The intended audience of this guide is for close family and friends of Pagans who are brand new to Earth-Centered religions: parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses, partners, girlfriends, boyfriends, and best friends. While some of these materials are produced by the Pagan community for Pagans, this guide isn’t intended to convert you (Witches and Pagans do not prothletyze). It is more to give you a general understanding of your loved one’s beliefs.
Books: All of these publications are produced to explain the fundamentals of Paganism. The first two are for general reference, while the other publications are to characterize the history of Paganism in the United States and to discuss the legal rights of Pagans. All of these are easy to find in bookstores and your local library (if your branch does not have it, try interlibrary loan).
- Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions by Joyce and River Higgenbottom
- Wicca: The Complete Guide by D.J. Conway *Just the first few chapters
- Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler *Again, just the first few chapters
- Pagans and the Law by Dana D. Eilers
Websites: These websites are shorter, more concentrated explanations of Paganism, including holidays and common terms.
Podcast Episodes and Youtube Videos: Its important to understand your loved one’s anxiety or reservations about coming out. The following resources are Pagans–including Pagan parents–discussing their experiences coming out and their paths.
© Ariadne Woods
While some of the most famous Pagan festivals, such as Pagan Spirit Gathering and the Goddess Festival, are week or weekend long affairs, some organizations facilitate sabats as mini festival experiences. These are a great way to interact with local Pagans and to celebrate the Wheel of the Year. Pagan Pride Days are also sometimes structured like festivals. To find these events, look in the Witch’s Voice, Meetup.com, or ask the proprietor of any local supply shops.
- Double Check Your Documents: Tickets, parking passes, and photo ID tend to be the norm. Make sure its in your bag before you leave.
- Blend Style with Comfort: You may want to look you witchiest, but reconsider your outfit if it involves heels. Flats and sneakers work well. If you are going skyclad or plan to expose large amounts of skin, I recommend packing a cover-up for food service areas.
- Sun Protection: Let’s avoid sunburns. Sunscreen (with regular application), a hat, and time in the shade will help prevent any damage to your skin. A little post-sun TLC with aloe vera gel whipped with shea butter and a few drops of lavender essential oil will sooth any acquired burns and counteract any lasting damage.
- Little Pests: If you are concerned about the harsh chemicals in bug spray, consider buying an essential oil based version or follow this recipe: mix equal parts distilled water and witch hazel in a spray bottle. Add 60 drops of the following essential oils according to your needs: citronella (good for mosquitoes and flies), tea tree (good for ticks), peppermint, lavender, thyme, basil, geranium, cedar wood, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, and eucalyptus.
- Money: Most venders take credit cards these days, but you don’t always want to pay with a card because it is easy to lose track of how much money you’re spending. The trick is to do a little research before you go to the festival to scout out the prices of food and merchandise, as well as any other expenses. I recommend having enough money to pay for food and drink in cash with maybe $50 extra for emergencies. If you are concerned about spending too much money on souvenirs, then reverse this method.
Pagan Sabats and Festivals
- What to Bring: Take note of any ritual items for altars or food for a pot luck (remember to label for allergies/vegan/etc.). Also find out what not to bring, including familiars and any illicit materials.
- Leave Your Judgement at Home: This is a time when many different kinds of witches, Pagans, covens, and traditions come together. So, you will run into people with practices that you don’t understand. Even things you may think are fixed, like the direction of the elements. Avoid any instinct to eye roll and be open to new ideas. This includes what people are or are not wearing. Some people take this time to be in the natural element. Remember that being naked does not always have a sexual connotation and to treat everyone equally.
- Do Not Do/Say/Invoke Anything You Do Not Believe: Don’t feel peer pressured into anything just because there are hundreds of people doing it.
- Ask Before Taking Pictures: The face-recognition technology used by social media websites and search engines is pretty advanced (think about the number of times Facebook has tagged you in something without your knowledge). Being outed from the broom closet because of festival attendance or other activities is becoming a reality due to the high volume of information and accuracy of retrieval methods on the Internet. So, never take a picture of someone or a ritual without permission, especially if you don’t know someone’s in-out status.
- Read Up on Common Controversies at Pagan Festivals: They may not manifest as a factor of your gathering, but people will be talking about them. Examples include issues of cultural appropriation and the exclusion of transgender, female-presenting ladies from Dianic or women only rituals.
© Ariadne Woods
Apparently my email provider sometimes thinks private messages from WordPress are spam. Therefore some people’s reading requests got lost. I apologize for the delay and any continued delay from the backlog of readings (I have about 20 in my queue).
Spirit dancing is the phenomena when a person is so overcome by shear joy they just feel the need to dance. I wish I could show you a video clip of what I am talking about, but the act is so spontaneous and free that it’s hard to capture. If you have ever been to a public ritual with dancing, I guarantee you have seen it.
After my Beltane ritual, I put on music while I cleaned up after ritual. A song with a heavy beat came through the speakers of my laptop and the next thing I knew I was twirling for the next three songs. The feeling of utter bliss was overwhelming. Part of it was the energy of the ritual. And I just felt light and happy and free.
© Ariadne Woods