Self-identifying as a pagan can be a dicey proposition even in the year 2019.
Society is progressively getting awakened on issues of race, sex, and gender identification, but it still has some catching up to do when it comes to respecting and understanding spiritual beliefs that aren't under either the Abrahamic or Eastern faith umbrellas. They're either denounced as amoral devil worshippers or viewed as gullible, crystal-loving idiots.
To be fair, there are occult practitioners and pagan folk who could be lumped in either category. There are strands of alternative spirituality devoted to Satanism and demonology, but the schools of spiritual thought that they favor would be unrecognizable to those who get their ideas from Jack Chick tracts.
And there are some, to put it kindly, uncritical New Age folks who love getting their Marianne Williamson woo-woo on with crystals and sage. There are others who apply just as much rigor and questioning to their practices as any skeptic would. But there is a diverse world of religious and spiritual viewpoints that exist beyond those two points— Afro-Caribbean faiths, chaos magick, ceremonial magic, druidic faiths, spiritualists, ancestral worship, and more.
Paganism is a big-tent kind of term that encompasses a staggering array of traditions and viewpoints. That’s why events like Phoenix Pagan Pride Day are so welcome — it gives both outsiders and insiders the chance to mingle inside that tent and see all the oddities and wonders it contains.
Phoenix Pagan Pride Day, an all-day event happening from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, November 2, at Steele Indian School Park, is an outgrowth of the work that the Pagan Pride Project does around the country. It's also a day for Phoenix's surprisingly large and diverse alternative spiritual community to come together and talk shop.
Pagan Pride Project, a nonprofit organization, held its first Pagan Pride Day events in 1998 in 17 U.S. cities and one in Canada. Now over 50 cities across North America have held annual Pride events since that inaugural event.
Events are organized around three tentpoles: a public ritual or celebration, garnering positive media and community representation for pagans, and a food and materials drive for a local charity. The organization itself models its foundational principles on the four elements: Air (Education), Fire (Activism), Water (Charity), and Earth (Community).
This year’s Phoenix Pagan Pride Day will be accepting donations of non-perishable food items and clothing on behalf of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Arizona.
It’s free to attend the event, but you’ll probably want to bring some cash. There’s plenty to see and do. There will be assorted crafts on sale by vendors, private booths where you can get tarot or angel card readings, and a Spirit Room that offers free readings or healings involving palmistry, reiki, or crystal sound healings.
In addition to the pagan market, there will be information sessions, lectures, and presentations throughout the day. Subjects include hypnosis, Chi Gung, death midwifery, “parenting as a spiritual practice,” Tarot 101, chaos magic, the role of pagans and heathens in the military, vodoun, and a presentation on Cacao (“From Seed, to mug, to Healing Ceremony”). Local spiritual organizations will be manning information booths, including Lapis Lazuli OTO, The School of Magickal Arts, and the Tucson Area Wiccan/Pagan Network (T.A.W.N.). There will also be musical performances by Wendy Rule and Kelliana.
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If you're worried about bringing your kids, you can breathe easy. Phoenix Pagan Pride Day is a family-friendly event.
Vendors for Phoenix Pagan Pride Day 2019:
All About You
Amazing Porcelain Fantasies
Broken Crayons Animal Sanctuary
Celtic Raven Studios
Copper Wolf Creations
Crescent Moon Imporium
Crimson Sage Apothecary
Dark Moon Henna
Discount Dragon Studios
Everything Just Rocks
Kindred Dragons Emporium
Laras Tangled Web
Moon Goddess Market
Morgan's Fantasy Apparel
OhMy Spiritual Creations
Pale Tail Visions
Sun & Shadow
Tanjas Natural Magick
Temple of the Creative Flame
The Astrology Store
The Half Hippie
Upon the Ravens Grave
Zombi Apothecary/Yerberia Acuario
Phoenix Pagan Pride Day is scheduled on Saturday, November 2, at Steele Indian School Park. It is free to attend. For more information on the event, its community sponsors, and Pagan Pride’s mission, go to their website.