It’s a rare and wonderful think to have a major Pagan-friendly event happening in your figurative backyard. Living in Eugene, Oregon (home of the Slug Queen) I’m lucky enough to attend the yearly Faerieworlds festival during the Summer and witness amazing Pagan (and Pagan-friendly) bands like Faun, S.J. Tucker, Woodland, and Stellamara play in a friendly, colorful, and creative atmosphere. This year, in addition to the now-traditional Summer festival, they are holding a Harvest event taking place over this weekend. What’s interesting is that while Faerieworlds is not explicitly Pagan, and draws individuals from all sorts of backgrounds who appreciate a weekend of fantasy, music, art, and skilled artisans, the openness and embrace of Pagan culture can’t be missed by anyone whose eyes are open to it. Take, for example, the community altar built in front of the main stage at every Faerieworlds.
Throughout the day people will add offerings to it, while others will offer prayers to their respective gods and goddesses, and it is an integral part of the experience at Faerieworlds. In addition, as I pointed out at the beginning of this post, a variety of Pagan bands and musicians play here, and last night I got to witness the birth of a new one. Treguenda, a group made up from members of Woodland and cellist/composer Adam Hurst, who performed live for the first time last night.
With a sound very close to that of Woodland’s (for obvious reasons) but enhanced with Hurst’s cello and added electronic elements, Treguenda performed a raft of songs about Pagan festivals, the gods, and a special composition dedicated to Aradia. The audience, Pagan and non-Pagan alike, swooped, danced, cavorted, and enjoyed themselves as the night grew darker (some, no doubt, anticipating that evening’s closing act Delhi 2 Dublin). I’m very much looking forward to hearing recorded material from them.
Events like Faerieworlds tap into a deep cultural hunger for romanticism, for a re-enchantment of the world that has long been denied by both secular and religious institutions in the West. I don’t think the recent fantasy boom is happening in a vacuum, nor do I think it is any coincidence that a growing number of people are opting out of traditional forms of religion altogether while still holding onto religious beliefs. While Faerieworlds, or Burning Man for that matter, aren’t explicitly “Pagan” they tap into a primal need for festival, for gathering to honor the numinous, the changing seasons, each other, and our own creativity. I think that these events, especially as we weather hard times, will continue to grow in importance. There is a vital roots-up form of small-p “paganism” emerging here that is very compatible with our more formal adoption of Pagan religion.
Tonight, I’m looking forward to seeing Stellamara and Faun perform this evening on the main stage. I was lucky enough to interview Oliver Pade of Faun yesterday, to talk about their work, performing in the United States, Paganism in Europe, the intersections of Goth and Pagan music, and future plans. You’ll be able to hear that interview in tomorrow’s A Darker Shade of Pagan podcast, so stay tuned, and if you’re in the Pacific Northwest, it’s still not too late to participate!