In some ways last night’s Goth Under a Blue Moon Festival at Enmore reminded me a lot of my adolescent head banging days (and not just because of the spiked accessories some were wearing and the thrash metal music store situated at one end of the strip). It was the sense of communitas evident in alternatives and Goth cliques working their way up and down the streets. The denizens ranged from ordinary passers by in a bit of black gear (like myself) through various Goth fashions and through to the truly exotic. I found myself wishing once again that my wife Donna and her sister weren’t away with their cameras so that I could have uploaded some of this.
I skipped the bands but there was plenty to see on the streets: alternative shopping (NB: commercialism even here), magicians, street level DJ installations and street theatre. At Cydonia Studios I watched a theatrical sword fighting performance by a group called Sword Play and chatted with one of the actresses for a bit. But the event that I’d like to expand more on is the Rune Net Ritual performed near the end of the evening.
I had skipped the earlier advertised pagan activities, such as the Tarot workshop and the Goddess workshop, as they was being organised by PAN which I know quite well and I didn’t want to be there all day. The rune ritual promised to be different. So I moved up to the Hub when it was scheduled to start. There were four pagans leading the ritual: two guys, two women. They marked off the sacred space with four pots with rune sticks and some rope. One of the guys (in a gauze mask) invoked the four cross quarters and the directions above and below with a small hammer (hammer of Thor?). While this was going on the other guy banged on a drum at appropriate points and one of the women rang a bell. It was a bit like the Catholic Eucharist ritual in some ways but not so much as some of the Wiccan circles I’ve witnessed. I sensed they were a little nervous doing this amongst strangers, particularly since there were a few drunken teenage Goths in the vicinity. Anyway, the other woman then invoked the god and goddess, the earth spirits, and the dark spirits. I took this last bit as a possible adaptation to the context. She then took out a horn filled with wine, shared it amongst the circle and poured libations for god, goddess, etc, and poured it around the circle. They then did some singing to a slow drum beat and that was the end of the protection ritual. A family with young kids howled at the conclusion in appreciation.
I realise that I’ve gone into excessive detail here but it is partly to keep a record of my impressions for myself. It was never said but I’m gathering they were Odinists or Astartu and I’ve never come across that brand of paganism previously.
As a final note, I did not observe any Christian performers amongst the scheduled events, subtle or otherwise, so it would appear that we have abandoned this community like many others. Maybe I’m wrong, I didn’t see the bands. I hope I’m wrong, but I think not. I wonder: would Jesus have walked these streets? Would he have identified with those alienated by the beauty culture? Or would he have limited himself to comfy suburbanites?
Anyway, after this I headed off for my car. As I got in it began to rain.