After a week at PSG (Pagan Spirit Gathering), I landed last night at Elizabeth Sturino’s place in Dayton, OH. Since PSG had no wifi, I’ve been offline for 9 days—the longest time I can remember! I’ve spent today catching up with emails and Facebook. Now to catch up with my journaling…
Elizabeth lived in Amsterdam for a few years and served as Personal Assistant for Michael York in 2014-‘15. She has some amazing life stories! We have quite a few friends in common, and have attended some of the same festivals, but never actually met before now. We’ve been totally hitting it off. Her daughter Chloe and four grandkids are also living here, and I think they think I’m Santa Claus…
It’s been raining here since I arrived, but tomorrow is supposed to be clear, so we’re planning to drive out to visit Ohio’s Great Serpent Mound—which I’ve always wanted to see.
So, right after my last entry, I drove to Hannon’s Camp America Campground, near College Corner, OH, for the legendary Pagan Spirit Gathering, which I’ve heard about for decades, but never managed to attend before—although Morning Glory came once back in the mid-‘90s. This was their first time at this new site, and intense rain over the first few days turned much of the campground—including the main ritual area, the vendors row, and the dancing ground in front of the band stage—into a sea and rivers of mud. It made me think of Woodstock. But everyone had a positive attitude regarding this adversity—having had a PSG a few years previously completely washed out by flooding!
PSG is an annual production of Circle Sanctuary, and Selena Fox and her partner Dennis (“Dr. D.”) were omnipresent, directing, solving problems, shuffling schedules, conducting rituals, presenting workshops, and, well, everything it seemed. Most of the 600 people present were members of Circle, and this is the only Pagan festival they ever attend.
Although I knew very few of the people there, everyone seemed to know me. I was deeply moved by the warm welcome, acceptance, and honoring I felt from everyone. Many people came up to me and told me how I’d changed their lives. As at all Pagan festivals these days, “Welcome Home!” was a common theme, even printed on the complimentary guest tote bags.
Other special guest authors were the elegant Lady Tamara Von Forslun (“The Witch of Oz”), my friend Jason Mankey, and Kristoffer Hughes from Wales, whose book, “Journey of the Soul” had been an important reference for my own forthcoming “Death Rights & Rites.” We enjoyed each other’s company and conversation at the authors’ pavilion and mealtimes. Many other charming new connections: Dineh, John & Paul; Penny & Zenobia; Ash, Bob, Jim, Harry, and so many others.
Laura Gonzalez—born in Mexico City, now living in Chicago—shared a bunkhouse with me. She has shows on CircleTalk Blogpost Radio in Spanish and English, and now Portuguese as well. We stayed up late in the cabin seeing eye-to-eye on many topics. I look forward to an interview on her show.
The schedule was full of Circle events, rituals, and particularly Rites of Passage: baby blessings, girls’ and boys’ coming of age ceremonies, rites of motherhood, handfastings, ministerial ordinations, and rites of croning for the elder women. A group of older men had initiated a comparable ritual of “saging” for men, and this year I was the only candidate. Despite my being well over the traditional age of “Sage” (55), and a founder of the Grey Council, such a rite had never come up for me before, and I was deeply honored by the ceremony.
A major aspect of Circle is their commitment to total inclusivity, which extends particularly to the trans-gendered, gender fluid, etc. For every event and rite of passage, it was emphasized that people should go wherever they identify, rather than being bound to their biology.
As befitting a Pagan gathering, there was plenty of music, performed by several bands as well as lone bards, such as Louis Garou and Mama Gina, who had also performed at the last three Pagan events I’d attended. Bands included Spiral Rhythm, who had performed at PUF, Thundersirens, and Arthur (“King of the Britons”) Hinds and the Round Table. Saturday night they all came on stage for “Bardapalooza.”
In addition to the ever-popular Phil’s Grill (a staple at several Pagan festivals), there were excellent meals by Jeanette Catering of Sharonville, OH. As they were a mundane operation, I had a nice talk with Melanie S., who headed up the catering crew, regarding what she thought of this gathering of Pagans. I was pleased that she said we were just the nicest bunch of folks she’d ever served. The next day she told me that she’d looked me up, and would be following my adventures on Facebook, so here’s to you, Melanie!