RI Day of Witchery in Warwick brings pagans and the curious together


WARWICK — About 2,000 Rhode Islanders identify as witches, and artist, author and priestess Laura Tempest Zakroff was among organizers bringing together observant pagans and the curious on Sunday for the first-ever Witchcraft Day in Pawtuxet Park .

“There are so many people in Rhode Island who identify as witches. It’s a very witchy state,” Zakroff said. In some families, the practice is passed down from generation to generation, she said.

She, Tracey Lawrence, co-owner of metaphysical store The Veiled Crow, and the Key & Serpent Society helped organize a day of talks, music, a walk through the maze, and maybe a little shopping.

“The need for community is how we started,” Lawrence said.

Zakroff, part Sicilian Catholic and part Russian Jew, said she was drawn to witchcraft at the age of 6, when she was arrested at school for standing on a church altar.

“I thought if I was called by the divine?” she says.

As a student at the Rhode Island School of Design in the late 1990s, Zakroff formed the RISD/Brown Pagan Society, and as a priestess she helps guide people toward empowerment and service to others. .

A chalk drawing on the walkway welcomes visitors to Witches Day at Pawtuxet Park in Warwick on Sunday.

Connect with the seasons and the spirits

“Our goal here is to create a space that honors the land and the people,” she said.

The Key & Serpent Society, which sponsored the gathering, describes itself as an approach to modern traditional witchcraft based on craft experience, education and community. Members walk a path rooted in folklore through study and active practice, inspired and connected to the seasons and spirits.

The group organizes monthly events that alternate between rituals and learning, with guest lectures, classes and workshops. It welcomes people without distinction of gender, sexuality, disability, physical appearance, build, race or religion.

“We practice ritual and magic to deal with the world around us,” said Zakroff, whose works focus on “goddesses, mythology and the divine.”

Zakroff also founded the Witches’ Night Out Market – an event held in Seattle and New England that celebrates the arts and community while benefiting local nonprofits. The first took place in 2019 at the Waterfire Arts Center.

What are Asatru’s beliefs?

Sarah and Aaron Bennett had a booth educating visitors about their faith, Asatru, a religion that involves the worship of ancient Germanic and Viking Norse spirits and gods. They worship Freya, the goddess of love, war and cats.

“Seekers come,” said Sarah, who traveled to Asatru in her twenties through the RISD/Brown Pagan Society and felt immediately at home.

“It’s exactly the relationship with the divine that I needed. It’s a mutual relationship,” said Aaron, who described himself as a terrible Buddhist before being introduced to Asatru.

A key principle is that they live a life that would make their ancestors proud.

“We believe we are our actions,” Sarah said.

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Other stalls offered jewelry for sale, black magic art, henna tattoos, magic oils and incense. A musician sang and strummed a harp as visitors passed, and the aromatic smoke wafted through the air. The Womxn Project, a Rhode Island nonprofit focused on building a feminist movement to advance human rights, held an exhibit selling abortion rights apparel and urging support for women. reproductive rights.

Natalie and Riley McMahon brought four-month-old Annabel to Sunday’s rally. Together they relaxed in the tree-shaded ‘relaxation space’, with lawn chairs and colorful blankets spread out on the grass as the breeze from the nearby harbor blew.

Witchcraft Day lived up to the McMahons’ expectations.

“I love everyone. All the positive energy and acceptance,” Natalie said. Little Annabel mostly slept all day.

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