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A Pagan Gathering for Australia and the world

Monday, October 4, 2010


The following is the history of the Mt Franklin Annual Pagan Gathering, written by those people who founded and continue to organize this seminal Australian event.

 For overseas readers Mt Franklin is a small but perfect dormant volcano, with a crater that is totally intact except for a small gap where the entrance road is sited. Inside the crater is a flat area of about five acres, planted out with a variety of native and northern hemisphere trees, including a couple of young but thriving California Redwoods. The whole area has been declared an Arboretum, and the combination of Australian natives and trees from Europe and America serve to make Western Pagans feel right at home.

 October is Spring in this part of Australia, and because we enjoy a four season climate here many of our traditional northern plants are heralding the onset of Beltane. At the base of the mountain wild Eglantine Roses are blooming, planted by who knows which homesick settler. On the slopes of the mountain itself a huge and lovely Hawthorn is covered in its white blossom. The bush all around us is filled with blooming eucalypts and masses of brilliant yellow wattles (Acacia to you northern types). Mt Franklin itself is in central Victoria, the most Southerly mainland state in Australia. We have hot, dry summers, cold wet winters and glorious springs and autumns.

The following memories, anecdotes and personal histories are from many folk who have helped organize and attended many Mt Franklin Gatherings.

  This account was composed after the 25th anniversary Gathering, when many folk asked him to write an account of the founding of the Gathering.


Last year’s 25th Mt Franklin Annual Pagan Gathering finished on a high note, Pagans making a special effort to celebrate our annual get together. Friday night’s meet and greet was a real buzz, with music and song. Saturday’s ritual and bonfire, with traditional spiral dance came together very smoothly. Tanya’s work on brilliant and meaningful banners and her glorious “Obby Orse” who has been named “Dobbin”, moved many to tears as we remembered our cultural past.

Sunday’s market was fun and colourful and our “may” pole dancing just beautiful.

Our yearly Moot recalled the beginning of our Gathering and later that day I was reminded of this when the car I was travelling home in suddenly stopped outside the mountain. I realized it had stopped in exactly the same place I had had a breakdown in 1978. At that time I was travelling with a friend who was also a keen enthusiast of the spiritual landscape, and we enjoyed exploring special places. When he came to visit me the first place I took him to see was Mt Franklin. Our car stopped at the beginning of the crater, and we spent quite a few hours fixing it and we got some very strong impressions from this obviously sacred volcano. It felt like a doorway and we opened ourselves to the vibe of this place. We stood in the middle of the crater, being surrounded by a ring of stone and earth and I thought what a perfect place for a spiritual circle of people this would make.

That year open house for Yule was at
Bev Lane
’s in Melbourne – it was a great annual get together. With the pagan scene just starting in Australia it was exciting to meet other pagans. A publication was in the wings, the “Wazoo Weakly” out of south Australia, but a gathering where we could meet each other in person was what I felt was really needed.

I asked my partner Linda and our teacher Simon Goodman if they wanted to help me with organizing such an event but Linda felt more senior people in the pagan scene should do it. So I asked five suitable pagan seniors if they would like to, but they declined, although many said they would attend such a gathering if I’d organize it.

So, when Simon came up for a visit I told him about this plan I’d been pursuing and asked would he be interested in giving me a hand to make it happen. He still wasn’t sure but he agreed to have a look at Mt Franklin the next day. So next morning Linda and the kids and Simon and myself all drove up to the Mountain which is about fifteen miles from our house. We got out of our car, took in the views and Simon said it was a wonderful place, especially for a Sabbat.

So he and Linda agreed it was a good idea to try to organize something for the whole pagan community to come together. Linda offered to do the secretarial work (which she is still doing 29 years later) and Simon was to do a lot of the networking, photocopying and mailouts. He still wasn’t completely convinced it would be successful, so we agreed to contact every pagan and western tradition magician we could find in Australia, and ask them if they agreed with this proposal or if they had an alternative suggestion.

We drafted a circular letter and posted it to all the witches, neo pagans and magicians that we personally knew of or could contact by friends of  friends. Fifty eight agreed to come.

So on the last weekend in October 1981, we all gathered in the crater of Mt Franklin and celebrated Beltane together. All agreed that it had been a wonderful occasion and it should continue every year from then on. The rest, as they say, is history.


  1. Guess that breakdown was 'meant to be' ... and how fortunate for all us pagans!

  2. I first attended Mount Franklin Annual Pagan Gathering, I think back in 1990 or perhaps '91. I was pretty young then and kept to myself, exploring a world that was both familiar and intriguing. I remember that first time going alone and sleeping in my car not knowing anyone. The memory is beautiful of that first weekend, sunshine through the array of beautiful trees, the smell of spring. The colour and magic of so many people all coming together to just celebrate and 'be'. Corporate facades gone, parents faces probably stressed at any other time now relaxed and happy. And a warmth that I don't believe has ever been replicated elsewhere amongst gatherers. I do remember seeing it advertised initially in Margot Adler's "Drawing Down The Moon" and has been advertised in every edition since as I recall. This was where I first met members of my original working group, and formed a great friendship with many many people. I did not know Linda and Michel terribly well at that point only that they had paved the way for the gathering since its conception. I was quietly very thankful to them for that. Over subsequent years they became very good friends, generous and giving, like so many people are and have been. If you have ever been to the Mount for Beltaine, you'll know exactly of what I speak. Strangers sharing food and water for those ill prepared. Handing out doona's and pillows for those bone wrenchingly cold nights in the crater! One year, this writer enjoyed far too much red wine and tripped over face planting in spectacular fashion! Far too inebriated to move, a kind person came and assisted me to get up (after falling over me) and led me back to a warm fire and yet more wine....never give in (and thanks Michel) :P Over the years I have experienced a diverse array of rituals from differing practitioners and run them myself. Beltane up at the Mount had always been the most fantastic weekend you could plot on your calendar. I hope that readers of this blog will appreciate its unique place in paganism in Australia and the huge volume of love and work that has gone into to helping sustain a sacred space and a weekend haven for us all to enjoy and feel blessed by the spirits, ancestors and our Gods. It forms a unique and crucial part of my own Craft history and journey. I hope to see it continue without destructive elements for those who have the eyes to see it become a part of their journey too....

  3. Thank you for sharing your memories of your visits to the mount.