The almost official motto of Austin, TX is Keeping Austin Weird.
Given the past couple of years, I might be tempted to change the motto to Keeping Austin in Good Spirits or Keeping Austin Magickal. Thus, I come to WitchFest 2022.
I hadn't been to WitchFest since early March 2020 when we were just beginning to hear rumors Covid-19 was moving into Austin, Texas. I had a premonition it might be my last "real" outing for a while. The first Covid restrictions took effect the next weekend. What I didn't know, and couldn't even imagine, was how long "a while" might be.
The next two years saw a lot of changes. Eating out, concerts, travel, and festivals went kaput. Even during brief intermissions in the Covid onslaught, something was missing. Paranoia replaced joie de vivre. In my case, an unexpected health crisis only added to it. By now, we've all read the articles about how we came through the pandemic. Before we even digested those articles, Omicron came along just when we thought it was safe to go back into the water. Cue the Jaws theme.
I started seeing announcements for WitchFest 2022 in January. Excited? Yes. Skeptical it would actually happen? Also yes, Covid had fooled me before. I didn't buy my ticket. February 1, I'm more excited. I perused the schedule and vendors and talked to my festival buddy; we blocked out our calendar for March 5. Buy a ticket? Nope, not yet. By the end of February, the Covid threat level budged from Stage 5, but I was still not ready to commit. Finally on March 4 when I checked Austin Covid precautions, they were at Stage 3. At Stage 3, Austin Public Health says "Participate in indoor private gatherings with precautions, and in outdoor gatherings without precautions." Yes, ma'am, I am ready. I bought my ticket.
We arrived in time for the opening circle, which set the stage and mood for the rest of the day. The crowd was a bit smaller than in 2020, but people were out and about. There was music, dancing, kids running around, and food. People talked with each other, and it felt good. It felt normal. If felt like a blessing.
For whatever reason, I am struggling to express how wonderful it was in my own words. So, I'm going to paraphrase Leonard Cohen. God was alive; magick was afoot. Goddess was afoot. Magick was alive.
Four long rows of vendors made their way to Austin, and I was pretty much a raven running from one bright shiny object to the next. The most intriguing booth had a knitted hat display, and I spotted it from a mile away. I knew I was going to buy one of those hats, and I did. In fact, I bought two hats. Honestly, it felt like the hats signaled the beginning of something, although I'm not quite sure yet what it is. I wore the purple hat for the rest of the day, and it seemed to invite people to come up and talk with me about it and other things. Some time has passed since I've had the opportunity to engage in casual conversations with strangers. It's been even longer since I've been in a crowd with whom I'd felt such affinity.
If you missed WitchFest, but feel the need for a hat, here are the online stores for hats. (And no, I'm not getting commissions.)
Returning To Festivals – It’s Good To Be Back is another perspective on returning to WitchFest.
And finally, this video captures a little of the magick of WitchFest 2022.
Merry meet, and merry part , and merry meet again!