Largest Upper Midwest Pagan Festival opens in 10 days! – Interview

Sacred Harvest Festival (SHF), located in southern Minnesota near Albert Lea, opens Saturday, August 6th, The last day to register online  and before gate rates is Sunday, July 31st.  I had the chance to interview Bress Nicneven, festival site director and board member of Harmony Tribe , the event’s sponsor.

Why do people continue to return to Sacred Harvest Festival?

SHF has gained a national reputation for quality and timely speakers and musicians. Celia’s video for the song ‘ Symbol’ was filmed at SHF, before the Pentacle Quest  became a household Pagan word. It is known for having a defined theme each year, and presenting profound rituals and speakers that all build on that theme for a complete experience. One of the few festivals that does this each year. In stressful financial times, this festival offers the cheapest per day rates of any festival in the country for the quality of the programming and activities.

It is a really reasonable family vacation for Pagans. It is an upper Midwest tradition, going on 14 years. SHF is really a place for everybody. There is a Kid’s cauldron, operated by parents and volunteers, that keeps kids happy all week. Families get the time and space to worship together as a family. They get time together and also adults have time for individual experiences. It is really strengthening for both families, individuals, and our community relationships. We have a great location in a shady oak grove with easy access from Des Moines, Madison, and the Twin Cities.

What is this year’s theme about?

Forest Family, Roots and Branches Intertwined  is our theme this year. It encompasses the roots of the Tribe itself, the thousands of people who have grown this festival over the years. We come each year to celebrate at this magical grove, and this year we specifically want to connect with the marvelous shady and protective trees there. Trees are an appropriate symbol of how we are also all connected, and essentially like the forest that we camp under. Like the burr oaks, we are still growing, and changing, and each season together we reach out within the festival and our home communities to integrate our spiritual experience back into our foundation, our roots. Continue reading

UMPA Annual Meeting and Anniversary Celebration

The Upper Midwest Pagan Alliance celebrated it’s fourth anniversary Saturday evening with a capacity crowd at the Sacred Paths Center.  Not only was the event packed with people, it was packed with activities.  Attendees were treated to entertainment by the ever popular Murphey’s Midnight Rounders and tribal dancing by Kamala Chaand.  UMPA held it’s annual meeting, where they ratified new by-laws and elected their officers for the next two years.  New officers are Bonnie Hanna-Powers, Gary Lingen, Bress Nicneven, Grace Morgan. and Joshua Adam Blesi.

The community also settled a long simmering dispute – who makes the best red sauce, Don from the Coven of the Standing Stones or Mistress Judy Olson?  Don won the competition handily, but many at the event said if you mix the two, it was better than each sauce alone.

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Hoodoo Pilgrimage to Lucky Mojo Curio Company

Lucky Mojo Curio Company

Pantheacon in San Jose, Ca was an intense and spectacular  event, and PNC-MN will have several pieces coming up about that experience.

Most timely to publish is our pilgrimage, which took place after Pantheacon, to the Lucky Mojo Curio Company. The Proprietor, Cat Yronwode, is considered one of the foremost authorities on the one truly American folk magic, HooDoo. Timely because my wife, Mistress Judy (the motivating factor for our pilgrimage), and two upcoming national guests to the Twin Cities are all practitioners of the conjuring art of HooDoo.  Orion Foxwood,  offering his course in Faery Seership this weekend at Eye of Horus , John Michael Greer , honored guest at the upcoming Paganicon, and Judy are all also graduates of Cat’s  HooDoo Rootwork course!

Hoodoo, also known as conjure or rootwork, is a form of predominantly African-American traditional folk magic that developed from the syncretism of a number of separate cultures and magical traditions.

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UMPA Celebrates 4 Years of Social Activism

The Upper Midwest Pagan Alliance (UMPA) reached its fourth anniversary and invites the community to help celebrate it.  The event takes place at Sacred Paths Center on Saturday starting at 4pm.   Organizers of the celebration say all community members are welcome for this free evening of fun activities.

From the March 3rd issues of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

UMPA is not only celebrating an anniversary milestone, the group is celebrating the accomplishments of the past four years.  Started during what has become known in the Pagan community as “The Quest,” the struggle to gain approval for a Wiccan symbol to be placed on fallen Wiccan military members headstones, UMPA hosted the Veteran’s Pentacle Rights Ritual. This ritual took place on the state capitol grounds and garnered national news coverage for the issue.

(See Pagan+politics coverage of UMPA formation and project, the Pentacle quest, and links to national press coverage, here)

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Give Christmas Back to Christians (and perform good deeds)

In a recent essay Pagan author, T. Thorn Coyle, asks

“anyone who is not a Christian and who celebrates Christmas: what exactly do you think you are doing? Why are you contributing to this beast, this monster, this creature that not only feeds on the sweat of poor people around the world but simultaneously takes more and more money to just maintain its caloric requirements? Why have you – atheist, Pagan, Christian, or Jew – been taken in?”

That’s an interesting question to ponder and her entire essay is worth a read.

If you are not celebrating Christmas on Saturday, what could you be doing instead?  You could be living out your religious ethics of service to the community by volunteering for Meals on Broomsticks this Saturday.  Spend a few hours helping others – and bring your family and older children along.

UMPA, the Upper Midwest Pagan Alliance has, for the fourth consecutive year, signed up with the Union Gospel Mission to serve meals to senior citizens and low income families residing in two high rises in the Twin Cities. This service commitment requires 8-15 people willing to share a part of their day serving meals, chatting, and maybe even singing a carol or two.

When – This Saturday December 25, 2010 (our fourth year!!)
Where – Meet at the Union Gospel Mission- located at 435 E University Ave.
in St. Paul. It is just East of I35E and North of East Seventh.  MAP

Time – Gather at 11.15am, we load up and drive away shortly after 11:30 am so be prompt.   Contact us if you plan to attend!

UMPA says that dressing up for the occasion adds to the fun, so get out your elf, Santa, or Grinch costumes.  Nels Linde and Judy Olson say that the food is really secondary to the people they deliver meals to, it is the time and attention that the elders receive that is so greatly appreciated.    They also noted that the meal delivery is usually done by 1:30pm and the volunteers then go to Cecil’s Deli for a fun lunch.