Updated as of April 17, 2017! Just added – Red Tent Workshops! All workshops are listed! However, sometimes there are last-minute changes. Join the Blue Ridge Beltane-Virginia Facebook group for updates, information, and community conversations! Also, make sure to check the program when you arrive at the festival.
Every year, the Blue Ridge Beltane Workshop Coordinator carefully chooses a select group of workshops to be presented at the festival. The topics can range widely. Past topics have included herbs, pagan gardening, pagan parenting, divination in many forms, meditation, nature walks, bellydancing, Reiki energy work, wand making, crafts, chanting, drumming–and so many more, all with magical and spiritual intent.
2017 Blue Ridge Beltane Workshops
All workshops are 90 minutes, unless otherwise stated. Look for workshop descriptions and bios after the “Schedule-At-A-Glance”. Not all descriptions are in yet, so stay tuned and check this page weekly for updates.
Schedule is subject to change up until the festival opens. Last updated April 17, 2017.
THURSDAY, May 18 – pre-festival activities
6pm: Potluck at the Pavilion
7:30pm: Bardic Circle (check out Rituals page for more information)
FRIDAY, May 19
-Planting Seeds of Community w/ Chelsea Peloquin
-Community Fire Build w/ Patch
-Red Tent Event: Introducing the Red Tent w/ Denise “Dirty Mother”
-Scrying 101 w/ Angela Kunschmann
-Tending Our Roots to Create Healthier Interactions with Spirits and Humans w/ Michael Johnson, CSAC
-BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND: Community Drumming and Dancing before the Bel Fire
SATURDAY, May 20
-Appalachian Folk Magic w/ Byron Ballard
-Drumming w/ Patch
-Home Protections and Blessings w/ Peggy Thompson
-Peeking into the Dark Abyss w/ Ed Gatti
-Red Tent Event: Persephone’s Healing Circle w/ Denise “Dirty Mother”
-Nirvana Now: Finding Your Inner Divinity w/ Morrigan Odin
-Drumming with the Divine w/ Patch
-Red Tent Event: Divine Feminine Gnosis & Our Prophetic Wombs w/ Denise “Dirty Mother”
SUNDAY, May 21
-Healing Magic w/ Byron Ballard
-Fueling Intention with Elemental Energy w/ Laura S.
Descriptions and Presenters
NEW THIS YEAR: Dedicated Red Tent Space
The Red Tent is a sacred space for womyn – an open and comfortable environment that is lush in sensual colors and fabrics. In the Red Tent, we honor our collective experiences as womyn. We support and respect each individual female who finds her place in this collective. We ask that each person who visits the space or attends a workshop respect and honor our yonis, our wombs, our moontimes and our collective and personal truths. If you embody the Divine Feminine, you are welcome. The Red Tent will be open Friday and Saturday from 10am-6pm. By dedicating Red Tent space outside the Inner Sanctum this year, we are able to welcome into the fold young womyn who are coming of age who would like to experience the support of their fellow womyn.
==FRIDAY, May 19, 2017==
1pm: Planting Seeds of Community
Are you a newcomer to paganism? Are you a seasoned practitioner willing to welcome these sprouting pagans? This is a chance to meet and greet and explore different traditions while helping bring the growing community closer together. Chelsea will demonstrate different methods of witchcraft practice for those who haven’t yet ventured into this world. The intention is to be a social gathering for pagans who are just beginning on their journey, bringing them together with seasoned practitioners who can offer insights from their knowledge and experiences. Attendees are encouraged to bring an item to add to a group altar.
Chelsea Peloquin is a lay practitioner in the tradition of Gaulish Celtic Reconstructionism. She claims no priesthood, but she has been practicing an organic and art-focused form of witchcraft for just about 15 years. She is a newcomer to the BRB community and is excited at the prospect of bringing together new and seasoned members for an enriching (and extremely witchy) social experience.
1pm: Community Fire Build
Come join our intrepid fire team of tender tenders for the construction of the Bel Fire that will keep our people warm, lit and blessed throughout our Beltane celebrations! We will talk about the physical aspects of building and tending a community fire, as well as the spiritual and energetic aspects of keeping a sacred fire, all while we construct our beautiful fire build that will burn through the following days and nights.
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 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!
1pm: Introducing the Red Tent
Denise “Dirty Mother”
The Red Tent is a sacred space devoted to the womyn of the community. It reflects and is inspired by the various ancient traditions of the moon lodge. It is part of a larger movement that came about after the same titled book by Anita Diamant was published. Many women began creating Red Tent spaces in their homes and communities. Some were inspired by other Red Tents, while many others were simply part of a collective awakening, unaware the others even existed. For all who are curious about the Red Tent, the origins of the collective, and what exactly happens in this tent, this is an open house invitation to the community to come and meet up, hang out, ask questions, learn about the tools, workshops and events, and get involved. All are welcome!
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
4:15pm: Scrying 101
A great introduction to the history and uses of scrying (AKA gazing into a reflective surface for meditation and divination). Learn the basics in grounding techniques, trusting your visions, as well as the many methods you can use for scrying. Not only will you get to practice with a small mirror Angela has prepared – you’ll also take the mirror home for future practice.
Angela Kunschmann is an ordained Priestess at Mother Grove Goddess Temple and a proud devotee of Freyja. She identifies as an eclectic pagan with strong leanings towards Norse paganism. For the last 14 years, Angela has regularly practiced the art of scrying using a crystal ball. She teaches classes on how to practice this art and performs readings regularly at shops in Asheville, NC and Johnson City, TN.
4:15pm: Tending Our Roots to Create Healthier Interactions with Spirits and Humans
Michael Johnson, CSAC
As we focus on how to take care of our soul through reconnection with Nature, we’ll explore how to tend our roots and create well-tended soil to enhance our relationships. In our world, the soil is polluted, water isn’t safe, crops aren’t natural, our nations are unstable, and our interpersonal connections are poorly constructed. This workshop focuses on interpersonal interactions with people and in spiritual areas. We live in a world with poor boundaries in all aspects of our lives. Our planet isn’t respected, our lives are not respected, and our relationships with spiritual and mundane interactions is out of balance. Let’s spend some time exploring how to change how we interact with the world. We’ll explore how to:
- Improve the soil where we choose to grow our roots
- Maintain the proper levels of respect to manifest beautiful crops of self-respect, respect for others, and protection of ourselves and others
- Use psychology and Magical solutions to aid us to create healthy and fulfilled relationships with nature and humans
We’ll also look at multiple systems and how they are designed to maintain and create healthy containers for interaction with the spiritual and physical world.
Michael Johnson and his wonderful wife share 3 wonderfully willful children, ages 3, 9, and 14. He is a certified substance abuse counselor with 16 years of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology with a minor in substance abuse services from Virginia Commonwealth University. He was raised within a pagan/christian household located in Hopewell, VA. Areas of Interest over the years: Recovery systems within the pagan community, small group dynamics, craving management, anger management, harm reduction treatment serving those with opioid dependence, earth-based spirituality, ceremonial magick, hoodoo, stone and crystals, runes, crafting things in leather/wood/clay, mindfulness-based stress reduction, Lakota spirituality, acudetox acupuncture, and Aikido.
6:30pm: BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND: Community Drumming and Dancing before the Bel Fire
Join your tribe for an informal workshop and jam session before the Bel Fire. We’ll go over a few drumming techniques in brief. We’ll learn a few chants together. And then … we begin! Bring a chair, bring a drum or any other instruments you like, bring your voice, and blessed be!
==SATURDAY, May 20, 2017==
10am: Appalachian Folk Magic
Learn the history, materials and practice of traditional Appalachian folk magic. This rich cultural tradition is practiced wherever members of the Appalachian diaspora are found.
H. Byron Ballard is a western NC native, teacher, folklorist and writer. She has served as a featured speaker and teacher at Sacred Space Conference, Pantheacon, Pagan Spirit Gathering, Southeast Wise Women’s Herbal Conference, Glastonbury Goddess Conference, Scottish Pagan Federation Conference and other gatherings. She is senior priestess and co-founder of Mother Grove Goddess Temple in Asheville, NC. Her essays are featured in several anthologies. She blogs and writes a regular column for Witches and Pagans Magazine. Her book, “Staubs and Ditchwater,” debuted in 2012, and the companion volume, “Asfidity and Mad-Stones,” was published in October 2015. Byron is currently at work on “Gnarled Talisman: Old Wild Magic of the Motherlands.” Contact her at email@example.com.
10am: Drumming with Patch
Get a great review of the basics of hand drumming, as well as some practice techniques and fun rhythms! The skill level of the workshop will be determined by the skill level and knowledge/hunger of the class, not to exceed any one person’s ability.
See bio above.
12:30pm: Home Protections and Blessings
Every culture has traditions of protecting homes from things that “go bump in the night.” Explore the different ways those cultures protect their homes spiritually, and share your own techniques and ideas.
Peggy Thompson graduated with a degree in anthropology and criminology in 2008. While attending college, she was one of the founding members of Cleveland State Pagans, where she worked to increase the visibility of and dispel myths about pagans on campus and beyond. Peggy has coordinated many different public events in Cleveland, OH. She has been invited to teach at conferences to share her knowledge of paganism and organizational strategies. In 2016, Peggy was published for the first time. She has an article in The Pagan Leadership Anthology, edited by Shauna Aura Knight and Taylor Ellwood. Currently, Peggy is the High Priestess of her own small group in Lakewood, OH. She also sits on the board of Rising Sun Outreach Ministry, where she is active in prison ministry. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via her Facebook page under peg.e.thompson.
12:30pm: Peeking into the Dark Abyss
Having presented “Tactical Magic” for the last 5 years at different events, Ed has had great discussions post presentation on the “grey” and “black” sides of magic. This presentation will look at preconceived notions about walking a grey path, discussing both the pro and cons and the difficulties of walking this path. The presentation is based on personal experiences. Attendees are highly encouraged to ask questions and actively participate in the discussion.
Ed Gatti is originally from England and grew up in West Africa – Nigeria to be exact. He currently lives just outside Warrenton in Northern Virginia. He has been practicing and walking the grey eclectic path for over 33 years, drawing on Celtic and Eastern philosophies. Ed has presented at Blue Ridge Beltane for the past 3 festivals and at other Virginia events over the last 5 years.
12:30pm: Persephone’s Healing Circle
Denise “Dirty Mother”
NOTE: This workshop is part of the “sacred sexuality” series of workshops listed under the Inner Sanctum activities. This year, it will be held in the Red Tent area. This is an open discussion circle, where intimate and even graphic personal details may be shared. Therefore, this workshop is only for womyn and those who identify as womyn who are 18 years and older.
We dedicate this time in the Red Tent to holding sacred space for womyn who are sexual abuse survivors. We will begin the circle with an introduction to the Red Tent. We’ll also discuss sexual abuse, rape culture, consent, and reproductive health. The circle will include empowering and an empowering art project. All womyn will have an opportunity to speak their truths and support each other in a safe and healing space. All people who identify as female are welcome.
See bio above.
4pm: Nirvana Now: Finding Your Inner Divinity
Learn about concepts of the Divine, such as Inner Divinity, Universal Oneness, the power of the human mind, enlightenment and self-empowerment, and how we all perceive our own reality. How can we apply these concepts in our daily lives? What becomes possible when we do?
Rev. Morrigan Odin is a priestess dedicated to the Morrigan and the Allfather (Odin, Woden), ordained and licensed in Virginia. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Old Dominion University (1994) in international studies with a minor in political science. She is also an herbalist and author. She began studying Appalachian herbalism as a child with her mother. After studying the Craft (Witchcraft) extensively over the course of 20+ years, she returned to her roots, working again with her mother and other elder women in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia. Her work has been attempting to revive this old tradition of using local herbs for both medicinal and magical purposes. Morrigan is currently working on two books, “Nirvana Now: Finding Your Inner Divinity” and “The Appalachian Granny Tradition: Then and Now.” Morrigan Odin has had several articles published on the international site, “The Call of The Morrigan.” She also has a blog, “The Crow’s Nest,” on Patheos.
4pm: Drumming with the Divine
How to prayerfully drum with intent. Discuss and practice methods of communicating with the divine through the energy and resonating frequency of the drum. Everyone will also work on connecting: Connecting with our own divine energy and that of everything around us.
See bio above.
4pm: Divine Feminine Gnosis and Our Prophetic Wombs
Denise “Dirty Mother”
All ages, womyn and those who identify as womyn
In the modern new age and the reclamation of Pagan spirituality, one of the most powerful aspects of this re-emergence is the Goddess and the worship of the Divine Feminine. The archetype of the Goddess can be a very powerful awakening, connecting us with lost knowledge. As womyn, we are gifted with strong intuitions and prophetic sensibilities. We bleed and shed with the moon and hold creation of life within our wombs. The womb is our inner sacred temple, the house of strong magic, power and energy. But what does it mean for a wommon to embody Divine Feminine? What are the tools and practices of this tradition? What have we lost to ancient history? What have we learned through our reclamation and our collective sharing? This workshop is dedicated to exploring the reclamation, practices, tools and the natural prophetic gifts of being a wommon, honoring and strengthening our collective wisdoms as Priestesses of the Divine Feminine.
See bio above.
==SUNDAY, May 21, 2017==
10am: Healing Magic
Many of us are bombarded these days with requests for healing in body, mind and spirit. This class offers ways for the healer to cope—and even thrive—and be helpful whether the healing is needed for kith, kindred, colleagues or self.
See bio above.
10am: Fueling Intention with Elemental Energy
Join in this experiential workshop to nurture deep connections with elemental energies. Together we will briefly clarify and establish individual intentions, intention being a mindful goal, purpose, or hope to strive towards. Engage in a co-meditation with each other while channeling the elements. Then, we’ll work together in small groups to raise the energy towards the manifestation of each individual’s goal. Discussion will include ways to practice this in daily life.
Laura Szyikowski is a Buddhist and a mental health counselor. She has been practicing Buddhism for over 20 years and lives in the Shenandoah Valley. Laura loves the energy that BRB raises and finds that this festival jumps forward her intentions each year.
If you are interested in presenting a workshop at the festival, please contact us with the form below.
Please make sure to include your legal name (and your magical name, if applicable), your contact information, and a description and title of your workshop idea in order to be considered to be a workshop presenter.