[Festival season is beginning in the United States as Spring returns and warmer weather creeps slowly back into our lives. Today we welcome guest columnist Star Foster to talk about her festival experience. Foster is a polytheist living in the Midwest. She is a former Pagan Channel editor at Patheos, and she is allergic to cats.]
“This the best shit Pagans are doing right now.” – Murphy Pizza, Ph.D, author of Paganistan
“It’s a spiritual banquet. You get to choose what you put on your plate.
It was announced last week that blues musician and activist JD Taylor has died. Taylor was known to the Bay Area Pagan community, performing at the Berkeley Pagan Festival, PantheaCon, and Elderflower. Although she wasn’t Pagan herself, Taylor was heavily involved in regional “women’s and LGBT activist communities.” As noted by the Bay Area Reporter, “some would remember Ms. Taylor as the small woman who was the subject of a photo showing her being beaten by a very large SFPD officer during the Castro Sweep police retaliation in the Castro on October 6, 1989.” Taylor was born in New Jersey in 1946, moving to San Francisco in 1975.
ORANGE, Conn. — Harvest Gathering is not the only Pagan festival to welcome participants home upon arrival, but its staff put a lot of energy into the idea. The theme came up again and again over the course of the four-day event, and it was evident in the increasing spring in the step of many an attendee. How many harvest events open the first feast to all comers, whether or not they paid for the meal plan? This one does, and it not only helped this first-timer feel welcome, it set the tone of “harvest event” from the outset. Perhaps Harvest Gathering had exactly the right number of people in attendance, at 163, which is right around Dunbar’s number.
While attending last year’s Sacred Harvest Festival, a small Pagan festival held in Minnesota, I heard that a dreaded rumor was true. The festival had to move. The venue, a beloved place set in the midst of a Burr Oak grove, had become unfriendly toward any camping and wanted to focus on large music festivals. To say that I, and many other attendees, were unhappy is an understatement. The trees and the festival were inseparable in my mind.
There are many elements of community that help to build and sustain culture. Local community culture often ebbs and flows with the change of faces around the circle and the opportunities for engagement among the intersecting elements. The Bay Area, like most communities, has events, shops and memories that help to cultivate a local Pagan culture. The Pagan Festival has been one of the many such events in the Bay Area that has been a staple for the community for the last 14 years. This festival has been running since 2001, when it was previously known as the Interfaith Pagan Pride Parade and Celebration.