Christen McMakin leaned in to listen to a guest’s request as her hands moved over rows of small boxes, each filled with various crystals. They paused and partially covered the sky hue of blue kyanite, as she recited the symbolism of each stone from memory.
Small labels on each box indicated the name and intended use of iridescent labradorite, or a rose quartz obelisk. Smoothed out green opal shined with a mossy color, while black spots broke up the sap green of kambaba jasper like bubbles in a pot of boiling water.
She defined every bit of the rainbow before her.
Her booth, along with other vendors of handmade goods and energy readers, drew crowds on Saturday at the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem for the Awakenings 11:11 Metaphysical and Healing Fair. Tinamarie Heckman of Spirit Connections organized the festival that tours the Carolinas tying together many facets of paganism, Wicca or new age spirituality, and to bring them to a wider audience.
“My whole thing in life is to bring people together,” Heckman said.
Heckman describes herself as a psychic and spiritual medium. She began frequenting similar festivals as a vendor, but she wanted to encourage community building and emotional healing in her own way. After three years of bouncing around the region, she watched the circuit grow from small audiences to crowds of hundreds of people. Heckman pointed to the friendliness of the creators and spiritual readers that hold people’s attention.
Chelsea Cathey, co-founder of intuitive guidance company Entwined with Light, sat with card decks of her own creation, stacked into pyramids. Each one holds inspirational messages that Cathey worked for years to develop.
Cathey asks the person across the small table from her to shuffle the deck. Then she flips over five cards with cobalt backs, each revealing simple positivity. “Be amazing,” one reads. “Be patient,” another instructs. The cards read like a motivational speaker to their audience. She says her whole product line is intended to provide comfort, rather than give definitive answers about the future.
“No matter what you get here, it’s all about your intention,” Cathey says.
Many of the practitioners of Awakenings 11:11 emphasized the power of intention and focus. Even including the numbers 11:11 in the name of the fair references a common time to make wishes or a symbol of angels. Visitors and vendors alike each use similar products for different things. Cathey found that one person keeps a deck at their workplace and draws a single card when stressed, while another would flip over ten cards and meditate on the symbols each morning. Shannon Burns of Soul & Ginger agreed that though the practices differ, the habits offer routine and self-empowerment.
“There’s no magic in the products I make,” Burns said, “but the magic is in your consistency.”
Burns began her candle business as a sort of self-care ritual. She infused soy wax and coconut oil with herbs and crystals to create meditation tools. Like bath bombs, the products fill the surrounding space with natural relaxing scents.
She picks up a small candle and removes the silver cap, each with a sticker holding a reaffirmation on top. The scent of pineapple and sage escapes as she displays the pastel yellow wax, and she explains that this was how she got started. Transparent quartz — a stone symbolizing clearing negative energy — lies nearby the wick.
She grins while describing each filled candle in glass bowls and each wickless wax melt.
“We just like to stay lit around here,” She laughed. “Literally.”
Two circles of booths keep a steady cycle of people wandering, browsing over spirit readings and pendulums. For some, the fair serves as a build-your-own spiritual spa day.
Heckman thinks the natural element of many practices drives their popularity. She prefers to showcase the handmade rather than the mass-produced items that sometimes fall into the realm of appropriation.
Heckman feels the festivals allow for conversations about alternative spiritualities, whether the people have a lot of experience in the area or have just found them.
“It’s all an interchanging of energies,” Heckman says.