Faith & values: Pagans on the prairie
Pagan organizations put on music festival fundraiser
IOWA CITY — Lynn Williams doesn’t really consider himself a Christian, though he stops short of saying he doesn’t identify with the Christian faith.
“I consider myself to be non-denominational,” said Williams, founder and radio host of Prairie Land Pagan Radio. “It really sits a lot better with me. I am just not into the whole dogma of ... ‘die-hard’ Christians, those who value their own stature.”
“That’s not the kind of person I am and that’s not the way I think religion should be,” he said.
Instead, Williams follows paganism — a polytheistic or pantheistic religion in which nature is revered and worshipped. His first encounter with paganism came in 2003, when he attended a Covenant of the Unitarian Universalist Pagans meeting in Minnesota.
“That’s where I felt most at home, where I really got into how pagans celebrate the seasons of each year — spring, summer, winter solstice and the planting and harvesting,” he said. “After a while I decided I wanted to do something to contribute, to raise awareness.”
He hopes an upcoming weekend-long music festival in Iowa City does just that.
The Oak King Music Festival — featuring folk and Celtic music — will be from July 11 to 13 at the Johnson County Fairgrounds in Iowa City. Musicians performing through the weekend include Kelliana, Natalie Brown, Gayla Drake, Sharon Jackson, Greg and Susan Dirks, and Fearna. Other events include a performance by the Dances with Scissors belly dancing troupe and a drumming circle.
The festival is sponsored by Williams’ radio station and Central Iowa Pagan Pride, and proceeds will go to fund the station and events coordinated by Central Iowa Pagan Pride.
Williams’ radio station, Prairie Land Pagan Radio, can be found online at http://prairielandpaganradio.webs.com. He is on-air at 1 p.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. Mondays.
Though the station plays mostly folk and Celtic artists, he said he encourages listeners to call in with requests at (515) 619-5120.
Williams said he knows negative stereotypes are associated with paganism, but he hopes people who aren’t familiar with the religion come out to the fairgrounds to hear some music and learn for themselves.
“Sustainability, providing for your family — that’s something that is very important to pagans,” Williams said. “Going back to living off the land, that’s what we want.”
Tickets for the event are $15 in advance or $20 at the gate, and children ages 10 to 17 are $5. Children under 10 get in free. Camping will be available on-site for $10 per night. Tickets are available at Central-iowapaganpride.com.
In addition, Williams said volunteers still are needed for a variety of posts, including security, parking and setting up and tearing down. To volunteer, contact Williams at (319) 333-1326.
“We are really hoping, based on the number of members just in Central Iowa Pagan Pride, that we have a really good turnout,” Williams said. “If this is a success, it’s going to become an annual event.”