When it comes to a festival, the Midsouth region of the ATC knows how to do it right. May Day 2014 was no exception to this rule. Put on by Southern Delta Church of Wicca of Lake City, AR, Temple of the Sacred Gift of Memphis, TN, and Wite Rayvn Metaphysical Church of the Ozarks in White Plains, MO, this festival is now in its 37th year. However, the main drive of this festival is SDCW’s High Priest, Reverend Terry Riley.
As an Arkansas native, Terry Riley is a bit of a legend. In my childhood, he was the man we protested against for not being Christian. As a young adult, he was a legend who had a thriving Wiccan church in the Bible belt. Meeting him at May Day, I can see why he has such a reputation not only in the Arkansas pagan community, but all over. Terry was a never ending stream of positivity during this event, which had more energy than almost anyone except the kids. This positivity kept everyone going all weekend long.
Though we were slated for rain, a bit of magic pushed the rain around us and made the weekend beautiful. Workshops were plentiful on topics ranging from Wicca 101, Runes, and Healing. The games were a treat, especially watching the kids “joust” using laundry basket hoods and pool noodle sticks. There was also plenty of time to just relax and breathe, and visit from folks from all over the country.
The two rituals were different but equally moving and challenging. Southern Delta Church of Wicca presented the Friday night opening ritual, where we laid claim to the land for the weekend and chanted and sang, as well as did a bit of weather magic under Dusty Dione’s guidance.
The Saturday night ritual was unlike anything I have ever experienced. Temple of the Sacred Gift presented an Egyptian ritual of the resurrection of Osiris. After his resurrection, we traveled to different stations around the ritual where a different Egyptian God would challenge us with different excuses or reasons why we could not fulfill our dreams. After a final blessing from Isis or Osiris, and a beautiful gift of an ankh, we headed to the fire to burn the excuses and jump the balefire! It was an incredibly beautiful and moving experience that brought many people, me included, to tears.
Another highlight was the kitchen staff, who became incredibly flexible in the face of ruined chicken wings intended for Saturday dinner. As if almost by magic, the kitchen staff conjured up a wonderful meatloaf that was enjoyed by all. All the other meals were prompt and plentiful, with consideration taken to folks with food allergies.
May Day 2014 was a successful festival, and was made so by the hard working volunteers from all three churches and other organizations. Though leaving new and old friends was hard on Sunday, I look forward to next year!
Photos Courtesy of Alex Comley