From late Spring to Fall, Pagan camping season is in full swing. It's a time to meet up with old friends, share music and ritual, and enjoy some time with Nature. If you're like us, annual campouts with kindred souls may just be the highlight of the year!
Any gathering is better when you're well-prepared. Once you've made your list of basic camping gear (bedding, sunscreen, etc.), here's a few more ideas to make your trip a memorable one:
Food or drink to share.
Nothing breaks the ice like breaking bread! The ancient ritual of sharing with strangers is dear to many Pagan hearts. Some events have a potluck or "stone soup" built into the schedule, so be sure to pack your contribution for the community meal. (Non-perishables are best, if you don't want to spend all weekend tending an ice chest.)
After dark, a great way to make new friends is with a big bottle of mead or a six-pack of your favorite brew. Not a drinker? You can still cheer your fellows with homemade trail mix, baked goods, or a big pot o' coffee.
A favorite incense or smudging herb.
The scent of Sage, Copal, or Sandalwood wafting through the forest is a delightful thing. You may also wish to smudge your campsite or ritual space before setting up.
Offerings of fragrant smoke are a wonderful way to show spirits and Fae that the energy you're bringing is reverent and celebratory, not intrusive. And unlike food offerings, they won't bring critters to your camp. (But watch for bees! I learned the hard way that bees are attracted to burning candles.) Practice good fire safety, be considerate of your neighbors, and observe any burn bans that are in place.
It wouldn't be Pagan camping without drumming and dancing! Don't forget your instrument of choice, whether it's a drum, a flute, or a colorful skirt that jingles. Packing light? Don't worry. Hard-core musicians usually bring extra instruments, and chances are good you'll be able to borrow a drum, rattle, or tambourine for the evening.
Extra chairs or mats.
Pagans tend to be friendly folks. Set up extra chairs in front of your campsite, and you'll be able to have visitors without a hassle. Fold 'em or set them aside when you'd rather have some time alone.
Cash to spend.
If the campout you're attending has a vendor's row, you'll want to be well-funded for the occasion. (But don't bring more than you're willing to spend!) Jewelry and handicrafts, home-grown delicacies, natural body products, clothing, crystals, massage, and psychic readings are just some of the offerings at larger festivals.
While most mobile phones can accept credit cards, they don't always work in the middle of the woods. (Besides, vendors will usually be grateful to accept cash, so they can skip the transaction fees.) If bartering is acceptable, bring plenty of your own goods to swap.
Pen and paper.
The loveliness of your surroundings may inspire art or poetry. At the very least, you'll want to be able to record the names and contact info of your new friends. Glowing screens are most un-magickal, so an old-fashioned notepad is a handy thing to have.
A sarong or pareo.
This will go everywhere with you. It will serve as a sun shield, yoga mat, dancing scarf, picnic blanket, knapsack, and many other functions across a single weekend. On the way home, it will protect your car seats from your happy, stanky, bug-spray covered self. At clothing-optional events, it's a no-no to sit down without one.
Condoms, lube, and adult toys.
Not every Pagan campout is a sexual free-for-all, of course. Most are family-friendly, at least until after dark. But if you're camping for Beltane, or your site has an "adult" area marked, it's a good bet that public or group sex might be on the menu. If you're opting in (or undecided), bring everything you might need to have a safe, fun time. If the campground is out in the boonies, these things will be hard to come by at the local corner store.
Favorite crystals, charms, or talismans.
There's likely to be a community altar at the camp or a main public ritual. Often, this will give you an opportunity to supercharge your magickal juju, and take a bit of the festival's energy with you. Check with the ritualist(s) first to make sure it's okay. If not, you can find a tree stump or clearing to fill your items up with some incomparable country starlight.
Prayer flags, curtains, string lights, goddess statues—some people go all out to make their site reflect their wacky, witchy personae. Others (including yours truly), think it's almost too much work just to pack a tent. Still, setting a gorgeous campsite is a great way to exercise your creativity and attract your tribe. Streamers, glow sticks, and tapestries add color without taking up too much room.
Be safe, and have a magickal festival season!