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Article ID: 8727
Age Group: Adult
Posted: September 24th. 2004
Salt Lake Pagan Pride 2004
The many people over many years who have incredulously asked, "You have PAGANS in UTAH?" would have had their questions answered unmistakably yesterday in Murray Park, where 378 Pagans and guests gathered to invoke the Harvest and Celebrate the Fruits of Community. Witches, Druids, Asatruar, Totegers, Pagans of every variety and practice set aside a day to honor their diversity and interact with one another in worship, learning, rejoicing, music-making, and community service.
The day was made even more amazing by the weather, which brought Utah's first real cold front and a winter storm warning to the valley literally on the eve of the festival. On the first look outside my window at 6 AM, I was greeted with an astounding lightning bolt that streaked across the entire bowl of the sky from horizon to horizon. Needless to say, I was grudgingly prepared for our thirty-or-so member festival crew to be the only attendees of the Pagan Pride Day festivities, especially since it was actually hailing on my car when I got to the park at 8 AM.
I needn't have worried. The Horus Oasis OTO were already setting up for the Gnostic Mass, the Deity Altar was being lovingly arranged by Bret and TaMara of the Sacred Circle Church, the food and clothing donations were actually overflowing the boxes already, and as I began unloading nearly a thousand books for the Chalice of the Rainbow Flame CUUPS Chapter's book sale fundraiser, the people just kept on coming. And coming and coming...over three hundred eighty of them at the final count.
We had wonderful, unpredictable, extreme Utah weather all day long, and we never knew what was coming next. The thing that was so amazing was that in the face of three really heavy thunder-dumpers that punctuated the chilly, cloudy, breezy-to-blustery-to-gale-force windy, and sometimes amazingly bright and gorgeous day, nothing was stopped, or even stalled, but simply mutated. The huge, complex, and energetic main ritual worked amazingly well under our largest pavilion while the rain thrashed wildly outside. The Celtic Frith took on a newly urban perspective, since we had to do it under a roof for the very first time, but was nonetheless compelling and cogent in its insights. And in between being pounded by deafening thunderclaps and drenched by amazing rain blasts (for which we gave thanks, since it seems we are finally breaking a seven-year drought), everything simply went on as planned, and happy and thoughtful and focused and interested Pagans and visitors just kept on coming and coming...
We had Spiral Scouts in uniform leading the Pledge of Allegiance and the Pledge to the Earth Mother, a SLPPD Tradition. We had a wonderful Paganism 101 Talking Circle, attended by over thirty participants including an amazingly interested goose who interjected cogent commentary at appropriate times. We had workshops on Druidry, Practical Magick, Guising, the Bardic Artes, The Red Road of Native American spirituality, the Celtic Frith and many other interesting and informative topics. We had belly dancers, Celtic harpers, dulcimer and violin players, some wonderful acoustic guitarists, and drums, drums, drums... We had massage and face-painting, vendors of jewelry and T-shirts and books and coffee and many, many other wondrous wares. We had mini-rituals going on all day long, including the full Gnostic mass and several devotional circles - and that doesn't even address the three main rituals, all of which were unique and successful. We had two raffles, and several charity fund-raisers, an art show and sale, arts-and-crafts including making dream pillows and some of the most amazingly original talking sticks I have ever seen, and an interactive Goddess Art project that was stunning in its simplicity: Fill the outlined body of the Goddess with red roses to represent the Goddess Within. It was breathtaking. The pictures are mesmerizing, watching Her grow.
At the end of the day, there were still over sixty of us in the closing circle, dedicated die-hards who were determined to see the day to its close. We were tired and we were a little slap-happy, gathering in the chilly dark, getting colder, but toning and drumming and dancing and doing word puzzles to illustrate the idea of DIVERSITY as the "Roots of the Fruits of Community." Diverse, adaptable, spontaneous, creative and focused - this we are, and can be, when we have a single goal, like making this day and this event work for everyone. At the end, that was the lesson the whole day showed me.
Diverse we are, not always in conformity with any one norm, sometimes bitter in our disagreements, sometimes unkind or thoughtless, as all people can sometimes be to one another. But, yesterday, we put it aside. We decided we were able to focus on one thing, to be together, to truly illustrate the community of the Goddess' children. We danced, and drummed, and laughed, and learned, and collected two pickup truck loads of donations for three charities. We worked within the paradigms of the Utah weather our local Gods chose to send us, and enjoyed our adaptability. And we answered, one more time, the perennial question: "Are there REALLY Pagans in Utah?" Oh, yes, my dear, there certainly are. Oh, my, yes.
With love to the community,
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