DFW Pagan Pride Day – 2013

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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.

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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.

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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.

Coyote, Crow and Me — A Strange Procession Along the Trail….

In two days, a group of folks will get to celebrate the fact that they are Pagan.  Surely, there will be others that show up that aren’t Pagan – some to potentially convert others to their own beliefs, and some that are merely curious as to what a Pagan might look like.  There will undoubtedly be folks that arrive dressed in Ren garb or ritual clothing – looking like the Texas Renaissance Festival or Scarborough Faire suddenly showed up at White Rock Lake.  I won’t be among those folks.  Not because I think it would be wrong to dress in such a way.  I just do not own any ritual outfit whatsoever.

Yes, I will be there.  I am a self-described “foot soldier” for the Pagan Pride Day cause.  Essentially, my self-described role is to do “whatever is asked of me” by other members of the Planning Committee.  I don’t fool myself.  I didn’t find out about the Planning Committee until late in the process.  Most of the other folks that are on the Committee did the hard work of planning the event and all the smaller aspects of it.  So, my job is to do whatever they need to be done.  A foot soldier for the cause, as I am calling myself.

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Most everyone that reads this blog (all three of you), likely knows that I know John Beckett in real life.  I find him to be a rather neat and interesting individual.  I really wish I had more time to just sit and talk with him…but he has a busy life, and so do I (or at least I do for the moment).  So I spend a lot of time reading his blog “Under the Ancient Oaks” – where he brings up a lot of subjects I find compelling – and occasionally topics that leave me scratching my head and wondering why John found that to be interesting.  A few posts back – John made the following comment:

This desire for reassurance is, I suspect, one of the main reasons many Pagans’ view of Goddess or even of individual goddesses and gods is simply a kinder, gentler version of the god of the monotheists.  –John Beckett, Trusting the Gods

…and that single sentence started my mind into a quest to spend time with the Gods that claim me.  Coyote and Crow.  Several times, I have done communed with these two.  Both can be demanding when they desire it.  Both find mirth in teaching me lessons through trickery.  Both have noted that I take myself too seriously when I work in my teaching and healing circles.  Slowly, I have learned to ‘lighten up’ a bit – to have fun with what I do.  And through that, my understanding of life as a ritual has slowly come forth.  Throughout one’s day – there are moments of emotional presence.  Happiness, satisfaction, sadness, frustration, anger, worry…and each emotion has a place within the daily ritual.

As John notes, many folks look at their Gods/Goddesses as being some “happy” manifestation of Life.  The Gods care about us (they do).  Sometimes, we seek the perfect parent in our vision of them.  We ascribe a perspective of the gentle, caring, loving parent – who gently chides us when we do something wrong.  Its not an incorrect perspective to have.  But the Gods do get angry about some aspects of how we handle our lives.  You only need to look at how the weather patterns are changing around the world in response to the damage we have done to our environment.  My personal belief is that this is the Gods trying to bring back the necessary balance that we have broken in our pollution.

John has also mentioned somewhere in his blog (I am too lazy to go and look through all his other posts) about serving the Gods.  We differ slightly here.  While Coyote and Crow claim me…I still make my own choices of what I need to do.  My service to the Gods is to live my own personal life the very best that I can.  That does not mean trying to get the largest paycheck I possibly can.  Just simply that I interact appropriately with my surrounding environment.  This – to me – means carrying a trash bag with me when I do my walk.  Yes, I pick up trash in the neighborhood.  Part of that is being a nice neighbor.  Part of that is being a responsible steward of my environment – my true service for my Gods – taking care of what I can.

I am not going to challenge anyone to be that same type of responsible steward.  If the Gods call you to do something like that – you will do it.  But I will challenge you to sit and listen to the Gods.  Listen to what they are saying and what they want to do in your daily Life.  To paraphrase what John says in his blog posting – “Trust the Gods…”