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Who Shall Dance at the Witches Ball?
Article ID: 3006
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 5,959
Times Read: 11,740
Author: Sia@FullCircle [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: October 1st. 2000
Times Viewed: 11,740
Pagan pride and Pagan style will shine out at the first annual West Coast Witches Ball on Saturday, October 21st in Palo Alto, California. (1) The Witches Ball is designed to be a grand costume affair, a Pagan community event and a benefit for the local Humane Society. The organizing body is Full Circle Events, a non-profit Neo-Pagan group that specializes in hosting such gatherings for the Earth Wise Community.
Full Circle Events was formed in the summer of 1999 by a group of Pagan professionals, parents and business owners who live and work in the Bay Area of California. The Witches Ball, which is intended to be an annual event for FCE, is the brainchild of the Council Seneschal, Monica Ni Drauc.
Monica lives in Mountain View California. She recently received her degree in Anthropology from San Francisco State University. Her research there focused on American subcultures, including the Pagan community, of which she is a part. I caught up with her during Equinox and we spent some time talking about the ball and her work with Full Circle.
DL: So, why host a Witches Ball?
M: Full Circle was formed so that Pagans could meet other Pagans, have some fun and do some good. A Witches Ball let's us do all three, plus we get to dress up and dance.
DL: Where is the Ball going to be held?
M: If I had my way, we would host the ball in a beautiful castle surrounded by an ancient wood. That's hard to find in Silicon Valley. But we did a lot of looking and we finally choose the Lucie Stern Center. It was constructed in the 1940's and the exterior has a romantic, Mediterranean look. It's in a park, so we did get some trees.
The dance will take place in the grand ballroom. It has a high ceiling, tall windows and Art Deco chandeliers. Just outside the ballroom is a beautiful garden so our people can walk about and show off their finery. We've taken the entire complex for the evening, so we are able to offer dancing, refreshments and a place to relax and chat with friends. We will also feature a Magickal Marketplace. We have some splendid Vendors coming and they will have many wonderful things to sell. If people aren't careful, they might go home in a different outfit than the one they arrived in.
DL: What should people wear?
M: This is meant to be an elegant, magickal evening. We recommend that people dress in outfits that are lovely and that make them feel good. I predict that we'll see a lot of velvet, satin, silk and lace. Some of our attendees will wear period costume; some will come in Witch attire. I expect to see a lot of fairy folk and I know that some people are going to wear either ethnic or tribal dress. We're expecting to see masks, cloaks, wings, glitter and the like. We have a section called "What to wear" up on the website and it gives folks suggestions on what to wear and what not to wear.
It's important for people to know that they that they don't have to spend a lot of money on a costume. Attitude is everything
DL: What about the decorations?
M: The colors for the ball are purple, black and silver and the overall look is Art Deco. But the best things to look at will be the attendees, themselves.
DL: How are ticket sales so far?
M: Excellent, so far. We've got people coming in from all over California for this event. We recently added a list of hotels in the area to our website so that people can find lodging if they want to stay the night,
Once the ball ends, folks will head into the downtown area of Palo Alto, which is famous for it's clubs and restaurants. I expect that that these parties will go on till dawn.
DL: What sort of music will there be?
M: That's up to our members. We have a place in the website where people can send us their musical requests. Our Dj, who by the way is donating half of his time, has an incredible music collection that dates from 1930 -- 2000. We're also burning some CD's for him so he'll have some witchy favorites to play.
DL: Do you have to be a Witch to attend?
M: This is a Pagan event but it is also open to the larger community and everyone is welcome.
It should be an interesting mix of people. Many of our Full Circle members have ties to the SCA and belong to groups in the Kingdom of the West (http://www.west.sca.org/). We also have contacts in the Gaming community, in the Renaissance Faire community (http://renaissance-faire.com/) and in the Costumer's Guild (http://www.gbacg.org/), as well. A lot of our people also attend a convention called BayCon (http://www.baycon.org/2001/) that is put on by the Sci Fi and Fantasy community in San Jose. These groups all have one thing in common - they love to dress up. So there will be people at the ball who don't identify as Pagan but who are Pagan-friendly.
DL: If the Witches Ball attendees are that mixed a group, then what is the membership of Full Circle (http://www.fullcircleevents.org) like?
M: Just as eclectic. Our members range from Silicon Valley professionals to Homemakers and we run the gamut of ages and traditions. Full Circle makes it possible for our members to gather, network and have fun. We don't do rituals -- that's not what our people need from us. About two thirds of our members are Solitaries. Most of the others belong to small Circles or work in closed Ritual Groups. As a rule, they tend to have their chosen spiritual practice in place before they ever come to us. What they needed, and what is so hard to find out here, was the opportunity to connect with like-minded souls outside of ritual space, and we provide that.
DL: What other sorts of events do you organize?
M: Well, we did a 3-day camp-out called MUSE Camp last August, which was a great success, and we've hosted a Solar Celebration and some beach gatherings. We have a Pagan Meet at a Wildlife Festival coming up on October 8th. And we have a lot more events planned for 2001. As our membership grows, so does our volunteer base, which means that we can expand our Events List.
There is a great group in our area called Bay Area Pagan Assemblies (http://www.batnet.com/bapagan/bapa.html) and we sometimes join forces. BAPA provide us with volunteers and we get the word out about their events. Pagans in California love to network and we're good at it.
DL: The Internet must really help you there.
M: Yes it does. We couldn't get the word out at this level if it wasn't for the Net. The number of Techno-Pagans living in this state is huge. They would make for a valid research study in themselves.
DL: I've noticed that. We love the natural world but we also love our toys.
M: A lot of us work in technology or we know people who do. As a result, we've been able to use the Net to our advantage.
Take a look at groups like Reclaiming (http://www.reclaiming.org/) and the Covenant of the Goddess (http://www.cog.org/), both of which are based in California. Both have websites. Both have a national and an international presence and both groups do outreach work in the dominant culture. I don't see how they could do as much as they have done without the Internet. Full Circle is in its infancy compared to these groups, but we have come very far, very fast. Email lets our Committee Chairs keep in touch without racking up huge phone bills. Our members can get information about our events or buy tickets by visiting our website. Our newsletter is done entirely by email -- this saves trees and it gets the word out cheaper and faster. The Internet is an amazing tool and the Pagan community is using it as well or better than most.
DL: The Witches Ball is a fund raising event for the Humane Society. Out of all the charities you had to choose from, what made you pick them?
M: It was the natural choice. Pagans tend to have very strong feelings about their companion animals and the Humane Society does good work in that area. We hope that by hosting a charity benefit we can counter some of the negative stereotyping that's out there about Witches and their familiars. It's similar to the work "The Witches Voice" does by putting up their pages on Witch Cats.
DL: How does the Humane Society feel about the Ball?
M: They love it! They are very touched that we would do this for them.
DL: How did you approach them about this?
M: We already had a good working relationship with the Humane Society in Silicon Valley (http://www.scvhumane.org/). It goes back to February of last year. At that time they had a terrible case on their hands, but some good did come out of it.
DL: What happened?
M: There was a period of about 6 months when a total of 25 cats and several raccoons were killed in the Almaden Valley and the Blossom Hill area. (2) Needless to say, our people were very upset and worried when they heard about this. To make matters worse, one local TV station broadcast the story with a picture of a pentacle in the background, even though no Pagan tools or occult symbols had been found at any of the crime scenes. Sia (our Council Leader) does cat rescue work and she became concerned that Pagans might be unfairly blamed for these deaths, so she called Officer Christine Franco, the Humane Society Investigator, and they talked about the case. Sia was able to answer her questions about Pagan practice and counter the rumors about "animal sacrifice" that were going around. At the same time, another local Pagan (who has excellent media contacts) called that TV station and talked to folks he knew there about the use of our spiritual symbol in their report. Later that evening, when this station broadcast the story again, the pentacle logo was gone.
DL: Score one for our team. I understand that you've met Officer Franco since then.
M: Yes. Several weeks after that phone call, Sia, Christine and I met for lunch. We told her a bit about our group and what we stood for. Christine told us about the work she does on cases of abuse against pets, wildlife and performing animals. We came away from that meeting with a lot of respect for her and for the difficult job she does. She's a very strong woman with a great sense of humor - we liked her a lot.
DL: Was she surprised at how "normal" you two look?
M: (Laughs). I don't know what she was expecting, but whatever it was, I don't think that we were it.
DL: Was she anything like you thought she'd be?
M: Sia and I both thought she'd be a lot bigger. I think we were expecting an Amazon.
DL: Someone like Xena?
M: Exactly. I can't describe her because she does undercover work... but I will say that she doesn't look like a warrior at all. On the inside though, she is one.
DL: Were any other cats killed after that?
M: Yes, unfortunately. And there seemed to be a shorter period of time between attacks. At that point, more people got involved. Several of our members passed out flyers that warned pet owners to keep their cats indoors. Some of our people also joined the citizen patrols that walked these neighborhoods at night while others performed rituals to ward and protect these areas. As far as we know, the killing stopped soon afterwards. There is still some debate as to whether these attacks were the work of animals or humans -- we may never know for sure.
DL: What is your relationship with the Humane Society at this point?
M: They know that they can count on the support of the Pagans in our area whenever animals need help or protection.
DL: Is this what gave Full Circle the idea for the Gaia's Guardian Award?
M: Yes it is. We wanted to honor those people who just quietly go out there and do good things for the planet and her creatures. Christine Franco will be the first recipient of our "Gaia's Guardian Award". The award will be given to her at the Ball. She is attending as Guest of Honor.
DL: It all sounds great. Good luck with the Witches Ball.
M: Thank you. We've got a lot of volunteers working very hard on this event and I think it's going to be a wonderful evening.
To buy tickets or to obtain further information about the Witches Ball, visit the Full Circle website at http://www.fullcircleevents.org or call 408-446-0590 (ask for Michael)
For Samhain Events in Your Area visit your... State or Country Page
(1) Palo Alto is located in Northern California on the Bay Area Peninsula, between San Jose and San Francisco. It is best known as the hometown of Stanford University.
(2) These are two suburbs in Santa Clara County where Full Circle is based
Location: Portland, Oregon
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