November is an incredibly busy month for most of us. There seem to be a plethora of family functions, work parties, craft fairs, concerts and festivals. One of the newest events on my calendar was the Kern County Pagan Festival on November 10th. This festival, hosted by the Enchanted Cottage in Bakersfield, was not only celebrating its second year, but the owners of the Enchanted Cottage, Stan and Bruce, were celebrating their seventh year in business. Having had such a blast at the inaugural festival I jumped right out and purchased my tickets for this year’s festivities.
I was quite surprised, and pleased, when I was extended an invitation to the meet and greet the evening before the festival. This was a great opportunity to get up close and personal with the owners and with all the presenters. Stan and Bruce did a wonderful job of creating a warm and intimate space even though there must have been 50 people attending. I was very fortunate to be seated with three of the presenters, Griffin Ced, Selena Fox and Ellen Dugan, as well as with Stan and Bruce. The conversation was lively, the food delicious and the atmosphere enchanting.
Upon arriving to the venue you were greeted with the scent of coffee from one local vendor and the enticing aroma of kettle corn popping from another, both situated right outside the entrance to the festival. The festival itself was held inside a large tent located in the back parking lot of the Enchanted Cottage. This is actually one of the best things about this festival, the size. The tent looked to seat maybe 100- 200 people, making it large enough to be able to meet interesting like-minded people from all around California and beyond, yet keeping the contact with the presenters very intimate and personal.
A walk through the tent and you were in the gardens of the cottage. There you were greeted by several wonderful vendors set up around the yard. Inside the Enchanted Cottage there were several more vendors. The vendors had a wide variety of items available from hand-made organic skin care products, wands and statues, beautiful repurposed Sari outfits, jewelry and several others. The Enchanted Cottage itself welcomed you with its mysterious and magickal atmosphere. It is well-appointed with fairly priced merchandise beckoning from well-lit shelves and peeking from shadowed nooks and crannies. A trip into the book room found you face to face with Ellen Dugan, where you could purchase one of her many fabulous novels.
The festival started right on schedule (no Pagan Standard Time here) and kept fairly close to the schedule all day. Selena Fox held a wonderful opening ritual then moved right into the first of her two presentations, “The Ritual Use of Herbs’. Her later lecture on “Cauldron Magic” was engaging and had more than a few of us whipping out our notebooks.
Ellen Dugan’s lecture on “The Mysteries of Yuletide” showed us why she is in such demand. This humorous and informative talk gave us many ideas on ways we could take back Christmas for the Pagan holiday it is. I was sorry I missed her later talk on “Menopause, the Crone Years and Magick” but alas, the smoke from the horrendous fires in the area made it impossible for me to stay.
Griffin Ced gave a wonderful talk on “Reflections on the Pagan Community”. This thought-provoking and heartfelt lecture truly resonated with me, so much so that I took a piece of his advice home with me and started a new tradition of lighting a candle for our Pagan community.
Orion Foxwood held two very engaging lectures, “Re-Consecrating the Underworld: The Call of Faery” and “Engaging the Ancestors: A Mandate for Modern Magick”. I’d heard Orion speak at a previous festival but here, at the Kern County Pagan Festival, the venue was so intimate that you could feel every emotion in his words reach you directly. His message seemed to reach out and touch each and every person in the audience.
The entire day was filled with new information, fabulous people, great food (They had a wonderful taco truck with award winning chili verde, yum!). I even joked with several people that you know the festival is great and well organized by the type of porta potties available – here in Bakersfield they even had sinks. The only criticism I had of the entire event was that when the sun went down it got incredibly cold and unfortunately there were no heaters in the tent. Perhaps next year this could be remedied.
All in all, I have to say that the entire festival was well run, the lectures engaging and all the staff did their utmost to make this a special day for all involved. I am looking forward to seeing what other wonderful things Bruce and Stan have up their sleeves. I may just have to check out their Mystic Faire come May.