Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Power of Three


Sorry about the kitschy Charmed cliche, but I admit it's a guilty pleasure of mine. I love that show, in its proper perspective. I always mention it in my annual lecture at Fresno State University to put things in proper perspective for the "uninitiated." I tell students that "Charmed" is to Witches, what "Star Trek" is to Scientists.

For a few hundred years we've had a pretty negative stereotype, but that tends to happen when everything written on the subject is the product of those who venomously oppose and your existence. I remember reading somewhere that Gerald Gardner's book Witchcraft Today was the first or one of the first books written about Witchcraft BY a practitioner. That really wasn't that long ago.

When I was growing up there were actually several books on Witchcraft in the local library, each of them graphically depicted Witches kissing the devils ass, having sex with goats and boiling infants for their baby fat, which apparently is the main ingredient in Flying Ointment.

But Look how far we've come in such a short time. I saw on Facebook today that my friends book shelf completely fell apart for the weight of her books. I'm very confident in my speculation that they were all Witchcraft, Hoodoo, and an Alchemy book I'm going to want back someday.

I believe that this years Central Valley Pagan Pride Day was definitely an accurate temperature gauge for the State of Our Union here in the central valley. Earlier this year I spoke at the Convention on Current Pagan Studies, the theme was sustaining Pagan communities and it was an invaluable experience. I came back rejuvenated and inspired by the spirit of the event. (I'm an Aquarius so that's not hard to do.) That's when I first got the idea for Central Vally Solstice. My idea was for an event something like PPD, but not. Geared more towards a huge multiple Pagan community interfaith ritual, a Mid-Summer Mega Festival Extravaganza!

A few months later my friend Audra at St. Brigid's Academy started the groundwork for Fresno Pagan Pride and I jumped on the bandwagon. We spoke about our ideas and plans, I got peanut butter all over her chocolate, and Fresno Pagan Pride became Central Valley Pagan Pride.

It only takes a single grain of rice to tip the scale.

I am happy to say the event was a huge success, largely due to the abundance of organizational skills. The core of the event was the unification of the Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield Pagan communities and their organizers, I have no doubt this solidified the event and attracted participants from the Bay area as well as LA. It was an awesome day, we all had a blast and our booth made enough money to fund our seminary's prison ministry program through to Imbolc.

I was honored to share my booth with Crystal Blanton, who gave a great workshop of Witchwars and kept it real. She wrote about CVPP here and here for the PNC, and The Provocation did a nice piece here as well.

The spirit and success of CVPP has promoted new growth towards a real grassroots movement here in our valley, and the Power of Three is looking to tip the scales again soon.

Thank you Lord and Lady for letting me be a grain of rice, please let me do it again. Blessed Be.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

CENTRAL VALLEY PAGAN PRIDE DAY

There comes a time within our tradition when one must select a "toast." Similar to the motto of other traditions, however our toast does not serve as an identity, but rather something you say in Latin before you partake in the Cakes and Ale portion of our ritual. Mine is:

Aut viam inveniam aut faciam

"I shall find a way or I shall make one" which is attributed to Hannibal, although I'm sure he didn't say it in Latin.

I first moved here to the Central Valley about six years ago and hit the holy ground running, getting active in the Pagan community. But I was in this funny little blind spot called Visalia. There was a large Pagan community in Fresno (just north), and another in Bakersfield (just south) but not much here at home. Mostly online discussion forums and yahoo group covens (remember those?) There was only a single small group of Pagans meeting here in town, and for the most part it was identified as a "study group," but it turned out to be a personality cult which disqualified me from membership and I was excommunicated within the first month. I was hurt and angry, but it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me, because it made me do my own thing, make my own way.

That way became a Coven, that Coven became a Tradition, that Tradition became a Pagan Prison Ministry and that Ministry became my first book, and that book was blessed with a fore word from Raymond Buckland. I consider it to be a high honor, I'm very proud of that and I have a right to be, I did the work, I earned it.

But I am not alone, my friend Derick is to his community in Bakersfield what I am to mine, and Audra from St Brigid's Academy is for Fresno. We've all come a long way since then. The Fresno, Visalia and Bakersfield Pagan communities are interconnected and networking. Our Coven hosts an open community ritual on the first and third Sundays of the month, and on the others we often do "field trip" activities . Our group has loaded up the Mill Creek Mobile and road-tripped to visit the Kern County Pagan Circle in Bakersfield and many of them have come up to attend our rituals. Who knew earth-based religions were prone to grassroots?

When I was young my father would tell me there three kinds of people, those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. He said it enough to have the lasting effect he had hoped for. It is in that spirit I raise my cup and toast to those who have come together to make things happen.

I am happy to announce Central Valley Pagan Pride Day!

Here is the event schedule with Facebook links for more information.
Mill Creek Seminary will be doing the opening ceremony,the ritual has been modified to accommodate goals of this particular event: Mill Creek Seminary will perform the “opening” ceremony marking the beginning of the event, Kern County Pagan Circle will perform the “closing” ceremony marking the end of the event, whereby making the whole event one large daylong community ritual.

Come join us and help us make it a good one!


Thank you Lord and Lady for all the Pathfinders in the Pagan Community! Blessed Be.