Starwood Festival

The Starwood Festival is a seven-day Neo-Pagan, New Age, multi-cultural and world music festival, taking place every July in the United States of America. The Starwood Festival is a camping event which holds workshops on a variety of subjects. There are also live musical performances, rituals, bonfires, multimedia presentations and social activities. It is a clothing optional event, and skyclad attendance is common.


The Starwood Festival was founded in 1981 by the Chameleon Club, a recognized student organization at Case Western Reserve University, which later founded the Association for Consciousness Exploration (ACE). It has been operated by ACE since 1983 under its co-directors, Jeff Rosenbaum and Joe Rothenberg. It featured entertainment, public ceremonies, and classes on subjects such as sensory isolation, Kirlian photography, Neopaganism, shamanism, Wicca, holistic health, tarot divination, Thelema, and past life regression. Among the first guest speakers and entertainers were Jim Alan and Selena Fox (founders of Circle Sanctuary), Raymond Buckland, Lee Bryan Grotte (Foundation for Research in Medical Botany), and music by Chameleon and The Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria.

The first Starwood was held July 24–26, 1981 at Coopers Lake Campground, the same site as the Society for Creative Anachronism's Pennsic War, in Slippery Rock, PA. From 1982 through 1985 it was held at Devil's Den Park in New Philadelphia, OH, a former state park run by Whispering Winds Nudist Camp. In 1986 and 1987 it was held at Bear Creek Amphitheatre (part of Bear Creek Resort Ranch KOA) in East Sparta, OH, and at Echo Hills Ski Resort in Logan, OH (on the Buckeye Trail) in 1988 and 1989. The event moved to Brushwood Folklore Center, a private campground in Sherman, New York from 1990 through 2009. Since 2010, Starwood has been held at Wisteria Campground in Pomeroy, Ohio.

The event began as a weekend festival, and grew over the years to a seven-day event. Attendance has grown from 185 in the first year to peak at around 1800 people in 2002, and has stayed between 1400 and 1600 since then. Since 1982, Starwood has been a clothing optional event, and skyclad attendance is common.


Starwood offers approximately 150 workshops, on topics including alternative lifestyles, political & spiritual activism, spiritual traditions, consciousness-altering technologies and substances (such as biofeedback, sensory-isolation, mind machines, and entheogenic substances), martial arts & movement systems, history, magic, folklore, art & music, metaphysics and environmental issues.There are classes on the drumming and dancing styles of Africa, South America, Ireland, the Middle East and elsewhere. All-night drummers’ bonfires are held each night of the event in at least two locations: the "Paw Paw Patch" for larger drums such as djembes, and the "DidgeDome" for smaller drums such as bongos and tablas, accompanied by didgeridoos and quieter instruments. There are concerts held every lunchtime, dinnertime, and evening, and all-night multi-media enhanced parties in an inflatable structure called the "PufferDome" and in an adjacent area called the "G-Spot". Starwood provides child care and children's classes and programs in a playground area called "Kids' Village", and a schedule of classes and activities for teenagers. There are several areas devoted to multi-cultural ceremonies and rituals, and a non-Native sweat lodge. Friday night features a multi-media presentation, (often including fireworks, lasers, fire dancing, and synchronized music), and on the final night a torchlight procession leads to a huge bonfire.


Starwood is attended by people of all ages. Followers of diverse beliefs attend Starwood, including Wiccans, neo-druids, chaos magicians, Ásatrúar, ceremonial magicians, Buddhists, and those representing a variety of New Age spiritualities. According to the event organizers, the festival is designed for members of all spiritual paths to share their customs and beliefs. Some specific groups whose members regularly appear at and attend Starwood include the Church of All Worlds (CAW), the Church of the SubGenius, the Neo-Druidic group Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF), and various Neopagan Covens and organizations.

Featured speakers

  • Isaac Bonewits
  • Raymond Buckland
  • Dagmar Braun Celeste
  • Phyllis Curott
  • LaSara Firefox
  • Selena Fox
  • Gavin Frost
  • Yvonne Frost
  • Stephen Gaskin
  • Jesse Wolf Hardin
  • Ellen Evert Hopman
  • Anodea Judith
  • Donald Michael Kraig
  • Paul Krassner
  • Stanley Krippner
  • Timothy Leary
  • Deborah Lipp
  • Louis Martinie'
  • Terence McKenna
  • Nema
  • M. Macha Nightmare
  • Jonathan Ott
  • Diana L. Paxson
  • Harvey Pekar
  • Christopher Penczak
  • Lauren Raine
  • Silver RavenWolf
  • Nicki Scully
  • R. U. Sirius
  • Chas Smith
  • Ivan Stang
  • Harvey Wasserman
  • Robert Anton Wilson
  • Oberon Zell-Ravenheart
  • Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart

    Featured entertainers

  • Sikiru Adepoju
  • Babatunde Olatunji & Drums of Passion
  • Baka Beyond
  • Big Brother & the Holding Company
  • Muruga Booker
  • Chicago AfroBeat Project
  • Cyro Baptista & Beat the Donkey
  • Halim El-Dabh
  • Gaelic Storm
  • Michael Hinton
  • JiMiller Band
  • Stephen Kent
  • Kenny & Tziporah Klein
  • Jeff Magnus McBride
  • Airto Moreira
  • The Prodigals
  • Raq
  • Rainforest Band
  • Badal Roy
  • Tony Saunders
  • Jim Scott
  • Telesma
  • Trance Mission


  • On several occasions, the director of ACE Jeff Rosenbaum has organized performances of Firesign Theatre radio plays on stage at Starwood, performed by organizers and guest speakers of the event under the name "Firesign Clones".
  • Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart have appeared at over 20 Starwood Festivals (and a few WinterStar Symposiums) over the past 25 years; because of this, there has been a Church of All Worlds presence at Starwood, called the CAWmunity, for over a decade.