Soul Shine – PSG 2018

The theme of Pagan Spirit Gathering this year was Soul Shine. And man do I feel my soul shining!

It’s a wonderful, intense, incredible experience… no one would argue.

And yet… and yet I’m still so surprised at how deeply under my skin Tribe got this year.

I miss it. I miss them. I miss PSG.

I miss the heartbeat of your drums pulsing through my bones.
I miss the swirl of skirts and scarves frolicking in the sun.
I miss the authentic faces of tribe, unhidden by masks and business and ‘the real world’.
I miss the hiss of the fire as it spins in the dark.
I miss you like the measured cadence of the Guardians who shepherd our rituals and protect our tribe.
I miss you like the dances pulled from our ancestral memory at the bonfire.
I miss you like the twinkle of solar lights lighting my way.
I miss you like the raucous hilarity of board games fueled by mead.
I miss you like the release of tears that watered my soul.
I miss you like the ululating cry of tribe in celebration.

(thank you to Sean Thomas for the inspiration to write my own “I miss” list <3)

Clan of Pyros Ritual
Photo Credit to Adrian Sydney Klimaszewski

 

This year was all about deep connection, for me. I feel the family twining around my heart and soul. I want to snuggle up in the new and continuing friendships. I can’t stop thinking about the smiles and the hugs and the jokes and the laughter and the time spent around the fire, around the common tent, passing mead, and achieving deeper understanding of each other through soul sharing talks. I’m like a junkie, aching for more.

The All-Gender Ritual on Wednesday was deeply moving, inviting in that which makes us uncomfortable (at our discretion), making space for it to be there with us, so that we can better work with and beyond the pain or wound or discomfort of the thing. The tears were a beautiful release, and I am so grateful to Jake and Nate for presenting that ritual for us.

There are actually 3 rituals that happen on Wednesday night: Women’s Ritual, Men’s Ritual, as well as the All-Gender Ritual. For me, I’ve really been feeling some changes in my spirituality as it relates to binary gender roles, assumptions of continuing the biologically determined rites of passage or group membership, and the general frustration around bigotry and ignorance in our world at large. I went to the Women’s Ritual last year, and while it was a nice ritual, it wasn’t deeply moving for me. I identify as She/Her, but my buy-in to the biological determination of Maiden, Mother, Crone has waned since my baby-pagan days – and that was a big focal point of that ritual in 2017. So, this year I chose the All-Gender Ritual, and I am so glad I did!

I think I would like to submit for a new type of Rite of Passage next year. One that honors adult transitions, regardless of biology or lifestage. It isn’t often that we celebrate, even quietly, leaving an abusive relationship, leaping into a scary new career, moving across the country alone, or any number of other life events that can change who we are at our core, as people. How amazing would it be to receive recognition from your Tribe for doing some of the hardest things adults can do? I have some concerns on crafting something like this: too generic and it loses its power, but too specific and you alienate people who may really crave the experience. It’ll certainly require a lot of thought!

Another ritual I would love to craft is a ritual that honors the vibrant, strong, non-biologically determined people! I want to honor the power of The Morrigan, Sekhmet, Kali, Diana, and others. I want to paint our faces, scream a primal scream, and invite the strength and verve of Spirit in to our lives as we go forth to make the changes that are so needed in this world. I feel the power welling in me, even writing this now. I wonder if this would be well received by Tribe, or if I’m the only one that feels this call?

Pagan Spirit Gathering isn’t all sunshine and roses, and it isn’t even all spiritual growth! It’s camping, for starters, and that isn’t for everyone. You truck in all your own food, or buy it at the vendors, so that presents unique challenges. Heat advisory hot in the beginning of the week, with thunderstorms finishing out the week. I had a prancident Friday night, resulting in a fairly bad sprain, and am covered in bug bites. We have a medical crew onsite for a reason – besides the normal sunburns and ticks, this year saw several sprains, heat exhaustion, falls, and one case of really horrific fire burns. I can’t say enough good things about the volunteers at Safety – they staff the med tent 24/7 for the entirety of the festival to ensure our safety.

Some successes for me: I didn’t get sunburned, despite my ginger roots. The maiden launch of the USS Unicorn Party Barge was a success! And though we had to do emergency surgery on Wednesday, it seems to be successful and she will be back next year (hopefully with a different method of entry that doesn’t rely on the ripped handle 🙂 ). I even supported my dear friend through his performer’s Rite of Passage with a little cha-cha-cha. Love you, Brad!

Coming back is always a Journey, and my reintegration has been a little rough. I should’ve taken Monday off and slept all day, regardless if I would’ve been paid for it or not (I wouldn’t have). The emotional and mental exhaustion of an immersive festival week can’t be overstated. I’ve been emotionally volatile as I try to bring back up the walls and barriers that keep us sane in mundane society. I was frustrated to the point of anger yesterday because everyone you pass in the store or at work just stares at you with judging eyes, instead of openness and warmth and a friendly smile. I’ve been tearful just thinking of how much I miss my Tribe.

My best advice for those coming off of a convention or an intensive is always “don’t make permanent decisions for a temporary feeling”. Wait a week or two. Integrate your experience(s). If you still feel the same, then consider making some changes or decisions after talking with your Circle of Trust. That is a million times true for PSG, both decisions you make there and decisions you make after. Yes, PSG is permanent in that it happens every year and we come Home regularly. However, we don’t live in Home year-round, and often your experiences can be different from one PSG to the next. It’s so important to use discernment when coming off an event like this.

I hope to see you there, next year. <3

About the Author

Grace is an avid reader, geek, and gamer living with anxiety and fighting against depression. She volunteers when she can, in as many avenues as possible. Grace loves attending cons and festivals, but also values her time at home with fur-babies and her books. An eclectic pagan since childhood, Grace has studied as a Chakradance facilitator, level 2 Usui Reiki healer, and has been a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon since 2012. She credits Phyllis Curott and Edain McCoy with her introduction to Wicca, and The Chalice & The Blade by Riane Eisler as her introduction to historical concepts of paganism. Other inspirations include The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, The Red Book by Sera Beak, and Avalon Within by Jhenah Telyndru. Her (current) greatest shero and ladycrush is Michelle Obama <3. Facing hard topics dead on is Grace's signature, asking the questions no one wants to hear, and rustling the jimmies to get Change made. It has often said that you never have to wonder what Grace is thinking! She is currently fleshing out several writing projects, and hopes to pitch those soon.

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