Summer Pagan Festivals 2017: A Guide

August & September Festivals

Lammas

KALEIDOSCOPE GATHERING
Dates: August 2-August 7
Cost: 150 loonies for the whole festival, day passes and sliding scale after the festival starts. (Last years prices, as I’m on top of things!)
Location: Raven’s Knoll, Eganville Ontario Canada

Sometimes I’m not sure if I should include Kaleidoscope on this list. When I look at the festival on line it only nominally feels like a Pagan festival, but when I talk to my Pagan friends in Canada they were always like “it’s awesome you should go” so I continue to include it. Sometimes it feels more like a dance party than anything else, but dancing was most likely invented by Pagans so I guess it’s a Pagan activity.
I have been informed in the comments that Kaleidoscope has over 200 Pagan workshops, which is great to know! Apparently my write up, which did not initially list that (because it was not on their website), ruffled some feathers, that was not my intention. The intentions is to make people aware of a multitude of festivals taking place in North America, and as I noted in regards to Kaleidoscope “it’s awesome you should go.”

From their website because it interested me: “And, ‘treasures’ will result in much fun, too; as we ask ourselves: ‘What’s another word for pirate treasure?’ … How shiny and sparkly can you make your camp? … What is the coolest gift can you send through Mercury Mail? … Who collects more treasure, Vikings or Pirates?” That’s a good question, but I should point out that Pirates and even Vikings often collected their treasures illegally. I’ve never understood people’s infatuation with pirates, they were thieves mostly. To answer the question, I’m going to go with “Vikings probably collect more treasure LEGALLY, but that Pirates probably collected more treasure but did so illegally.”

Summer of Love Song: I GOT RHYTHM by The Happenings. Kaleidoscope Gathering is definitely a “happening” and with all that dancing there’s most certainly rhythm there, so that’s how I ended up here. Sadly though, I Got Rhythm doesn’t have as much rhythm as you think it would.

PAN PAGAN FESTIVAL
Dates: August 2-6
Location: Rising Sun Family Campground; Monterey, Indiana
Cost: 70 to 85 dollars depending on when you register, day passes
Names: Corvis Nocturnum & Starr Morgayne

I think Pan Pagan is the oldest, continually going Pagan festival in North America. That’s always amazing to me, and it’s something to be really proud of. There’s a history of Pan Pagan on their website, but even more so than that, I bet there’s a lot that went on behind the scenes that we don’t know about. The 70’s are probably my favorite era of Paganism because so many of the people that I look up to and admire were building our community into what it is today back then. Also, it’s when I wanted to be an adult. Ideally I would have been 17 in the Summer of Love (1967) putting me at 19 when Led Zeppelin debuted in America and allowing me to go to Woodstock. After that I could have either been initiated into a Witchcraft coven (the Craft had made it to the States by then) or just started my own in the early 1970’s. I also could have been one of the original folks at Pan Pagan Festival, and I would have only been 27 in 1977 when Van Halen debuted. It would have been the best of times.

Summer of Love Song: THE BEAT GOES ON by Sonny and Cher. Forty one years means the beat has been going on and on, plus the words “The BEAT Goes On and On!” are on their website. And yeah, Sonny was kind of a dweeb, but Cher is awesome.

MANY GODS WEST
Dates: August 4-6
Location: Olympia, Washington
Cost: 85-100 dollars, sliding scale
Names: Thenea Pantera, Annwyn Avalon, Laura Tempest Zakroff, SJ Tucker

I was at Many Gods last year and it was a blast! I had a wonderful time, it was really one of my favorite weekends of the year. They changed locations last year and the event really benefitted from it. The workshop and ritual rooms were much better, even if we were a little further away from Olympia’s downtown. It felt a lot like being at a retreat center, and we were near a river and there were trees and it was just oh so nice. The first Many Gods West was tough for me because a lot of people didn’t think a Wiccan should be there, but last year was like a different festival entirely and it felt like people were happy to see me. Bonus, lots of very diverse rituals at MGW. Last year I was in a Norse ritual, a ritual I led for Dionysus, and visited a crossroads ritual too. I think that’s the most ritual I’ve ever been to at a festival.

Summer of Love Song: ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE by The Beatles. Of course the Fab Four were going to be on this list, it just took me awhile to get to. Did you know that while All You Need is Love was released in 1967 as a single, it wasn’t on Sgt. Pepper’s which was released in 1967? The Beatles had so many great songs that they could leave an amazing one off an album and just release it as a single when they “felt like it.” While most of us certainly need more than just love (food and air come to mind), it is useful to keep around.

John Beckett & I at Many Gods West last year.

John Beckett & I at Many Gods West last year.

MOON MEET
Dates: August 4-6
Location: Forest Home, Healdsburg, CA
Cost: 94 dollars, includes five meals
Names: Mark Green

This is the first Atheo-Pagan festival to ever be on this list, but don’t worry while that’s its focus, it’s open to everyone! I know that Atheo-Paganism isn’t for everybody, but it’s here and it’s a rapidly growing part of our little community. I’m curious about this little festival, maybe I’ll make the drive up there just to check it out. And for those of you in California looking for something to do this summer, here ya go! I suspect that this festival will be full of workshops and rituals that don’t have much to do with deity. I swear I’m not making fun of anything, I’m just fascinated by something that feels so different to me. I love that we have this big and varied community.

Summer of Love Song: RELEASE ME by Engelbert Humperdinck. I just keep thinking in my head “Release me from all these deities so many of you talk and write about all the time!” Seriously, good luck with this Mark, I think it’s a great idea.

PANFEST
Dates: August 4-7
Location: Near Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Cost: TBA
Names: Pan?

While this little Lammas gathering is called Panfest, it’s not just about my favorite goat-footed god, it’s about all sorts of things. There’s an Aphrodite temple dedication, and plenty of ritual, much of it skyclad. I never got the point of skyclad ritual at Yule, but I really like it in the Summer. There’s something about being naked in the woods that appeals to me, especially when the name Pan is invoked. The only downside to woodland nakedness is that you have to put bugspray EVERYWHERE! It’s probably why I’m not skyclad at very many events, I’m too worried about having to itch something I don’t want to be itching. Still more info on this gathering to be announced, but they’ve also been doing it for many years so I have a feeling it will all fall into place nicely.

Summer of Love Song: A WHITER SHADE OF PALE by Procol Harum. This is not a joke about it snowing in Edmonton in August (though that’s probably possible), it’s just that this is my last entry and I’ve been waiting to use A Whiter Shade of Pale and all the skyclad talk has me envisioning my very pale bum.

SACRED HARVEST FESTIVAL
Dates: August 7-13
Location: Minnesota (90 miles North of Minneapolis)
Cost: 125 dollars for the whole week, 3 day passes and day passes also available.
Names: Kathy Meadowlark Dawe and Breighton Dawe, Bonnie Hanna-Powers, Kahla Wheeler-Rowan

Is there a more Pagany phrase for August than Sacred Harvest? Without the grain harvest how could I eat a hotdog from the Varsity? (I need a bun.) Seriously though, I often lament how lame Lammas seems compared to other sabbats, but in a lot of ways it’s the most Pagan time of a year for a festival. Without a successful sacred harvest our Pagan ancestors would have been in deep shit. This is also the 20th Anniversary of Sacred Harvest, which is something to be really proud of. That’s 15 years longer than most marriages, and nine years longer than the existence of Led Zeppelin as a recording and touring band.

Summer of Love Song: TO SIR, WITH LOVE by Lulu. The number one song for the entire year of 1967 was Lulu’s To Sir, With Love, and now given to Sacred Harvest for celebrating 20 years. Nice job!

HARVEST GATHERING
Dates: August 10-13
Location: Camp Cedarcrest, Orange Connecticut
Cost: 150-250 depending on meal plans and how one camps (tent or cabin), day passes available.
Names: Raven Grimassi and Stephanie Taylor-Grimassi, Lora O’Brien, Patricia Lafayllve, Jhenah Telyndru

I was at this festival last year and it’s freaking great! The only thing that kept it from the top of the charts was just how bloody hot it was, which was not the fault of Harvest Gathering, it ended up just being unseasonably hot, happens. But when it happens the festival staff should pass out popsicles or ice cream which is exactly what Harvest Gathering did! Great food, great atmosphere, always AMAZING presenters (last year excluded), super nice people, this is one of the best festivals I’ve ever been to. If you are in the Northeast I recommend this festival highly. Also their ritual space is incredible! Ivo Dominguez’s ritual at last year’s Harvest Gathering still floats through my daydreams.

Summer of Love Song: C’MON MARIANNE by The Four Seasons. C’mon Marianne is a really fun song, and this is a really fun festival, but my friend Mari-Anne also picked me up at the airport and dropped me off there last year when I went to Harvest Festival and since she teaches kick boxing classes she also scares me a lot so I thought I’d give her the song here.

Bourbon Street last October.

Bourbon Street last October.

HEXFEST
Dates: August 11-13
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Cost: $350.00
Names: Oberon Zell, Maxine Sanders, Dragon Ritual Drummers, Christianan Day, Judika Illes

Hexfest has perhaps the most impressive speaker line-up on this list. I’d pay 100 bucks just to ask Maxine Sanders a question or two, so yeah, how cool is it that she’s here? And that’s before getting to Fiona Horne and Wendy Rule who will be there too, plus about a dozen other people. Since it’s in New Orleans this isn’t just a Pagan festival either, there’s a healthy dose of Voodoo and Conjure here too, plus dining, ritual, and drumming on a riverboat. Wow! The only downside here is that they’ve got workshops scheduled at 9:00 AM, who can get up at 9:00 AM when they are staying in New Orleans? Oh yeah, and I forgot the Sunday night Voodoo walk. I’m jealous I won’t be there this year (but I will be in 2018!).

Summer of Love Song: CARE OF CELL 44 by The Zombies. The Zombies were one of the greatest bands of the 1960’s, but broke up after this particular song didn’t chart after it was released. Two years later Time of the Season became a huge hit for the band, and one of the most iconic songs of the 1960’s. And if you haven’t figured out why Hexfest ended up with a tune by the Zombies you aren’t really paying attention.

BEYOND THE GATES
Dates: August 24-August 27
Location: Trout Lake Abbey, Trout Lake, Washington
Cost: 55 bucks in advance, 65 at the door
Names: JASON MANKEY, JOHN BECKETT, Courtney Weber

Of course I get to see John at Mystic South, but at Beyond the Gates I get to see him in his natural Druid environment which should be a lot of fun. I also get to reconnect with Cortney Weber whom I met at Harvest Gathering (see above) last year. Perhaps seeing her will become a yearly August thing? Anyways, I’m super excited about this festival, and it’s at Trout Lake Abbey, which is Kirk Thomas’s place (not just his, but you get the idea) and it’s just beautiful. This is nominally an ADF Event, but everyone is welcome. I did a different ADF Event last year (Eight Winds, which this year is also at Trout Lake) and it was so much fun. Druids pick some of the prettiest spots and the company is always divine.

Summer of Love Song: GROOVIN by The Young Rascals. Go look at this pictures of the Abbey and then tell me that Groovin isn’t perfect, because you can’t.

STONES RISING
Dates: August 30-September 4.
Location: Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary, Artemas PA
Cost: 120 to 105 dollars, less for members, meal plans available
Names: Kurt Griffith

Last year I was warned (advised?) in the comments section of the 2016 edition of this list that: “The point of Stones Rising is to drag very large stones from one area to where the stone circle is on the property. Now, you don’t ‘have’ to help drag the stones, but it is a social norm and there is a bit of an expectation that the festival attendees will help if at all possible. So, please keep that in mind.” Considering Stonehenge and other ancient stone circles I can’t think of a more Pagan thing to do than drag stones to a lovely spot on the Earth. So that doesn’t sound bad to me at all, and it’s a great community building exercise.

Summer of Love Song: RUBY TUESDAY by the Rolling Stones. Get it, there’s stones in the band name! This one was too easy!

EARTH WARRIORS
Dates: Sept. 28-Oct. 1
Location: 4H Camp Graham, Clarksville, Ohio
Cost: 125 in advance, more at the gate, meal plans & coffee plans, also cabins available
Names: JASON MANKEY, Devin Hunter, Storm Faerywolf, Chas Bogan, SJ Tucker, Kellianna, Alaric Albertsson

A festival has to be really good for me to go to it during football season, and Earth Warriors is great. The site is just “developed enough” that there are always amenities, but just far enough off the beaten path that it’s easy to get lost in the woods, and early Fall is a great time to get lost in the woods. I’m super excited to see some other Bay Area folks headed out there this year in Chas, Storm, and Devin, I love those guys. Also, this is a presenter list from heaven, seriously. In addition to those guys there’s also Alaric and Jacki Smith, plus a forge to do cool things. I’m going to have four people at my workshops, oh well, at least it’s a free trip into the Midwest in the Fall, my favorite time of year. I also think it’s great that I’m kicking off this list and (nearly) ending it!

Summer of Love Song: APPLES, PEACHES, PUMPKIN PIE by Jay & the Techniques. September is too late for peaches and too early for pumpkin pie, but it’s just the right time for apples. There are few things in this world as good as a perfect Newton Pippin in the early fall. Starting in August I begin craving weird apples, and the Newton Pippin is the best eating in the world. I will fight people over that because it’s true.

CALDERA FEST
Dates: October 5-9
Location: LaFayette, Georgia
Cost: 150 for all four days, day passes, 300 for the VIP Experience
Names: Tuatha Dea, Mojo Kemp, Pandemonaeon, KIVA(!), Kellianna

If you can think of a Pagan artist, they are probably going to Caldera Fest (the only name I didn’t see was Wendy Rule). This is pretty late for a Summer festival list, but this is a pretty big event and I felt like it needs to be on here. I heard nothing but great things about last year’s events (other than the weather) and that should be fixed this time around by moving it back to October. I was told last year I could get a press pass but the travel makes it tough. But I will be in Ohio just a few days before . . . hmmmm. Attention Organizers, I have no musical ability but I do a lot of workshops about rock and roll. Seems like a great way to close out the Summer . . . .

Summer of Love Song: Considering the artist’s involved, they can probably write their own damn song.

And as we close I’m happy to report that we didn’t get to the song Ding Dong the Witch is Dead by the Fifth Estate, not cool to have that as a hit in 1967.

Have a great summer everybody and visit a festival! I’ll see you next year!

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About Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey has been involved with Paganism for the last twenty years, and has spent the last ten of those years as a speaker, writer, and High Priest. Jason can often be found lecturing on the Pagan Festival circuit, so you might just bump into him. When not reading and researching Pagan history he likes to crank up the Led Zeppelin, do rituals in honor of Jim Morrison (of The Doors), and sing numerous praises to Pan, Dionysus, and Aphrodite. He lives in Sunnyvale CA with his wife Ari and two hyper-kinetic cats.