Pagan Tent Revival

I had envisioned doing this outdoors to torchlight, but the weather forced us inside. The candles did a nice job of creating a magical atmosphere.

Back in October, I linked to a blog post by Ruby Sara at Pagan Godspell where she asked why we couldn’t have a Pagan tent revival. I said I liked the idea. The Baptist revivals I went (was dragged) to as a kid had a lot wrong with them, but they were energetic: they made people feel their religion instead of just hearing it.

Last Saturday’s Celebration of Spring was our attempt at a Pagan tent revival. The content was pure modern Paganism, as was the opening and closing ritual. But the format of the main event borrowed heavily from the revivals and prayer meetings of my youth.

We had congregational singing: chants of the always-popular “Air I Am,” “Earth My Body,” “We All Come From The Goddess,” plus Thorn Coyle’s “Taliesin’s Song.” We had Vocal Magic for a choir. Our Wishing Well Ritual was a literal altar call: come to the altar, make your wish, then make your offering to the sacred well. And while there was no hell-fire, there was a sermon. What, you think I’m going to pass up a chance to get lively about one of the few things I’m really passionate about?

Wishes carry little respect in our mundane world – and with good reason. We ask the Goddess for something that’s caught our attention with all the focus of a three year old in a toy store. We throw a coin in a fountain with the idea that’s all we have to do, with no thought of how we might actually obtain our wish, and what it would mean for our lives if we did. Be careful what you wish for – you just might get it.

When we work magic, we need more than “Goddess, please!” We need to align our will with the will of the Divine. We need to specifically state what we want – fuzzy targets yield fuzzy results. We need to align our thoughts and prayers and words and deeds behind a single goal. The human mind and the human spirit are incredibly powerful – when we do this, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

In a moment you’ll have the opportunity to come forward, make a wish, and throw a coin in our sacred well. You can make an idle wish – you can buy a divine lottery ticket. Or you can organize your thoughts and consider what you really want – and what you really need. Tonight, you can begin the steps to create true change in your life.

Individually, we are Wiccans, Druids, Kemetics; Pagans of all descriptions and folks who proudly defy description. But tonight, we are all witches! Tonight, we are all magicians! Tonight, we are the benders and shapers: we will work our magic and we will create the change we want to see!

Tonight I ask you to come forward, silently state your intent, and throw your offering into our sacred well.

That may have been the shortest revival sermon in history. And Ted: thanks for the well-timed “blessed be!”

OK, so I don’t think any revival – tent or otherwise – has ever included a spiral dance, but it was energizing, and a lot of fun.

How’d it go? It felt right to me. Feedback was very positive and more than just polite. The real test, of course, is how well the magic works – how well we create change. Speaking for myself, so far so good.

This isn’t something I’d want to do very often. The intensity can be hard to repeat, plus doing something like this precludes doing the kind of deep, introspective rituals I prefer. And a circle like this is a lot of work for our musicians. But once a year or so?

Yeah, we’ll do it again!

May you never hunger!

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About John Beckett

I’m a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I’m an ordained priest in the Universal Gnostic Fellowship. I’m the Coordinating Officer of the Denton, Texas Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. This year I’m also serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of CUUPS National. I’m a member of the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

I write as a spiritual practice. It helps me organize my thoughts and work through ideas and concepts. It helps me evaluate my beliefs and practices against my core values and against what I know (or at least, what I think I know) to be true. It helps me interpret my experiences (religious and otherwise) in ways that are both meaningful and honest.


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