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Starwood Festival

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The Starwood Festival is a seven-day Neo-Pagan, New Age, multi-cultural and world music festival, taking place every July in the United States of America. The Starwood Festival is a camping event which holds workshops on a variety of subjects.[1] [2] There are also live musical performances, rituals, bonfires, multimedia presentations and social activities. It is a clothing optional event, and skyclad attendance is common.[3]


The Starwood Festival was founded in 1981 by the Chameleon Club, a recognized student organization at Case Western Reserve University, which later founded the Association for Consciousness Exploration (ACE). It has been operated by ACE since 1983 under its co-directors, Jeff Rosenbaum and Joe Rothenberg.[3] It featured entertainment, public ceremonies, and classes on subjects such as sensory isolation, Kirlian photography, Neopaganism, shamanism, Wicca, holistic health, tarot divination, Thelema, and past life regression. Among the first guest speakers and entertainers were Jim Alan and Selena Fox (founders of Circle Sanctuary), Raymond Buckland, Lee Bryan Grotte (Foundation for Research in Medical Botany), and music by Chameleon and The Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria.[4]

The first Starwood was held July 24–26, 1981 at Coopers Lake Campground, the same site as the Society for Creative Anachronism's Pennsic War, in Slippery Rock, PA. From 1982 through 1985 it was held at Devil's Den Park in New Philadelphia, OH, a former state park run by Whispering Winds Nudist Camp. In 1986 and 1987 it was held at Bear Creek Amphitheatre (part of Bear Creek Resort Ranch KOA) in East Sparta, OH, and at Echo Hills Ski Resort in Logan, OH (on the Buckeye Trail) in 1988 and 1989. The event moved to Brushwood Folklore Center, a private campground in Sherman, New York[5] from 1990 through 2009. Since 2010, Starwood has been held at Wisteria Campground in Pomeroy, Ohio.[6]

The event began as a weekend festival, and grew over the years to a seven-day event. Attendance has grown from 185 in the first year to peak at around 1800 people in 2002, and has stayed between 1400 and 1600 since then.[5] Since 1982, Starwood has been a clothing optional event, and skyclad attendance is common.[3]


Starwood offers approximately 150 workshops, on topics including alternative lifestyles, political & spiritual activism, spiritual traditions, consciousness-altering technologies and substances (such as biofeedback, sensory-isolation, mind machines, and entheogenic substances), martial arts & movement systems, history, magic, folklore, art & music, metaphysics and environmental issues.[2] [7]

There are classes on the drumming and dancing styles of Africa, South America, Ireland, the Middle East and elsewhere. All-night drummers’ bonfires are held each night of the event in at least two locations: the "Paw Paw Patch" for larger drums such as djembes, and the "DidgeDome" for smaller drums such as bongos and tablas, accompanied by didgeridoos and quieter instruments. There are concerts held every lunchtime, dinnertime, and evening, and all-night multi-media enhanced parties in an inflatable structure called the "PufferDome" and in an adjacent area called the "G-Spot". Starwood provides child care and children's classes and programs in a playground area called "Kids' Village",[3] and a schedule of classes and activities for teenagers. There are several areas devoted to multi-cultural ceremonies and rituals, and a non-Native sweat lodge. Friday night features a multi-media presentation, (often including fireworks, lasers, fire dancing, and synchronized music), and on the final night a torchlight procession leads to a huge bonfire.


Starwood is attended by people of all ages. Followers of diverse beliefs attend Starwood, including Wiccans, neo-druids, chaos magicians, Ásatrúar, ceremonial magicians, Buddhists, and those representing a variety of New Age spiritualities. According to the event organizers, the festival is designed for members of all spiritual paths to share their customs and beliefs. Some specific groups whose members regularly appear at and attend Starwood include the Church of All Worlds (CAW),[3][8] the Church of the SubGenius,[9] the Neo-Druidic group Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF),[10] and various Neopagan Covens and organizations.

Featured speakers

Featured entertainers


  • On several occasions, the director of ACE Jeff Rosenbaum has organized performances of Firesign Theatre radio plays on stage at Starwood, performed by organizers and guest speakers of the event under the name "Firesign Clones".[48][49]
  • Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart have appeared at over 20 Starwood Festivals (and a few WinterStar Symposiums) over the past 25 years; because of this, there has been a Church of All Worlds presence at Starwood, called the CAWmunity, for over a decade.[50]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "''Circle of Ash'' feature article by Michael Gill in ''Cleveland Free Times'', July 7th, 2005". 2005-07-07. Retrieved 2012-02-11.
  2. ^ a b "''Modern Pagans: An Investigation of Contemporary Ritual'' by John Sulak and V. Vale". Retrieved 2012-02-11.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Krassner, Paul (2005). Life Among the Neopagans in The Nation, August 24, 2005 (web only).
  4. ^ a b "Changeling Times issue #3" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-02-11.
  5. ^ a b The Encyclopedia of Modern Witchcraft & Neo-Paganism by James Lewis & Shelley Rabinovitch (2003) Citadel Press
  6. ^ a b Pagan/Magickal Festival Returns to Meigs This Week by David DeWitt, The Athens News. July 11, 2012
  7. ^ "''Circle of Ash'' feature article by Michael Gill in ''Cleveland Free Times'', July 7th, 2005". 2005-07-07. Retrieved 2012-02-11.
  8. ^ Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community by Sarah Pike (2001) University of California Press
  9. ^ Invented Religions: Faith, Fiction, Imagination by Carole M. Cusack, Pg. 106 (2010) Ashgate Pub Co
  10. ^ Ar nDraiocht Fein Website
  11. ^ The Pagan Man: Priests, Warriors, Hunters and Drummers by Isaac Bonewits (2005) Citadel
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i Starwood XXV: Feelin' the Love by Peg Aloi (2005) in Witchvox Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ a b The Blame Game article by Paul Krassner in The Huffington Post, August 26, 2005.
  14. ^ a b The Witch Hunt Ain't Over by Paul Krassner in High Times (Dec 24, 2003) Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Starwood Festival 2009 by Mark Mansfield June 26th, 2009 StereoSubversion Website
  16. ^ The Necronomicon Files: The Truth Behind Lovecraft's Legend by John Wisdom Gonce III & Daniel Harms (2003) Weiser Books
  17. ^ Kokopelli Seed: A Novel of Magic, Earthen Insight and Gaian Awakening by Jesse Wolf Hardin
  18. ^ Ellen Evert Hopman Website Bio
  19. ^ a b Starwood 2011 by Taliesin Govannon in Witchvox
  20. ^ a b c Starwood Festival 2011 (A Review by Oberon Zell) by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart (2011) in Witchvox
  21. ^ Starwood Diaries by Deborah Lipp
  22. ^ Merry Meet Again: Lessons, Life & Love on the Path of a Wiccan High Priestess by Deborah Lipp
  23. ^ Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community by Professor Sarah M. Pike 2001 (Pg. 129)
  24. ^ Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Psychedelic Adventures by Charles Hayes 2000
  25. ^ Maat Magick: A Guide to Self-Initiation by Nema (1995) Weiser Books
  26. ^ Bio on M. Macha Nightmare's Website
  27. ^ Starwood Slackful Despite Legume's Bomb Misfire by Rev. Ivan Stang
  28. ^ Essential Asatru: Walking the Path of Norse Paganism by Diana L. Paxson (2006) Citadel
  29. ^ Masks of the Goddess: Interview With Lauren Raine by Christopher Blackwell (2012)
  30. ^ Celebrating Silver Ravenwolf by Donald Michael Kraig in Llewellyn Journal
  31. ^ a b What We Did on Our Summer Vacation by Earth Drum Council
  32. ^ Tornado Devastation Averted by Frantic Gesticulations of Hideous, Morbidly Obese One-Legged Pagan Crone!
  33. ^ a b c d Aloi, Peg (2007) Witchvox article about Starwood 27
  34. ^ a b c Dispatches from the Front: Harvey Wasserman appearing live at the 2007 Starwood Festival in The Free Press July 7, 2007
  35. ^ Ottawa International Writer's Festival profile of Robert Anton Wilson
  36. ^ New Age and Neopagan Religions in America by Sarah Pike (2004) Pg. 89, Columbia University Press
  37. ^ a b c d Starwood 2003 (2) by Don Waterhawk (2003) in Witchvox
  38. ^ "Big Brother and the Holding Company: BBBase". Retrieved 2012-02-11.
  39. ^ Starwood 2004 (2) by Don Waterhawk (2004) in Witchvox
  40. ^ The Musical World of Halim El-Dabh by Denise Seachrist (2003) Kent State University Press: World Musics Series
  41. ^ a b c Bay Area Events Website: Tony Saunders Bio
  42. ^ Info and audio of JuMiller band set from 2012 Starwood Festival July 13th, 2012 [1]
  43. ^ a b Starwood article on Stephen Kent Website
  44. ^ Starwood 2002 (2) by Don Waterhawk (2002) in Witchvox
  45. ^ Starwood 2004 (1) by Don Waterhawk (2004) in Witchvox
  46. ^ calendar of Events: Jim Scott Website
  47. ^ Telesma Website: Photos
  48. ^ "Falafal Website". Retrieved 2012-02-11.
  49. ^ "SubGenius Website". Retrieved 2012-02-11.
  50. ^ Bio on Oberon Zell-Ravenheart's Official Website

External links