9 Reasons to Go to Pagan Spirit Gathering

PSG2016 logo (1)

 

It’s that time of year again!  Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG), hosted by Circle Sanctuary, will be ending registration on June 4, 2016, so if you are thinking of going, get registered!  If you have no idea what PSG is, keep reading for more information and reasons to attend!

 
For more information and to register, click here!

Nine Reasons to Attend PSG

1.  Coming Home!  For many PSGers, attending PSG is like going home.  If you’ve never been, it’s like finding family you never knew you had.  People are friendly, helpful, and ready to make new friends.  From the Gate Crew that checks you in to your new neighbors for the festival, you will be met with smiles and friendship.
ComeHomeLabyrinth2.  Merchants! PSG brings out the best merchants in Pagan wares, including (but certainly not limited to,) Taldish Castle which features all kinds of Pagan things from around the world as well as hand made items, Wizard’s Emporium that features clothing, Pagan things, and more, and Rainbow Dragon Dreamz which features stones, horns, and more.  At last count, there are 33 different vendors this year!

3.  Workshops! If you are looking for workshops, PSG has them in every flavor you could imagine.  PSG pulls in the best teachers out there from our communities to create a list of workshops that will satisfy your every curiosity.  Over 100 workshops are available for your perusal!  Check out the workshops here!

4.  Rituals! There are over 30 rituals at PSG, starting with the opening ritual on Sunday and ending with the closing ritual the following Sunday.  In between, there are rituals for Rites of Passage, opening different areas around town, Handfasting, and Baby Wiccaning.  There are small rituals and huge rituals, rituals for men, and rituals for women.  There’s even a ritual to Bast!  Check out the rituals here!

PSG Main Rite Bonfire 20125.  Pagan Leadership Institute (PLI)! The PLI is for any Pagan that is in clergy, ministry, or any leadership position, or is training to be in one.  These specialized classes help deepen our understanding of what it means to be a leader, as well as give us more tools to use when we go back home.  PLI classes are taught by leaders within our community.  Look in the workshop link above for PLIs!

6.  Community! PSG creates a village or town that is entirely Pagan.  It’s a great opportunity to be immersed in the Pagan community, which is unique to PSG.  Once you are there, you can let your Pagan flag fly and be yourself!

PSG Solstice Fire 2010

7.  Sweat Lodge! Have you ever wanted to participate in a sweat lodge?  PSG is the place to enjoy a good sweat!  The people that set up and facilitate the sweat lodge are amazing and they walk you through every step.

8.  Concerts! PSG brings in some amazing Pagan musicians that will teach workshops, hold meet and greets, and have concerts!  This year, Tuatha Dea, Celia, Spiral Rhythm, Sentinel Grove, Arthur Hinds, Brian Henke and Beltana Spellsinger will delight everyone with their own brands of music.

Musicians

9.  Nationally known presenters! Selena Fox, Byron Ballard, Kathryn Hinds, Lupa, Judith Olson-Linde and Nels Linde will share knowledge through workshops and meet and greets.  It’s a great way to get to know these great leaders in our community.

Presenters2016

10.  BONUS! Bardapalooza!  In this one night, all of the musicians will come together for a wonderful night of sharing music between the groups, to the awe of everyone in attendance!

 

If you’ve never attended a festival, you should seriously look into PSG.  It’s an amazing experience no matter how long you’ve been on your path.

Many Blessings!  Come see us at PSG under the Three Rivers Pagans banner!

 

PSG Registration is Now Open!

It’s that time again!

Pagan Spirit Gathering has opened its registration process for the 2016 PSG festival and now’s the time to get your registration in while the prices are lowest!

Why Should I Go to PSG?

The reasons are innumerable to attend Pagan Spirit Gathering.  No matter what you want from a festival, it’s here.  Top notch classes taught by knowledgeable instructors, phenomenal entertainment from the best Pagan musicians, as well as vendors whose wares cater to your every need, greet you at every turn.

Location, Location, Location

Pagan Spirit Gathering is changing location this year to Tall Tree Lake in Vienna, Illinois.  The site has a 40 acre pond for swimming and boating, wonderful camping areas, and a reinstated feature of “generator camp” for those RV’ers who would like power to their campers and bring a generator.  There will be more space for a variety of rituals, and of course, some of the best people to hang out with for a week.

The Particulars

When: June 19-26, 2016

Where: Tall Tree Lake, Vienna, Illinois

Who: YOU!

RSVP: Register HERE  

 

Pagan Spirit Gathering is a festival facilitated by Circle Sanctuary in Barneveld, Wisconsin.  Check out their website for Circle Sanctuary  for more details about the work they do!

PSG 2015: The Year of Community

The Green, lovingly renamed Labyrinth Loch ~ © 2015 photo by Chris Eldridge

The Green, lovingly renamed Labyrinth Loch
~ © 2015 photo by Chris Eldridge

Pagan Spirit Gathering 2015

I don’t really even know where to start telling you about Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG) 2015.  We had such high hopes for a beautiful week, filled with love, friendship, and community.  The theme, after all, was “Celebrating Community”.  What we didn’t know was how true that theme was going to become.

Three Rivers Pagans had a contingency of six, three that were 1 year veterans, and three virgins.  The veterans had told the virgins what to expect, what might happen, and what they would see that was vastly different than our conservative town has to offer.  For some, it could be quite the culture shock.  There’s no judgement at PSG, from how you want to dress to how you practice your faith.  There’s no “you’re doing it wrong”.  People actually ask how you are doing and they mean it.  They also pitch in to help when something happens.  That was totally evident when disaster struck at Stonehouse Farm, the venue for PSG.

Disaster Strikes

Rains had plagued the area leading up to the week of PSG, June 14-21, 2015.  The ground was wet, mud was plentiful, but everyone was in high spirits.  We set up our camps on Sunday in the rain, but a little rain doesn’t dissuade us from much.  Monday brought more downpours and a lot of mud.  As a Tribe, we became mud people, trudging everywhere through it, our feet covered to our ankles.  Shortly after 5 pm on Monday, the word came through: we were going to flood and we had to move quickly.  Guardians, people that take on the responsibility for keeping everyone safe during the festival, were assembled, along with anyone that could help.  Cars and tents were in the floodplain and it wasn’t going to be long before they were underwater.  A dam upstream was going to be opened to let water out of Shabbona Lake and we were in the path of that water.  It was time to move.

Teams fanned out, calling out to people to move their cars if they were in the lower parking lot.  Some of them were stuck, but people volunteered to push, pull, and drag them out of the mud and rising waters.  People stood at the top of the hill, urging drivers to slow down and reassuring them that they were on high ground, safe, and that nothing would hurt them.  Hours later, a mere 8 cars were left, their owners unknown.  Many of them were totalled, having taken on water and mud when the waters rose.
People who were camped on the lower end of the campground around the pond and Grandmother Willow were helped to high ground.  Many had to leave their belongings behind, watching as the water rose and engulfed everything they brought with them, leaving a sludge of mud coating most everything.  I helped direct traffic for a while, holding up safety tape to allow management vehicles to pass.  I watched as people lugged up their tents and whatever they could carry, a look of shock on all of their faces.  The displaced found lodging in other camps where they were welcomed with open arms.  New friends were made, families were forged through the trial of water.

On High Ground

At the TRP camp, we were floored early on when we were told that although we were on very high ground, some 10 feet or more above the floodplains, we were being evacuated.  We were on the edge of the flood zone and we needed to get to safety.  Fifteen minutes.  We had a mere fifteen minutes to grab what we could and find our way to higher ground.  It was hard, I’m not going to lie.  I set our virgins on a path that I knew would take them away from the flooding, but I stayed behind.  Two members of our camp had gone to move cars and I didn’t know where they were.  When one of them returned, we ran, praying to the Goddess that the last missing member was safe with guardians.  When she met up with us later, she had been helping push out cars from the mud, but she was safe.  The hardest thing I’ve ever done was take three people who did not know the terrain and send them to safety, not knowing where they were when I made the trek myself.

Monday night we were able to return to camp.  We were very waterlogged, muddy, and a mess, but everything was ok.  We were alive, together, and could support each other.

Festival Ends Early

Tuesday morning, our traditional morning meeting was mandatory.  It was announced that we all had to leave.  PSG 2015 was over.  It was time to go home.  Days early.  I looked around as the realization hit everyone.  In its 35th year, PSG was going to end early for the first time.  The land could not support us in its waterlogged state.  The shower house was overrun with water as was the septic system.  It was no longer safe for us to stay.  I spent the day organizing camp slowly, not aware of my own feelings yet.  I was shell shocked.  TRP members spread out through the camps, helping others less fortunate than we were, getting them packed up and out of the venue safely.  I’ve never been prouder of a group of people.

One Final Hurrah

Tuesday night, we grieved.  We partied.  We drank.  And we listened to some of the best music ever played.  Bardapalooza happened in the pavilion and it was glorious.  SJ Tucker, Celia Ferran, Mama Gina, Spiral Rhythm, and a host of others all lent voices and talent to keep us entertained and brighten our spirits.  We were blessed to hear a beautiful story from Janet Farrar.  Firespinners went all out on the only night they were going to get to spin.  And of course, there was drumming and dancing around the Sacred Fire.

Wednesday brought our leave.  We were helped by wonderful people to get our gear down to the parking lot, far from where we camped.  We loaded up and headed to showers at a truck stop.  They were glorious.  We hadn’t showered since Sunday, and it was much needed.

Decompressing

Now that we are home, we are working on healing the deep cuts to our psyche from seeing such devastation.  No matter how much you helped out, it never seemed enough.  No matter how many people you fed or pulled out of the floodzone, there were still more.  But as a community, we came together.  We got things done faster and more efficiently than any government agency could ever think to do.  Together, we celebrated community in the best way possible: by becoming that which we celebrated.

Pagan Spirit Gathering – A Virgin Experience

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!

 

Selena Fox

Selena Fox

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.

 

The Community Heart created by enCHANTment Camp for the main evening ritual

The Community Heart created by enCHANTment Camp for the main evening ritual

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.

 

Morning meeting opening with Arthur Hinds

Morning meeting opening with Arthur Hinds

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.