Updated as of April 19, 2017! Meet the Blue Ridge Beltane Planning Committee! These are the people who were so inspired by the festival and the community that they felt moved to volunteer their time, energy, and love to make the festival happen here in Virginia every year.
NOTE: Some newer committee members may not have pictures and/or bios yet, but we still wanted to recognize them and the energy and effort they’ve put into this festival! Please thank them for all they’ve done – and check back for updates!
Vendors, Registration, Steering Committee
Melissa has been attending Blue Ridge Beltane since 2008 and has been a committee member since 2013. She is passionate about returning to the natural way of things and does feverish research on homesteading and natural birth and parenting. Blue Ridge Beltane is her yearly reminder of how beautiful humanity can be when we all come together for a common purpose. One day, you may just find her barefoot and breastfeeding on a commune somewhere! She has a beautiful daughter who has grown up in the BRB community. She says, “Please do not hesitate to contact me with any BRB-related questions, particularly for vending and registration. See you in the spring!”
Infrastructure, Steering Committee
Rodney has been attending Beltane in the Blue Ridge Mountains on and off since 2001. He was drawn to Blue Ridge Beltane for new ideas and experiences. He loves the fellowship and unity he has found at Blue Ridge Beltane, which is why he has continued to come throughout the years. The love and connection he feels with this festival have moved him to make the leap from community member to committee member. Rodney now plays an integral role in supporting this festival and is in charge of setting up and taking down festival equipment, along with maintenance and helping with security. He also takes pictures to share during the event, so that everyone may have photos of these fond memories. He has few beliefs and a lot of ideas.
Rituals, Steering Committee
Sunny is an Earth-Worshipping, Light-Spreading, Mead-Making, Beer-Brewing, Trance-Dancing, Motorcycle-Riding, Love-Making, Child-Rearing, Garden-Growing, Kirtan-Chanting, Hands-on-Healing, Honeybee-Keeping, Real-Estate-Selling, Universe-Flowing, Music-Loving, World-Traveling, Triathlon-Training, Gratitude-Filled, Sexy, Harlot of a Pagan Woman from the Charlottesville/Staunton area (New Hope to be exact)! She is mother to Joy, Jake, Callie and Mica. She is so very happily and passionately married to Matthew. She is friend to many and hopefully many more to come.
Inner Sanctum, Steering Committee
Diamond Lil AKA Dirty Flower AKA Lily has been a member of the larger pagan community since 2002. Her whole life, however, has been spent doggedly pursuing personal growth and union with the Divine. She started in the pagan community volunteering as an event and vendor coordinator for PagaNet News, Inc. Shortly thereafter, she became a member of Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary, where she danced her first all night fire circle as part of an ordeal ritual and promptly fell in love with that style of worship. From there she participated in and facilitated numerous rituals in a mostly eclectic Wiccan and ecstatic framework. Most recently, Lily has aligned her professional work with her values and has become a Certified Massage Therapist and Registered Yoga Teacher. Lily’s mission in both her spiritual and professional life is to assist others in transforming the lead of their human existence to live empowered, loving lives by working to heal the mind-body-spirit connection so that they can experience themselves and others as they truly are: whole, no more and no less than a child of God…Sacred.
Aimee “Thistle” Zwart
Thistle hails from the local Staunton/Waynesboro/Stuarts draft area and has been an integral part of the magical community for many years. She is the proprietor of Raven’s Mysteries in Staunton, Virginia. She has vended at Blue Ridge Beltane and participated in rituals and workshops. Now, she has made the transition to valued committee member. She says to everyone, “May we aid each other in loving growth during this time of celebration.”
April is a talented graphic designer and artist. She is also a spiritual explorer, exploring the spiritual paths that speak to her. This is her second year with Blue Ridge Beltane and her first full year on the committee. She lives outside Richmond with her husband and their dog in a beautiful wooded area, where she can enjoy long runs and neighborly living.
Arrow and Fox
Fox and Arrow have been practicing pagans for over 20 years. They have participated in groups and practiced as solitaries. Both Fox and Arrow enjoy being eclectic, and their styles lean toward Celtic and Norse traditions with elements of shamanic practice. At their new home, Sacred Waters Sanctuary, they are currently endeavoring to create a retreat for alternative spirituality, healing, and artistic expression. In his spare time, Fox is an amateur musician and aspiring artist. Arrow is a licensed professional counselor with a focus on alternative healing modalities, including energy psychology and Reiki.
Entertainment, Drum Circle Facilitator
Blake Methena was unofficially an entertainment co-coordinator with his wife Lauren for many years before he started getting credit for it. A skilled percussionist, Blake has played with talented artists and groups, such as the Latin Cats and Maia Banks in Richmond and Super Fast Runners and the Village Idiot in Ohio. He has also performed at numerous Blue Ridge Beltane festivals with his wife Lauren Kendall and with his longest-standing musical partner Stephen Christoff. Blake is transitioning into session drumming and is also available for drum circle facilitation as a teambuilding event for your private, social or corporate organization.
Denise “Dirty Mother” Cumor
Denise “Dirty Mother” is a priestess, an educator, and a facilitator of the Red Tent. She defies the patriarchal paradigm by following her own intuitive path through creative expression and her commitment to womyn’s empowerment in the arts and in the history of sexuality and divine feminine worship. Experiences that have strengthened her commitment: working as a clerk at the feminist/lesbian 31st Street Bookstore in Baltimore; working as a dancer for four years on Baltimore’s infamous ‘Block’; teaching OB-GYN protocol and techniques to medical students with Johns Hopkins; a decade of costume design in Baltimore; directing and acting in various productions of The Vagina Monologues; a three-year purgatory as a corporate event planner, event coordinator, and sex educator for the Spiral Dance Women’s Center; vending, facilitating, and educating in the Red Tent for seven years in the mid-Atlantic pagan community; coordinator for the Scarlet Den at THE Beltane and the Inner Sanctum at Blue Ridge Beltane. She has been making music and writing poetry for over 20 years. Her current musical project is Red Wound. Creating art, music, and sacred space for womyn has been her joy and salvation. www.dirtymotherproductions.com
Dianna Sicilia, MS, LAC, walks the path of healer. Her Priestess path is one with nature. Her goal of learning through listening with patience through practice comes through the zen of her herbal and acupuncture practices. Dianna is 30 years deep into her devotions and training of actively embracing the Divine through passion for being one with our Earth Mother. Cultivating sustainability through spiritual medicine and permaculture is the foundation of her all-ages program, School of the Seasons.
Eric Eldritch is a Radical Faerie, Urban Shaman, and Avante-Gardenarian Witch who lives at the intersection of Sexuality and Spirituality. He is known as a Sacred Fool, a master of the profound and profane, bringing depth and joy to an understanding of body, mind, and soul. He has been invited back to Blue Ridge Beltane year after year to coordinate a “Maypole for All.” (Editor’s note: And because we LOVE HIM!) Eldritch is a community organizer with leadership experience in nonprofit and professional organizations for over twenty years. He specializes in event planning, public relations, and organizational development based on principles of group identity, sociolinguistics, and cross-cultural relations. Drawing on years of experience in ceremonial and ecstatic forms of worship for ritual construction, he specializes in interfaith worship and spiritual retreat planning. Eldritch consults with pagan and community groups to collaborate with, organize, and energize them. Part of his work with these groups includes crafting tailor-made classes, rituals, events, retreats, professional seminars, panels, and fundraisers. He can also create art, graphic designs, flyers, brochures, and promotional materials for groups. Eldritch welcomes your questions, communication, and collaborations! Contact him at Eldritch@EldritchVentures.org or by calling him at 202-309-5486.
Marketing, Entertainment, Web Master
Lauren Kendall has been involved with Blue Ridge Beltane in some form or fashion since 2001, including when she debuted her first album “when” at the festival in 2002. She made the transition from community member to committee member in 2009. She started as the Entertainment Coordinator and eventually applied her professional marketing skills to the festival as its Marketing Coordinator.
Volunteering on the committee has made Lauren more committed than ever to making sure this festival remains a sanctuary for the many people who flock to Blue Ridge Beltane every year. Blue Ridge Beltane is a safe and sacred space where people are safe to explore their beliefs, explore their spirituality, and, most importantly, be themselves..
Lauren practices an eclectic, intuitive paganism, drawing heavily on Celtic influences in addition to a variety of other mythologies and philosophies. These days, Lauren manages her time between her family, freelance marketing and copywriting work, giving voice lessons and workshops, and writing music when she isn’t contributing her time and talents to BRB.
Master of the Coin (AKA Treasurer)
Matt Adler is a contractor who enjoys renovating older homes and fixing almost anything mechanical. He is a nature lover, father, healer and certified massage therapist. Matt is known to brew mead and beer and is also a beekeeper. In his farmhouse in New Hope, he and his wife Sunny are working toward self-sufficiency and a sustainable lifestyle.
Chief Fire Tender, Drum Circle Facilitator
Patch Kyaio is a dynamic and engaging percussionist whose spiritual and musical passions have come together to form a personal path that is as loud as it is enlightening. He’s been involved with Blue Ridge Beltane for many years now. He has been making noise since birth and practicing djembe for over 17 years. He has found his connection with the world through the drum. His influences range from Traditional African, Middle Eastern and Caribbean traditions to Jazz, Hip Hop, Folk and everywhere in between. With an indomitable spirit and an infectious smile, Patch weaves rhythm into every aspect of his life and teachings. His work has included education and performance for colleges, public and private schools, music festivals, spiritual festivals and fundraisers. He has performed with a wide array of musicians, including Overton Barry, Barney McClure, Mark Lewis, Norm Bellas, Karin Kajita, Easa Grayson, R. Tigre Cruz, Pash’n and more!
Rachael has been a strong presence with the Blue Ridge Beltane community for many years. In the last few years, she has combined her dedication to this festival with her passion for children and become the Youth Zone Co-Coordinator with her friend Stephanie. Together, they are helping steep the next generation in the pagan festival traditions. Rachael has a master’s in teaching, a minor in special education, and a second licensure in special education. She has worked with children since she was 9 and has been forging her own path since she was 14. She and Stephanie, the other Youth Zone Co-Coordinator, have planned many fun and exciting events for the children of this community. They are looking forward to seeing everyone again at this BRB. Merry Meet, Merry Part and Merry Meet Again.
We honor and pay tribute to Jenn AKA Obsidian Sky for the many dedicated years she put into the Blue Ridge Beltane Planning Committee. Jenn stayed with Blue Ridge Beltane since 2007. Before this incarnation of the festival, she helped out for many years with the Blue Ridge Pagan Alliance (BRPA). She took on a planning role immediately with BRB and stuck with it, through thick and thin, knowing her energy was helping to strengthen the foundation that others before her set. She has been a practicing Pagan since her late teens. Jenn is an eclectic, cat-loving, belly dancing, magic-practicing and passionate Pagan. In her mundane life, she is a retail manager. She used to direct a small humane society and keeps animals close to her heart, especially cats. She is an ordained minister and practices an eclectic version of Egyptian and Wiccan-heavy paganism. Her patron Goddesses are Isis and Bast. She is a Leo and loves being so. She was very close to her grandmother, who was a bit of an herbalist. Her father was Native American and taught her many things about nature and the respect we must have for her. Her mother is a Southern Baptist and also a little Native American. She is a great challenge to her and created a path for becoming a more open-minded, searching adult.
She has two beautiful, intelligent daughters, Adrienne and Izabelle. Adrienne worked with her on the BRB committee, helping organize and staff registration every year. Jenn also has a beautiful cat Autumn, who is her Familiar. She is a Tortie with a tall attitude and loves to be in charge of everything. Jenn has been committed to making your experience at Blue Ridge Beltane a fabulous and fulfilling one. She has sacrificed much and given a lot of love and energy. If you see her at the festival, please tell her “Thank you” for all she’s done for us. Her motto: Live and love your life and make it what you want it to be!