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Article ID: 6712
Age Group: Adult
Posted: September 21st. 2003
Pagan Pride: San Francisco
by M Macha Nightmare
Speedway Meadows, Golden Gate Park, at the end of a week of heat wave. As we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge into the city, we'd hoped, but hadn't really expected, our cooling Summer fog. No trees swayed on the Waldo Grade; funky air lay over the Bay.
We arrive upon a busy scene as carpenters build a stage and sound techies set up the sound system. Colorful vendor tents, banners waving in the breeze, circle the meadow, keeping close to the trees and the blessed shade.
We find our friends Victoria [www.daughtersofthegoddess.com] and her sister Brigit set up with chairs, dembje and baskets of rhythm instruments in the shade of a tree, their Norse banner hanging in its branches. Sue had set up a voter registration table there. As the day unfolds, the area also serves as an informal drum circle and a general gathering place (and place to sell CDs) for Gaia's Voice, [www.gaiasvoice.org] Artemisia, Sam Webster [www.concrescent.net] and myself, among assorted partners, pals, children, friends old and new. The day never heats up. It goes from lovely to glorious, with a cooling ocean breeze later in the afternoon.
Picnickers settle for the afternoon in the shady places at the meadow's edge. And some from the more intrepid Sun-worshippers in the bright center of the meadow.
Feri priestess Anaar of Painted Fan [weblink] dances a meditative prayer, called as basket dance, in honor of the Mother. Her dance seems an offering of gratitude.
Pasha deSaix surprises us by being accompanied by Gunther, whom I hadn't seen in years. The two of them lead the crowd in a stirring rendition of "the Pagan national anthem," as we fondly call the late bard Gwydion Penderwen's song, "We Won't Wait Any Longer." The lyrics to the verses are great; luckily I'm standing near Prudence Priest, who knows all the words. All who know this song join in the rousing refrain:
We won't wait any longer.
We are stronger than before.
We won't wait any longer.
We are stronger.
A later belly-dance performance by Tempest [www.meddevi.com] of Crescent Magazine, is simply spectacular. She looks gorgeous in her multi-hued, dreds and orange and black raiment; just the right winds ripple her veils, enhancing her sinuous, evocative artistry.
The array of entertainers, showing the depth and diversity of Pagan talent in the Bay Area, is interspersed by various speakers - Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart, myself, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, and ending with Sam Webster.
I'd never heard of artist Walter Thompson III [www.thunderstormwitch.com] before I saw him perform at last year's SFBA PPD, so when I hear he's coming this year, I'm eager to see him. Unfortunately, he only does one piece. I find his work to be sensitive, powerful and utterly unique.
Galaxxy Chamber fills the meadow with eerily beautiful singing, drumming, dancing, firedancing and puppetry. I find the adjective they use in their publicity, "gothadelic," to be apt.
Somehow I miss Venee's yin/yang altar. We fade away without joining in the closing ritual. So we don't get to indulge in the home-baked cookies Rob from Phases [www.phases.org] donated. All in all, we have great day.
Gary Suto took on this project for the first time last year. Assisted by a small but dedicated crew, this year comprised primarily of Jen Vaughn (a tireless worker if there ever was one) and Arlynne Camirre, with security headed by Pagan-born and reared Morgan, first aid helpers, food collectors, webspinner, stage builders, publicists, sign-makers. and the many volunteers so generous with their time and energy, who are required to produce an event of this magnitude, Gary once more brought together an astonishing array of Pagans. He has publicly announced his withdrawal from this demanding role for the foreseeable future. I want to publicly commend Gary for taking great personal financial risk to contribute such a significant gift to the SFBA Pagan community. Huzzah!
Blessings of the living land,
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M Macha Nightmare
Location: San Rafael, California
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