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Market of the Beast embraces the "other" in society

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Photo by Cameron MArtinez
Photo by Cameron MArtinez

On August 13 at Neumos, hordes of people wearing dark clothes weaved their way between vendors offering oddities and curiosities not found in typical markets. The Market of the Beast, a traveling event for artists and merchants of the weird, wild, and occult, embraces the feeling of being an "other."

Photo by Cameron MArtinez  

"[MotB offers] all the dark and creepy handmade goods like taxidermy, wet specimens, entomology, witchcraft tools, jewelry, apparel, illustrations, home decor, and more," reads the market's Instagram post advertising the event in Seattle. Part of the $5 entry fee goes to the Lavender Rights Project, an organization that strives to empower the Black Trans community in Seattle.

Photo by Cameron MArtinez  

The artists and merchants
The dimly lit atmosphere, paired with the large assortment of strange objects, made it the perfect environment for alternative lifestyles to flourish.

"I came back around to [MotB this year] because a lot of this stuff is about ...the hedonism, the pleasure, [and] indulging in it," said James, a leathermaker who is part of a Queer collective called We Are Pansies. "I was like, 'You know what, we'll make the two-and-a-half-hour drive from Yakima and set up for the day.'"

James, like many other people at the market, was selling artwork and leather harnesses that were sexual in nature. For many, embracing the darkness also means embracing their truest selves sexually.

Artist Kelly Dean Verity's booth was covered in items celebrating queerness in every sense of the word. They had stickers ranging from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles saying "Antifa" to adorable satanic goats proclaiming "Pride is no sin" to colorful paintings of satanic bongs and goats.

Photo by Cameron MArtinez  

"If you know what it's like to be considered an 'other,' you can either try and assimilate or you can kind of lean into that," Verity said when asked about the connection between the occult and being Queer. "I feel like just leaning into an alternative style — whether it's my art or the way I dress — ... sort of ... goes along with that. Because ... they're not gonna believe that I'm cis and they're not going to believe that I'm straight anyway, so I might as well as lean in and be as ... weird as possible."

Connecting with nature through magic
Artist Vivian with Batch Life: Art and Accessories also chose the market as an opportunity to embrace their Queer art. Their booth featured funny T-shirts that said things like "Be Gay do crime," and "MILF: Man I Love Frogs."

"I feel like my Queerdom is a really big part of my art, and when I find the people that understand my art, it's like a sense of community," Vivian said. "I'm not necessarily super connected to the dark... but I'm very woo-woo.

"I think it's just kind of like being Queer is a part of nature. And it's always been inherently natural to be Queer, especially when you look at animals and minerals and all that shit. It just feels like the nature of art. The dark arts, it's all ... one together. And it's like an ancient rhythm from thousands and millions of years ago. That's how I guess queerdom connects to magic."

Photo by Cameron MArtinez  

Vivian was not the only one who was connecting with the natural parts of magic, however. Cecy Graf and Schatzie Miller with Hedge Witch Tea, a women-owned tea seller and coven, strive to share their spiritual powers with people through the natural healing ingredients found in tea.

"I started making tea because I had to cut back on my caffeine," said Graf, the head witch of Hedge Witch Tea. "But as I was drinking more tea, I realized that a lot of the herbs in tea are in various spells. And I started being more intentional about how I use those herbs... All the herbal mixes and all the teas are based on the attributes, or the component brought to us, and so any of them can be used as spell work... On the back of our teas, we have step-by-step ... how to manifest the spell."

So while many people might fear "the dark,", others find it a more accepting place than "the light," and the Market of the Beast is somewhere to explore that.

If you are interested in the Market of the Beast, you can find it online at https://www.marketofthebeast.net/. The next events will be on Nov. 12 in Tacoma and Dec. 10 in Seattle.