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Article Specs

Article ID: 12580

VoxAcct: 32959

Section: festivals

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 4,083

Times Read: 908

RSS Views: 12,515
NJ's Beyond The Summit Beltane

Author: Steven E Repko [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: May 11th. 2008
Times Viewed: 908
Sponsored by: Beyond the Summit
Location: Harrisville, NJ
Event Date(s): May 4th - 6th
Attendance: 40

Finally! Somebody put together another state wide Beltane in New Jersey. After two years of waiting and planning, collecting flashlight batteries, spaghetti’os and camping gear, Beltane was here at last.

Once again I found myself tooling through the Wharton State Forest on my way to the event but this time a special surprise: the Beltane Festival was being held in my own childhood forest. Yep, the one I learned in practiced in and (Can we say this on national TV? … ) still do. A real dream-come-true for me after almost forty years. What I had imagined at age 14 had become reality at 51.

This year’s site was Bodine’s Field, a rustic camping site that is known for its seclusion and for being the pick up point for canoeists on the wading river. Mick’s Canoe Rental (an old school chum) right up the road will take you out and drop you upstream. It’s a nice trip on the most beautiful river in the state. They should have included a deal with the weekend pass.

As I pulled into an unmarked dirt road that I knew was there (others didn’t) I started to wonder if they had all given up and went home. No signs, no markers, not even a lowly pagan underling in a Sandwitch costume waving down pentacles off the highway.

As I cautiously inched forward, half hoping to see a hundred cars parked all over the pristine forest spot, or anyone I knew -- or anyone at all -- suddenly we were there at an admission booth. I didn’t know they were indigenous to the Pinelands.

We were given the riot act while in running cars. This included a blow-by-blow on a Chinese auction and all the workings of the festival in general. A new and unique practice that the oil companies recommended I’m sure.

I paid a ten dollar each admission for my lovely wife and myself and then was told that I could still volunteer as a staff member to help with the running of the festival. One thing they forgot to do was make sure they had adequate staff -- or any staff -- for that matter.

I respectfully declined.

It was nice that one young man remembered us from our presenting at the Original Caduceus Festival, which had been the NJ-thing-to-do for years in the 90’s. An important part of the history of our pagan community in New Jersey.

Due to the lack of competent staff, an unattended fire ended in a painful injury for one of the ritual presenters. It was a good thing that there was a registered nurse in the crowd right there when it happened. The bad news was that the victim was her.

Before I left the house another thought crossed my mind. Rustic campsites in New Jersey have no toilet paper; the state does not supply it. Another issue they forgot to mention at the door. And when they figured that out why didn’t they do something about it?

Happily I found a parking space that was easy to get to. I was really worried about that, as I knew the terrain. We were warned to “keep off the moors (ok, sand) and stick to the road” and they are right about that. I have buried more trucks in sugar sand than there are old deer in the pines. Unhappily, I realized that if I could park there, a third of the way into the Saturday schedule, nobody had showed up for the festival. I was part of a handful of attendees.

Town square was small but nice. I got to see some old friends who were milling about, and the “Henna Queens” at Henna by Drax. There were three vendors with decent prices and the usual pagan knickknacks. Bonnie found a lovely claddagh ring with a green stone. This trip just cost us another $100.00 in shopping.

The one-day schedule for the three-day event was mostly spent by 11:00 a.m. and with the exception of a ‘Pagan Conversations’ presented by Owl AKA Jacci Sutton, most of the workshops were of the Wicca 101 variety with very few experienced presenters. I am in the habit of attending a few workshops to critique them but they were pretty much over by 1:00 p.m. Jacci’s workshop was pleasant but quiet. There really were no participants there to hear her. Sort of waste of her 4-hour drive from Pennsylvania.

The next workshop was a “What is Beltane?” I had attended some fantastic Beltane workshops by Charles Arnold in festivals past. Although the presenter was on time and ready as far as I could tell there were no attendees. It seems that the schedule had a large conflict and two small separate gender segregated rituals had taken their toll on the unsuspecting presenter. I thought segregating the sexes at Beltane was a nice idea. Pagan birth control.

Hands Of Change provided the main ritual and it was a mix of concept and tradition that went well. It was nice to see someone who knew what they were doing. It started a little slow but ended wonderfully and was the saving grace of the whole deal.

One problem I did notice was the lack of community elders at the event and the ritual in particular. I was asked to participate as a community elder and the hope was that other elders would have stood with me to represent solidarity in our community. This did not happen.

There was a beginner astrology workshop at 7:00 p.m. As far as I could tell there were going to be no attendees for that as well. The weather was not going to tolerate much after 5:00 p.m. New Jersey in May is damp and cold. Venders were ready to start packing after the main ritual and most of the day attendees were out as well.

The main problem here seemed to be the inability of hosts from outside of the New Jersey community to reach out to the community. Aid of experienced staff and resources were offered but refused. It’s a shame that we all couldn’t play together.

In investigating some of the background I uncovered a possible scheme reportedly using leverage from a large NJ Yahoo Group to scuttle the MPA Beltane Festival. Evidently it worked. The MPA disbanded this spring and this was nowhere near the quality of what the New Jersey community expects from its festivals.

I am starting to feel like a reporter for the Star not the Witches’ Voice.

Film at 11:00?






Footnotes:
Hands of Change www.handsofchange.org/


Copyright: Written by Steven Repko



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