Once upon a time, long ago, when I was a young and bright-eyed college student, I took a class on witchcraft. It was pretty cool. We did a lot of neat stuff, like make a haunted house for halloween, and we took a field trip to Circle Sanctuary.
Little did we know, when starting out, that if awkwardness is hell we were traveling all the way down to the ninth circle.
It started out badly enough. We all piled into a bus and wended our way into the "hills" (as one raised in Utah, I just can't get impressed by the puny geology of southern Wisconsin). The road kept getting narrower and narrower, more and more overgrown, but when you've got a bus built like a tank that doesn't matter too much.
We were greeted by two dumpy women. One was young and dumpy, clad in a tie-dye fairy t-shirt and broomstick skirt. The other was old and dumpy, with some sort of linen contraption that was tied badly at the sides, exposing vast expanses of old, dumpy woman-flesh. They were the only ones there.
We were escorted into a barn which stank of mice. It was the only structure on the site. It was empty except for a lot of folding chairs and a small table piled with a bunch of those polished stones you can get at the mall. We arranged the folding chairs in a circle and sat, holding hands in total silence, while the Dumpy Ladies sang at us. I don't know about you, but being part of a disbelieving group while two people sing badly, in high quavery voices, was one of the most uncomfortable moments of my life. They were obviously going through the steps they always used on tour groups, except that we weren't gushy nerds totally ready to get totally into it. They did a little speech about the basic precepts of Wicca, law of threes and all that, then told us to pick up a stone from the table and we'd go hiking.
Then after all that bullshit was over, we wended our way up the "mountain". We passed various shrines: one for cats, one for dogs, one for deer ("Pray for the deer stricken with wasting disease!") etc. At the very top of the "mountain" there was a clearing with a wide circle made out of little rocks. We were instructed to meditate and find a good spot to stick our mall stones. Then we all stood in a circle and held hands and listened to the Dumpy Ladies sing again, and do their little presenting to the four directions, and sing some more. It was just as awkward the second time, if not more.
From there we proceeded down to a small meadow, where we received the "The Burning Times was our Holocaust" speech from Old Dumpy Lady. She got so angry she actually got choked up about it. That, right there, was the pinnacle of awkwardness, the very peak of an entire mountain of social discomfort. Everything after that was just sad.
Young Dumpy Lady took us to the fairy shrine, where she announced that not only did she believe in fairies, but she had her own personal fairy guardian who kept an eye on her. Too bad he never told her to wash her hair. After that we all looked at each other in relief, thinking we could go, but no! Instead we had to visit "St. Brigitte's Well", a stagnant, flagellate-infested pond surrounded by trees decorated with ribbons. We were told that the ribbons were hung by wish-makers who totally got what they needed and, oh yeah, don't drink the water because you might die of shitting your intestines inside out. I could barely hold my amusement at the thought of the goddess/saint of healing having a tainted well. Oh well, work with what you have, right?
Finally, it was time to go. We got sung at one more time, then piled into our bus and left with relief. On the way back we stopped at the Mt. Horeb Mustard Museum, which made it all worthwhile.