Relive the past at the Crossroads European Renaissance Faire
By Ceara

Sally2edit.jpg (52759 bytes)Well spring is here once again and it seems when spring comes to California, so does the time of chivalry, knights and maidens. It is a time for pleasure and a time to rekindle those feelings of romance. What better way to bask in those delights than to attend a renaissance faire? I had the delight of attending a local faire that has only been in existence for four years-- the Crossroads European Renaissance Faire in Corona, California.

Located in the northern part of Corona, off of River Road and Archibald, you enter by way of the parking area. The first parking area is free and there is preferred parking available for $5. After you're properly dressed and ready to go, you head on over to the ticket booth, this year's fee for entrance back to the past is only $10 for adults.

You'll find that although this faire is smaller than it's well known competitor, it is every bit as stout. The vendors are gracious and kind. They are willing to talk to you about their craft and will even give you free instruction so you can do it yourself. If you were to know these people outside of the faire, you might not find know that their crafts are a hobby turned business. Many of the vendors hold "normal and mundane" careers. Such is the case of my new found friend, Eloise, who goes by Auntie Emm at Faire.

I met Auntie Emm when I commented on the weave pattern on her snood. A snood is a loosely woven cap wore by women to hold back their hair, similar to a hair net. She offered me a chance to learn her craft by coming back to her booth. I found out that Auntie Emm is the owner of Imagine That, a booth that offers rides on rocking horses. These aren't just ordinary rocking horses, these were huge rocking horses. Auntie Emm explained to me that in the 1500s, the queen had passed a law that anyone who wished to ride would have to learn first by way of such rocking horses. Now here was a piece of history that I had not known before. Auntie Emm also offered me a ride on one after she showed a simple macramé weave that frankly anyone can do. Everyone at Imagine That were very gracious, I was even offered a lesson on how to play the didgeridoo, as a gentleman at the booth makes them from a variety of materials, including yucca and plastic. The gentleman's name is Ken Pinyerd and you may find him on the Web at www.uglystix.com.

The didgeridoo originates in Australia and is played by the Aborigines. I found that watching and listening to one is easier playing it. There are two ways in which to learn. One is by placing your mouth against the opening, keeping your lips relaxed and vibrating them like you did when you were a baby just learning how to make noise. The other is by placing your mouth at an angle to the opening and doing the same motion as if your mouth were straight on. I was laughing at first, but after a few tries, I actually mastered a sound or two.Sally1edit.jpg (41935 bytes)

The next vendor I met was Kate of Designs by Kate. Kate, from Las Vegas, Nevada, was once the head of wardrobe for the Starlight Express. She has 40 years of theatrical clothing and costuming behind her and makes wonderful doublets, capes and shirts for men. She started to specialize in this area as she found out that "men enjoy dressing the part every bit as the women. The problem was and still is that it is hard to come by quality clothing for men, as most vendors cater to the women." Kate said.

She gets her designs from period pictures and works closely with a good friend of hers, Jack Blanenberg. He is also a retired professional costume designer, who Kate worked with throughout her career. Kate started out by doing small renaissance faires in 1985 and worked out of a van. She first sold Hats and drawstring bags. She soon had many men asking her if she knew of some place where they could purchase costumes for themselves. So that is how she came to specialize in garb for men. Being a seamstress myself, I have to say that Kate's work is impeccable. I enjoyed my visit with Kate. It is nice when you can share the warmth and love of others that share your interests.

Then to my surprise, I ran into my very good friend and colleague, Lady Sine. So I just had to  interview her. I am sure you will find what she has to say very interesting indeed!

Lady Sine, how is your name pronounced and what is its origin?

Sine is ancient Irish and is pronounced Shee-na with the emphasis on the first syllable. I was told that it is also the word for "storm" in that language.

Is your personality reflected in your name?

My family on my father's side originates from Ireland and Scotland, with a few scattered around Wales for good luck. The name Jean is/ was usually given to the first-born girl in each family unit and I got blessed. Sine is Gaelic for the name Jean, which is very common throughout Scotland. I answer to anything from "Mom" to "Hey, lady" though!

Where do you hale from?

Shop1edit.jpg (48615 bytes)In this lifetime, I was born in Northern California and then we moved to Alaska when I was eight years old. My Dad got a job at the NASA tracking station there, so we went into exile... It was quite a culture shock to see snow, minus 72 degrees below zero, and darkness all day long. Then summertime came and it was sunny all day and all night. Well, living there for 34 years gives one plenty of time to drink or study and, contrary to my roots, I'm not a great drinker, so I studied stuff. I'm now living in Southern California, surrounded by four great grown-up kids, three wild grandsons, assorted animals, wonderful friends and a very patient husband!

I had learned from my studies that the Ogham, a method of divination, used to be read from oak sticks. The ancient Druids notched marks into them and each stick had different notches to symbolized a sacred tree. How had you come across the Tree Ogham and how long has it taken you to master its meaning?

I was first exposed to the Tree Ogham when I was a child. I come from a long line of "perceptive" people. My grandfather dowsed the Artesian well that still supplies some of Red Bluff, California with their water. I believe he got chickens or something for that one.... My dad was also an avid dowser and passed the ability on to me. The women of my family have always taught me that there are many ways within our realm of "natural sciences" to improve our lives and help those around us. I have been encouraged to explore every avenue of spirituality and study that presents itself and make educated decisions based on that knowledge. I have been Wiccan since I was fourteen. The areas in my Craft that I am really drawn to are: palmistry, dowsing, crystal or mirror gazing, herbal remedies and reading Tree Ogham cards. As far as mastering the meanings of the Tree Ogham symbols, well, that's a never-ending process. I know the alphabet and the trees and other things in nature that correspond to the letters. I have also learned the concepts surrounding the symbols and their interactions and the characteristics the Druids attributed to each of the trees. As with every tool used for divination purposes, it will keep teaching me till the day I transition!

Is the system that you use the same? There are 13 trees altogether isn't there?

According to the records that we have, Ogham was probably first carved on sticks or on stones and cast much the same way the I Ching is cast. The ancient practice was to make your own set of sticks, usually oak or rowan, and sleep with one at a time until you learned everything it had to show you, then go to the next one. You bonded with your sticks. The straight length of the stick represented the tree trunk and the letters would be carved across. The Tree Ogham was one of the very first systems of communication for the Druids in the Celtic tribes. It was believed to have been read from right to left, bottom to top. It was also used as a form of sign language. The letters could be made with the fingers by placing them against the nose or the shin. Their enemies thought they were powerful mind readers.

The system that I use is the same, except that I utilize the symbols in a card form. Actually, there are 25 different symbols in the Tree Ogham alphabet. Most scholars agree that there were probably originally 20 and then additional combinations of letters were added later. There are 13 numbered cards in the deck of 25 and each of these corresponds to a different tree or shrub. They are numbered because they are associated directly with the thirteen months in the Celtic lunar calendar. There are also female and male cards. The names and meanings are a bit involved, so I don't think I would do it justice to even try to explain in this interview, but if anyone is interested, there are a few good books out there on the subject.

Where did you get the idea of making your deck of cards and what are they made of? Aren't wooden cards hard to shuffle? I guess you wood obtain allot of splinters. Heeheeheehee.Shop2edit.jpg (49043 bytes)

I got the idea of making cards with the Tree Ogham on them years ago. Tarot cards of all types were very practical and easy to give extended readings with, so I felt that Tree Ogham would lend itself to the concept. They should be made of wood, if possible. Mine are an oak wood pressed into a light balsam material, but you can get thin sheets of different woods at craft supply or home improvement stores. The ideal deck would be to have each card made out of the wood tree that it represents. There are a few shrubs and even the ocean card in the deck, though, so that might be a bit tough! If you had to pick one wood, though, oak would be best. It is always the protective doorway into any sacred grove. It is also best if you make them yourself, so that you bond with them at every level. I don't really need to shuffle them much. As I lay them out, I mix them up; then, after each reading, I move them around. They are stored in a wooden box in purifying sea salt when not in use. They are three inches by five inches big, so that does make  shuffling difficult...

I have had the opportunity for you to do a reading for me once before, it was at a mutual friend's house. I have to say that you are very in tune with the energy fields of those you read, whether it is by cards or by palm. Are you still doing palm readings?

I do palm readings all of the time. In fact, I was at a candle party the other day, and one person asked me to read their palm and when I looked up, I had 30 people in line!

When did you start palm reading and how long did it take to master it?

I have been doing palmistry the longest of anything in the Craft, except for dowsing, which my dad taught me before I could walk. I like reading palms, because the lines on the hand give me a general outline, but the real "guts" of the reading comes from the impressions and glimpses I get about what's happening, and will happen, in a person's life.

If you feel like sharing, how do you go about getting in tune with another's energy and does this leave you drained?

This question has an answer that contains many parts, but I'll try to be brief. This happens as soon as I touch the hand. You can only learn so much from teachers, books and experiences. The rest comes when you allow the tools you are using to put you in contact with the realm that you need to access for the answers you are seeking. As with all forms of divination that I do, I am careful to explain that this is a guideline of the future based on events that are presently happening and knowing what lies ahead can help you to alter events for the better. I'm glad your reading was helpful to you. Being forewarned IS forearmed. My cards are just another doorway into that realm. The energies that I expend doing readings, cards, palms, etc., are borrowed from the sources all around me.

It's important to be able to shed the extra "baggage" that I accumulate after doing a few readings, and there are exercises and different meditations that can help achieve this goal. You can't let yourself be a sponge and soak up everyone's energy or you would pop. You have to be careful how you release it or it could spin out of control. The nature of energy is that it never goes away, it just transforms. Palmistry is the most draining because I come in physical contact with another's energy. It is a bit draining, but that's why you need to take precautions, like: meditation before and after a day of readings, asking for your deity's protection and assistance and other things you normally do to help restore your balance.

I'm not sure that I can tell you how  I get in touch with other's energies. I have been practicing with various ways of doing that since I was a child. I was lucky that I was never told that it was wrong, impossible or that I couldn't do it! My family, friends and spirituality encouraged openness and interaction. I firmly believe that everyone has abilities, they have just let themselves "forget". Our society is so focused on the individual, that we fear intimacy on any level and separate ourselves from the rest of humanity. Okay, I've fallen WAY off my soapbox, now...!

Will you be doing any renaissance faires in May and in the months ahead?  Where can someone find you?

I will be at the Crossroads European Renaissance Faire on May 5 and 6 and then, the next two weekends, I will be at the San Diego Enlightenment Festival (May 12, 13, 19 and 20). I will be at the Irish Festival on June 16 and 17. My Web site is not quite up and running yet, but I will be able to do Tree Ogham card readings on the site and over the phone. If anyone is interested in more information or would like to get in touch with me, I can be reached at johnstonjandj@aol.com. I have a pretty full schedule of faires coming up in the months ahead, so feel free to e-mail me.

Well this interview is an example of one form of divination and psychic readings you may find at a renaissance faire throughout the country. There are many talented and good psychics out there but, as anyone will tell you, caution is important when finding one. What a psychic tells you is not written in stone, but just a guideline to events that may occur. Other energies may come into play during your life course. It is how you react to those energies, which will make the psychic's predictions prevail. Everyone is in charge of his or her own destiny. It is important to remember that.

A renaissance faire, such as Crossroads, has special meaning to me, as I believe it is a lifetime that I have lived once before and I always enjoy the opportunity to go back in time and relive moments of my past. I encourage everyone to relive a time in history when real men wore kilts, knights wore armor and women were maidens that were graciously courted.