Well. There have been some interesting developments regarding Pagan Pride Day this year in Denver; the subject of my last post. I mentioned that I had interviewed Druid blogger Teo Bishop this past Saturday. Unlike Teo, I did not attend the closing ceremony of this years event as I was giving interviews. Evidently there was a heckler during the final ceremony who was vocal in their opposition to the participants. I actually caught some of the heckling in the background of one of my interviews, although at the time I had filtered it into the “background noise” part of my consciousness.
Teo, being the excellent blogger he is, wrote about his experience in a post entitled, “I Felt Ashamed At Pagan Pride“. I highly recommend giving it a read, and serious consideration. In fact (much to his delight and his dismay) his comments have gone viral. I have already put in my two cents in his comments section, but wanted to say a few more things about it here on my blog.
I had the real pleasure of interviewing Teo earlier in the day and found him to be a thoughtful, well spoken, and all around cool guy. I must admit, however, upon reading his post about DPP my initial reaction was one of sadness. This was my first foray into the larger pagan community in many years. I had such a delightful day and got to connect with some amazing folks. So when I saw the Teo’s post I found myself feeling like some of my Colorado pride had been stepped on. Once I got over the initial emotions of it, however, I could not help but give Teo props for calling attention to an issue that bears serious discussion and reflection. Public ritual; the do’s and dont’s.
My entire experience with ceremony has been a private affair with my tuatha here in Colorado Springs. I have never felt very comfortable with public ceremony and have shied away from them as a personal rule. From Teo’s description, however, it seems that there was an unintentional, or perhaps intentional, exclusion of those people who were observing; part of the reason the heckling may have started in the first place. His point is well taken, it can be very easy to create an Us vs. Them mentality using the structure of circle in this context. A marking of space that creates something that Augustine himself would have loved; the City of God shining on a hill, ablaze in it’s own righteousness. Or in this case “The City of the Gods”?! ;-)
Personally I think public ceremony is flawed in the first place. I think the fact that other religious traditions would not be caught dead doing their ceremonies in a public park should give us pause. I am far more interested in sacred theater or mystery play. Plays/theater seem like a much more appropriate media for relating to the public at large. Theater is an inclusive atmosphere that *hopes* that people of *unlike* mind stop by to be educated and engaged. With theater everyone is invited.
I want to point out one more aspect of this that I found purely delightful. One of Teo’s biggest difficulties, at least in my mind, was the apparent dichotomy of the event. Us vs. Them, Pagan vs. Overculture et cetera. Teo, like me, follows a Druidic path in paganism. Proving once again that nothing seems to get a Druid’s “Irish up” (pun very much intended) more than dichotomy. ;-)