This post is also featured on the Pentacle Project Blog: http://pentalcleproject.wordpress.com/2014/08/23/adventure-with-jeffrey-by-aradia-lecrawe/
In 2013, I attended the Pagan Unity Festival in Burns, Tn.
I was invited by my adopted mother and our friends, Ariel and Tom of the Green Egg. It was my first festival and my excitement was to the roof. This was the first time I could be open about who I was with people who were like me. The VIPs of that year had me looking forward to learning new things. I wouldn’t consider myself a “baby Pagan” but I felt like one amidst the heavy hitters. There was a bit of intimidation, but I remembered everyone, festival goer and speaker alike, were there to learn and have a good time. To be honest, I got along more with the speakers and a few vendors than the rest of the people.
Now this story isn’t going to be an account of my experience. It’s a story of understanding, or trying to, the level of a person; one person in particular. It’s also an lesson in the sanctity of the earth. So this person in question stood out at the festival. We will call him Jeffrey. I’m hoping his real name isn’t Jeffrey or this will be awkward. He didn’t really make a big impression at the start. I couldn’t help but notice him walking around when I arrived. He was a small, lanky fellow with freshly dyed black hair, glasses, the infamous three wolf and full moon shirt, and cargo pants with sneakers. His gait was wide and almost John Wayne-esque as he waddled up and down a little path leading from the main hall to vendor’s row. Of course, I thought nothing of it. I’ve seen people like him before and accept them for who they are, but things were about to get perplexing.
Now, mind you, I wasn’t watching Jeffrey like a hawk the moment I got there. I just saw him in passing as there weren’t many people at the festival that year, and trust me, he made his rounds. My first strange experience with Jeffrey came during the talk that Oberon Zell-Ravenheart was giving about education. Brilliant speech, but I kept getting distracted by Jeffrey. I think he decided that in order to get the best view, he wouldn’t sit like everyone else and share the tables and benches. No, he was going to open his lawn chair right in the middle and sit front and center. Granted, it’s not a bad idea, but if the people on either side want to get up, they can’t. It really wasn’t that big a deal. It was just a little strange to me, but I let it go. The next thing I took note of was after Oberon was finished, he opened the floor for questions. Naturally people would ask about the subject of his lecture (education and the school systems). Not Jeffrey. I saw his hand go up and he asked,” What was the most powerful spell you’ve ever done?” Okay. A little off topic, but curiosity is good. I have to admit though, I titled my head and stared at the back of his for a few seconds in confusion.
Nevertheless, Oberon would never let an inquisitive mind go without being sated and answered Jeffrey’s question. He didn’t give a specific instance, but how could you if you were Oberon?
Being an empath, I felt something odd. A feeling of dissatisfaction. Not from myself, but from in front of me. I realized that wasn’t the answer Jeffrey was looking for. Thankfully, he was respectful and accepted Oberon’s answer. Not a big deal, right? Of course. I’m sure there were a few people coming with specific expectations that weren’t met. It’s okay. Just take a breath and move one. It’s what most people do.
I naturally went on about my day walking around with my other adopted mother, Lora. We ventured through vendor’s row and saw many excellent wares. It almost felt like walking around a Khajit caravan from The Elder Scrolls Series. There was incense burning, music play, and a drum circle over by the giant oak tree. The vendors were absolutely wonderful and friendly. I’m hoping one day Sylveey, Lora and myself could set up a tent. I think it would be fun.
Anyway, I sat through a couple of other talks and met Dorothy Morrison, one of the sassiest, classiest fucking witches to grace this earth. Seriously, read her books and watch videos of her talks (especially with MR Sellars). I’m not afraid to be a bit wicked and put my foot down thanks to this woman. You’ll see another post later on about Dorothy.
The reason I bring up Dorothy is she is involved somewhat with my experience with the Jeffrey. You see, that night in a cabin there was a small class called “Chicken Feet avec Dorothy Morrison, Byron Ballard, and Nancie Clark.”
Oh I was completely over the moon knowing I was going to sit through a talk with these women. I love Hoodoo. I love Folk Magic. I love herbs. This was right up my alley. Sylveey and Lora had been mentoring me in these magicks since I had met them, and to learn with them was whole other experience.
Okay, I’ll stop gushing and get back to Jeffrey.
Unfortunately, there were no tables or chairs in this tiny cabin. Thankfully, it was a small group. I recognized a few people from earlier in the day. Oberon even made his way inside. It was a new experience sitting on the floor against the wall, bare feet sticking out from my dress, and fanning myself along with other sweaty, happy Pagans. Before everything got started I looked around and lo and behold there’s Jeffrey, middle of the room in his lawn chair. This was probably the first time I regret not bringing one.
So the ladies started to get things going. We were informed that they didn’t have a set itinerary for the talk and they decided to make it a huge discussion involving everything. They asked if we had any questions or if we had anything to discuss. Out of the corner of my eye I see a pasty white arm shoot in the air. Guess what…
It was Jeffrey.
Now this next bit is where my brain starts turning and a series of events unfold where my inner Southern woman comes out. Jeffrey didn’t want a discussion. He didn’t want to talk with a group or to the women teaching. No. The first thing that popped out of his mouth was,” Are we going to do a powerful ritual?”
I know I said earlier about letting things go, but I had this feeling that I should pay attention and not ignore what he had just done. So, naturally, I kept him in my peripheral. He was informed that rituals take place out on the ritual field and this was a class. Forgive me, I cannot remember the details of everything that was said so bear with me.
Dorothy shared that you can use chicken feet to cleanse a person before a ritual. You go around them making the motions of chicken scratching (with the foot in hand, of course) and “scratch off” any negative energy. She called on a couple of volunteers and sure enough, I catch that lily white arm rocket into the air. Jeffrey leapt (btw, did you know that WordPress does not recognize “leapt” as a word?) like a gazelle over a few people and stood front and center as Nancy’s husband stepped forward. I will have to give you a picture to show a similar point of view I had.
I might be over exaggerating a tiiiiny bit, but like I said: I can’t remember details.
Anyway, Nancy’s husband (I will call him Tsun and I’m sorry I can’t remember his name) cleansed Jeffrey. It was an interesting spectacle to watch a cleansing with a chicken foot. I was actually thinking of how I could acquire a chicken foot and if I could use a different bird. Sadly, I’m still guessing but that’s my fault for not asking. Jeffrey stood there kind of meditative. Out of nowhere, Dorothy sounds off with,” You can also use scissors.” Again, I’m intrigued until she says to switch places.
There was a shift in the air around the cabin. No one said a word but you could literally feel everyone collectively think,” I…. don’t think that’s a good idea.” So now, all of us sat in silence with straight faces as Jeffrey started snipping the air around Tsun.
It was almost comical when Dorothy reminded him to get the top of the head and watch Jeffrey strain to reach. You could almost catch a glint of mischief in Tsun’s eye as he stood there…. from what I remember anyway. Luckily, that experience went by without anything unexpected. Everyone in the room breathed a sigh of relief both internally and externally. I also got confirmation through empathy that I wasn’t the only one a bit iffy with Jeffrey. So we then went on to talk of different tips and tricks using brick dust and herbs and protection. I wish I could remember what exactly it was we talked about but the next bit kind of blew that all away.
THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES CONTAIN NSFW LANGUAGE AND RANTS. DON’T LIKE IT? DON’T READ IT.
There was a couple there that also took some time to explain some things to people using their experience. One lady had a question and the gentleman went on about how to help her. I could feel there were a few people who thought it was rude he was talking and talking, but I was interested. But remember this couple… they are important later.
Right after this exchange, Jeffrey’s arm was in the air again. Dorothy pointed at him and a classic came out of his mouth:
“I think I’ve been cursed.”
First question in my head which was also immediately followed by Dorothy: Who did you piss off?
Now here is where my southern charm is gonna show. This “Playgan” decided to visit the Bell Witch Cave in Adams, Tn. If there is one legend I know by heart, it’s the Bell Family and their “Witch.” When visiting the area, you are taken to the cave itself. Little Jeffrey thought it was a good idea to take a rock. HE TOOK A ROCK! He then stated that he lost his job and some other stuff but I was fuming.
Would you like to know why?
YOU DON’T TAKE SHIT WITHOUT ASKING!!!
He thought the Bell Witch was an actual fucking person! NOOOO!
IT’S A GODDAMN NATIVE AMERICAN BURIAL GROUND!
I had stayed calm up to this point. I wanted to correct him. By gods, if that man and woman could share a thing or two then I would as well. This was an open discussion. Too bad everyone was talking at once. I leaned over, and from later stories from witnesses, I was in the lap of the person next to me pointing at Jeffrey. I wanted to say so much but I WILL NOT talk over people.
For the first time, Jeffrey looked right at me and all I was able to say to him was the first rule of going into a cave:
Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints.
These are just a couple of examples. There are signs in just about every place that involves caving systems or state parks. Tennessee is known for having some sweet caves. Anytime you visit one you are reminded of this little motto. Apparently Jeffrey didn’t listen so I reminded him. The problem was that I was being drowned out and interrupted by the couple in the back. I don’t know if they knew they did, but I was already in angry ginger mode so they were on my bad side too. Though, now, I couldn’t care less.
Let me tell you what I wanted to say; what I wanted to shove in his tiny little ears and make sure it fuckin stayed. He had dealt with two things that I hold dear.
1. The Bell Witch
The Bell Witch was not a witch at all. The Bell Witch had NOTHING to do with that damn cave. The movie that was released a few years ago had it right. The Bell Witch was a manifestation caused by a little girl who was going through undue stress.
I suggest reading The Bell Witch: An American Haunting by Brent Monahan.
2. Caves are Sacred
On top of the cave being a burial ground where Native Americans don’t want to be disturbed, it’s also a sacred place. We are of the earth. We are a part of it. When you walk into a cave, feel reverent that you are inside of our mother. You are in the womb. Caves hold a completely different energy that is awe inspiring and powerful. Respect shouldn’t be a choice, but a necessity when you enter such a place.
What Jeffrey did was take something from a place that was occupied by those who have left this plane of existence. If Jeffrey were knowledgeable, he would have asked. Yes, I did think of the probability that Jeffrey was one of those “computer taught pagans” who hasn’t had the opportunity to be taught by an actual person. Then again, he could have been one of those and thought he knew what the fuck he was doing.
Did I overreact? No. I never got to share what I wanted to. This is a rant to the readers.
There are Pagans out there who think they know everything. They tend to give the rest of us a bad name. I don’t think Jeffrey is one of these. I sensed he was wanting to learn. He had the air about him of being a loner. Maybe he was the only one in his family to take this path. He just seemed so lonely, but it’s those kinds of situations where you know if you befriend them, it’ll only end badly.
So Jeffrey, if you’re out there, I’m offering an open invitation to come have a chat with me. Let’s talk and we will get you on the right track on being a Pagan. I’m not saying I know everything, but I can help you out. I know what I’ve been taught… by human beings, not computers. I can give you books and videos about things that will blow your little mind. I’m not coming here offering to be a teacher, but I’m giving you my hand to take you where the information flows like wine.