Lincolnton Wiccan festival stirs controversy

By: Kate Tillotson
By: Kate Tillotson

A gathering of the tribes was held this past weekend at Elijah Clark State Park.

Nearly 100 pagans arrived to celebrate...and some Christians protested the event.

You hear the word "witchcraft" and you think of a Hollywood film. Well, aside from nature and gods and goddesses, some pagans really do believe in and practice witchcraft...and that's not sitting well with some locals.

"Paganism incorporates a lot of different paths including witchcraft, druidery, you know, the Celtic paths," says Laura Wandrie, president of Pagans United.

Wandrie is concerned with the amount of discrimination her group has undergone since setting up camp in Lincolnton.

Local church groups have even lined the entrance with prayer messages.

"They're going to hell...it's just that simple," says local Parrish Allen.

It's statements like this that led Pagans United to request extra security outside their site. Two officers stood guard, checking identification.

"The idea is they have requested privacy, and they as customers, we want to support them," says park manager Nelson Noble.

"This weekend is a first as far as any questions being asked about who we are," says pagan David Payne.

So just who are these nearly one hundred out-of-towners?

They say they're a group of family and friends practicing a federally recognized religion.

We checked it out and found no cauldrons...just crafts, music and conversation.

"I mean people are programmed. They're programmed from childhood to think that if it's not this way, it's wrong," Payne says.

"We have people fighting now," says Wandrie. "And they fight to give us the rights that we have. And we should be allowed to enjoy 'em."

Elijah Clark State Park was not the group's first choice, although it has worked out well for them. Their previous location cancelled on them because of several neighbor complaints.

On the group's website it states they're hoping 2006 will be the beginning of a new era for pagan festivals.


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