The 2004 DC Pagan Pride Week
Article ID: 8732
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 3,622
Times Read: 6,870
Author: Shea Thomas [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: October 3rd. 2004
Times Viewed: 6,870
Location: Washington, DC
Event Date(s): September 12-18
It was a week of firsts. Dramatically expanding the Pagan Pride Day concept, local Pagans in the Washington, DC region banded together this past September to create the very first weeklong Pagan Pride exposition. With a combined attendance of over 400, and events spanning seven days, the week featured a community Interpath worship service, potluck dinners, restaurant outings, a "Jewitch" celebration of Rosh Hashanna, workshops, and classes, and concluded with the Fourth Annual Washington DC Pagan Pride Day on Saturday, September 18, 2004.
It was also the first time the Washington DC Pagan Pride Day was held indoors. As the last gasps of Hurricane Ivan lashed the capital region with rain, wind, and flash-flood warnings, DC Pagan Pride Day organizers were forced to scramble at the last minute to secure an alternate venue. With only 17 hours prior notice, and some extremely gracious help from the Luther Place Memorial Church, the event was successfully moved to the Luther Place Shelter on N Street in Washington, DC.
Indeed, as final press releases for the event were being drafted, the DC Pagan Pride Press Secretary was inspired to write a satirical press notice (which was never released) that set all the planning committee members laughing even as they struggled with the logistical challenges caused by the weather. To see the full version of this "faux" press release, please see: www.openhearth.org/press/fakerelease.shtml.
Despite these challenges, the local Pagan community still put together an impressive array of services and events. Nine different activities were convened during the week. Nearly 100 pounds of food was collected for a local food bank and homeless service provider, and a dozen new books were collected for DC's local Pagan lending library. Two hundred and forty-five dollars was raised for the Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church which recently suffered an accidental fire that destroyed part of its facilities.
Sponsored by The Open Hearth Foundation, Inc. (OHF) and coordinated with the help of members from the local community, the 2004 DC Pagan Pride Week represented one of the largest undertakings yet for the OHF a nonprofit organization working to build a Pagan community center in the Washington, DC region. Manifesting for a full week the kind of dedicated Pagan space the OHF hopes to create on a more permanent basis, the organizers of DC Pagan Pride Week spoke of the event as a sterling example of the way our community can work together in respect and kindness while celebrating our diversity.
This cooperative spirit was plainly visible from the start as 55 local Pagans gathered for the DC Pagan Pride's first Interpath worship service at the Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church in Adelphi, Maryland. During an opening procession, each participating group was asked to bring an object representing their unique path to contribute to a community altar. Local groups were then invited to invoke the cardinal directions in their own tradition. After a grounding and centering, a guided visualization, drumming and songs, participants then raised their voices in harmony with a chant written by T. Thorn Coyle:
"Take the gift of life and death. Take the gift of blood and bone. Weave the magick step by step. Build the vision stone by stone." Concluding with a powerful spiral dance, the Interpath worship service set an exciting tone of cooperation and unity for the rest of the week's activities.
Following the Interpath service, seven different events were hosted at different spots across the greater DC region by six different local organizations, including the DC Radical Faeries, Earthwise Gyre, The Open Hearth Foundation, Becoming, Ecumenicon Fellowship, and the Correllian Nativist Tradition Temple of the Sacred Arts. The true diversity of the Pagan community was felt in a very tangible way as many new faces and several familiar ones were spotted during the mid-week events, including the DC Pagans' Night Out program which enjoyed one of its largest attendance levels with over 50 visitors.
DC Pagan Pride Week then came to a close with the Fourth Annual Washington, DC Pagan Pride Day. With over 200 in attendance, the DC Pagan Pride Day featured rituals lead by the William Blake Oasis, OTO, the Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary, and Baba l'awo Eloy Hernandez and the members of Ile Casade Orunmila. Acoustic guitar solos were provided by local musician Gregory Lygon, and drum facilitation throughout the day by Tigre Cruz, Spirit in Rhythm.
The PPD table sponsors offered an exciting array of side-activities during Pagan Pride Day, including free "aura-fluffings," face-paintings, tarot readings, Reiki sessions, an indoor compass orienteering course, and prize drawings. The Open Hearth Foundation also released its annual Resource Guide at the event, a comprehensive "yellow-book" of Pagan groups, stores, and services in the DC, MD, and VA region.
Thanks also go out to our many event sponsors and group participants who helped make DC Pagan Pride Week possible, including Becoming, DC Radical Faeries, Chesapeake Pagan Community, Ecumenicon Fellowship, Foxwood Temple, the Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary, Free Spirit Alliance, Paint Branch Nature Spirituality Circle, Sacred Space Foundation, and William Blake Oasis, OTO.
The Open Hearth Foundation also offers heartfelt thanks to the members of the DC Pagan Pride Week Planning Committee, Eridanus Darryl Kummerow, Marielle Roberts, Mark Crewson, Annie McCormick, Drew Bogda, Sherry Marts, and Eric Eldritch. A special thanks also goes out to Tina Van Pelt, who not only helped identify a venue for the Interpath worship service, but graciously offered the use of her house as a rain storm forced a last minute move of one of the mid-week activities.
Finally, The Open Hearth Foundation offers thanks to our two Patron-level underwriters for the DC Pagan Pride Week: The Correllian Nativist Tradition Temple of the Sacred Arts and Earthwise Gyre.
For more about the Washington DC Pagan Pride Week and other events The Open Hearth Foundation schedules throughout the year please visit the OHF site.
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