When Rachel Heatley moved from Arizona seven years ago, she knew that finding a place to practice her religion would be difficult.
“A lot of people have a preconceived notion of what the word ‘pagan’ means,” she said.
The term has come to refer to any practices that falls outside of the Abrahamic religions; that is, Christianity, Judaism and Islam, she explained. Today, the word encompasses druidic, shamanic, Wiccan, earth-based paganism, Norse, Christian witchcraft and polytheistic religions.
“I moved up here on a whim so I didn’t know anybody,” she said. Feeling her bearings gather about her after a year or so, she started venturing out. She soon met Selene Blackstar and Kohana Richardson. Now married, the couple have become dear friends.
Still finding her place in the community, Heatley felt their was still something missing.
“Phoenix Pagan Pride was something I went to a few times and loved, but here – there was nothing up here that had that kind of energy,” she said. And with a little support from her new friends, she thought, “Why not create our own?”
This weekend, following a few years of brainstorming and postponements, the first annual Northwest Pagan Fest will take place. Free and open to the public, the event will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Open to all ages, the festival will offer indoor and outdoor activities, including workshops on archetypes, crystals, “Reclaiming Your Ancient Knowledge,” and the “Wheel of the Year.”
“Every class is free,” Blackstar said. “I mean if you have a bus pass, you can get there, not spend a single penny and have a great day.”
There will also be a range of local vendors offering jewelry, tie-dye, baked goods, coffee drinks, henna, face-painting and various divination services. Organizers will hold a raffle for various vendor items. For a full list of workshops and events, visit Northwest Pagan Fest on Facebook.
“We would love people to bring their lunch, camp chairs and blankets and stay,” Heatley said, mentioning the musical line-up. “We want it to be a very chill, immersive experience.”
The trio hope to make Northwest Pagan Fest a yearly tradition.
“This is how I met the people that became my family,” Blackstar said. “For me, every event like this is a way for people to network. Be able to communicate … and I want people to be able to have that.”
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