Pagan Spirit Gathering

Pagan Spirit Gathering (40)

Tuesday, 08 December 2015 07:36

Guide for CPAP users

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psg evergreen logoWe recognize that some PSG attendees use CPAP machines, and that powering those devices is an important part of getting good rest.  Our current PSG site has very limited electric availability, so this guide will help you navigate your options.

Disclaimer: If in doubt, check with your CPAP manufacturer or your medical equipment supplier.  Don't do anything stupid with your expensive equipment!  And -- test everything before you leave for PSG.


Power in Disability Camp

Electrical service in Disability Camp, near the center of the PSG site, is available by application only, for $20.  Space is a complicating factor: if you have anything larger than a tent, you may not be able to fit in Disability Camp -- RVs and travel trailers are not going to work there.


Battery Options

Whether you're camping in a larger unit like an RV or you just don't want to be tied down to the Disability Camp area, a battery-powered solution may be right for you.

The typical CPAP unit without a humidifier draws around 25 watts, and a humidifier & heated tube increases that to around 80 watts.  So, the first thing to consider when camping with a CPAP is to jettison the humidifier.  Southern Illinois in late June tends to be hot and humid, so this may not pose a problem for you.

Solutions from the CPAP manufacturers may be prohibitively expensive, such as this $670 option for a ResMed S9.  However, it may be more convenient to use a 12-volt converter -- either one from your CPAP vendor (example), or an inexpensive inverter.


How Much Battery Do I Need?

Batteries are rated in amp-hours (Ah): for example, a 10Ah battery will supply 10 amps for one hour, or one amp for ten hours.  So let's do some rough math:

  • A CPAP machine which needs 25 watts will, if powered by a 12-volt supply, need just over 2 amps.  Let's round that up to 2.5 amps to account for power loss in the converter.
  • Let's assume you get 8 hours of sleep every night, so 8 x 2.5 = 20Ah needed to get you through the night.  If you're running a humidifier, bump that up to 55Ah.  Seriously, consider losing the humidifier.


What Kind of Battery Should I Get?

Depends on how much you want to spend and how much hassle you're willing to deal with.  One convenient option would be a better-quality car jump starter unit, such as this one for around $150 which comes with a built-in charger.  Note that I have not found a jump starter for less than $150 which has a large enough battery -- do the research and don't buy something inadequate!

If you want to spend a little less, and have something that is safely sealed and won't leak, you could consider a sealed lead-acid battery for closer to $75.

If you want to spend less yet, or if you're running a humidifier -- and you don't mind lugging around a big battery which may spill acid if tipped -- then something like a group 24 deep-cycle / marine battery for around $60 will work.  One extra advantage of a big battery is that you'll get 2 or 3 nights out of a full charge.  Motorcycle or tractor batteries can work as well -- but keep in mind that if it weighs less than 20 pounds, it's probably not enough battery.


How Do I Charge My Battery?

There will be power available near the Info Tent and at the power pole behind the stage, and you can carry your battery there daily for charging.  If you do that, make sure to bring a battery charger!  A 10-amp charger like this one will top off one night's worth of use in about three hours.

Solar charging is also an option, though you do need to take care to buy a large enough one.  A 100-watt panel and a controller will, for about $150 and a little wiring, get you through both sunny and cloudy days.  The little 10-watt panels sold for charging cellphones and the like will never keep up, even under optimal conditions.


Other Questions?

If you'd like to discuss this further or talk over a specific setup, please feel free to contact Bob Paxton at


Saturday, 05 December 2015 07:29

PSG 2016 Registration Now Open!

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psg 2016 frontCircle Sanctuary is pleased to announce that Pagan Spirit Gathering 2016 will be held from June 19 to 26, 2016, at Tall Tree Lake in Illinois.  Tall Tree Lake is a beautiful 200-acre event ground located near the village of Vienna in southern Illinois.  Already the host of several large events and music festivals, Tall Tree Lake will provide a spacious home for the growing Pagan Spirit Gathering community, against a backdrop of a stunning natural lake.

Friday, 04 December 2015 15:56

PSG 2016 Workshops

Written by

Workshop submissions will be accepted through April 1, 2016, and approved workshops will appear on this page starting in the spring.


psg 2015 small

June 18, 2015 Statement Update: 

Three days after the flash flood at Stonehouse Farm, the Pagan Spirit Gathering supply truck rolled out of the gate and our volunteers are on their way home.  Circle Sanctuary extends deep and profound gratitude for all of those volunteers who went above and beyond to push stuck vehicles, help one another pack, and ensure that every PSG participant was able to head home safely.   We also thank all of those around the world who have been sending support, energy, and encouragement.  The theme of this year's Pagan Spirit Gathering was 'Celebrating Community,' and we could not have a clearer illustration of all we have celebrate than the response -- from near and far -- to this disaster.

While PSG 2015 is over at Stonehouse Farm, the clean-up and recovery process continues.  This Saturday, June 20, Circle invites volunteers to come help our tired PSG take-down crew to unpack the PSG truck and to help clean, repair and sort all of the gear that is needed for the festival.  To RSVP, please see the Facebook invitation here.

Even once the last tent is dry and stowed, there is still a great deal yet to be done.  Circle Sanctuary will work to answer post-PSG questions and concerns, however it will likely take some time for us to gather all the information we will need to make decisions and offer accurate information.  We hope to reopen the Circle Sanctuary office for normal business by July 1st.  Until then we ask that questions be directed to  We will respond as information becomes available, and we thank the community for your ongoing patience and support.  The energy and well wishes have truly been felt, and we are humbled and awed by the strength of our community and all others lending their support.


June 16, 2015 Statement:

On Monday afternoon Stonehouse Farm, the campground in northern Illinois where Pagan Spirit Gathering is being held, experienced a flash flood.  PSG staff were monitoring the weather situation, and the Gathering activated emergency procedures.  What followed over the course of the next several hours was an amazing display of community unity and strength.  Numerous attendees joined the PSG community Guardians and volunteers in relocating all of the people and most campsites that were in low lying areas, or places where the roads could become impassable.  As a result of the coordination and community effort, no one was injured.  

While PSG has endured severe weather before, including a near-miss by a tornado at a different campground, this is the largest scale emergency in the festival's 35 year history.  Some tents and personal property were lost or became sodden and a small number of vehicles and campers were not able to be moved out of the flooded areas.  One unoccupied camper left in the flooded zone was destroyed by a fallen tree.  The vast majority of campsites and vehicles, as well as all of the people, were safely evacuated before the flood waters reached them.  

In the wake of the emergency, the community rallied to support those displaced and the PSG volunteers and Safety team.  Offers of spare tents, bedding, and food flowed in and people opened their hearts and campsites to friends and strangers alike.  Guest musician Wendy Rule performed for those displaced and waiting. This year's PSG theme is 'Celebrating Community,' and the community rose to the challenge.

In the morning it was concluded that the site conditions and weather expected later in the week were such that they could not safely and comfortably support the whole gathering of nearly one thousand people for the rest of the week.  A community ritual of healing and farewell was led by PSG founder Selena Fox on Tuesday morning.  Gathering participants are now leaving the site in stages, with those camped on less sodden ground helping those who were most affected by the flooding to depart first.  The whole gathering will depart over the coming days.

PSG and Circle Sanctuary plan to release further information later in the week, but for now the focus is on helping those affected and organizing a safe early departure from the site.  Circle Sanctuary thanks the PSG community for a truly awe inspiring display of strength and mutual support, and asks for continued understanding as together we work to get everyone home safely and respond to the ongoing situation.



Friday, 26 June 2015 05:36


Written by

Pagan Spirit Gathering 2015 Guidelines

Each adult must read and accept this waiver as a condition of registration.

SITE: Camp, park, build fires, and stay within designated areas. No hunting, plant foraging or wood cutting. Don't litter - keep your site clean. Bring bags/containers for recycling. Don't bring pets, animal friends, people not pre-registered, firearms, illegal drugs, alcohol not intended for personal consumption. Swimming and wading are at your own risk.

MINORS: May attend with a parent/legal guardian or other adult caretaker designated by their parent/legal guardian. Caretaker MUST request, complete & return a Caretaker Registration form (.pdf) prior to event. Parent/Legal Guardian/Caretaker is responsible for supervision of minor(s) and for ensuring the minor(s) complies with all provisions of the Gathering Guidelines. When minor(s) is not in Childcare/Tweens Center or Young Elders Center, the parent/legal guardian/caretaker should retain control over and supervision of the minor(s). Neither Circle Sanctuary nor Stonehouse Farm staff will be responsible for your children at the Gathering. Use of the Childcare/Tweens/Young Elders Centers for minor(s) in your care is at your own risk and discretion.

PHYSICAL & MENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS that may require medication and/or periodical medical attention must be described in the comment section of the registration form. Bring an ample supply of any needed medications - there is no nearby pharmacy. A doctor's permission will be required for persons with health conditions that require ongoing support from First Aid and/or Psyche's Grotto.

ALCOHOL/TOBACCO use is limited to adults. Alcohol must be used in moderation. No sale of alcohol is permitted. No alcohol is allowed in Amethyst Circle or Sweatlodge area. If you smoke, be considerate of non-smokers: make sure butts are extinguished and deposited in an appropriate receptacle and not placed on ground.

RESPECT & RESPONSIBILITY: You are responsible for your welfare and the welfare of any minor(s) in your care, your personal property and the personal property of any minor(s) in your care. You and any minor(s) in your care shall:

  • Respect all participants, including those whose spiritual tradition, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, race & other ways differ from yours.
  • Be quiet in designated quiet areas and ritual spaces & at designated times.
  • Be honest, trustworthy & considerate in dealing with others including Circle Staff, PSG Staff & Stonehouse Farm Staff.
  • Respect the site, plants, animals, and all the Nature Spirits that dwell there.
  • Abide by PSG's privacy policy and photo guidelines as posted on the website.

All adults are required to sign up for & complete 4 hours of volunteer work during the Gathering.

Agreement & Waiver

  • I have read the guidelines above, and agree to comply fully with them.
  • I will not sell or barter goods or services at PSG, unless I am a registered Merchant.
  • I agree to sign up for and perform at least 4 hours of work tasks during the week.
  • I will not bring anyone not preregistered/identified on this or some other waiver form. All minors under my care at this Gathering are identified by name elsewhere on this registration.
  • I assume full responsibility for my personal welfare, personal property, and any minors who are under my care at the Gathering under all circumstances.
  • I assume full responsibility for my conduct related to the gathering site environment, including its protection and conservation.
  • I understand that the Gathering is being held in a primitive camping area, and that I need to exercise caution to maintain the health and safety of myself and any minors under my care.
  • I understand that any medical, childcare, and other services at the Gathering I choose to use for myself and/or minors in my care is totally at my own risk.
  • I understand that if I and/or the minors in my care choose not to comply with the Gathering Guidelines, I will be required to leave without refund and I agree to comply.
  • I agree to hold harmless Circle Sanctuary, Inc., its directors, staff, volunteers and associates, Stonehouse Farm, its owners, staff, volunteers and associates, for any personal injury or loss occurring to me or any minors under my care as a result of my participation in or connection with the Gathering under any circumstances.
  • I agree to abide by the privacy policy and photo guidelines of PSG as outlined on the website.
  • By entering my information below, I attest that I understand and am in full agreement with the terms of this WAIVER.


psg 2015 smallJune 18, 2015 Statement Update: 

Three days after the flash flood at Stonehouse Farm, the Pagan Spirit Gathering supply truck rolled out of the gate and our volunteers are on their way home.  Circle Sanctuary extends deep and profound gratitude for all of those volunteers who went above and beyond to push stuck vehicles, help one another pack, and ensure that every PSG participant was able to head home safely.   We also thank all of those around the world who have been sending support, energy, and encouragement.  The theme of this year's Pagan Spirit Gathering was 'Celebrating Community,' and we could not have a clearer illustration of all we have celebrate than the response -- from near and far -- to this disaster.

Monday, 01 June 2015 16:22

In Memoriam

Written by

Pagan Spirit Gathering Community Beloved Dead

Email any updates/corrections to this list:

Margot Adler of New York (1946-2014)

De-Anna Alba (Wendy White) of California (1952-2012)

James Bademian of California

Dori Beyer  (Serenity de Namaste) of Wisconsin (1940-2004)

Isaac Bonewits of New Jersey (1949-2010)

Angelo Calderado (Lo Head) of Michigan (1967-2010)

Loren Caswick (Kyril Oakwind) of Wisconsin

Grey Cat of Tennesse (1940-2012)

Aileen Cheng of Illinois (1987-2012)

TJ Collins of  Ohio (1978-2010)

Duanne Colvin

Brigit Cook of Missouri (2000-2014)

Joanne M. Doak of Wisconsin (1949-2005)

Richard Harris Eney (Diccon Frankborn) of Maryland (1937- 2006)

Glenn Alan Fischer

Wade Jeffery Forshee of Michigan (1955-2007)

Joel Gainer (Wolfhawk) of Wisconsin (1948-2009)

Neta Gilbertsen of Wisconsin (1932-2014)

Wally Gilbertsen of Wisconsin (1928-2001)

Mike Gleason of Massachusetts (1951-2012)

Roxane Gonseth of Florida (1956-2015)

Pedro Gonzalez, Jr. of Pennsylvania (1944-2010)

Dave Grega of Texas (1984-2012)

Alison Harlow of California (1934-2004)

Bill Hassel of Washington (d. 1998)

Jennifer (Jenny) Jo Head of Alabama (1973-2011)

James Hershberger (Garanhir) of Texas

Karen Jackson of Illinois (d. 2007)

Steve Jackson (Ravenwolf) of  Illinois (1957-2014)

Kris Jensen of Wisconsin (1953-2014)

Jeane Blue Crow Julian of Virginia

Hilary Karnda of Wisconsin (1941-2005)

Pam Kolozsy of Illinois (1948-2010)

Jeff Koslow of Ohio (1949-2003)

Donald Michael Kraig of California (1951-2014)

Sandra Kuckla of Illinois (1955-1999)

Christopher Lannin of Wisconsin

Lado Stetak of Ohio (d. 2010)

Emily Lingen of Minnesota (1979-1999)

Sidney Malloch (Crow Wind) of Wisconsin (1938-2010)

Fran McIntosh (Lady Isis) of Arkansas (d. 2011)

Barbara Moss of Wisconsin (1969-2015)

George Moyer of Colorado (1952-2011)

Donald Mulligan (Laughing Starheart) of Michigan (d. 2008) 

Ronald Lee Naanes (Rainbow Man) of Indiana (1939-2007)

Wayne Ochs of Missouri (1944-2001)

Bruce Parsons of Wisconsin (1947-2010)

Amy Paul (Blessing Bird) of Maryland (d. 2011)

Gwydion Penderrwen of California (1946-1982)

Gordon Pepin of Wisconsin (1951-2012)

Leianne Pepper of Kentucky (d. 2011)

Henry Petrucci (Tree) of Michigan

Eva Phillips

Owain Phyfe of Michigan (1949-2012)

Grayce Porter of Iowa

James Porter of Iowa

Dennis Presser of Wisconsin (1958-2013)

Michael Ragan of Georgia (1931-2014)

Richard Ravish of Massachusetts (1952-2012)

Stevie Reynolds of Kentucky (1953-2012)

Jeff Rosenbaum of Ohio  (1955-2014)

Jim Runnels  (Moon/Mad Dog) of Minnesota (1941-2004)

Al Saddoris of Illinois (1950-2000)

Lisa Circe Santaniello (Antigone) of Texas (1954-2014)

Paula Schultz (d. 2014)

Peter Bruner Soderberg (Sparky T. Rabbit) of Illinois (1954-2014)

Sarah Ellen Taylor of Illinois (1983-2015) 

Paul Tuitean of Minnesota (1954-2001)

Carl Vaumen

Charlene Elizabeth Vierke (LoreSeeker) (d. 2007)

Gloria Villanueva of Wisconsin (1938-2008)

Wade Vorshee

Julie Wichman of Wisconsin (1963-2012)

Christine Elizabeth Wright of Indiana (1973-2014)

Morning Glory Zell of California (1948-2014)


Saturday, 30 May 2015 08:11

Pagan Spirit Gathering Themes

Written by

Private Land near Sparta, Wisconsin

  • 1980: Celebrating Summer Solstice (prototype PSG)
  • 1981: Growth & Survival of Paganism in the Years Ahead

Private Land near Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

  • 1982: Healing the Planet, Healing Ourselves
  • 1983: Pagan Music & Culture

Eagle Cave in Wisconsin

  • 1984: Shamanism for the New Age
  • 1985: Pagan Life Around Mother Earth
  • 1986: Celebrating Mother Earth, Solstice Sun & Magick Moon
  • 1987: Honoring Mother Nature & Midsummer Sun
  • 1988: Magic Music & Sacred Dance
  • 1989: Ecomagic
  • 1990: Heal this Planet!
  • 1991: Pagan Paths
  • 1992: Nature Peoples
  • 1993: Sacred Circles
  • 1994: Earth & Sky
  • 1995: Nature Communion
  • 1996: Culture and Community

Wisteria in Ohio

  • 1997: Sun, Moon, & Land
  • 1998: Pagan Towne
  • 1999: Sacred Mound
  • 2000: Magick in Nature
  • 2001: Horizons
  • 2002: Tree of Life
  • 2003: Family & Community
  • 2004: Wheel of the Year
  • 2005: Enchanted Celebration
  • 2006: Sun Magic
  • 2007: Celebrating Lights of Liberty
  • 2008: Bring Your Spirit Home

Camp Zoe in Missouri

  • 2009: Old Traditions, New Beginnings
  • 2010: Spirals of Spirit & Light

Stonehouse Farm in Illinois

  • 2011: Solstice Magic
  • 2012: Tribe and Spirit through the Ages
  • 2013: Connections
  • 2014: Heart and Harmony
  • 2015: Celebrating Community


Saturday, 30 May 2015 08:09

Pagan Spirit Gathering History

Written by

by Selena Fox

Pagan Spirit Gathering, also known as PSG, is one of America’s oldest and largest Pagan camping festivals.  Organized and sponsored by Circle Sanctuary, PSG is a Pagan village community immersion experience that takes place during Summer Solstice week each year and that continues year round through social media and other forms of interpersonal communications.

PSG was an outgrowth of Pagan networking and seasonal celebrations that I, along with others involved with Circle Sanctuary, began doing in the 1970s.  Pagan Spirit Gathering also is rooted in values prevalent in mid twentieth century social movements for peace, environmental preservation, equality, liberty, and justice for all.  PSG is an opportunity to create and live cooperatively in a society founded on those values.

Pagan Spirit Gathering started in 1980 as a weekend Summer Solstice festival on private land near Sparta, Wisconsin.  Although small, with only ninety people, this prototype PSG brought together Pagans from many paths and many places from across the United States and beyond to create and live in a Pagan village in a natural location.  There was no program book and no pre-established times for workshops, discussions, music sharing, and rituals at our 1980 festival.  Program activities were organized on site.

PSG emerged as a new kind of Pagan festival that focused on building connections and developing community among Pagans across traditions, as well as forming and strengthening spiritual relationships with sacred dimensions of Nature.  Each day and evening of that first gathering, we came together to create and nurture community in meetings, workshops, and rituals.  Festival drumming, which is now widespread across Pagan gatherings the world over, began at this prototype PSG.

The following year, in 1981, we expanded the length of our gathering to four days, increased the number of program activities from a dozen to forty, and published our first program book.  Our festival also got its name -- I named it Pagan Spirit Gathering to signify its Pagan spiritual community focus. 

At Pagan Spirit Gathering 1981, our community grew in size to 250 people.  Our festival encampment continued to evolve as a village as we established several centers, including Information, Health, and Childcare.  In addition, we began our work-sharing approach to festival staffing, which now has became commonplace for Pagan festivals organized by other groups in the USA and other countries.

Both our 1980 and 1981 PSGs were held at the same site in the forested hills of western Wisconsin.  This was the most rustic of the places where the PSG Community has made its home.  We hauled in all of our own drinking water, food, and other supplies, and, at the end of our gathering, hauled out all of our garbage and recycling.  Bathing was in the pond.  Toilet facilities were an open air outhouse and the woods. There was no electricity on site and no tents or other shelters for group activities.  

Pagan Spirit Gathering moved to a new home the following year.  This site was also private land.  It was home to PSG in both 1982 and 1983.  This second PSG site was in central Wisconsin along the Rock River near Oconomowoc.  It was still very rustic, with no electricity, drinking water taps, or shelter buildings.  We rented a large circus tent to have some communal indoor space, and under the big top, which we called “Tenthenge,” we had merchant booths and held some of our meetings and workshops there.  We trucked in drinking water in 55 galloon drums, and we bathed in the river.  For the first time, we brought in rented portatoilet units and had a parking lot for participants’ vehicles.

In 1982, we expanded PSG to six days long, beginning on the Friday of Summer Solstice weekend and ending on a Wednesday.  Participants had the option of taking part in several post-PSG events. 

At PSG 1982, we added gatekeepers and life guards to the list of community work jobs.  We expanded the number and scope of program activities and began cross scheduling workshops.  We supplemented the schedule in our program book by announcing activities via large posters on our bulletin board at our Information Center.  Workshop presenters scheduled themselves by signing up for slots and locations when they arrived at PSG.  The number of program activities increased to more than sixty that year and our program book doubled in size.

In 1983, PSG continued to grow.  The length of PSG expanded to a full week in length and the size of our community increased to 450 participants.  The Guardians, first known as the Guardians of the Fourth Face, formed that year and began doing PSG safety and security work.  Merchanting at PSG expanded from a few booths to a diverse and colorful magical marketplace.  Our growing Pagan village filled the entire 4-acre site.  Also at PSG 1983, we had our first community-created full scale theatrical production for our main ritual, featuring a variety of costumed dancers, singers, poets, and aspecting priestesses and priests.

In 1984, PSG moved to a new and bigger place, the big valley of Eagle Cave Campground near Blue River, Wisconsin.  This was our festival home for the next thirteen PSGs.  Our gathering grew in scope and size during this time, expanding to over 700 participants in 1996.  We added more workshop areas and more centers, including a place for counseling support, known then as the Centering Dome, and Amethyst Circle, an alcohol-free place with Pagan 12 Step AA meetings and other support for Pagans recovering from alcoholism and other addictions.  PSG added concerts to its program activities, using a flatbed farm wagon as a stage and an electric generator to make amplification possible.  The campground staff created a food stand and began selling meals and meal plans to participants.  

This third home to PSG included an ancient cave.   Eagle Cave, which is the largest onyx cave in Wisconsin, became a ceremonial place for us for several of our large community rituals, including my handfasting with Dennis Carpenter in 1986 and the Sacred Cave Mother Earth Communion Rite I led in 1995. 

During our years at the Eagle Cave site, community drumming grew to be an important part of PSG village life.  Drumming was a regular part of our town meetings as well as rituals. Experienced drummers began mentoring new drummers in workshops, rituals, and rhythm circles, and in 1996, developed drumming guidelines which our community adopted and continues to use.

During the time that PSG made Eagle Cave Campground its home, we expanded our work with Pagan youth to include programming for different age groups as well as a center with play area.  Also during this time, we added academic Pagan presentations, and did a PSG Tribal survey as part of a Pagan Studies research project.     

In late Autumn of 1996, Eagle Cave Campground staff and its site went through changes, and the big valley which had been our gathering home was no longer available.  The quest for a new and larger home for PSG began. 

After exploring a variety of places in Wisconsin and in several other states, PSG moved to southeastern Ohio.  Our fourth site was Wisteria, a new land project being created by a group of owners that included longtime PSG Community members. Although not yet a campground, this site had plenty of flat space for camping and festival activities. 

During the twelve years that Wisteria was home to PSG, we helped Wisteria’s group of owners develop their land as a campground and event site.  Money we paid to Wisteria owners for the use of their land and services for PSG each year helped them pay off their land debt as well as provided funds for improving their facilities.  Wisteria built a pavilion to use for operating their coffeehouse and a stage for concerts, ceremonies, and celebrations.

PSG Community members worked with Wisteria owners and staff on developing several ceremonial sites on the land.   These included a couple woodland circle areas, a large ritual circle, and two mounds. During our first PSG at Wisteria in 1997 and the following year, we created a small conical ancestral mound near the ritual circle.  At PSG 1999 and the two PSGs that followed, we created a large turtle mound made of rocks and soil in work sessions and rituals.  It served as a meditation and ceremonial place for group rituals.

PSG continued to grow in diversity and complexity.   In 1997, my husband Dennis Carpenter and I welcomed Chip Brown to PSG’s administrative team as Special Issues Director, and in 2004, we welcomed Sharon Stewart, also known as MoonFeather, as PSG Manager and Program Director. 

During our time at Wisteria, the number and type of workshops, rituals, and other program activities grew.  I began doing a yearly Pagan leadership intensive, the Tribal Dance and Drum Bonfire ritual took form, and the all-night Candlelight Labyrinth became a yearly tradition.  In addition, we began developing Young Womanhood and Manhood passage rite programs as well as the Spirit Hunt, a transformative shamanic rite, later to be called the Sacred Hunt.

In Autumn of 2008, PSG’s time at Wisteria came to a close as the owners charted new directions for their campground, including sponsoring their own festivals.   As we quested for a new PSG home, we looked for a place more centrally located in the United States and with improved facilities.

In 2009, PSG moved to a large music festival site in the magical Ozark mountains of southeastern Missouri near Salem.  This site, known then as Camp Zoe, had once been a Summer youth camp, and it had the most developed facilities of any of the sites that had previously been home to PSG.  In addition to electricity in multiple areas, it featured a full size professional stage with lights, large shower house, several cabins, and a beautiful crystal clear stream for wading, swimming, and rafting.

During our two PSG’s at Camp Zoe, we continued to innovate programming and community services.  We increased the number of workshops and workshop areas.  Training for Pagan priestesses, priests, activists, and other leaders expanded with the development of the Pagan Leadership Institute.  The Tea Dance, which had first emerged as a PSG mixer at Eagle Cave in the 1980s transformed into Pan’s Ball, a costumed dance party. Our First Aid and Safety center got a cabin for the first time, we added media support for Pagan bloggers and podcasters, and merchants had the option for electricity in the marketplace area.

In November of 2010, we learned that Camp Zoe was in the process of being shut down due to legal problems stemming from other events they had held there.  The quest for PSG’s sixth site began.  After an extensive and intensive search, we found our present home.

Since 2011, Pagan Spirit Gathering has made its home at an eco-retreat and campground now known as Stonehouse Farm.  It is located near Earlville in rural northern Illinois, about seventy miles west of Chicago.  This 37-acre site includes wooded areas, fields, gardens, a sandy beach and pond, several buildings, electrical hookups for campers and merchants, a new showerhouse, and its namesake, a historic stone house built in the mid nineteenth century by a Scottish stone mason.

The Pagan Spirit Gathering and its community have continued to grow and evolve since our move to Stonehouse Farm.  Our PSG village has grown in size to more than 1000 people of all ages.  Our our activities include a variety of life passages, such as handfastings and weddings, pregnancy and baby blessings, coming of age rites, and cronings and sagings. 

At our present PSG home, we have restructured some of our centers and added others.  Our centers now include: Gate, Safety, Information, Circle Network, Raffle, Childcare, Warrior Spirit, Teen, EnChantment, Sweatlodge, Temple of the Sun God, Moon Lodge, Maiden Circle, Crone Temple of Wisdom, Sage Temple, Dancing Shadows Lodge, Psyche’s Grotto, Rainbow, Amethyst Circle, and others.  In addition, there are specialty camping areas such as Presenters, Music, Family, Disability, RV, and Woods camps.  

At the Stonehouse Farm site, we have returned to using the main ritual circle for both our morning meetings each day as well as bonfire dancing and drumming all night.  Our marketplace is more centrally located as well as food service areas.  We have a large open field for our Candlelight Labyrinth and Saturday evening community ritual.

At Pagan Spirit Gathering 2015, we will be celebrating our 35th Annniversary.  We will look back over the years as well as look ahead to the future as part of our celebration.  We will thank all who have contributed to PSG and its Community.  And, we will reaffirm PSG’s founding vision:

Pagan Spirit Gathering is about communing with the Divine in Nature; aligning with the Elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit; attuning to Sun, Moon, Stars, and Land; and celebrating the Summer Solstice. 

This Gathering is also about experiencing and celebrating Community; creating a magical Pagan village together; sharing songs, meditations, rituals, food, ideas, fun, magic; sharing work as well as celebration; teaching and learning from each other; examining ourselves collectively and individually as part of Nature Spirituality and Pagan culture.

Finally, PSG is about experiencing personal transformation: purifying, balancing, centering and revitalizing ourselves through spiritual encounters; living fully as our magical Pagan selves in spiritual community and letting this process enrich our lives.  It is about the freedom to be the Wise Ones we truly are, about connecting with our ancient roots and expanding our consciousness to shape tomorrows.  It is about making Magic and more fully coming to know ourselves as individuals and as a people.  It is about carrying the insights and energy we experience into our daily lives to help ourselves, others, and the community of life on Planet Earth and beyond.

Blessed Be, PSG!

Selena Fox, also known as Rev. Selena Fox, is senior minister of Circle Sanctuary and executive director of Pagan Spirit Gathering.  PSG founding vision at the conclusion of this history is adapted from her PSG introduction published at the start of the 1981 and 2015 PSG program books.  A version of this history is published in Issue 121 of CIRCLE Magazine.

Tuesday, 07 April 2015 15:12

Ritual & Bonfire Circle Guidelines

Written by

The Ritual and Bonfire Circle is a central area that serves as a gathering place for community Morning Meetings, and for drumming, ecstatic dancing, fire spinning and chanting every evening.  Our PSG community strives to make this sacred space welcoming, safe, and respectful toward all.

Community Expectations in Ritual & Bonfire Circle

Be considerate of others - please don't block dancers from free movement.  Please don’t stand in front of seated drummers so they can’t see the fire and dancers (even if you are a drummer yourself).

Be kind to each other - share your gifts and let others gift back to you, whether it is a different style of drumming, a new chant, offering water, or a sincere compliment.  Give appreciation to the volunteer firetender for their hard work too.

Be sharing - Groove Troop (the extended "family" that coordinates Bonfire Circle) shares several drums with the community.  Feel free to use them, but let others play them too.  If you have a drum you're willing to loan to others, make that clear.  Please ask first if you would like to play someone else's drum, and remember to remove your rings.

Be tidy - this sacred space is lovingly cared for by Groove Troop, who also coordinate a volunteer workshift to rake the sand and clean up every morning.  Most lost/found items will be moved to the area under the canopy, but if the item is high value and easily damaged (such as a camera) look for it at the Information Tent the next morning. 

Trash and recycling bins are located just outside the archway - please use them.  Tidiness in the drummer's area means not leaving your instruments here when you leave.  You might think you will "be right back" but much can happen between there and the bathroom.  In the meantime, that spot is not easily accessible to another player.

Be supportive - keep up a rhythm for a firespinner until they flame out; try not to stop drumming suddenly if you notice one of the dancers is in ecstatic trance; encourage variety such as chanting and different drum "voices".

Be helpful - if you notice someone not following the guidelines, respectfully help them learn what is expected by the community.  If weather threatens, offer to help move the canopy to protect the drummers so they can continue to support the dancers.  (It can be lots of fun to dance in the rain.)

Be open to others' needs - Bonfire Circle is sacred space where friendly socializing can happen side by side with deep transformative work. It's the heart of our community, and a place where we form strong bonds, renew our spirits, and express our joy. We all make this space.

General rules:  NO GLASS! Please transfer beverages to plastic containers before bringing into the area.  Smokers, for safety please only use tobacco in the designated smokers' area and put butts in provided containers. Do not put butts or other trash on the ground or in the fire.  Please replace benches if you move them for workshops & rituals.  Do not put anything except spiritual intentions, prayers, and sacred herbs in the Sacred Fire.


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