Suggestions for a Greener Florida Pagan Gathering
Take responsibility to bring your own plastic or metal cup and keep it with you at all times to use for coffee, water, or beverages of the adult variety. Write your name on it for identification. It makes a tremendous
positive impact and will support our spiritual paths of personal responsibility.
Each person carries out their own recyclable trash. Make a positive impact on the festival. There is a name
for it: LNT= Leave No Trace.
Use a napkin instead of a plate for sandwiches. Better yet, use your own durable ceramic (ok, plastic, we are camping) at each meal.
Purchase earth friendly products for washing up yourself and your dishes.
Make a fire that can be seen from earth, not outer space.
Buy an FPG cup to use and reuse at every festival.
Switch to food that does not require a plate: sandwiches.
Set up designated recycle box next to trash can at your campsite. Pack out what you brought in.
Minimum glass rule. Bring as little glass as possible .
A 20-Gallon tank with water (think yellow igloo cooler) Works great! Keep water bottles and fill those up for convenience.
THINK before you ever leave home. Do I you REALLY need to bring this?
PaganNet News Review Beltaine 2005
This event review was published in the Lughnasadh 2005 isuue of the paganet news.
Many of the photos in our Beltaine 2005 slide show are credited to Aranea as well, Thanks Aranea!
Joys of Beltane Florida Pagan Gathering a May 5-8, 2005. St. Petersburg, FL. Photos and review by Aranea.
I was born and raised in Florida, but haven’t been back in several years; so, this gathering was sort of like a homecoming for me. Set amid live oaks, palms and inhabited ponds, the site for this gathering was simply lovely. Though there were quite a few folks in attendance, there wasn’t an overwhelming human presence on the land. Plenty of space awaited the attendee in search of a little quiet time and secluded space.
This event has quite a history. Back in the mid-90’s, it was begun by the Church of Iron Oak as a way to raise funding for their court case. In those days, it was called the Freedom Festival. (For those of you who don’t remember, Iron Oak was cited by the City for holding worship services in their yard; they fought the case for several years, and in the end, the City dropped the charges.) Once the need for this funding was no longer a concern, the leadership of the Church sought to find a way to continue the good juju the festival was raising among Florida Paganfolk. As a result, a group called The Temple of Earth Gathering was formed from representatives of Pagan groups all over the state for the sole purpose of holding two festivals each year. This event was one of those events. (The other is at Samhain; see their ad this issue.)
I’ve been to several types of gatherings, large and small; some are welcoming, warm and friendly, while others are cliquish and closed, making it difficult to make new friends or network with other Pagans. The Joy of Beltane was certainly one of the former. I’ve never been made to feel so welcome! Staff members were quite helpful and approachable; vendors were ready with a ware, a smile or a conversation. Even campsites were open to the wandering Pagan. One campsite in particular drew me several times; called the “Viking Camp,” it was never empty, nor boring. The first night we were there, I approached as they drummed late into the night. At first, I kept my distance, as they didn’t know me. But soon they waved me in to take up a seat and a drum. This wasn’t an isolated incident. Another night, a handful of folks gathered around a table and a lantern and jammed on several instruments, including guitar, drums and a harmonica. Those not playing simply sat, enjoying the camaraderie, and I joined too, feeling like part of the group.
The first full day on the site, I spent the day wandering with my camera, taking photos (when folks didn’t mind), and wandering the site. There was an easygoing feeling all around the event, as people went to workshops, or shopped along the very impressive vendors’ row, or simply enjoyed the beauty of the park. I also noticed a real sense of humor in the little things, like speed-limit signs that said, variously, “Falling House Zone: 5MPH,” or “Wildebeest Crossing: 5MPH”; then, at the far end of the roadway, near the parking lot, one that said “Nothing Crossing Here; Still 5MPH.” Everyone I passed seemed happy and content, including Jacobus who, I was told, is the oldest Pagan in Florida. I enjoyed chatting with him for a short while about what Paganism was like in the early days.
During my travels of that day, I noticed one of the vendor booths had a very large, very prominent lingam on the ground in front of their booth, ringed by multiple colorful, beribboned chaplets. At another vendor booth, a large red dragon kite fluttered in the welcome breeze, while still another booth seemed to flutter completely, filled as it was with beautiful hanging sarongs and scarves. A fourth had a most unique mobile hanging in the very front, its large ring of individual figures made from husks or grasses of some kind, and looking quite African in origin. When asked for a price, he informed me with a smile that it was not for sale. I can see why he’d want to keep it. There was a huge variety of items for sale here, from the usual t-shirts, incense, candles and books to flutes, drums, stringed instruments and didgeridoos, and from jewelry and scarves to large, elastic-banded butterfly wings and sparklies of all kinds. Some sold services, like Tarot or other divinations or reflexology, massage and tattoos.
The workshops were impressive, as well. With special guests Kerr Cuhulain, Christopher Penczak, Judika Illes and others, the schedule was packed with workshops ranging from TechnoPagan rituals, Being a Public Pagan and Shadowing Inanna: A Death Journey to Fundamentals of Spellcasting, Belly Dancing and Meadmaking; it was impossible to attend everything I wanted to see. Those workshops I did sit in on were very well-attended, and the teachers seemed to have a good grasp on their subjects.
As if that weren’t enough, there were other offerings to attendees, as well. The Bardic Circle was not only a full house; there was no lack of participation from the members of the audience. All were good, but one “act” stood out in my mind, as the female singer brought her little 3-year-old daughter up with her and the guitarist. That little golden-haired child stole everyone’s hearts as she danced on the table, completely thrilled with the idea of being on stage! It makes me have hope for our future when these little ones can find such a comfortable place in our community.
The Blues Bards also performed; this is their home turf, and they sang all their classics, like “When, Exactly, Did We Become White Trash?” and “We Are the People Our Parents Warned Us About,” and of course, “Cover of the PagaNet News,” my personal favorite. Boom-Boom’s repertoire of instruments was as amusing as the lyrics to their songs, and the audience seemed to be as amused as I.
Virginia locals, the Annie Johnson Band performed, as well. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend their concert, as I was in the sweat lodge that evening; but I’m sure they were as great as ever.
Saturday’s main Beltane ritual was fun and lighthearted, involving many of the children who had been given special parts to play. There was even a special place off to one side with a smaller fire so that those who wished to do so could jump the flames. While I’ve jumped plenty of fires, I’ve never seen a gathering offer this opportunity, and I enjoyed it a great deal.
Led by Primal Seed, each evening’s fire circle was something you’d have to experience. The last night featured the largest drum circle and bonfire I’ve seen, with probably more than 20 drummers at any given time keeping up a driving rhythm that moved the numerous dancers around the fire, while the audience held at least 100 people. I danced a bit, then sat back to watch with some friends, and later fell asleep to the sound. The drums were still going the next morning.
A few moments that stood out for me the most included the sweat lodge, as that was my first time ever participating in a lodge; the cold water in the showers (and the mental image of the young women in the showers next to me running squealing from the shower to the bathroom to flush the toilets in the hope of getting a few moments of warm water); midnight margaritas with the Blues Bards, the lodge facilitator and a handful of other interesting folk, attendee and staff alike; and walking through the trees following an egret that was doing a little afternoon hunting just a short distance from the campsites and the sweat lodge.
All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable event, one I’ll be returning to. I highly recommend it! Hope to see you there at Samhain!