I went to Trillium Gathering last weekend. I’ve waxed before about the importance of festivals to individual spirituality; that experience of being immersed in a group of people with similar practices is a tonic, even if you miss every scheduled workshop and rite. Add in a smattering of workshops and rites, and your practice can go in new directions — or sometimes you can find out something isn’t of interest before spending a lot of time exploring it.
For the Pagan seeking to found a group, however, festivals have even greater importance. The beginner at leading a given ritual format can find out they are doing it right (or wrong) without having to directly expose their uncertainties. The experienced Pagan can network, giving their nascent group a face that others will pass along. The person assembling a new personal religion — all group organizers, of course, but some more than others — can present their ideas to a clean slate. In all cases, ideas can be blended, grow, and be refined, whether from a workshop discussion or a late-night chat in front of a fire. All of these things can be done online to some degree, but there are advantages to the in-person exchange. What sounds good “on electrons” may not have that swing when performed.
Plus that tonic aspect can be very useful when a group organizer feels a bit drawn.