My (First Time) Experience at GGG


Editors Note:    The 14th Annual Gaea Goddess Gathering (GGG) was held on September 16-19th at the beautiful Gaea Retreat Center.  This year approximately 150 women and young ladies gathered to honor and celebrate The Nine Muses, 2010’s chosen Goddesses. This report was submitted by a participant of GGG who wanted to share her experience.

======

The theme this year was Inspiration. Imagine That! We honored The Nine Muses.

It all began that fateful night I volunteered to help Susan clean cabins for GGG. At first it sounded exciting and fun! Four days away from technology, out in the great outdoors, surrounded by women who would surely understand me, and an opportunity to learn more about my newly chosen life!

Anytime I do something new my stomach goes nuts. This was no exception. I was determined NOT to let my nerves keep me from going.  The fateful day arrived and I set out with a set of directions to some place I had only been to once before and I had a passenger who knew how to get there. I managed to find my way to Camp Gaia and to my cabin. At first I was OK with not bunking with my coven sisters. Then the thought of being with two strangers in a new situation started to sink in. On the other hand I did not want my coven sisters to feel they had to babysit me. So, I looked at it as an opportunity to branch out and make new friends!

Until. I discovered one of my bunkies was The Snake Lady! She was not able to bring her friends with her this year. (I was relieved.)  My other Bunkie was just as sweet and adorable as The Snake Lady. I had more in common with them that I thought I would.

There were too many workshops to choose from! I managed to narrow down my choices. Among the workshops I took: Meditation, Poetry and Spell Writing, Chocolate, and a class taught by Annie Cherry on Burlesque and The Art of Strip Tease (hubby was pleased!). I met more new friends and my head was crammed full of info. I am glad I always carry a notebook and pen.

The Big Bad Gina concert was totally awesome! The group spent the entire weekend with us and they held their own workshop. The ladies were extremely friendly and high energy!

Of course you can’t have an outdoor ritual without fire and drums. I saw fire spinning live for the first time! The Keeper of the Fire built many different fires to suit our needs. The drummers added to the overall spiritual experience by bringing us closer to nature and the Goddesses we were honoring.

There was one thing that took me totally by surprise. The scenery at Camp Gaia very closely resembles the Ozarks where my parents grew up.  Wednesday night as we were gathering for our pre-GGG ritual, I found myself feeling homesick. Not for my husband or technology. But for my maternal grandmother. Even though she has been gone for 30 plus years, I still feel her presence. Then I began to miss my paternal grandmother who is Native American. Just being outdoors and so very close to nature stirred feelings and memories deep inside of me that I was not prepared for.

I have no regrets except that this was my first time. I look forward to going back next year to deepen and strengthen the bonds I already have, and reconnecting with the new friends I made this year!

Desert Moon

During the process of getting in touch with her Native American roots, Desert Moon discovered organized religion no longer served her needs. About three years ago, she began to seriously study Wicca.  She is currently a member of the Luna Lushede Coven and is working towards Initiation.

Approximately 150 attend 14th Gaea Goddess Gathering (GGG)


Submitted by: Wynter Wonderland <wynter76@ymail.com>

On September 16-19th , the 14th Annual Gaea Goddess Gathering (GGG) was held at the beautiful Camp Gaea Retreat Center.  This year approximately 150 women and young ladies gathered to honor and celebrate The Nine Muses, 2010’s chosen Goddesses.  Many activities went on such as rituals, workshops, concert, merchants, evening fires, and a silent auction. 

This event is held every year during the third weekend of September.  Founded by Carrie Moonstar and Rosalie Vaught in 1997, this event has evolved into a wonderful 4 day long event that focuses on the celebration of the Goddess in every woman.  Each year a new Goddess and theme is chosen to honor and learn about, allowing each women to find her own spiritual connection.

Rituals

Gaea Goddess Gathering is dedicated to honoring the Goddess within and all around us and to that end we feature several rituals during our event. The goal of our open rituals is to create a strong community of women for the duration of GGG so that we can all take the lessons, joy and strength back home with us to help guide our lives for the next 12 months.

To facilitate that goal, we have three major rituals throughout the festival. Opening Ritual is on Thursday night and is used to create a strong sacred space that contains elements to protect us and the camp from negative outside energy and to aid release of any negative energy the participants may wish to rid themselves during ritual or healing and a cleansing process to help women shed the outside world and prepare themselves for a weekend focused on themselves. The extents of the Sacred Circle is the entirety of Camp Gaea’s boundaries. Main Ritual on Saturday night honors the year’s chosen Temple Goddess to invoke the wisdom and blessings she imparts and is often interactive with the participants. Closing Ritual on Sunday is when we all gather to thank the Goddess for her blessings and protection, discuss the event, hug, laugh, and then close our sacred circle.

In addition to our main rituals, every morning at the Dining Hall we have our Morning Glory Ritual where we welcome the new day, recharge our Sacred Circle and get ready to face a new day of spiritual growth and fresh possibilities.

Workshops

The festival offers a wide variety of workshops encompassing:

  • Psychic Development
  • Self-Healing
  • Drumming
  • Hands-on Artistic Creations
  • Herbal Mysteries
  • Rhythmic Dance
  • Maiden Workshops
  • Goddess Lore

With workshops focused on inner strength, to connecting with others outside our realm, to singing, dancing, and writing, there was sure to be something for everyone.  This year we had the honor and pleasure of Annie Cherry presenting a fun and sexy workshop on burlesque dancing.  The women even got to make and wear their very own pasties!

Big Bad Gina was there to present a wonderful workshop on being each other’s muses.  These lovely ladies created a chant that allowed each of us to create one unified voice.  As a last minute decision, this chant was worked into the concert the following evening!

Concert

We have had many great musical talents join us each year.  From Wendy Rule, to SJ Tucker, to Ginger Doss and Bekah Kelso, each band has rocked the pavilion.  This year we were honored to have Big Bad Gina.  These three ladies from Fayetteville, AR rocked the house Saturday night with their unique blend of harmony and funky style of music, intertwined with sexy, sultry tunes that made the women hit the dance floor. 

Renee Janski, Melody Griffis, and Jori Costello are Big Bad Gina.  Together these ladies use their wide variety of musical talents to create their own sounds ranging from jazz, to rock, and yes, even country!   They recently released their first CD titled “Amazon Warrior Princess” and GGG was lucky enough to be among the first to have them for sale! 

We will definitely be asking Big Bad Gina to join us again, possibly even next year!

Other Activities

As always GGG welcomes merchants to come and share their products whether they be handmade or retail.  This year we had several merchants with a wide variety of items such as books, crafts, jewelry, décor, apparel, candles, and much much more.  We had the community fire each night tended by The Women of the Flame who did an awesome job building the fire and keeping them bright and beautiful.  A silent auction was held which a large part of GGG’s fundraising.  We had many great items donated by several women.  GGG also provides a meal plan available for purchase and our wonderful kitchen witches provided us with a fantastic Greek feast on Saturday night inspired by The Nine Muses.

Gaea Goddess Gathering is meant to be a place of fun, relaxation, and spiritual experiences.  We recognize each woman is different and it is our hope that each woman brings with them what they need to get the best out of this event, and each woman leaves feeling she has reconnected with her inner Goddess.

Pagan Patriarchal Phest – Re-energizing male energy at Camp Gaea


This weekend on October 8,9 & 10th, the Pagan Patriarchal Phest is being held at the Gaea Retreat Center with the goal to explore, discuss, honor and acknowledge the God in all His many forms.  This festival is only open to those that are male or self-identify as male.

The organizers of this festival feel that Pagans have gone to an extreme of Goddess worship, overlooking and ignoring the Man standing next to the Lady and have organized a men-only festival to focus on issues affecting men or those that self-identify as male.  Blair Marshall, the primary organizer of the events stated, “The purpose of this festival is to bring about a balancing in a culture that boasts it’s desire for balance in all things yet is firmly turned towards Goddess worship opposed to God and Goddess worship.  It is also being presented to organize a Masculine community of support and growth similar to that of GGG (Gaea Goddess Gather).”

Topics of discussion will include what it means to be masculine, what/who the Male Triad are, how masculine energy differs from feminine energy in day to day life as well as when working in circle. There will be guided discussions about the Warrior Path, the Sage Path, and the Artisan/Craftsman Path.

Other activities include a Sweat Lodge for eight to ten participants on Saturday.  Additional sweats may be added if there is interest.

The Largest Heathen Gathering in North America meets in Kansas City


On September 24-26, the largest heathen gathering in North America took place during the 2nd annual Lightening Across the Plains.  170 adults and 70 children came together as part of the greater Midwestern heathen community from throughout the Midwest to include Michigan, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas.  

The event was hosted by Jotun’s Bane Kindred at the Gaea Retreat Center near Kansas City, MO.  Twice as big as the year before, it was organized to enable heathen from all over the Midwest to gather as a people and meet face-to-face.  As stated in their brochure “It’s about mingling Wyrd…and taking the measure of another person, and finding them of worth.”

The event had no shortage of activities which included religious activities, Viking games, a Midwest Thing, workshops, crafts, vendors, community dinners, and a Heathen auction.

Religious Activities

Several religious activities occurred during the event in honor of the Heathen faith.

An opening and a closing ritual took place to declare grith and frith over the gathering.  During the opening ceremony Tyr was honored, and the perimeter of the gathering area was walked with gifts presented to the Vaettir of the land.  The ceremony enlisted the help of the children who distributed gifts to the land wights.

On Friday night after dark, an Odin blot was held followed by a Folk Symbel.   A horn was passed during each and the crowd toasted the Gods and Goddesses, their ancestors & heroes, and then an open round where each could boast of their deeds or accomplishments.  A few even took this opportunity to share a song. 

On Saturday night, a High Symbel took place.  This was a grand formal event.  Chairs and tables were arranged in the pavilion with table cloths with seasonal decorations.  The hosts table was setup in the front where the ceremonial horns were displayed.  Kindred shields, national flags, and Kindred banners were proudly displayed around the perimeter.  Some participants took this opportunity to wear traditional garb.  Before the event, the children gathered for a slumber party that included movies and activities during the Symbel.  Just before the Symbel, Kari Tauring, a staff carrier and singer, gave us a wonderful concert consisting of Nordic-root songs.  During the Symbel, a horn was carried by a Valkrie to each person who was given the opportunity to toast a God and Goddess. During the second round, Chieftain’s Folley, an overly large drinking horn owned by JBK, was presented to each person who was given an opportunity to toast and boast a deed, an accomplishment, an ancestor, a hero, the hosts, or anything else that needed mentioning .  Heathens love to gift each other and many took this opportunity to present each other with amazing items.  Throughout the Symbel it was evident that those gathered were immensely proud of their community, their large gathering and JBK for their hard work.

During the festival, a Hof, or heathen temple, was established that included various religious images and statues honoring the heathen gods.  Participants were encouraged to take advantage of the Hof and add their own religious objects or conduct sacrifices.

Viking Games

There is nothing more fun than some friendly, but hard-fought, competition. On Saturday afternoon, everyone was invited to participate Viking Games which consisted of a Hammer Toss, a Kindred Tug-of-War, Steal the Wench and the crowd favorite, the children’s Viking Battles . 

The Viking Battles started off the Games when JBK presented the 70 children present a padded boffer sword as a gift.   Besides battling each other, various adults volunteered to act as trolls which the children attacked with enthusiasm.  The brave fallen warriors were taken of the field of battle by a Valkyrie who got to choose between Freyja’s Hall or Odin’s Hall where they were served punch and cookies.

The Hammer toss featured a heavy throwing hammer made by Craig Winkler from the Jotun’s Bane Kindred that was appropriately named Skullsplitter.  Both men and women participated in this events with each participant given two throws.  The winning throw was 47 feet 3 inches which was over 7 feet farther than the previous year.

A Kindred tug-of-war pitted kindreds against each other.  Each team consisted of three members battling for a coveted hammer trophy.  This travelling trophy is engraved with the winning Kindred’s name and held by the winning Kindred until the next LATP.  

The ever popular Steal the Wench was easily the crowd favorite.  A “house” with two rooms is outlined by a rope and a woman takes a position in the one of the rooms. A man must “steal the wench” by removing her from the house and take her to a finish line in the shortest time possible.  The woman on the other hand attempts to drag the man into the adjoining room or “thrall room” of the house. The winner is able to make the other their thrall (slave) for the rest of the weekend.

Midwest Thing

On Saturday morning, the Chieftains of each tribe gathered to formalize an agreement on how they should work together to establish strong tribes in the Midwest.  This was the first time that so many Midwestern tribes had met face to face and everyone participating was ecstatic with the results.  The result was several general laws were agreed upon to ensure the autonomy of each group but established procedures that would enable mutual support. 

Other activities

Several informational and crafts workshops were offered that allowed the participants to share knowledge of their folk ways.  Several vendors displayed crafts at the center of the camp which included jewelry, books, CDs, incense, gemstones, leatherwork, horns and various other items of heathen interest.  Community dinners were held by JBK and consisted of chili with fixings on Friday night and a hearty stew on Saturday night.  These dinners helped get the Heathens out of their individual camps and join together in community.  On Sunday, a heathen auction was held from items that were donated by participants.  The proceeds will be used to help pay expenses for the gathering as well as to add to a savings account that will be used to acquire tribal lands, build a Hof and Hall, and establish an area for heathen burials.

The event definitely achieved its primary purpose of gathering Midwest heathens together to meet face-to-face so that they could talk, swap stories, laugh and play together.  Pride was very evident as heathens continually chose this moment to boast their faith and the virtues of their community.   Declarations that next year’s events will be twice as big were heard often and from my perspective, a very real possibility.

Kansas City Pagan Pride Day 2010


Kansas City held its 12th Annual Pagan Pride Day from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm on August 28th, 2010 in Macken Park, North Kansas City, Missouri. 

The event coordinator, Autumnwolf, reports that the event was attended by about 300 individuals throughout the day.  The day was filled with charity drives, workshops, live entertainment, information booths and plenty of community.

The Pagan Pride Day event sponsored two charities this year: the Dream Factory of Greater Kansas City and the Harvesters food bank .  Steve Hardin, the Dream Factory’s Director of Community Relations, helped start the day by giving those attending a short presentation on the Dream Factory’s mission and some their many success stories.  Several fund-raising activities were held throughout the day to help raise money for this wonderful cuase.  The popular silent auction was able to raise $721 from items donated by individuals within the Pagan community.  $182 was collected by Embellished Body who set up a donation jar and face-painted most of the children and applied henna to a lot of the adults. A new activity called “Pie in the Eye” was added this year. Everyone was given the opportunity to vote for their favorite Pagan who would then receive a cream-filled pie in their face at the end of the day.  The “winners” were incredibly good sports and helped raise $22.  At the end, the KC Pagan Pride Day was able to present the Dream Factory a donation of $975.  Also in honor of the Fall Equinox, which is celebrated by many Pagans as their “Thanksgiving”, donations of food were collected and donated to the local Harvesters food bank.

Several free workshops were offered throughout the day. Salem from Tulsa, OK  lead a participation workshop on Astrology and a second workshop on Celtic Trees.  Salem’s wife Phebe also conducted a workshop on Cauldron Building.  Alfred Willowhawk from Lawrence, KS presented a workshop on Sacred Pathways – The Mirror To Your Soul.  Avatar De Danann of Shawnee, KS presented a discussion on the Fairie Path – The Magical Mind. 

Skewb and the KC Drum Tribe entertained the crowd for their second consecutive PPD and got the crowd dancing. The Peaty Bog Water Band, a new three-person band lead by Avatar, helped close out the event.  

Representatives from several local covens, the Heartland Spiritual Alliance, Ozark Avalon, and the Gaea Goddess Gathering festival established information booths and answered questions on events and activities in the area.

Several organizations and individuals helped sponsor this year’s Kansas City Pagan Pride Day event to help pay for the operating costs.  Platinum sponsors included the Heartland Spiritual Alliance, Candledark Internet Solutions and Autumnwolf.  Cyberpunk Computers was a Gold sponsor.  And the Jera Kenaz Lunae Coven, Angela and Neil Krout, Amethyst Dreams, Elohim Lushede Coven, and the Gaea Goddess Gathering were Silver Sponsors.

The Kansas City Pagan Pride Day is affiliated with the Pagan Pride Day Project  whose  primary purpose is advancement of religion and elimination of prejudice and discrimination based on religious beliefs.  In 2009, the Kansas City Pagan Pride Day officially became a Missouri Nonprofit Corporation and a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization.  For more information, you can contact the Kansas City Pagan Pride Day coordinator at info@kcpaganpride.com and visit the web site at http://www.kcpaganpride.com