A festival which celebrates pagan beliefs from Wiccan to Asatru and Heathen will take place Sept. 28, and organizers hope it will help teach religious tolerance.
The seventh annual Lexington-Bluegrass Pagan Pride Day Festival is for established pagans and the pagan-curious, said the Rev. Sonny Kelch-Dyson, an event organizer.
The event is in celebration of the autumn equinox.
"Lexington pagan pride is about sharing our beliefs," said Kelch-Dyson. "I'm just like you. I mow my lawn, I pay my bills. We're not asking you do believe what we believe. We just don't want to lose our jobs or our homes for not believing the way you do."
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The word pagan originally referred generally to believers in non-Christian deities, such as the gods of ancient Rome. Pagan Pride Day organizers define a pagan or neopagan as someone who self-identifies as a pagan, and whose spiritual or religious practice or belief fits into one or more of the following categories:
■ Practicing religion that focuses on earth-centered spirituality; and/or
■ Honoring, revering, or worshiping a deity or deities found in pre-Christian, classical, aboriginal or tribal mythology; and/or
■ Practicing religion or spirituality based upon shamanism, shamanic or magickal practices; and/or
■ Creating new religion based on past pagan religions and/or futuristic views of society, community, and/or ecology;
■ Focusing religious or spiritual attention primarily on the divine feminine.
Heathenism is a pagan division that focuses more on ethnic identity for Germanic and Nordic belief systems, Kelch-Dyson said.
Pagan Pride Day will feature activities such as "Ask A Witch," vendors and merchants and food in addition to three pagan rituals.
Lexington-Bluegrass Pagan Pride is a non-profit local chapter affiliated with the national Pagan Pride Project. It works to eliminate discrimination and misconceptions based on religious beliefs, said Susan Kelch-Dyson, public relations coordinator for the event.
Attendees are invited to bring drums and join in drum circles. Sonny Kelch-Dyson said three rituals will be demonstrated. They include an initial ceremony honoring the interconnectivity of the various pagan groups, an Asatru blot sacrifice to the gods and a quasi-Wiccan ritual.
More than 20 pagan and heathen groups in the Lexington area meet regularly, with an average attendance of between 10 and 25 people per group, Sonny Kelch-Dyson said.
For those interested in learning more about alternative religion, Sonny Kelch-Dyson teaches occasional classes entitled Wicca 101 through the Garden Source spiritual center. For more information, go to Gardensourcesc.org or visit the group's Facebook page.
Garden Source is among the organizations that will participate in the Pagan Pride festival, conducting a fundraiser with carnival games and providing information about its beliefs and worship.
Sonny Kelch-Dyson said that paganism "is a terminology like Christianity for many different traditions. For example, all Methodists are Christians, but not all Christians are Methodists."
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 28
Where: Courthouse Plaza at North Limestone and Main Street
Admission: Free. However, participants are asked to bring a non-perishable food item for the Catholic Action Center or pet food for an animal sanctuary.