Every year, between Father’s Day and Summer Solstice, Pagans from across the globe gather together to celebrate. Celebrate the Solstice, celebrate life, and celebrate being Pagan. And they also celebrate lifecycles, from birth to death and everything in between. What is this wondrous occasion? Pagan Spirit Gathering!
Pagan Spirit Gathering is a festival run by Selena Fox’s Circle Sanctuary in Barneveld, Wisconsin. (Full disclosure here: I’m studying in Circle’s Minister in Training Program.) Members of Circle’s community plans, organizes, and carries out PSG every year, since 1980. While the location changes from time to time, the energy and spirit of the gathering remains.
This year was my first (aka Virgin) year at PSG. And I have to say it was like going home. From the moment I drove into the gate and heard the words, “Welcome Home!” to the moment I left, waving and shouting at friends new and old, I was home. In a sea full of strangers. There were 1100 people registered for this year’s PSG, held at Stonehouse Farm in Earlville, Illinois. While that might be a lot for some, really, it created a wonderful village, complete with restaurants and shops of every kind, as well as literally hundreds of workshops, many rituals, and other fun times.
Workshops, rituals, and other meetings are run by prominent Pagan leaders, including special guests that are brought in every year. This year, the guests of honor were H. Byron Ballard, Helen Bond, T. Thorn Coyle, Arthur Hinds and Kathryn Hinds. They covered classes from Appalachian Hoodoo to music and chanting, to becoming your own battle Goddess. It was a wide variety of topics, for sure.
Every year, Selena hosts a series of classes called the Ministers’ Intensive. There is a theme every year, and this year, it was “Supporting Life Passages”. As part of the Ministers in Training class, I was required to take these workshops, which were held in the afternoon. The topics ranged from birth rituals to death and funerals, with everything in between. It was a wonderful way to learn about the Circle Craft method of designing rituals.
Besides having special guests for workshops, there were also special musical guests. Concerts were performed by Arthur and Kathryn Hinds, Spiral Rhythms, Celia, Diamana Diya, Picti, and Tuatha Dea. The talent was beyond amazing, and there were several concerts every day that were meant to impress. Whether you wanted to hear your music all amped up, or acoustic, in the bright afternoon sun or under the twinkling stars, it was all there for you to experience. You could even sit and listen during a rainstorm on the right day.
Throughout the camp, there was a childcare center, place for teens and tweens to meet, as well as a Warrior Spirit Camp for those active and veteran military people. There were also several other camps, such as Amethyst Camp for recovering addicts, Rainbow Camp for the LBGTQ community, and EnCHANTment Camp for those who love to sing. There really is a place for everyone!
There was also a ritual for just about everyone. From babies, both born and unborn, to Crones and Sages, everyone was represented. New this year was a Daughters of the Dark Moon ritual, aimed at women who were no longer everyday mothers, and who might or might not have stopped menses, but didn’t feel ready to Crone. I talked to several women who went through the ritual and they said it was very powerful. We welcomed several girls into the tribe as young women, as well as several boys as young men. It was a pleasure and an honor to witness all of these groups of people being transformed for their next chapter in their lives.
If you’ve never been to a big Pagan festival, this is one to surely attend. There is truly something for everyone, and it’s a great way to meet Pagans from across the country and around the world. Check out Circle Sanctuary for more details and to watch for the sign up period!
Pictures provided by Bob Paxton, used with permission. All rights retained by Bob Paxton.