Thursday, October 1, 2015

Pagans and Gardens of Nuns

The previous weekend had been pretty poor weather and I'd had little enthusiasm to trek outside and take photos. So the camera had been left in its bag and the cats had pinned me down on the sofa for most of the two days while the rain fell and the wind blew. It was lovely and relaxing. I did have one little spell when the sun shone briefly through the kitchen window while I was washing up some dishes, and the bubbles glinted with colored spectra flashing across the sink. The camera was briefly pulled out to catch some images.
This weekend the weather was again doomed to be rainy and dull but the forecast proved to be wrong on both days. Although the clouds hung heavily on the mountain tops, they held back the showers and the weekend events took place without being thwarted. I drove out to Manassas to investigate a Pagan Pride Day being held in a park. I drove through some particularly unsavory residential areas before I arrived, nearly changing my mind and turning the car around, but the park looked fine and already had quite a few attendees.
The parking lot set the tone, many cars displaying vanity plates with, 'STRGZR', 'HDWITCH', 'CATAMVN', 'BKDRAGON' and 'M4ICK' just being a few. The fair was held under a copse of black walnut trees and I had to look where I put my feet; I'd spotted a couple of people slipping as they negotiated their way across the grass.
There were quite a few stalls, mostly displaying crafts, a lot with gemstones. The vendors were very friendly but I kept back, not really wanting to pulled into a discussion on how an amethyst could boost my positive energy.
A lot of folks were dressed for the occasion, many with either brightly colored scarves, tshirts and skirts, dyed hair, or both.
I was nearly sucked into having a session with this lady after watching how intently she studied this lad's palm, but after some thought, decided I'd rather be oblivous of what the future was going to lay ahead of me.
I admired this cauldron that someone had collected the black walnuts in, with a plastic bag filled also, and pondered on whether the nuts would be used in a recipe for eating or a spell.
The food truck looked tempting but I'd had a large omelette for breakfast so resisted, but the aromas emitting from the wagon were certainly mouth watering.
I was also tempted to get closer to this workshop and find out what was being discussed so earnestly and in such hushed tones, but I was too much of a coward and walked past, an action I regretted alter as I had really wanted to know what was going on.
I did stop and listen to this lady since she already had a small group of women in attendance. and her outfit was amazing, absolutely everything she wore was purple. Her products were all made from lavender, some mixed with other ingredients. She spoke of Morgan oil, named after a goddess of battle, life and death, who would assume the form of a raven and fly over the battlefields determining who would die or live. One of the women complimented her little wagon, and the Lavender Lady explained that her 'Beloved' had made it for her, from an Amish plough and wagon wood, and that she was pleased that we were getting good energy from it. I scuttled away sideways without her noticing and continued down the stalls.
This lady had to take a few moments to reflect on the aura of the event. Either that or she was maybe taking a moment and regretting that she'd spent too much money, since her arms were full of shopping bags.
Many people were smoking as they walked about, either puffing on cigarettes or vaporizers. The sweet sickly clouds of smoke irritated me after a while and I had to escape. I left the scene. Everyone had been very welcoming and friendly and it had been nice to walk around in such a subdued, quiet and welcoming environment, but it simply wasn't my scene and in truth, I felt a little uncomfortable. I walked back to the car with no idea of where to go next.
I passed NOVEC and spotted these awesome electrical components outside their depot. They looked like something out of a Sci-Fi movie and were wonderfully disconcerting so I stopped to grab a couple of photos.
As I drove through the back streets of Manassas, wanting to avoid the heavy traffic, I recognized an area I'd been in a some years ago, and saw the sign for the Benedict Sisters, Saint Benedict Monastery. They allowed people to walk the grounds so I drove in, remembering pretty gardens and statues.
There didn't seem to be anyone around, not nuns or any other members of the public so I just sauntered through the trees, trying to recall where the garden area was. I spotted a lot of chestnuts on the ground so picked a few up and stuffed them in my pocket, a present for my resident squirrel at home. Then something bright caught my eye and I picked that up too, a pretty button. I didn't feel like I had the right to pocket that, so decided to keep an eye out for somewhere to place it where it would be noticed.
The gardens were beautiful with many plants still blooming. I was amazed to find I had them to myself, so I spent quite a while investigating, walking up and down the little paths in the flower beds, weaving in and out of the shrubs, and peering closely at all the little ornaments placed so carefully among them. I found a little fairy house with a tiny table and there I placed my button, making it the table centerpiece. There was a nice breeze softly blowing across the beds catching the tubes of a wind chime and sending soft peals through the air. Even despite the heavy traffic noise in the background there was a sense of peace here and I sat on a bench for a while to savor it.
These are known as the Peace Silos and the Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth. Labyrinths were all laid out according to the same basic pattern: twelve rings that enclose a single path meandering path which slowly leads one to the center rosette. The path makes 28 loops, seven on left side toward the center, then seven on the right side toward the center, followed by seven on the left side toward the outside, and finally seven on the right side toward the outside terminating in a short strait path to the rosette. This one is a copy from the French cathedral. There are several meanings for labyrinths but I like this one: the faithful trace the path of our long and laborious life on earth, beginning with birth, at the entrance, and ending with death, at the center. The way out symbolizes purgatory and resurrection.
The Peace Silos  have vibrant stained glass murals running up one side with benches inside on a brick circular patterned floor, a place of peaceful reflection for the nuns only, since the gates on both were locked. It must be a beautiful place to sit and pray when the sunlight shines through that glass throwing rainbow colors over the interior.
I got back to my car without having seen a single soul but felt wonderfully tranquil. I hadn't felt like I had been encroaching the whole time I was there. When I got home, there was no sign of my squirrel except a green tomato he'd left on the edge of the patio, maybe to collect and bury later. I sat the 4 chestnuts next to it, and hoped he'd enjoy his present.

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