Live, Local, and Low Cost

Burroughs Park – Tomball, Texas

At a time when various groups of Pagans can’t seem to get along on-line, a collection of 89 folks representing 25 groups and multiple traditions came together in a Houston area park to share conversation, food and good will.

Whether the Gods or Nature smiled on us or if we just got lucky, the weather was beautiful.  It was sunny with temperatures in the mid 50s – one day after Houston made news shutting down because of snow and ice, and three days before wintry weather is in the forecast again.  In any case, it was a great day for an outdoor gathering in January.

The event was organized by The Melting POT – Pagans of Texas, an informally gathered association of Pagans in the Southeast Texas area.  Their mission statement says their goal is “to provide growth within the community and to try and bridge the gap between our cities.”

I can’t speak for Southeast Texas (the Houston area), but I know first-hand that while there are far more Pagans in North Texas (the Dallas – Fort Worth area) than you’d think, we are very isolated.  Most groups are small and organized around one or two leaders and even the leaders rarely talk to leaders of other groups, if they even know each other.  We had a great turnout at this year’s Pagan Pride Day, but Pagan Pride Day is a major production with a public-facing purpose and requiring months of preparation.

This gathering was small, informal, and perhaps most important, cheap.  Meical ab Awen said they spent a total of $15.  It helped that the park pavilion could be reserved for free, and individuals spent some money on food to bring.  But there was no need for fundraisers or for organizers to dip deeply into their own pockets.

Sam Herren, from a local Heathen group, gave a very good introduction to divination with runes.  Russell Erwin gave a talk on Traditional Witchcraft and emphasized that while his tradition has no complaints with Wicca, it is something different from Wicca.  I spoke on the Four Centers of Paganism, the first time I’ve given this particular presentation (but not the last).  The Spiral Scouts had a tent and provided activities for the kids.

event co-founder Meical ab Awen

There was a belly dance class and a chant workshop that I missed (not that I’m likely to take up belly dancing any time soon!) because I was talking to Pagans I either had never met or only knew on-line.

And that was the best part of the gathering.  Friendships were formed and strengthened.  Names and pictures now have live faces and real voices to go with them.  Some folks whose only knowledge of Paganism came from books heard from a Heathen, a Witch, and a Druid, all experienced practitioners in their traditions.

Much like the Pagan Tea Time promoted by Christine Kraemer here on the Patheos Pagan Channel, this event let folks get past the limitations of blogging and commenting and get to know each other in a real live conversation.  It was a great afternoon and well worth the drive down from North Texas.  The organizers hope the success of this event inspires other Pagans in other cities to host their own low cost, informal, live gatherings.

Thanks to Cathy for taking pictures and to Denton CUUPS Education Officer Michi Harper for making the trip with us and representing North Texas Pagans.

About John Beckett

I grew up in Tennessee with the woods right outside my back door. Wandering through them gave me a sense of connection to Nature and to a certain Forest God. I’m a Druid graduate of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, the Coordinating Officer of the Denton Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans and a former Vice President of CUUPS Continental. I’ve been writing, speaking, teaching, and leading public rituals for the past eleven years. I live in the Dallas – Fort Worth area and I earn my keep as an engineer.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram/ A Witch’s Ashram

    This sounds fantastic. I’d love to see more gatherings of this sort. As much as I love the large, multi-day, intensive gatherings, these sorts of low-barrier meet-ups are important. Maybe in a year or so I can organize something similar.

  • Meical abAwen

    Thanks for the article, John. I promise I was listening to you, just needed to relax. :)

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

      You put in enough work – you needed to get off your feet for a while. Next time we’ll bring chairs.

  • Luna Sea

    Thank You so much for attending our event! Sorry I missed your workshop but someone had to hold down the swap & trade table. I can’t wait until next year & hope to see other areas starting their own event.

  • Meical abAwen

    Sam Herren kindly stepped in when we had a workshop cancellation and presented on the fly, even borrowing runes from another Asatruar to demonstrate. I think he did Damn well considering he had no time to prepare, and I hope he is willing to present for us again.

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

      Thanks for Sam’s name. I’ve edited the line in the post.

  • http://www.patheos.com/Pagan Christine Kraemer

    I am very glad to read about this!

  • Y. A. Warren

    How can pagans not get along. Isn’t the origin of the term “those who honor (worship) the earth?” Who on earth can argue with that, except the “Christians” and corporations?

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

      Any group, given enough time, can find reasons to not get along.

      “Pagan” is from the Latin “paganus”, meaning “countrydweller”. The occupying Romans used to describe the native Britons, with a meaning along the lines of “hick”. Later, Christians used it to describe those who kept their native religion. Later still, they used it to describe anyone who wasn’t Christian, with the possible exception of Jews and Muslims (their fellow spiritual descendants of Abraham).

      Although modern Paganism has ancient roots, in its current form(s) it is a very new religion(s). We’re still trying to figure out what it means to be Pagan. See the Four Centers of Paganism link in the main article.

      For more on the current disagreement, just look around for the contentious posts on who is and isn’t a polytheist. Or better yet, don’t.

      • Y. A. Warren

        This is why I reject organized religion and anything else that demands creeds and/or group think.

  • https://www.facebook.com/mandy.motherphoenix Mother Phoenix

    Thank you for your amazing article on our event. We had so much fun putting it together and meeting new people! It was more than I could hope for, especially when I began to see members of the Pagan community stepping out and randomly helping us achieve our goals. Thank you John Beckett for being such a wonderful and patient person and for driving so far to see us and be with us. I do hope we see you again. The amount of support we got was breathtaking. We had stores donating boxes of products to our Swap N’ Trade, Covens sharing their knowledge, laughter, and voices, Groups sharing their experience and crafts, Spiral Scouts pulling through for all of us, and random acts of kindness (Like what Sam Herren showed us that day). Thank you to everyone who participated and helped out. Here is looking forward to another year! ~Mother Phoenix


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