PSG Report: Looking for, and finding, love

Finding a suitable partner is difficult for anyone. With more Pagans saying finding a partner who shares their values, if not their religion, the search for a match is even more difficult. How to overcome that challenge? Attend one of the large gatherings of Pagans at festivals such as Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG). At this year’s PSG attendees were invited to a single’s meet and greet, attend the wedding of a couple who met at last year’s PSG, and wish Circle Sanctuary‘s Rev. Selena Fox and Dr. Dennis Carpenter, who met and later married at PSG, a happy 27th wedding anniversary.

Rev. Fox says that from the very beginning of PSG, straight and same sex couples have met, and married or handfasted, at the festival. “I think the courting dimensions of attending festivals is something quite old and never goes out of style. I’m happy for all the good relations that have come out of PSG,” said Rev. Fox. What is changing are the increasing numbers of Pagans who attend festivals with the express purpose of finding Pagan, and not just Pagan friendly, mate. Yet just like in the mundane world, sometimes love finds you when you aren’t looking for it.

 Wedding Bells
Although Brandon Mullikin and Nikki Pazdra didn’t attend PSG to find a mate, they met at last year’s festival and were handfasted at PSG 2013 on Tuesday night. Mullikin said he noticed Ms. Pazdra right away, “I happened to see her walking around and I couldn’t help myself but to find out where she camped and I had to creep by every now and then.”
While Millikin was making up excuses to walk by her camp, Pazdra was doing the same thing, “It’d be alot easier to go a certain way to the shower house, but I’d take the long way so I could pass by his tent.” Both were too shy to introduce themselves to the other so friends and family intervened.  “We didn’t talk until my sister introduced us because she was friends with [Pazdra’s] friend,” said Millikin. From that point, the two were inseparable.
couple 1

Then PSG ended and Millikin went back to Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Pazdra went back to Chicago, Illinois. They kept in touch through Facebook, Skype, and phone. A few months after the end of the festival, Pazdra visited Millikin in Gatlinburg for a few weeks. A month after that the couple moved to Nashville and bought a home together.

The couple decided to take the next step in their relationship by getting handfasted where it all began, at Pagan Spirit Gathering. And where Millikin’s father, Danny, was handfasted the year before to Rebecca Hubbard. Both handfastings were officiated by Rev. Selena Fox, of Circle Sanctuary. Circle Sanctuary hosts Pagan Spirit Gathering.

Single Pagan Seeking Same For Relationship

“I want to find more people like me, single and Pagan,” said James, who attended the Singles Meet & Greet Tuesday afternoon at PSG. James said it’s hard to meet single Pagan women where he lives, which is rural. It was his first time at an event like this and he felt optimistic about being able to meet someone compatible.

His optimism was not misplaced. There were over 40 Pagans at the singles event, almost evenly split between males and females*. Some were looking for someone of the opposite sex, some were looking for same sex relationships, while still others were open to anything.  All attendees PNC was able to speak with said they were looking for a relationship that had the potential to lead to marriage. Most said it was very important to them that a prospective spouse be Pagan.

The meet & greet’s organizer, Steffanie, encouraged individuals to mingle by playing a game called Human Bingo. Each attendee got a card and they had to find people who matched the notes in the squares. “Have you ever walked a cat on a leash?” asked one single Pagan. “No. Are you a glamper?” he responded back.

human bingo (1)

While most attendees were busily engaged with the game, and with each other, a few stood uncomfortably on the outskirts of the group. “I’m not good with groups. I can’t do this,” said one male in his early 20’s. Soon Steffanie spotted him and helped him mingle back in with the group.

Lisa, who hails from south Texas, said that while there’s an active Druid community where she lives, it’s mainly made up of married couples and families. “I’m hoping to meet someone at PSG. I live in a really, I live in a dating desert so I’ve come to the fountain to drink.” After fifteen minutes of the game she was less optimistic about meeting someone during the meet and greet, but was looking forward to the more informal nightly singles get togethers.

PSG has hosted singles events over the past 33 years, but Rev. Selena Fox noted there is a rising interest in them, “We don’t have them every year but there’s been more of a request to have some times where people can actually see who is single. I think they’re a great idea and anyone that is interested in proposing other kinds of ways to connect – wonderful!”

To help singles find each other in a festival of over 1000 attendees, singles were given bright green bracelets that said I’m single, Let’s Mingle. Organizers of the event also used social media as a way for singles to get to know one another before PSG started. “I felt more comfortable coming [to the meet & greet] because I had already met a few of the people on the singles event page,” said Willow.

single (1)

“I think that social media provides a way of being able to make some connections, but there really isn’t a good substitute to meeting someone face to face,” said Rev. Fox. She went on to say, “If you’re at a Pagan festival that has emphasis on community and has shared values that helps with a filtering process in bringing people together that have some commonalities already.”

“Obviously here it’s great because automatically if your here you have most of the values that I treasure and cherish,” said Ladi, who had also been part of last year’s PSG Single’s Meet and Greet. He said he made great friendships last year and looked forward to doing the same this year. He was realistic about forming a relationship at a festival, “A relationship has to be worked towards. Anything worth doing does take time and work.”

Handfasting at the Pond

Millikin and Pazdra’s handfasting took place near the pond and was open to all PSG attendees. The ceremony had a distinctive Celtic flair and was filled with music, which makes sense as Millikin is part of the band Tuatha Dea.
handfasting wide shot corrected
The newly handfasted couple walks the circle.

The newly handfasted couple walks the circle.

Father and Step-Mother of the groom look on.

Father and Step-Mother of the groom look on.

Twin Cities band Murphey’s Midnight Rounders performed a song they wrote especially for the event. “That song was beautiful,” said one tearful guest. “I want that at my handfasting,” she went on to say, holding her girlfriend’s hand tight.

Editor’s note: video is blurred to protect the identity of children playing in the background.

As for our Pagan singles, how did they make out at this year’s PSG?  At least two attendees of the Singles Meet & Greet felt they had met someone they want to start a relationship with. “We’ve already made plans to visit each other next month,”said Willow. “Who knows, perhaps Selena will be handfasting us next year.”

MMR to play at Presidential candidate’s rally at Macalester on Friday

 Gary Johnson is speaking to needs and changes that affect Pagans and sub-cultures that are related to it. Because the more we stand up and address those needed changes, the more will get done. Because it’s time for us all to get up off the couch and stop barking at the TV. – Brad Murphey, Murphey’s Midnight Rounders

Murphey’s Midnight Rounders are performing at a rally for Libertarian Presidential candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson on Friday.  The rally is part of Gov. Johnson’s nationwide tour of colleges.  The event takes place at Hill Ballroom starting at 12:30 pm.  PNC-Minnesota will have coverage of the event and was able to catch up with Brad Murphey, of MMR, about how he feels about performing at a rally for a Presidential candidate and why Third Parties are worth taking a look at by Pagans.  The following is the full statement:


Murphey’s Midnight Rounders

For me, this election is going to be decided by the issues. Yes, important issues come up in EVERY presidential election. But this time, there are issues that are important to the Pagan Community. There is a movement in this country, to marginalize Pagan thought, beliefs and practices. That, alone, tells me that we are making an impact. If we were not, there wouldn’t be such vocal resistance to it.

The Wiccan Rede tells us “An ye harm none, do what thou wilt.” Whether one is Wiccan or not is not my point. It’s still a good philosophy. Paganism tends to embrace and defend many sub-cultures that have been marginalized by (dare I say it?) mainstream thought. “If it’s not hurting anyone, why not live the way you want to live?” It’s not an entitlement, it’s a right. There should be NO REASON why someone should not be allowed to live the way they want to, if it’s not hurting anyone. Who is it hurting if two men or two women (or more, for that matter) want to bond together as mates? According to the laws in this country, there are rights and privileges that are afforded them for this commitment.
There are many who believe that any Pagan philosophy or religion should be, at best, a second-class belief system and therefore the First Amendment to the Constitution does not apply to them. There is no such classification in the Constitution. But, instead of accepting it verbatim, they want to CHANGE the wording so that Pagans are…again…marginalized. Acceptance is not taught or encouraged…let alone, defended. Instead, too many of the people who believe in this marginalization are our lawmakers and judges who were brought up to fear that which they refuse to understand. There’s an old song from the musical, ‘South Pacific’ that goes like this: “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear, You’ve got to be taught from year to year, It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear, You’ve got to be carefully taught.”
We, as Pagans, tend to profess acceptance (or at least tolerance) of individuality and lifestyles that we may not subscribe to. Those lawmakers, judges, priests and ministers, politicians and just plain everyday folk who are so vocally resistant are really saying, “We will not tolerate acceptance. We will not embrace any who do not live like us. We would rather re-write law and society in our image than allow change and evolution of that same society.”
There is a war on drugs that has been actively waged in this country for many decades. It’s been waged on legal grounds, economic grounds, social grounds, medical grounds and religious grounds. The trend in this war has been to pick on Marijuana as the leading culprit and responsible for all the societal ills we can name; addiction, divorce, educational dropout rates, homelessness, joblessness, laziness and anything else you can think of. This war on marijuana has been based on four things: misinformation, outright lie, ‘power over’ and greed.
We have pumped TRILLIONS into this war when there’s no way to win it. When I say trillions, I’m not exaggerating. 25% of this country’s population is currently or has been incarcerated. A HUGE percentage of that population is there on drug-related convictions. I’m not talking about the heroin addict who robs someone to pay for his habit; I’m talking about someone who was arrested with an ounce of pot in his pocket. Our taxes go to law makers, law enforcement, prisons, court personnel, attorneys, medical labs and more, just to pay for this war. But substance prohibition does not work. That was proven in the US in the 1930’s.  To make matters worse, the health and economic benefits of marijuana HAVE been studied and proven. Now, we can bandy all day about who is to blame for the war; who benefits from the war and the prohibition…big pharma, the cotton industry, myopic religious leaders, whatever. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the American people have been lied to for generations about marijuana and only a relative few benefit from this war. It hasn’t stopped people from smoking it…just like Prohibition didn’t stop people from drinking. I could go on and on. But, legalizing it and federally taxing it would help the economy to the tune of BILLIONS every year. And that’s just ONE of the benefits.
The two-party system is broken. That is proven every time a candidate other than a Republican or Democrat is elected into any office. People vote for whomever they believe will defend their needs and rights as citizens. That has been proven by the fact that there are more than two political parties. Period. Having more than the two ‘major’ parties is proof that democracy CAN work…as long as we stop trying to break it. If we are to evolve, as a civilization, we must have a government that evolves with us. But what seems to happen is that the two-party system is more concerned about keeping the status quo, rather than changing to meet the needs of the people. What worked 50 or 100 years ago only continues to work through more stringent regulations and formidable resistance. But if we have a Constitution that says we have an effective voice, it’s time to use it. Sitting at home and barking at the TV set does not bring change. Getting on Facebook and barking about politics does not bring change. Historically, the only way change has been effected in this country is to get out in public and change it. When enough people stand up and say, “we demand change,” government will listen. The stronger that voice; a) the more initial resistance there will be to change and b) EVENTUALLY, those who govern will listen and change with those needs.
So, why did I agree to play for the Gary Johnson Rally? Because Gary Johnson is speaking to needs and changes that affect Pagans and sub-cultures that are related to it. Because the more we stand up and address those needed changes, the more will get done. Because it’s time for us all to get up off the couch and stop barking at the TV.
Murphey’s Midnight Rounders is not a Pagan Band, per se. We are a Folk Band (we like to call it ‘Power Folk’). Our music addresses what we feel and who we are. At the same time, all of us in the band are Pagan, so a big percentage of our music speaks to that subject: honoring Deity, tradition, and approaching the goddess with mirth and reverence. That being said, for a band that is all Pagan and sings about Pagan issues, it was an honor to be asked to sing at a rally for a presidential candidate. It says a lot about him, that, as a candidate, he is more open and supportive of the Pagan religions.
Rally for Jobs, Opportunity, and Diversity
Featured Speaker:  Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gov. Gary Johnson
Macalester College, Hill Ballroom, Kagin Commons
12:30pm to 3pm
The event is free and open to the public
Editor’s note:  PNC-Minnesota Co-Editor Cara Schulz is a Johnson volunteer for this event.

Murphey’s Midnight Rounder CD Launch Party Saturday

Popular Midwest folk band, Murphey’s Midnight Rounders, have hit the ground running again in 2012. After a 2-year recording hiatus spent touring around the country, they have emerged from the studio, having produced 24 songs in just 6 months, most of which were written by Brad Murphey, the band’s songwriter and guitarist.

Brad Murphey, Bonnie Hanna-Powers, and Teresa Frank of Murphey's Midnight Rounders

“We are very excited about our upcoming CD Release Party”, said Murphey, “which will celebrate the release of our 2 new CDs: Pearl Street and Swede Hollow.”

Murphey’s Midnight Rounder Release Party
Saturday, March 31
7pm to 10PM
DoubleTree Hotel in St Louis Park
Free admission
Facebook event page

Pearl Street is more main stream, if that term can be used for folk music. Brad Murphey wrote all of the songs, but one – Hard Times Come Again No More is an old Stephen Foster song that is still very relevant today. Most of the songs on Pearl Street have an underlying message that ranges from counter-culture to songs of protest, and yet their catchy melodies and witty lyrics keep them from being too somber. Third Bombay, Uncle Chronic and Upper Midwest Terrorist Society and Sewing Bee are good examples of counter-culture, while Started All Over Again and Soul of a Nation are straight up protest songs. Morning Come Too Soon is just a plain fun song about a hangover.

Swede Hollow explores Paganism and the Pagan lifestyle. Songs that Rounders fans have enjoyed listening to at open air gatherings, such as Wreck of the Modern Pagan and Maiden Warrior Mother Crone, are now represented on this CD. Newer songs, like Hey Mamma, I’m a Real Live Witch and New Age Pagan Rag are also included, together with traditional songs such as Pretty Annie, Soul Cake Song and Hot Crone Chant which benefit from sparkling new treatments.

Both CDs, which were created at Rhythmpriest Studios, can be purchased at the Release Party, or from the Band’s website: They can be contacted by email at

Editor’s note:  The above information from submitted Press Release.  

MMR records song in support of Occupy Wall Street, performs live tonight

A local Pagan band with mainstream appeal, Murphey’s Midnight Rounders, just finished recording a song in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The band performs the song, “Hard Times, Come Again No More,” for the first time live tonight at 5pm for the OccupyMN demonstration at Government Plaza in downtown Minneapolis.  The song was written by Stephen Foster in 1854.

Paul Ferrise, studio producer for MMR, said the band is busy recording for their new CD release coming up this spring, but wanted to support the Occupy movement, “So far we have recorded 11 songs towards the new Twin CD release. [Monday], MMR came into the studio wanting to record, edit, master and publish a song in honor of OccupyMN and all the Occupy organizations across the country.”

Bonnie Hanna-Powers, Teresa Frank, and Brad Murphy

Teresa Frank, vocals and percussion for the band, encourages others to get involved in the Occupy movement, “The revolution has started and we need you at the government center.” MMR has a history of supporting political, religious rights, and social justice movements.  They most recently marched in the Hemp Fest Walk for Freedom, assisted several Pagan groups in fundraising, and joined the pro-union protests in Wisconsin.

Hard Times, Come Again No More  was written by Stephen Foster in 1854, but feels relevant today as Americans endure the difficult economic times sparked by the recession began in 2007.  A recession that may technically be over, but is still felt in the high unemployment numbers and high food and gas prices. It has a depression-era sound and the word choices in the lyrics, especially in the chorus,  likewise give a strong nod to that time period.

It’s the song, it’s the sigh of the weary
Hard times, hard times come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door
Hard times come again no more

The song is available for free download along with samples of other songs from their upcoming CDs.

*Editor’s note:  The original version of this article incorrectly stated that the song was written by Murphey’s Midnight Rounders.

Murphey’s Midnight Rounders head back to the studio

While at the Sacred Harvest Festival in SE Minnesota I took the opportunity to catch up with Brad Murphey, Teresa Frank, and Bonnie Hanna-Powers of Murphey’s Midnight Rounders.  I brought over a bottle of wine and asked them what they were up to.  I was excited to hear they were heading back to the recording studio directly from the festival.  My excitement grew when they told me they were going to be putting out not just one CD, but two. Interview and video of performance below.

Murphey’s Midnight Rounders in studio sessionphoto from facebook

Brad:  We’ve started recording again, the next two CDs.

Teresa:  It’s going to be a two CD release.  We’re staying with the same kind of a format with a Pagan CD and I don’t want to call it non-Pagan…

Brad:  Pagan friendly.

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