It’s time for Pagan Pride

As Lawrence-area pagans gather Saturday for the city’s first Pagan Pride event, they have some misconceptions they want to clear up.Like, for instance, what a “pagan” is.”There are two huge misunderstandings about our religion,” says Kerry Johnson, who is organizing the event. “The biggest one is we worship Satan. Wiccans worship Divinity in the form of the God and the Goddess. We have no Satan concept. … The other huge misunderstanding is this is a woman’s religion.”That last misconception might have been somewhat true in previous years, but it’s no longer the case, Johnson says.Johnson, who owns Village Witch, 311 N. Second St. (and previously owned the Good Mother store downtown), says she came to become Wiccan after a different background.”I was raised Southern Baptist, and in my early 30s realized that it really wasn’t working for me,” she says. “I was atheist for about three years when I realized that wasn’t working for me either. I felt there was a Divine Power. I started researching paganism and discovered Wicca. I felt like coming home.”Now, she’s been promoted to the High Priestess position in Wicca, a position that generally leads rituals. Local wiccans also can participate in a newly formed Witches Meetup group, which is held the third Wednesday of each month at various locations. More information on that can be found at this site.Johnson says she’s never encountered hostility about her religion, despite the fact she’s living in conservative Kansas.”I have encountered virtually no hostility,” she says. “I have lived in Lawrence for 35 years and yes, I think Lawrencians are definitely more open-minded than other cities in Kansas. I am not sure I would encounter hostility, but I think I might encounter fear in other cities.Saturday’s event, at Burcham Park, runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. It includes a potluck dinner, silent auction, vendors (including incense, jewelry and candles), a fire-spinner and workshops with pagan themes.For more information, contact Johnson at 856-8777, or – Faith Files, which examines issues of faith, spirituality, morals and ethics, is updated by features/faith reporter Terry Rombeck. Have an idea for the blog? Contact Terry at, or 832-7145._