I’ve just returned from my second year attending Mystic South in Atlanta, GA. I am in a happy daze. Last year I attended purely for fun and camaraderie, and this year I was vending with the store I manage (Asheville Raven & Crone) and presenting a workshop on building community. What a difference a year makes!
This year seemed extra special, no doubt due to the hard work of all the organizers. There was a sense of connection, much more deeply felt among attendees. I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to see, nor did I attend as many workshops as I’d planned, but it was not an issue at all. Quick hugs were heartfelt, brief conversations were so rich and meaningful, and new connections were immediate.
As I unpacked from this conference, both physically and mentally, I remained thankful I was able to attend. Many people came by our booth for a little bit of Asheville, and a little bit of magic. Our items are made locally and by our wonderful staff, so it was so gratifying to see little pieces of our shop go home with people. Whether candles, teas, incense or more, the smiles on people’s faces as they purchased items to take home spoke volumes.
There was such a sense of community that was present from the first visit to the registration desk. Everything was clearly focused and organized, so we weren’t distracted by details and could focus on each other. I reacquainted myself with people I met last year, and it was like no time at all had passed. The location selected was the same as last year, and there is such a sense of “home” there. The staff always greet us happily, and they go the extra mile when needed. The energy is so positive and endearing.
Workshops were so varied and interesting! I so wish I could have attended all of them (where is Hermione’s Time-Turner when you need it?!) I love learning, and the subjects covered many traditions and facets of those traditions. The workshop leaders were passionate and so delightfully prepared. I gave my workshop on building community, and I was genuinely excited to present it. My workshops tend to be conversational and interactive, so many ideas and frustrations were shared, but as usual in this workshop, I saw the hunger and need for community. The biggest obstacle to this is time and sometimes distance. People left with suggestions and ideas to help build more community in their own areas. This is important work that we all participate in, and I am thankful to be part of these endeavors.Entertainment was stellar! The best part? If you are feeling introverted or extroverted, you are free to be you. Two nights out of the three I socialized with people into the wee hours, having conversations that touched my spirit, inspired and delighted me. There was a masquerade ball, karaoke, and lots of cozy places to sit in talk in small groups and one on one.
Nature. Wait, what? We were in Atlanta, how can that be? My favorite discovery was the huge swatch of nature outside the hotel. I stepped outside to what I thought was a basic courtyard, and I kept following the path to…bliss. I needed to ground and center myself, so you can imagine my delight when I found huge patches of grass to walk barefoot in, huge trees, and bubbling water via creeks and little waterfalls. I didn’t even get to explore all of it, but it is a treasured memory I will hold tight to until I go back again next year. Someone please join me then for a picnic in one of the many cozy areas scattered about! Maybe we can even put on impromptu witchy plays in the amphitheater I saw.
One of the best parts of this conference was that the leaving of it was not heart-breaking, nor was it a relief. It was a host of delicious memories to be replayed again and again until we meet next year. It is the sign of an excellent conference that we all stayed glued to our Facebook group page the next day, exchanging information, sending out friend requests, and giving feedback. I cannot remember the last time I left a conference feeling so recharged, happy and inspired.
Community is not just in our own local area, community is built among people with similar interests. The location may not matter, as long as the connection is there. I urge you to seriously consider putting Mystic South on your calendar next year. I cannot recommend it highly enough. We all need that time to recharge ourselves, meet people who inspire us, learn, socialize and really add to our own selves as practitioners and more. The work we were made for requires this. Feel free to message me if you would like more details, or if you want to chat about the conference in more depth. As for myself, July 2019 is definitely something to look forward to, and I hope you will join us!