Just a quick note to tell my loyal readers that the Canadian music anthology alluded to in my article on the Sun Wheel Pagan Festival is a go! It will be a fundraising effort for the Canadian National Pagan Conference and all artists have agreed to contribute their works entirely free of royalties; all profits support the Conference! Musicians who have agreed to participate so far include: The Dragon Ritual Drummers, The Ancient Gods, Raven's Call, Dano Hammer, Vanessa Cardui, Brendan Myers, Jamie Field (formerly of Parnassus before it was Chalice and Blade,) Tamarra James and me. We're still waiting to hear back from a few other artists and more information will be made available as it unfolds.
This has been a busy time for your Village Witch...mostly because she keeps leaving the village and hitting the road.
I've only just returned from the Pagan Unity Festival in Burns, TN and am pondering the differences between festivals and conferences, since I was fortunate enough to be included in the Cherry Hill Conference several weeks ago.
All these gatherings. What draws us into these artificial communities? And are they really so artificial?...
I am excited to be travelling to Columbia, SC today for "Sacred Lands and Spiritual Landscapes", a symposium from Cherry Hill Seminary and USC. I'll be presenting my latest research on the border reivers and seeing some dear old friends (Holli Emore, Patti Wiggington et al) and meeting some dear new ones (Sara Amis and Elinor Predota et al). I expect to be restimulated and reinspired by the work of all the folks at this conference and will be grateful to listen to the cheeky wisdom of Ronald Hutton again.
Here's a link to the conference--
I have always taken pride in observing that most Pagans tend to leave campgrounds, hotels, and other borrowed or rented spaces in better condition than how they found them. I actually look forward to the routine of walking around my tent or cabin and not only picking up the small debris that I or my friends have dropped but also digging up the bits I see left behind by previous campers. It helps me settle in for the transition homewards. Unfortunately, this custom of cleaning a space that you have used does not seem to extend to the leftovers of magick and workings. Over the years, I've attended so many gatherings, festivals, and conferences that I cannot even begin to guess how many that may be. By comparison, I can count on my two hands the events where there was an active effort on the part of the organizers to clean up the energy of the space where a ritual or a working took place before it was used by a different practitioner or group. I do know a significant number of groups or individuals that do clean up after themselves in shared space, but it is far from the norm, and not the majority from my experience. And by clean up, I mean clearing and the settling of the energy of the space not merely putting the chairs back in their places or picking up the leftovers from a ritual or working.
Nona Sabbata is my Latin jargon for "The Ninth Sabbat."
For over five years now our Coven has been providing open public [Wiccan] community rituals a minimum of twice a month. In all that time, of all of those rituals, we only cancel one of them each year. Because we're at PantheaCon. And by "we're" I mean over eight of us. We all load up one very large van, and pile into one very nice hotel suite. It's like a non-stop four day slumber party with your best friends, at your favorite intergalactic spiritual space station. Which no one seems surprised to find located in California's Silicon Valley.
Our events are an opportunity to disseminate important information in our community. We are always promoting articles from Witches & Pagans, Newly released books, news and current events via The Wild Hunt or the Newswire Collective and anything else we can remember. We start promoting PantheaCon at our circles fairly early in the season, read off some the the events when the schedule is released and keep reminding everyone that "we won't be here that weekend."...
Peter Dybing gave Sunday's keynote speech, "Stirring the Cauldron of Pagan Sensibilities." A worthy pursuit to my mind. In an animated talk, Peter emphasized that Paganism was not a monolithic institution. He also spoke of the need for boundaries, avoiding what he called "the 2 a.m. crisis." During feedback, I reminded folks that one of the required courses for degree-seeking students at Cherry Hill Seminary is Boundaries & Ethics. I took the proto-class from Cat Chapin-Bishop back around 2000 and found it one of the most valuable classes I've ever taken.
He itemized several issues and then compared the attitudes about them of older Pagans and to those of younger generations. He said that older Pagans generally held tightly to beliefs whereas younger ones welcomed debate. I think this is true of any social phenomenon when it achieves some years; however, I don't think it's universal. I count many Pagans, myself among them, as being open-minded, adaptable, and willing to engage on current issues, far from being hidebound.
It was helpful for me to hear, even though it's obvious, that we bring with us the cultural attitudes of our times. I know that the feminism that underlies my being, religious and otherwise, has informed my views and practices. I know that my experience pre-Second Wave Feminism is very unlike the experience of women who, for instance, grew up in a world where reproductive choice is a given. And that's just on one issue. I know that the zeitgeist of my formative years differs from the zeitgeist of subsequent generations. Sometimes hearing something stated clearly from another person gives the fact a more crystalline ring. Thank you, Peter.
I join the chorus of voices reporting on the general wonderfulness of the 9th Annual Claremont Pagan Studies Conference.1 I found the overall quality of presentations exceptionally high, as they were the last time I attended two years ago.
I arrived Friday night after a long solo drive from the SF Bay Area to Los Angeles, through rain and the hairy Grapevine Canyon through the Tehachapi Mountains, stressed and with intense pain between my shoulders. Cranky, in other words. Soon Lauren cheered me up.
Saturday morning's first session consisted of four speakers. Joseph Nichter, an Iraq war veteran, spoke of using Tarot in healing PTSD. I loved his ideas about what he calls "peripheral exploration," wherein the querent draws a single card, places it on a larger sheet of paper, and draws a scene that embeds the image in the card in a larger picture.
Earlier this month the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel hosted the Between The Worlds Conference in Wilmington, Delaware. It was a tremendous amount of hard work on the part of many and was successful in all the ways that we had hoped. I am thankful and grateful for all those things that were planned and achieved, but I'm particularly grateful for something that was not planned but simply emerged from our stay at the hotel. Literally dozens of the staff members of the hotel thanked me and the other organizers for the kindness of our attendees. The staff was personable, professional, and cooperative with all our requests. All the conference organizers made an effort to thank the staff and several of us have written letters thanking individual staff members. And I will repeat it again, the staff went out of the way to say what a wonderful group we were. These words were not simply the words of courtesy offered as a matter of good business practice.
As a piece of background information, I should explain that the DoubleTree in downtown Wilmington is in the legal district and primarily caters to lawyers and bankers and various corporate sorts that are there on business. Staff turnover in the hotel industry is swift, so very few people were still working at the hotel that remembered us from our previous conferences because it is not an annual event. Those that did remember us had vouched to the rest of the staff that we were a good group. They had of course been warned that we were a wee bit eccentric but good people....
This is the last installment of a four part series on physical infrastructure in the Pagan community. In this post I am focusing on festivals, conferences, and other multi-day events. In almost every culture and every community there is the custom of the gathering of the tribes. Modern pagan festivals, gatherings, and conferences are our equivalent of the gathering of the tribes. For simplicity sake, I'll refer to all these sorts of events as gatherings. In earlier posts in this series I spoke about the value that comes from seeing each other, working with each other, and having places that we can call our own. What makes gatherings different from these other kinds of infrastructure is that they involve large groups of people. Why is that important? For the most part, we are relatively isolated from each other and see only a handful of people at a time that share some commonality with our path. Seeing a multitude of Pagans together is transformative.