Summer Pagan Festivals 2017: A Guide

July Festivals


Dates: July 11-17
Location: Wisteria Campground, near Athens Ohio
Cost: 179 as I write this, but that will be going up soon. Weekend passes also available. Gate passes are about 250 bucks.
Names: Ian Corrigan, Rev. Ivan Stang, Sharon Knight & Winter, Tamrha Richardson, Tom Swiss

I can’t find Ian or Ivan’s names on the site, but it wouldn’t be Starwood without them, right? Anyways, let me tell you some stories about Starwood since I’ve been there many times. The first time I went to Starwood it was at the Brushwood Folklore Center (we’ll get there) and it was about 45 degrees that night and raining. Two of the people I was with immediately stripped down to their birthday suits and toured the town. Meanwhile Ari and I huddled under a canopy while wrapped in about two dozen blankets. I don’t mind being naked, but it was cold, and shrinkage is a real thing. At about my eighth Starwood Ian Corrigan asked me if I wanted to have a beer in his pavilion and I nearly fainted, I am still a fan boy. Speaking of fanboy, one time Ivan Stang made fun of me during a devival and I couldn’t stop talking about it. “I’ve been insulted by the Rev. Stang! My life is nearly complete Ari.” After saying that ten times I was sent to sleep in the car.

Summer of Love Song: WHITE RABBIT by Jefferson Airplane. One thing that I’ve always liked about Starwood is that it’s more than a Pagan festival. There’s all this other stuff there, and one day Paul Krassner (who was a freaking Merry Prankster) came up to me and my brother at Starwood 25 and said something like “there are police dogs at the gate so be sure to hide your weed.” Now I don’t think there were police dogs anywhere and I don’t smoke weed, but it was really cool none the less.

Dates: July 8-16
Cost: 340 bucks for nine days with a meal plan, 180 without. Sliding scale after the start of the festival.
Location: Turtle Creek Glen, Clayton Wisconsin
Names: Wendy Rule, Ivo Dominguez, Jr., H. Byron Ballard, Brian Henke

This is a gem of a festival, I think they even won a Hornie Award for Jason’s favorite festival in 2016, and that’s high praise. Anyways, Summerland is really great. It’s a beautiful campground, there’s a bar there (only wine and beer, but oh what they do with the wine), a lovely creek to cool off in, not very many bugs, hot showers, really really good food, super nice people, I hope I get to go back one of these days. I was only there early in the week too, I had another festival that weekend, and everyone knows the weekends are when festivals kick into high gear. I also met Kelden there and just had a great time. Great stage there too, good sound, nice acoustics, etc etc. Run, don’t walk, to Summerland. And for everyone who went last year, your presenter line up is amazing this year. So much better than having Mankey there.

Summer of Love Song: I DIG ROCK AND ROLL MUSIC by Peter, Paul, and Mary. It’s debatable just how much Peter, Paul, and Mary (did you know they all lived together for decades?) dug rock and roll (past tense because they broke up after Mary died in 2009), but I dig Summerland! Totally lives up to its name too, it’s very summery.

Dates: July 14-16
Cost: 31 to 90 dollars to free! Depends on what you do.
Location: New York, New York
Names: Lilith Dorsey, Christian Day, Don Lewis, Witchdoctor Utu, Christine Stevens

This almost didn’t make my list because it’s so different, but it’s in New York City which means it’s probably more accessible to a sizable audience than any other festival on this list. There are probably 100,000 Pagans within a two hour train ride of this event so on the list it goes. This is more of a street fair and is obviously not a campout, which is what makes it so different from most of the things listed here. Anyways, the speaker line up looks tremendous, there’s vending and there’s a Summer time ritual too. And there’s music, including my favorite Dragon Ritual Drummers.

Summer of Love Song: GIRL, YOU’LL BE A WOMAN SOON by Neil Diamond. A lot of you probably don’t like Neil Diamond, but I love Neil freaking Diamond. I saw him live a few years ago, tremendous! The only downside was that he milked Sweet Caroline for about 20 minutes which means he didn’t get to Heartlight, nearly unacceptable. Anyways, Neil was born in New York which is why he’s here.

Dates: July 17-23
Cost: 180 dollars for the week, and then sliding scale by day.
Location: Brushwood Folklore Center, Sherman New York
Names: Lilith Dorsey, Peg Aloi

Even though I haven’t been to Brushwood in something like three or four years now, there’s still a plastic bin there with the word “Mankey” waiting for me when I go back. I think there’s a tent, a small cooler, an air mattress and a chair in there, I wonder what sort of shape they are in? Sirius Rising has long been a festival favorite and Brushwood is absolutely my favorite campground in the world. The pool, the woods, the hottub (or as Ari calls it “people stew” or “people ewwww,” she’s a scientist), the labyrinth, I love just about everything about Brushwood. Though this Mankey won’t be there this year, I think my brother might be going, though we are nothing alike. Extra bonus, I met Heron Michelle at a Sirius Rising.

I was too lazy to give it a separate description, but the week before Sirius is the Sankofa festival which is a nice lead in to Sirius Rising. You can get to Sankofa on the weekend and then watch Brushwood build up to Sirius. It’s fun to do things that way.

Summer of Love Song: THE RAIN THE PARK & OTHER THINGS by The Cowsills. If there’s a downside to Brushwood it’s the rain. Since it’s located near a Great Lake the chances of rain and thunderstorms are high. But the rain used to give me time to do “other things” in my tent so to speak. Also don’t mock The Cowsills, they had some good songs. They were the inspiration for the Partridge Family.

Dates: July 19-23
Location: Ronora Lodge and Retreat Center, Watervliet, Michigan
Cost: 95 dollars, 135 for a spot in the lodge
Names: Rev. Jean Pagano (Drum), Jennie Bauman Finelli (Rhiannon), Pictus

Please don’t think I’m making fun of anyone, but both of Chrysalis Moon’s special guest presenters have names in parenthesis. I always wanted to have a cool alternative name, but I’ve never come up with one for myself, and no one has ever christened me with one either. I’m just “Jason” and always have been, that’s probably why I wasn’t invited to Chrysalis Moon this year. If you’ve got ideas for a Jason nickname please don’t leave them in the comments because I’m scared what most of you will say. The one year I was almost a special guest at Chrysalis Moon (I came in fourth i think) was the same year as the World Cup, so it was probably a good thing I didn’t go because I would have always been checking soccer scores.

Summer of Love Song: (YOUR LOVE KEEPS LIFTING ME) HIGHER & HIGHER by Jackie Wilson. I wanted something that had parenthesis in it (no one said my systems make any sense) for the song and I wanted one that I absolutely love, Higher & Higher met both criteria. It’s a really great song, if the festival is half as good as their assigned song it will be fabulous!

Dates: July 21-23
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Cost: 100 bucks in advance, 125 at the door, day passes available
Names: JASON MANKEY, John Beckett, Laura Tempest Zakroff (And these aren’t even the “featured presenters” but are the featured presenters in my brain.)

I’ll be honest, one of the reasons the wife and I are going to Mystic South is because it’s near where we are going for vacation. Since we live on the West Coast we suffer under the delusion that Orlando and Atlanta are near each other, so we are headed to Harry Potter land at Universal Studios (and the all new Volcano Bay water park) as a prelude to indoor Pagan festival shenanigans. I have to admit I’m thrilled to see an indoor festival in the Atlanta, much like I spend all of Detroit’s ConVocation indoors hiding from the cold, I suspect I’ll spend all of Mystic South indoors hiding from the heat. Also, it’s Atlanta which means I’ll get to eat at the Varsity, home to some of the best hotdogs in the world. A Varsity dog isn’t as good as a Detroit Coney Dog, but it’s close. I really am looking forward to this festival, and seeing a lot of folks I know there from around the country. Heron is going too, and so is Dodie Graham McKay from Canada who writes for the Wild Hunt, and it’s the home of Heather Greene from the Wild Hunt who I totally love. Orion Foxwood will be there too, I wonder if anyone will have a giant cardboard cut of him to share?

Summer of Love Song: GEORGY GIRL by The Seekers. “Georgy” is a lot like Georgia so that’s why I went with this. I also assume Mystic South (what a great name!) will be full of seekers, so it has a double meaning. Hey there Georgy Girl . . . this is a great freaking song.

A lake near Lake Tahoe.
A lake near Lake Tahoe.

Dates: July 26-July 30
Location: Bethel, Vermont
Cost: 80 dollars for all five days (less if you register early), sliding scale for less days, meal plans available

Vermont is one of the most liberal and progressive areas of the country, and because of that I have to assume that there are a lot of Pagans and Witches there, and yet it doesn’t have the same nationwide recognition other areas of the country have. Minneapolis is Paganistan, The Bay Area is the Bay Area, Salem is a Witch mecca, and New York City birthed all sorts of stuff. You’d just think there would be some sort of huge deal in Vermont, and while I’m typing this I’m trying to think of clever Vermont/Pagan combinations and I’m failing. Pamont? Vergan? (And I bet there are a lot of Vegans in Vermont so that might work!) I’m going to work on this and come back to it next year.

Summer of Love Song: HAPPY TOGETHER by The Turtles. This is a great song. I was singing it in the shower just the other day, but changing the lyrics around so it was about my wife and I. In the middle of my “serenade” my wife came in to tell me that while she appreciated the sentiment my singing was terrible. (She was right!) Anyways, Pagans and Vermont should be so happy together.

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