We have a great custom in the United States that many families practice year after year to stay in contact with members of their family who may live far away, people who they may not be able to stay in contact with as often as they would like, and this custom is referred to as a family reunion. It is a blessed time for any and all of us to reconnect with those that we love but may not see, it is a time for us to bond once more with someone who understands us well, but who also lives many miles away. In many ways, the Pagan festivals that are held in the United States every year are no different, yet somehow are frowned upon due to the misunderstanding of the chosen path of belief and religion that the Pagans have chosen to live their lives by. Yet as I researched this topic, I realized that these people come together for the inner serenity and oneness that they open themselves up to by simply surrounding themselves with nature and those who do not judge them for who they are.
These Pagan festivals are a spiritual retreat and pilgrimage for which thousands of people worldwide travel to experience every year. They make this pilgrimage so that they may create and rekindle bonds with those who share similar beliefs and live similar lifestyles.
In the United States, the most popular festivals attract well over one thousand people, which include speakers, presentations, workshops, musical acts, and vendors. The contact that they make within the community at these festivals reaffirms their choices in the multitude of the Pagan faiths.
What is so unique about attending these events is that regardless of whether you are in attendance for the first time or for the hundredth, you are greeted with the same sincere, warm smile, making you feel welcome and wanted in their presence. It can be quite a challenging journey into the secluded grounds, and a sincere greeting is what makes their travel worth their time.
The grounds that have been chosen for these festivals even seem to resonate with the vibrant energy of perfect love and trust, which is a bittersweet reminder of a simpler era gone by. In fact, these fests often resemble Renaissance Fairs due to the free-flowing, peasant-style costumes and the merchant booths that are found all across the grounds.
Many fests are deemed “Primitive Camping”, due to the fact that they often exclude running water and electricity. They rely only on natural lighting, propane, and batteries to meet their needs. Many are also designated as “Clothing Optional”, or have specific sections for those who wish to be free of the trappings of society. This is actually a highlight for some and it is expected that all who are in attendance, children included, will adjust.
Pagan and Wiccan holidays
A majority of Pagan festivals are held in warmer weather with the theme focusing on Pagan and Wiccan holidays, such as Beltaine (celebrated on the first of May), Litha (the Summer Solstice), and Lammas (celebrated on the first of August). Many hosts will plan their dates around other fests so as to draw more people with the emphasis simply being that the festival itself as the reason for celebration.
Some of the highlights of the fests include drumming circles, where the main objective is for those who are in attendance to share rhythm and be in tune with one another, and large bonfires, both being held at the same location simultaneously. Freeform and fire dancers also add a powerful primal element to the evening. In addition, Deities can be achieved in these environments, which is a highly prized goal.
There are many festivals held throughout the year in celebration of the various Pagan holidays, and here are a couple which may be of interest to you.
1. PAGAN SPIRIT GATHERING (PGS)- OHIO
This is one of the country’s oldest and largest Nature Spirituality festivals which began
in 1980 and has been bringing together hundreds of people in celebration of the Summer
Solstice ever since. It is open not only to long-time practitioners, but also to newcomers
to the paths of Wicca, Paganism, Shamanism, Celtic traditions, Native American ways, and
related forms of Eco spirituality. It offers an opportunity for personal renewal,
networking, education, and cultural enrichment.
2. STARWOOD FESTIVAL- SHERMAN, NY
This is known as the largest Pagan/Magickal/Consciousness gathering in North America. It
is held near Lake Chataqua and is known for its eclectic nature and diversity of offerings.
3. HEARTLAND PAGAN FEST- KANSAS
4. PAGANSTOCK- MICHIGAN
5. BLUE RIDGE BELTAINE FESTIVAL- VIRGINIA
6. FREE SPIRIT GATHERING- MARYLAND
Each of these festivals has its own website, some offering more information than others, but all of them stating the dates that they have the festival planned for. Some require registration ahead of time, so if you are looking for a little Spiritual relaxation, start making your reservations now!