Pagans to descend on Battery Park
By Audrey Tempelsman
Feeling spiritless at summers end? Let New Yorks seventh annual Pagan Pride Day festivities revive your enthusiasm for the seasons ahead.
The event, which will be held on Sept. 29 at Battery Park from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., gives the pagan community a chance to assert its presence, involving and informing non-pagans as well.
Were there in a very public way in a very public park, said the events longtime coordinator Christine, who prefers to be identified as MoonTwin. This way the general public can be exposed to who and what pagans are and dispel some of the myths.
Six years ago, 9/11 halted planning for the citys first Pagan Pride Day, scheduled to take place at the end of September, 2001.
We were relocated to Washington Square Park, because Battery Park was pretty much an army post at the time, MoonTwin recalled. Everyone was in a state of shock and many werent sure if we should proceed.
But, in the end, she continued. We decided that we needed to do this.
With Pagan Pride Day going into its seventh year, MoonTwin and her colleagues have made the event a New York tradition one which NPR correspondent Margot Adler, author of Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today sees as a reflection of Americas Pagan movements progress.
During the 70s and 80s, many pagans suffered from discrimination, Adler said. There were those whod lost their job because of their beliefs, some whod lost custody battles. There were a lot of situations like that, she said.
In those days, Adler and others had trouble finding information on and outlets for their beliefs. It was very hard to find a group, she said. There was no internet. People were very secretive, they communicated basically through newsletters small journals.
But now you can go on sites like witchvox.com and read about 70 different traditions. You can get a sense of what sounds appealing to you and begin your own search, she said, referring to the hundreds of different schools and sects falling under the general heading Pagan. Many believe in multiple gods and have a basis in nature.
This year, Pagan Pride Day will kick off at 11 a.m. with an opening ceremony held by the American Pagan Church. Several pagan musicians and bands, including Scott Hellands The Gypsy Nomads, James Gilchrist and Julie Sherwood, and Cassandra Syndrome will perform throughout the day.
Vendors will sell pagan-friendly paraphernalia such as candles, crystals, incense and more nearby. And for those preferring mind over matter, there are free workshops in pagan activism, runes, energy medicine and astrology.
The $250 Maypole Joe Memorial Scholarship, one of the few for openly Pagan students, will be awarded. There will also be a food drive for City Harvest and local pet rescue organizations, as well as a blood drive conducted by the NY Blood Center.
In the past, between 400-500 people came specifically for the event.
The whole point of the day is just to say were here. We believe something different, but were people like you, said MoonTwin.