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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 28,345,439  

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Question of the Week: 52 - 7/30/2001

Have you ever been to a Pagan Festival?

NeoPagan festivals have been going on for over 2 decades and continue to rise in both attendance and numbers of different festivals. If you have attended a fest, what did like best? If you have never been to Pagan festival, what do you think you would enjoy most? The community interaction? Meeting the Big Name Pagans? The Dancing? The Drumming? The Music? The large group rituals?

 Reponses:   There are 26 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

I Attended Pagan Pride Day In 1999 At Borderland State Park. I... Jul 30th. at 11:40:00 pm UTC

Laura Winmill (Bridgewater, Massachusetts US) Age: 33

I attended Pagan Pride Day in 1999 at Borderland State Park. I have to say the most amazing thing about the festival was how friendly the people were. I had my not quite 2 year old daughter with me. At one point she complained of being hungry, well enough said. Two wonderful women who had overheard her offered to make her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and we sat with them on their blanket while she ate. I loved this feeling of community. Thanks!

I Have Only Attended Two Pagan Festivals, And That Was Several Years... Jul 31st. at 8:31:12 am UTC

John (New Naumkeag) Age: 34 - Email

I have only attended two Pagan festivals, and that was several years ago. I would like to go again, but this year IÕm ill (with Epstein-Barr virus = mono for adults). Maybe next year. :-)

I liked the festivals I attended because of the feeling of community there. I *donÕt* think of myself as part of ÒtribeÓ; I do think of myself as being part of a community Ð a nice, vague, flexible word that covers Pagans in all their variations. And that was what I liked the most: we *celebrated* our variations and differences because we celebrated all of us just being Pagans . . . Pagans (Witches, Wiccans, Druids, even some Asatruars) who actually had the blessing of being together in each othersÕ presence.

As a solitaire, the feeling of community was especially pleasant. I cherish my form of the Craft, the solitary one, but sometimes itÕs just really nice to *be* with other folks on the Pagan paths.

If you havenÕt yet attended a festival, I encourage it: take some gear and some foresight and some common sense, but also take an open, happy mind, and you should be pleasantly surprised.

And, to any who do go to festivals this year, please remember me and the other Pagans who, because of illness or other reason, canÕt be there with you. WeÕre with you in spirit!

Blessed Be.

I Enjoy The Drumming And Fellowship. There Is Little In This Life... Jul 31st. at 8:48:50 am UTC

Linda (Portland, Maine US) Age: 32

I enjoy the drumming and fellowship. There is little in this life that is better than to sit, dance, drink and drum with others who feel as I do.

I Try To Support The Community By Going To Each Public Festival... Jul 31st. at 12:40:31 pm UTC

ƒowyn (Western, Massachusetts US) Age: 28

I try to support the community by going to each public festival that is held in the area. I started this practice about 4 years ago now. I love the camaraderie, seeing old friends and making new ones. In fact, I liked it so much that I (well, I and a bunch of my friends) decided to start holding one annually.

I went to my first Rites of Spring, held annually here in WMA. What an experience! Everything was unbelieveable, from meeting community elders and having the chance to work with them to leaving the "Muggle" world behind for a week and not looking back. Someone told me that leaving Rites was going to be a wrenching experience and I thought 'yeah, right', but when I actually passed through those gates and back into the real world, some part of me mourned the separation. It is an incredible thing: being surrounded by people who are like you when you live your life in a place where you are different. I hope that everyone is lucky enough to experience it, even if it is just once.

I Have Attended The Goddess Gathering Festival At Ravenwolf Every Year For... Jul 31st. at 6:51:21 pm UTC

Heather Lynn Fairfield (Canton, Massachusetts US) Age: 28 - Email

I have attended the Goddess Gathering festival at RavenWolf every year for the past three years. One of the first things that really struck me about this gathering is how everyone treats everyone else like family. This should not imply that we all get along every moment of every day -- all families have their squabbles. On occasion, someone manages to really screw up and make it on to the whole camp's sh*t list, but it generally doesn't last long. However, in many ways, it feels like an extended family barbecue to be there for a week. (Some might argue that if I feel this way, my family must be more dysfunctional than most ... grin.) I suppose that I have met some "big name" Pagans, but names never really mattered much to me. I am much more concerned with who someone is as a person rather than any fame that might happen to be attached to them. I have seldom been impressed by anything I could not witness for myself when it comes to a person's name and reputation. Judging people on name and reputation only is not generally a wise idea -- whether said individual's reputation happens to be good or bad.

The second thing that I really enjoy is the sense of community. When I was living in Chicago and going to college, I was more or less one of the leaders/founding members of my circle. Since coming back to Boston, I have been very cut off from the Pagan community, as no one else in my family and almost none of my friends here are Pagan. Joining a coven really isn't the answer for me, as I usually choose to work solitary. The festival is one of the only times in the year that I get to relax in a community of people who all believe the same thing I do. The older I get, the more I realize how important this is to me. It is such a nice change of pace to be able to make a comment or observation about your faith/world view without having to explain yourself to those who just "don't get it"! (Although I have been lucky that my family has been very supportive of me, despite not always agreeing with my views.) At other times in the year, I really miss having my spiritual community around me.

Okay, I Have Never Ever Been To A Festival But I Really... Jul 31st. at 8:04:59 pm UTC

Cinnamon (Lake Geneva, Wisconsin US) Age: 16 - Email

okay, I have never ever been to a festival but I really really want to go. As does my new pagan buddy sitting next to me. well, she's an old friend but a new pagan. whatever. anyways, the closest thing i have ever gotten to one was meeting silver ravenwolf and then having these great little german cookies and vanilla tea and chitchatting with a bunch of wiccans. (anybody at celestina's garden in genoa city, wisconsin...what were those cookies? they were great!!!!)

i suppose i've never been to one because I can't drive, and no offense to my mom, but i don't want to drag her along. i'm sure she would have a blast, but i don't know, i want to experience that on my own. (gosh do i sound like a teen or what? well, i am. so there.)

So next year, i plan on dragging my aforementioned pagan friend (who is now exclaiming that i would in no way have to drag her) to as many festivals as whatever car i can scrounge up can get to. ;)

so for all of you driving pagans, enjoy the festivals and i will see you next year. look for two redheads.

I Have Not Been Privledged Yet To Attend A Festival But I... Aug 1st. at 2:32:25 am UTC

StOrMy (Ft.Worth, Texas US) Age: 32 - Email

I Have Not Been Privledged yet to attend a festival but i want to... the things i am most expecting to enjoy would be the Dancing and the music amongst other things..Thanks foe reading...Brightest Blessing's...StOrMy

Like Damian, I Also Have Attended Events At The Church Of The... Aug 1st. at 1:20:10 pm UTC

WyndeHawke (F'burg, Virginia US) Age: 31

Like Damian, I also have attended events at the Church of the Four Quarters in Pennsylvania and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The numbers of attendees don't reach the heights of those humongous festivals that people talk about, but we had over 300 at the recent "Drum and Splash." The part I like best is being able to relax with others of like mind. I also love lying in my tent at night, listening to the the sounds of the creek, owls hooting, and the all-night drumming that takes place in the fire circle...

Stones Rising is coming up (Labor Day weekend) and I am team leader for the Flag Retirement ceremony. I'm really looking forward to being there for this incredibly moving event...

What Perfect Timing! I Am So Excited That I Will Be Attending... Aug 1st. at 10:24:25 pm UTC

Demilynx (N.E., Massachusetts US) Age: 32

What perfect timing! I am so excited that I will be attending a second annual Lugnassadh weekend, which was my very first fest last year. Being solitary and rather new (3 years), I now know that it is personally fulfilling to meet with others of like minds.
There are so many things that I enjoyed, and hope to enjoy this year, during the gathering. I learned a lot from some wonderful people who were willing to mentor; stayed up late at the fire listening to the drums, forgot mundane reality for a weekend, and went home refreshed. I liked the fact that it was a small group, where my 4 year old could run around, and I always knew where she was. Everyone knew where she was! I would find her hanging out in screenhouses, where people were either telling her Faery stories, giving her cookies, or making little wands with her!
I met people last year who I am still in touch with, and one family who I have become very close to as well.
Here's hoping for clear skies for a beautiful Full Moon circle!

After 10-15 + Years' Practice, I Only Found My First Circle - A... Aug 2nd. at 2:19:22 am UTC

Ms. K. (Billings , Montana US) Age: 30

After 10-15 + years' practice, I only found my first circle - a good eclectic one, with some integrity - this past February. Prior to that I had only been to 2 events or group experiences. One was my friends' Old Religion wedding (they are in the Soc. for Creative Anacronism - and I attended one or 2 of their chapter's functions too), and the other was a Covenant of the Goddess (COG) Merrymeet for the East coast, in NC...right before COG participated in their first Parliament of Religions. Both events I attended were some years back. This was largely because most of the ppl I met in my area of NC, at the time, who called themselves pagans or claimed to be in a coven, engaged in a lot of group backstabbing, sacrifices, drugs, controlling behavior, etc. - and I knew better - so there was very little going on in my area (such people are too engrossed in their personal sagas, and too chaotic to organize anything on a larger scale than their own little, exclusive group), much less anything I was comfortable attending. Now, in MT, there are so few ppl in the state...and in many ways the pagans here are so spread out...or not too willing to organize. (But we will have a MT Pagan Pride day this year - but 450 miles from me - and I'm planning to go anyway!)

However, the events I did attend were terrific, due to some specific traits:

* the COG organizers found a beautiful, wooded location with very little line-of-sight by passersby on the local road. This obviously reduced hecklers (and in the backwoods of NC, there were some) to a minimum - as far as I know, it was a safe event, and there was almost no interaction with locals, and what there was was intercepted and sent away by event security (security provided by organizers, not by a security firm) with little or no harm - at least from the viewpoint of participants.

* Furthermore on that point, attendees were recognized by a symbolic badge - more security. (and one point of commonality for the group.)

* People from at least NY to FL attended - a few hundred - and at least 80 ppl participated in the group rite. Whoohoo! Making "our own society" for just a little bit is such a booster!!! All sorts of different pagan groups were there, and everyone's beliefs were accommodated. Just being able to walk around among hundreds of people similar to you is such a comfortable environment; the stresses of outside society go away for a breather. Both events were very refreshing, very inclusive.

* One experiencial highpoint was participating in the group rite. That particular eve, COG chose to hold a group healing ceremony for one of ther organizers who was in the hospital for a chronic, life-threatening disease. Holding hands and undulating in a huge circle, everyone became part of the patient's bloodstream and sent healing energy - through an active "guided meditation" by the HPS. I.e., very effective and creative use of lots of people present and providing energy input. Extremely memorable experience. Has had huge impact on group rites in my current circle now.

* The 2nd experiencial highpoint was being able to dance around the bonfire with some incredible drumming! YOW!! Again, everyone's preferences were accommodated...and the personal and group energy was incredible and off the charts.

* COG had a wide range of different kinds of activities, and some terrific classes. At the time I was not ready for taking the classes, but I was thankful they were available if I wanted them. Subjects ranged from how to obtain group insurance, exploring the idea of a national pagan credit union, historical etc. info on various pantheons, meditations, come-as-you-are afternoon tea & dance (with scheduled skyclad & garbed times), use of magickal tools, etc. As a musician, I was particularly interested in learning ritual music - chants, songs, for use in spells or protection, etc., and the exchanges in the bardic circles were helpful. The bardic circles, however, easily fall into humor-only stuff, and sometimes it is hard to get the knowledgeable people to come to the circles long enuf to share, or to include "serious" stuff too!

As for getting so-called 'big names' - my geographical access to info has been so limited that even if I was impressed by such a thing as "a big name" I don't have any clue who they are or why.... The only thing that concerns me about "having big-names" is what impact that will have on the group dynamics of the event. I would rather have a bunch of happy, down-to-earth, "every-day" pagans - than have a group intentionally bring in a "celebrity element" - which to me means they are trying harder to use an illusion of celebrity to draw people in, rather than focusing on having an event with quality activities and meaningful experiences. It's real easy for the illusion to skew the way people deal with each other, and the illusion makes it harder for (all) attendees to be themselves.

The group stuff I went to was very high-quality, and extremely enriching even when my participation was limited (like not going to any classes) - there was so much offered, even just by the locales, that I got a lot out of being there. Would go to more of them if they were in my state.

I hope this helps organizers gauge their preparations... love, wisdom, and perspective to you all. K.

Unfortunately I Have Never Had The Chance To Attend A Pagan Festival... Aug 2nd. at 1:04:10 pm UTC

Tigerlily (Milan, Italy) Age: 27 - Email

Unfortunately I have never had the chance to attend a Pagan festival, due to the simple reason that I have not long ago found my true self and it has been very hard to find people with whom I am able to share my beliefs and experiences. I would love nothing more than to take part in a Pagan festival- I imagine it wonderful to live and feel my bond with nature and tradition and to share these feeling with others. I think it would be a very spiritual experience for me. I feel sometimes as if I am the only person on a deserted island - misunderstood and ridiculed by my family and friends. It is very sad. But still, I know who I am and where I belong in this world. I live in Italy and unfortunately there are not many people who "dare" reveal themselves in this country. One day I too will take part in Pagan festivals and find my community - that I know. Blessings to everyone - never stop believing in yourself!

Hello, I Have Not Yet Been Able To Attend A Pagan Festival... Aug 2nd. at 6:42:29 pm UTC

Jessica Johnson (Susanville, California US) Age: 28 - Email


I have not yet been able to attend a pagan festival. I say this sadly because I have been searching for one in my area for quite some time now. I have limited income so I cant travel to the long distance occassions, yet I like to read about them just the same.

I know I would enjoy the music most of all. But I also think I would enjoy interacting with people similar to myself. I love dancing so I would also enjoy the dancing. Overall I would just enjoy the whole thing.

Thank You

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