Kinesthetic religion: my left arm was a little sore on Sunday from helping to carry the Maypole in procession—a pine trunk the size of a smallish telephone pole, ridden by a zaftig May Queen. And yes, we heard every ribald variation on “riding the pole” shouted from the onlookers. It was Beltane, after all.
The arm remembers the procession and the raising of the Maypole. What was said is not remembered. “Imagistic” religion trumps “doctrinal” religion—my take on Harvey Whitehouse’s work.
As for the workshop that I was fretting about on Friday, it produced a small but interested group. Contrary to the suggestion of one of my commenters, I did not resort to a joke book but gave them the “Calling It Nature Religion” chapter from Her Hidden Children and the “Where You At” quiz from “Nature Religion for Real.”
Every Pagan festival includes workshops, but I think that the larger the festival, the smaller the percentage of attendees that go to them. Is that workshop-learning model still working?
What draws the crowd are large-scale rituals and entertainment. Beltania, in fact, is billed as a “MusicFest and Beltane Festival” in that order. This year’s acts included Kenny Klein, Tuatha, Wendy Rule, Lunar Fire/INTI, Pandora, Mythica, and Skean Dubh.
Half the fun of festival-going is people-watching. You have those who remove as much clothing as possible to display their Pagan body art—and after a day at 6,700 feet elevation, their sunburns. You have the mild moments of cognitive wardrobe dissonance: black guys in kilts, a tattooed cholo-styling guy in a Renn Faire-ish velvet robe.
Then there was the guy who came to my workshop sporting a spiffy Panama hat. I saw him later during the Luna Fire set. Among all the dreadlocks and glow sticks and Pagan T-shirts and flowing robes—not to mention the billowing smoke—he appeared in the same Panama, plus white shirt, dark tie, and seersucker sport coat. He looked like the stereotypical Englishman in the jungle—definitely a contender for Best Costume.