Pagan Spirit Gathering is known for many things – the fantastic musicians who perform, the variety of workshops, the fulfilling group rituals, and the (in)famous Pan’s Ball. Pan is so popular at PSG that he doesn’t have just one Ball, he has two. The other Pan’s Ball is logically named Pan’s Other Ball. The two Balls have an intertwined history, but are very different in purpose and feel. Both are held on Friday night, along with separate parties for teens and tweens, and both have a long tradition, but that’s about all they have in common.
Pan’s Ball is strictly for those 21 years of age and older. Pan’s Ball is dismissed by some as a drunken college frat party or an excuse for an orgy. Organizers say it is a revel, in the sacred sense of the word, and a time to burn off the energy that has built over the past week. Dancing and drinking are used as a gateway to a state of sensual abandon. This view of revels, both positive and negative, is nothing new. The worship of Dionysos, with its accompanying revels, was opposed where ever it was first introduced. And it was also enthusiastically embraced by a segment of the population. Usually those who were oppressed by cultural norms and had limited avenues of expression. In ancient Greece it was women who sought out the Liberator in the wild countryside. In the modern world, it doesn’t surprise me that Rainbow camp, a group of GLBT campers, are the ones reviving this way of worshiping Dionysos.