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!

Learning to live the Tarot Series – Part 3

This is part 3 of a 4 part series on learning to read the tarot intuitively.

Welcome back to Learning to Live the Tarot!

Today we are looking at the general meanings for the Minor Arcana cards. To me, the Minor Arcana cards tell us of the daily struggles and joys we face as we travel through life.  Sometimes the information you glean from a Minor Arcana card may be all you need to help you solve your problem.

Public Domain
The Gypsy Woman reads a fortune in the tarot cards to mother and daughter Mary and Tara Verdugo Friday during the Marine Corps Community Services annual Mardi Gras party at the Sonoran Pueblo.

My best suggestion for interpreting the minor arcana is to put the cards in order by suit, in 4 stacks. Put the King on the top, then Queen, Knight, and Page.  Follow with the number cards from 10 down to the Ace. Go through each stack, one by one.  Look at your card and write down what you see in it and what kind of story each card is telling you.  This is using your intuitive skills so there is no wrong or right answer.

Here is a my simple guide:

King: Usually a man your age or older

Queen: Usually a woman your age or older

Knight: May be male or female usually late teens to twenties

Page: A male or female child up to teen years.

(Note: the characteristics of the Knight and Page may indicate an older person who acts immaturely in one way or another. Also, these 2 cards are not gender specific and may represent either a male or female in the given situation.)

Ten: Success

Nine: Overwhelming situations coming to an end

Eight: Hard work, difficulties, possibly time to make a change

Seven: Taking care of what you have, protecting the prize, choices

Six: Promises of what can be, success in your endeavors

Five: Usually show us a sorrow, loss or shortcoming

Four: Focusing on the goal

The Empress from the Pierpont-Morgan tarot collection
The Empress from the Pierpont-Morgan tarot collection

Three: Looking at how things are coming together

Two: Partnerships

Aces: new beginnings

To take it one step further, put the cards with the suits and see the kinds of meanings you can get from

that.

Ace of Pentacles would be new material beginnings.

Ace of Cups would be new emotional beginnings, perhaps a new relationship or just things moving from a time of sadness to joy.

Ace of Swords would be a new beginning based on intellect or ideas.

Ace of Wands is being able to find your passion in life and start over again.

 

Now take your cards and start looking at each suit and each minor arcana card.  What story does the card tell you?  Next, place each of the 4 piles in front of you and compare the meanings you see from suit to suit.  Is there a story that you see forming?  This is intuitively getting to know your deck.  From this intuitive standpoint the cards are of more value as a divination tool because you have made their meanings personal.

If I were to draw a card and read that one card using this method, I would get a reading like this:

4 of Wands: In this card we see people celebrating, as though they are getting married or purchasing a new home.  It is a card that represents achieving the goal that has been set.  I would say that the situation will have a very positive resolution.

Next Time: The Major Arcana

 

Dru Ann Welch is an experienced Intuitive Counselor, Healer and Tarot Reader.  She is a Reiki Master/Teacher and a Certified H.E.A.L. Technique Practitioner and a Crystal Singing Bowl Practitioner. Additionally, she holds a degree in Education and teaches with passion.  Dru Ann is the author of 4 books , creator of 2 oracle decks and the performing artist on 3 cds.  Dru Ann’s musings in the form of quotes, blogs and articles have been featured on The Wellness Universe , Circle Magazine ( Imbolc Issue 119/pg 42) and The Spirit Ezine (May 2015).  Proudly, Dru Ann has been a featured speaker and presenter at the Community Unitarian Universalist Church, the UCSS Spiritual Centre, Autumn Meet, and the Florida Pagan Gathering.

Dru Ann was featured as one of 150+ thought leaders in Tedx Speaker Corey Poirier‘s recent book, Enlightened Becoming the Best Version of You in 5 Easy Steps (enter code bestyouever to get your free copy during the launch) at www.druannwelch.com.

Learning to live the Tarot – Part 2

by Dru Ann Welch

This is part 2 of a 4 part series on learning to read the tarot intuitively.

Welcome back to Learning to Live the Tarot.  Today we will learn a bit about the difference between tarot and oracle decks and venture into the stories of the tarot suits.

Basic Tarot:

It has been said that the tarot tells its own tale.  The 22 major arcana cards talk of the major shifts and changes we face in life.  The 56 minor arcana cards embellish on the story started by the major arcana.

The tarot itself is a means for guiding us in working through life’s everyday problems using pictorial archetypes that speak to our subconscious mind.  The tarot reassure us that guidance is available; all we have to do is to believe, ask and trust the answers.

The Gypsy Fortune Teller. trade card for Dr Jaynes expectorant.
The Gypsy Fortune Teller. trade card for Dr Jaynes expectorant.


Tarot or Oracle:

A traditional tarot card deck consists of 78 cards, 22 major arcana and 56 minor arcana.  The minor arcana cards consist of 4 suits. Each suit has the cards Ace (1) through 10 and the face cards, King, Queen Knight and Page.  Some decks change the names used to describe the face cards but these are the basic 4. The pictures on the card may be in great detail or only show 4 symbols to represent the card.

An oracle deck may consist of any number of cards and does not stick to the major/minor arcana script.  Oracle decks may be geared to the angelic realm or to daily guidance.  Some offer simple affirmations which can be pulled to guide you through the day.  Some oracle decks may be geared to healing, herbs, essential oils or crystals.  There is no specific recipe for an oracle deck.  It is basically a subject offering guidance in card deck form.

How am I going to remember all these cards

First, I suggest you really shop around for your tarot deck.  Look at the cards both the major and minor arcana.  Draw a card and look at it, don’t grab the book, look at the card.  What can you discern from looking at the image you see in front of you?  If you look at the card and it tells you nothing, move to another deck until you find the archetypal images that speak to you.  I believe there is a deck for everyone out there if you just look around.  If you simply want the standard deck to begin reading with I suggest the Rider Waite Tarot.  This is an old deck and the basis of the pictorial key used for most tarot decks.

All standard tarot decks have basically the same make up consisting of 4 themes or suits with cards much like a regular deck of playing cards.  Each suit has a King, Queen, Knight, and a Page which represent people.  There are also 10  number cards ranging from Ace (1) to 10. As you will see when you begin your tarot journey a 2 in one suit will have a very different meaning from a 2 in another suit even though they are both 2’s.

Let’s start with the themes or suits

There are 4 basic tarot suits:  Pentacles/Coins, Cups/Chalices, Swords, and Wands/Staffs.   Each of these suits is associated with one of the 4 elements. Pentacles/Coins are associated with earth.  Cups/Chalices are associated with water. Swords are associated with air.  Wands/Staffs are associated with fire.

Each suit is also associated with the qualities of our lives.  Pentacles/Coins represent the material things in life while Cups/Chalices are associated with our emotions.  Swords represent intellect or more intellectual pursuits and Wands/Staffs teach us about the things that push our buttons, get us fired up or we feel passionate about in life.

 

From this, we can get a pretty handy chart:

 

Pentacles/Coins Earth Material pursuits
Cups/Chalices Water Emotional pursuits
Swords Air Intellectual pursuits
Wands/Staffs Fire Passionate pursuits

 

 

So what story do the tarot themes or suits tell as you walk through them? Here are the stories I create to understand each suit.

Pentacles tells a tale of prosperity.  Each card in this suit shows people enjoying the finer things in life.  In the Rider deck, there is an abundance of grapes throughout the Pentacle cards.  We see tales of people who are hard-working and reaping the fruits of their labors. There is a story about poverty which warns us that sometimes material things can be deceiving.  Finally we see that there is always balance and in the end, there is a gateway to cross through that may help you to a prosperous future.

In the tale of Cups we see the emotional roller coaster that is life.  There are tales of confidence and joy as well as making those difficult emotional choices.  We also see stories of despair, loneliness and boredom.  These are balanced with sharing and working together for a common goal.

Swords show us how the winds of change affect all that we do.  In this story we see more of the dark side of humanity portrayed.  There is betrayal and anguish.  There are tales of feeling imprisoned by your own beliefs. As well as the road that must be traveled when the battle is over yet there is no clear victor. We are urged to open our minds and see both sides of the story.

The Wands tell a tale of strength and passion in life.  We see a battle that rages within each of us between the will to be right and actually being in the right.  It gives us the perspective that there may actually be no winners in these types of games. The story reminds us that we are always willing to fight passionately for what we believe in and hold dear. It points us to a place to look out into the world and see that there is so much more for us out there.

Now don’t take my word for it, remember there are no books to look at, you are asked to use your own intuition.  So grab your deck, a pen and paper and write your story for each suit.  Set them up in piles from King down to the Ace and just look at the story that you see unfold.

By Andrew Kuznetsov (Flickr: Gypsy series)
By Andrew Kuznetsov (Flickr: Gypsy series)

Next time, we will venture into the story of The Minor Arcana.

Dru Ann Welch is an experienced Intuitive Counselor, Healer and Tarot Reader.  She is a Reiki Master/Teacher and a Certified H.E.A.L. Technique Practitioner and a Crystal Singing Bowl Practitioner. Additionally, she holds a degree in Education and teaches with passion.  Dru Ann is the author of 4 books , creator of 2 oracle decks and the performing artist on 3 cds.  Dru Ann’s musings in the form of quotes, blogs and articles have been featured on The Wellness Universe , Circle Magazine ( Imbolc Issue 119/pg 42) and The Spirit Ezine (May 2015).  Proudly, Dru Ann has been a featured speaker and presenter at the Community Unitarian Universalist Church, the UCSS Spiritual Centre, Autumn Meet, and the Florida Pagan Gathering.

Dru Ann was featured as one of 150+ thought leaders in Tedx Speaker Corey Poirier‘s recent book, Enlightened Becoming the Best Version of You in 5 Easy Steps (enter code bestyouever to get your free copy during the launch) at www.druannwelch.com.