Paganicon 4 begins this Friday
March 14-16 at the
Doubletree Park Place
St. Louis Park , MN
Deborah Lipp and Oberon Zell-Ravenheart are Guests of Honor
I got the chance to interview Deborah Lipp about her appearance beginning Friday at Paganicon
You will be sharing the opening remarks for Paganicon with Oberon?
Yes, we have known each other for many years. We discussed the talk and were on the same page so we decided to work together on the keynote address. The talk will be about our Pagan history, its importance, and how to preserve it, and to know who we are, and then lead into some ideas about the future. I published a memoir about a year ago, and now Oberon has one that has just come out. I was particularly affected by the death of my ex-husband (Isaac Bonewits), and felt very strongly the importance of history, of knowing who we are and who we came from.
You also have a long time history of participating in the Pagan festival movement?
I have been a festival participant quite literally from the beginning. I went to my first festival, well, right before I was initiated at age 21. Before my son was born, I went to 3-4 Pagan festivals a year. After his birth it was more difficult and I have slowed down, but I have been going to festivals for more than 30 years. Festivals were something that my high priestess, as a young witch, was very adamant about. Going to festivals was a way of meeting people, of exchanging ideas, of learning cool new chants to use in ritual. It was important. This is a part of Pagan history, too. As a young Pagan entering the community and you may not value festivals because they are corny, people dress funny, and you have to sleep in a tent. They don’t understand that the existence of the festival movement, which began in the eighties and didn’t really take off for another five years, transformed the face of the Pagan community. It is one of the most significant contributions to the Pagan community of the last thirty years. Before there was an internet, there was a Pagan festival movement.
Has the role of festivals changed over the years?
Electronic socializing has become really important. The fact that there are now so many ways to communicate as Pagans has diminished some of the importance of the festival movement. Now ten years after the rise of festivals we have what I would call the solitary movement. Prior to the publication of “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner”, people were not solitary by choice. People were solitary because they could not find other people to work with, period. A solitary was a person who had not yet found a group. The idea that you can be solitary because you want to be was facilitated by the festival movement because you can be solitary and at festival still share ritual with others. There you have a community that you can connect with. People make fun of it, you know, Beltain and Samhain Pagans, party Pagans, and such. The fact is coven work is not for everyone. The festival movement provided a source of different models for how to be Pagan. Maybe you have a 11 months private solitary practice and then one month at festival and spend time connecting with your community. For those of us who came up through a coven system, festivals were our first insight into other ways to express Paganism, and how to relate to our community.
What about the beginnings of indoor Pagan conferences?
They have been around our community just as long as any festival. The first indoor festival was Gnosticon. The convention style event has always been a part of the mix. Every festival type event will have its own particular flavor. Some are intellectual, or ritual “heavy hitters”. Other may have a music or arts focus, or be more “party” oriented. Some festivals are more geek oriented and have a relationship to that culture in their personality. I have been to festivals all over the world, from Australia to Canada to Brazil. The people pretty much all look alike, they all look like Pagans. You feel at home and a sense of community, but the style and personality will vary.
What will the “Way of Four” workshop at Paganicon cover?
This will be drawn from my book, The Way of Four, about the four elements. The workshop will cover, “What are the four elements. What parts of life do they apply to? How do they affect you? How do you work with them? How do you use an understanding of the four elements to enhance your quality of life?” The attendees will help guide the direction that we go in during the workshop. It is sometimes very interpersonal and questions about elemental issues and ideas may direct the focus of the workshop. First and foremost it is about a basic understanding of the four elements. The four elements are the building blocks of all occultism. I am passionate about that. You cannot read the Tarot, do high magic, or use astrology without understanding the four elements. They affect not just Wicca or magic, but nearly everything in the occult. We will come away with a deep set of correspondences with the four elements and then learn to apply them to different situations. This is one of my favorite workshops.
You wrote two books on the Way of Four, though.
When I wrote The Way of Four, I was trying to be very complete. Write down everything about the four elements, four elements in meditation, in nature, in your love life, in your home, in work. This how I write. As I was doing this I eventually got to “spells” of the four elements. As I worked I several times said, “You know I could write a whole book about this.” Out of this came the book “The Way of Four Spellbook” which is specifically about spells and magic. It is really a “how to” instructional book rather than a recipe book, each spell serves as an example of the lesson just discussed in the book. A sex magic spell would fall under the element of fire type of spell. We can just mention that in the interview because then everyone will perk up and listen and want to attend the workshop!
The “Heroes Journey” workshop centers around the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Are you a fan?
Yes I actually performed in it at the Eighth Street Playhouse in New York City, back in the day. It was a floor show or, as it now called, a “shadow cast”. You perform the movie live while the movie is going on. I am very interested in pop culture as a modern mythology and a modern form of religious expression. Rocky Horror, with its passionate cult following, is the perfect event to have this discussion around.
What do bring to Paganicon that will attract us?
First, I talk a good game, I hope you have noticed this! I am very entertaining, part Wicca, part stand up comedy. People do appreciate that because most writers are introverts. I am very extroverted, very talkative, and that is fun to experience. You get the kind of knowledge you expect from someone who has written six books but I’m also someone who is used to being interactive and thinking on my feet. Many writers can’t take Q & A and have to work from a prepared text. I am not like that. I would never call myself an elder because I am still youthful, and very cute! I have been in the community for thirty years and know what I am doing. I have been all over the world and have a deep knowledge and experience about what I know. I write about traditional Wicca and Paganism as understood by a traditional Wiccan.
Paganicon begins this Friday at 3pm and runs through Sunday at 3pm. Located just five minutes West of Downtown Minneapolis.
Featured Friday evening is the Keynote address and the opening of “The Third Offering: A Sacred Gallery Space Arts”, and on Saturday at 8pm the “Embracing the Elements Equinox Ball”.
Registration is available for the whole event, by the day, or just for the Saturday Ball at the door. Lodging at the hotel is still available and extra.