Celebrate Samhain 2010

On Saturday October 23, 2010 I woke up at 5:45AM, hurriedly got dressed, got some breakfast, and by 7AM Jim and I were on the road to Peterborough, NH. What on earth could be so important as to cause me to wake up 5:45AM on a Saturday? Celebrate Samhain!

But Rebecca, you say, why drive three hours for an event? Let me lay it out for you. By taking a 3 hour drive I got to attend an event featuring nearly 30 vendors selling everything from lotions to altars to long stockings to books. Not only that, but I also had the opportunity to hear four different speakers, four very notable speakers: Dawn Hunt (“Kitchen Witch Workshop”), Christopher Penczak (“The Three Rays of Witchcraft”), Rosemary Gladstar (“Healing Herbs for Winter Health”), and Raven Grimassi (“The Cauldron of Memory”). Between presentations Jeanne Greene performed live music, and the day ended with a performance by The Gypsy Nomads. Impressed yet? Well hold onto your hats because here’s the bit that blew my mind….how much do you think it cost me to attend? Whatever you guessed is probably way too high. I had the opportunity to experience all of this for $5 a person with the donation of a nonperishable food item. $5 dollars!

With my $5 paid, what did I do at Celebrate Samhain? Holy crap the day was all about pleasing my inner fangirl! A handful of folks who have appeared on The Magical Buffet were there. You may remember seeing Christopher Penczak and The Gypsy Nomads on the site. The first thing I did was find their tables to take a moment to thank them for contributing their time to The Magical Buffet. I got to meet Christopher Penczak and Samantha of The Gypsy Nomads and they were both so genuinely nice you really just wanted to spend the day hanging around their tables talking. As an extra awesome bonus, Steve Kenson was there too! You may remember Steve from the great intro to roleplaying games interview he did for The Buffet. Anyway, just about every facet of fangirl that lurks inside of me got satisfied that day. My occult/magic fangirl got to meet Christopher Penczak, my music fangirl got to meet Samantha and Scott of The Gypsy Nomads, and my RPG/geek fangirl got to meet Steve Kenson! Walking out of the room I told Jim that alone was worth the drive.

The start of fangirl nirvana. Me with Samantha of The Gypsy Nomads. (Samantha is the awesome looking one on the right.)
Fangirl nirvana complete. Christopher Penczak (left), me (middle), Steve Kenson (right)

With that out of the way we began to roam all the vendor rooms, of which there were three. There was so much fantastic stuff I was bummed I couldn’t buy everything! I did do a little shopping though. I picked up a copy of The Gypsy Nomad’s album “Happy Madness”, I bought two pairs of adorable long stockings, and lastly, I bought a bottle of hand lotion from Rich at the Fairy Spa booth. Here’s the funny thing about discussing this last purchase, I bought it as a gift for my mother. I haven’t decided if I’ll be giving it to her for Christmas or Hanukkah yet. My mother likes fairies and has a small collection of fairy art, so when I saw there was going to be vendor of natural bath and body products called Fairy Spa at the Celebrate Samhain event I decided I had to get my mother a gift from them. If it’s a gift, how come I’m writing about this here on the internet before either holiday? It’s simple, my mom doesn’t use a computer, so I can discuss all these details with you guys, just don’t tell my mom! And seriously, Rich was a great guy and his stuff smelled and felt great! Maybe you should consider checking Fairy Spa out for your holiday shopping too.

Rich, one half of the Patrick and Richard team from Fairy Spa.

Shopping complete I was ready to hear some presentations. I got so wrapped up in shopping that I only caught the end of Dawn Hunt’s presentation “Kitchen Witch Workshop”. Upon hearing the end I immediately was bummed that I didn’t get to see the whole thing. The audience gave her a huge round of applause, and Hunt seemed humbled by their appreciation, a thing that’s always nice to witness. I decided to stay put and watch Jenna Greene perform while waiting for Christopher Penczak to start his presentation “The Three Rays of Witchcraft”. I’m glad I opted to just sit and enjoy Greene’s performance because the room filled up quick, well before Penczak’s start time!

Christopher Penczak’s presentation focused almost entirely about how his work, “The Three Rays of Witchcraft” came to be. Penczak spoke with ease and comfort about the personal journey that became “The Three Rays of Witchcraft”. What I enjoyed was learning about how much research and knowledge Penczak has about assorted schools of religion and magic. Nothing like a practitioner of Witchcraft referencing Theosophy to make my inner occult nerd squeal! Only time will truly tell, but as the room was clearing out I couldn’t help but wonder if I had witnessed a presentation by a man who years from now would be considered a defining magic worker of his generation.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I totally missed Rosemary Gladstar’s presentation about “Healing Herbs for Winter Health”, which took place after Penczak’s lecture. I took a lunch break. Even a fangirl has to eat you know! I did ask a few attendees about it and they said it was very good.

I did make sure to hightail it back quick like a bunny to snag a seat for Raven Grimassi’s presentation “The Cauldron of Memory: Retrieving Ancestral Knowledge and Wisdom”. It’s safe to say that Grimassi is an elder statesman in magical communities, and that reputation quickly translated into the room becoming standing room only. What can a person say about seeing Raven Grimassi give a lecture? He’s well-spoken and an expert at explaining complex ideas. His presentation was sprinkled with humor and the crowd adored him. I did not get a chance to speak with Grimassi personally, which is why you’ll find no photos of him here. Jim and I only take photos with the permission of the presenter, and since I never got to speak to him, I never got permission. It’s a little bit of a bummer to have not had the opportunity to shake the hand of THE Raven Grimassi, but I got to see him live and in person speak about his work, and that’s not a thing to sneeze at.

Janet (left) and Craig (right) get into the Samhain spirit!

To close out the day The Gypsy Nomads gave a live performance. I’ve heard and like their music, it’s why I did an interview with them; but listening to them on my iPod doesn’t compare to seeing them live. Samantha and Scott have boundless energy and are real showmen (or in this instance would it be show persons?). They laughed, they riffed off each other, and they kicked out some fantastic music. Being an amateur singer, I usually get bored by instrumental performances. I always want lyrics and a singer. However, The Gypsy Nomads are such great performers that their instrumentals flew by in a whirl of percussion, guitar, and clapping. I can’t recommend enough going out and seeing them live. In fact, just in case any of you are near where they’re going to be in the future, click here to see some of the places they’ll be playing next! You don’t want to miss out!

When the day was done, around 700 people came through the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church, and roughly 400 pounds of food was collected for the Peterborough Human Services Food Pantry. A big salute goes out to Jess and Kevin! The entire event was coordinated by just two people and a group of volunteers, an amazing feat in my book. Even after the three hour drive home, in the dark, along winding unfamiliar highways, I came home ready to leave for next year’s Celebrate Samhain!

Jess (left) and Kevin (right), the two coordinators for Celebrate Samhain