Mystic Moon, a local haven for pagans

The summer horror flick “Midsommar” portrays horrific events happening to a group of Americans visiting a Swedish Pagan commune. This is the typical Hollywood portrayal of pagans, but a realistic view of pagans and Wiccans is available in Norfolk from the people who shop and work at the Mystic Moon.

“We most definitely do not sacrifice anyone,” said Rachel Harris, one of Mystic Moon’s managers.

The term neo-paganism is an umbrella term that has been used to describe the many beliefs of Wiccans, pagans and all earth-based religions in the modern era. The United States Census Bureau estimates that more than 682,000 Wiccans and Pagans live in the U.S.  

The Mystic Moon was founded in 1998 by Deborah Foley and her late husband, Brian, to create a safe space for Virginia’s pagan community. The shop off North Military Highway is full of plants, incense burning at various altars, ritual clothes, hundreds of books, and dreamcatchers. Outside the building, visitors will find a garden with small statues of various gods, a pond and a firepit where weekly drum circles are held.

“We have people who come in here from D.C. to North Carolina,” said Connie, a psychic at Mystic Moon who asked that only her first name be used.  “Some of the clientele are curious passers-by and even several open-minded Christians.”

Harris said, “this is a place for all respectful seekers….The only thing that is unwelcome is negativity.”

The large military presence in Hampton Roads also brings in practitioners. The Foleys were supportive of a 2007 agreement by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to allow the pagan pentacle – a five-pointed star in a circle – to be included among religious symbols allowed on veterans’ headstones.  

A pentacle on display at Mystic Moon. Photo by Jarrett Connolly.

However, the Mystic Moon has not existed without controversy.

The pentacle has been frequently associated with the worship of the devil. Harris said that the points on the star represent a person’s head, arms, and legs and the circle around the star is the “spiritual guard.”

“The use of the pentacle to represent the Christian devil is offensive and false,” she said.

Virginia Beach-based televangelist Pat Robertson has also denounced paganism on his show, “The 700 Club.”

Many pagans also feel that movies like “Midsommar” and “The Craft,” a 1996 movie in which a group of teens practice witchcraft and hurt people, enforce negative stereotypes about their faith.

“There are so many things people need to understand,” Harris said.” We don’t believe or worship Satan, we don’t believe in hell….This is an earth-based way of life and very peaceful.”

Mystic Moon has a weekly drum circle every Friday beginning at 7 p.m.

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