Last weekend, we spent a really fun day at the Georgia Renaissance Festival. For those of you unfamiliar with the Ren Fest, it’s an outdoor fair which attempts to emulate the Renaissance period. People dress up, people joust, people perform. You know, like Botticelli used to. It’s a lot of fun. We were there because a friend was getting married at the festival. So much awesome! It was a beautiful day, a very nice, simple wedding and the most awesome groom’s cake I’ve ever seen:
Yes, those are tiny little sugar swords in the cupcakes. You pull them out and you are king of Cake-land, of course!
Of course, while wandering the fair,Â I was unable to stop my woo-dar from going off. Unfortunately, finding woo at the Ren Fest is about as hard as finding explosions in a Michael Bay movie…Â See what I found,Â along with more photosÂ below the fold!
There was the usual stuff – Astrology:
People who thought Gandalf feared high water:
People trying to convince me that the Rennaissance had panini makers and espresso machines:
By the time we saw the lady with the fire cupping marks on her back, I was getting a little jaded:
Then I saw this sign:
A spark of hope! And, further investigation showed that they did, in fact, have a wicked cool assortment of astrolabes, compasses, spyglasses and sundials.
Very neat indeed. Unfortunately, on further inspection of the stall,Â this display sat in between Aromatherapy necklaces:
and Protective Talismans (talismen?):
The protective talismans were particularly fun.
This one will apparently get you the love of your life. Or some frequent flyer points, maybe. Not really clear.
This one contains a magical spiral inscription in Hebrew
The best partÂ about this one was that when I referred to my handy Jew-on-the-spot who was with me (don’t leave home without one!), all the Hebrew lettering is actually backwards.Â Â Nonetheless, it supposedly contains a ‘comprehensive’ curse on all devils – male OR female. That’s hardcore, people. (It says Devil Trap, not Devil Crap, as it seems on first glance.)
So, random Ren Fest store, I give you props for the scientific instruments and for spelling scientific correctly. But way to turn it around with everything else.
When I started writing this, I thought it was actually a little unfair to pick at the Ren Fest for woo. I’ve been to many of these over the years and they always seem to attract the ‘fantasy/sci-fi’ crowd (of which I am a proud card-carrying member, I might add). Unfortunately, that also tends to bring with it crystals and tarot cards.
Was I being too foolish to hope for even a little bit of skepticism at these things? I mean, I know I know, it’s probably mostly harmless forms of woo (or is it?) and it’s just a silly festival that is probably just well aware of its target demographic. But it’s still a little sad.Â The actual Renaissance represented a time of enlightenment – an end to the Dark Ages. A time of the resurgence of science, art and intellectual pursuits. This is the time of DaVinci and Michelangelo! And, even if science at the time was a little caught up in the whole ‘alchemy’ thing, I think the concept of the renaissance was ‘out with the woo, in with the fact,’ at least in theory.
In addition, these events attract young people in droves and, even if it makes me seem stodgy, I’d like to see just a little more ‘reality’ in my renaissance. So am I being overly picky here? Should the Ren Fest really represent the concept of the Renaissance? Or should I just let it go and enjoy the swordplay and paninis? :)