Darkwood and PanGaea Sanctuary

Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 11 October 2009.

Contact Information

Email: pangaeasanctuary@aol.com, lordofdarkwood@hotmail.com
Website: http://www.pangaeasanctuary.org/darkwood/index.html

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According to the description published on the Darkwood of PanGaea web site, the PanGaea Sanctuary is “an open Fellowship where paganfolk, heathenfolk, etc., are welcome to come together in fellowship and thanksgiving.” The PanGaea Sanctuary’s physical space – forty-five wooded acres about thirty-five miles west of Augusta, near the town of Thomson – is owned and operated by the Darkwood group. PanGaea Sanctuary is “available to the pagan community and is a marvelous place where paganfolk of any path or tradition can get away from the mundane world, and get back in touch with nature.” The Darkwood group itself identifies itself as in the Warrior/Guardian Fam-Tradition, and emphasizes that it is not only a coven, but also a family-by-choice. They do welcome, however, those on other paths.


The Darkwood group, one of the oldest established covens in the Augusta area, has been in existence since 1986. At that time it was one of several active pagan groups in the Augusta area, many of which have since disbanded – or in the words of Rev. Michael A. Smith, have “gone into hiding.” In 1997, the Circle of the 13th Moon (C13) was established on the land now known as PanGaea Sanctuary. After three years, C13 split up and went into a period of dormancy. In 2002, Smith established PanGaea Sanctuary, intending for it to be a direct descendant of both Darkwood and C13. Smith describes PanGaea Sanctuary as having begun to “take on a life of its own” in the past year.


There are 10-25 regular adult participants, ranging in age from 18 to 53. A recent large gathering drew 70 participants, and the PanGaea Sanctuary Yahoo! Group, through which news and events are announced, has more than 90 members. Participants travel from Augusta, but also from Thomson, Washington, Harlem, and Grovetown, Georgia, and North Augusta and Aiken, South Carolina.

Activities and Schedule

Members “circle” at PanGaea Sanctuary on the Saturday evenings closest to the full or new moon, as well as on Sabbats and Festivals throughout the year. Recently launched is the PanGaea Hermetic Order of Rune Magicians, a monthly meeting of those interested in learning the 24 Elder Futhark Runes, and about “the exploration into the magical use of the Runes in our daily lives,” according to Smith. In June of 2004, PanGaea Sanctuary held the first Pagan Gathering ever in the metropolitan Augusta area, an accomplishment Smith is “exceedingly proud of.” Seventy were in attendance, and another Gathering is planned for the first week of April in 2005.

Affiliations with Other Communities/Organizations

PanGaea Sanctuary is affiliated with the Savannah Pagans Network in Savannah, Georgia, as well as the Eternal Harvest Church of Wicca, a worship and support center in New Bern, North Carolina. Locally PanGaea Sanctuary is affiliated with the Augusta Pagans Network. There are also several regular participants who are members of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Augusta, which hosts its own covenant of Pagans, Spiral Path.

Description of the Center

The Sanctuary is located near the town of Thomson, which has a population of about 7,000. Thomson, the county seat of McDuffie County, is located on the major highway Interstate 20, which allows for an easy commute to Augusta (about thirty-five miles to the east) and a short day trip to Atlanta (about a two hours’ drive to the west).
It occupies forty-five acres of wooded land, which includes a creek and a number of walking trails. A tree curved like the letter “C” is known as a good place to sit, meditate or relax. An area known as the Crossroads is dedicated to Hekate, and is designated as the place to leave offerings after circles. There is also a Fire Circle, a large clearing ringed by stones that serves as a place for Circles or drumming sessions.

Paganism in Augusta

Darkwood at PanGaea is a non-hierarchal group, but Reverend Michael A. Smith, or Mike, is the informal leader. He describes being a Pagan in Augusta as tricky, due to the lack of a cohesive Pagan community. He notes that most of the Pagans in the area are reclusive, although totaling in number somewhere around 150-200 adults, not including unknown solitaries and soldiers at Fort Gordon. The community at large, as he describes it, is not openly hostile:
I have never encountered open aggression against me for being pagan. I wear my pagan symbols openly, and do not hide the fact that I am pagan. However, I don’t flaunt it in people’s faces either. I have encountered from time to time, individuals who accuse me of being Satanic, or a devil-worshipper, but such encounters are rare. I do talk honestly with Cowen (that is, non-pagans) who express an interest in paganism. I’ve never experienced discrimination in the work place, or in the public sector, but that is probably due in large part to the fact that I am not out there flaunting my religion as some sort of medal of honor. (email interview, 7/20/04)
However, there is a policy of discretion and caution surrounding Darkwood business and visits to PanGaea Sanctuary generally. Part of the Darkwood Code of Honour is “to keep silent,” and a section titled “Circle Ettiquette” on the PanGaea Sanctuary web site states the visitor policy: meeting persons in a public location prior to any invitations being issued to attend a function. According to the site, this “gives both the individual and a representative from PanGaea Sanctuary an opportunity to meet and ‘get a feel’ for each other before attending a function.”