I do. I made the choice and have had the fortune to live my life as an "Out of the Broom Closet" Pagan. I have always done so, since I was 20 years old, and have had the benefit of watching the attitudes towards our Spirituality change and soften a bit. Much of that is due largely in part to those in our Community to have dedicated their Path to the education of the Masses through publications, radio shows, Interfaith Gatherings, and so on. Through these tireless efforts I have noticed now that many more "mainstream" folk have at least heard of Wicca/Paganism and understand it at least to be some sort of Nature movement/Earth Spirituality, if not know it for what it is. I have openly approached to answer questions by my friends, family and co-workers and have been able to crack the facade that Pagans are evil, by having them know me as a human being. Over the years, I get less and less looks when I wear my Pentacle on the outside of my shirt in public. As I sit here and reflect on that fact, I have to ask myself the real reason why.
I mentioned above the tireless efforts of those Pagans who have dedicated their lives to the Pagan Community, and I have had the good fortune to be able to get to know one the oldest organizations since Wicca made it's come back after 1951 in the US. This Organization is Circle Sanctuary
in Barneveld Wisconsin. Selena Fox
, the Spearhead of this progressive church, has been a main voice in the outside world advocating for Pagan Rights, and working for world recognition as a religion. The Lady Liberty League
, founded in 1985, is a sub-committee of Circle that focuses on the rights of Pagans, and has fought numerous battles such as including public relations, countering harassment, employment issues, child custody issues, military affairs, law enforcement relations, legal affairs, interfaith relations, scholars support, and others.
Circle also is home to several Military Ministries
. Last year we celebrated a great victory through the Order of the Pentacle where The United States Military agreed to recognize Wicca as a religion, and has been made to modify the tombstones of any deceased Pagan veterans with an engraving of a Pentacle, if that is their wish, or the wish of their family. Do you realize how huge that is?
Other projects that Circle is involved with include: The Pagan Academic Network
which facilitates communication and information sharing among those with an academic interests in contemporary Paganism and related subjects. Formed in 1992, it is an association of professors, students, and researchers. Most members are associated with campuses in the United States and Canada. The network also includes those in other countries and independent scholars. Circle began publishing Circle Network News
in 1978 to serve its Network. It was published in tabloid newspaper format until the Winter 97/98 issue. Beginning with the Spring of 1998 issue, it was published in magazine format. As of the Fall 1999 issue, the name of Circle Network News was changed to CIRCLE Magazine
. CIRCLE Magazine is a 72 page magazine published quarterly, with each issue dedicated to a particular theme and filled with a variety of articles, rituals, meditations, illustrations, invocations, contacts, news, photos, herbal formulas, reviews, magical development exercises, chants, advertisements, and other material.
One of the most important things that Circle Sanctuary has done for Pagans and Pagan Culture is to provide a sound base for networking with each other all across this great country of ours, as well as internationally too. They have published national resource guides to bring regional Communities together. The Circle Network is primarily comprised by the attendee's of my favorite aspect of Circle Sanctuary's work Pagan Spirit Gathering
; a week long retreat where participants have the chance to build a Tribal Village and experience Pagan Culture at it's best! It is always held the week over the Summer Solstice and is a mainstay, "must-do" event. There are rituals, workshops (tons & tons of them~ on any topic you could imagine!), Rites of Passage, a Leadership Institute, Concerts, Pagan Authors and a Spirit that welcomes you "Home" from the moment you set foot on the Land. Imagine a tent city where you are surrounded by hundreds of other Pagans, where there is something to do 24/7 and the opportunities for connection boundless! I am a huge~ that is super major advocate for this event, as it has changed and affected my life in so many groovy ways over the years. I cannot jump up and down enough about this event...and here is why:
Aside from all of my personal feelings ( I have met my family & spiritual family there) for why Pagan Spirit Gathering
is such a personally pivotal event, there is a more pressing reason to attend PSG this year. Circle Sanctuary has experienced a bit of adversity this year in that they suddenly lost the venue where PSG has been held for the last 12 years, and they have had to go into a tail spin to secure us another site for our gathering this year. Circle peeps are amazing folk, and not only did they get us a new venue, at beautiful Camp Zoe near Salem, MO, short notice, but this facility is the best that we have ever had in the 27 year history of the Gathering! The simple fact remains, that whenever there has been a change of venue, we lose a part of the Tribe due to distance, preference, and in this particular case because the old venue is now holding a Summer Solstice Gathering of their own, which will also serve to reduce PSG numbers, as that particular Land has become dear to so many over the years. While I do wish them well in their own endeavors, I am up for a new PSG adventure, and I still believe that attendance of PSG is the way to go.
Pagan Spirit Gathering
is more than just a festival held yearly that feeds the Spiritual batteries of so many. PSG is also the main fundraiser held on behalf of Circle Sanctuary, and the proceeds from which are what support all of the programs that were listed above through out the year. Circle has taken on great endeavors on behalf of the Community, and has been instrumental in helping us to become a more recognized and respected Religion and Philosophy.
Registration is open for this event, and I believe there is a large discount if you register by the end of March. This year Children under 12 are free. Truly folks, this is not an event you would want to miss, even if you would not also be doing a service to the Community. If PSG truly is not in your cards, then please visit their website and donate what you can to help during these uncertain times.
To those who are already a part of the PSG Community: I encourage everyone of us to push our beloved festival this year. Let us all help to bring in the new blood that makes this Community so wonderfully rich and diverse, as well as do our part to give back to Circle Sanctuary. Ask your Pagan and Pagan friendly friends, family and co-workers to join you. If you go to an event, talk PSG up and perhaps even obtain some brochures from Circle to leave on info tables. Let us Show Circle our support as we make this magnanimus move to Camp Zoe in Salem, Mo, and let them know that we are not only Bringing Our Spirit Home, but also renewing the Spirit of That-Which-Is-PSG so that it will thrive!
Thank You So Much!