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| Article Specs|
Article ID: 4851
Age Group: Adult
Posted: November 3rd. 2002
Mundane Health & Safety at Gatherings & Festivals
by Patricia Telesco
In the past decade I've seen people write and talk about psychic self-defense for a variety of settings including the festival circuit. And I agree that this subject is very important. However, it occurs to me that I hear very little about mundane health and safety protocol, which is also incredibly important especially in large groups of people. Consequently, I'd like to take off the witchy hat for just a moment, and put on the apron labeled "mom"
Going to gatherings is fun. It's enriching. It's a fantastic opportunity to learn, grow, and fellowship. but none of that can (or will) happen if you end up sick or injured, or worse accidentally put someone else at risk. While I'd like to think a lot in this article comes under the category of "common sense" the reality is that common sense isn't common, even among the most spiritually wise (and sometimes especially them). We get so caught up in the other-worldliness of an event that the mundane gets put on a back burner. The thrust of this writing is to bring back the balance between our real life and our spiritual activities in such a way that Safety First becomes natural.
The Traveling Kit:
When you're going to an outdoor gathering in particular, there are things you should seriously consider taking. For one a flashlight is a fantastic ally especially at night in secluded campgrounds. (I have some scars to prove the truth of this advice). The little glow sticks are ok for decoration, and to mark tent lines so you don't trip over them, but they provide woefully little light for walking (especially if you have poor night vision). The good news is that I've found fantastic, portable flashlights for around $8 (sometimes less) that have a handle for carrying or attaching to your belt, a flat bottom so they can become a secondary lantern, and an adjustable light level so you don't blind the folks in the adjacent encampments.
The next item on my packing list is bug repellant (or dryer sheets). With the instance of ticks and limes disease increasing, this is very important. Dryer sheets tied around your ankles deter all bugs very nicely in lieu of actual repellant. Also carry some type of anti-itch cream so that if you do get bitten the area won't become infected from scratching with dirty hands. A little untreated tobacco warmed in water and allowed to sit on the wound helps greatly.
Heading south? Get the SPF! This is not the time to think tanning especially at clothing optional sites. Dancing the fire with sunburn breasts or other body parts is NOT fun. I also recommend a wide brimmed hat to avoid heat exhaustion along with a plentiful and regular intake of water.
Speaking of water, this is something a lot of people seem to neglect no matter the location. Magick, working the fire, drumming. all these things take a lot of energy and can leave you dehydrated. Always bring extra water with you and remind yourself to drink a little every hour. You' ll find you feel much better and your energy level stays higher.
Since we've started talking about the central fire area, if you' re going to have a personal fire also bring a small fire extinguisher. It only takes one spark catching in the right place to engulf a tent or a flimsy costume. Watch what you're wearing when you tend the fire, or dance by it. While we might wish to become "one with the fire" I don't think burning witches is still considered a good pastime!
Other things that I carry regularly include:
There are some things I'm sure I'm forgetting, but you get the idea. Don't assume that you can find what you need on site, that the weather will cooperate, that a store will be any where near by etc. During time of crisis, all of those things usually DO NOT happen (murphy's law?)
- a good knife (your athame if you wish) but I keep it peace bonded so playful hands or paws don't get hurt accidentally
- a can opener and some canned foods in case the ice in the cooler melts too quickly (note: do NOT use food that's gotten warm during the day unless you enjoy food poisoning, and always be sure to cook things thoroughly)
- a plastic bag with a dry set of clothing inside in case everything gets wet from a rain storm. Getting dry and warm quickly helps avoid nasty colds later
- spare shoes (or boots), an umbrella, and clothing that accounts for potential weather shifts
- duct tape - an absolute necessity. It fixes nearly anything
- antibacterial wipes - for porta-johns, after dinner clean ups or whatever (again this is an excellent precaution to keep various infections from running amok)
- aspirin, vitamins, cold tablets, etc. just in case
- needle and thread (small kits are now allowed on airplanes if you fly)
- fluorescent tape to mark tent lines and other hazards
Other Safety Issues:
Let's look at other safety issues that do affect us at gatherings. The first thing that comes to mind is children. Folks, don't leave kids unattended or running around without supervision. Many gatherings are open to the public, and we cannot be sure who that "public" will be. Additionally unsupervised children can be a hazard not only to themselves but others if they're using twigs like swords, walking too close to a pond with snapping turtles, poking at a fire, etc. We may be a community, but the responsibility for your children's safety is YOURS. If you must leave them somewhere, leave them with trusted people you know.
This piece of advice goes for pets too! Don't assume you're loving dog is going to act normal around 100 or more strangers, many of whom are making noise at all hours. Animals in this situation are typically nervous and more protective, meaning they may bite. Know your pet and come prepared with things that will make him or her feel more at home.
Next comes alcohol. I enjoy a good party as much as any one else, but drunkenness has no place at the sacred fire. If you know you're going to imbibe heavily, be considerate of others and honor yourself by staying away from this and other dangerous areas. And if you're drinking under age - you' re putting the whole gathering in danger of legal action. To be treated like an adult - act like one and be responsible!
A third area of danger are the predators. Every community has one or two and we are not immune. While event coordinators and security people do everything in their power to regulate who is on a site, there have been times people have been stalked or frightened by those abusing our trusting natures. So try not to walk alone late at night, carry your flashlight, and be aware! Look at people during the day and get to know them. Simple observation can often weed out a predator before they become a problem! Please bear in mind that I'm talking about VERY FEW incidents over the years, but even so forewarned is forearmed.
I realize this article hasn't been very typical of the Trish, fun and cheery style - it seems to point out everything that could go wrong at a festival. That was exactly the idea. While many festivals go off without a hitch, we still have to cope with nature and with other people. By taking time to consider all these eventualities before you travel, you leave far more time for enjoying the event when you get there.
Be smart, be prepared, be safe.
The Witches' Voice
November 4th., 2002
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