Hand being Henna Tattooed
Samantha McCulloch henna tattoos Jacy Sobbing of Council Bluffs, at Mystic Fest on Saturday, Oct. 2. McCulloch owns “Henna Gesserit Healing BodyArt + BodyWork,” which provides henna tattoos and massages. Photo by Riley Tolan-Keig/NNS

For years, witches and pagans have been shunned by mainstream society. But with more exposure, festivals that celebrate their practices are increasingly common.

Mystic Fest is one of the largest metaphysical gatherings in the midwest that lets vendors book a table to provide their services and products to participants. According to founder Charlie Odorizzi, the acceptance of mystical spirituality has changed a lot since he started the event in 1996.

“I think it [mystical spirituality] is a lot more accepting than when I started this back in 1996. People have learned that there is a lot more than we can actually grasp in this world,” Odorizzi said.

According to a henna tattoo artist at Mystic Fest, Samantha McCulloch, mystical spirituality has become more popular due to exposure.

“People are starting to realize that we have different words for the same concepts, and we’re actually looking for similar things,” McCulloch said.

 Odorizzi said other mystical fests at the time inspired him to start the festival because he thought they were charging vendors too much for a booth at the time. 

“I thought to myself, ‘I can definitely do this, I think I can do it better, and I know I can do it cheaper for the vendors,’” Odorizzi said.

This year, Mystic Fest was held on Oct. 2 and 3 at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The festival was free to attend had around 100 metaphysical vendors selling crystals, tarot readings, aura photography and more.

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The festival had many mediums and psychics who were providing their services to attendees. Photo by Riley Tolan-Keig/NNS
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Sarah Schlotterback (left) of Omaha shared a vendor booth with Rhonda Ryan (right) at Mystic Fest on Saturday, Oct. 2. Schlotterback is the owner of Soulfully Enlightened which provides reiki healing and life coaching. Ryan said she travels all over the country for her business, Earth Gypsy Bazaar which sells crystals and jewelry. “I don’t have a website or a Facebook page because I just want to show up and connect with people. It’s all about connection,” Ryan said. Photo by Riley Tolan-Keig/NNS
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Ciera Mosley said she came to Mystic Fest on Saturday, Oct. 2,  to promote her business “Time On My Hands Crafts and Services”, which she started in March of 2020. “It was a hobby before (COVID-19); I would do it for Christmas or when somebody asked me to do something- I would do it,” Mosley said. Mosley makes custom gifts such as t-shirts. Photo by Riley Tolan-Keig/NNS
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Sara Beth Hammond, of Oakland, sells natural skin care products at Mystic Fest. Hammond began her business Farmhouse Flair after she suffered from an injury and realized that her skin couldn’t handle most skincare products. “I went from very tolerant to actually more sensitive than a newborn, I could not find anything that I could use without having issues with my skin,” Hammond said. Photo by Riley Tolan-Keig/NNS
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Laura Mcdonnold of Bellevue held her first major art show at the Mystic Fest on Saturday, Oct. 2. “When my daughter was about 10 or 11 years old, she asked me for a little Ludo doll from Labyrinth, and that’s how I started getting into sculpting fantasy creatures,” Mcdonnold said. Photo by Riley Tolan-Keig/NNS
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Samantha McCulloch henna tattoos Jacy Sobbing of Council Bluffs, at Mystic Fest on Saturday, Oct. 2. McCulloch owns “Henna Gesserit Healing BodyArt + BodyWork” which provides henna tattoos and massages. Photo by Riley Tolan-Keig/NNS
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The Omaha store owned by Odorizzi, Next Millennium, offered a store giveaway for participants at Mystic Fest. Photo by Riley Tolan-Keig/NNS
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People browse products at Bruja Gitana, a metaphysical store owned by Chelsey Juarez. Mystic Fest happened on the first weekend of Oct. and allowed vendors to book a spot for $175 per table, according to the founder of the event, Charlie Odorizzi. Photo by Riley Tolan-Keig/NNS