DFW Pagan Pride Day – 2013

Mid-day ritual with the foggy mist coming off the lake in the background

For the past five years – everyone has heard me bitching and moaning about the need for cohesive community here in my local area.  I am extremely envious when I see photos of what other local Pagan communities are doing.  I am thrilled to read the wonderful stories that come out of other Pagan Pride Days.  I can no longer be envious and watch other communities holding wonderful Pride Days…and continue to wish for it to happen here in my local community.  BECAUSE IT HAPPENED HERE YESTERDAY AND IT WAS AWWWWEEE-SOME!

As I had mentioned in the last post – I was a late-comer to the Planning Committee for this year’s Pagan Pride Day.  I was welcome with open arms and made to feel like I had been part of the event planning from the very beginning.  The group of people I have had the distinct pleasure of helping to make this event go with – they have been nothing short of a fantastic pleasure.  There were bumps along the way, but nothing that was insurmountable.  And when those moments occurred, everyone rolled up their sleeves and helped to push the sled over those hills.  From the beginning, the purpose of the event was to bring something to fruition for the Community.  And it happened.  I cannot tell you the joy I have in my heart to have seen all the volunteers – both with the Planning Committee and with other volunteers who offered their time to assist in making this event go…the joy I have in my heart to have seen those people laughing, meeting friends that they had not seen, working together to make things go…seeing all of them (myself included) enjoying themselves…that was an awesome sight.

Closing ritual – “Cernunnos” by Denton CUUPs

But that was nothing compared to what I saw from my local community.  I talked with total strangers who came to the Information Booth – some multiple times – to tell me and the others located there that this was a fantastic event.  I witnessed (and shared in) hug after hug from people who came from all over for the event.  The happiness I saw on their faces was an immeasurable thing.  The three of us that were in and out of the Information Table area were riding high on the glowing, positive energies we felt from these folks.  It was amazing.  And from the Information Table location, we witnessed all three of the rituals (we were just up the hill from the location) – and each of them were just astounding.  We could hear the rituals all the way up the hill – even over the sound of the Carter Blood Mobile that was located on site ( I will get to that in a moment).  The energies coming off those rituals was amazing – particularly the closing ritual which was a Cernunnos oriented ritual performed by the Denton CUUPs group.  The mid-day ritual had a tinge of mist coming off the lake, as the weather cooled considerably faster than the lake did.  The effect was astounding to witness.

There were many charities on-site, and my heart was completely melted by the generosity that I witnessed.  A canned food drive was in progress at the Information Booth – and I watched as donation after donation went into the rubber-maid wheeled bucket.  *UPDATE*  110 Pounds of Food Were Collected for the Soup Mobile This Year!”  The Carter Blood Mobile was also nearby, and I watched several folks go in and give a pint of blood.  It was truly fantastic to watch my local community give so much.  *UPDATE*  From the DFW Pagan Pride Day FB page:  “A total of 51 people will be helped because 17 blood donors stepped forward yesterday!”  AWESOME!!!!

As I was working the event as a volunteer, I did not get a lot of chance to do the things that I had wanted – attend workshops, attend the rituals, or run around with my hand-held recorder asking for impressions of the event for the podcast.  That’s alright though.  I saw folks I have not seen in many, many years.  I saw friends who I had lost touch with.  I made new friends from complete strangers.  I even saw a few of the podcast’s listeners (who came all the way to the event from far Ft. Worth!).  Next year’s event (yes – there will be another one next year!) will be in Fort Worth – and I plan on being a little more into the events.  But I really enjoyed playing my self-described role as “foot soldier for the cause” – it allowed me to be in multiple areas throughout the day…where I had a chance to interact with so many more people.

The program from DFW Pagan Pride Day. Check out the very crisp folding!! (Inside joke there folks!!)

This morning….my body HURTS.  I carried lots of stuff.  I ran all over the place taking care of things.  I even wore a yellow-canary tshirt which identified me as a volunteer for the event (yellow is NOT my color).  It was an amazing event.  The people behind the scenes were completely amazing.  The people who attended the event were astounding.  In front of my eyes…I saw community happening!  I watched people from different Spiritual Paths not only interact with one another, but completely enjoying those interactions.  And I cried.  I cried tears of joy and happiness.  If you scratch hard enough – just beneath the surface, we found that community we all have wanted.  Its been there all the time…and its a real joy to see it flourishing out in the open.

The little seed has sprouted again.  Now, we nourish it and help it to flourish.

Big Things Have Small Beginnings…

Yesterday, I attended another meeting of the DFW Pagan Pride Day coordinating committee.  There were lots of comments, ideas, and suggestions tossed around the room — but walking away from all that and coming back to the house….it struck me that we all treated one another with respect and admiration.  At the end of the meeting, we all stuck around and did a short interview with St. Cloud Pagan Radio which was a lot of fun.  During the meeting, we laughed, we had serious discussions, we laughed a lot more, one of the folks there even sang a little bit (what an awesome voice)…we acted like a community.  A small slice of it.  But it was a definite thing.

People have asked me before what I am seeking from a Pagan community event like Pagan Pride Day.  If I could bottle all that happened yesterday and let you drink the result to see what it tasted like – I certainly would.  Because that was IT.  People talking, sharing, laughing, problem-solving, discussing, telling stories…and not worried one bit if they were sitting among a group of Druids, Wiccans, hedge-Witches, Ceremonial Magicians, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, or what have you.  Community – at least for me – is about connecting with people.  And really connecting – not just nodding, tossing out proposals for business related concepts…that’s not what I see community as being all about.  Community is for sharing, story-telling, getting past our differences and celebrating not only those differences, but also our similarities.  But its about so much more than this as well…

Harmony — People will disagree on many points and topics.  Some folks wear that disagree as if it were a personal insult.  “Good thinking people will think EXACTLY as I do.  Anyone that disagrees is personally insulting me.”  I’ve been on both sides of that coin, folks.  When someone disagrees with you – they disagree.  It doesn’t mean they HATE you and are out to ruin your reputation.  Granted, there really are people like that in the world.  But those folks are so few and far between, that your chances of meeting them are slim to none.  Discussion is about talking and sharing ideas.  It can also bring elements of story-telling into the mix as well.  And there are PLENTY of stories I can tell about the various Information Technology goof-ups that I have done over the years.  As I tell my students in the classroom – if there’s a way to do it wrong, I’ve likely done it.  But just because discussion and story-telling don’t need to focus on issues and problems – that doesn’t mean that stuff like that needs to be left out of a community’s thinking.

Problem-Solving — Discussion will lead to differences of opinion, as well as the lamentation over an individual’s (or even a group’s) problems.  This is where problem-solving comes in.  Ok, I’m a Libra – and damn biased on this.  I’m definitely one of those “peace-maker” types.  I also have years of experience tinkering with things and trying to figure out how to fix them.  The stuff is in my blood.  But I also believe that a Community can have some of that same DNA.  For instance, someone needs to move from one apartment to another – but their “friends” bail on them.  They could appeal their need to the community at large.  Not every person will have the time or energy available to help out, but those that can and have the ambition should.  And those that do help out, should not be looked at as “go-to” people – they just happened to be free during that time.  A community helps one another out of a sense of being helpful…not out of a sense of “what can you do for me afterwards?”  And yes, I’ve seen that happen far too often.  I offer myself as free technical support to people I know.  My skills aren’t what they used to be – I can’t troubleshoot Windows 8 issues to save my life – but I will certainly try when asked.  And I don’t expect anything beyond a “thank you” when I’m finished.  If someone feels moved to provide me with a lunch/dinner somewhere…that’s their choice.  I wasn’t expecting.  Why do I do that?  Because I am part of my community.  And if we all jump up and down and say “Yah” when things have been solved/resolved… 

Celebration — …then we celebrate!  We celebrate aspects of the Wheel of the Year.  No matter what faith you are, even Christians, we all celebrate some aspect of the year as we move along.  We have holidays built into the year to celebrate other parts of our lives – Fourth of July (here in the States), Thanksgiving (predominantly here in the States), New Year’s Eve/Day (for the turning of the Julian calendar)…we get together to celebrate making it to another point in the turn of that Wheel.  We celebrate the people who have passed beyond the veil.  Well, Pagan Pride Day is about celebrating “us” as a “community”.  We celebrate what makes us the Pagans that we are and the commonalities that we have.  We celebrate the fact that there are differences amongst us – that we all come to the fire from different positions around it, and yet still enjoy its warmth and those that have gathered around it with us.

For the Future — Holding a Pagan Pride Day in the community isn’t just about showing that you are proud to be a Pagan. Its not just about building up our community for today. Its also about making the community better and stronger going forward for the future generation of Pagans that come after us.  Most of us that are my age (30ish, 40-ish), we are the second generation of Pagans coming through (and I know that’s a perspective that can be argued until we all go blue in the face and become smurfs) in what I describe as the “modern age”.  Forget the terminology that I am using – those are just descriptives to get to this point:  there are younger Pagans coming onto the Path.  If we want a sense of “Community” to be a part of what we teach to them – and I certainly do – then we need to build its foundations here and now.  They will be the ones that add the walls, the doorways, the ceilings, the electrical wiring (to borrow some house-building terminology).  After them, the generation behind them will add the furniture, make the improvements on the structure so that it works for them…and so on.  Personally, I want to see Paganism – the wider arching concept of Paganism, not any singular aspect of it – take its rightfully place as one of the dominant belief systems in our Humanity.  I not only see a lot of need for it in the world, but I also believe that Paganism will continue to grow and expand as it learns from these other cultural/societal belief systems.  As “white-lighter” as it sounds – I can see Paganism providing the bridge for these other belief systems to learn to coexist with one another.  Its not going to happen in my current lifetime…and it may not happen for a long, long time.

But I do believe it can…and all because of five Pagans – sitting in a living room discussing what needed to be done for an upcoming Pagan Pride Day event.  To quote from the movie Prometheus:  “Big things have small beginnings.”