A pagan festival running since 1982 is coming to the area this June.
Wic-Can Fest will take place at Sparrow Lake Camp in Severn Bridge from June 15 to 19, replete with lectures and workshops from various traditions, group ceremonies and rituals, and the opportunity for newcomers and returning visitors to meet and learn from one another.
After being forced online through the pandemic, the festival’s 40th year is also its first in the Orillia area and at Sparrow Lake Camp.
“It’s a beautiful site with much more accommodation than we’ve had before, and there’s a big beach there,” event spokesperson Anne Marie Greymoon told OrilliaMatters.
“We’ve always been really community oriented, and there’s nothing like getting together in person. Our event seeks to create the feel of a pagan village, so it’s very colourful, and it’s like summer camp for grownups. You wake up in the morning and you have coffee, and you pick the lectures you want to attend. You make some friends. You learn some new things.”
Some of the events Greymoon said attendees can look forward to include a memorial Norse ritual for people who died of COVID-19, workshops on tarot reading, the hair-braiding tradition, and how how to eat healthy on a budget, as well as a bardic song and storytelling competition, to name a few.
The festival will also feature folk music, a rap show by Georgina Island First Nation member Jared Big Canoe, as well as sweat lodges and First Nations teachings by Kevin Porter.
“The festival provides a meeting ground for all these different practitioners to come together and celebrate together and work magic together and learn together,” Greymoon said.
Festival organizers have high expectations for their events, she said, and they ensure each person giving a teaching or organizing a workshop has the appropriate amount of experience and cultural knowledge to do so.
“We try to make sure that there’s no cultural appropriation going on and whatever we’re presenting is actually accurate,” Greymoon said.
”If we have an astrologer coming to do a seminar on astrology, it’s not someone who just picked up astrology two years ago. It’s someone who’s a veteran astrologer. If we have somebody presenting on aromatherapy, it’s someone who’s had more than 10 years experience doing aromatherapy.”
Wic-Can Fest provides an open and welcoming community to those who attend, Greymoon said, adding the festival is a “family environment” welcome to children and adults who choose to stay at Sparrow Lake Camp for the event.
“It’s a very welcoming community and ... it’s an environment where you can ask a lot of questions, and you’re not committed to anything,” she said. “Whatever you’re curious about, you can go and sit in on it and ask questions and participate. That’s really what the festival is about: It’s about being open to seekers, and providing an environment where it’s easy to ask questions and easy to learn, and deciding for yourself what you enjoy.”
Some of the larger events and rituals need to be experienced in person, Greymoon said.
“The big rituals — there’s nothing comparable to that experience,” she said. “It’s something that needs to be experienced. You don’t get the same just watching it on TV or on YouTube. It’s a powerful experience. People come away from it really refreshed and transformed.”
More about the festival and its events can be found on the Wic-Can Fest website.