There’s about 20 of us standing in a circle around a forest clearing. I wait for the proceedings to begin, shaking with anticipation. Maybe it’ll finally happen this time, I think. Soon, the Solstice celebration kicks off. A man dressed as Winter tries to convince the kids in the circle to keep Spring asleep this year. In response, they arm themselves with ice cubes and giddily chase him away from the space. There’s singing, laughing, a small potluck, yadda yadda.
Another ritual has come and gone, and we’ve still failed to eat a baby or sacrifice a virgin. Either I’ve spent my life around all the really boring Pagans, or the stereotypes were wrong.
Being a Pagan (or, rather, a Neo-Pagan, or even more specifically a follower of Odyssean Wicca, if you care for semantics) in 21st-century Canada is significantly easier than it has been in previous years. The occasional raised brow or bemused shrug when I proclaim my faith is an improvement on being burnt alive or crushed under rocks.
But there’s still some residual stigmatization. I don't mind the occasional harmless conversation where someone asks if I sacrifice people or animals, usually as a joke. But other incidents, like when Fox News declared that Paganism was an attack on America by lazy people trying to scam vacation days off every full moon, are less amusing.
Now, all religions have a long and glorious history of calling each other sexually deviant baby eaters, but we’ve moved on from the war of the orange and the green since then, at least in mainstream society.
But these same allegations launched at Paganism still seem to hold a certain weight.
This is particularly problematic for a culture where we strive so hard to keep ourselves accurately informed on social issues. There might not be attacks on Pagans in the streets as there are on members of other religions, especially hot-button ones such as Islam, but when animal shelters express concern that followers of my nature-advocating religion are out killing cats on Halloween, there is clearly an issue of misinformation.
So I, Nathan Mulcahy, as a member of the Ottawa Pagan scene, will do what I can to showcase my experience at rituals and festivals within this fun little community.
I apologize for the hilariously backwards myths I might ruin in the process.
Is a student in the 2013 Professional Writing program at Algonquin College, and a proud lord within the Principality of Sealand. He has a passion for editing, and assisted with The Secret Promise: Return of the Wishing Star by Kristin Groulx and his sister Daphney Beaulieu.