At the weekend I went to "Unlimited Horizons", the eleventh annual Emerald Coast metaphysical festival. Believe it or not, it was my first New Age fair, and I was rather excited. There were a few gaps in my essential oil collection, and I'm always on the lookout for new books and maybe a new tarot deck, so I compiled a modest shopping list and my husband and I embarked on a road trip.
There was a $10 dollar entrance fee, which was a bit expensive compared to others I've seen advertised, but figured that seen as it was apparently the biggest fair of it's type in this part of Florida I should get my moneys worth. So we paid our money (I'll gloss over the fact that neither of the ladies taking the entrance fees knew how to use the card reader, or even the tablet it was attached to) and went in.
My first impression was one of disappointment. There were maybe half a dozen stalls in the corridor outside, offering everything from reiki to aura photography, which leant a muddled feel to things. In the main room there were a few stalls selling their wares, but most of the room was table after table of psychics and tarot readers, and people offering numerology, cleansings, light activation and even communicating with your dead pets. In total, and I'm getting this information from the leaflet I was given, there were twelve exhibitors selling services and goods rather than therapies. Of those twelve listed, once you take out the aura photographers, the paranormal investigators and the doctor offering bio-feedback information, there were just nine stalls selling items; five sold mostly jewellery or crystals, while the other four sold artwork, statues, maybe some incense sticks and sage smudge sticks.
I know that Britain has a proud and ancient history linked to witchcraft, herbalism and New Age stuff generally, so I may have been spoilt, but I was left feeling that it was such a missed opportunity. Where were the books, or the divination tools? Sure, some stalls did have a couple of tarot packs, but most reputable sellers will have sample catalogues for you to browse through so the packs themselves don't get handled. Now before you argue that it's a fair, I was expecting too much, I'd like to point out back in 2011, when mum and I went to our first faeryfest, she bought me an oracle deck from a gent in a little tent packed with shelf upon shelf of books on all aspects of paganism, and yes they had a massive range of divination cards and a helpful catalogue with sample cards printed in it so you can get a feel for the deck without having to handle them. If this seller could do that, in a tent in the rain, then why was nobody offering a similar service? Likewise there was very little in the way of incense, and no essential oils or herbs. There weren't even any coloured candles for ritual work!
So with the retail opportunities being pretty poor, we decided to go along to listen to a couple of the guest speakers. First was Wilma Frederick on "Intuitive/Psychic Skills - Human Potential In Action" which I felt would be interesting because I have recently been learning to develop these skills within my circle group. Now first off, bless her, Ms Frederick was incredibly nervous, but with a background in not just psychic and intuitive work but also psychology, counselling and hypnotherapy, I was prepared to stick with her as I was really interested in what she would have to say. She got off to a bad start by admitting she hadn't prepared anything, preferring instead to trust her instincts and have faith that the right message would come across naturally. Anyone who has ever had to do any sort of public speaking, no matter whether it is in class, a wedding speech or in front of the boardroom, knows you cannot just go in unprepared and expect to wing it. If I had a staff meeting coming up I made sure I knew what I would be saying and had at the very least a list of points I needed to make, yet this lady expected to stand in front of a crowd of people without a plan and just talk for half an hour. As a result, we heard all about her life story. I now know that at one point she was in a love triangle and had to trust her instincts over which guy to pick (though she was rather vague and I got the impression she picked a guy, it didn't work out so she went back to the other guy she had dumped in favour of the first one. All she taught me was her instincts were rubbish!) and that she had breast cancer and had to trust that everything would be ok. There was a vague message about events from your past affecting the present, but as she was telling a story about getting a lung infection as a child and then as an adult hospital staff not being able to shove a tube down her throat because of the scars, I kind of lost interest. Overall, very poor, but right at the end she did say if we wanted to learn more we could buy her book downstairs in the main hall. So that's all right then.
The second speaker was a medium, Sharon Renae, who was going to give messages from the other side. Now this really is something I know very little about, and while I can't help being sceptical, I would love to see it done properly and have my fears dispelled. So we sat in a rather crowded room and let her begin. The first thing I will say is she did genuinely come up with some surprising information, things that she couldn't possibly know, so that was quite interesting. However, her people skills were pretty poor and at times she was downright rude. Her information was very vague at times, and she looked like she was struggling for much of it. An example was at one point she got the letter "T", which the audience member drew a blank on. Ms Renae then proceeded to go through all possible T connections; was it his name, a nickname, is it your name, a parent's name, a child's name, his middle name, a pet's name? No? Ok how about where he was born, where he died, where he worked, where you worked? When the poor audience member still drew a blank Ms Renae looked sternly at her and declared "Well it must mean something; think!" At this point, about half way through the hour and a quarter session, the two ladies sat next to us got up and left, so I glanced at my husband and we escaped as well.
We got talking to these ladies outside the room and it turned out they were mother and daughter and both could connect with spirits and had had training in spiritualist churches and suchlike. They confirmed our views that her technique was rather poor and said that they had both been taught to avoid vagueness by asking the spirit for more information. They said that if the spirits want to get a message across they need to be specific; in the example with the letter T, they both said they would have asked the spirit what it meant rather than bullying the family member. So unfortunately my first experience of a professional medium was just as disappointing as the rest of the day, but at least I know what to look for should I wish to try another one.
How about you? Have you been to a good New Age fair? Maybe you went to this one and had a totally different experience. I'd love to hear from you so leave a comment and feel free to share this blog because I'd love to hear your experiences and views.
Blessed be )0(