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Melting POT: Pagans of Texas Gathering

 

This past January I had a chance to participate in a very cool gathering of Pagans in my part of Texas at an event called “The Melting P.O.T. – Pagans in the Park”. There were workshops and events hosted by several different groups from the surrounding area, including belly dancing lessons, a song and chant workshop, a Pagan swap, talks by Pagans of different paths, Spiral Scouts, and, of course, lots of food.

 

My group participated as well, bringing a table with some items members have made over the last couple of years as well as some pictures from our events.

 

I attended the presentations given by Pagans from different paths. The first one was given by Sam Herren of The Heathen Kinship (http://www.goheathen.org). His presentation covered rune divination – everything from where the practice might have started, how we might make their own runes and some ways to use them, and several good resources for those that wanted to learn more. He emphasized the importance of thoroughly knowing the runes when creating and using them for divination, giving examples of how this helps to more clearly understand and interpret their meaning.

 

I haven’t spent much time with divination, let alone working with runes, so I found the workshop fascinating and informative. I also learned later that he stepped in at the last minute when someone else wasn’t able to make it. It was that kind of day – everyone helping out to make it a success.

 

Next, Russel Erwin discussed some of the traditions of his path – 1734 Witchcraft. He spoke generally about some of the differences between the 1734 tradition and other traditions like Wicca and how he came to practice it. He also spoke about shamanism and some misconceptions some have about it. He stayed after his talk and answered questions from the audience – it was a great session.

 

Finally, I saw John Beckett, a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and a blogger at Patheos (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/), speak on the four pillars of Paganism – an interesting look at the different aspects of Paganism that appeal to us. The purpose was not to find a way to label people’s beliefs as much as a way to show what is common between them. He described Paganism as “a movement”, not as a set of boundaries. This concept stuck with me.

 

The four centers he discussed were Earth-centered – described as those primarily concerned with ecology and our shared role and responsibility to life on Earth; Self-centered – described not as selfish but as at least partially focused on the development of the self; Deity-centered – described as those for whom deities are important, perhaps through dedication to a deity (or deities); and Community-centered – described as those with, obviously, a strong sense of community. It is also worth noting he made it clear that Pagans do not fit within just one center – most fall within at least two, if not three or all four, to varying degrees.

 

I really enjoyed this talk. I didn’t need it to know where I fit under the Pagan umbrella but it did help me to understand more about which aspects of my path speak to me. Using the four centers presented as a guide, I’m drawn more to the Deity-centered and Earth-centered pillars than the other two.

 

This is further discussed in one of his blog entries (link to http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/2013/06/the-three-centers-of-paganism.html) and another he used for that entry (link to http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/the-three-or-more-centers-of-paganism/).

 

There were several other activities happening at the same time as the talks. A local Spiral Scouts group had a nature-based lesson, belly dancing lessons were being held in another part of the park, and the sounds of chanting and singing could be heard from the pavilion. It wrapped up with a Pagan swap event – everyone who brought something to the swap was able to pick something to take home.

 

In all, close to 100 people from several groups of different paths got together on a beautiful day in an otherwise dreary January – at least by Texas standards – to share some food and fellowship. We had the chance to meet other people with similar interests and create new friendships. Pagans looking for a community were able to visit tables and meet members of groups from the area and see what events and gatherings they hosted.

 

It was really amazing.

 

The signpost for me was one that I’ve passed before: meeting other Pagans not only helps us connect with others like us, but also helps us to better understand our own path. We learn so much about ourselves while learning from others.   This was also the kind of thing I could have really used as a new Pagan. For people new to an area (or just new to Paganism) it was a wonderful way to meet their Pagan neighbors in a fun and safe environment.

 

Do groups in your part of the world come together for events like this? If not, what would it take to create a tradition like it?