Celebrating Beltane Dragon Hills Style

 

When you spend a long time among the various businesses within the Pagan community as I have, you tend to get asked quite often whether or not you know of any events at which the business owners could vend. I am often approached by various members within the Pagan community who are simply looking for events to attend where they can congregate with peoples of like-mind. Within the North Georgia community, we used to have quite a few of these events without having to travel very far; these days we’re far more hard-pressed to find any local Pagan or Pagan-friendly events that are less than an hour’s drive away from the Metro Atlanta area.

As much hassle as it can be to load and unload, transport and fuel up when carting around your wares, there are some things many brick-and-mortar and small business owners look for in an event to make sure it will be worth their while when they’re looking to travel the vendor circuit.

  • Is it local? — How far am I willing to travel?
  • Is the venue indoor or outdoor? — Some people can’t stand to be in direct sunlight or heat/cold too long! Health reasons.
  • Is there electricity? — Some vendors need light and WiFi to show their wares and take credit cards!
  • Will I need to book a hotel, can I do primitive camping, or does the venue have lodgings within my price range? — Everyone has their own comfort level needs.
  • Vendor fees! — Some events charge just a vending fee by booth space, some charge only admission, some only require a donation for raffles, some a mixture of all of the above. Each venue is different!
  • Is the venue staff friendly and responsive? — If you don’t click with the staff, chances are you won’t like the overall feel of the event. You need to know the staff running the joint is reliable and available when you need them.
  • Is it a single or multiple day event? — For some people, traveling more than an hour with a lot of precious cargo is not worth only vending for a few hours. They want to be able to set up for a full 2-4 days! Is it worth it?
  • Is it family-friendly? — Several people have a hard time finding events that welcome children within the Pagan community!

 

If you live within the North Georgia area, look no further than our very own Dragon Hills Retreat in Bowdon, Georgia. Two years ago I attended the three day retreat for Beltane in 2016. I had heard some not-so-good things about the venue when it was under different ownership in previous years, and as I did not know the new owners, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the staff was not only welcoming, but also very pragmatic. Suffice it to say that when I left, I knew most assuredly that I would be returning again.

 

Dragon Hills Retreat had everything from accessible WiFi, a large indoor, shaded barn for indoor vending, plenty of open space over a few acres of land for outdoor vending and recreation to camping, and if going primitive isn’t your cup of tea, they also have cozy 1-2 bed cabins with electricity and air conditioning!

Click for Event Facilities

 

Wide open spaces!

 

Flash forward two years later, as I had not been able to return for Beltane the year prior, I received the invitation as I do every year to celebrate Beltane at Dragon Hills Retreat for 2018. With a little spare time on my hands, I decided…why not? I enjoyed it thoroughly in 2016. I chipped in with one of my students to get a cabin and two booth spaces. After getting mixed reviews about the weather conditions, we were told it would be clear all weekend the day-of.

 

We showed up, registered, unpacked, and immediately jumped into the fray, excited to meet and greet old friends and eager to make new ones. The weekend promised multiple vendors, a few lovely workshops from making your own wands and staves to an open discussion lecture on empathy and the various types that are out there. Additionally I was stoked for the rituals and the late-night fireside drum circles!

 

Building up the fire for the drum circle!

 

Totally unexpectedly, I had a run-in with one of the vendors who just so happened to be an old friend and fellow member of the Pagan Business Network, Aislin Morrhiaghan of Transcendence Artes. She set up shop inside the barn where she had plenty of shade and was close to the other vendors and workshops. We got to talking and I asked her what she enjoyed most that weekend about Beltane at Dragon Hills…

Click for Transcendence Arts Facebook

“The thing I enjoy most about celebrating Beltane at Dragon Hills is meeting all of the new people! It’s really exciting, nice to get out, a beautiful scenery, but all of the different people and personalities I get to talk to have made this a most enjoyable weekend.” – Aislin Morrhiaghan

Indeed even though several faces were familiar to me from 2016, I did see several new (to me) faces and I was curious to get to know them. Another such new face was a traveling crystal and mineral vendor, Mary Scheidell of Eclectic Treasurez. Dragon Hills had seen crystal and gemstone vendors before but the collection that Mary provided from Eclectic Treasurez was only a fraction of her total inventory which was spread out across multiple events that weekend. I was even more pleasantly surprised to find that Mary had already heard of the Pagan Business Network and PBN News from a friend of hers who had a membership. She was already carrying our brochures and business cards!

Click for Eclectic Treasurez Facebook.

 

Mary travels to various events across the country, selling and collecting crystals and minerals. Her selection was an absolute cornucopia of variety. When asked what she enjoys most about her job, she said,

Mary Scheidell

“…more than the traveling and buying and selling for business, it’s the fact that I help people. People come to me looking to buy something but they always end up needing something in their lives, if nothing other than an ear to listen. I’m happiest when I’ve been able to help someone.” – Mary Scheidell

With a whole weekend ahead of hiking, summer sun, workshops, vendors, rituals and nightly drum circles — and let’s not forget about the potluck dinner and raffle prizes! — it was an absolute blessing to find two particular vendors there who could help you unwind, relax, and destress from your earlier week to prepare you for a weekend of summer fun.

 

Licensed Massage Therapist

How could you go wrong with an affordable licensed massage therapist on-site providing anywhere from a half-hour to hour-and-a-half massages with hot packs and hot stones?! Nothing says de-stress like some relaxing massage available all weekend long.

 

Adding onto the spa-like treatment available that weekend was Usui Reiki Master/Teacher Mason Lightbourne of White Light Practices, a student of the Bellehaven Family Tradition of Witchcraft, and a Thumbtack Professional since 2016, with his own booth providing hour-long Usui Reiki healing sessions and intuitive tarot readings, all for love offerings. So you had the ability to get a relaxing massage and then drop by to have your chakras realigned and energy blocks removed all within the span of two hours!

 

Click for White Light Practices Facebook.

 

Reiki and Tarot

 

Rev. Bellehaven’s booth – PBN, PBN News

 

 

With all of the vendors, the opening ritual near the Faerie Garden, the beautiful scenery, nightly drum circles, and the crafting and Empathy workshops, how could this weekend get any better?! The stunning Ritual Hill awaited as all of the women participating in the main ritual tied ribbons onto the May Wreath which would eventually adorne the top of the Maypole –which the menfolk were out in the forest selecting at the same time.

 

Goddess Artemis – Gatekeeper of Ritual Hill

 

May Wreath
Maypole erected on Ritual Hill

 

After some trial and error regarding the length of the maypole, we finally got it erected and the ribbons secured to prevent tangling in the wind. We went downhill to partake in the Saturday evening potluck and announce the raffle prize winners. Once the sun finally began to fall and set the sky ablaze in hues of pinks and yellows, we began our ritual. The altar was beautifully adorned, and for cakes and ale we had homemade cheesecake with shredded coconut garnish, and wine (sparkling cider for those who could not consume alcohol as this was a family-friendly event.)

Beltane altar.

 

Once all was said and done, we finally began our dance around the maypole. I have to say, the view atop Ritual Hill was absolutely breathtaking and set the whole mood for the ritual. It was all coordinated by a Druidess, the Dragon Hills Ritual Coordinator in charge of a majority of their major rituals.

May fertility dance.

 

At the very end of the fertility dance they announced the May King and Queen! Two volunteer staff members who had shown up to several work weekends at Dragon Hills to help set up for Beltane as well as Hawkfest only a week or so earlier, working on the property, getting things in tip-top shape for attendees. They worked very hard and had no idea that a vote had been taken to name them the 2018 Beltane May King and May Queen. Together they offered their blessings as the embodiment of the God and Goddess, giving each ritual attendee vials of solar water charged with rose quartz just before leaping over the Baelfire.

May King and May Queen of 2018

 

That night we held a large and very lengthy celebration by the drum circle that involved much chanting and drumming, even some acoustic guitar. Spirits were high and the night concluded on a blissful note. The following morning a few of us awoke early to go to the opposite end of Ritual Hill for some early morning Tea and Meditation. In the picture below you’ll find Druidess Jamie (Dragon Hills ritual coordinator), Rev. Jonathon Bellehaven; M.Th. (PBN, PBN News, Bellehaven Family Tradition) and Mason Lightbourne (Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, White Light Practices, Bellehaven Family Tradition) atop ritual hill for tea and meditation.As the morning wore on, we decided to move the event back downhill for some Tea and Tarot before everyone began packing up.

 

Tea and meditation!

 

All in all the weekend was absolutely astounding. Even the little bit of rain we did end up receiving did absolutely nothing to dampen the spirits of every Beltane celebrant in attendance. Dragon Hills Retreat will be hosting Hawkfest in September, and a Samhain event in October, and I know I certainly intend to be present for both! Upcoming in October as well is a Women’s Retreat where the massage therapist Ryan and Usui Reiki Master/Teacher Mason Lightbourne will be present offering a spa treatment package for an all-ladie’s weekend themed to the movie of “Practical Magic.” Check out their official website and find them on Facebook for dates and further upcoming information!

Scorpions Get A Bad Rap – Time For a Makeover: A Brief Look Into the Scorpion Medicine Totem

A little after Beltane Bash hosted by North Georgia Solitaries in May of 2012, I wrote the following article and submitted it to The Pagan Household for which I was a writer. The article was inspired by a scorpion which had stowed away in my clothing after the camping weekend at Beltane Bash, and came home with me only to sting me at night as I slept.

It has been several years since The Pagan Household was dissolved, and with it all of the submitted articles. With the loss of my computer from back then, I had thought I’d lost my earlier published articles for good. Luckily for me, I happened to find them posted to an old social media account, stored way, way in the back of the archives.

The image of a scorpion is generally enough to strike fear, awe, and a very healthy dose of respect into the heart of anyone who meets one, however scorpions tend to get an undeservedly bad rapport, at the very least in terms of how lethal they can be to humans. Presently, out of 1,500 known species of scorpions world-wide, only approximately twenty-five of them are able to deliver fatal stings to humans. Even among those twenty-five, they can’t typically kill healthy adults, although their venom (neurotoxins) can cause symptoms such as convulsions and shortness of breath. The ones most at risk of dying due to a sting from a scorpion are infants and the elderly, and even then that only applies to stings by the deadliest species. There are only a few species of scorpion, such as the Death Stalker (Leiurus quinquestriatus) of North and Southwest Africa, which are potent enough to fell even the most physically fit humans—this is entirely dependent upon the victim’s innate tolerance for the venom.

There are approximately eighty species of scorpion in the United States, and of them only one—the inadequately named Arizona Bark Scorpion—is considered lethal. The name is a slight misnomer due to the species being found also in the deserts of California and Utah. However even for this deadly critter, there is an antivenin available for the treatment of scorpion stings.

As Brendan Koerner of Slate suggests, scorpions need not always be an anathema to mankind.

Recently an Alabama-based biotech company called TransMolecular, Inc. found a way to work on a tumor-killing drug made from scorpion venom. This drug is meant to treat a variety of brain tumors called gliomas, which affect about 16,500 Americans per year.

For the Pagan Community, however, the scorpion isn’t just a future means of cancer treatment; it is a very old and powerful teacher. Fierce and potentially lethal, they have been known to live for as long as twenty-five years (significantly longer than most any other arachnid). They are masters of patience as they do not hunt their prey, but rather wait until something suitable comes their way. Scorpion totem medicine is definitely not for the faint of heart, it isn’t called the Lion of the Desert for nothing. If Lions are the kings of the jungle, then Scorpions would be the kings of the Desert.

Traditionally associated with Shamanism for healing, the scorpion confers the powers of charisma (masterful presence), rejuvenation, transformation, death and rebirth, mystery, sales, self-protection, magnetic personality, the power of passion, intensity, determination, boldness, willpower, forcefulness, tranquility, dignity, and healing on a cellular level. They also teach us endurance and tenacity, as they can survive up to a year without food or water making them one of the most enduring creatures on the planet. Oftentimes the appearance of a scorpion in your life (whether it is someone whose totem or zodiac sign is a scorpion, or if it is the actual animal itself) denotes a powerful change and sometimes even a complete metamorphosis about to occur within your life soon.

Much of this I was not aware of until recently when I was stung again for the second time in my life, this time by a Southern Devil. Since this was not the first time I was stung, I thought that it was worth looking into. When I was first stung I was about ten years old and the scorpion was not native to my state. It was medium-sized and solid black. It crawled into my bed and stung me on the bend of my right arm—my whole arm was swollen for almost a month! Back then I didn’t think too much about it, I chalked it up to bad luck even though I had been walking the Pagan Path for nearly two and a half years at that time. Just a few days ago another little critter, the Southern Devil, crawled into my bed with me yet again, and stung me about six times in two different places on my right leg. Not being one to believe in coincidences and having had several very strong shamanic callings in my life (which I only recently began to answer), I decided to do some research.

Comparison of the size of the average adult Southern Devil scorpion.

It turns out that the scorpion was indeed another shamanic calling, and a very powerful one at that. This occurrence just so happened to have arrived at a most auspicious time in my life when I was beginning to step into the mantle of Shaman for my local community, and I had been working on my personal growth at a rather impressive rate since December of 2012. Around that Ostara I had held a community ritual, which focused around the theme of “spring cleaning” within oneself. The idea was to remove the emotional, mental, and spiritual clutter within, in order to make room for personal growth. As it so happens, one of the greatest powers that the scorpion medicine totem possesses is the ability to remove and effectively cut out those things that act as a hindrance to your personal growth. In one respect, you can think of it as the scorpion tail stinging and removing things that are causing dead weight, obstruction, pain or illness in your life. In this way, the scorpion medicine can be used to clear, heal, and remove obstacles to promote a positive, healthy well-being for yourself or for others.

Ever since then, my random fevers and ear aches by which I’d been plagued at sporadic times since childhood had ceased, some of the old pains from my knee injuries during my years in martial arts has subsided, and I have felt more strongly than ever that I am and have been on the correct path for me—though due to being stung, with all of the irritating itch and burn action that went on with my right leg, I got the distinct feeling that there was more I could—or should—be doing.

The scorpion animal totem is a strong spirit indeed and its magickal properties are one of the most influential of all the animal totems. Strength in leadership, long-lasting endurance, the wisdom to wait, higher self-esteem, and so much more can be integrated into the spirit of one who has this beautiful creature as their totem.

I figured I would share my scorpion story with the readers of PBN News to give you an introduction on what it is exactly that I do. As a community leader, I promote the ideal of a community without walls, so, in addition to occasional business tips, I often tend to tackle some very controversial and difficult situations—such as successfully providing neutral grounds for people of various traditions, beliefs, practices, and ways of life to come together and share their experiences and beliefs so that we may learn from one another without fear of judgment.

One of the most influential public speakers I have ever known once said, “When there is an elephant in the room, introduce it.”

The scorpion was my elephant, and though it did physically happen to me, the spiritual significance of the representation of the scorpion as the spirit of the world in both positive and negative aspects is also something to ponder upon deeply.

In life we are faced with much adversity; but if we do not balk in the face of something that seems so terrifying, especially in this case a scorpion to someone terrified of arachnids, we will often find that as Kimberly Kirberger, ‘Chicken Soup for the Teenage Girls Soul,’ says, “The fear is always greater than the reality.”

My scorpion ordeal has reaffirmed this belief for me.

Tips On the Go: Remembering to Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor

 

As a member of the local business community, I am often approached by friends and other business owners with queries on business tips, marketing techniques, and overall tricks of the trade to get their brand out there. Out of all the questions I’ve ever been asked –or have ever asked, myself!– the one question that I have found which provides the most insight into the very unique experiences each business owner has gleaned traveling their own paths is,

“What is the best business advice you’ve ever been given, or could ever give to anyone?”

The best business advice I have ever received is the best advice I could ever give. Ironically it has absolutely nothing to do with professional business techniques, management, or even PR.

Image: Charleston Gardens

No mater how much you have left to do ahead of you, pause for a moment to look behind you and cherish all you’ve already done.

Running a major event and everyone’s running around like chickens with their heads cut off? Pause, look around you at the success you’ve made, at the people enjoying themselves, and know that you (and your team!) have made it all possible.

Got a long list of items you’ve got to get up on your website, get bar coded, post the unique blurbs about every one, analyze the trends and the traffic to your site? — Stop, look at what you’ve already sold, what you’ve already done, and feel blessed to have done well enough that you have to put new product out so quickly.

So many business owners –both online and brick-and-mortar–, event coordinators, and traveling vendors get lost in all the chaos and upkeep, trying to keep up with the times and the rapidly changing economy. Not enough of us make the time to take a look at all we’ve already built.

After all, there’s no use in planting a garden if you’re not enjoying the view, right?

This is something I’ve learned the hard way over the years, and it has been a gainful journey.