by Alice Cascorbi
There was a rainbow mix of Parliament participants including the spectacle of white-robed Jains, dreadlocked Rastafarians, saffron-clad Hindus, and others. Religious people of the human colors and hundreds of our traditions mingled in the hotel lobby and rode the escalators.
The first days of getting settled, getting the Circle delegation together, and meeting the other Pagan participants went very fast. There were more than sixty workshops and presentations to choose from each day! I did go to some, but the smorgasbord of information available was overwhelming. In the evenings over dinner we shared our impressions of the ones we'd each attended, which helped a little!
I spent the afternoons working the Circle booth, giving out literature, answering questions, taking care of our stock of books, tapes, and other materials. There was a lot of curiosity about Paganism. The booth was almost always busy. Having COG people helping us with the Circle booth was excellent, both because extra hands were always welcome and because the perspectives of Pagans from several traditions always enriched and deepened our conversations with people who came to the booth with questions.
Some of the booth encounters were particularly memorable. A Methodist minister came by, smilingly looked over the books and images, and finally asked us "what we believed in." I explained about Pagan diversity, about our general feeling about the sacredness of Nature and a feminine or dual-gendered concept of the Divine, and so forth. He finally nodded in satisfaction, saying, "That's just what I believe!" He left the conference with one of the reproductions of the Laussel Great Goddess.
Our hotel was a "ship full of dreams." I thought, as I lay down to sleep, of the thousands dreaming all around me from all corners of the Earth. The hotel, taking up half a city block, had become a singular place, almost complete unto itself. In this place, the Parliament was a special community with people like-minded in their commitment to a better world and interfaith dialogue. This was perhaps both the beauty of the Parliament, and the thing that makes me wonder. Within our walls we educated each other and some media. We exchanged a wealth of information in our scheduled formal and constant informal ways. I hope that some of the groundwork for planetary change was laid at the Parliament both in the information exchanged and the personal contact made among those who attended. The challenge is that Humankind must change in order to survive.
Impressions excerpted and adapted from a longer report written for the Circle archives.