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  • Barebones presents Metamorphosoup- by Lisa Spiral Besnett

    BB1

    Photo by Bonita Blumenauer

    In the Twin Cities we are blessed with a wide variety of performance art options. Some of my favorite events are community based, like the May Day Parade. At this end of seasonal cycle Barebones Productions puts on its Halloween Extravaganza. This is an evening event, outdoors in a park late in the fall in Minnesota. For the 21st annual production Barebones presented Metamorphosoup.

    This year the weather has been perfect for this kind of event. Sunday night when I
    attended the temps were in the cool, but comfortable 50′s. Much better than some years, but still nice to be bundled up. This year’s presentation seemed shorter than some. There is often a theme or story associated with the production. This year seemed more pageant than play.

    photo: Lisa Spiral Besnett

    photo: Lisa Spiral Besnett

    The audience entered through the mouth of the great whale and found their seats on hay bales under the trees. We watched the new moon setting over the trees as we waited for full dark, for the audience to settle, for the main show to begin.

    BB3Actors/street performers dressed in Halloween visions of carnival characters directed people to seating and kept us engaged. There are 5 performances with a total attendance around 8,000 people (maybe more this year due to the fine weather). Complete with puppets, aerialists, fire spinners, dancers, singers and musicians we watched the cycle of birth and death and rebirth play out before us.

    This was the story of the cosmic soup, the great cauldron of creation. This was a pageant of evolution and destruction, of limited resources and greed, and the bounty of stone soup. There were moments of profound loss and grief and  moments of awe and joy. There was an acknowledgement of ancestors lost and of remembrance.

    BB4

    Photo by Bonita Blumenauer

    That description hardly does justice to the wonder that is the Barebones. There were dinosaur puppets, bones perhaps not to scale, but certainly representative of the size and scope of actual dinosaurs. The great wave of water brought
    the scene to the ocean filled with floating luminescent creatures lighting up the darkness. Fire spinners dances in glorious numbers, circles and forms. Each time they appeared the fires beneath the great cauldron seemed to glow brighter and the cauldron grew bigger and bigger. In the end there were the ancestors, and the stars.

    Photo by Bonita Blumenauer

    Photo by Bonita Blumenauer

    BB6Even after the presentation there is still production happening. This is not just a play, but an event, a community ritual.
    There is a beautiful Hungry Ghost Altar set up around the tree for people to spend time honoring their ancestors, beloved dead and unknown dead alike. There is paper to leave notes and messages, candles available to light, offerings made with the great tree as witness to all that happens at its feet.

    Photo by Bonita Blumenauer

    Photo by Bonita Blumenauer

    The Jack Brass Band (the Brass Messengers on other nights) played music into the night. The brass band echoing on the wind is reminiscent of a New Orleans style funeral procession, somber on the way in but joyous and celebratory on the way out. Sisters Camelot had hot food available for those who stayed and needed a warmup.There was also some merchanting, another source of funding for this amazing production.

    Still playing October 30-November 1
    7pm at Hidden Falls Regional Park (North Gate Entrance)
    1305 Mississippi River Blvd. S., St. Paul  (arrive early for parking)
    Suggested donation $10-$20 – new this year they will accept credit cards!

    For more information:
    Barebonespupets.org

    Lisa Spiral Besnett

    Harmony Tribe, Inc. Annual Meeting Sat Oct. 18th

    Harmony Tribe is holding its Annual Meeting Saturday, October 18th at Black Bear Crossing in Como Park on Oct 18, from 2 to 5 PM in the Larry Kito Community Room.  This is the first annual meeting after receiving a 501c3 federal tax exempt designation as a religious and educational non-profit. This is an exciting time to get involved with this group because many changes are taking place.  New members are joining and a new location and vision for Sacred Harvest Festival is being developed. Harmony Tribe has been a place for nearly twenty years where Pagans of many traditions and paths work together to create community events, educational workshops, and community rituals.
    HTBanner
    Harmony Tribe has developed a clear set of values (at the bottom of each of their web pages), and a process covenant that each member agrees to and is held to. These, and an efficient task based structure has helped the organization move to a drama free atmosphere with efficient monthly two-hour meetings.  Transparency is really important to build trust and hold each person accountable. Once you become a member you have access to organizational communication, a member forum, and an archive of historical documentation.

    To become a member of the council a person needs to attend at least two meetings, take on a significant task or role, and ask to be voted into the council.  Many organizations require years of involvement, taking on a titled directorship, and standing for election to help guide the group. In Harmony Tribe a demonstrated commitment and interest is all that is required. You can review all the Harmony Tribe organizational documents.

     

    Pagans can gain many leadership skills and “people” skills by working within a group that shares a few basic values, but also has a broad and inclusive membership. Check out the annual meeting Saturday and see what Harmony Tribe has to offer you!

    Nels Linde
    Nels is currently a Harmony Tribe Council Member.

    Seeker? – Get looking!

    A seeker in religions is a person trying to see what they believe so they ‘seek’ out information on the different religions and eventually find what they are looking for. For those imbedded in Pagan community one  might  wonder who is looking?  We often forget there is a steady stream of people, young and old, who are looking for a meaningful expression of their spiritual beliefs outside of main stream religions.  Sometimes seekers are looking for help clarifying what they really do believe. Seeker classes serve an important function;  giving people new to Pagan experience an overview of what the Pagan world looks like and encompasses.

    Fall is the season many of these classes start. Some classes may only be sponsored every few years by some groups  and locations. In an online world of many classes and opportunities there is still really no substitute for meeting in person with fellows on a similar level of investigation, with someone qualified to help guide you, and exploring the many paths of magic and Paganism. If you are a seeker, to find class opportunities you need to get on mail lists, talk to book stores, and get recommendations from those you trust.  When you find one, jump on it! If you know a tradition or path you are already interested in use the same resources and ask around. Many groups or covens have ongoing ways for new people to learn about them without an ongoing commitment.

    Many of these classes have already started and may not take people at this time. always worth asking though. Starting tomorrow is:
    Wicca 101   -  Location: Eye of Horus, 910 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
    October 16th (Thursday) 7-9pm ~ 13 Class Series 3rd Thursday Each Month, starting in October 2014
    Learn the basics of Wicca from ethics and basic protection work to spellwork and ritual creation. We will cover energy work, use of herbs and stones, and more in this once a month class series. To finish out the course, participants will write and perform a final ritual. Everyone will also leave with resources to either continue a solitary path or find the coven that is right for them. Class is provided by Wellspring Coven from Minneapolis. 3rd Thursday of each month, starting October 16th, 2014. 
    $65 Cost covers entire year – 13 month commitment required.

     
    Seekers Classes The Coven of the Standing Stones regularly holds seeker classes and their next series is beginning
     in November at Magus Books. They will begin the first Friday in November and are offered free at 6.30pm.  Contact Magus Books or the Standing Stones to reserve a spot in the class.

     Grove Training   Stillwater (Minnesota) Gardnerian Coven is currently accepting students for our outer court training grove. Seekers interested in training and possible initiation in the Gardnerian Wiccan Tradition can find more information and contact info on our WitchVox listing, here: http://www.witchvox.com/vn/vn_detail/dt_gr.html?a=usmn&id=36698

    These classes have already begun :

     Elements of Magic 101, Six Sessions in Six Months begins this Saturday, Sept 13th.   “All are welcome to join us. If you are new to Reclaiming and wish to be a more active participant in our practices and understandings this will be a very good way to learn the basics of our Tradition.  We will meet once a month over 6 months exploring, learning and deepening the foundational arts, magics, and practices of Reclaiming. Some of the topics that we will be looking at are; grounding, shielding, personal practice, shaping intentions, spell crafting, divination, ritual format and skills, prayer beads, labyrinths, the Seven Sacred Voices, nurturing our relationships with Mystery, altar building and an overview of Reclaiming’s history. We will also closely examine our one core document that informs everything that we do, The Principals of Unity. We will explore all of these topics and more, using the tools of conscious thought, trance journeying, discussion, rune and tarot work, song, chant, and other voice skills, and the mystery that we are bodies, and that all of the magical tools that we need our already a part of our beings.”


     

    Since September the Wiccan Church of Minnesota ( WiCoM )has been doing a series of six seekers’ classes.  We meet every second and fourth Wednesday evening at a St. Paul restaurant that has a meeting room to rent.  The purpose of the class is to give students just a taste of what Wicca is about and some very basic information about other Pagan paths.  We also touch upon the history of Wicca, our church in particular, ethics, ritual, and energy work.  At the end of our classes it is hoped that students will know if Wicca is something they wish to pursue.  If it is, the class teachers and other church leaders help the students connect with appropriate teachers.  Unlike other seekers’ classes that encompass year-and-a-day training, WiCoM Seekers’ classes are intended to give students a familiarity with Wicca and then a connection to year-and-a-day training.

    It is too late to join this round of WiCoM seekers classes.  We hope to have another round in the spring.  Folks can watch our Facebook page and website for an announcement about upcoming classes.

    I found this Witchvox listing in Duluth, contact them for future classes:

    When: Feb. 16th. 2014 – Jan. 18th. 2015
    Where: Duluth, Minnesota

    Seeker Classes offered by Silver Phoenix

    Event Details: Silver Phoenix is offering seeker classes starting in Feb 2014 and ending in Jan 2015.

    Our classes typically run for a year, and we have in person classes once a month as well as weekly projects and discussions online. New this year Song has built an interactive student website for the students to complement the classes.

    Seeker classes are open to anyone interested in learning, and we do not require our students to become members either before or following the end of classes (though we do occasionally offer membership) . Our goal is to help our students find the place that is right for them, be it with us, another group, or as a solitary.


    If you have information about new seeker class opportunities, please add them as a comment!

    Nels Linde

    Paganistan Reclaiming Tradition Fall Events

    photo: Donald L. Engstrom-Reese

    Reclaiming Tradition has a series of fall events in the Twin Cities. A series of six monthly introductory classes begins Saturday. Paganistan Reclaiming will for the first time host a tradition “Dandelion Gathering”, and sponsors a public Equinox ritual which takes place during the gathering.

     

    Elements of Magic 101, Six Sessions in Six Months begins this Saturday, Sept 13th.   “All are welcome to join us. If you are new to Reclaiming and wish to be a more active participant in our practices and understandings this will be a very good way to learn the basics of our Tradition.  We will meet once a month over 6 months exploring, learning and deepening the foundational arts, magics, and practices of Reclaiming. Some of the topics that we will be looking at are; grounding, shielding, personal practice, shaping intentions, spell crafting, divination, ritual format and skills, prayer beads, labyrinths, the Seven Sacred Voices, nurturing our relationships with Mystery, altar building and an overview of Reclaiming’s history. We will also closely examine our one core document that informs everything that we do, The Principals of Unity. We will explore all of these topics and more, using the tools of conscious thought, trance journeying, discussion, rune and tarot work, song, chant, and other voice skills, and the mystery that we are bodies, and that all of the magical tools that we need our already a part of our beings.”

    A Dandelion Gathering is a tradition-wide Reclaiming reunion. At the last Dandelion Gathering of 2012 in Portland, OR, those meeting decided to encourage bio-regional Dandelion gatherings to be held in communities across the globe.

    Our intention for the gathering: We joyfully gather, with the heart of the Fool, near the Sacred Mississippi to celebrate, sing, dance and heal in community. “

    I talked to Paul Eaves as he tended his annual Pagan Pride labyrinth about Dandelion last week. “This event is co-created by our community and rather than have a highly scheduled event we have planned a series of events people can select from. A full schedule of events and locations are available online.”

    The Saturday events at Hidden Falls Park include workshops on building a Labyrinth, and connecting with fossil allies.  Participate in an Open Listening/Discussion Session about Winter Witchcamp with some of the event Weavers.  At 2pm, before the equinox ritual, an introduction to Reclaiming discussion is scheduled with a brief background about Reclaiming Tradition and question and answer session.

     

    photo: Reclaiming Quarterly

    We are celebrating the turning of the wheel with an Autumnal Equinox Ritual at the park pavilion of Hidden Falls Regional Park on September 20. We will start gathering at 3:00 p.m. and begin ritual promptly at 3:20 p.m.
    Our intention: “We name our flames to honor this hearth.”
    We ask that you consider coming to this ritual with:
    1.  A seasonal oath to name aloud while in the hearth of community
    2.  A non-perishable food item or items to donate to The Exchange’s Queer Community Food Shelf
    Money donations are also welcome to cover ritual expenses, but please note that no one will be turned away for lack of funds or food items.
    Please bring a chair if you need one and weather-appropriate clothing as we will be outdoors.
    ALL ARE WELCOME including children and folks from other traditions. This is a sober event. We also invite you to refrain from the use of perfumes, lotions, and other scented product to ensure increased accessibility.
    We look forward to seeing you!
    When
    Saturday, September 20, 2014
    Time
    3:00 p.m.
    Where
    The park pavilion at Hidden Falls Regional Park, 1313 Hidden Falls Drive, St. Paul, MN 55116

    Twin Cities Pagan Pride this Saturday September 6th!

    TCPP Entrance

    TCPP Entrance

    The Twin Cities Pagan Pride (TCPP) Fall Festival is being held at Minnehaha Falls Park on Saturday, September 6th from 10:00 – 6:00pm. Pagan Pride is a free fall event, open to the public, that offers education about Paganism to the larger community. Twin Cities Pagan Pride has offered a fall event since 1998 that includes a ritual focusing on the harvest, a food and charity drive, along with other rituals, discussions, vendors, and entertainment.

    TCPPimg6

    Labyrinth Station

    Paul Eaves, the amazing labyrinth designer, will be back putting up another of his walkable works of art.  TCPP is partnering with the Groveland Emergency Food Shelf again this year to give back to the community, please bring non-perishable food items!.

     

    There are over 25 vendor booths for merchants and representing area groups to visit. Something for everyone!

    Saturday’s schedule :

    10:00am-10:30am – Opening Ritual (Steven Posch)

    10:30 Crow Call

    11:00 Standing Stones Ritual

    11:15 Dance 1 – Mystic Siren
    11:25 Kamala Chaand Dance Co
    12:00 Blue Star Ritual – We’ll be singing, celebrating the season, and honoring the gods.
    1:00 Mark Digitono
    1:45 Kamala Chaand Dance Co
    2:05 Bourgeois Bohemians
    2:25 Kamala Chaand Dance Co
    3:00 Our Lady of Celestial Fire Ritual
    3:45 Beth Kinderman and the Player Characters
    Located at Minnehaha Falls Park, in the area around the bandshell. There are both paid and free parking options in the area (the link includes map and parking details.) The park is not far from the 46th Street light rail station and a wide variety of bus lines (and you can find out more from the MetroTransit site.

    Nels Linde

    Crystal Blanton and Yeshe Rabbit at Sacred Harvest Festival – Interview

    Crystal Blanton at Sacred Harvest Festival 2012

    Two other guests from past Sacred Harvest Festivals are returning, Crystal Blanton and Yeshe Rabbit. This year a whole range of rituals are offered from guests, Harmony Tribe members, and community members.  Crystal and Rabbit are together offering a Ritual of Ancestral Healing on Thursday, Aug 7th.   Yeshe Rabbit is offering a featured ritual Friday evening Aug 8th,  “Dancing with our Demons”, before the annual Rangoli ritual.  I talked to them together on a Google hangout.

    Advance Registration for Sacred Harvest Festival ends tomorrow at midnight, Thursday July 31st. Patrons can register at the gate in Albert Lea, Mn for a day, weekend, or the full week Aug 4-10th.

    Yeshe Rabbit

    What is the ritual that you are offering together?
    Rabbit: We are very excited about the ritual we are doing together,  the Ritual of Ancestral Healing. We recently heard a lecture two weeks ago together that was so wonderful.  It was with one of Crystal’s mentors,  Dr Joy Degruy,  who speaks about the racial and ethnic underpinnings that have formed American culture.  There are these invisible threads of racism twined within everything. You don’t see them until you pull back the cloth and reveal the threads that are holding it all together.  I am so fired up for this ritual after going with Crystal to this eye opening lecture.

    Crystal:  Doing something like this together is a step at looking at some of the many layers that keep us stuck. It is opening up conversation and connection,  extending the olive branch;  not necessarily through each other but through our ancestors. It is connecting in a way we don’t normally get to in our normal walk of life.  We will be acknowledging the many layers of societal hurt,  community hurt, and how we impact one another. I am excited about it as a way to open another level of work, and acknowledging it in a way meant to be healing. Not just ripping the scab off,  but acknowledging the fact the scabs and scars exist.  Loving those scars and loving our past through one another as a result of that.  I am really excited about it for those reasons.

    You are offering this in the mainly white Midwest.  Does that make it different?
    Crystal: I think it makes a huge difference because it is not often we get to offer this in other areas that may not have the diversity of places like the Bay Area,  and get a chance to  explore these things, in this way.  This is something very unique that both of us can bring to the table, and that otherwise people may not have the opportunity to participate in.

    Rabbit: When I have done this sort of work before, one of the things I have found is that white people feel that they can only talk to people of color about this issue. Sometimes we really need to be talking to each other about it. While our sisters and brothers of color in the Pagan community are often amazing resources of information and experience that we can learn from, it is not always appropriate for us to ask them to teach us everything.  By gathering groups of people together who are white to talk together with people they know and trust, in a creative environment of trust, we are hoping that people who are white will engage with us, and each other to take responsibility together for learning about race and ethnicity.  I know some of the people who live right there in Minnesota also have persecution in their ancestral past, that may be different than the type of persecution that Crystal’s ancestors may have faced.  Certainly different that my ancestors faced in Eastern Europe. It is still relevant because what we are coming to the table with is to take responsibility for what we can do, what we can learn from each others experiences.

    Crystal: I am excited about it. There is more diversity there than one might assume at first glance.  At the same time, even knowing that, the experience of people of color is different for people of color walking into a place that is perceived as a lily white area.  What that brings up , understanding that, and having that kind of dialog  in an open and loving way is so important. We plan to back up that kind of dialog with something that is magical and supportive. This is something we don’t often give ourselves permission to do,  to come to the table as we are, and work together for collective healing.  We don’t have to, it is not a blame game, it is not making people feel they have to take accountability for something that they don’t relate to.  It is dissecting a little of it together and than backing that up with magic. Part of why this is so special is it would be totally different if we were doing this in another location.

    Rangoli Ritual Ground Design

    What is your Friday night SHF ritual, Dancing with our Demons about?
    Rabbit: In Tibetan Buddhism you have various classes of beings that you encounter. In the Dharma view you have choices. You have rituals that will banish those demons, and rituals that will feed those demons.  In this case I am really referring to a shadow part of our personality or psyche that comes forward, or a vexatious situation, this is a demon. It is a bad thing,  some thing we deem a “bad” collection of energies. When we encounter those we are soul tied to decide, are we going to banish this, try to fix this, or try to feed this. When we are in this mode of trying to either banish, fix, or feed one of the things what often happens is we are not being present for the lessons that thet demon is teaching us in the moment.  Dancing with our Demons is a ritual to bring forward and embody some of the hardest lessons that we have had to learn from this year,  and dance them into healing, and dance them into awareness. Not necessarily seek to banish, fix, or feed any of it, but just to be moving with it. This movement based meditation will help us become aware of them and so learn from our demons.

    Another workshop you offer is about the Dharma Pagan?
    Rabbit: In this session we will start with a chanting session so everyone can come and benefit from the experience of a chanting practice. We will talk about the notion of the Dharma, and how I relate that to what in my Pagan practice I call magic.  It is the universal force that flows through all things.  We will talk about where my practice overlaps between my Paganism and my Tibetan Buddhism. This so perfect because after we leave you all we move on to what is like our pilgrimage. The first leg of the pilgrimage is the Pagan one to Sacred Harvest Festival. Then the second and third legs are first in Colorado at the Buddhist monastery, and then in Tibet itself. These are the Dharma voyage of the pilgrimage.  This workshop will be a great time to talk about that in terms of the structure of my beliefs.

    Crystal, your Tuesday workshop, “Embodying Cultural Archetypes”, is this preparation for the ritual with Rabbit or a separate topic?
    Crystal:  In some ways it is a separate topic, but there is some intersection there. Initially it is something I am working on,  work that I am doing independently as a writer and spiritual person. The Ancestral Healing ritual idea came about and they complimented each other.  Though I  didn’t plan them together, they will probably work in that way.  I am delving into the marriage between culture and our spiritual practice.  How we show up in our spirituality. It is important to acknowledge and honor all the many different layers of privilege and gratitude in our practice. Sometimes there is a negative viewpoint when someone brings up the idea of privilege, at least that is the perspective.  In reality we all live with privilege and there is an intersectionality with privilege. It is  important to understand and talk about how that feeds into gratitude. How we can acknowledge the things that we have,  and do so alongside other things that are very challenging for us.  How we can make that part of a balanced perspective and practice for us so that we are moving forward with gratitude. For me they are very closely related to the theme of the whole festival. How can we be grateful if we can’t acknowledge e what is happening within our life.

    Are Pagans class aware as a group, Is this about class?
    Crystal: I do think we struggle in that area. In some ways we are class aware but in other ways my perception is that we struggle with the many different layers of what makes us a whole person and not just a Pagan.  It is in the evolution of any community. You start with one person and then it spreads out and spreads out.  We add to it and then have a different awareness and understanding.  At this point we are expanding our understanding around issues like class, racism, gender,  and how those things make up the Pagan community.  We ask does our understanding enhance or take away from our spiritual practice?  We are growing in that way. Not all Pagans are poor,  but not all Pagans have a lot of money either.  It is a struggle to wrap our minds around that. Even though we are Pagans we are also just people who are struggling in different areas. Bringing attention to that just makes us stronger.

    You are offering a Community Gratitude Restorative Justice Circle on Friday, what does that look like?
    Crystal:  Because it is focused on community building we will do some interactive things differently than at the other restorative justice circles I have done there before. It will be the same format but different. I don’t want to give too much away, but one of the activities we will be doing will leave the community with something tangible that has a piece of everyone there. You can choose what to do with it, whether to put it on your website, or return it to the festival. I really want to leave something tangible and walk away so when anyone sees it they will remember, remember how incredible it was to build community in that way.  I am excited about offering it, I did something similar at Pantheacon a few years ago.  There it was a really great experience and I m excited to see how it works for Harmony Tribe at the festival.

    It is such an honor to be back there at the festival for a wonderful theme like gratitude, when I feel so much gratitude for everyone I have met in Minnesota.

     

    Yeshe Rabbit and Crystal Blanton  will join Tony Mierzwicki for a week of workshops and rituals at Sacred Harvest Festival, August 4-10th near Albert Lea, Mn.  Advance registration closes this Thursday, July 31st, but is available for a week, weekend, or day pass at the festival gate.

     

    Nels Linde

    ~ Nels is a council member of Harmony Tribe, sponsor of Sacred Harvest Festival

    Tony Mierzwicki, Guest at Sacred Harvest Festival – Interview

    Tony Mierzwicki

    Tony Mierzwicki is one of three national guests appearing at Sacred Harvest Festival (SHF)  beginning Monday, August 4th near Albert Lea, MN.  Tony is the author of “Graeco-Egyptian Magick: Everyday Empowerment” and was also a guest of  SHF in 2008.

    Tony is from Austalia but spends much of his time writing and lecturing in Southern California. I talked to him by phone.

    Your expertise is in Greek Religion, what have you been up to lately?

    I have a book coming out in December called , “Hellenismos: Practicing Greek Polytheism Today” . It is a book that reconstructs the practice of Greek religion and updates it to the current day. It is the first book to come out from a main stream publishing company. Every other book has either come out as an academic text or has been self published. This will be a practical text published with Llewellyn. I am a student of Greek religion and I am trying to make it more accessible for those people who are interested. There does seem to be a fair amount of interest in Greek religion at the moment. There are all sorts of Hollywood movies coming out, like Herakles and about other figures of Greek mythology. There would be people out there wondering how the Greeks venerated their Gods. This book will allow people to venerate the gods in a spirit of how the ancient Greek went about the process. There are a number of things that the Greeks did that we cannot do. We are not going to bring back public animal sacrifice, or slavery, or the subjugation of women. Every religion modifies and changes as time goes on. What I am trying to do is look at ancient Greek religion and come up with my best guess of what it would look like today if it had continued since ancient times. That is the spirit behind the book.

    This is based on my own experience, but I also lurk on many Greek based electronic forums to see how other people practice Greek religion, and the issues they are having. There are a number of misconceptions that people have, and I have tried to address those issues. The book is heavily based on source texts, with over 400 footnotes that people can refer to as my primary and secondary sources. I look at the book as “factual” but different folks looking at the same data and material will look to other directions or disagree with the practice outline.

    Is Greek  reconstruction a growing part of the Pagan movement?

    It is a slowly growing part of the Pagan community . People who are drawn to the Greek religion tend to be very scholarly. They tend to consult original texts and get very passionate in their interpretations. There are many intelligent people practicing Greek polytheism. There are some people who believe you go through the motions, performing rituals perfectly, but do not expect any personal interaction with the gods. Others believe you it is all about a personal interaction with the gods. That is my belief. Unless you can feel the presence of the gods you are not really getting the most out of your practice.

    The Greeks did not have a word for religion. In this day and age we tend to think of religion and secular life as two separate things. We go about our daily lives and may get involved in some religious practice occasionally. Christians may go to church on Sunday, but the rest of the week they are indistinguishable from the rest of the community. Pagans may venerate their gods on certain days, full moons or the eight Sabbats, depending on what they are into. For the Greeks, venerating the gods was something they did everyday. They would not think of beginning any venture unless they called on the gods first. The practice of Greek religion was integrated seamlessly into everyday life. We think of religion as being separate, but then it was considered a crime to disbelieve in the gods, or be an atheist. Everyone went to temples constantly and engaged in various sacrifices. There were particular rituals that took place on a city level. Household performed their own rituals, Guilds and trade groups performed their rituals. They were all varied and different. The principles remained the same but the nuts and bolts of how they did ritual varied.

    The description of how Greeks practiced religion in all aspects of life sounds a lot like much indigenous practice?

    One of the early theories of how religion developed is that it started off as a shamanic practice that became more institutionalized and then turned into religion. If you look at many indigenous tribes their gods have a very real presence. The gods are around them constantly and interact with them frequently. The tribes depend on the gods for everything that is good in their lives. The gods provide sunshine and rain and produce a bountiful harvest for them. They are constantly working with the gods, there is no idea of separation from the divine. This is something you also see with the Greeks.

    What are you bringing to Sacred Harvest Festival next week?

    The heart of my presentation is a series of three workshops that begins with The Practice of Ancient Greek Religion Today.

    The second is on Greek Nature Deities and Gaia Consciousness .  It is about the interconnectedness of us and everything around us. I wanted to bring in the idea of Gaia consciousnessbecause it is a thoroughly modern concept that talks about how everything is interconnected and integrated.

    The third workshop pushes that further and talks about how all of this impacts our health. The things we do in everyday life have an impact on ourselves and everything around us. One of the problems in modern society is that many see themselves as separate from the world. They think they can exploit the riches of the world and not suffer the consequences. I will be pushing the idea of working in harmony with the world, working with sustainable faming practices, sustainable energy and the like. I will talk about how this then also impacts on our health. The workshops form a cohesive series together and I am very grateful to be able to offer these three workshops as a series.

    Will this be of interest to those of many different paths?

    Absolutely, I will try to talk in generalities about these topics, but when it comes down to it one of the things that most Pagans have in common is a deep connection with the planet, the world around them. Regardless of the gods that they may feel closest to, most of us realize that we are integrally connected with the planet and that our decisions effect everything that happens around us – the butterfly effect.  This proposes that every little thing that we do, can wind up having a much larger effect around us. The more people become responsible in how they act, the better things will turn out in the long term for us. A precipice is approaching where we start running out of fossil fuels, and pollution is so bad we can’t breathe the air or drink the water.

    My fourth workshop will be about ancient curses and bindings. This will be an overview from an academic sort of viewpoint. It will give people an idea about what kind of activities took place so they can see the darker underbelly of our community from the vantage point of the past.

    The last workshop will be about the god Set. For a lot of people Set is thought of as an evil god, a prototype of the Christian devil. He has been demonized over the years. When one people conquers another they demonize the gods of the other. In this case Set was a very significant god in ancient times. There are various texts which talk about his importance and describe him as a benevolent deity. Once the worship of Osiris came to the ascendancy, Set was demonized. I hope to present some balance and provide another way of looking at him. He is a powerful god, but not really evil. I want to share what I have found in my research about him.

    When were you last a guest at Sacred Harvest Festival?

    This was in 2008 and had a fantastic time! I was made to feel very welcome. One of the things I really liked was there wer activities for all ages. There were many children and there wer activities for kids, teens, and adults. There was a strong family environment for people who attended with their kids. It was nice to have a festival where you could actually sleep!. Many stayed up late but it was around campfires, singing, enjoying stories and a drink or two together. The whole event had a very family kind of feel to it and I felt blessed to be there. I feel blessed to be coming out yet again!

    I firmly believe that whatever path you choose has to be the path that resonates with you, the path that feels right for you. Unless you have found a specific path you absolutely don’t want to deviate from, it is always good to see what other people are doing and perhaps learn little things that you can integrate into your own practice from them. I am simply bringing things I have learned in the past couple of decades in the hopes that attendees can get something out of them to integrate into their own practice. There may be people interested enough in what I am doing to engage in the practice of Greek polytheism or perhaps Graeco-Egyptian magick – the subject of my previous book. What I have found from running workshops based on my first book is that very few people will choose to practice exactly as it is presented in the book. People tend to pick out bits and pieces from it and integrate it into what they are already doing. That is fine because it is all about finding things which resonate with you. When I was starting out I was trying to learn everything I could from those around me. There were things that would just feel right, and others that didn’t quite feel right. This approach ensures that eventually you end up navigating your own path.

    There are so many gifted speakers this year sharing their experiences and knowledge. That is what it is all about, learning from each other and sharing our experiences. We can then all pass what we have learned and pay it forward. I can’t help those who helped me in the past but I can help those who come after me, and I encourage others to do the same.

    Tony will join Yeshe Rabbit and Crystal Blanton  for a week of workshops and rituals at Sacred Harvest Festival, August 4-10th near Albert Lea, Mn.  Advance registration closes this Thursday, July 31st, but is available for a week, weekend, or day pass at the festival gate.

     

    Nels Linde

    ~ Nels is a council member of Harmony Tribe, sponsor of Sacred Harvest Festival

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