This is a repost from the online religion magazine Creedible, 2012 and from this blog, 2014. I'm reposting it now in honor of The Central North Carolina Pagan Pride Day this weekend!
From the months of August to October, people from all over the world gather together to celebrate their pride in being Pagan. Centered around the autumnal equinox (often called Mabon in some traditions) Pagan Pride Day is a chance for Pagans, non-Pagans, friends and family meet in the spirit of community and open mindedness.
The Pagan Pride Project is a non-profit organization with the primary purpose of the “advancement of religion and elimination of prejudice and discrimination based on religious beliefs.” Many people who identify as Pagan still keep their religious practices and spiritual beliefs “in the broom closet” and keep their lifestyle a secret from their family, friends and coworkers. Pagan Pride Day might be the only chance they have at gathering with other Pagans in an environment that encourages open-mindedness and acceptance. For others it might be the only time in the year that they have a chance to be around other Pagans.
The first official Pagan Pride Day was in 1998, and since then the event has grown from a couple hundred people gathering at a few small events combined to a few thousand gathering at individual festivals held in all the corners of the globe.
Each PPD aims to “foster pride in Pagan identity through education, activism, charity and community.” Pride events hold workshops, open discussions and panels to share ideas, challenge beliefs and to also help educate new comers and curious folks who may not be familiar with Paganism.
Mabon a holiday of Thanksgiving and thankfulness, so it is the perfect time of year to give back to the community. Pagan Pride Day is run by volunteers who offer time, energy and money to the event. PPD is free, but donations of canned goods or other nonperishable items are collected upon entry at the gate. Some events even host blood drives or give back to the community in other ways.
Pagan Pride Day isn’t just for Pagans, and people from all backgrounds and religious paths are welcome to enjoy the day and the festivities. A goal of the Pagan Pride Project is to encourage education, and that would include educating those who are still afraid of witches and druids, Pagans and Shamans. These events are a chance for Pagans to put on their best public face and encourage positive impressions and create new perceptions, while fostering a strong and helpful presence in the community.
With public rituals, workshops, vendors, and entertainment, there’s a lot to do for the whole family. It is a good opportunity to meet other Pagans and find groups, organizations, events and workshops. There is usually entertainment in the form drum circles, bands, dancing, and lots of shopping. Volunteers host workshops for children, and there are often labyrinths, face painting, information booths and plenty of people to talk to. Some events are just a few hours long, while others last all day or even all weekend.
The Pagan Pride project helps coordinators with setting up events in new areas, and offers a wealth of resources and support to directors and PPD sponsors. The number of Pagan Pride Days grows every year, with more Pagans coming out and gladly celebrating their pride.
Those interested in the Pagan Pride Project can find more information at http://www.paganpride.org/.