On Saturday, May 10, Military Pagans will be honored at the yearly Beltania Festival in Colorado’s Florence Mountain Park nestled in the Rocky Mountains. Special guest Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary will be leading a Military Service Ceremony that honors “Pagans who are serving or who have served in the US Military.”In 2011 Rev. Fox, Pagan Air Force veteran Rev. Dave Sassman and others on Circle’s Military Ministry team developed a special tribute ritual. They also designed and produced a symbolic ribbon to be awarded to each individual during the ceremony. At the ribbon’s center is an acorn sitting in a blue field surrounded by six red and white stripes. Circle Sanctuary explains the symbolism:
- The Golden Acorn represents Paganism and the enduring power, strength, protection and magic of the Oak, held sacred by many Wiccan, Druidic, Heathen and other Pagan traditions.
- The Blue field and the Red and White stripes represent the USA, its Flag and Great Seal.
- The color Gold represents Generosity and Honor.
- The color White represents Purity and Dedication.
- The color Red represents Courage and Valor.
- The color Blue represents Loyalty and Steadfastness.
Military service can be stressful in many ways, and ceremonies of spiritual support and appreciation can be healing as well as strengthening. Feedback from Pagan veterans and those currently serving in the military … has been very positive. After the ceremonies, veterans have told me that being thanked by the Pagan community has been very powerful. Some have said this has been very transformative, being the first time they have been visible about their service within a Pagan setting. Others, with tears of joy in their eyes, have told me that the ceremony has been the first time anyone has really thanked them for their service.
Rev. Fox expressed her enthusiasm for the inclusion of the ribbon ceremony at Beltania 2014. She is “thankful for [the] opportunity” to honor the very large population of Military Pagans in the Denver area. Rev. Joy Burton of The Living Earth Church, the festival’s sponsoring organization, says:
Our community is filled with veterans as well as those on active duty and in the reserves. Perhaps it is our proximity to several military facilities and I’d also like to think it’s because our church and festival both focus so much on inclusivity and welcoming people from all walks of life. Our staff volunteers, I am sure, are made up of a higher than average number of military folks compared to our membership and festival attendees.
Held on the second weekend in May, Beltania is a four day camping retreat and music festival. This year will mark the first time that Beltania has included Circle’s military ribbon ceremony. The operation’s committee is looking forward to setting this important precedent. They already have “involvement from the US Air Force Academy.” Rev Burton explains:
Rev. Fox and I are visiting the US Air Force Academy just prior to the festival for a tour of their outdoor temple and a meeting with Ch. Franke (the Chaplain Wing Commander) and Rochelle Richards-Burks, who is the spiritual education volunteer for Falcon Circle. Falcon Circle is the pagan cadet circle at the Air Force Academy (USAFA). Two representatives of Falcon Circle will be in attendance at Beltania.
The ceremony will take place on Saturday at 4:30 pm. Beltania’s operations committee and Circle Sanctuary invite all qualifying Military Pagans to participate. Rev. Burton adds:
To be openly Pagan in the military or in any other profession means facing a whole host of challenges far greater than what I experienced. The least we can do is to stand together and honor those whose openness and integrity continue to pave the way for future generations to worship without discrimination.
For those unable to attend Beltania or similar events, Rev. Fox periodically performs the ribbon ceremony over internet radio. She says the “next [time] will be on [their] Circle Talk podcast, Wednesday, July 2, from 9-10 pm eastern, 8-9 pm central.”