Digitize This, by Marlene Bruce




Effigy Burn Party Weekend — Linden, VA

May 19-21, 2006

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To celebrate Spring we decided to have a weekend-long party. We invited 100 people, expected about 50, but didn't count on the Maryland Faerie Festival interfering … so about 35 folks showed. But that didn't matter, we had a really good, relaxed time. Crystal — a fellow massage therapy student — was our first and last guest, showing up about 7pm on Friday and leaving around the same time Sunday. Several other folks stayed one or both nights, some camping by our garden.

The theme was an Effigy Burn, and we encouraged folks to bring effigies or make them here from natural materials on hand. The effigies could represent anything, but I suggested that folks put an intention into theirs, something they wanted to invite into their future or say goodbye to in their past.

My effigy, a Phoenix, was the centerpiece of our fire pit. Kevin had found a wonderful dead trunk of a tree, with many roots. Upside down it suggested flames, and the idea of a Phoenix rising from within was natural. We have a bunch of dry bamboo from my mom's place, so I mulled over how to use it, and the week of the party I began sketching preliminary designs. Finally on Saturday (the main party day) I sat down at the computer and figured out how the Phoenix would be structured (at 1/10th scale). Click on the thumbnails to see my initial sketches and final design.

Looking over my shoulder, numerous folks expressed reserve that the Phoenix would be ready in time.

In the mid-afternoon I set about measuring and marking pieces of bamboo for Kevin to cut. That done, several folks helped wire the parts together (thanks Ben, Sara, Kevin, Eric, and everyone else who helped), and then we assembled them into a remarkably successful whole. We were done setting the Phoenix up before sunset, including stuffing it with fireworks. Not bad for my first large-scale effigy!

Actual lighting of the fire was delayed (we'll be better scheduled next time!) as some of us put on costumes for the night ahead. I made a little impromptu speech about my Phoenix, describing this as being a pivotal time in my life as I'm back in school to change careers, and the Phoenix represented this new direction. I then suggested that our guests could say something about their effigy before tossing it into the fire later (several did).

Kevin bought a big variety pack of fireworks, putting most of them in the effigy. Unfortunately some were Screamers, and the noise caused everyone to back up for a while. Still, it was fun to watch burn. Kevin's co-worker Eric brought his 10 and 13 year old son and daughter, showing up mid-afternoon and saying they'd stay 'til his kids got bored. We think they left around 2am!

We had three fire spinners in attendence, Jon, Brenda and Meredith. After the fire died down, Brenda prepared to spin. I ran inside to try to get music set up for her (we'll have it ready next time), fumbled about trying to get speakers in the window and find suitable tunes, then got side-tracked with other hostessing duties and only managed a few glimpses of the spinning through windows. I was pretty bummed at having missed what I considered the most exciting part of the party, but luckily Kevin Hollenbeck took photos. And speaking of photos…

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