On Sunday I went to my first Pagan Pride event. The only event of its kind in the UK, it happens to be held in the town where I currently live, which is convenient! I wasn't sure whether I should go to this, but everyone was talking about it so positively that I thought I'd give it a go. It was brilliant! The sense I came away with was community within which I can be solitary. I'm not talking about solitary practice, exactly (in fact I met members of the British Druid Order and am thinking of getting involved in a local grove's open rituals). I mean the kind of solitary where I walk my own path (and let's face it - my path is particularly individual!) while also being part of something bigger. I don't feel this in the Christian community. There's too much 'we should all believe exactly the same' rubbish. The heterodoxy of Paganism, the multiplicity and plurality of 'many wells, one river', is very appealing indeed (and very in tune with my Gnostic theology). And I met some great people, and bought a few lovely things (my new wooden owl has pride of place on my working altar), and heard some interesting talks and some fab storytelling and a couple of great bands, and generally had a lovely, very peaceful day. And the park where it was held gave me two Y-shaped sticks and a pine cone.
Meanwhile, riots have been raging across London for the past three nights, and last night they moved to other cities including my current town, as well as into parts of London that are minutes from where I used to live. I've lived in several areas of London over the years, and I grew up there, so it really is my home town and I love it. It's terrible to see shops and homes that I used to walk past every day going up in flames or being smashed to pieces. I'm stuck in bed today (as happens about once a week), but I've lit an orange candle for Brigid on my bedside table, and I'm going to try to keep it lit today. She feels like the goddess to call upon here - goddess of fire, goddess of peace. If you pray, please pray for the UK today. If you live here, do something to get involved - follow @riotcleanup on twitter for how you can help with the cleanup of the post-riot mess, or see the ukcleanup blog for inspiring images of communities working together on this. And watch twitter generally for emerging possibilities of how we as communities can help stop this madness. We are the problem. We are also the answer.
I am working on putting together the podcast I've been meaning to do for at least a year, since I discovered sociology podcasts and religion podcasts, and thought "Hey, someone should do a sociology of religion podcast... Oh." The BBC does a podcast along these lines, called Beyond Belief, but it's very theoretical and cerebral. I want to do something more accessible, more rooted in people's practice and beliefs in action. I'm writing about it here because I'm working on my 'words have power' approach - I need to do more of what I say I will do. (I'm notorious for making promises I don't keep, and that's not good enough).
So. This will be a 'society and religion' podcast from a reasonably Pagan perspective, but also not limited to one religion. I don't want it to be just me talking, though, because I don't really know very much. If you happen to know anyone of any religion who might be interested in talking to me, either just about their religious practice, or in relation to a topic (like debates around the role of religion in society today), then please let them know about this. And since I'm new to the Pagan path, I'd particularly like Pagan co-hosts, especially for more Paganism-themed shows. (No, I don't exactly know why I'm doing it from a slightly Pagan perspective, rather than a general one or a Christian one - although it's related to the idea of Paganism valuing plurality of belief, as I mentioned above. We'll see if more of an answer emerges!) If you want to contact me, it's @sophiacandle on twitter or sophia8catherine at gmail dot com by e-mail, or comment here. Get involved - I want YOU! [Pointing meaningfully.]
Right. I'm going back to not coping with my life, which I do so well! At least I have cats around me. Cats solve all problems. Them, and gardening. And chocolate.