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2011 Midwest Witches Ball and Bazaar


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The Sacred Space Conference and Winterfest Banquet

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Year: 2004 ...

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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.










Pagan Spirit Gathering 2004

Author: Charlene Suggs
Posted: July 12th. 2004
Times Viewed: 19,064
Location: Ohio, USA
Event Date(s): June 24, 2004

During this year's Pagan Spirit Gathering in Ohio, a television news team from Channel 19 News Cleveland, Ohio (WOIO, a CBS affiliate) arrived at the gate undercover and unannounced. They were stopped at the gate and refused entry as PSG does not accept drop-in registrations. While at the gate, they asked questions about the gathering, filmed responses with a hidden camera and neglected to reveal themselves as media. We found out which TV station they represented as we talked with local neighbors who had been interviewed the same day by the same crew.

The next morning, a helicopter from the same news outfit flew over the gathering and filmed the Wisteria site and the PSG encampment. As the helicopter flew low and circled near the daily village morning meeting, participants waved to the helicopter crew.

Later that day, Circle's Selena Fox was able to talk with the production team before the news segment aired at the end of the nightly news. She explained that she was a very public media spokesperson for Paganism and could have arranged an interview had she been contacted in advance of the news team's arrival. Fox went on to educate the news production team that Pagan gatherings are spiritual retreats for earth-based religions. She also explained that a special feature of this year's gathering was preparing the Circle delegation for the upcoming Parliament of the World's Religions in Barcelona, Spain.

The 2:45 segment aired June 24, 2004 on TV Channel 19 in the Cleveland metropolitan area and surrounding region and was reaired the following night. We've heard reports that the segment was picked up by a California station and aired again but have yet to verify this or any other occurrences. Following the broadcast on the nightly news, the video clip was posted on the Channel 19 website and was viewable for several days in the Top Video section of their website.

The segment, which aired while the gathering was still taking place, opens with footage showing Pagans celebrating this summer solstice at Stonehenge and goes on to ask "do you know that there's a world of Witches living among us?" and tells the viewing audience that Paganism is alive and well in Ohio. The voiceover states that there are 15,000 Pagans in Ohio and then shows sweeping aerial footage of the Pagan Spirit Gathering and the hidden footage taken at the gate.

As a tie-in to the story, the local Pagan shop Mystic Goddess in Akron was visited by a news crew and photographed. Amy Crookston provided the news crew with a positive message explaining that Paganism is an earth-based religion that does not believe in causing harm to others. My favorite quote from her: "Ask 10 Pagans to define Paganism and you'll get 15 different answers." Amy's manner was professional and polite and showed Pagans as the nice and loving people that they are. Crookston is heading up a Pagan Pride event this fall in Akron.

Amidst stock footage of burning candles, pentacles and sparkly things, the clip ends by explaining that photography is not allowed at some festivals since many Pagans have traditional jobs and do not want to be outed. So the reporters did not get through the magical gate after all but did fly overhead on a Wednesday morning outing to see it from a hawk's eye view. And now we have the footage of what they saw and aired to many thousands of viewers: http://www.radford.edu/~cerobert/psg.htm (Use the sizing features to enlarge the video for a full-screen view)

Here's the magical and synchronistic part: of all the moments during the summer solstice week that the helicopter could have flown over PSG and filmed, they filmed the part of the morning meeting in which the PSG village empowered the Circle delegation of representatives to the Parliament of the World's Religions. Though the images are blurry and individual faces cannot be seen, you can pick out the delegates in an inner circle with their clasped hands upraised. The PSG villagers surround them in an outer circle with outstretched arms towards them. How amazing that this blessing of the delegation as they prepare to journey to a worldwide interfaith symposium is the religious ceremonial act that was broadcast via the news airwaves!

The Parliament of the World's Religion is still meeting this week in Barcelona, Spain. Along with the Circle and Lady Liberty League ten-person delegation, Earthspirit Community and Covenant of the Goddess have sent delegates to participate in this week of interfaith activities. Delegates are networking with other religions and also promoting and explaining Paganism through seminars, workshops, rituals and worship events, as well as networking with other Pagans worldwide. Appearing there among many of the world's religious leaders are Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and his Holiness the Dalai Lama.

This news of this "coming out" is being received with mixed reactions in the Pagan community -- some Pagans feel intruded upon in their week of private, spiritual retreat. We are receiving more feedback from PSG Pagans who realize that the growing media interest in Paganism is a chance to educate the public on the beliefs and culture of earth-based religions and see the coverage as very positive. Of course, true to the independent thinking nature of Pagans, every view in between is represented as well!

What an unusual turn of events to have the media hiding from the Pagans! This news station must have spent quite a bit of money flying around and sending reporters undercover in an extensive effort to find out who Pagans are and what Pagans do at gatherings. What they found is what all Pagans find -- a positive culture of everyday people with a message of peace, prayer and blessings for the world. And now that message of goodwill and gatherings is being spread via their own cameras and plane on the wings of the internet.

Peace,

Charlene Suggs,
Wisteria General Manager for PSG
July 12th., 2004 c.e.
Email: charlenesuggs@hotmail.com

Charlene Suggs has devoted much of 20+ years researching and envisioning ways to bring people together to share land, life, and vision. As the founding president of the land-based community Wisteria (www.wisteria.org), she is familiar with practical and philosophical intricacies necessary to establish a cooperative land-based venture. She has worked in corporate management capacities and is currently self-employed through her family's virtual jewelry gallery (www.handwovenbands.com). As former editor of Circle Network News published by Circle Sanctuary, she has worked on behalf of Paganism, religious freedom issues and interfaith public relations. She has also served in civic capacities as a library board trustee, a founding trustee of a Chamber of Commerce, and in local government and grassroots environmental activism/education. Other personal pursuits include a lifetime devotion to the study of nature, words, biological and organizational systems, and a general fascination with the details of life. Email: charlenesuggs@hotmail.com

Related Links:
  • Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions, a large interfaith religious symposium of world religious leaders and delegates presently meeting in Barcelona, Spain: www.cpwr.org/
  • Circle Sanctuary's history with sponsoring delegations to the Parliament: www.circlesanctuary.org/donate/powr.htm
  • Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG), a national summer solstice gathering attended by Pagans from almost every state (this year, June 20-27): www.circlesanctuary.org/psg/
  • Gaia's Womb, organization headed by Angie Buchanan who has been elected to the Board of Trustees for the Parliament of the World's Religions: http://www.gaiaswomb.com/about.htm
  • Earthspirit Community, large northeastern regional community that has sent delegates to the Parliament and sponsors Rites of Spring and other events: www.earthspirit.org/
  • Covenant of the Goddess, international organization of covens and solitairies that has sent delegates to the Parliament: www.cog.org/
  • Mystic Goddess. Akron, OH Pagan storefront interviewed and filmed for TV news clip. Ken Wilson, owner: www.mysticgoddess.com
  • Channel 19 TV News (a CBS affiliate) that filmed and aired a news story about the gathering as it was happening. Clip posted to site for a few days but is no longer accessible there: www.woio.com/
  • Wisteria. Event Site, Nature Preserve, and Residential Community in southeastern Ohio, also home to the annual Pagan Spirit Gathering: www.wisteria.org


Photo: Courtesy of 19 Action News






Article Specs

Article ID: 8595

VoxAcct: 66530

Section: festivals

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 4,644

Times Read: 19,064

ABOUT...

Charlene Suggs


Location: Pomeroy, USA

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