I had a table at Vancouver Pagan Pride at the weekend, and I’ve been mulling over my experience for the last few days before writing about it. I haven’t been on on here much lately since I managed to get a concussion in early August (mild, mostly better) and spent a lot of time sleeping for a couple weeks, and then a couple more weeks frantically catching up on making jewelry and getting the paperwork for Eowyn to start preschool done.
So, months ago, I told myself I’d get my shit together enough to interact with other pagans in person and go to Vancouver Pagan Pride day. Then I thought, “Hey, I’ve been making jewelry for fun and have lots of it lying around now, maybe I should sell it.” So I signed up for a table to sell stuff. Then one of my friends from knitting offered to split the fee and the table with me and that meant that last Saturday morning, my friend Dal and I and my morning tea were setting up our table in a park in Vancouver next to a medium/clairvoyant.
I looked through the schedule and decided to participate in one of the circle rituals (there were several but I didn’t want to leave Dal alone with the table that long). Since the rituals were held in the middle of the field, we could watch, so I observed and was pretty excited to watch things that I’d read about in real life.
I didn’t sell as much jewelry as I would have liked, but it was my first time. I made a bit of profit, so that was good (a lot better than selling nothing). What was better was being exposed to the local pagan community.
There were a lot of people in crazy awesome brightly coloured clothes (so many twirly skirts!), and a lot in all black (also, is it just me, or do pagans really like skulls?). There were people who looked more general Vancouverite, and of course, there were the people who were looking for the farmer’s market on the other end of the park who accidentally wandered through. I saw a shirtless (male) bagpiper, a dude with a flying rainbow space unicorn surrounded by kittens t-shirt, a guy who looked like he was going for the “creepy sorceror” vibe, complete with pet rat hiding in his sleeve, and all the crystals. Ours is a community that likes shiny stones. I heard quips about being “magpies” more than once throughout the day.
And the rituals…the first one, to open the festival, was one I observed from afar, but I could identify calling the quarters, and invoking the local spirits. The one I participated in was about re-imagining the world and it felt like a good place for me to start. The ritual felt familiar, in that I’ve done a lot of reading so I’ve run across the “basic” format (it was influenced by Wiccan-style ritual, but was not deity-oriented), and interestingly I noticed some parallels to the liturgy I’ve known in the Christian church (what is it with us humans and grapes, either in wine or fruit form?), but perhaps that’s because the liturgical elements are one of the things I gravitate towards.
Working in a circle, where participation is a bit more involved than the audience-style stuff you get in the Christian church, was fantastic. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do all the time, and I couldn’t always hear very well, but it makes a big difference to how you experience it if you are included as a participant rather than an observer.
At the beginning of the ritual, the “gods of our tribes” were made welcome, and I swear I could feel Loki smirking behind me. I haven’t worked extensively with him yet, but whenever I try reaching out to the gods, he seems to be there. (And no, he doesn’t look like Tom Hiddleston, though I can’t really explain how he looks to me since the image is more built of feeling than sight, and what I do see is rarely clearly defined). If he was there, he was welcome; I suppose a ritual focused on re-imagining the world has enough potential for chaos that a trickster god would be delighted to participate. Chaos certainly is rather necessary at times for change.
I could feel something with the ritual, though it’s hard to say what. That energy that I feel sometimes, that I’ve experienced while doing magick or meditation, or in prayer back in the days when my spiritual senses were extremely active (like near-constant glimpses of the spiritual realm sort of active). I think. I’m new to paganism, after all, and much of the practice is new and will take time for me to learn and become good at, and a public ritual where I know no one is harder to open myself up to than a ritual with people I know and trust would be.
So, would I go again? Yes, I do plan to be there again next year. I don’t know if I’ll take a table like this year, or if I’ll find another way to contribute, or if I’ll just go and be. Any of those options sounds good right now.