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Posted: Nov. 17, 2002
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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.
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| I'm A Young Witch. I Have Only Been To Two Festivals In... ||Aug 12th. at 7:57:28 pm EDT|
|Rowan (Raleigh, North Carolina US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
I'm a young Witch. I have only been to two festivals in my life--both Lughnasadh festivals in New Mexico, far far away from where I live. I am lucky enough to have an aunt who lives there, and will take me to her community's Sabbat events. All I can say is--they have changed my life. The culture of Paganism is like no other. I have met people at those festivals who will be my friends for years--even if I only see them come Lughnasadh time. People really do "walk the talk" of Paganism, and that was a very inspirational thing to see, as a teen solitary in a Southern town. The Goddess is alive, energy and magick are real and tangible. Believe it or not, but for many teenagers it takes an experience like this to transform witchcraft into the abstract knowledge you learn from a book into a way and a true experience for life.
Blessed Be--and thank you SWEFA/CASHEW, for all you have done for me.
| I Attended This Year's Pagan Spirit Gathering. It Was A Spiritual Experience... ||Aug 11th. at 8:05:19 pm EDT|
|Metalligoth (Livingston County, Michigan US) ||Age: 19 - Email |
I attended this year's Pagan Spirit Gathering. It was a Spiritual experience, to say the least. For the first time in my life I could truly be myself without second guessing a single thought, word, or deed.
The candlelit labyrinth was awesome, I walked it twice and had a distinctly different yet incredible experience each time.
Seeing Mists of Avalon early AND on the big screen, with hundreds of Pagans was very awesome, indeed! The best part of that was the Wicker Man ritual done in the movie: it looked just like the Wicker Man ritual WE had done only a couple hours before sitting down to watch the film!
The friendships I made in that week will last a lifetime.
To those that loved me and supported me at PSG, thank you! It was the best experience of my entire life.
(...and to those I lost touch with, e-mail me!)
| The Only Pagan Gathering I've Ever Been To Was The Pacific Circle... ||Aug 10th. at 11:36:52 pm EDT|
|Tom Hutchinson (Duarte, California US) ||Age: 42 - Email |
The only Pagan Gathering I've ever been to was the Pacific Circle Gathering in Southern California. the thing I liked most, of course was being out in the middle of nature in the mountains. The mountains have always been my most favorite place to be, even the local mountains. Even when I was just a "Christian". I loved being at the mountains.
| I've Attended Several Pagan Festivals Throughout The Years - Even Helped Sponsor One... ||Aug 5th. at 4:51:13 pm EDT|
|Sena (Oklahoma, Oklahoma US) ||Age: 55 - Email |
I've attended several Pagan festivals throughout the years - even helped sponsor one. I've been to festivals in Texas (United Earth Assembly, Summer Celebration, sponsored by Lady Phoenix and her group, CMA's festival, Morgan McFarland's first women's spirituality gathering in Dallas decades ago), Kansas (Heartland Pagan Festival), Indiana (a festival at Lothlorien), and Oklahoma (United Earth Assembly), as well as a few others here and there. I've attended them with and without children accompanying me, and I've taught workshops as well as attended them. The "big names" I met weren't big names when I met them, so I don't feel that specifically getting to meet big name people is as special as meeting people in general and watching them grow to become big names.
Summer Celebration is perhaps one of my favorite events, noto nly because it's physically the closest event, but because I know many of the people there, and only get to meet them there. It's always a laid back event with fun workshops (henna body painting, clay sculpting, magical crafting, different forms of magic, fluid condensors, crystal and stone workings, weaving and more), a wonderful night bonfire for storytelling (with sofas and lawn chairs and swinging chairs and pillows for physical comfort), and great people with whom to play and talk all day and all night. Who sleeps at Summer Celebration? Not me!
Heartland was great, too, although I must admit I only attended the first two and haven't had the time to go back since. Those first two were wonderful. The organizers were efficient and if there were problems, they took care of them without in any way disrupting the rest of the festival. Heartland was the first festival I attended that specifically arranged for children's entertainment and education. Someday, I hope to be able to go back to a Heartland Festival!
There's a lot of work and worry that goes into organizing a Pagan festival. It's not a task to be undertaken lightly, and it is definitely an education to be on the organizing end. I highly recommend anyone who is ever disappointed in the outcome of a festival to please volunteer your efforts for the next one! The work that goes on months before the event takes place is amazing! Permits, guests, workshop scheduling, weather planning, site location, those are just the tip of the iceberg! Actually, those are the easy parts. Pulling a group ritual together with people from so many diverse Paths is a Herculean effort that deserves applause even when the aim and focus of the ritual falters. If you like attending festivals, I say spend some time volunteering at your favorite one. Intimate participation of that sort will make the festival even more special.
| I Just Attended My First Ever Paganfest, Psg(pagan Spirit Gathering). It... ||Aug 4th. at 10:14:45 pm EDT|
|NichatSinger (Dayton, Ohio US) ||Age: 33 - Email |
I just attended my first ever Paganfest, PSG(PAgan Spirit Gathering). It was one of the most tremendous experiences I have ever had. I met so many wonderful people. I walked a labyrinth (if you get the chance, do this, it is a powerful experience!). People were so relaxed and trusting, and the trust wasn'tr violated, it was excellent....
| I Have Attended One Festival Back In 1999 At Samhain It Was... ||Aug 4th. at 1:34:37 pm EDT|
|Vyesna (Pomona , California US) ||Age: 31 |
I have attended one festival back in 1999 at Samhain it was wonderful and was very moving I learned and shared alot it will always be with me I liked the Samhain night ritual when the coytoes howled with us when we called the Lady to join us. it was my first festival and I was amazed that my personal possesions were not trifled with, what really brought this home to me was I had this really neat coffee cup that was admired by many people, they kept asking where I got so they could get one. well anyway I had set my cup down well away from my little campsite to go do something (privy call or something like ) and I got involed with stuff and forgot all about my cup till the next morning. the next morning I'm looking all around my site for my cup (bummer NO Hot Cocoa, I think, as I leave my campsite) I wander towards the main area and lo and behold my little cup exactly where I had set it down with the remains of yesterday and the stiring spoon still in it. I also felt very safe there I casually knew a few people, but I was attending alone my husband had nose surgery and didn't feel up to attending that is a wonderful feeling. I have moved away from that area and I hope to attend again some time Blessed Be
| I Wasn't Able To Attend Heartland Paganfest This Year, But I Went... ||Aug 2nd. at 10:21:00 pm EDT|
|Bryony Ravenwillow (Kansas City, Missouri US) ||Age: 32 |
I wasn't able to attend Heartland PaganFest this year, but I went last year with my boyfriend (now fiance), and we had an awesome time. We had never been to a festival until then, so some things took a bit getting used to, like the oh-so-casually skyclad and the drumming until dawn. But we to used to seeing folks without clothes and I actually did get some sleep despite the drumming. We met wonderful people from all over, made many new friends, got terribly sunburned, met Amber K and Dorothy Morrison, nearly got blown away in a Kansas thunderstorm, and learned a lot. I think what I enjoyed most was the feeling of camaraderie, of being free to be my true spiritual self (I'm out at work but closeted with my family---difficult but necessary in my case), and the group rituals. I learned new chants, new spells, new things to do with herbs. I talked with people over coffee and soda. I felt so at peace with myself and the world, and when I went back to work after festival was over, I was truly rested and spiritually refreshed. I missed this year, and I won't make that mistake again. Next year, I'm going back to Heartland!
| Hello, I Have Not Yet Been Able To Attend A Pagan Festival... ||Aug 2nd. at 6:42:29 pm EDT|
|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.
| Unfortunately I Have Never Had The Chance To Attend A Pagan Festival... ||Aug 2nd. at 1:04:10 pm EDT|
|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!
| After 10-15 + Years' Practice, I Only Found My First Circle - A... ||Aug 2nd. at 2:19:22 am EDT|
|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.
| What Perfect Timing! I Am So Excited That I Will Be Attending... ||Aug 1st. at 10:24:25 pm EDT|
|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!
| Like Damian, I Also Have Attended Events At The Church Of The... ||Aug 1st. at 1:20:10 pm EDT|
|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...
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