyone was feeling happy and energized, and also really anxious for the final workshop of the Fest, the much anticipated lecture on Graveyard work with Orion Foxwood.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter WHAT Orion is talking about. Even if he’s just casually chatting with you, so much knowledge and wisdom just comes flowing out of him in this amazingly accessible, humorous, and inspiring way that’s its just pure bliss. He has this gift for saying exactly the right thing that really makes something hit deep in your heart and take root, bringing your understanding of it to a whole new depth. It’s really remarkable. He’s also extremely charismatic and his presence just effortlessly commands the entire room. This was going to be a great finale to a wonderful weekend.

Orion shared his understanding of the Realm of the Dead, or as he often refers to it the Ancestral Current, and its place in our world and existence, as well as our responsibility to it as spirit workers. His take on that nature of the spirits that are being worked with in graveyard work was really fascinating. Rather than graveyard work being a matter of calling back a spirit to work with you (which he said can, of course, be done – but is a whole different ball of wax), he said that it is more a matter of calling upon the memory of the person that is recorded in their physical body and the energetic impression of that person and their qualities that radiates and is stored in the soil as they return to the earth. The imprint of the person can be quite strong and complete, and does contain an intelligence that can be communicated and interacted with by the worker. He painted a beautiful picture of upon having gained assent from the grave-resident to work with their plot, calling forth from the soil the quality of the person you wished to utilize in your work, and then digging and leaving payment for the gift.

As he was explaining this, you could see some of the other presenters (who were all gathered to take in this talk as well) finding the information both new and compelling. Obviously, there is a pervasive understanding of graveyard work as, in fact, being with an actual spirit-being as opposed to a spirit-impression. I think this perspective was new to many people there, and would be hotly debated by practitioners from other traditions, but it seemed to resonate with many present. Though specifics vary, the idea of the soul having several parts is common among many different spiritual traditions – the Nephesh/Ruach/Neshamah in Herbrew mysticism, Ti Bon Ang/Gros Bon Ang in Vodou, Ib/Sheut/Ren/Ka/Ba in ancient Kemetic belief, etc, etc – so hearing the particular traditional witchcraft perspective presented by Orion, especially in the specific context of graveyard conjure, was really fascinating and valuable.

Orion stressed that graveyard work should be something that manifests balance and healing to both the physical world and the Ancestral Current. He shared some heart-wrenching stories of powerfully healing experiences he’d had over his years of working with the residents of cemeteries. His tales had tears falling from many in the room, and his love and respect for the dead was inspiring in its depth.

This lecture was only 90 minutes, and I think everyone there would agree that it should have been closer to 3 hours. He barely scraped the surface of what he had to share when it was over! I felt like I could have spent an entire weekend just listening to him speak on that ONE topic. I really hope I have more opportunities to learn from him in the future.

My post-Fest analysis and story of last night run-ins with ghosts in the Quarter to come…


  1. Absolutely fabulous.I wanted to attend last year. This year I had family matters. Next year I will be there. Thank you Devi for such a great blog. I felt as if i was sitting in the Seance Lounge, as you described your encounter. Blessings to you.

  2. Devi - you summed up the loving! What a great weekend and what a blessing to meet you - Jacki

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