Pagan Pride Parade London 2018
20 Years of Magic and the Spell Keeps Growing
Sunday, May 13th was the 20th anniversary of London’s annual Pagan Pride Parade – the oldest pagan pride parade in the world!
As this year showed, the parade just keeps getting bigger and better, with no signs of slowing down. Pagans of all traditions and backgrounds came together in the largest turn out for the parade, since it began. Druids, Heathens, Witches, Shaman, and more, came along to fly their Pagan flag and celebrate their spirituality.
The event was a vibrant array of drumming, colour, dancing, chanting, masks, make-up, and banners. Raising energy in their passing, they echoed through the streets of London.
Tourists and Londoners alike were thrilled by the procession, as they are every year. But this year, in particular, saw hundreds take pleasure in the celebration.
People couldn’t help but film and photograph the parade and social media reflected the joy that it brought to people, as the Pagans Pride Parade passed by. Twitter, in particular, saw many people sharing their love for parade and, by extension, their love for London.
This year’s parade was joined by the drumming groups Drumskullz and The Pentacle Drummers, as well as the Morris Dancing troupe Black Swan Border Morris. The anniversary celebration was also attended by parade founder, Jeanette Ellis, who helped kick off this year’s march.
As usual, the parade took the festivities past popular Pagan hotspots Treadwells Bookshop and Atlantis Bookshop. At Atlantis, store owner and previous torch-bearer for the parade, Geraldine Beskin, gave a brief speech focusing on how far Paganism has come and how great it is to live in a religiously tolerant society.
Paganism, of course, has a history of being demonised. As members of the faith stepped into the public eye in the mid twentieth century, they were widely met with ridicule, derision and accusations of sexual deviance. These charges expanded into media sensationalism through the sixties and seventies, then in the nineteen-eighties and nineties Pagans were victims of widespread allegations connected to the ‘Satanic Ritual Abuse’ moral panic. However, the past twenty years has seen a growth in acceptance for Pagans and Paganism, due in part to the advocacy work done by many Pagans and Pagan organisations. The Pagan Pride Parade is all at once a rejection of negative biases and discrimination, and also a celebration of the fact that most Pagans in our society are free to practice their religion without persecution.
There is still work to do, of course, but Pagans have come such a long way, that it is only right that those gains be celebrated.
As the parade finished its march and returned to Russell Square, the celebrations continued with more drumming, singing and dancing – particularly dancing the park’s central fountain! The organisers gave thanks to the spirits of the city, to Mother London and Father Thames.
Blessed with a day of warm sunshine, the Pagans finally shared a picnic together and spoke with some of the passers-by, who had been enjoying watching the festivities and wanted to know more.
Eventually, with the twilight hours descending, the merrymakers said their goodbyes and folded back into the workings of the city. But forever are they a part of the rich tapestry of people and traditions, that make London what it is.