[The following is a guest post by Florence Edwards-Miller. She is the Communications Coordinator for Circle Sanctuary, which runs Pagan Spirit Gathering, and she has attended PSG for six years. At PSG Florence presents workshops on nonprofit management and development for the Pagan Leadership Institute. She is also editor of CIRCLE Magazine, a quarterly publication for the Pagan and Nature Spirituality community.]
As each car passes through the Stonehouse Farm gates on the opening day of Pagan Spirit Gathering, those who have already arrived wave and shout, “Welcome home!” Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG) is a festival known for a strong sense of community that embraces newcomers and brings others back for years or decades in a row. The intervening year between PSGs is jokingly referred to as the “51-week supply run.” Every year, those attending Pagan Spirit Gathering for the first time are amazed to find such a welcoming and accepting community of like-minded people.
The 1960’s and early 70’s Pagan culture was born of ecofeminism, British Traditional Wicca, and the counter-culture hippie movement. The Goddess (or God) within was explored and nature in all its beauty was celebrated as more conservative ideology was abandoned. An outward manifestation of these new ideals was often expressed though nudity. Nudity was seen as a statement of freedom from conventional structures and a way to worship the divine in all its forms. The Charge of the Goddess specifically said, “And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye be really free, ye shall be naked in your rites; and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in Her praise.“
When Pagan festivals sprouted across the US in the late 70’s and early 80’s, nudity went from the living room to the campground. If you attended a festival it wasn’t uncommon to see nude Pagans dancing around a fire or listening to music.
Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started! A follow-up to the Pagan Census Revisited is now up and asking for Pagan participation.
I wanted to point out a couple of recent Pagan-themed interviews that I think are worth checking out. The first is with Ben Whitmore, author of the book “Trials of the Moon: Reopening the Case for Historical Witchcraft,” conducted by Star Foster at Patheos. This self-pubished study/critique of Ronald Hutton’s “Triumph of the Moon” has generated quite a bit of notice, and respectable amount of criticism from Pagan academics, so this opportunity for Whitmore to make his case seems very appropriate. “At first, I hoped it would make Triumph a more useful resource for pagans and Wiccans. As I started talking with others about what I was doing, though, I discovered that Triumph had become something of a cult, and I risked getting a dressing-down for even questioning it.
Pagan Podcasts: There are some recent Pagan and occult podcasts of note that I’d like to share with you, starting with the latest episode of Elemental Castings from T. Thorn Coyle, featuring a recording of a panel discussion on Pagan leadership at Pagan Spirit Gathering. “Special podcast on Pagan Leadership: Thorn and Jason Pitzl-Waters organized a panel at the Pagan Spirit Gathering in Missouri. Panelists were Thorn, Selena Fox, Patrick McCollum, Cynthea Jones and River Higginbotham.” I was honored to moderate this panel, and I think it provides some excellent starting points in which to hold conversations about leadership within your own communities. I’m very glad we could record it and now share these voices of leadership with you.