This is a simple opening ritual that I helped facilitate at Kansas City Pagan Pride Day 2018. The intent was to acknowledge the four primary purposes of the Pagan Pride Project: Charity, Community, Activism, and Education.
- Ritual Leader
- Table Cloth
- Fork, Knife, and Spoon
[RL] Welcome to the Kansas City Pagan Pride Day 2018!
[RL] This event started in 1999 and through the support of the Kansas City Pagan Community, it has been held every year since then. In the space of a single generation, Paganism has blossomed from relative obscurity to a thriving community. Our spirituality has been recognized on military tombstones, and our clergy have invited by several statehouses to offer opening blessings. Pagan groups are increasingly common on college campuses and military bases. A new generation of Pagan children has been born and raised within our traditions. There are is an increasing number of books and internet resources to include podcasts, website, on-line education and blogs. And there is more diversity than ever within Paganism so that each of us can find the practice that calls to our soul.
[RL] There is much still do do.
Because of religious intolerance, fueled by misunderstanding and fear, those who have chosen to follow a Pagan religious belief often cannot live their lives openly and honestly. . Too often they see themselves surrounded by others that seek to dehumanize those that do not believe the same as they do. They silence. They shame. They intimidate and terrify people from openly proclaiming what they believe. Though they might never make a racial slur or discriminate based on gender, we find that they still exhibit religious discrimination because they believe that there is only one valid religion, or because they were simply misinformed about another’s religious practices. They fail to understand that tolerance is not enough. They need to realize the value of plurality of opinion, background, and viewpoint, especially in an increasingly global community.
[RL] At this time, let us take a moment to create our sacred space together and be reminded of the goals of Pagan Pride Day.
Let us all face East.
As we face the East, we connect with the powers of the Element Air and call upon the blessings of Education.
As Pagans, we recognize that it is important to understand other’s perspectives, to broaden our own, and to fully experience and educate ourselves.
Pagan Pride Day reminds us that ignorance creates fear, and knowledge is the key to tolerance. It reminds us that if we ever hope to practice our spiritual paths openly, we need to give the public, and each other, accurate information about our path.
Take time today to think about our accomplishments but recognize how far we still have to go. What can you do to help educate those around you?
For Blessings of Air, We Give Thanks!
All: We Give Thanks!
Let us all face South.
As we face the South, we connect with the powers of the Element Fire and call upon it for the blessings of the Activism.
We all have a great number of opinions about what is important, and many of us have participated in arguments, rallies and other overt action in support of those ideas.
Today, Pagan Pride Day is about reminding us that we should take pride in calling ourselves Pagan. We should be proud of the spiritual path that we have chosen.
Living proudly and openly in societies where your emotional, physical, professional well-being is constantly at risk is nothing short of brave. The fact that we are seeing more Pagans today live openly and honestly despite these challenges is a miracle.
Take time today to think about our accomplishments but recognize how far we still have to go. What can you do to help to make this world better for your fellow Pagans?
For Blessings of Fire, We Give Thanks!
All: We Give Thanks!
Let us all face West.
As we face the West, we connect with the powers of the Element Water and call to mind blessings of Charity.
Pagan Pride Day offers us an opportunity to demonstrate our compassion to our communities where it is needed. It gives us an opportunity to recognize and share our own abundance.
Take time today to think about our accomplishments but recognize how far we still have to go. What can you do to help demonstrate your compassion?
For Blessings of Water, We Give Thanks!
All: We Give Thanks!
Let us all face North.
As we face the North, we connect with the powers of the Element Earth and call to mind blessings of Community.
As Pagans, we are a community of different races, values, politics, religious and spiritual paths, gender presentations, philosophies, and a host of other diverse elements. Pagan Pride Day is an opportunity to celebrate our differences, as well as our common interests, and to demonstrate unity as a community.
Our community gains strength by interacting with each other and weaving networking webs. It gains strength by people volunteering their time and talents in support of the community. It gains strength by people finding ways to complement and help fellow Pagans, rather than using methods such as Facebook to attack or condemn another.
Take time today to think about our accomplishments but recognize how far we still have to go. What can you do to help build our community?
For Blessings of Earth, We Give Thanks!
All: We Give Thanks!
Setting the Harvest Table
[RL] As we have gathered here together to enjoy this beautiful day and celebrate Pagan Pride Day, let us take a moment to show each other hospitality as we set a simple Harvest Table for those present and those that could not be with us today. Pagans often use symbols to help signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from their literal sense.
[RL] First, let us prepare a table.
This table represents the strong Pagan community that we have here in Kansas City. This festival is a time that we gather to build community and provide support for one another. It is a time that we gather to celebrate the bounty of the harvest together. Pagan Pride Day is an opportunity to show ourselves and the public that we are a significant. We know that we are never going to be able to practice openly if we don’t know anyone else in our local Pagan communities. We need to weave networking webs in our cities, in our towns, in our rural areas. We need these webs to support one another. That support will also show those who would restrict our practice that we are a growing congregation of people who adhere to a faith that, while different, is as valid as their own.
[RL] And now a table cloth
This table cloth represents the natural world around us. Paganism is often described as an Earth-based Religion, but most Pagans do not believe that they are set above, or apart from, the rest of nature. Pagans see the sacred in everything around them. They not only find nature sacred, but see everything else around them as a part of the Divine. They understand divinity to be immanent, woven through every aspect of the living earth. By reconnecting to the universe, we learn to interact with it. Pagan worship is mainly concerned with connection to, and the honoring of, that immanent divinity.
[RL] And now a chair
This chair represents hospitality. Early agricultural societies understood the importance of hospitality and the importance of developing a relationship with your neighbors. Many people, particularly in rural villages, celebrated the harvest with great deals of feasting, drinking, and eating.
Think about what you should offer your fellow Pagans. What can you contribute to our circles, groves, and covens? What will be the seed have you planted to build a stronger community? To have a strong Pagan community you need to be part of the community! We need to get to know each other. We need to come to each other’s aid. We must volunteer when help is needed and not overwork the few until they get burned out. We must avoid the witch wars that only serve to tear apart our community. We must offer helpful advice, especially when it is solicited. We must support our Pagan crafters, musicians, stores, leaders, teachers, mentors, and elders. We should continue to strive to extend the hand of hospitality to one another.
[RL] And now a plate
This plate represents the sacredness within Paganism. The circle has a great many sacred meanings and is often used in Pagan spiritual practice. The Circle is an unbroken line which has no beginning, no end and no direction. Ancient stone circles can be found throughout the world where ancients gathered to honor their Gods.
Modern Pagans often choose to stand in circle when in ritual. The circle is symbolic of equality, where no person is more prominent than any other person. Circle meetings ensured that all people could speak, and the words spoken were accepted and respected on an equal basis.
The circle is also symbolic of the Wheel of the Year which is used to associate the cycle of seasons with the cycles of transformation. Today we celebrate one point on that Wheel.
[RL] And now a fork, knife and spoon.
[Fork, Knife, and Spoon]
These utensils represent the tools we choose to enjoy in our spiritual practice. Sacred tools have been used by ancient religions for thousands of years. The bells of a Buddhist, lighting candles in a Catholic church, or a golden goblet for ceremonial wine during communion are all perfect examples. Many modern Pagans have also chosen to include sacred tools in their own practices, but they also recognize that they are the most powerful tool of all. It is their intentions and energies that determine the results of any work. It is the focus, concentration, intentions and desires that reside within them that are the real ‘tools” of a Pagan.
[RL] And now some salt and pepper
This Salt and Pepper represents the Autumnal equinox that we celebrate during this time of year. It is the time of balance between day and night, before night takes over and brings the coming winter. It is a time to look clearly at where we are weak in spirit, where we are strong, and where we stand somewhere in between. It is a time to balance our needs with our wants and our fears with our desires. You only learn from experience, and only gain wisdom from self-reflection and awareness. This is a time to embrace both the dark and light halves of yourself so that you might understand the whole story of your journey.
[RL] And now a candle
This candle represents life. The presence of the gods will not shelter us from bad things happening, because it can’t: bad things are just a part of physical existence. What the presence of the gods does is help us heal and grow stronger, help us pick up the broken pieces and form them into something beautiful and meaningful. Bad things are trials that make us wiser, stronger, more compassionate and creative. They are the fuel of evolution that helps us to reach our full potential as human beings. It gives value to our experiences. That is the heart of Pagan theology – recognizing the fragile nature of existence and celebrating it as much as you can, while you can.
[RL] And now a cup
This empty cup represents that which we should let go. Like the trees that lose their leaves each fall, now is the time to discern what you are ready to release. Like the flowers letting go of their seeds and putting off manifesting new blossoms until next spring, now is a time to release the past and concentrate on what you will manifest in the future. Like the trees who send their energy into their roots in the fall, now is a time to contemplate and seek self-reflection so that you might prepare yourself to blossom again in the future.
[RL] And now some water
[Water] – Pours into Empty cup
We fill this cup to represent all that we wish to manifest in our lives. Manifestation is one of the most powerful processes in the world. Most Pagans believe that Manifestation isn’t just about dreaming but about DIVINE ALIGNMENT. It is about aligning your thoughts, emotions, and actions to achieve you should manifest, what you want to manifest, and what you need to manifest. It is about introspection and outward-looking. It is about expanding your potential, and conquering societal and self-imposed limitations. It is about taking PRIDE in who and what you are; and celebrating what you have and what you will attain.
[RL] Let us transform this place together into an event that is accepting of all beliefs. A place that can allow anyone that chooses to self-define themselves as Pagan an accepting and loving place where they grow in pride and confidence in their chosen path. This is also a place for non-pagans to join with us with the intent to experience and learn more about Paganism. May each of you have a wonderful harvest festival. And may the blessings of the Gods be upon you.