DFW Pagan Pride Day 2013

Fall came suddenly to North Texas yesterday.  After a typical scorching Summer that ran atypically long, a cold front moved through on Saturday morning, dropping temperatures 30 degrees and bringing clouds and rain.  While I was thankful for the cooler weather, my first concern was for the turnout at the DFW Pagan Pride Day.

I needn’t have worried.  Perhaps everyone was happy the heat is gone, perhaps the beautiful location pulled Nature-loving Pagans out despite the weather, or perhaps, after not having our own Pagan Pride Day since 2010 our local community decided this was going to be great no matter what.  I heard an estimate of 300 to 400 people in attendance, and the folks who worked the welcome table say it may have been closer to 500.  That’s by far the largest Pagan Pride Day celebration I’ve been to.

There were vendors and musicians, workshops and rituals.  Wiccan author Ed Fitch appeared to draw the largest crowds with one workshop on Halloween traditions and another on the dark aspect of the Goddess.  I arrived in time for the last half of Conor O’Brien’s workshop on Hellenism, which gave a small group good insight into the daily and monthly rites of those restoring the practices of the ancient Greeks.  I had a slightly larger turnout for my workshop on a Druid approach to Nature Spirituality.  That time slot probably had the worst of the weather – not bad, but just enough wind and rain to be an annoyance.

On the other hand, there’s something right about a Druid teaching under an oak tree while the mists roll in.

The main ritual at noon was led by a local Sumerian group.  It was light in tone, it conveyed a good message for a community of diverse traditions and experience, and it was very participative – perfect for a Pagan Pride Day main ritual.  Someone counted 130 people in the circle – I think that’s about right.

the Main Ritual – noon

Denton CUUPS led the closing ritual, a variation of the Cernunnos Ritual we did in August and that Cynthia and I led at the OBOD East Coast Gathering.  It was amazing to honor the God of the Forest in such a beautiful natural setting.  I’m thankful for the drummers, singers, offering bearers, and quarter callers who helped make it happen.  We expected about 40 people would be around for the closing ritual – I counted 80 in this picture alone.

the Cernunnos Ritual – 4:00

The energy was good, several people had strong experiences, and I got good comments afterward.  On the other hand, I’m not sure that was the right ritual for this setting.  I’m going to give that some further thought and meditation – I’ll probably write more about it next week.

I can’t say enough about the organizing committee:  Bryan, Troy, KD, Dana, Heidi, Vense, Mike, Tommy and probably a bunch more people I’m overlooking.  These people took it upon themselves to bring Pagan Pride Day back to North Texas:  they raised the money, secured the venue, booked the talent, promoted the event (which probably had a lot to do with the good turnout), and did all the grunt work.

I was part of the organizing committee but I didn’t do all that much.  That’s not modesty, that’s just the truth.  The rest of the group let me contribute what I had to contribute, didn’t push me to take on any more, and didn’t try to make me feel guilty when I couldn’t.  They worked together and never let personalities get in the way of doing what needed to be done.

White Rock Lake is a wonderful location for Pagan Pride Day:  it’s beautiful, accessible, and public.  However, we’ve committed to holding next year’s PPD in Fort Worth.  Folks in other parts of the country may not realize how spread out DFW is:  I drove 60 miles one-way to most of the PPD planning meetings.  While a few people won’t drive an hour even for a once-a-year event, most simply don’t want to have to do it every year.  The organizers have committed to moving it around to help build a strong community despite our sprawl.

It was good to see some people I hadn’t seen in a long time and to meet some new people for the first time.  It was good to teach, to learn, and to do ritual.  It was good to be outdoors and experience all the elements for a change.

Mainly, it was good to be a Pagan in Texas.

For more on DFW Pagan Pride Day 2013, check out these accounts from Tommy Elf, Troy Young, and Amber Tuma.

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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.

  • http://thenonconforminglife.com/ Steve C Thomas

    Sounds like you had a good time. I wish I could have been there.

  • Tommy Elf

    “The energy was good, several people had strong experiences, and I got good comments afterward. On the other hand, I’m not sure that was the right ritual for this setting.”

    I actually thought it was great! The energy coming up from the ritual was great…up on the hill by the Information/Welcome Table – we could hear you and everyone else quite well (except when you turned around and faced out towards the lake). The people looked to be getting into it…and Lobo was laying down an awesome beat with the group of drummers he had. I think it was perfect for that moment…but that’s my two cents worth on it… –T

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/ John Beckett

      Thanks for the good feedback, Tommy. I had several more comments like yours, and I could see and feel it myself – it wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. But a significant number of people didn’t seem to get what we were doing. That’s what makes me think we should have done something different.

      I need to give this some more thought. Look for a deeper dive into this either late next week or early the following week.

      • Tommy Elf

        Just a further thought to consider as you look into all of this….

        IIRC, the previous two times you held this particular ritual were with folks who were of a nearly equal mind/perspective. Thus the participative aspect would be much easier for them to grasp together. In this instance…how many different traditions and perspectives were present there? Perhaps a dozen or more?? Would that not bring a wider difference in reactions/understanding than the previous times?? Just an ingredient to possibly add to your brew there… –T

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/ John Beckett

          That’s a very good point.

          I’m going to have to write that deeper look sooner rather than later…

  • Conor O’Bryan Warren

    My calves are sore as all get out from the Cernunnos ritual. I think it went marvelously as well. Part of me wonders if a part of the issue was 1) If because it was a devotional act to a specific deity as opposed to a ‘magical act’ or ‘enrichment act’ centered around personal development and 2) It was to a God, not a Goddess. There seemed to be a fair number of folks there who engaged in ‘feminist theology’ and thus it seems like a safe bet that while they might not abhor a rite to a God, they certainly wouldn’t be able to engage in it in a full way.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/ John Beckett

      I think your first point is dead-on. I think your second point is less so: the people for whom “god vs. goddess” mattered weren’t there, for the reasons you explained on your blog.

      The fact that it was for a god and not The God may have been a bigger factor.

      More on this sooner rather than later – probably tomorrow evening…

      • Conor O’Bryan Warren

        I look forward to seeing you dissect it. It has me curious as well.

  • http://www.celestinetarot.com/ Celestine Angel

    Despite having some trouble driving in Dallas, I’m glad I came in from Shreveport to attend this PPD. It was really great to see and experience so many Pagans in one place just enjoying themselves, each other, and the joys of learning and meeting new people. I met so many new and interesting people. I’m so glad I went.

    • Dana House-Elf

      THERE you are! Thank you so much for coming! Tommy and I really enjoyed talking to you folks at the Information table. Hope you can make it over next year. <3

      • http://www.celestinetarot.com/ Celestine Angel

        Here I am!

        And I will be there next year provided I can find someone ELSE to drive! XD


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