AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
Byline: TIFFANY LANKES email@example.com
PARRISH -- Beneath a ceiling of palm and oak branches, the Rev. Bear looked up through the trees, his arms raised to the sky.
Children joined hands with adults forming a circle in a clearing at G.T. Bray park for a ritual during the Pagan Pride Picnic last month.
In the center of the group, a vibrant orange scarf covered an altar where a loaf of bread and a jug of Welch's purple grape juice sat.
Connie Scholl sat cross-legged on the ground, a cigarette perched in her left hand. She exhaled smoothly and closed her eyes, listening to a chorus of chants.
"We are a ciiircle, within a ciiircle, with no begiiiinning and never eeeending."
Rain started to fall and a sharp wind rustled the leaves. Scholl looked up and held out her hands, letting the tiny drops rest on her palms.
Bear knelt and bowed his head. He carries himself in the manner of his namesake animal -- tall and powerful. He ties his long gray hair in a thin ponytail.
Throughout his life, he's garnered the joys and sorrows of being a Pagan. He faced the pain of discrimination from misunderstanding people and felt the joy of connection with a higher being.
Bear moved to Florida eight years ago from Pennsylvania and immediately noticed something missing amidst the palm trees and beaches -- a Pagan community.
Three years ago, he and a few friends started Wheel of the Year, a nondenominational Pagan church in Parrish. The …