The mission statement of the Interfaith Pagan Pride Parade defines "pagans" as: "Those who follow indigenous, tribal, polytheistic, Nature-based, and Earth-based beliefs." For anyone who enjoys world music and other international folk arts -- especially from the undeveloped world -- and the spirituality that comes from nature, the "interfaith pagan" belief system might not be that much of a leap, says Berkeley's Micha Dunston. And these pagans have no objection to simply having fun, as their musical benefit this Friday (9 p.m.) at the Starry Plough (3101 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) suggests.
Friday evening's entertainment by the cabaret-style "pagan lounge" band Rosin Coven, "goddess" singing duo Moonrise, and Filipino world music players Evelie Posch and Mahal fits right into the "we're all on Earth together" atmosphere, according to parade organizers Dunston and Arlynne Camire. For them, the P-word is nothing to be afraid of. "It's about acceptance and tolerance," says Dunston, who belongs to the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, a very old English group (est. 1717) whose former members include artist and author William Blake. "My particular tradition, the Druid tradition, is nature-based, following the natural cycle of the year. The Earth is in a critical time these days, which is one reason we're having the parade -- to raise awareness."
Naturally, as in every other human endeavor, there is competition. There are many other pagan orgs around the world, but Dunston believes the Interfaith Pagan Pride group is unique. "'Interfaith' is the key word," he explains. "It's the only interfaith pagan organization in the country -- in fact, it's the only one in the world. We're less political and more accepting. And we're endorsed by the Interfaith Center of the Presidio. We would welcome Christian groups, for instance, to march in the parade." The second annual parade, scheduled for Sunday, April 13 at People's Park in Berkeley, is inclusive as only a Berkeley event can be. Its theme is "Ancient Voices," and the marchers will include everyone from medieval-costumed musicians to Native Americans. To learn more, visit www.paganparade.org
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