PALMDALE – 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.”
A 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.
For 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.