This was my first year of attending the Pagan Sprit Gathering, and although this is not my first Pagan festival, it was definitely a memorable one. From the moment I entered the gates at Stonehouse Park, I knew this was going to be something special. Those manning the gates were wonderfully warm and excited when I told them it was my first time. As a “virgin” festival-goer, I was told to go ring the bell hanging nearby. When I did, a huge group of people yelled “Welcome Home!” I knew that was a good sign of things to come.
PSG this year had approximately 1200 people in attendance, and I felt almost overwhelmed as I drove through the campgrounds to go park my car. So many people waved and cheered at me as I pulled in, and my eyes were swelling with tears of joy. I really felt like I was home!
I was excited about all the great presenters and workshops, and getting to hang out with other smart, fun pagans for a week. The weather was beautiful the whole week. Although it got pretty hot for a few days, if you sat in the shade and took a dip in the pond, it was pretty much perfect. I was happy to see things stay on time, where rituals and workshops were concerned. Also, for those of us who like amenities, things like flush toilets and free showers were available. There was even a shuttle during the day to drive you around the campground for anyone who wished to use it.
During the week, I took some notes of things that I thought about the festival. Here are a few that I thought were fun to share:
• It is great to finally meet people I’ve been friends with on Facebook! Now you can put a face to the name.
• Is it a dragonfly or an angry fairy with teeth if it starts buzzing you in the face? (Some of us are less used to bugs).
• Canopies are very nice for shade, but not so fun when it gets really windy. However, every person in our campsite bonded over this, and no matter the time of day, people passing by would stop by to help us out. What a great group of people who come to PSG!
• Pagan Honey Badgers are those who can sleep anywhere, and it doesn’t matter if you are talking loudly next to them. We had one in our campsite who is a very nice guy!
• Monday was the anniversary of the War of 1812. We dressed in costume and had a party next to the pond. I recommend historical (and pseudo-historical) costumes for all pagan events!
• 2pm cocktails and snacks are a fun treat. I love trying new beverages. Everyone got really creative!
• A Symposia is a wonderful way to get to know a group of around a dozen people. Every course has food and matching drinks. We all had questions and great discussions. I loved getting to know everyone!
• Also, I’m on cloud nine over the fact that I was sitting in between Judy Olson, Alex Mar and across from Margot Adler. I was in a brilliant women sandwich with people I highly respect and love!
• The Labyrinth was a peaceful, lovely thing to experience!
• Pan’s Ball was beyond exciting! Loved the music, and awesome costumes.
• I’m in love with the vegetarian food vendor. I ate there every day. Who doesn’t love Salsa Avocado wraps, black bean burgers, sweet potato fries, and Yummo pizzas I tell you?
• That said, as an omnivore, I LOVED our Baconalia at our camp. 2 pounds of bacon fried up and then with the grease we had fried potatoes with garlic. In the words of Homer Simpson – mmm Bacon!
• I am amazed at the awesomeness of Selena Fox and Dr. Dennis. No matter what time of day, they were always on the go and full of happy energy!
• Speaking of energy work – I learned so much from presenter Sophia. She is also an awesome rocker chick who is fun to talk with.
• Little known fact – if you don’t have a bowel movement by Wednesday, you will be unhappy feeling for the rest of the festival. Our group cheered each other on and we were all successful. Who knew something so simple made everything better?
• I found my fire circle buddy and we had a blast dancing until the wee hours. Those fire tenders do a great job, and there was abundant water available!
• The heat got pretty intense and one of our campmates and then later on I went to the medical tent, where they gave us great treatment. They are talented, compassionate people who put me at ease immediately.
• Gatorade is your friend. Portable fans, shade and swimming don’t hurt on a hot day, either.
• Laura and Matt are awesome, and I learned so much about the Tiny House Movement. They are fascinating people, who make me want to go on adventures just like they do.
• The music at this festival is phenomenal. The talent show was so cool, and I’m glad that we talked Matt into performing.
• Glam camping is the way to go.
• No matter how clean of a person you think you are, by the end of the festival your standards reduce greatly.
I didn’t imagine that I would be as moved by PSG as I was. I feel like I made friends for life, and I can’t wait to see them all again next year. If you are looking for a large event with tons of presenters, yet that still has a warm-hearted, small community feel, this is the one for you. Expect me back there next year for sure!