Check out our freshly updated schedule of activities for Blue Ridge Beltane’s 2019 Workshops! Come back regularly for the latest changes.
Updated as of May 15, 2019! The Workshop Coordinator of the Blue Ridge Beltane Planning Committee has lined up some transformative workshops from the introductory to more in-depth opportunities. Find out who’s offering what below! Make sure you join the Blue Ridge Beltane Facebook group for updates, information, and community conversations! If you’re interested in sharing a workshop in 2020, send us an e-mail using the form at the bottom of this page.
Each 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 and typically reflect the annual theme. Past topics have included bellydancing, crafts, chanting, divination in many forms, drumming, herbs, meditation, nature walks, Pagan gardening, Pagan parenting, Reiki energy work, wand making, and so many more, all with magical and spiritual intent.
2019 Blue Ridge Beltane Workshops
All workshops are 90 minutes unless otherwise stated. Look for workshop descriptions and presenter bios after the “Schedule-At-A-Glance.” The schedule is still in process, and we are patiently awaiting some workshop descriptions and presenter pictures. Stay tuned and check this page weekly for updates.
Schedule is subject to change up until the festival opens.
THURSDAY, May 16
-Community Fire Building w/Patch Kyaio and the Fire Tenders
-Civic Engagement w/Cori Johnson
-Fire Safety w/SoulFire
FRIDAY, May 17
-Intro to Meditation w/Laura Szyikowski
-Your Sacred Death Rite w/Angela Kuschman
-Fire Safety w/SoulFire
-Warts, Waters, and What Mountain Folk Know w/Byron Ballard
-Magickal Properties of Wood w/Jim and Kevin of WizardsTower
-New to the Craft? w/MaryBelle Amethyst Weeks
-Sharing the Cup: Mead Making Tutorial w/Sylvia Sapp
Followed by the 2019 Mead Contest w/Gretchen Burgess
SATURDAY, May 18
-The Art of Transmutation: Conduit, Restore, Refrain w/Mason Storm Prince
-Massage 101 w/Bee Beaston
-Astral Projection w/Ryu Heka
-Fire Safety w/SoulFire
-Wild Within w/Aimee Zwart
-Forbidden Needs and Desires: Nonviolent Communication w/Jasper Handley
-Shadow Work w/Molly McDonough
-Drumming w/Patch Kyaio
SUNDAY, May 19
-Science of Crystal Majik w/Adam Szyikowski
-What’s an Elder? w/MaryBelle Amethyst Weeks
Descriptions and Presenters
== Thursday, May 16th 2019 ==
Community Fire Build
Come join our intrepid team of fire 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!
How to Change the World: Civic Engagement for Passionate Pagans
We are movers and shakers who honor our sacred duty to future generations, but how can we be sure that we are making a difference? In this workshop, we will take a nuanced look behind the curtain of the mundane world’s inner workings; explore ways to contribute your personal gifts and talents to the betterment of your city, county or community; learn how to communicate effectively with elected leaders and work within the present to manifest a better future. Come with an open heart and expect the unexpected.
Cori Johnson is a hereditary witch who has been exploring her gifts through eclectic paganism for the past six years. She lives with her husband and three kids in central Virginia, where she has dedicated her career to working with community and political leaders for positive change.
Got the fire bug? We will cover how to safely handle and store fuel, wet and extinguish props, and communicate with each other while props are lit. All experience levels are welcome. This workshop is mandatory to flow with fire or be a supporting safety for fire artists at Blue Ridge Beltane. Attendees will only be permitted to participate in evening fire spinning activities after completing this workshop and receiving a unique wristband. Some fire performances may be restricted for ritual purposes, but open jams are available each evening.
== Friday, May 17th 2019 ==
Introduction to Meditation
This workshop will review the benefits of meditation and introduce common meditative techniques with a brief practice of each form. Participants are encouraged to bring a mat and/or pillow. Types of meditation include: 1: Mindful meditation, movement meditations such as walking and gigong. 2: Trance dancing, transcendental meditation. 3: Yoga, kundalini, and mudras. 4: Mantra meditation and focus meditations. 5: Zen meditation, stillness meditations, and breathing meditations. 6: Gazing meditations (candle, person, moon, mirror).
Laura Szyikowski has been a member of the BRB tribe since 2013. She is a mental health clinician working in Virginia, and she is passionate about teaching others to heal themselves by changing their energy flow. She is a tree-hugging, fire-dancing, spirit-drumming, earth-loving, peace-seeking human who welcomes unity, peace, and diversity.
Your Sacred Death Rite
This workshop aims to encourage folks to think about their own funeral and what it should look like. Death is our “final” rite of passage in this life and we should have the rite of passage of our dreams. What music do you want played? Who do you want to lead the rite? What do you want to wear? We will cover all aspects of the funerary rite and at the end of the workshop, each individual will have a skeletal outline of what their own funerary rite will look like.
Angela Kunschmann is an ordained Priestess at Mother Grove Goddess Temple in Asheville, NC, a devotee of Freyja, holds a special relationship with Heimdall and Hela, lover of cats, scryer, knitter, painter, and writer.
Please see the original description under the Thursday schedule of the Fire Safety workshop.
Warts, Waters, and What Mountain Folk Know
Dive deep into the specific uses of water in Appalachian folk magic. From stump water and willowwater for cures to ditchwater for creativity and dish water for warts, the many uses of this powerful element have been passed down since the early days of immigration. Learn how they can broaden your own magical practice.
H. Byron Ballard, BA, MFA, is a western NC native, teacher, folklorist and writer. She has served as a featured speaker and teacher at Sacred Space Conference, Summerland Spirit Festival, Pagan Spirit Gathering, Southeast Wise Women’s Herbal Conference, Glastonbury Goddess Conference, Heartland, Sirius Rising, Starwood, Scottish Pagan Federation Conference and other gatherings. She is senior priestess and co-founder of Mother Grove Goddess Temple and the Coalition of Earth Religions/CERES, both in Asheville, NC. Her essays are featured in several anthologies and she 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 Oct. 2015. “Embracing Willendorf: A Witch’s Way of Loving Your Body to Health and Fitness” launched in May, 2017. “Earth Works: Ceremonies in Tower Time” debuted in June 2018. Byron is currently at work on “Gnarled Talisman: Old Wild Magics of the Motherland” and “The Ragged Wound: Tending the Soul of Appalachia.”
The Magickal Properties of Wood
Jim & Kevin of Wizards Tower
The gentlemen from WizardsTower will share what they have learned about 84 different species of wood. In this workshop, you can feel and hold different woods, and you can explore which ones speak to you. Did you know lilac is sacred to bards and bespeaks erotic creative powers; that unicorns live beneath apple trees; that cherry wands embody a centered and grounded energy? Bring pen and paper for notes. Come explore the lore, the mysteries, and the magickal properties of wood.
Artisans & purveyors of unique, high-quality essentials for working magic, the men from WizardsTower have been serving the Pagan community for over 12 years. Jim and Kevin share what they have learned by bringing their products to the community. They are currently designing three workshops based on what their research has taught them about wood, color, and stones.
New to the Craft?
MaryBelle Amethyst Weeks
After a brief introduction, there will be time for individuals to bring their concerns and questions to be addressed. Please remember that any question is valid; however, if you would like to ask anonymously, you may give the facilitator your written list. Amethyst looks forward to interesting conversations with new seekers.
MaryBelle Weeks, aka Amethyst, is a solitary witch who has been practicing her entire life. She has presented workshops on a variety of topics at many festivals during the past 20 years. Amethyst has also conducted Year-and-a-Day classes and founded Haven Universal Life Church in Waynesboro, VA. Her store, A Fairies’ Circle, is only active at events and festivals, and it is currently doing business under the name Lavender & Amethyst.
Sharing the Cup: Mead Making Tutorial
Share the knowledge and share the transformation! This year we will be getting back to the basics with a tutorial that will help you get inspired to make your own mead and discover the transformative magic of fermentation. Come learn tips and techniques for creating your own mead and ales at the Bel Fire. The fermented beverage competition follows immediately after the workshop. Don’t forget to bring your new creations inspired by this workshop to next year’s contest.
Come and taste what’s been brewing in the Blue Ridge Beltane community! Bring your own labeled mead and other home brews. We will try anything! Don’t forget TWO CUPS, one for you and one for a friend (someone always forgets and will be very appreciative). Prizes for People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice, but we all know the real prize is bragging rights!
Gretchen Burgess is that loud lady with the glasses. She makes mead and won’t shut up about it, so we let her run the mead contest. It’s for the best, really.
== Saturday, May 18th 2019 ==
The Art of Transmutation: Conduit, Restore, Refrain
Mason Storm Prince
Practitioners of faith and science perform energy manipulation, be it through alchemy, transubstantiation, etc. Mason will show you how to fill your container to the brim while bottoming out and maintaining equilibrium. Although seemingly paradoxical, this technique is transformative, unique, powerful, and important. We will discuss various methods, aspects, and intentions in this workshop, and you need only bring your energy, if not your body.
Mason Storm Prince resides in Rockville, MD and is from Waynesboro, VA. Mason has a B.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, and his interests include dance, folklore, and sound poetry. Mason currently works in Procurement and Accounting for the US Federal Government. Mason enjoys long walks in the woods, blinis, and siphoning energy with care packages. He is a syncretic and has predominantly practiced transmutation since the age of 11. Mason prefers no tags and is accustomed to solitary practice, but Mason has grown to enjoy group rituals and socialization.
Therapeutic Massage 100
Do you find yourself being asked for or being called to give healing touch to your loved ones? Would you like to feel confident in doing so safely, effectively, and consciously? Bee will share her knowledge to empower the Blue Ridge Beltane community with the skills to care for one another. Learn the “Endangerment Sites” where caution must be used when working on these areas of the body; major contraindications to bodywork such as health and medical conditions to which massage is detrimental; the importance of introductory touch, warm up and close out, and mindfulness; the implementation of consent and the empowerment that can come through it; how to ask for, give, and receive feedback; how to navigate emotional releases and energetic transfer; how to minimize strain on your hands; the basics of how to massage the body. After the overview, participants will have an opportunity for a Q&A and hands-on application of the techniques shared. Bring something to sit on (a yoga mat, blanket, towel, or chair) and something to massage with if you wish. Please note that conventional body lotions have a high alcohol content and do not work very well. Bee will provide coconut oil for those who do not bring a preferred product. Please come hydrated, camp-clean, and free of intoxicants for at least 4-6 hours prior to the workshop.
Bee Beaston graduated from Baltimore School of Massage-York Campus in 2011 and has been tending our Bel Fire for the last 8 seasons. Currently a full-time Reiki-attuned bodyworker working out of Staunton and Charlottesville, Bee was taught the Foundation of Therapeutic Touch, Honesty, Awareness, and Compassion. Upon that foundation, she has built her intuitive, intentional, and transformative art form with steadfast presence, high-quality touch, and an openness to learn from each body she encounters. Looking forward, Bee will be exploring service as a labor, birth, and postpartum doula. She also plans to train budding massage therapists.
We will cover several topics under astral projection including how to stay safe, ways to apply it, different techniques, and various histories of how it has been used. For those who are comfortable, we will have an open discussion to share experiences.
Ryu Heka has studied and practiced Paganism since 2001, but he has felt the call of the God and Goddess his whole life. He is passionate about the study and practice of Egyptian Shamanism. He has a thirst for knowledge. His journey led him to study many types of Paganism. Ryu loves to share his knowledge with others and keep an open mind when encountering new metaphysical viewpoints. He is grateful to his teachers, and he hopes to pass the wisdom they shared with him on to others. So mote it be!
Please see the original description under the Thursday schedule of the Fire Safety workshop.
Amidst the structured chaos and of modern society, we sometimes forget that we are WILD. We come from the woods, deserts, mountains, and beaches. How can we tap back into our wild nature? Tap back into that primal nature, the passion that defines you. What is your wild? Is your wild structured like the petals on a flower with an exact number and pattern? Does it grip like the ivy that climbs the mighty oak, or is it somewhere in between and a little bit of both? Through meditation and discussion, we come together to find our wild Within.
Aimee Zwart is a lively, vivacious and outgoing witch, Priestess and songstress. She has spent many years in the local pagan community helping to cultivate growth, love and connections. She is a firm believer that every little thing we do to lift each other and ourselves is in truth huge. Her favorite part of the Blue Ridge Beltane festival is participating in workshops and rituals, and she has the joy of cultivating these activities this year as Ritual and Workshop Coordinator. She says to everyone, “May we aid each other in loving growth during this time of celebration.”
Forbidden Needs and Desires: Nonviolent Communication Opens the Door
We have all experienced the euphoria of a new relationship. Some refer to it as “new relationship energy” (NRE) or simply infatuation. Understanding what initially attracts us to our friends and partners will help us continue that good feeling into mature and lasting connections that keep on growing without getting stuck in blaming and gaming when our needs and desires are not met. This workshop will start with a brief overview of the basic practice of Nonviolent Communication (NVC). We shift our focus from the cultural habit of evaluation and judgment which disconnects us from empathy and connection, interjecting fear of anger, punishment, and reward. First, we will slow down by engaging in a process that starts with sensory observation. Then, we will express our feelings about what happened, what need or desire was activated, and conclude with a specific request that can be met, preferably here and now. Through small group practice exercises using the NVC template, we will open the door to communication about our needs, gaining the tools necessary to ask for what we need without triggering the fear that those desires are forbidden or unspeakable.
Jasper Handley has been active in communities for Paganism, polyamory, designer relationships, New Culture, NVC (nonviolent communication), and Human Awareness for about 15 years. He participated in Max and Elise Rivers’ NVC Workshop at New Culture Winter Camp in Hawaii in 2016 when something clicked. He realized as the oldest child, he had been trained to take care of himself. Upon reflection, a close friend confirmed this conclusion saying, “Yes, Jasper, it’s true, you rarely ask, and you seem very uncomfortable making requests.” He assumed he was supposed to get those needs for touch, intimacy, deep listening, and sexuality met through subtle signaling and telepathy. Those tactics were not working. When he shifted his focus from his own feelings to those of his friends and partners, a door opened. The empathetic guess was his first NVC tool, and it’s still a favorite.
Do you judge yourself over little things? We all do! Yet there is hope! Step outside of yourself and view how you react to things, why you feel uncomfortable in certain situations, and how you respond to others. Acquire useful tools to make shadow work more fun while gaining clarity on events from the past year. We’ll be starting with a guided meditation, a group oracle reading, and a magickal tips for shadow working!
Molly McDonough has been in a deep practice of witchcraft for nearly three years. She’s always known that she was going to be a witch. Her purpose on this beautiful plane is to illuminate and give, because that is the witch’s way. She’s spent countless hours helping others process their emotions. Her community has given her the opportunity to give back to those around her, and she couldn’t be more grateful. She hopes everyone reading this has a beautiful day!
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 Patch Kyaio’s previous bio under Community Fire Build.
== Sunday, May 19th 2019 ==
Science of Crystal Majik
Many healers and pagans use rocks and minerals in their practices. This workshop takes an introductory look at the science behind rocks and minerals. An interactive discussion on the Earth processes that determine coloration, shape, durability, and size of some of our favorite stones. By broadening our understanding of how science and magic coexist, we can better utilize and harmonize with the crystalline energies surrounding us.
Adam Szyikowski is a Radford University science alumnus who has been attending Blue Ridge Beltane since 2011. He uses his degree in geology and his background in carpentry to create art, which he sells at festivals throughout Virginia and surrounding states. Adam is an eclectic pagan who wholeheartedly embraces all the spiritual inclusion this festival offers every year. He can be found helping in a number of places around the festival: aiding infrastructure, tending the sacred Bel fire, acting as Inner Sanctum guardian, dancing the fire, presenting workshops, beating drums, selling his art at Vendor Village, spinning fire, and managing the Wellspring Cafe. He strongly supports “free hug day” and the cultivation of a safe and welcoming place to be one’s authentic self. He is always happy to answer questions or lend a hand.
What’s an Elder?
MaryBelle Amethyst Weeks
Who are they? What do they do? When do you become one? Where do you find one? Why would you need one? How should you behave around them? To find out the answers, no matter your age, please join the conversation at the scheduled time!
See MaryBelle Amethyst Weeks’ bio under New to the Craft?
The 2019 Blue Ridge Beltane Workshop schedule is full. If you are interested in presenting a workshop for 2020, please contact us using 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 as a workshop presenter.