So, yesterday I spent most of my day behind the wheel of my Forester. I don’t mind driving long distances, in fact I enjoy doing so. However, yesterday was a specific mission — and a chance to experience something I had not had the chance to do so yet. My mission was to get an interview with Chris Godwin, one of the most interesting Pagans I have ever encountered. And the trip was a success on that count. The other was to experience a Pagan Pride Day outside of the DFW area. I walked away from the Pagan Pride Day event, back to my car for a five-plus hour drive back home – extremely impressed on that count as well.
I spent a lot of time with Damh the Bard, Bran Cerddorion, Wendy Rule, Spiral Dance, Gaia Consort, Paul Newman, Omnia, Nico Vermaas, Kellianna, The Dolmen, Jim Faupel, and a few others that I cannot recall at the moment, playing on shuffle. It made the trip a lot of fun for my ears, and very relaxing for myself. Plus, a lot of this music I tend to use as background music when I am writing and meditating – so it was only natural for me to spend a lot of thought exploring various directions in my thoughts.
During my time talking with Chris, I lamented the fact that I would only be at the PPD event for a little under two hours. A trip from up here near the Oklahoma border to Austin is not a terrible drive. Its merely the amount of time that one spends on asphalt that makes it suck. Particularly when you have to make the return trip back in the same day. It seriously limits the amount of time you get to spend there. When I mentioned that there may be a hotel in my future for next year’s event, Chris was very quick to nix that idea over staying with folks in the area. And I have to say, that is one of the hallmarks I have come to know Chris by — he’s immediate generosity to people. Really, an amazing guy, and an example that many people could follow – myself included in that.
In light of the recent events in France, Lebanon and Kenya over the past few days – there have been signs that many people are willing to be examples like this as well. People who step out to comfort the hurting, shelter and house those that were being attacked…and even in the wake of such vicious violent acts, I see a small corner that seems to be getting turned. Where people are starting to see the point about valuing the beings that are. Certainly, this seems to be applied nearly exclusively to human beings, with some tendencies towards the animal world, but rarely a nod to plants, rocks, soil, water, air, or even microbes. But in my eyes, and my thinking, its a step towards understanding and relating to how inter-connected we all are.
Me…well I am an Animist. I believe in the life in everything around me. Even plastics, metals, rocks, soil…it all has life, it all has existence. Some of it moves far slower than we humans do. And in other aspects it moves far faster than we do. And at those extreme points on the spectrum, because we don’t perceive them, we tend not to believe in their existence as entities in the world around us. I am also a believe in the Gods and that they are all around. That we can communicate with them, and vice versa – provided we open our minds to the possibilities and potential. And through both of those lenses, I see the connectivity between all of us in the world around us. That’s the harder perception to view….
The far easier one is how we – as human beings – are connected with one another. Our economies are now tied globally together – thanks to a wonderful tool we all seem to use: the internet. We are connected in other ways as well. Violence that is rained down on people around the world affects us everywhere. We see it on our news feeds, on the televisions, hear it on our radios. We want information on how things are in other places around the world – and that ties us together. But if we understand that aspect of connectivity, the logical question is why would we project violence on to others? Power? Because they are different? Because our government said so? Because we have no other way to get our point across?
In my eyes, its a matter of getting people to understand our connectivity, that we are all the same – regardless of skin color, eye-color, dominant hand, hair color, place we were born, who are parents were, what country we live in, what region of our country we live in, our economic status. And while I would gallantly wish and believe that this would happen in my lifetime, I’m not overly naive. In two generations, we are still arguing out the perspective of skin color. Whether one skin color matters more than another. Which, I personally find silly. But I am only one person. Surely there are others that feel the same way. And there are. They make their voices known too – they talk about this topic everywhere else in the social media platforms, in face-to-face environments…And this is where the first step towards realizing the interconnected nature of us all starts. It will happen. Probably not in my lifetime. But to steal a line from Babylon 5: “The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.”
When I was at the Austin Pagan Pride Day, I walked throughout the festival area and looked at the folks there. Even after a short spat of rain, people were happy to be there. They were genuinely enjoying one another’s company. I met up with two folks that I had met for the first time in February, and was thrilled to see them. Very happy times for all that. In meeting Chris and his wife Amanda, they greeted me like a friend that they had not seen in a while. Almost like family. I met an individual from Ohio (I am obviously not giving names here), who I was able to converse with on a few military-related topics. When I left, he gave me a friendly hug, as if I was someone he had known forever. Another lady I met, I had a wonderful conversation with on Native American topics. You cannot have conversations like that with people that do not understand the connectivity between everyone and everything, nor with people who don’t value what that connection means.
Austin Pagan Pride Day was a wonderful event – a sheer joy of the two hours I spent there. Full of magickal moments, from meeting two individuals I had wonderful conversations with, seeing two friends that I was able to spend a few minutes of time with, getting hugs from both Chris and Amanda, and the magickal interview with Chris in the rain (yes, it rained on us while we were doing the interview). What I witnessed, and was a part of for those two hours, was a community of Pagans who valued and cherished the connections that they have with others. It was only two hours, but it was well worth ten hours of being behind the wheel of my Forester. And its connectivity like that, which I seek out — not just within the Pagan community, but everywhere.
How do we defeat individuals bent on such violent acts? Practice what we believe. Find the connectivity within your community. Find the connectivity within your environment. And place value on the connections, as well as on the entities on the other side of those connections. It may not happen in my lifetime. It may not even happen in the lifetimes of the next four generations. But it is certainly the right time, the right climate, and the right reasons to start the avalanche.