Pagan pride festival hits Departure Bay beach

Nanaimo, Canada - There will be no sacrifices, disembowelling of chickens of goats or the casting of spells to turn someone into a toad.

But don't be shocked if you run into your neighbour at the Pagan Pride Day celebration at Departure Bay Beach on Saturday.

Two spokespeople for the Pagan church estimate there are more than 500 people in Nanaimo who practice the earth-based religion.

The main objective of Pagan Pride Day, hosted by Nanaimo's Temple of the Green Leaf Cauldron Church, is to eliminate religious intolerance through education, debunk myths that give people a distorted view of paganism and to give back to the community.

All the funds raised from the event will go to the new Pediatric Ambulatory Health Clinic at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.

Kam Abbott of the Green leaf Cauldron Church has seen a noticeable difference in attitudes and reactions towards paganism in the past five years.

He contributes the positive feedback and acceptance for the religion to youths who are bringing it into the mainstream.

Sally Kimber, who is part of the clergy with the Temple, says they still get the odd raised eyebrow.

But once people stop and ask questions everything becomes a little more clear.

"They find out we all have children, so obviously we don't eat them. They realize it's a very gentle and personal religion," she says.

"Most of us are environmentalist actually and that's mostly when we get the rowdiest, when we're hugging tress," said Kimber with a laugh before she gets up to check on her zucchini bread baking in the oven.

There are some pagans who still wish to keep their religion private from the outside world, but as acceptance grows more people are embracing the religion with open arms and minds.

Abbott says Google is a great source of information for those who want to understand paganism and Wiccan traditions.

Both Abbott and Kimber point out paganism precedes Christianity and that it's just as diverse.

"Really it isn't that different from other religions. We just don't knock on your door," said Abbott with a laugh.

Kimber says the three main parts to her religion are as follows: the seasons, there is a belief in both goddesses and gods and everything is about balance.

Pagans try to follow one commandment, the Wiccan Rede, which is a statement that provides the key moral system in the religion of Wicca. "An ye harm none, do what ye will."

"It's very hard to live up to," said Kimber. "If you're out in the garden and you pull a weed, you're killing it. It (the Rede) is almost impossible to live up to."

Abbott says paganism is like all religions in that some people's faith is stronger than others.

"Sometimes paganism or Wiccan is better described as a lifestyle more than a religion for some," said Abbott.

Attendance to Nanaimo's Pagan Pride Day, which is a National event throughout the months of August and September, has increased considerable in the past four years.

Only 60 people showed interest in 2005. But with more than 800 swarming the Kin Hut at Departure Bay Beach last year to take in all the vendors and workshops, Kimber expects a good showing this year as well.

It will be a day filled with workshops, rituals, vendors, music, dancing and fun for the whole family. The main ritual will be performed by the Oakstone Druids starting at 1:30 p.m.

Scheduled workshops include Wicca basics, belly dancing, drumming and information on Dulas.

Pagan Pride Day events go from

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with an opening ritual performed by members of the Temple Green Cauldron.

For more information go to www. or call 250-758-8332.