UNITED STATES — Christian protesters targeted a Pagan Pride Day in Philadelphia and a Pagan shop in Greenville, North Carolina in two completely unrelated events Saturday. While the reaction by the Pagans present at both locations differed, they all agree that those protests have since united their respective communities. Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day
Last Saturday afternoon, Robert Schreiwer, coordinator and president of Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day, was doing some shopping at one of the vendor stalls near the entrance of the park where the event was being held. That’s when he heard a commotion nearby. Mr. Schreiwer says it was a group trying to enter the park while one man “began to spew an invective full of hate” over a megaphone.
TWH –This is the time of year when, in advance of the nearly-inevitable “real witch” stories that are written in October, many Pagans try to shape the public image of their religions by participating in local Pagan Pride Day events. While not all of these are affiliated with the Pagan Pride Project, that organization’s model is why the bulk of PPD celebrations take place in late summer or early autumn. Sanctioned events are expected to include press releases inviting media coverage, public rituals, and fund raising for a charitable cause. According to the Pagan Pride Project website, the rationale for a charitable component is:
A food drive or other charitable activity, to share our abundant harvest with others in need, and to make a clear statement to those who have misconceptions about Paganism. We know that our ethics, based on concern for ecology, personal responsibility, and individual freedom, mean that we feel strongly called to actions of social responsibility.
Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary, a farm and campground located in Pennsylvania, was in the news after a festival-goer reported being attacked. Four Quarters opens its land to a number of yearly external events. One of these events is Big Dub, a 4-Day EDM festival that brings together “40 of the regions biggest electronic dance dj’s to perform and hold workshops.” On the final day of the festival, a women reported to festival security that she had been drugged and raped. Security turned the case over to local police who launched an investigation.
A new book American Heathens: The Politics of Identity in a Pagan Religious Movement will is now available from Temple University Press. Written by Professor Jennifer Snook, the book “is the first in-depth ethnographic study about the largely misunderstood practice of American Heathenry (Germanic Paganism).” Snook traces the trajectory of the movement itself and highlights stories from modern practitioners. Snook is a professor of sociology at the University of Mississippi, and has been a practicing Heathen since the age of eighteen. Because of her perspective, the book “treats Heathens as members of a religious movement, rather than simply a subculture reenacting myths and stories of enchantment.”
[The following is a guest post from Ryan Smith. He is one of the co-founders of Heathens United Against Racism and a graduate student studying modern history. He practices with his kindred in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has been a Heathen for seven years and a Pagan for seventeen.]
In Pagan and Heathen communities, topics related to discrimination, prejudice and bigotry are often uncomfortably avoided with a telling silence and knowing glance. After all, as goes the common narrative, we are, as a community, accepting of everyone. We welcome people of different walks of life, religion, perspectives, Gods, and forms of worship so how could racism possibly be a problem?