WHAT IS PAGAN PRIDE?
The history of the Pagan Pride Project starts with Cecylyna Brightsword's -- now Cecylyna Dewr -- participation in the Pagan Awareness League, or PAL, the organizaiton founded after the Witches' League for Public Awareness eliminated their state representative program in 1997.
From the beginning, Cecylyna's vision of what Pagan Pride Day should be included several departures from the celebrations common to the Pagan community.
Her proposal included the central core of what has become the Pagan Pride Project, three elements designed to increase community good will and public relations towards Paganism:
1.) a public ritual or celebration open to Pagans, non-Pagans, passersby, and onlookers;
2.) press releases and public relations activities designed to encourage positive media portrayal of Pagans and Paganism; and
3.) a food and materials drive for a local charity, food bank, shelter, or refuge, to symbolize both Pagan responsibilities to their town, city, or state and in honor of the various Thanksgiving holidays common to most Pagan traditions held around Fall Equinox.
Phoenix hosted its first Pagan Pride Day in 2001. The event has been hosted all over the Valley, but found its current home at the Steele Indian School Circle of Life in 201X.
Prior locations included Phoenix College and Glendale Community College.
The first-ever Phoenix Pagan Pride Day was the vision of the late Dan Poland who served as the very first Local Coordinator. Dan was the benefactor of many pagan events in the area. His spirit, and unforgettable "Dan Hugs" live on in our hearts.
Other Local Coordinators include:
• Ruben Kepler
• Joan Robinson Browan
• Bethany Tso
• Maia Dawn
• Brian Simpson
• Lara Schneider - Current Local Coordinator.
Statement of Purpose
The Pagan Pride Project is a non-profit organization. The primary purposes of this corporation shall be the advancement of religion and elimination of prejudice and discrimination based on religious beliefs.
The mission of the Pagan Pride Project is to foster pride in Pagan identity through education, activism, charity and community.
Defining the Mission Statement
We try to keep our purpose balanced through the inspirations of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth:
We're never going to be able to practice our spiritual paths openly if we don't give the public accurate information about what we do and do not do.
People aren't necessarily going to go out of their way to find out what Pagans really do. We have to have the courage to act on our convictions and do what we need to do.
We know that what we do returns to us. We need to demonstrate this by offering compassion to our communities where it is needed. When we share our own abundance, we show that we trust the Gods to share abundance with us in return.
We're never going to be able to practice openly if we don't know anyone else in our local Pagan communities. We need to weave networking webs in our cities, in our towns, in our rural areas. We need these webs to support one another. That support will also show those who would restrict our practice that we are not just a few isolated wackos, but are a growing congregation of people who adhere to a faith that, while different, is as valid as their own.
BY THE NUMBERS
As of 2014, the Pew Research Foundation found that 0.4% of Americans, or around 1 to 1.5 million people, identify as Pagan.
That means there are now more witches in the US than there are Presbyterians who have around 1.4 million adherents.
According to Helen A. Berger's 1995 survey, "The Pagan Census", most American Pagans are middle class, educated, and live in urban/suburban areas on the East and West coasts.
WHY IS PHOENIX A METAPHYSICAL HUB?
A Phoenix New Times Article by LYNN TRIMBLE | AUGUST 2, 2018
What is it about the Valley of the Sun that makes this type of alternative spirituality thrive?
The most obvious answer is location, location, location.
Phoenix sits just over 100 miles south of Sedona, a city hailed by many as the site of energy vortexes with transformative powers.
Indigenous peoples discovered it thousands of years ago, but its global status as a hub of alternative spirituality is a far more recent affair.
Believers flocked to Sedona in 1987 as part of a global meditation event called the Harmonic Convergence. It’s been a hotbed of New Age tourism ever since, helping to draw psychics and their clientele to the state.
“We can all congregate here, and still feel the vortexes,” says Dylan, a Vision Quest psychic who goes by just her first name.
There’s another geographic factor, as well.
It’s our proximity to Los Angeles, another city where psychics abound. “It’s hectic and crazy in Los Angeles, but Phoenix has a flow about it,” Dylan says. “People bring their practice here because there’s a calm and open environment where they can share their gifts.”
Most psychics are concentrated around urban centers, according to Jodie Vann, an assistant professor of religion at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, who holds a Ph.D. in religious studies from Arizona State University. “It’s generally an urban phenomenon,” she says. “One of my theories is that it’s because urban places are racially, ethnically, and religiously diverse.”
That diversity fuels the exchange of eclectic ideas. “When you get different ideologies in one place, people talk to each other, and it becomes harder for people to think that only their own ideas are valid.”
Psychics are more prevalent in the western half of the country, she says. “Oregon, Washington, California, and Arizona are more open to this.”
There’s also the desert factor, according to Paige Ashmore. She’s an artist whose intuitive readings include pastel drawings of clients’ past lives.
“There are a lot of stories about the masters going into the desert,” Ashmore says. “The heat burns you down to your bones, and your essential truth and self is there.”
There’s something else at play.
“Phoenix is an immigrant city, and folk religions have flourished among Hispanic communities,” Vann says. “Many Hispanic Catholics don’t have a problem merging different traditions into their Catholic identities.”