A weekend spent away from the covering storm, that is understandably set to continue here for some while into the future, the air is thick with the grief as those who mourn the departed struggle to deal with their loss and the loss to our community, time will undoubtedly heal but not within the foreseeable .
T, myself and the girls departed for the Tewkesbury Medieval festival, a welcome relief from all of last week's tragedy's, primarily we were there to trade (artwork, woodwork and Oli's smith craft), but the main reason for attending is really to party with friends who we only ever see at such events, some of who have become exceedingly dear to us.
The event is populated with the most eclectic bunch of people you would ever meet, every odd one out within normal parameters can find themselves amongst the same, the dispossessed and the rejected, those shunned and scorned from within our "normal" and overly judgemental everyday society have home and comfort among their like and kin, a chance for those with secret passions to indulge and yet not be judged, for within the legions of armoured reenactors at the evening muster can be seen those who's outfits are expressions of another side of their own nature, the hidden passions of the man who wear a ladies frock or the cloak and sabre of the Jedi order, free to parade in an environment where the participants will not persecute or judge them .
Belief and religions from every faith, both Abrahamic and the raggle taggle Pagans, stand side by side, similarities are discussed and yet the arrogant are few and far between, all the aggression of the modern towns seems to get placed in a box for the weekend, I once witnessed a drunken individual trying to start a fight at this festival a few years back, as he staggered aimlessly bumping into heavily armed and armoured people,spilling drinks, growling with alcohol fueled hatred and swearing and glowering at all in his path, not one would rise to his challenge, so thereby defeated he retired to sleep it off.
The groups that attend such events are often ridiculed by the members of the public when they are not entertaining them with reenacted battles, but we should never forget that these same are the people who keep history alive, some live as they would have in the time of the original battles, keeping the old skills of outdoor living alive and even contributing greatly to archeology by doing so, educating those who would perhaps laugh at other times, they are often intelligent well beyond normal consideration, and for many of them it creates a connection to the past and therefor an honouring of their own and all our ancestors.
This one however does not feel the need to cook myself in armour under the radiant heat of the midsummer sun while my friends hit me with swords, nor the need to wear a cocktail dress and high heels, but I am proud to be counted with those who do and all those who accept them as well, thank you all for another great weekend.
Another thing you will find at these events, is the artisan craftsmen and women who supply the weapons and costumes to the armies of medieval would haves, weavers, leather workers, blacksmiths and potters to name a few,so one is often able to pick up suitable bits of ritual kit when needed.
After last month's labouring in the hot weather I went to the festival with the hope of finding one such item, I have never owned a specific knife for ritual use, often grabbing the nearest thing from the kitchen (when needed) on my way out the door, I am enjoying the use of tools in my rituals and beginning to appreciate the idea of having such items set aside especially for that use, Ritual now has more meaning to me that when I first practised it many summers ago, so I thought I might treat myself.
Haggling over the price of such items is of course forbidden so with this in mind I set off upon my search accompanied by T, as she wanted me to make a purchase and was fully aware that if she didn't support me in my choice I would most likely return empty handed.
Up and down the rows we went, stopping often to admire some piece of art or item of worth until we came to the Smith, a coal black, knife making smith, and there it was, among the rack of grand designs, all functional and sharp, yet one stood out, bronze fittings and a handle made from bog oak, the blade itself a pattern welded or Damascus blade, beautifully shaped and definitely way out of my price range, not to mention the fact that any haggle would not be able to take place for this one.
On seeing me admiring his work, the smith removed the item from the board and placed it in my hand, he explained to me the origins of the component parts and informed me that if he was to tell the price I would most likely fall over, the temptation to make a bargain was there, time for some Cunning.
I asked how much the knife cost and nearly fell over when told, he straight away took twenty percent off the price, I then asked how best to look after such an item were I to purchase it, he told me and took off another ten percent of the cost, I thought deeply for a second then asked him how much the knife was? five more percent of the price put the blade among my ritual items.
I obeyed the law of bargaining and let fate and a little cunning lead the way, I am sure the man was happy as am I, after haggling with himself on my behalf, we both got a good deal, and played by the rules.