Dispelling the myths at Pagan Pride 2011

Pagan ritualPALMDALE – Pagans are not evil, satanic worshippers; Pagans are not witches who ride on brooms; and Paganism has nothing to do with Halloween. These are just some of the popular misconceptions that Pagans are seeking to dispel through education, awareness, and activism — the cornerstones of Pagan Pride Day Festival 2011.

“A lot of pagans are castigated in today’s society and they get treated differently because they have different beliefs,” said Lisa Morgenstern, Local Coordinator and President of the First Pantheistic Center of the Antelope Valley. “So this event takes a page from gay pride and calls it Pagan pride, meaning we’re proud about who we are and what we believe and it’s a celebration of that.”

Pagan 2A crowd of about 75 came out to Pagan Pride Day 2011 Saturday at Poncitlan Square in Palmdale. There was folk music, belly dancing, and arts and crafts for the children. The event also offered the chance to observe rituals, attend workshops, and purchase wands, emblems and crafts from local pagan vendors. Additionally, an abundance of literature was available on the practices, beliefs and holidays of the various faiths that fall under the Pagan umbrella, including Heathens and Heathen faith, Wicca, and Reconstructionists Pagan religions.

“It’s to educate the public about who we are, that we are not afraid,” said Morgenstern.

Pagan 3For many attendees, the event was a chance to celebrate their beliefs in a forum with like-minded individuals.

“It’s a pretty large Pagan population here in the valley,” said attendee James Johnson. “And this is one of those events where they get together and they are able to share there views.”

“I’ve found that paganism for me is very uplifting,” said Jenna of Eye of the Dragon. “It gives you an openness to pick and choose through all the deities and find your spiritual connection through them.”

In addition to celebrating Paganism, the event also served a charitable purpose, raising about 200 pounds of food for the Sunrise HIV/AIDS pantry.

  20 comments for “Dispelling the myths at Pagan Pride 2011

  1. Marianne McCourt
    September 29, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    I flirted with becoming a pagan practicioner back in the late 1980s/early1990s when I was in college at U.C. Berkeley but I ended up foregoing that path after a lot of my Celtic History professors thought the whole NeoPagan movement was ridiculous. Basically they said the NeoPagan movement was full of people who did not want to grow up and wanted to believe things like “fairies” misplacing their keys or causing the dog to bark in the back yard. At first I thought my professors were just being nitpickers and assholes. What I would later find out changed my entire perception. Most Neopagans were raised as Catholic or Protestant Christians but decided to be non conformists and revert back to strange cults that existed before the fall of the Roman Empire. I thought the view of paganism in the history department was harsh until I started working in the science/physics department and got an earful from them too. Physicists and scientists, while dismissive of religion in general, were especially harsh toward Neopagans. At least the Abrahamic religions like Christianity, Judaism and Islam (the ones that Neopagans detest with a passion) were open to science, Descartes’ deductive reasoning and the philosophical standards like Occam’s Razor to explain the existence of the universe. For awhile, I thought my fellow academics were just being overly zealous in their criticism of the neopagan movement so I went to a few of the “moots” in the East Bay and Marin and found 75% of the people to be just as childish and intellectually immature as everyone had told me they were. You had grown women well into their 40s talking about putting “spells” on each other and causing a rival’s dog to get sick or an entire wine glass collection to break.It was like being in high school all over again with a bunch of women (mostly) for who feminism and liberalism weren’t enough. It really astounded me that people actually acted like that and believed these things in a place as sophisticated as San Francisco and the Bay Area. I am glad I never completely dove into the neopagan movement. I consider myself culturally Celtic/Scottish/raised Presbyterian but theologically a deist.

    • September 29, 2011 at 9:44 pm

      While a lot of NeoPagans are what I call “fluffy”, there are plenty out there who acknowledge science and such as well. My husband who is a High Priest in our Wiccan tradition, is an Aerospace Engineer. I know several engineers and others. What people call magic is often science we don’t have an explanation for.

      There is a movement amongst many Pagans to be “reconstructionist” that is, to reconstruct the ancient faiths of their ancestors. There is Celtic Recon, Ketltia, Egyptian recon, Kemetic, Religio Romana, and a number of different Germanic and Norse reconstructionist religions out there. Not all pagans practice magic, either. Many Heathens don’t work magic, or leave that to a small group of people in their faith tradition. Some Heathens honor their ancestors alone, and consider the Gods to be their ancestors and only do ancestor-worship. Others are atheist and honor ancestors. There is a wide variety of practices and beliefs. Not all Pagans or Wiccans are “wack-a-doodles”. Just like not all “Christians” are hating nasty people who tell everyone they are going to hell or worshipping the devil since you don’t practice their verison of Christianity.

  2. Tim
    September 28, 2011 at 1:09 am

    I must say I am very impressed with this group. You seem to be a knowledgeable passionate group of people and I admire your conviction. I grew up with a view of pagans that I am too ashamed to even share on this forum, but I reviewed your links and some of the comments here and I am reconsidering my way of thinking. At the very least, I would like to learn more about your beliefs and customs. I have many questions. When is your next event? Do you have any private events (I am not that bold) Are Christians welcomed to your events? Thank you for reading.

    • Athena
      September 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm

      Hi Tim,

      I would first direct you to the First Pantheistic Center of the Antelope Valley to obtain information about possible public events. Though not as grand :) as our Pagan Pride Day some of the Meet & Greets may be a way for you to connect with others and obtain information.
      As to if Christian’s are welcome – The last meet & greet I attended last month – there were people who said that they are Christians and you know what? They were awesome people :)

      We are all the same with differences.

    • September 29, 2011 at 9:46 pm

      Public events are listed at http://www.meetup.com/avpagans and open minded people are welcomed. People who come to argue about how we are all wrong, are not. (But then you don’t sound like that type of person.)

      After you get to know a few people you might be able to get invited to a private event, which are usually in people’s homes, so needless to say, you need to get to know someone first.

      • Tim
        September 30, 2011 at 11:23 am

        Thank you for this information! I have bookmarked you page and may muster up the courage to attend one your Pagan, Heathen, Witches meetups in November. The short round vanilla guy will be me!

  3. Athena
    September 27, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    (Re: the article)
    It was a wonderful event and this article was well done.
    I hope that this published piece creates a larger stepping stone into the understanding of who I am and what I believe as for my Brothers and Sisters.

    I too hope it will assist in clearing the murky waters of historic fear.
    Blessed be :)

  4. Matt Keltner
    September 27, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Hinduism is another religion that could be considered “pagan” and it is the world’s oldest faith. The interesting thing about Hindus is that they believe in both monotheism and polytheism at the some time: “out of one God come many”. Hindus are also very open to science and scientific discovery and see no conflict whatsoever between science and faith. While Hinduism isn’t perfect and has it’s own issues, rarely do you ever hear of any faith-based violence committed by Hindus in the name of Hinduism and neither is there any proselytising because they believe that there is truth in every faith.

  5. michele
    September 25, 2011 at 10:44 am


    Well said Nan! Thank to the hard work and real risks the folks in the AV have taken, the education is out there and the diversity that is America, can have a voice.

Comments are closed.