UK festival overview: Beltane to Lammas

U.K. —Beltane is the start of a busy early-summer season for British Pagans, with a range of events taking place between now and Lammas. Right now, British Pagans are still in the middle of their Beltane celebrations, coinciding with the May bank holiday, with a red and white dragon parade having taken place in Glastonbury on Sunday May 6 and Beltane celebrations across the country on May Day itself. The national press have not been slow to realize that traditional celebrations are once more becoming popular, after a period of decline in the 1980s and 1990s. This year, Morris dancers met across the country to dance in the dawn (there are estimated to be around 13,000 Morris dancers in the U.K.). There are also plans to erect a modern maypole in London’s Strand; it will be similar to the 130-foot-high pole that was put up by Charles II to celebrate the restoration of the monarchy in 1661.

Godless gather under the full moon

HEALDSBURG, Calif –The light of the full moon which shines down on the mighty redwoods here will, in August, illuminate a gathering of non-theistic Pagans as the second annual Moon Meet is convened. Hidden deep in the forest, they will share meals, share knowledge, and share sacred space in much the same way that other Pagans do. Event organizer Mark Green prefers the term “Atheopagans” to describe this particular subculture-within-a-subculture, but that relatively new term describes a mindset that has been part of the contemporary Pagan movement for decades. He wrote about becoming Pagan in the 1980s for Witches & Pagans issue 35: “Several prominent voices in the community at that time were clearly in the gods-as-metaphors camp,” he recalled, also noting that he “found deep meaning and joy in celebrating the changing of the seasons, in the ritual circles that I shared with community . .

Seeking Pagan Community at Laurelin

BETHEL, Vt. –Whether or not there is such as thing as “Pagan community” is as slippery a concept as the definition of “Pagan” itself. The core question is whether or not people who follow vastly different traditions have enough in common to share a common label, or a common table. Some festivals are positioned to reinforce a feeling of community. For example, at the end of Pagan Spirit Gathering participants don’t just leave; they head out on a “year-long supply run.”

Sober spaces and support at Pagan festivals

For those who participate in one or more festivals during the warm weather, it’s an opportunity to let down some personal guards and be temporarily freed from the pressures of the overculture. Festivals are often the only way for many Pagans, Heathens and Polytheists to worship in groups, learn from respected authors and elders, and compare notes with co-religionists. Within these spaces, they can recharge their spiritual batteries and become inspired to deepen religious practice. Joy and revelry are also not at all uncommon. As such, festivals represent a mixed blessing for would-be participants who struggle with a substance abuse problems, or those wishing to continue a recovery process without backsliding.