Wiccan, witchcraft and pagan practices will take over Rainbow Lagoon Park for a free educational festival this weekend.

The 17th annual Pagan Pride L.A. will be from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 4. It’s the festival’s fourth year in Long Beach, Brian Ewing, festival coordinator, said. The group has moved several times in Southern California since its first one in 1998, he said.

Pagan Pride L.A. is a nonprofit religious organization, promoting tolerance and understanding of pagans in the community. Those included in the pagan community are Wiccan, witch, druid and heathen, although others also identify with the group, Ewing said.

The event features six local pagan groups performing rituals and attendees may watch or participate, Ewing said. The hope is to convey the practices of pagans and witches to the public, he added, since there is a misconception.

“People misunderstand paganism,” Ewing said. “We want people to come see the rituals and workshops throughout the festival. It’s a good way for people to get introduced to our religion and see what it’s about besides what they see on TV.”

Included in the rituals are an Opening Blessing, an Ár nDraíocht Féin opening ritual, Winter Nights Blot, Body of our Diverse Community, Masks We Wear and Jupiter and Juno Rite for Prosperity & Boundless Good Luck.

Several tools, such as wands, candles, incense and costumes are commonly used in the rituals, Ewing said. He also said fires are not allowed in the park, so no open flames would be used.

“There’s dance, a lot of movement,” Ewing added. There are a lot of dedications to gods or spells almost like prayers.”

Many of the rituals are based on seasons for agricultural prosperity or asking for abundance, Ewing said.

There also will be 15 workshops for discussion of various pagan practices and information booths from pagan organizations. Among the workshops are correspondences and their role in magick, key of Solomon magic, inspired to write!, Bella’s Bellydance Fusion workshop, witches and black cats, the herbal apothecary: an introduction, and more.

Additionally, there will be book signings by authors such as Tony Mierzwicki, Timothy Roderick, Barbara Lieberman, Ellie Lieberman, Rev. Dr. Karen Tate, Georgia Vlahos, Lady Brenda McKoy, Professor James Rietveld and Austin Coppock.

Vendors with local food trucks and live entertainment also will be at the event. The music is upbeat, Ewing said, there are solo and acoustic performers. Among those are Alfred Surenyan (theremin), Anya Mikasobe, Wild Wood Border Morris Dancers (dances from English/Welsh border), Aislin Lumina, White Woman Flutes, Violet Maven (electronic/operatic/goth/tribal) and Ephemera.

For more information, visit www.paganpridela.org.

Emily Thornton can be reached at ethornton@gazettes.com.

Emily is a staff writer covering higher education and other various topics for Gazette Newspapers. She has a background in weekly and daily newspapers and a bachelor’s in communication from La Sierra University.

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