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A Pagan Gathering for Australia and the world

Monday, November 29, 2010

Simon Goodman In Memorium

In memorium for more information about Simon and his passing.....click here  Simon Goodman

Linda's Story

"After I read Michel’s story a whole cascade of memories came flooding back. My memory tends to present me with images and feelings, rather than time lines, so I’ll just give you an overview of people and happenings, in no real order"   click here for more

Minoan Tree Cult Experiment

Hi there, as some of you know, I am doing a PhD in Aegean Archaeology, specialising in sacred trees and gardens. I am wondering whether anyone would be interested in participating in a tree and baetyl cult experiment at some stage (in the next year), possibly at Mt Franklin (not necessarily at the time of the Beltane celebration), or another rural (or even urban) site altogether, in order to assess the bodily and cognitive effects of tree and baetyl cult? I probably should not give too much away and prejudice the experiment, but as brief background, the idea is that these natural objects, the tree, the baetyl (rock), are numinous and that ritual interaction therewith caused a certain effect - communication with the Otherworld, divination, prophecy. While I'm primarily looking at Minoan tree cult (that's Minoan Crete, as well as Mycenaean Greece, with comparative material from Cyprus and Israel), you might be more familiar with the biblical examples of the Asherah, both a tree and a goddess, and the Beth El (Beth = house, El = God : baetyl) the stone that Jacob used as a pillow, subsequently had a communication with G*d through a dream while lying upon, and then set up as a massevoth (sacred stone). In Israel tree and pillar cult were enacted at bamot (high places) in the landscape. I need to enact tree cult with some other people, and record the effects. I'm just putting this idea out there. I have previously participated in (someone else's) experimentation with Minoan gestures known from cultic imagery and figurines along with 'sonic driving' by the shaking of a sistrum, and whether this caused or aided trance, and that was a very interesting experiment.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

'Join the Ritual..!' - my experiences of Beltane since 1999, and lending a helping hand...

About 64 hours before I arrived at the 2010 Mount Franklin Beltane, I was standing on Glastonbury Tor, looking over the land on a wet Autumn day, thinking about how I would be at our precious Mount in a few short days. It will be my 11th attendance at the Annual event. I recall the earlier days of my first few Beltane’s. My first one was in 1999, at the age of 22, a friend and I went up on the Saturday afternoon.

My friend had written to the Celtic Heritage Society and gained details of the event. It had rained that day, and when we arrived, I remember seeing the Mount for the first time – topped with a cloud. In the crater, the clouds touched the top of the pine trees, making a haunting canopy – it felt like the cloud protected us rather that rained on us – it had stopped raining that time anyway.

As we drove around the campsite, we began to get really excited, as we saw people dressed wonderfully. I recall seeing a grey-bearded man wearing real antlers and people robed ready for the rite. I even ran into friends of mine from my home town, so did not feel so lonely. It was thrilling for the first time – such a magical mysterious innocent time for me! In reality, it was my first public pagan gathering, a time I wish I could relive.

Over the years, I took up more and more friends and by 2002, there was a large group of us – the Geelong and Ballarat Pagans in the Pub group camped together. One year later in 2003, my friend Ryan and I began to paint banners a few weeks before the event, to decorate our campsite – and simply because we were creative and loved painting on calico. We also painted on a marquee we planned to bring up too. For some reason (that I am still unsure of) people - mostly previous friends - appeared to envy our banners and flags at Beltane – I don’t know why, I was trying to be creative and colourful, with no other intention, but maybe to encourage others to do the same. Most people loved it, others apparently didn’t. It was my first unusual taste of criticism at Beltane – a place where I thought that sort of thing would not come up! Three weeks before the 2003 Beltane, I got a call from a friend asking me if the Geelong Pagans would like to do the ritual this year. The organisers had asked her to ask us – I panicked but said yes and rallied our friends to help out. Ryan and I wrote the ritual and I volunteered to be High Priestess (much to my nervousness!) a role I thought I would not take so soon in my life.

Over those 3 weeks we made costumes and tools for the rite. All went well until I got sick probably from the stress and nervousness – sick or not, on the day I was as ready as I could be! I even have a photo of myself just before ritual that has a strange ghostly cloud over it!

The ritual went well – the previous year (2002) the ritual consisted of a group of maidens (me one of them) who danced the circle, and then a masked Horned God entered and chased the maidens – choosing one for his bride.

We loved it so much, we wrote an opposite version – we had a masked Jack-In-The-Green dance around the fire. Some playful maidens came into the ritual to tease our Jack and chase him, until the Goddess came in and banged on her tambourine, silencing and dismissing the maidens. She kissed the Jack and they circled the ritual, being bowed to by those in the circle, then they left for the woods. It ended up being a success, despite my stress and illness, and even a few things we forgot for the rite, but got just in time!

I was glad to get the chance to do it. Every year since then, I have been involved in the ritual in some form. In 2004, I chose the God and Goddess for the ritual, and led the Spiral Dance.

In 2005 I had made an ‘Obby Oss’ for the ritual, which was an amazing feature for that year (I’ll be writing a post about the Oss soon).

In 2006, being the 25th Beltane, the ritual had its largest number of participants – some 15+ ritualists involved, all masked and hauntingly mysterious. Those were some of my favourite years. It’s been so long!

The 2007 Beltane was very crowded – all sorts of people turned up for the ritual – hundreds more than we expected – because people had been using the internet to advertise it, and the mount is too small for such a large number. So in 2008 the event was invite only and what a wonderful event it turned out to be, the ritual ran by Ásatrú friends of mine!

In 2009, I missed my first Beltane since the 90’s when I worked at another event nearby for the weekend – due to unwanted politics that was new at the event; I decided to take a year off!

2010 – this event was very wet, but was back to its old mischievous self – When I arrived at Mount Franklin at 5pm on the Friday, I had not even been in the country for 24 hours yet – I had landed at Tullamarine near midnight the night before, having travelled back from a 2 week trip to the UK. On the Monday to Wednesday that week, I was in lovely Glastonbury, the pagan Mecca for travellers on a pilgrimage in the UK. On Wed and Thurs I flew home and Friday arrived at the Mount to sleep in my car and did not feel any jetlag! The 2010 event was wonderful, the Celtic Heritage Society campsite had a lot of supportive friends and the weekend was rather problem free for us – giving us ample confidence to plan the 2011 event that will be the 30th Beltane!

Already we have a large interest from old friends who are returning, and will make it a special event – and a special anniversary ritual! Don’t forget to write to the correct address for an invitation!

Tania Poole

The antlers made for the 2003 Beltane Jack-in-the-Green

Friends at the 2003 Beltane

The God and Goddess from 2004 Beltane - Craig and Elva

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

MFAPG now on Facebook

The Mount Franklin Annual Pagan Gathering can now be found on Facebook.

The link is as follows:


There is also an event page set  for the 2011 30th Anniversary of this iconic gathering-the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere, this can found at


If you are interested in either the group, event or both please contact one of the administrators.

Preliminary preparations look great so far! Hope to see you all next year, in the meantime keep enjoying this great blog and articles as they come in.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Beltane People

When I agreed to help initiate this weblog I had spent a pleasant afternoon chatting with Linda and Michel about the old days at Mount Franklin and, inevitably, the talk turned to people of Beltanes past. Beltane has always been about people and regardless of whether you attend one or twenty-nine, it becomes a part of you and you indelibly become a pert of it too. I have brought many friends to Beltane, my sister Susan was handfasted at Mount Franklin and a swarm of friends came to share in it. When I see these (non-pagan) friends now, years later, they still remember their Beltane and the people that they met there.

Some, like my sister, are no longer with us, and Beltane has missed the contributions of David O’Conner (remember his fire walking?) or Simon Goodman who guided the organizers in the early years. One who I particularly miss is Leon, the country boy from Gordon who was the most natural-born pagan that I have ever met. Leon was the first to jump up for a job that needed doing and the last to leave when the clean-up crew were done. I miss him at the mountain and I am sad that I won’t hear him growl a greeting at me again (in this life).

Others have drifted away, like Gary Trevers who loved the music of the weekend. I also miss seeing Jerry & Carol who have wandered away now but were once regular and enthusiastic attendees. And, over the years, there have been those who have drifted through and gone, taking something of the Beltane spirit with them. There was Michael Jackson (I kid you not!) who helped me to spit roast a goat for the handfasting feast. That same year, Susan’s friend Dave Munday burned his bum on the bonfire, after the main ceremony, trying to jump it after Linda told him that it would increase his virility!

But, I think that the most memorable character for me was the Lady Tanith who flew to Victoria from Perth one year for the weekend. She was a grand old dame and, I am sure, a fine witch. We escorted her (and her po-mouthed assistant) to and from Mount Franklin, ran her errands and generally indulged her for four days and, as she left, she gave me a very generous gift of Frankincense oil (which Cazz may still have! Ha Ha!). She was great fun- and a real character too, and I always hoped that she remembered her Beltane at Mount Franklin with affection.

by David Mattichak

An Excellent Review of the MFAPG Blog Site!!

There is a great review and link to the site that has been posted on wildhunt at http://wildhunt.org/blog/2010/11/pagan-community-notes-women-and-the-changing-face-of-paganism-pagan-health-mount-franklin-gathering-turns-30-and-more.html
Check it out!

Thanks to Cazz Tully for the link.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My First Mount Franklin

Photo: by Simon Goodman.

In 1986 I was 20 years old. Me and my then boyfriend – the person who introduced me to magick – David Mattichak, had been together for two years. Living in inner city Melbourne, we had somehow come across copies of the alternative farming publication, Grass Roots magazine, and we liked what we saw. We subsequently made a pact to move to the country no matter what, and later that year lugged most of our gear to Central Victoria where we knew people: Linda and Mischael Marold. 
Linda and Mischael were (and still are) experts in all things alternative, from farming, to gardening, to crafts, and to alternative lifestyle festivals. Speaking of which, October eventually came around and it was time for the 1986 Mount Franklin Annual Pagan Gathering. David and I had never been there before and so did not really know what to expect. It had been quite a hot day, back at home in Guildford, and I did not see any reason to bring warm clothes – or even shoes – with me up to the mountain. I can’t remember what I did bring, but it seemed to have involved at least a tent.
It was much colder at Mount Franklin than it had been down on the plain. So cold that I had to borrow a blanket from a guy to wear during the day (you can see me wearing it in this photo). Unfortunately he wanted it back that night, when it was even colder! So I had no warm clothes and no shoes... Then it started raining. Our tent had no side ropes holding the roof part away from the tent walls, so every time we lent on the tent material from the inside, it became wet and the water seeped through.
I’m not sure whether we had any blankets, pillows or other types of comfort, but I do recall being freezing and having hardly any sleep because of it. Nor can I remember whether this Mount Franklin went for one or two nights but at some stage, at night, there was a large group ritual. I recall that this ritual crystallised for David and I our identities as Thelemic ritual magicians, rather than Wiccans or Pagans – an identification that I, at least, have modified somewhat over the subsequent years – as we realised how stylistically different this sort of ritual was to what we had been doing.
I did not know anyone except the Marolds at the 1986 Mount Franklin, although I’m sure people who I would later become good friends with – and who were famous long-time attendees – were there. I do recall that Simon Goodman took the photo of David and I, but that’s about it. I’m sure we had fun though, despite my foggy memory, because I subsequently went to eleven more Mount Franklins, and because this blog is making me nostalgic, am considering returning there again.
By Caroline Tully.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

People Past......

Hello all I thought I’d write a series of articles about people past.

Over 30 years has passed, since the idea was first passed around that the “Castlemaine Experiment” was thinking about joint public rites. At the time I was part of the newly formed the New Varangian Guard ,also learning Celtic magic’s. I arrived at a property in the middle of nowhere for a Mid Winter gathering and was told to beware because there was a gay witch and a ballet dancer about. Intrigued I set off to find these gentlemen.

I found two gents over by the goat house that they had taken over for the weekend. One was lewd and flamboyant the other quiet and unassuming. I mistakenly sidled up to the quiet gent and said “how did you meet this “Gay witch.” In a flurry of laughter he replied” I’m the gay one he’s just a pounce.” And so began a long friendship with David O’Connor.

David’s particular talent was creating decorative altars and putting himself in the centre of attention. After that weekend and within 6 weeks we had been invited to Mount Franklin 1984. Thinking back we were fairly unprepared for how things would grow over the years.

Year two the gathering was even bigger as we’d prevailed upon the full guard to attend. David according to his nature had organised the altar and placed himself in the middle of the rite to act as magister. The magister orchestrates people’s actions within a circle ensuring everyone does the right thing at the right time. It is a very useful role when dealing with large groups and participants new to doing a ritual. David used to say the best people in a circle were always the ex-altar boys.

Most notably that year with the Christians sitting in their bus staring at the Varangian’s practicing with sword and spear and the sound of singers and musicians playing old folk tunes. David headed to the toilet on the other side of the crater with a flourish of his cloak and mince in his step. When one of our number started up a chain saw David jumped and started to run because the wielder, a man way over six foot, of the saw had decided to give him a bit of a scare by chasing him with a running chainsaw. So the scene was this flamboyant man running from a man wielding a chainsaw being chased by another member of the group a blonde woman crying out, “Darling don’t do it. It wasn’t him. He’s gay”. The Christians soon left.

Over the years David introduced the gay community to paganism, and made the pagan community more accepting of the gay community. These were early days and through his work gay pagans were accepted within the community well before main stream society. On the other side of the coin he was responsible for making many pagans respectable in the Melbourne Gay scene.

Sadly this dynamo succumbed to Aids in the mid nineties and we all lost a very good friend. David was one of the Mount Franklin pioneers and we, as a community honoured him by scattering a handfull of his ashes around the ritual space we use today. So if anyone asks why are the old time people so sensitive of the ritual space, not only have we been using it for nie on 30 years, one of our greatest friends and member of the community, guards that space.

Ave David O’Connor.

PM 2010

The Hawthorn (The May Tree)

Most people know what Hawthorn trees look like. They grace our hedgerows around Central Victoria, and in among the rolling green hills, the area north of Ballarat to Maldon and Daylesford look rather like the hills of England – often European trees are the only trees you see. Hawthorn as a hedgerow is particularly common here. In Autumn, flocks of Crimson Rosella's thrive on the fruit, this year in particular the fruit was so thick that the trees turned completely red.

We all know Hawthorn to be white, don’t we – there is the Common Hawthorn and the double white blossom too – a smaller mini-rose like flower.

Two days ago I drove passed a Red Hawthorn – I had never seen one before! With the amount of Hawthorn around here, you'd think there would be more of them. This one is a stunning specimen. Since then I found a pink and white hawthorn, only down the road from where I am staying. I suppose I don’t notice them so much, as the flowering time of a Hawthorn is rather a short time in Spring – and then it depends how often you get out into the world.

After some research I found the Red Hawthorn (Crataegus Laevigata) 'Paul's Scarlet' – is a magenta/scarlet colour compared to the Crimson Hawthorn.

I had found a ‘Paul’s Scarlet’ double blossom in the Mt Rowan area, just a little north of Ballarat.

Note the double blossoms - a mini-rose shape
The Paul's Scarlet had a pink branch on it too.

On my way home I took photos of a lovely Common Hawthorn (Crataegus Monogyna). Here you can see the flowers are not double.

Note the blossom on the Common White - they don't look like a rose so much.

Then the Pink Hawthorn – I came across the latin name of Crataegus Rosea Flore Pleno, on a plant nursery website.

This one appeared to be on the same tree as a white hawthorn – I am not sure if there are two separate trees – the roadside garden here is too overgrown to tell. Both the white and pink blossoms are double. They were mixed together in a lovely way.

All three colours with their leaves

Hawthorn at Mt Franklin Beltane is usually picked to decorate the maypole, and some people put it over their tent doorways. I recall the story that it is supposed to keep away the fairies. But, as its other name is the ‘May Tree’ it is used to adorn the celebrations of Beltane and May Day all over the world. There are 1 or 2 trees on the road up towards Mt Franklin. However, as most regular attendees of the Beltane gathering will know that the Hawthorn will not flower on Beltane weekend every year. It is considered a blessing to me when it does. Yet, this year it did blossom, after a very wet Winter and Spring!

As there is a lot more information I could have put on here, feel free to write in the comments, more information you know about the May Tree, its myths, properties, anything you know!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A New Thread in an Old Tapestry

As this site has so many active followers and has garnered some small amount of interest among Pagans around the world (yes folks, the world has been watching!) I thought that it may be constructive to begin a thread where we can all make a positive contribution. I would love to hear what all of you like most about Beltane, and other celebrations, at Mt. Franklin. What do you think are the essential events of the Beltane gathering? What kind of ceremony should there be? What elements of the ritual are the most vital, exciting, meaningful to you? What direction do you think that the Beltane celebrations should go in from here?

Leave a comment here or e-mail us at mountfranklinpagans@gmail.com and we'll get it posted for you.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Looking towards 2011 and the 30th Anniversary of Mount Franklin Annual Pagan Gatherings!!

Well, what can we say the excitement is already upon us as we stir the pot and conceive of some wonderful and innovative ideas for next years 30th anniversary! One of the ways in which we have decided to celebrate the unique place that the gathering holds in so many hearts is to expand this blog site to include great articles from both Traditional and Pagan streams of Craft. Here we hope that readers and followers of this blog will enjoy both contributing and indulging in information which is unique to the practices found in Australia.

No inappropriate material will be permitted on this blog site. Any further inflammatory postings by persons indulging in pointless illogical attacks will be removed post haste. This is not the forum for your particular angsts either real or imagined.

What we do welcome is educated articles regarding Craft and Paganism, books, memories and discussions. If any out there are hogging those special Mount Franklin memories somewhere in pictorial form or deep in the cerebral vaults then please,  by all means dig them out, extract them and send them in for publishing!

That said, it is time to move forward. It is time for rising above that which would seek to bind us. Light well your lanterns! Proceed with all due care to illuminate the winding path,  the long walk that leads us home.

Blessed Be


Cool Pic from 2002!

This photo of that appears to be hooded spirits was taken on the last Saturday of October in 2002, by my friends’ friend. It was a digital camera, and the picture appeared fine until it was uploaded, and appeared like this. This picture has not been doctored at all.
The location is campsite called Mt Franklin, a very beautiful volcanic crater in central Victoria near Daylesford, where an annual pagan ritual has occurred. At the time this picture was taken, the festival was in its 21st year. The picture faces the actual ritual site used every year. Other rituals are held by pagans in this campsite, all year round, but none as large as this annual event. This was taken the morning before the ritual. It’s a very sacred place to pagans of Victoria.

I have even had a strange mist appear before me in a photo at the mountain just before I was actually going to run the ritual as priestess, this occurring in 2003. Over the years other people have seen strange things – children-sized little people sitting cross-legged on tent roofs, and aboriginals ancestors watching over the gatherings. I also saw a child/faery in a tree for a split second as I was driving out of the mountain in 2002, only a few hours after this amazing photo had been taken.

I am not sure the picture can be enlarged any more than this.



More Great Shots from Tania

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Great Photos of Beltane 2010 by Scarlett DeMasson

constructing the marquee

huddling under shelter

constructing the bonfire

& constructing the bonfire

lake franklin

before the ritual

more before the ritual
sunday morning before the maypole

Thanks to Scarlett DeMasson for these great photos- I especially like this last shot, it sums up the spirit of the weekend very nicely. Well done!

Monday, November 1, 2010

From the organisers of the Gathering :

You've got to love a La Nina year! All our prayers and workings for rain were answered in one hit on the weekend. We all gathered on the beloved mountain, cunningly armed with a large waterproof marquee, and sang, laughed, danced and cavorted for the feast of Beltane. Friday was warm and mild, but down it came on Saturday, as the heavans opened. But, as has happened before, the ritual circle was blessed with a cessation of the rain, for exactly as long as it took for the ritual to be completed. The spiral dance opened proceedings as the God was called to bring us the fire of the sun. We then called the Goddess who entered the circle escorted by her bird messengers. She danced with her sacred spouse and they both disappeared to the north as we passed a loving cup to bind us in love and amity. The participants then adjourned to the marquee where we all shared the lamb roast that had been sizzling all day over a hot fire of eucalyptus wood. Sunday saw much drying out of gear, good humoured comments on the sense of humour of the gods, and a lovely maypole dance . The Moot was called and we all agreed it was a wonderful Gathering, and are looking forward to next year - number thirty! It's going to be a ripper! Thanks so much to everyone who has helped and encouraged us, too numerous to mention, we couldn't have done it without you all. All the best, Blessed Be    The Organisers.

Beltane 2010

The Mount Franklin Annual Pagan Gathering was held to celebrate Beltane on the weekend of the 29th-31st October 2010, making this the 29th consecutive year of the festival.

Friday morning Central Victoria was bathed in warm sunshine as the Pagan folk assembled at the mountain and set up their campsite in the north-west corner of the park, making a neat little village for the weekend’s social activities.

After weeks of fretting over the Eclectic Witches coming up and repeating the bad behavior of past years, in the end only a small, quiet group of them actually came to the mountain this year and, after a bit of quarrelling amongst themselves and meeting the Daylesford constabulary late on Friday night, they proved to b less than an annoyance and the Mount Franklin Annual Pagan Gathering camp reveled happily into the night in spite of the inclement weather that had blown in on Friday evening.

Saturday rained all day, which kept the numbers of visitors to Beltane down, but by late afternoon sixty or so hardy Pagans had gathered to celebrate Beltane and in fine Mt. Franklin tradition the heavens cleared as the crowd was called by the sound of a drum for the ceremony.

To begin the ceremony we all were faced outwards in the circle, joined hands and did the Spiral Dance which ended in us all facing inwards. The High Priest circumambulated and then the High Priestess called the Elements, the Wind, Fire, Waves and Stone, to attend the rite.

Next, the High Priest faced the south and invoked the Horned God who entered our circle dancing, accompanied by his attendants, and carrying a torch that he used to light the Bonfire. As the flames took hold the congregation chanted to “Fire” before the High Priestess called to the Triple Goddess who entered the circle from the west as a flock of birds, come to consummate the yearly union with her consort and to beget the bounty and fertility of the summer season.

Following this, the wine was blessed by the High Priest and Priestess in the north, who then passed the brimful horn of wine around the circle for us each to take a sip and receive and then give the blessing as we passed it on, all the while singing the songs of Beltane. Finally, when the congregation had all partaken the High Priestess refilled the horn and made with it the offering of wine to the Mother Earth before announcing that we had successfully celebrated the Sabbat of Beltane and giving us all the charge to depart in peace.

With the ceremony done, the good Pagan folk gathered around the Bonfire and began the Beltane revelry in earnest with wine and a song for Bacchus, and later with a lamb on a spit as the centre of a fine Pagan feast along with the enjoyment of the good company, ensuring that the celebration went on for the remainder of the night. As in years past, the Pagans of Mt. Franklin didn’t allow the weather to dampen their spirits and Beltane 2010 was a genuine celebration of the new summer season once again.

David G Mattichak jr