I again had the privilege of attending the Florida Pagan Gathering in the Ocala National forest this year, May 1st to May 5th, to celebrate Beltaine. Before I tell you about the wonderful headliners, workshop presenters and other awesome events, I’d like to tell you a little bit about FPG from two angles.
I have attended in the past, both as a guest and a staff member. As a guest for the first time, it’s impressive to visit around the camp grounds and see the many divisions of the event running so smoothly. Every one of these divisions has helpful, knowledgeable staff members that greet you and ask you if there is anything you need. Most impressive on my first visit, was the presentation of the Guardians at the opening ritual. FPG Guardians are truly unique among the major Pagan gatherings in America. This volunteer team is made up of paramedics, firefighters and educators who are dedicated to the Warrior Path. Your health, safety and peace of mind are in safe hands while you enjoy your time at FPG. . I’m proud now to be part of this staff. FPG staff averages about 125, with guest attendance ranging from 500 to 800 since making its home at 4H Camp Ocala in 2006.
Now, on to that enjoyment! Event headliners included Ellen Dugan, Tess Whitehurst, Dr. Todd Berntson, Grey Ghosthawk and Raven Kaldera. Belladonna Laveau, Archpriestess of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, also visited this year. Three musical events were on hand for entertainment, including Spiral Rhythm, Treblehawk and Murphey’s Midnight Rounders.
Vendor’s Row, nestled under lovely oaks, was stocked with amazing crafts and wares that kept everyone coming back day after day. Thirty-six workshop presenters kept everyone busy from Wednesday afternoon to Saturday afternoon, ending with the placing of the Maypole and a demonstration of Haka, a powerful and traditional Maori dance with chant by Father Sky Lodge and Sisterhood of the Shield. The beautiful main Beltaine ritual, “Divine Attraction,” was presented Saturday evening by Coven Lia Fail. Everyone is grateful and appreciative for their hard work.
Despite the rain and wind, the fire and the drumming were up and going every night. Headliner Dr. Todd Berntson told me we had “…the best drummers he’s heard at any event yet.” But yeah, we already knew that. Our thanks to the Shiny Happy People Drum Tribe and the fire tenders for making this essential part of the festival so memorable.
Florida Pagan Gathering was organized in 1995 by Church of the Iron Oak—ATC. In 2000, Temple of the Earth Gathering—ATC was formed to manage FPG. We are very grateful to the board of directors for their continuous hard work. FPG Samh’ain will be held on November 6-10. For more information, please visit www.flapagn.org. I can’t wait to see you there!
River is a 2nd Degree Priestess at the Church of Iron Oak–ATC, FLA. To learn more about this great group, follow River’s blog at http://the5thingsineed.wordpress.com/.