For instance, like many such affairs, the Benicia-based Pagan Alliance's third annual Witches Ball will include music, dancing, clowns and face-painting for children.

However, Saturday's event also will include an Ostara egg hunt, a Druid Storytelling Pavilion and divination readings, which sets it apart from the average fundraising event.

The eggs contain Tarot cards instead of candy, "because kids don't need candy," alliance president JoHanna White of Berkeley said.

The witches event is meant to raise money for the upcoming Pagan Interfaith Parade and Festival, planned for May 7, she said.

"You don't have to be a pagan to enjoy the event," White said. "Some of our best reviews are from (members of more traditional, western religions)."

The group defines pagan as "any earth-based, nature-centered, polytheistic or indigenous tradition," said White, who added she was raised in an Animist tradition -- the belief that all natural objects and creatures have a spirit -- owing to her Native American father.

Prejudice often directed against pagans has been waning in recent years, she said, but still persists, so a "pile of masks" are available to group festivals for those "in the broom closet" for fear of negative repercussions.

"The biggest misconception about us that we see is probably people seeing us through a Christian lens," she said. "Like, we don't worship Satan, because we don't believe in Satan. He's not part of our world view."

Saturday's event is divided into an earlier, family-oriented portion from 3 to 6 p.m. and a later, adult portion, from 7 p.m. to midnight, White said.

During the day, family members can expect to see Bubblegum & Lollipop the Clowns, hear Music with Pasha, get their faces painted and experience an Ostara Egg Hunt, organizers said. Also available will be a Druid Storytelling Pavilion, games and snacks, White said.

The Witches Ball continues from 7 p.m. to midnight for those 21 and over with live and DJ music, a light show and dance performances, White said.

A costume contest and raffle also are planned, she said.

Contact staff writer Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824 or

If you go

What: The Pagan Alliance presents its third annual Witches Ball to benefit the Pagan Interfaith Parade and Festival (May 7).

When: 3 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, March 5.

Where: Benicia Clock Tower, 1189 Washington St., Benicia
Tickets: $10 in advance at Red Raven, Vallejo -- (707) 558-0808; Dark Garden, San Francisco -- (415) 431-7684; Sacred Well, Oakland --

(510) 444-9355. Cost for adults, 21 and up with identification, range from $13 to $15; $5 per child (under 3 free). Call for additional ticket information.

For information: or (877) 467-5527.