Jo-Ann, myself, and our 13 year old Michaela, attended the Pagan Pride Day Los Angeles Orange County (PPD LA/OC) on Sunday, October 21, 2012. The event was held a month later than last year’s due to “Carmageddon II” being held over the originally scheduled weekend. Carmageddon II is the second annual weekend long closure of the 405 Freeway in western Los Angeles. The venue was also changed from the Whittier Narrows recreation area in South El Monte to Rainbow Lagoon, Long Beach.
Changing the time and date of an established annual event is always a risky proposition, but in this case, the organizers came through with an excellent event. This PPD is the biggest in southern California, and is normally characterized by attendees breezing in, enjoying the activities and stalls for a couple of hours, and then leaving, rather than staying for the entire day as they do at other PPDs. This time, however, most attendees seemed to stay the whole day.
There were a number of reasons why attendees remained the whole day. Firstly, the schedule was jam-packed with great rituals, workshops and entertainment. Secondly, there was a huge range of stalls to choose from. Lastly, the weather was very pleasant, with cool ocean breezes gently blowing in. While Whittier Narrows recreation area is a lovely location, it gets very hot and is plagued by biting insects flying in towards the end of the day.
PPD LA/OC began with the Opening Blessing by Linda Fox of PPLA. While many were involved in putting on the event, the core group was made up of Linda Fox (Workshop, Author and Ritual Coordinator), Gina Leslie (President and Volunteer Coordinator), and Brian Ewing (Webmaster and newsletter editor, Treasurer, Public Affairs Officer, Vendor and Entertainer Coordinator).
After the Opening Blessing, there was an impressive selection of activities, with many timeslots featuring a ritual and two workshops to choose from. Apart from this, there were entertainers in the stage area. When you factor in all the vendors as well as the large amounts of Pagans to network with, it made for a very full day indeed.
At 11:00 a.m., S Brook Putnam and the Shen emHeka Wiccan coven presented a ritual titled “Ankh Ceremony: The Restoration of Life and Might” which was an invocation of the Goddess Sekhmet and the powerful symbol of the Ankh so as to restore health and healing.
During this ritual, there were two workshops.
Donald Michael Kraig is a certified Tarot Grandmaster, has been a member of many spiritual and magickal groups, is initiated into several Tantric traditions, holds numerous advanced certificates in clinical hypnotherapy, and is a master practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). While he has written a number of books, his “Modern Magick” is the most popular step-by-step magick instruction book ever published, having sold over 150,000 copies worldwide. Don presented “Hypnosis and the Truth About Past Lives.”
Alfred Surenyan, who holds a Doctor of Music Arts Degree and has been blending his musical studies with Pagan Studies for many years, presented a workshop titled “Music, Musical Tones and the Chakra Centers.” Alfred gave participants the opportunity to hear the healing tones and musical compositions which affect our energy centers, and sing the associated mantra.
At noon, Eye of the Cat and DCWA presented “A Farewell to the Sun” pre-Samhain ritual headed by Kelly Hernandez and Frater Malychite. Non-locals reading this are probably thinking that “Eye of the Cat” sounds very familiar but aren’t exactly sure why. Well, The Eye of the Cat is one of the largest occult retailers and wholesalers in Southern California, and has been in business since 1974. It was Scott Cunningham’s supplier of choice. Next time you’re flipping through your Scott Cunningham books (and we all have at least a few!), look for references to it.
The Druidic Craft of the Wise in America (DCWA) is a Wiccan teaching order based out of, but not limited to, The Eye of the Cat. DCWA traces its history back to Europe and the elder times. It offers an eclectic course of study, approaching Wicca and magick in a well-rounded, effective and deep fashion. There are two levels of classes offered, Beginning (which gives an overview of Wicca and an introduction to the Craft) and Advanced. Jo-Ann received her Priesthood training in DCWA. It had been over a decade since the last public ritual performed by DCWA, so this was quite a historic occasion.
During the DCWA ritual, there were two workshops.
Lon DuQuette, United States Deputy Grand Master of the O.T.O., Archbishop of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica – the ecclesiastical arm of the O.T.O., prolific author, lecturer, and musician, presented “Spirits of the Tarot.” In this workshop, he introduced the world of angels, spirits and demons residing in Tarot cards. Lon has been lecturing and playing music throughout the US and Europe, and we were fortunate indeed that he had a break in his schedule for PPD.
Cheryl Janecky, a counselor with 35 years experience presented “Predicting Your Future and Guaranteed Results” where she provided practical advice in making your life successful.
At 1:00 p.m., the main ritual was “The Gates of the Underworld,” presented by Hyperion and the Deathwalkers of the Unnamed Path (an emerging shamanic path for men-who-love-men). Hyperion is the founder of the Unnamed Path, and host of the podcast by the same name. He is a spiritual teacher and presenter with over 15 years of experience in spell crafting, shamanism, energy healing, midwifing the dying, and spirit contact work. He is also a crowned priest of Changó in La Regla Lukumí (Ikú Dayo), a Tata Bakonfula in the Afro-Cuban religion of Palo Kimbisa (Tata Bakonfula Siete Rayos Ngo Batalla), and a Reiki Master Teacher in the Usui lineage. The purpose of the ritual was to tread a sacred mill to open the Gates of the Underworld, to enable the spirits of the departed to find repose in the cauldron of the Dark Goddess.
At 2:00 PM, with Jo-Ann’s assistance, I presented “Apocalypse Nowish – The End is Nigh?” focusing on December 21, 2012, which in the Maya’s Long Count calendar, signifies the end of a 5,126-year era and the beginning of a new one. While some believe that this date will usher in profound spiritual transformation, others believe that the end times are almost upon us, and point to periodic extinction-level catastrophes in the past along with claims that a number of religions as well as prophets of doom predict the apocalypse. The presentation was well received, indicating quite a fascination with the idea of a harvest of souls at the end of time.
While I was presenting my workshop, Karen Tate presented “What Color is Your Candle?” She is an independent scholar, speaker, host of the radio show Voices of the Sacred Feminine, sacred tour organizer, and author of “Sacred Places of Goddess: 108 Destinations” and “Walking an Ancient Path, Rebirthing Goddess on Planet Earth.” Karen’s workshop was on reconciling goddess spirituality with politics, a very important topic given the rapidly approaching 2012 US presidential election.
At 3:00 p.m., Bella and the Southern Cal Pagan and Friends Facebook Group presented a teaching circle ritual titled “Connect with your Spirit Guides using Automatic Writing.”
During this ritual, there were two workshops.
Jeff Albaugh, an MA/PhD candidate in depth psychology though the Pacifica Graduate Institute, presented “As Above, So Below: Pagan Theology, Psychology, and Practice.” He discussed the connections between what we believe as Pagans, how our beliefs affect our way of thinking about the world, and the behaviours that arise from our Pagan perspective.
Master Herbalist, herbal and nutritional educator, and Master Gardener, Julie James, presented “Plants of Power” where she discussed the sacred plants of our region, which have been used by indigenous peoples since before recorded history. These plants are used in medicine, ritual and for enjoyment.
At 4:00 p.m., SoCal Heathens & Spear and Hammer Meetup presented “Winter Night's Blot.” While blots vary amongst Asatru groups, here is an outline of what a similar group does.
During the blot, there were two workshops.
Merlin worked as a laser artist in Los Angeles from 1970 to 1995; is the ArchDruid of the Celestial Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, which he founded in 1992; and is the author of “Ariel & Electra, a wyrding lucination in thirty-nine parts.” He presented a workshop titled “13 Points of Celestial Spell Casting.”
Elysia describes herself as Minion/Reader/Resident Faery of The Green Man Store in North Hollywood, as well as Owner/Creator of Naughty Faery Creations which features a range of mystical jewelry, faery inspired crowns and tiaras, faery enchanted candles, and aromatic incense. Elysia presented a workshop titled “Fairies & The Wheel of the Year” where she discussed working with Fairies all year, alongside your current pantheon.
Tacked on to the end of the schedule at 5:00 PM, was Orion Foxwood who, having been born with “the veil” (an Appalachian term for second sight), is a Conjurer in Southern Root Doctoring Practices, A Traditional Witch, An Alexandrian Wiccan High Priest, An Elder and Mantle Carrier for an Old Religionist Craft Line, and a Faery Seer. He is the co-founder of the House of Brigh, and co-organizer for the Folk Magic Festival in New Orleans. For more than twenty years, Orion has lectured extensively on magical practice and spiritual development throughout the United States and abroad. Orion presented “Magic as a Call to Conscious Creation,” where he discussed a technique to encounter the planetary soul and his thoughts on the future of Paganism.
During the course of the day, all of the workshop presenters who were authors made themselves available in the authors’ tent. The authors’ tent was a new innovation for PPD LA/OC which was wonderful as it gave us a home base and enabled us to remain for the whole day. There was one author in the tent who did not present, Patricia Leslie. Patricia is an animal portrait artist, and author of “The Ballad of Young Tam Lin”, based on the Scottish ballad of the same name, and an urban paranormal novella, “All The Elements.”
Apart from Lon Milo Duquette’s contribution, entertainment was provided by IrinaXara - Bellydancers and Folkdancers, Debbie Little (lead singer of Neptune's Favor), Fatimas Dance Troupe and League of Vampiric Bards.
Once again, we were blessed by a visit by a sizeable group of Pagan marines from southern Californian circles on a number of bases. They are now becoming regular attendees at Pagan events. These marines do a wonderful job in serving our country, providing sanctuary for abused women and children, and following their respective pagan paths.
While there is something to like about every PPD, this one was a stand-out The location was a great improvement. It was well attended. It had great rituals, workshops by well known presenters, and entertainment, there were many new vendors as well as old favourites The organizers have set themselves a new benchmark of excellence, one that will be difficult to exceed. For more pictures on Pagan Pride Day please visit my Facebook page.