DFW Area Pagan Pride Day

DFW Pagan Pride Day Logo
DFW Pagan Pride Day Logo

So, it was sometime in November last year when we were at a friend’s birthday party in Mesquite that another long time friend approached me and said to me that he was hoping to get Pagan Pride Day going again in the Dallas / Fort Worth area. It had been 2 years since the previous Local Coordinator gave up the position and no one stepped forward to take up the effort. I like seeing Pagans getting together and networking, making good things happen and sharing in one another’s company so I said “Sounds good! Count me in!” So it began, this several months long Odyssey to help promote what I hoped would be an event to bring togetherness to the local Pagan community and spark some pride in our identity. Maybe give some new seekers a place to find like minded folks and foster better understanding among the mainstream community and ourselves. There have been many obstacles to overcome and I have seen things that have lifted my spirit as well as things which have humiliated me and devastated my faith in seeing it happen.

This leads me to ponder. How important is your faith to you? Is this something you would truly like to see grow and prosper or do you have other things in your life that you find more worthwhile? I remember reading stories while in school like The Diary of Anne Frank, hearing of what happened to many Native Americans on the Trail Of Tears, what happened to so many during what we now collectively call The Burning Times. I hear stories of great pilgrimages that people go through in which they spend days, weeks, even months walking to one particular sacred place to honor their God or gods, their ancestors, their concept of the divine. I wonder, how many people we have in our local community who have that kind of dedication in their faith in the sacredness of their gods, ancestors and  nature spirits or who or whatever it is they believe in. A great many people won’t even drive or catch a ride across town for an event to foster Pagan Pride, won’t spend $10 to help with the effort but will spend many times more than that on non-essential items, entertainment of one sort or another. Now, I am not saying I am any Paganer Than Thou, or anything like that. I don’t know myself what I would do in the face of certain death through torture as some of our ancestors endured. It’s easy to talk when you aren’t actually in the situation yourself. But I would like to think I could put my money where my mouth is or at least have my actions back up my words.

I was inspired by some of the people who did show up for the fund raiser last night. Someone I hadn’t seen in quite some time showed up and made a very generous cash donation to the cause. A couple of long time friends from the Sumerian Tradition and ADF Druidry were there. The band played their hearts out and a few people danced for us. We have some talented folks and I wish more people could have come out to appreciate their efforts. I know life gives us plenty of obstacles to deal with and we can’t always do the things we want to do but I have to wonder when dealing with the massive scale of people who don’t show up after they say that they will if the biggest problem facing our community isn’t apathy? I like a night at home watching movies, maybe a ball game with the kids, etc. too. But this is my spirituality and my community that I am talking about. If something is important to you you will make a way, if it isn’t you will make an excuse.

I shudder to think it but what happens if October 5th the turnout is similar to the ones we’ve had at the last two fund raisers? What if we throw a Pagan Pride Day and no one shows up?

As I have said before. When I started the DFW Pagan Pride Day web page and Facebook Page I wanted them to become places for the community to show it’s pride. I wanted Pagan Artists, Musicians, Crafters, Clergy, Dancers, to share pictures of what they do and what it means to them to walk their path. I have had so little shared with me that I finally had to resort to sharing posts from other sources just to keep the Facebook Page relevant on the news feed. I would be happy to just have pictures of people’s altars, their favorite places to go feed their spirit, their businesses, even their cats! I have thought about going around town and taking pictures of Caelum Moor, Deep Woods Apothecary, Enchanted Forest, Silver Pyramid, etc. But I haven’t had the time and don’t know whether I can have the permission to post it on PPD’s site. Mayhaps I will someday and if October 5th gets here and just a few of us show up at White Rock Lake I will be happy to see those few who make it. I will honor their spirit and hope to share in their stories.

Now the marketing professionals will tell me that I shouldn’t be so negative and should always make anything I say about PPD be on a positive note. I’m fine with that to a point but I don’t like to bullshit anyone either. The straight up truth is, if it is going to happen we will have to have more community participation. No one person can make it all happen alone. No small group can either to any great extent. It takes an entire community to make a big event happen. If a small group is all we’ve got then it will be a small event. But you know what? Burning Man started as a small group of people out in the middle of the desert.   Just sayin’! 😉

13 Replies to “DFW Area Pagan Pride Day”

  1. Thank you for your post. Please. Please. Please come on over to Owl's Clover on any Saturday 2-7P or Sunday 1-5P and take all the pictures you would like.

    We are there for Yoga on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 5:30PM til 6:45 PM. I am usually down watering the garden a bit before 5 or I stay later and water the garden. Let me know you are coming and I will be there to greet you.

    You are welcome to take pictures inside or out around the place– the garden isn't the best we have every had but it is pretty good. One tomato plant went from looking really lush to looking like a pencil cactus over night — We have plucked the dang leaf robbers off.

    We just took the Sweat Lodge down and plan to rebuild in the Fall.

    We have Night Owl's Drumming Circle every third Friday from 7- 10 P

    Fort Worth Church of Light has a Spiritual Gathering every third Sunday from 11-1 with a Great Pot Luck- Sharing Community Table after. This is a branch Church of The Church of Light- A Pagan Church formed in 1932. This is not a we talk you listen kind of gathering. Michal Foltz and I, Gail Carswell and ministers for this Church.

    We have Meditation Circles for all the Quarters and Cross Quarters as well as Eclipses. We have been open and having these events since 1999. Yes, sometime the gatherings are small and sometimes bigger. They are all heart felt and important.

    We watched through the years(since 1999) many shops closing and some people would come in and say I bet you are glad. Now you will have more people come here. My answer is that every time a metaphysical shop closed it breaks my heart. If I had my way there would be one on every side of Owl's Clover and all up and down the street!!! I like company and I know the more shops there are, the more I am certain those looking to connect with us will find us.

    I will do my best to provide more to this valuable resource in the future. I still have not learned how to get pictures off the camera to the internet. But right now I am planning a Celebration of Life for Pam Wilkerson and going to open Owl's Clover shortly. Hope you can come and let us know you desire Metaphysical Shops in your community.

    Love and gratitude,

    1. Absolutely Gail! I will try very hard to make it out one of these Saturdays or Sundays to get some pictures to share. I really want to meet and talk with ya'll too. If you have any pictures that you would like to share with me to use for DFW PPD promotion please send them on to promotion@dfwpaganpride.org

  2. That's a shame, they don't know what they are missing out on!

    Forgive my ignorance as I'm not a local, but would pagans in Dallas be more likely to hide their faith due to the abundance and strength of Christianity there? – especially now it is being expressed in the media and in the law making process?

    What I mean is, did they stay away due to apathy or fear of persecution?

    1. In years past the fear of persecution thing didn’t keep many away. These days, I can’t be so certain. The climate has certainly changed in recent years and I can see why more might feel safer staying “in the broom closet” so to speak. I don’t think keeping silent will, in the long run, preserve the rights and religious freedoms we have long enjoyed though. So I choose to speak… LOUDLY! and if someday they come to haul me away in the night (of course, these days they don’t usually do it the way they did in the old days) again I will be very vocal about it.

      That being said though, Houston and Austin have very well attended and organized Pagan Pride Day celebrations. New Orleans is having their very first one this year. So. No, I doubt the climate has people quite that nervous yet.

  3. Since reading and commenting on your post I have been in contact with a few people I know in the Dallas area to find out why the turn out was so poor. 3 have replied on this subject – the pagan pride event not the lack of faith issue.

    One didn't know about it

    One knew about it but didn't go because it's in Dallas and it's a "long way to go". I asked further about this and they said that they aren't prepared to travel that far and would rather support local events that are of more interest to them.

    The last one is the most interesting.

    They said they are fully aware about the events at White Rock but do not attend them because they have little to offer them. They said that they tend to be more of a retail event than a pagan one. It has little to actually do with paganism and just one big celebration that could be celebrating almost anything. They would like to see more info on hand about what paganism is, perhaps talks from different pagan traditions and so on.

    They went to the White Rock event a few years back and took a non-pagan friend as they were curious but there was no information to be had at all about paganism and they had to explain everything to the friend.

    They go further. They describe themselves as Pagan* but they were made to feel that the opening ritual was seen as almost compulsory and if you weren't going to take part then you had to "Get out of the way and shut up"! The ritual is usually Wiccan based which holds little interest to them although they do acknowledge that it is the most widely know version of paganism, but they feel this is why information about other ways of doing things should be readily available. On top of that, there was no explanation to what was being done and why (in the ritual), which they thought was very important in an event that is meant to be showcasing paganism to the non-pagan world.

    They also say that it's not just the White Rock event that's like this but so are a lot of events in the area. They are little more than a themed retail event with a bit of entertainment thrown in.

    In summary they are saying :-

    The event is barely pagan, but more of a collection of venders with some dancers and drumming as entertainment – nonpagans don't really get the 'pagan experience'
    It's too biased to one tradition (in this case Wicca)
    There is no information on hand to educate people without and within paganism

    *Going by the conversations we've had they travel a v broad path, drawing from influences and inspiration from many different faiths.

    Most troubling that someone would feel that way. I can't comment on this directly as I've not been to any Dallas area event. I was just curious as to why the turn out was low so asked people. I can pass on information/assurances to them if you like – I won't refer them to this post as I think your comments about the trail of tears, Anne Frank and so on would distract from your other points (especially as one of the three is of native descent)

    1. I've heard back from someone else and there appears to be a trend.

      They are in the Fort Worth area and they *and a couple of friends) won't attend because it's in Dallas.

      I guess there is some sort of local divide present?

      1. Oh yes! There is indeed a very old local divide between Fort Worth ( The city I grew up in by the way) and Dallas. I actually have many things I want to say on this subject which have been rolling around in my head while I was at work and during the ride home. Unfortunately now that I am finally home I am too worn out to type it all out and must get a shower and some sleep. Don't let me forget though because these are very good points that I very much want to talk on.

      2. Okay, I have a little bit of time this morning before I have to head off to work so I thought I would pop in real quick and address at least a couple of the issues here. I have been attending Pagan Pride Day celebrations since around 2000 in the Dallas area. The first ones I went to were held in downtown Dallas at a place called Thanksgiving Square then later they were held at a U.U. Church on Keist Blvd. also in Dallas. For a couple of years (I think 2008-2009 if memory serves me) I did the website for North Texas (Dallas) Pagan Pride Day. Then in late 2009 to early 2010 my mother became very ill and eventually died from pancreatic cancer. It was a very hard time for me both emotionally and spiritually and for a time I took a sabbatical from most all spiritual activities and became so disenchanted with the local Pagan community I removed all references to what I (at the time) called the P word from any of my online profiles. I did not attend the 2010 Pagan Pride Day and it was the very last one we have had in this area. This year marks the first time I have taken such an active role in the PPD event and obviously I am back from my sabbatical in a fairly big way for those who have been keeping up with my many community activities of late. Now, that being said there are a number of us on the committee who are from the Fort Worth and Arlington (Tarrant County) area and we pulled hard for having the event in Tarrant rather than Dallas county this year. We shopped around for venues and got answers like they were booked on the days we needed, they did not host events of a religious nature and such. Bath House in Dallas was booked for this year but with the stipulation that next year's PPD would be held in Tarrant county and that going forward the event would rotate from Dallas to Tarrant county each following year. Those of us from Tarrant county made clear in no uncertain terms that if this did not come to pass we would not be involved in PPD next year. The Pagan Pride National Organization has a policy that they do not allow separate PPD events within (if memory serves me right) 100 miles of one another so holding a separate event for Fort Worth and Dallas is not an option with only 30 miles separating them. Mark my words here and hold me to them if anyone wants to. This time next year if PPD is not held in Tarrant county I will leave PPD and form my own event for Pagan unity for the Tarrant county area. It is not fair that every single year the event has been held in Dallas and the Fort Worth folks have a very good right to feel the way they do. However, that being said. There are only 30 miles separating Fort Worth and Dallas. Pagan Pride Day is held one day out of the year. My commute from my house in south Arlington to my job in north Fort Worth that I take every single work day is 38 miles. If a 30 mile drive once a year is too much how serious are you about your spirituality?

    2. Ah, finally a little quiet time and I also don't have to go to work today. Instead, we will be working on getting the house and back yard ready for a little grilling and pool party with some friends. They tell me there is some sort of holiday going on with fireworks and whatnot. 😉

      So, I thought I might pop in and address some of these points you brought up the other day that got my brain matter working.

      As I stated earlier I did not attend the 2010 PPD and there was not one for 2011 or 2012. The ones I went to in the past, retail events? I don't know. I go to the Pow Wows at Traders Village in Grand Prairie (literally within walking distance of my house) every year and they could also be described as retail events by this person's apparent criteria. Perhaps it's an American thing? A lot of people do love to shop. I'm not a big shopper myself but at these events there certainly are several vendors. At PPD they were selling Pagan merchandise as they will be this year. Some of it is quite lovely. There usually are musicians (Pagan musicians by the way) and other entertainers. Dancers, drummers. But there have always been rituals. An opening ritual hosted by one group, a mid day ritual usually by another and a closing ritual by yet another group. There have always been workshops to attend. But this being a volunteer effort we pretty much work with what we've got. If what has been at past events doesn't appeal perhaps the following year they could come forward and let us know that their group would like to put on a workshop or event. There will, as in years past, also be an information table available where people can leave flyers, brochures and other information letting those who are interested know about their path and how to get in touch to learn more.

      Granted, no event is going to have everything for everybody but I would hardly call any PPD celebration I have attended "barely Pagan". If it's been biased to one tradition (Wicca or any other) it may be that the volunteers running it didn't have anyone from other traditions come volunteer to participate? I, personally could not begin to put on an Asatru workshop or ritual. I would have to have someone from that tradition show up to do it. If I don't have one, what can I do about it?

      I won't retract my comments about Anne Frank as I see her plight as a testament of someone who is strong in their faith and continues to hold true to it even when the whole world seems against them. The Trail of Tears is very close to my heart since my great great grandfather and his wife were on it and instead of continuing to the reservation in Oklahoma chose to settle in Limestone County in Texas to blend into the white man's world and become farmers. It is a part of my own heritage.

  4. Interesting. I did attend the 2010 event. It was my first Pagan Pride Day…despite the fact that I've been living in the DFW area for close to twenty-plus years now. To be completely honest — if you stood outside the UU church the event was held at — it certainly did have the feel that it was a vendor-oriented event. There were booths setup everywhere. But not every booth was selling material that was to be bought. One booth (I stood in front of it conversing with an old friend – David P. – whom I had not seen in close to fifteen years at that time — and a blogger whom I had never met until that time John B.), was for a local podcast, and many of the show's listeners wandered through – along with a lot of folks who had never heard of the podcast either. (Which made the moment interesting – because three local podcasts were all there standing less then fifteen feet away from each – but I am diving off into a tangent here)

    But let's be a bit more honest here…yes, the event outside had the feel of a vendor-oriented event. Inside the church, there were a handful of lectures and classes that were held. John gave a wonderful talk that I attended – and lots of questions were tossed around the room concerning not only his practice, but the practice of others who attended the presentation. No offense intended to anyone — but when the area is densely populated with Pagans, its just a matter of stopping someone and asking questions. Most Pagans are polite enough to stop and answer questions — or if they aren't in a position to answer questions, are kind enough to provide introductions between the seeker and someone who is in a position to answer questions. I understand how difficult it can be to approach people out of the blue on a topic that is as sensitive as religion — particularly in the Dallas/Fort Worth area…I find myself reluctant to do the same thing at times… But this begs a different line of thought (here's where the tangent becomes a ride)….

    Thinking back to the event…and I will be honest, my memory can be fuzzy regarding stuff that is…what…600+ days in the past?? Perhaps its not the idea that it seemed vendor-oriented…but rather that they didn't feel welcomed. I know Pagans can get cliquish when placed in large gatherings…so I wonder if the real issue here is not the vendor-orientation of things….but rather how Seekers and Newbies can be made to feel welcome at an event…

    Just a few thoughts…I threw all that against the wall…not sure what's going to stick and what's going to slide….


    1. That\’s an excellent point Tommy and I have heard from a couple of people that they felt rather \”unwelcome\” at a past PPD event that I attended. I myself am not a good candidate for being on a \”welcoming committee\” type of thing unfortunately. In person I tend to be slow to warm up to strangers and I take some time before feeling I can be comfortable around someone I just met. It\’s a personality trait I have been trying to work on but I am not quite there yet. But we have talked about getting a few of those friendly, out going, smiling, hey glad to meet ya types among our volunteers and getting them to welcome folks as they show up for the event. I do think this would be very beneficial.

      1. Yeah – I'm there with you on the "not great with newcomers" grouping…LOL I'm probably trying to reinvent the wheel with this suggestion — but what about doing some kind of a Pagan Night Out?? Find a friendly establishment where folks can gather for food, fun and talk…but like I noted, I'm probably way behind the curve on that point…. There's a lot of reasons I named the podcast "From the *EDGE* of the Circle"…LOL


        1. There actually used to be a couple who moved up here from Houston who held Pagan Night Out get togethers at local restaurants and such. I would like to see something like that going on again. I already have so many projects on my plate right now I couldn't take it on but I sure would promote it and try to make it to some if anyone would like to get the ball rolling.

You don't have to put up with this. Say something!