If there’s a ritual planned – and chances are pretty good that it will be, considering you’re going to a Pagan event – everyone should bring their own magical tools. It’s unreasonable to expect the organizers or the High Priestess to provide tools for everyone, so unless you’re told otherwise, plan on bringing your own items. Be sure to check local regulations and ordinances before you take any sort of unsecured blade, such as an athame or sword.
At many Pagan rituals, it’s customary to bring an offering or gift of some sort to place on the altar. For instance, if the ceremony is one honoring the ancestors at Samhain, you may be invited to place a photo of a family member on the altar. At a Beltane ceremony, you might make an offering of seeds or other fertility symbols. For a Mabon celebration, many Pagan groups organize food drives, and canned goods are placed on the altar for later donations. Check with organizers to find out what sort of things are appropriate offerings.
It’s always courteous to bring something to eat. If you’re attending an overnight campout, it’s important to bring enough to last you the entire time you’re there. No one wants to be running around scavenging for canned beans the last day of a week-long festival. Even if you’re just going to an evening potluck, bring something you can share with others. If everyone does this, then there will be plenty for everyone, and no one will be sitting around hungry.
Even if you’re brand-new to a Pagan spiritual path, you’ll get far more out of the festival or event if you have a basic understanding of ritual format. Familiarize yourself with the basic aspects of ritual, such as calling of the quarters, invoking the elements, casting a circle, and so forth. Ask the hosts if there are any issues particular to their tradition that you should be aware of.
One of the most important items you can take with you to a Pagan event is a notebook and pen. This is for a variety of reasons. You can jot down notes at workshops, write down references and important things to look up later, make lists of shops and vendors, and journal your thoughts. Take the information you collect, and add it to your Book of Shadows later. Even more importantly, you can always use your notebook for networking. Get names, phone numbers and email addresses of people you’ve connected with – and give them your information in return.
Although this isn’t quite as crucial at a single-day event as it is during a week-long campout, it’s always important to have a sense of what time things are happening. Although Pagan Standard Time is something we joke about within the Pagan community, it’s also a very real problem when people are trying to host a workshop or lead a ritual, and people keep skipping in fifteen minutes after the start time. This behavior is disruptive, and can interrupt the flow of energy and ritual. Take a watch – or your cell phone, with the sound turned off – and show up on time.
This should be obvious, but if you’re attending an event that involves staying overnight, make sure you take everything you need. This includes basic things like a tent and a sleeping bag, along with toiletries, clothing, and a way to prepare your meals. It’s not fair to others if you’re wandering around looking for a tent to bunk in every night – be responsible and take your own supplies. If there’s a chance you might hook up with someone, bring condoms so you can hook up responsibly.
One of the reasons it’s so hard to put on a Pagan event is because it’s nearly always run by volunteers – and it’s hard to find volunteers! If someone is busy running the check-in table or the kidcare circle or the first aid station, then they’re doing so in order for YOU to enjoy the event. If you can offer even just an hour of your time to help out with things like picking up trash, prepping the bonfire, or checking to make sure the Port-o-Jons have toilet paper, then please do so. If you can’t spare any time, offer a financial donation. Even if it’s just a small amount, the gesture shows organizers that you appreciate all their hard work and effort.
When you attend any sort of Pagan event, chances are good that you’ll run into people who are different than you. They may have a different skin color or sexual orientation, they may be part of a non-traditional marriage, or they may have a different way of expressing their Pagan spirituality than you do. It’s okay – they’re allowed to be different, just like you are. Don’t be judgmental of others’ beliefs or practices, no matter how unusual or just plain weird they may be.
Finally, be sure to keep a positive attitude. If you have a good time, be sure to let the organizers know. Likewise, if you find something lacking, try to help come up with a solution, rather than ranting about how much the event sucked. A positive attitude will not only help you have an enjoyable experience, it will make the event more enjoyable for everyone around you.