Annual Pagan Camp


Always the first weekend in September


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All text and illustrations ©Anna Franklin, unless otherwise stated

tibulum | Sed vulputate

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Why did you change the Gathering so much in 2016?

Even though the 2014 tenth anniversary Gathering was the biggest and in many ways the most successful Mercian to that date, the organisers had some very grave about the way the Gathering was evolving. It seemed to have begun changing into more of a festival than a Pagan camp, with increased levels of rowdy drunkenness (no one minds a bit of merriness), and trouble making behaviour. Admittedly, this was by a small minority, though for the first time we had a large number of complaints about it in 2014.


We had to ask ourselves why this was. We hadn’t changed what we offered in terms of the programme, entertainment or rituals since 2005, and we had had 1000 attendees since year four, so what changed?


The only conclusion was the type of people who came. In the beginning, attendees consisted of committed Pagans, sometimes with their non-Pagan but respectful partners/friends, and genuinely interested newbies.

Then in 2013 and 2014 we got a lot more non-Pagan attendees just wanting a festival or to sit drinking all day in what was effectively a cheap camping weekend. We think they didn’t come with Pagan friends, but just bought tickets on the Internet.  Some of them were talking loudly, drinking, laughing, catcalling, mickey taking  and talking on their phones during the rituals, treating them as another piece of entertainment like the band. For those of us who see our rituals as sacred, it was extremely upsetting. I know some of the genuine Pagans were put off attending by this, and I suspect this would have happened increasingly had it been allowed to continue, and the good reputation we had built over many years would have been lost.


We could have carried on as we were and sold out tickets twice over for a 2015 Gathering, but instead took the decision to have a year off and think about what would be the right thing to do. It might not be the most profitable or popular thing, but we wanted it to be the right thing.






 We came to the conclusion that the Mercian needed to go back to basics and our core supporters. 2016 was a smaller, invitation only event.


For the present, we are going to continue with the invitation only approach, though there will be an expansion to a buddy invite for 2016 attendees. We dare not risk selling tickets on the open internet again.


The organisers were happy with the way things went in 2016, and everyone who expressed their opinion to us said they really enjoyed the laid back, friendly atmosphere, that it was more like it used to be.


We’d like to build on what was achieved in 2016 and make it better and better. We hope our much loved Mercian family will help us do this


Anna Franklin


I started the Mercian Gathering with very definite aims in mind – I wanted a real Pagan camp where people of different Pagan paths could come together to share ritual and wisdom. I wanted a wide variety of talks from different traditions so people could exchange ideas and learn from each other. I wanted meaningful, well organised and powerful rituals.