A History of Neo-Paganism and Druidry: 7 – Discuss the influence of the Pagan festival movement, and how the festivals changed Paganism in the 1980s.

6 08 2017

Discuss the influence of the Pagan festival movement, and how the festivals changed Paganism in the 1980s. (minimum 100 words)

In the late 1970’s the Pagan community primarily communicated by newsletter and finding others was very hard. But with the rise of festivals, the face of Paganism was to change dramatically. Once they began, the grew very fast. In 1985 there were 50 regional or national gatherings and by 1995, there were 350. In 1983 there were 23 festivals lasting more than two days, but this had grown to 347 by 1995. Some festivals had up to 1000 or more attendees. At first they were mostly indoors, but later moved outdoors.

The rise of festivals dramatically changed Paganism. Adler says they “created a national Pagan community, a body of nationally shared chants, dances, stories and ritual techniques” and that “within a few years a body of chants, songs and techniques for working large group rituals was known to thousands of people.” Before the festival movement, most of Paganism was practiced in small groups, but now the rituals had to be adapted to larger groups. This led to a lot of learning and the creation of new types of ritual processes. This in turn affected the practice of smaller groups who brought back a new sense of playfulness, humour and much more use of songs and chants.

In addition, the Festivals created a new culture and community. They brought people together, exposed them to new ideas, replaced divisiveness with unity and challenged people’s assumptions. They made people feel like part of something big again. They helped them believe that a new Pagan culture could be built and gave Pagans a new group identity. Pagans could finally be themselves as they met others with similar beliefs and values. And what was learned at the festivals, was often brought back to their own covens and small groups. There were a lot more men and women’s separate rituals, a lot more drumming which allowed people ecstatic experiences and a lot more opportunities for crafts, music and Pagan businesses.

But it wasn’t all positive, with the growth in the size of festivals came less of a feeling of community, more focus on entertainment rather than spiritual experience, a dumbing down so it was more family friendly and more materialism. There was also probably a lot of uniqueness destroyed and more standardisation.



Ellis, Peter B. The Druids. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Pub Co, 1998. Print.

Adler, Margot. Drawing down the moon witches, Druids, goddess-worshippers, and other pagans in America today. New York, N.Y: Penguin/Arkana, 2006. Print.

Hutton, Ronald. The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. Print.

Bonewits, Isaac. “Defining Paganism: Paleo-, Meso-, and Neo-.” Web.

Bonewits, Isaac. “Frequently Asked Questions about Neopagan Druidism.” Web.

Bonewits, Isaac. “The Origins of Ár nDraíocht Féin.” Web.

Bonewits, Isaac. “What Neopagans Believe.” Web.

Bonewits, Isaac. “The Reformed Druids of North America and their Offshoots.” Web.

Hopman, Ellen Evert. “The Origins of the Henge of Keltria.” Web.

Meith, Vickie, and Howard Meith. “The Origins of the Celtic Traditionalist Order of Druids.” Web.

Thuin, Dylan Ap. “The Origins of the Insular Order of Druids.” Web














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