FLATONIA, Texas – The Executive Director of Council of Magickal Arts (CMA), Willow expressed her thoughts and concerns encapsulating the Covid-19 outbreak with “The world is changing. It is up to each of us to decide if it is for the better.”
Willow along with Assistant Executive Director, Doom had to make a decision regarding the Beltane event scheduled for April 16th-19th, 2020. Their decision would also put the 40th-anniversary celebration on hold until October 2020.
The senior staff answered a poll concerning postponing the festival in the wake of the snowballing cancellations. “I was one of the last of the holdouts,” Doom mentioned. “What was best for the membership was to give advance notice. That thought was what changed my mind.”
Willow and Doom both went on to say that about a month out, festival-goers will start asking for time off work and purchase items needed for the event. The Board wanted to ensure that everyone was updated before making their plans.
The membership of CMA numbers in the hundreds, with the vast majority in favor of postponing the Beltane festivities to the Samhain festival October 15th-18th, 2020. Willow explained, “Our membership has been very supportive and understanding about the postponement. Almost everyone has transferred their ticket to Samhain, with very few refunds.”
The Beltane lineup of performers, Saxon Moon, and Tuatha Dea, were confirmed to play this Spring’s festival but have now been confirmed for the Fall festivities.
“We are looking for the positive in the situation with using the extra time to plan Samhain,” Doom explained. Both the director and executive director echoed that they were excited about the plans coming into place this fall. “We are really ramping it up,” Doom added. Musing that there may be more Wednesday entries and an extra revel fire night should their predictions take hold.
The 501(c)3 organization was founded 40 years ago with a concept. A group created by different coven leaders and teachers so that like-minded people could find one another. A place where people could gather and experience two festivals a year. This concept would grow and bring the organization where it is today with owning a 100-acre ranch in Flatonia, Texas.
“We are really proud of our accomplishments and looking to the future to make additional improvements to the land.” Willow conveyed. “My job is to be in service to the membership. The right people in the right positions and we have a great team that we value. Our membership that believes in the Board, and we are very thankful for that.”
Although the bi-annual festival had fallen under scrutiny with an embezzlement incident transpiring in 2016, the membership and Board navigated through the situation. The response to the stolen funds, the membership, and the Board of Directors, worked to put policies and procedures in effect to prevent any further mishandling of the organization’s money.
When asked about former members stating their unfavorable viewpoints on the festival and the current Board, Doom replied with, “It’s human nature for people to be passionate about their views.” Doom went on to say, “You can’t get through the forest if you pick a fight with every tree. If you have any reservations, purchase a festival day pass and we’ll prove you wrong.” Willow added, “We are not perfect, but we have come a long way.”
With the rapid growth of diverse paths being explored, diversity and inclusivity have been the focus at the forefront. “Some members have said to me that they feel the festival is too Wicca oriented. We are encouraging our membership to present workshops that are less path specific or to expand upon their path so that people can learn more.”
The organization prides itself on being welcoming of all people regardless of gender, race, or creed. With a welcoming reputation, there have been incoming members from the Burner Community, who also serve on the Board of Directors. The accepting reputation goes beyond that. There is the feeling of a safe space for everyone regardless of preferred gender, choice of partner(s), or religious preference.
Looking towards future festivals, the pair communicated similar ideas. Willow reminisced about a founding member’s vision of being a place where members could take refuge during times of uncertainty. This member has sense passed on but their vision is what prompts future projects.
“We want to create a solid infrastructure so that the land is a safe place to shelter. Plans like paved roads, a deeper well, more electrical and drainage are long term future goals.” The 19-year veteran added that she would like to see living more in harmony with the land as well.
Doom included that he would like to see the younger generation get more involved. “I love being at the “workends” because of the connections you make with not only the people on the land but the place itself.” “Workends” consist of members come out to the ranch over various weekends to help maintain and do upkeep on the property. Another goal Doom hopes to see many more volunteers, to the point where the workload is shared even more so than at the festivals.
“Love is a quiet ranch,” Willow summed up, referring to keeping the membership safe during this time. While Beltane’s 2020 event has been postponed, the Board of Directors and the membership of CMA have expressed they are anxiously awaiting autumn to return to their beloved Spirit Haven Ranch. Waiting to celebrate what is on the other side of COVID-19 restrictions and be with their community once again that has been 40 years in the making.