June 29, 2012 in Uncategorized
Festivals are without a doubt one of the staple activities in the pagan community no-matter where you come from. For those who come to festivals as attendees the experience can consist of several days of like-minded bliss, passionate workshops and rituals, and life changing conversation. Those on the planning and organization side of the festival experience spend at least a year before the opening of the gates meticulously chasing down insurance policies, space, utilities, supplies, and scheduling speakers, guests, etc.
PSG ( Pagan Spirit Gathering ) boasts one of the longest running and largest pagan-centric festivals in the United States. Since 1980 pagans from all over the world have flocked to the gathering to soak-up spiritual rays and share their knowledge and experience. This year PSG invited local author, witch, priestess, and community advocate Crystal Blanton and Activist Patrick McCollum as featured guests.
I was able to track Crystal Blanton down to ask her a few intimate questions about her experience.
DH: What was your general experience while there? What was the general vibe?
CB: The general experience at PSG was fantastic. I had such a good time talking, laughing, dancing, singing, hugging and “straight chillin” with the PSG community. The vibe was very supportive and loving. I always come from the mid-west with several new family members and this year was the same. And I got to spend time with others that I have strong bonds with. What a wonderful feeling to walk among fellow Pagans and know you are with family.
DH: What did you present while at PSG and what feedback did you get on the work?
CB: I presented four workshops at this years event; Pagan Cultural Integration, West Side Story Witches and two workshops on Restorative Justice in the Pagan community. I got great feedback from participants, especially in regards to balancing the multiple cultures we carry and also in regards to restorative justice to support healthy dynamics in our community.
DH: What, in your words, was the high-light of the event?
How could I chose a highlight? There are too many. I would, of course, include the incredible conversations around transgendered inclusion/exclusion, seeing Spiral Rhythm and Tuatha Dea perform, having Margot Alder play DJ in the car on the way to the airport, the Symposium put on by the PNC camp, laughing with Cara, David, River, Heather, Nels and Judy, and receiving hugs from my friends when the day was just so overwhelming. It is all of those things and more.
DH: Do you feel there was a difference in pagan culture in the mid-west? If so what were the differences and what were the similarities?
CB: The biggest difference in Pagan culture in the mid-west might be the use of or lack of clothing at Pagan festivals. I say that humorously, knowing that much of that has to do with the culture of outdoor festivals and the weather. It was very hot for the first four days of my PSG experience and I have heard rumors of previous years.
Outside of that, the mid-west Pagans are wonderful, friendly and have built great communities.
DH: Did you get to meet any of your own heroes? Who and what did you take from the experience?
CB: All Pagans in our community are heroes to me because they fill a void that cannot be replaced. If I were to choose heroes from my experience I would first start there and say thank you for embracing me and showing me community love.
In that I would add some specific people to my list of heroes, including Nels, Judy and Peter Dybing (my family), Cara, David, Heather and Laurie from PNC, Ed Hubbert, Michael Cheiron (my brother), Serafine, Alana and so many more!! Spending time with Selena Fox , Margot Alder and Damh the Bard was incredible. River Higginbotham and Shauna Aura are incredible people and new friends and I fell in love with Sharon, Blode and Cheri (PSG staff). And I salute Melissa Murry and Ruth Barrett for being incredible faces of change. In the end…. I took away a sense of humble respect for being able to rub shoulders with some of the most incredible people ever.
DH: What did you bring back with you from PSG spiritually?
CB: Spiritually I brought back another layer of connectivity to everyone and everything. I have struggled since the death of my mother to trust in others to be present for me and I believe this festival showed me again that I can. Nels (who did the main ritual) asked me to play a part and warned me that there would be fire. It touched me greatly that he remembered my struggle with fire since my mother died this way; Nels remembered to take care of me.
I also learned that the Gods will continue to give us roles as long as there is a job to be done. I have slowly began to embrace my job (given by the Gods) in my process of growth and coming back from PSG I know that it is important and the Gods know exactly what they are doing. I am learning to listen better and question them less.
PSG organizers have already released the dates for the 2013 event and you can find out more here.
PNC Bay Area