The Pagan Spirit Gathering, one of the largest and oldest Pagan camping festivals, has changed location this year. The former site, Camp Zoe near Salem, Missouri, has come under federal investigation. This prompted Circle Sanctuary, hosts of Pagan Spirit Gathering, to move the festival to Stonehouse Park near Earlville, Illinois. It is a venue change that many past attendees are applauding.
“I love going to PSG, but it was so hot and humid at Camp Zoe that I wasn’t going to attend this year. All I did was lay in the creek and I missed most of the workshops because it was so hot. But now that it has moved to the much cooler and less humid Illinois, I’m going!” said past attendee Eisling, “Just think, it should be nice enough we can even have camp fires at night.”
PNC-Minnesota talked with Ghetto Shaman Billy Crow Staver about the move to Stonehouse Park and what PSG will be like this year. The Ghetto Shamans are a camping group that attends PSG each year and helps Circle Sanctuary with marketing the event.
“The PSG experience is something really special. It’s a place where people can come together and let their guard down. Magically things happen there. It’s where I met my wife, I met her at PSG. I’ve met some of my best friends through PSG,” Mr. Staver said of his years of attendance. ” The people who attend PSG seek new connections to the Divine and form a new tribe. It’s an experience that is hard to explain and shouldn’t be missed.”
Organizers say Stonehouse Park offers many more amenities than they have had at other PSG camps. “There are more electrical hook ups throughout the camp. There’s a larger shower house and a community store. People will be able to keep their camp site cleaner since they have community sinks available for dishes and washing your clothes,” says Mr. Staver. He notes the best change will be in how the camp feels to attendees, ” We’ll be able to camp closer together and be able to see one another and this creates more of a family community type feeling and that’s one of the biggest benefits to camping at Stonehouse park this year, we’ll get that feeling of a close family again. We kind of lost that at Camp Zoe.”
Attendees with mobility problems will also appreciate that Stonehouse Park is much flatter than the previous location which was very hilly, spread out, and challenging to walk. The topography of Stonehouse is still diverse, with wooded area and a pond to swim in, but the lack hills and steep trails makes it much easier for people to attend the various events, workshops, and concerts.
Mr. Staver says the concerts will be more enjoyable to attend. Rather than braving the full brunt of the sun for the mid-day concerts, attendees can watch the concerts in comfort, “All of the concerts will be inside of a three walled barn. The floor is stone floor and it will be a nice, cool, shady place to listen to the daytime concerts. So many people didn’t go to the midday shows in previous years because it was too hot to sit out in the sun. “
Some of the musical performers this year are Spiral Rythm, Shibaten, Arthur Hinds, Tuatha Dea, Murphey’s Midnight Rounders, Ruth Barrett, Spellsinger, and Watersprite. The list of workshops can be found here.
For those Pagans who have never been to PSG before, Staver offers this advice, “The festival picks up in intensity as the week goes on. If you can’t come for the whole thing, don’t do what I did. I came for the first three days and then had to leave just when it was starting to pick up. Come mid week and then enjoy the apex of the energy on the final weekend.”
For those who may consider not coming to PSG because they won’t know anyone there, Staver says to put that worry out of their mind, “It’s about being with a lot of other people who feel the same way you do. Before I attended I was worried I would feel lost. But it was the most wonderful surprise when I got there. I felt like I was meeting family that I didn’t even know that I had. You are really welcomed when you come to this space. Don’t worry if you don’t know anyone there. You will be welcomed from the moment you walk in the gate.”
Click the photo to see PGS brochure.