ATLANTA – Mystic South Conference rolled into and out of Atlanta a little over a week ago, like a magical mirage in the mid-July record-breaking heat. An estimated 350 attendees joined the conference this year. Many of them stated repeatedly that they are glad to be back and see their friends after Covid-19 had halted the conference for the past two years.
Registration welcomed the participants with smiles and hugs, and some folks even said, “What the duck?” A parade of rubber ducks graced not only the table at registration but around the hotel lobby for folks to pick up and add to their Mystic South memories. The whimsical small rubber ducks have frequently been a mysterious feature of the conference since its first session, appearing in places all over the common areas of the hotel.
With over 90 presenters, the buzz filling the daytime hours was centered around how many classes could be attended. The schedule was filled with just as much variety as those who were in attendance.
Raina Starr said, “Mystic South is just a fantastic place to share space with like-minded people and learn new things thanks to all of the workshops. And there’s never enough time to attend them all.”
Starr, the host of the Desperate House Witches podcast which was broadcast live from the conference on Friday night, went on to say, “That just speaks to the great variety that is Mystic South.”
David Salisbury, Thorn Moony, and Carla Elaine Johnson were among the headliners at this year’s event with additional authors in attendance to add to the rich tapestry of book signings, workshops, and rituals that unfolded throughout the weekend.
Each author had their own set of workshops, books, and even a bit of a musical surprise! Thorn Moony joined Nathaniel Johnstone on stage with a hauntingly beautiful guitar accompaniment to Johnstone’s driven and expressive melodies.
Star Bustamonte, Board Member of Mystic South, witnessed the musicians on stage. Bustamonte declared, “Perhaps my most favorite moment was hearing Thorn Moony do some blues riffs during Nathanial Johnstone’s set and standing back with Danny Mullikin and just goin’ ‘Wow. This is amazing.’ ”
Editorial Note: Our not-to-be-outdone Azure West created a video to accompany this article 😀🏆
Leaving knowledge seekers filled with the back-to-back workshops that consumed a vast majority of the day, there was the matter of nighttime festivities and shopping. The wall-to-wall items filling the vendor’s room gave offerings from drums to brooms, jewelry to books, witch hats to ritual items.
The Wild Hunt spoke with a first-time attendee, Kate Stockman of “Kate Stockman Designs.” The 25-year professional jewelry maker gave insight to why she calls her pieces “Touch Stone Anecdotal Art.” Explaining that each piece tells a story and “perhaps it touches your story, too.”
Friday night ramped up with the aforementioned talent of Johnstone and Mooney to be followed by the “wall of sound” that is Tuatha Dea The eight-piece sprawling ensemble was met with an enthusiastic crowd of dancers that turned into drummers at the very end of their energizing set.
Saturday night saw the Appalachian crew in their pajamas along with their drums! The Pajama Drum Party is not just a favorite of the convention revelers but both Becca and Danny Mullikin agree that this nighttime affair was something they looked forward to.
In another part of the hotel on Friday evening, John Beckett engaged ritual seekers with “Knights, Priestesses, and Hermits: A Ritual for Tower Time.”
Beckett outlined the ritual as “We are living in the age of The Tower – a time of sudden, dramatic, and irreversible change. It seems as though even before one crisis recedes, another presents itself. In this ritual we will consider the many ways we can respond to Tower Time and, using Tarot imagery, we will choose the path that calls to us.”
Jason Mankey took turns at the ritual wheel Saturday night. The Wild Hunt caught up with Jason earlier on in the day and asked what he was looking forward to the most this weekend. He exclaimed, “Doing my Horned God ritual tonight at 7:45 pm. Rocking people’s socks off. Screamin’ for the Horned one.”
Mystic South had one more evening event, the finale of The Phoenix Ball. Dress up or dressed down, the dance floor welcomed everyone. And if dancing shoes were not packed for the occasion, the tables situated in the ballroom made it easy to pull up a chair and chat with people that some had not seen in years.
When the sun came up on the last day of the Mystic South, there was an overall consensus that people would be in attendance next year.
As cars and flights headed homeward bound, the chorus of appreciation was sung to the Board Members, the presenters and everyone in between that worked so hard to ensure another enriching event.
Editorial Note: Some board members of Mystic South Conference are staff at The Wild Hunt. These individuals were not involved in the editing of this article.