Supercrawl was not the only festival Hamilton hosted this past weekend. Pagans from Southern Ontario, New Orleans and even Australia gathered at Gage Park to celebrate Hamilton’s 12th annual Pagan Pride Day.
Hamilton’s pagan festival is the largest in Canada and the city is also a main supporter of the religion.
“The city of Hamilton has been great,” said Drew Maddison, chair and coordinator of the festival. “The city has helped us out with the festival. The city itself has really been open and receiving to us.”
Canada has been progressive towards paganism and Hamilton is leading the way.
“This year I had the honour of being the first Wiccan to do the invocation at City Hall for the opening of council one evening,” said Maddison. “That was the first time that was done in Ontario.”
The city has been open and accepting, but it is a continuing goal of the pagan community to squash misconceptions.
“Nothing we do is wrong or illegal,” said High Priest of the Wiccan Church of Canada George Thompson. “People have accused us of a lot of strange things, including sacrifice, but the only thing we’ve sacrificed at our temple is incense and flowers.”
Though Hamilton’s Wiccan church is open to everybody, the religion remains rare in Canada. The many misconceptions about the religion leads many pagans to “keep underground” according to Thompson.
Although Hamilton Pagan Pride is the largest such gathering in Canada, it is just a small part of a community that stretches across the continent and shares a common goal.
“It definitely brings out people celebrating freedom and that is this continent’s message,” said Witch Doctor Utu. “People have been able to practice witchcraft again and come out of the proverbial broom closet.”
Even if you are not a pagan, this festival will welcome you. There was plenty to do including vendors, workshops and concerts. Hamilton’s pagan festival may be the largest in Canada, but it is still largely unknown to the general public.