Working In A Pagan Shop- Events and Festivals

Working In A Pagan Shop- Events and Festivals
Shortly after its inception Broomsticks, the Pagan shop I helped out at in Portsmouth UK, not only became the focus for many Pagans to buy materials for spells and connecting with their Deities, but also evolved a persona of its own made up of intrinsic energies, from the people who shopped and worked there, plus those attracted from the Astral plane. It even developed a series of seasonal cycles – very appropriate for a Pagan shop! – based on Tarot and life events.

The most obvious Tarot based cycle was that around Yule and Christmas time. At this time Ratatosk (not her real name) who had developed the shop from her earlier Tarot reading enterprise would experience a rise in business from people coming in for readings on the theme of “I’ve got all the extended family coming ‘round for Christmas- how will things go?”. Post New year there would be a second rise in business, this time people asking “After what happened at Christmas will any of the family ever talk to each other again?”. After that things dropped off until early spring when the local University students would start to worry about test and exam results. The two most common questions were “What grade will I get?” and “What questions will be asked?” The latter only when the person’s course was one with an important exam at a key point, the formers was more indicative of someone who had spent more time partying than studying. In the summer readings were steady, boosted by the Solstice and equinox events in the area at Litha and Mabon. These generally kept Tarot readings steady until Samhain then the build up to Yule/Christmas would begin again.

The Equinox and Solstice celebrations mentioned above were one of the ways that Broomsticks helped Pagans in the wider area around Portsmouth. Ratatosk joined with the Druid shop in promoting the events which usually took place at sacred spots in the local area. These included Kingley Vale, the largest Yew forest in the UK, a key Ley Line nexus near the village of West Dean, and one near Chichester to name but a few. These events were advertised at Broomsticks and the Druid shop, as well as in places - such as the village halls - that hosted the shared meal, plus other organisations that played a key part of all the celebrations. This meant that the people who came to the celebrations were of all types of Pagan paths, other spiritual paths, and none. It made for an eclectic and interesting mix united in a common cause.

After a couple of celebrations a loose structure arose. At the beginning of the day anyone who wanted to participate in the ceremonial aspect of the day would meet up at a parking point in the countryside and walk to the site of the ritual. The walk itself was a time to attune to the energies of the area and make any last moment changes to the ritual according to who was there and what the environment was like. People thinking of coming would always ask “What happens if it rains?” no doubt expecting some sort of alternative plan, rather than the response they got which was along the lines of “Then you’ll get wet- unless you bring a raincoat or umbrella of course”. Interestingly I can never remember any of these occasions when there was inclement weather to interfere with the ritual itself and when it did rain or get really cold we were all at the meal. Mind you, there were an awful lot of spells and Deity petitions for good weather beforehand by the participants!

Because the rituals were being conducted on public land it was usual for people to either encounter us on the way to the ritual, or come across “A Pagan ritual in progress” to quote from the comedy film ‘Dragnet’ with Dan Aykroyd. Being Britain people were more curious than alarmed and we were happy to invite them along to watch the rite, or even participate if they wanted to. Almost all of them watched, and a surprising number took up the offer of participating. This had the duel advantage of showing people some of the facets of Pagan practice and dispersing many of the inaccurate stories about what the Pagan path involved. Sometimes they even came to the Village Hall afterwards, visited Broomsticks, or both. Even with their inexperienced participation it was still easy to raise energy, and perform the ceremony. Indeed, their independent feedback about what they experienced helped a lot of the participants who had only cast circles and performed solitary rituals realise that the energies they were working with were real on a number of levels.

After the ritual most of the participants went on to the shared meal, which was usually held at a village hall. It was much more than just a meal, there were traditional circle and spiral dances, storytelling, guided meditation/visualisation, music, and general fun. The meal itself was vegetarian so that everyone, whatever their dietary persuasions, could participate. It was interesting to see how the quality of vegetarian food developed over the years. The first few meals were basic items such as potato salad, couscous, and spring rolls, but over time the dishes became more complex. By the time the event drew to a close tasty vegan dishes with no eggs, milk, or cheese, were a common feature on the table.
With so many magick users at the festival there was a lot of networking between groups and individuals. Members of different Covens and Groves that would have never usually have mixed did so reasonably amicably in this neutral area. There were also some impromptu uses of magick. One that sticks in my mind is when one of the cars refused to start and a Witch and a Druid performed a Martian rite to encourage it. Rather than make the engine start, it burst into flames! Fortunately it was put out quickly and a garage was able to deliver the car to the owner's home. The driver/mechanic took a look at the engine to see if he could do anything and said the site of the fire made no sense as there was nothing that should have caught fire in that area of the engine.

As with all things these celebrations had their own lifespan. In the late 1990’s several of the main participants moved out of the area, and one key member of the group that ran it managed to get lost in the woods after one of the rituals. No harm came to them, but they were so embarrassed by this happening that they stopped participating . The result of these events was that the official group wound down although some people carried on the spirit of the event for several years afterwards. Even today the positive effect of these gatherings can be found in the subtle influences of the current Pagan scene in the Portsmouth and Chichester area, especially in the background stories of how some of the Pagan groups and individuals had their origins.



You Should Also Read:
Working in a Pagan shop- the shop
Pagan Shop- The Setting
Pagan Shop- Characters and Situations

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