Glamping, Pagan Spirit Gathering style

When you’re camping for a week or longer, bringing a few creature comforts is not a bad idea.  A blow up mattress, a folding table, perhaps even a coffee pot.  You think you’re camping in luxury until you notice the camp next to yours.  An oven?  A chandelier?  Air conditioning?    Those people know how to glamp (glamorous camping) at a Pagan festival.  Here’s a slideshow of some of the very best camps and glamping ideas from 2012’s Pagan Spirit Gathering.

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Keep this article bookmarked to use for ideas for your next Pagan (or non-Pagan) camping trip.


Amateurs show off talent at PSG

The talent show at Pagan Spirit Gathering is an opportunity for amateur singers, storytellers, and poets to perform.  It’s an opportunity for the audience to discover hidden depths in their fellow attendees.

The show took just over an hour and was watched by just under 200 people.  As performers waited their turn some silently rehearsed, others paced nervously, and a few appeared more at ease, joking with those around them.  As most performers exited the stage to appreciative cheers they wore smiles.  One young guitarist said, “That was such a rush. I can’t wait to do something like that again.”

Popular musician Arthur Hinds coordinated and MCed the show since Ed Francis, who’s done the honors for years, was experiencing medical issues.  “I love watching people embrace their own creative spark and over come the fear that is holding them back,” said Hinds, “It is something that everyone should do and I find that quest extremely attractive. Of course, I also enjoy performing art in general, and there is always plenty of good stuff. I thought that this year were quite a few real gems, some of them surprising ones.”

Below is a sampling of the 2012 PSG Talent Show.

Talent shows have become popular events at various Pagan festival including Sacred Harvest Festival which starts on Monday and is located near Geneva, Minnesota.

Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG) is one of America’s oldest and largest Nature Spirituality festivals and is sponsored by Circle Sanctuary.  Started in 1980, PSG has been held in locations in Wisconsin, Missouri, and lately in Illinois.

First Time Attendee Reflects on Pagan Spirit Gathering

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!

Building bridges between Dianic and Trans communities at PSG

Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG) played host to a press conference on Saturday to detail the progress made in discussions surrounding issues of gender rituals, women’s mystery traditions, and the transgender community.  As happened at other recent Pagan events, controversy was sparked by a women’s ritual limited to women who will, have, or had experienced menstruation, thereby excluding transgendered women.  Discussions involving Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, Dianic High Priestess and women’s Solstice ritual leader Ruth Barrett, and festival presenter and transgendered activist Melissa Murry took place before and during Pagan Spirit Gathering.  While the three women said they do not speak for all in their community they took part in what they termed respectful dialogue to search for solutions for next year’s PSG.

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On Wednesday night at PSG, a Dianic ritual for “women who bleed, will bleed, or have bled our sacred bloods” was held at the same time as the men’s Solstice ritual, which was open to all who self-identified as male.   These events are generally considered the main gender based rituals at PSG.  A second women’s ritual, held on Friday night, was open to any who self-identify as female.  At the Saturday press conference Rev. Fox said PSG is experimenting with ways that allow diverse groups to hold rituals with exclusionary criteria while still ensuring other rituals are more universal in nature.  She went on to say PSG added a workshop and ritual on Transgendered Paganism, presented by Melissa Murry, and a workshop on the Dianic Tradition, presented by Ruth Barrett, to help foster productive conversation about these hot button topics.

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PSG Report: Morning meetings not to be missed

Each day at Pagan Spirit Gathering attendees gather at the main ritual circle for the morning meeting.  Some of what happens is expected.  Notices about workshops changing locations or times are announced, reminders to shut the port-a-potty lids are mentioned, and musicians give attendees a taste of the evening concert.  But on any given day, the unexpected and deeply touching happens.

Pagans who currently serve or have served in the US Armed Forced are honored and given special service ribbons.  There were 30 Pagan veterans stood before a community chanting, “Thank you for your service.”  It wasn’t that long ago those same Pagans would have been looked on negatively for being in the Armed Forces.

Military Veterans and Active Duty members honored at PSG

A woman, recently finding out she has a painful and degenerative illness, asks for help and positive energy from the commuity.  Her voice becomes husky as she makes her request and the community responds instantly.  Tears sprang in the eyes of a woman near me in a demonstration of close empathy.

A mother holds her teen’s hand, explaining that she worked hard all year to earn money to spend at PSG and she has lost her bag containing the money.  A description is given of the bag and, based on past experience, there’s a better than even chance her bag and the money will turn up.

Margot Adler first sings a Solstice duet with Ruth Barrett and then talks about her research into the mythology of vampires.

These are just a few tidbits from this morning’s meeting.  Some of what happens is funny, some touching, or sweet.  Some of what is said is more raw or painful.  But like PSG itself, it is anything but your normal morning meeting.