Sacred Harvest Festival (SHF) is coming up beginning Monday, August 2nd and many are wondering about the new site 90 minutes North of MPLS./St.Paul near Finlayson,MN. Festivants will find many of the popular activities continuing with the move, some new additions, and a packed schedule of workshops, entertainment, and rituals contributing to the family atmosphere this festival is known for.
About the festival site, Paul Ferrise, Atchingtan Director reports:
“Atchingtan is happy to report that site for this year’s SHF is near complete. The electrical will be done by this weekend. Showers will be assembled on Sunday and the gravel required for the various areas, such as access road and RVs is coming in daily with the intentions to finish early next week. The main festival area is ready and final touch up will take place next week. We are excited to be hosting Sacred Harvest Festival this year. Atchingtan will continue to increase it’s event capacities for the many educational events planned for this year and the future. It has been a honor to be working with the Harmony Tribe team in preparing for the event and look forward to working with them in the future.”
SHF Featured Guest Joy Wedmedyk is offering workshops each day and a special “White Table Misa” , Spirit Mass Friday night. Joy has studied Mediumship, Divination, Symbolism, and Shamanism for over 35 years. Initiated in Regla de Ocha, Native American and African Shamanic traditions. Joy is an nationally recognized teacher, Medium, Shamanic healing practitioner and artist. I talked with her by phone from Cleveland.
How has your spiritual path developed since your appearance at Sacred Harvest Festival (SHF) in 2007?
Joy: I have done a lot of work on my medium-ship skills and shamanic healing work. I have a shamanic healing practice now that is pretty steady. I continue to study with my elders. I have learned a lot more about spirit attachment and release and the underlying causes of unwanted possessions and illness. I believe my divination skills are much improved and developed. I have worked a lot more with the Spirit Mass, which I will be offering at SHF. I have been studying the cosmology and the divination system in my Lucumi Orisha worship. I have also been working more with the plant spirits and have created a line of my own spiritual baths and oils. I currently have a number of students that study with me privately.
Are you practicing within your tradition?
Joy: I am connected with an Ile in Michigan and I travel there to work and learn. An Ile is a house, and I also have my own house because I am crowned to Yemaya. I work within my own Ile and then work helping the Ile in Michigan with their initiations. It takes about 20 people to perform an initiation to become a priest so I haven’t done them at home except for the smaller initiations such as the giving of the beads. As a priest of Yemaya I am responsible for the spiritual progression of the people that have come to study with me.
You are offering a Spirit Mass Friday night, what can you tell me about it?
Joy: The Spirit Mass is a syncretized tradition from Allan Kardec, raised a Catholic who founded Spiritism in Europe. In America this was called the Spiritualist movement. His books were translated from French to Spanish and arrived in the Caribbean. The slaves there picked up on the séance aspect, very popular at that time, to speak with their ancestors and the séance was adopted into their traditions. What I offer is called a “White Table Misa”. We set up a white table with water, flowers, candles and cigars. We will recite some of Kardecs original prayers and I have added in some more Pagan style prayers. We will also sing gospel songs. We believe this service allows the spirits of our ancestors to receive “light, evolution, and progression”. Later we open up the service and anyone present may get or transmit a message, unlike events with a single medium present. We pass rum and smoke cigars (optional) and sometimes people are called out for a blessing or a healing. We may use a sheet to lift a spirit off a person. People usually receive very useful information and may hear from one who has crossed over. It is not a possession ritual, per-SE, though it can happen. There are particular spirits which are connected with the Misa, who may appear.
What is the Initiation workshop about?
Joy: This is a presentation covering general styles of initiation, like going on a spiritual quest, or confronting the roles of good and evil, among others. We talk about the main aspects included in most initiations, such as the enclosure, a change, and a rebirth. I will offer tips and guidelines for the Pagan community on how to perform successful initiations and avoid common pitfalls. It is important to have your whole community involved. When any one person is initiated in a community, everyone goes through a change. This workshop is also very helpful for healers to understand how people move through the world spiritually.
>What is the “Art of the Question?”
Joy: This is for people already doing meditation or praying at an altar or are wanting to learn to connect, and have been trying to get answers or information. It also covers making connection with the ancestors because the belief in my tradition and many others is that they are the ones that care about you, and want to help you the most. I cover how to ask better questions to get the information you need. People may ask a question and get one answer, and then go with that when further focused questions may better define the situation. If you are doing a reading and can’t quite figure out the answer, being able to ask questions in a different way is helpful no matter what system you use.
In healing or shamanic work you may have some information about what the person needs but knowing what comes first?, what does it look like?, what does this do? etc.. and using good questioning can offer more helpful and useful information. It helps to stick with the questioning process and fine tune the information you are working with to get the answers you need or the results that are desired.
How did you learn Mexican folk healing?
Joy: I had my shamanic awakening in the mid-eighties and about 2007 it became more important in my practice. I had a call to do a shamanic healing on a man, and he brought his wife from Mexico. I did a reading for her to, and I was told to do a healing for her with flowers. We did the healing and it was beautiful, by the end she was covered in flowers. After the healing she was asking me questions about my practice. She said, “You heal like my grandmother from Mexico”. She used many of the same practices. I got very interested and the first book I picked up opened to Mexican flower healings! The next book I opened talked about the practices used in Curanderismo, Mexican folk healing, and I realized I used most of them and fit that example. I studied more and found it is similar to my work. They use flowers to deal with things like grief. The spirits of the flowers help with healing. I had already used flowers in spiritualism as a reading tool, and I already had that relationship with them. It was easy for me to integrate this new information.
Are you comfortable identifying as a shaman?
Joy: The reason I use the term “shaman or “shamanic practice” is because when I described to people what I do, they responded with a blank stare. I work with people’s ancestors to bring healing through their lineage. If there is a story there, abuse, illness, or such, the first thing I do is speak to the ancestors and try to resolve any conflicts in that lineage. In Native American tradition I learned we heal for the seven generations after us. From my work with the indigenous traditions of Africa I learned we also go back seven generations to do that healing. That is what makes us whole. When I tried to explain, I just ended up saying. ”I do shamanic work, I journey for answers to help with health and family.” This people were willing to accept, that is why I use it. It is a simple way to explain the mix of practices I use. I am not a “shaman” in any one tradition but use many tools that shamans use.
What should people know about your appearance in Minnesota?
Joy: I want the people who attend to know the reason I teach is because I want people to have as much information as possible to be able to move forward spiritually and to know prosperity and abundance in all levels of their life. I love to encourage people to develop their own skill set, and perhaps offer them a different perspective about a practice they may already be doing.
Sacred Harvest Festival runs from Monday August 2nd – Sunday August 9th, at Atchingtan Education Grounds – 14730 135th Ln, Finlayson, MN, 55735 . Advance Registration ends Thursday July 30th at midnight, but gate registration is available for a day, weekend, five days, or the full week.
Nels is a member of Harmony Tribe.