CARIBOU, Maine — When people such as Lisa Grondin, Sheri Cox or Barbara Hull say their prayers, it tends to be for things such as health, well being and world peace.
But despite the respectful, life-centered nature of their religion, people often assume — erroneously — that because Grondin, Cox and Hull are pagan, they worship the devil.
“That’s the biggest misconception — that we’re Satanists,” said Cox, of Caribou. “And we don’t believe in Satan at all.”
Affording pagans of the region an opportunity to get together, and providing the public with the option of coming to learn about what pagans believe, the Northern Maine Chapter of the worldwide Pagan Pride Project will be hosting Pagan Pride Day noon-5 p.m Saturday, Sept. 7, at Collins Pond Park.
“We basically want to let the public know what we’re about, to try to take away that fear,” explained Cox, who is president of the Northern Maine Pagan Pride Association. “We want to take away some of the fear and the prejudice, and kind of educate people.”
While the event is an opportunity for pagans to come together in a friendly environment, the group also will host different workshops throughout the day for folks interested in learning a little about their pagan neighbors.
It’s Cox’s hope that at the end of a perfect Pagan Pride Day, community members will have attended the event, had a good time and learned a little bit about the religion.
“Maybe they [will walk] away with a little understanding that we’re not so bad,” she said.
Among workshops planned for the day is one on decorative broom making, hosted by the group’s treasurer, Hull, who is from Woodland. Grondin, the group’s secretary and a resident of Caribou, will be hosting a workshop on the art of scrying — foretelling the future — with water. Grondin, Hull and Cox also will present “Paganism 101,” during which they will explain what it is that pagans believe.
They’ll also be coordinating a meet-and-greet with different pagans of the community so that people can ask questions in an open, friendly atmosphere.
“One thing I want to come across is we want to part of the community quilt,” Grondin said. “I’d like to be part of the history of this community, the growth of this community, and I would like for other pagans and pagan-friendly folks to come into this county and not be afraid to be who they are.”
The group members said they don’t believe in proselytization or trying to persuade others to join their religion. “People find it amazing that we don’t try to convert people,” Grondin said.
While all are welcome to attend the event, which will be held rain or shine, attendees are asked to bring a nonperishable food item to donate.
“We will be doing a food drive as the entrance fee,” Hull said, explaining that one of the core values of pagans is giving.
Cox said that the items collected will be given to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Caribou for donation to the local food pantry.
“If people can’t bring something, they can still come,” she said. “Nobody gets turned away.”
Additional information on Northern Maine Pagan Pride Day can be found by visiting nmppd.com.