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.
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.
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.
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.
“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
The newly handfasted couple walks the circle.
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.”