Pittsburgh Pagans -- whose spirituality centers around a variety of pre-Christian faiths, often with New Age touches -- are preparing for a second annual Pagan Pride Day Oct. 5, which they hope will make their name and beliefs better understood by the public.
Co-organizer Amy Mokricky, owner of Moonstones in Dormont, says the day filled with speakers, demonstrations and vendors is "not only a celebration of spiritual diversity, it's also a channel for us to celebrate the harvest and a chance to educate the community."
So how is the harvest this year in Pittsburgh?
"Well, it's figurative as well as literal," Mokricky says, laughing. "Being a metaphysical store owner is similar to being a bar owner, or a psychologist, but the pay is not so good. Everybody comes in and talks to you. There was a lot of self-exploration going on this year. I think it's fallout from 9/11, from our war on terror, being in Afghanistan, being in Iraq. A lot of people went through a lot of growth this year. Well, growth is not all it's cracked up to be. So it has been bountiful."
Almost in time for Halloween -- corresponding to the pagan holy day of Samhein -- Pagan Pride Day speakers include Frank De Angelis on haunting, who takes a scientific approach to ghosts -- and something of a modern psychological one on the humans they bother: "He tries to get people to take responsibility for their own houses and clear them themselves," Mokricky reports. The day includes presentations and workshops on the Celtic bodhran drum, psychometry sacred body art and a lecture on "working with animal familiars."
Though it is billed as Pagan Pride Day, Mokricky says, the group doesn't feel a need to assert their rights as much as, say, some gays and lesbians still do. "I'm out there, and I've never had any problems with [prejudice]," she says, though she knows of some pagans still closeted or struggling for understanding and acceptance among family, friends or co-workers. She just hopes the group will be better understood.
During Pride Day, the group will be collecting food for the local food bank and animal shelters, and will be holding a blood drive as well. Bring your own blood, of course.