Pagan Spirit Gathering
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The Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG) is one of the United States's oldest and largest nature spirituality festivals, organized by Circle Sanctuary. Since its inception in 1980 it has been held from Sunday to Sunday during the week around Summer Solstice.
At first, the festivals were held at in Richland County Wisconsin, but it outgrew the facilities and in 1997 moved to a location near Athens, Ohio at Wisteria. In 2009, PSG moved to Camp Zoe near Salem, Missouri. In 2011, PSG management announced its new location at Stonehouse Park near Earlville, Illinois.
Many rituals take place regularly at PSG, including:
- Summer Solstice Sun Morning Ritual - on Solstice morning
- Men's and Women's Rituals - Rituals celebrating divine masculinity and femininity
- Croning Ritual
- Sacred Hunt
- Tribal Drum & Dance Ritual
- Young Women's' Rite of Passage
- Young Men's Rite of Passage
Children, tweens, and young elders
PSG has extensive youth programming, grouped into three categories. The Children's Center serves those under 7 year old. A full range of guided activities are provided for the Tweens (8-12), and the Young Elders (13-18) have a Teen Center with snacks and other amenities. Workshops are listed with age limits and other recommendations for participants. Most workshops are open to Young Elders, and many are open to Tweens and children. Minors can also have limited access to fire spinning activities if they get permission from their guardian(s) and complete the safety training seminar.
Safety & rules
The PSG registration process includes agreeing to abide by rules set down by Circle Sanctuary, mostly for the safety and health of the participants. Some rules, such as those regarding alcohol and drugs or the nudity of minors, are put in place to assure the legality of the festival under federal and state laws. The safety and health of the participants is further protected by the Guardians of the Sacred Circle: a protective order including medical doctors and other healthcare professionals, professional counseling staff and law enforcement personnel.
PSG is clothing-optional throughout most of the campsite. Relatively few attendees go skyclad. There are some limitations for minors (in more private circumstances where adults are also present) in order to assure compliance with state law.
At PSG, each adult must perform four hours of community service or equivalent (as determined by Circle Sanctuary staff) during the course of the week. These periods of time are referred to as "workshifts". Many of these workshifts are great opportunities to interact with festival-goers in other parts of the site.
Food service is available from several vendors at PSG, though many festival attendees bring and prepare some or all of their food for the week.
A large number of merchandise vendors come to PSG each year, selling Pagan festival accouterments of all sorts.
Music is very much a part of the activities at Pagan Spirit Gathering. Chanting and singing can be heard at the Morning Meetings, at musically oriented workshops, and one can find drumming and dancing into the night at the Bonfire Circle. There is a performing arts show on the main stage and concerts every afternoon and evening of the event.
The main stage has hosted numerous performers and bands, including: Owain Phyfe, Skinny White Chick with S. J. Tucker, Damh the Bard, Coyote Run, SONA, Arthur Hinds, Ruth Barrett, Heather Jinmaku, Murphey's Midnight Rounders (formerly Dunn County Clerics), Celia, Shibaten, Spellsinger, The One Hat Band, Lezlie Revelle, Todd Alan, Incus, MotherTongue, Abbi Spinner, Stone Ring, Gypsy, Green Crown and others.
When the week is through, everyone packs up their tents and says good-bye for an entire year. The schedule reads:
"10AM Final Town Meeting and Closing Ritual at Town Green. Come and join the community in a ritual preparation for our departure and transition back into mundania."
- Adler, Margot (2006). "Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG)". Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America (Revised & Updated ed.). New York: Penguin. p. 584. ISBN 0-14-303819-2.
- Circle Sanctuary's PSG Ritual Page