By Tony Sokol
Witches can block the evil eye or throw a block party. Astor Place was under the spell of Pagan percussion as the sixth annual WitchsFest USA, a Pagan Street Faire, squeezed magic and music between Broadway and Lafayette.
Coming off of Lafayette, you were greeted by WitchsFest co-founders Starr RavenHawk HPs, (Rev. Luna Roja HPs, the other co-founder was not in attendance). Also present were featured presenters the “Witch Queen of New York” Lady Rhea, author, and filmmaker and voodoo authority Lilith Dorsey who all spoke, ran tables and mingled. If you came in off Broadway, Indigo Ortiz welcomed with a dance, either with her Witchmaste belly dance troupe or to the music of the pagan tribal drum troupe Dragon Ritual Drummers, who braved a slide down Niagara Falls in Canada to get here.
“Pagan pride was started in the year 2000. This will be our 17th anniversary,” said Indigo who got on the board in December.
New Orleans Warlock Brian Cain, who co-hosts of HexFest with his husband, Christian Day, spoke of shops, shocks and a touch of folk magic. Christian day spoke about how to sell yourself as a witch. Which he’s been doing since Laurie Cabot, the most famous witch of Salem since Tituba, taught him to ingratiate himself into power. Christian told the street class he did it by building websites for the city council. Just don’t ask Christian to sell his own shit. He doesn’t do behind the counter, at least not happily. His own human resources department banned him from cash register duty.
This guy was forever blowing bubbles.
Not all the vendors were magically inclined, though they all appreciated the energies. Mori Tori is more atheist in her beliefs, but knows the science behind magical creations.
Alexandrian Priestess, Witch, and Tarot adviser Christine Stephens, from New Orleans magical neighborhood of Old Algiers, gave a wink and a nod to the Dark Goddess.It was hot, but not sweltering, except maybe to Laurie Bizzarro aka Lady Thalestris, who, because of her unique positioning on the tar, had the direct sun pounding her all day. “A small amount of sun worshipping was well worth supporting our beautiful Witch and Pagan community,” she told me afterwards. On the other end of the block, Gypsy DeLuna was selling 10 dollar spell bags and dollar water bottles.
Speaking to the vendors, I learned many of the Pagan community work with kids. Gray Fisher, the owner of Cloak Conjuring, said she had one cloak of invisibility in stock but I couldn’t find it.
April Entrieri and Tina Caruselle, the Magic Moon Sisters one Strega with Native American lineage, the other with a Celt background, discussed tantric yoga and reiki at their booth filled with magical baubles. Their fans took the ferry for support. The gifted Staten Island duo announced a series of summer classes and events, easily accessible once you get off the ferry.
Mark Rider of Starcat Tarot was dealing cards.
The day ended with a ritual invoking Persephone, Demeter and Hecate officiated by Lady Thalestris, president of of the Temple of Hecate, Inc., with G.V. Maldonado, its secretary.
On the way home, I ran past Storm Ritter’s store opening on 14 West 8th Street for some completely different magic.