This is my two cents: Here goes:
Actually I agree with A.Trance in much of what A.Trance has to say....but I also like reading the rest of your opinions...very enlightening. I've seen in more conservative areas(and I'm in a VERY conservative area now) where some Pagans came forward around their Pagan Pride and made it clear they were neither homosexual or polyamorous..nice straight white families...mmhmmm...just the kind of Pagans I want to associate with. In fact in my current women's group they all are straight white women..till I met a couple Dianic oriented Dykes I really vibed with...and Leatherdykes? I'm still searching...
But I am making due with what we got..and so far no harsh judgements against me, though I'm wild enough being a DykeAmazon Dianic oriented type not into the hetero/mixed Craft which most except the two Dykes are into..and they are relative newbies on the Path, after one of them got burned in a mixed group by a manipulative 30 year old Priestess who believes she's a vampire..and basically was nonconsensually Domming her on an emotional level. In other words, there isnt' a bigger Pagan council to put these folks in check.
But in any case, that's my rant, I could go on, back to the Original Subject.
I did go to Pantheacon once and we could all get into certain ah..current debates...which is why I probably wouldn't go back, but in any case, I went to 3 workshops..two were absolutely lousy, the third fantastic....the two the individual just droned on and on about their stuff, the third it really allowed group participation. I would have liked to have gone to some of the popular workshops but was told that unless you came real early they were all filled. On the other hand, all the famous Pagan authors I read were there...which is one thing impressing me about Pantheacon.
But if I want to spend my money it's gonna be on Leather events or Pagan/Goddess Women events and Women's Land, cuz that's where I EXPRESS my sexuality and spirituality...those are the places that actually FEED ME. Not a huge event in a hotel.
And I agree..I know alot of Wild Witches..both Dykes and not..that really eschew(including my own boi/wife) established events or rituals because it smacks too much of the xtianity they've been raised with. They are too Wild Witch for that...and mostly prefer being Solo. Also it's hard for them to go to large events with that much energy because they are deep intuitives like my boi and pick up on energies much too easily..so they'd prefer either personal or small group work with those they trust.
There's a REASON a coven has 13 individuals..and then you hive off from there. Rituals much larger than that begin to lose intimacy, and I'm sorry, a diet of 30 or 50 plus individuals for the Seasonal rituals or more cannot feed that deep deep intimate work or create that same amount of safety, though they can raise an incredible amount of energy and if used properly can be intensely transforming. However I've met too many Priestesses that don't know proper energetics and lose the energy in those rituals where there are gaps....even so callled well known established longtime Priestesses.
Has energy been moved? If not to me the ritual is a waste of time, no matter if they've followed all the 'forms' of the Path. When did the Goddess get to come forward and have some say so in all that rigid outline? When did She possess or be channeled/aspected/Drawn down by one of Her Priestesses and MADE PRESENT AND REAL AND WOMANFESTED????
I've seen it rarely cuz they are truly afraid of that level of inspiration and allowing Her to have the reigns instead of their formats and their own egos. The more you try to 'mainstream it' the more She will elude us like chewing too long on chewing gum and it losing it's flavor.
I can only speak from my 33 years in Women's Ritual(cuz that's what I'm Called to do) but for myself I feel drawn in the more and more Shamanic direction and I appreciated Christopher Penczak's book on The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft..and as a martial artist and Amazon Warrior Kerr Cuhlain's book on Wiccan Warrior and Full Contact Magic...as well as Starhawk, Shekinah Mountainwater in Ariadne's Thread (who has since passed to the other side), and others on the Goddess Path.
Having Priestessed a Primal Amazon Ritual in 2011, EVERYTHING changed for me..it was the first time I felt comfortable going completely Skyclad, starting with wearing full leather in the ritual till I was down to just my Black Belt, and doing it because one of my Priestesses also went skyclad honoring the Venus of Willendorf..and I could do it because we both have Venus of Willendorf bodies, and I had NEVER SEEN ALL of us Priestesses channeling Goddess all at the same time! There was a moment I lost where I was in the ritual, thinking I was at one corner of the circle and ending up in another...a gap...but others told me She definitelty came through me because I completely transformed....it was incredibly powerful and I'll never be the same. I cannot do a ritual without windows now or some connection to Nature and simpler is better to me....and ENERGY MUST BE MOVED. That is all I know. That was a large ritual of 60....but the deep work in the small groups also counts.
Though I'm not a congregation type(except on women's land when we have the larger rituals, or for Hallowmas/Samhain) I think you did bring up a very good point that those who get left out of Covens or all the expectations that coven type small groups have on admitting or not admitting members, that the other Seekers have a place to go that will accept them.
Maybe we all need differing models and settle on what works for us. But I believe charity work begins at home..and even in this circle I'm founding....I believe WE MUST FIRST TRULY TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER, when we're sick or injured, or hurting from a breakup or a death or job loss.....that it is NOT enough to merely circle every Month or Moon or solar holiday....and then be absent from one another's lives....and for bigger Pagan groups to have some kind of charity function both FOR community members and then to make an impression on the outside world.
I was astounded that with ALL the Pagan groups in the Bay Area, that NOT ONE Priestess came forward and offered to do the public marriages of Lesbian and Gay members when we were really being given a hard time...right before Prop 8 passed..or to speak out against the religious hatred against us IN A PUBLIC WAY. Many, many Christian leaders did, a few Rabbis did, even some Buddhist leaders did, the Unitarian Church and the Quakers. But Pagan leaders? No...complete radio silence...except offering to do the marriages themselves for money and in private. We need way more visibility and not just count on a handful to do so..
But also allow for the Wild Witch within us all...because it's truly about our PERSONAL connection with our Dieties after all....and they aren't merely 'archetypes'.