Despite Economic Hard Times, Pagans Dig Deep to Help

SEE BOTH PHOTOS. At the Florida Pagan Gathering, these beautiful creatures stopped a few feet away from me to preen, so close I could have reached out and touched them. Both pictures, photo copyright by Aislinn Bailey; all rights reserved.

For a woman called “Trauma,”  the acquisition of an Automated External Defibrillator has been an elusive dream.  But now, despite a hard-hitting economy,  it’s a dream come true because a small group of pagans came together for a good cause.

“I’ve been wanting an AED for five years,” Trauma says, cooling off in air-conditioned Cabin #4 at what’s commonly known as “Four-H Camp Ocala” but for this weekend is the Beltane 2010 edition of the Florida Pagan Gathering.  Trauma is one of those selfless people who does for others and doesn’t ask much.  She’s also one of the elusive, service-minded festival attendees known as the Guardians, who are charged with the safety and comfort of FPG’s attendees at the annual Beltane and Samhain celebrations.

Trauma wipes a few tears.  We all do.   The new AED can mean the difference between life and death at this gathering, which is at a remote spot that I had to have GPS coordinates to find at the end of a 400-mile drive.

I’ve noted that the festival is attended by a variety of people, close to 1000 in festivals past according what I’ve been told, and that variety includes a percentage of people who are older, heavier, and/or have medical issues.  In other words,  it’s a microcosm of the rest of Florida but miles away from any major medical facility.

Which makes an AED extra important.Obviously a lot of festival attendees and non-attendee supporters feel the same way.

Trauma and her fellow fundraiser, John,  have just endured a soon-to-be-famous walk in unexpected 93-degree heat and in very unusual attire for either of them.   John donned hot pink lingerie and a boa.  Trauma, who isn’t exactly known for “girl clothes,” allowed herself to be tied into a white corset.  Flanked by nearly a dozen “Bustier Babes,” the group paraded through the festival, inviting attendees to “fill their cups” with cash for the AED.  They could barely walk 10 steps before being stopped while people took pictures or tucked money into John’s bra strap.    (You’ll notice that I’ve not included any  photos of the parade.  That’s so these two people who really put themselves out there for the pagan community won’t be ridiculed or misunderstood in their mundane lives.)

John, who has an uncanny knack for fundraising, began talking up the parade on Facebook and taking donations via Paypal weeks ago.  When I arrived onsite and noticed that the attendance was down from previous visits, I wondered if the parade would raise the remainder needed to purchase the AED for the Guardians.  After all, the tough economy meant the majority of my group stayed home this year and those of us attending were on a limited budget.  Still,   individuals appreciated John and Trauma’s efforts, dug deep, and gave to a good cause.

Approximately $2000 was raised for the purchase of the AED.  Trauma got her dream.