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I talked by phone with Oberon Zell-Ravenheart about his upcoming appearance at Paganicon, and his new book about to be released.
Where: Doubletree Park Place in St. Louis Park, MN
When: March 14-16, 2014
NOTE: Deadline for programming submissions is January 31st!
Oberon Zell-Ravenheart is a multi-talented and active force of nature, pursuing many interests at any one time. I inquired about the health of lifemate Morning Glory who has been undergoing treatment for cancer for some time. Oberon splits most days to spend time with her in this current hospitalization, and a funding site has been established for donations for her ongoing care. Don’t be fooled by the funding goal displayed, the need is real and ongoing!
Are you excited to come to Minnesota?
Yes, I have not been to Minneapolis for a long time. My father used to live up there and I visited him frequently before he died a few years ago. But my major connection to the area is the old Llewellyn Gnosticons back in the early 70′s, which is where I met Morning Glory. We met at the fourth Gnosticon festival in 1973 at the fall equinox, and were handfasted there on April 14, 1974. We’re coming up on our 40th wedding anniversary! We have just completed and published our life story, and that period is an important part of it. Llewellyn is publishing it and Carl Weschcke wrote the introduction to the book, so it is all coming around full circle. The book will be released in early February.
Tell me about your keynote address at Paganicon.
I am sharing the keynote with guest Deborah Lipp, and we are offering a talk on the legacy of the whole Neo-Pagan movement. The two of us will be bouncing back and forth about the emergence of the Neo-Pagan movement and what it has contributed that will be of lasting significance in the world. I think it is quite a lot. We will also talk about where we go from here as Paganism becomes more recognized as a mainstream religion. One of the puzzles we have all experienced is why don’t people don’t seem to know about us, because they ought to!
There have been more books published by and about the Pagan movement that just about any other religion you could find. Vast numbers of people are involved, interviews, television shows are aired about us. People seem to have a much greater awareness about a few truly obscure and off the wall spiritual groups than us.
You have always had a very public face as a Pagan, how has that experience been for you?
I always get a good reception. I have done lots of interviews and never had a bad one. I have done many public appearances, speaking, book signings, and festivals, and they have all been positively received. I can afford to be out there in the public in a way that many people can’t. I don’t have to worry about losing my job, or losing my kids in a child custody suit, or many of the things that have caused some of our people to feel the need to stay “in the broom closet.” Because of my freedom to move in the wider world without repercussions, I feel a responsibility to do so, because of all the people who cannot afford to.
What will you be offering at Paganicon?
The theme of the conference is about Embracing the Elements, and now that we have just stepped over the threshold of the age of Aquarius, there is interest in knowing what all this will mean. I want to talk about this, as Aquarius is an Air sign, signifying communication, wisdom, and travel through the air and sky. The internet and how that will continue evolving in the years to come, and space travel and colonization, these are totally Aquarian types of issues. Then there is the spiritual, and Aquarius also involves the mind and consciousness. The “New Age” is very Aquarian in its entire vision. This is truly a time of global awakening, of our planetary being, of Gaea herself. Her awakening to full consciousness and the implications of that for us. I have been thinking about these things for decades and I think it will make a great subject to talk about. We are here!
Where do you put most your effort now?
With each of the projects I have worked on I have tried to create what I want to see. If it is not out there, then I feel I have a mission to create it. I started off back in college with finding two major things lacking. I wanted to create a new religion because I was into religion but was not satisfied with what was out there and available. I took that as an assignment, and created the Church of All Worlds in 1962.
Ultimately I had a lot to do with the creation of the whole modern Pagan movement. I feel good about that, I don’t feel the need to keep at that, it is sustaining and I just keep my finger in the pie with my ideas. The most recent involvement has been a campaign to get journalists and press style books to capitalize the name of our religions. Everything from Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, to Christianity in all its forms are capitalized. Why not Paganism? There is no other religion that I can think of that is ordinarily and routinely not capitalized by journalists. It is really annoying and frustrating. We have been hammering at this trend for decades. It is insulting and demeaning .Lately I pulled together an international coalition of scholars in Pagan studies and we submitted a petition to the AP and Chicago Stylebooks to capitalize the name of our religion. Your readers may view and sign the petition .
But the other thing I have always felt a need for was an entirely new approach to education—what I call “esoteric education.” That is, once upon a time getting an education was universally regarded as a very special privilege. But this view has been severely diluted by our laudable goal of universal education. But I was always inspired by more visionary models, such as Montessori, Waldorf schools, Summerhill, Walden Two—and perhaps most of all, “Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters” in “The X-Men.”
For decades I have written and lectured about the need I perceived in our Pagan community to create schools of magick and Wizardry that would be open to youths as well as adults. With the incredible popularity of the Harry Potter novels and movies, centering around a fictional school of “Witchcraft and Wizardry,” I felt that the time had finally come for me to actualize my long-standing vision, and create such a school in the real world. And so it is, with my Grey School of Wizardry , which is ten years old this year!
Have we not attained a capital P in Pagan by not having a commonly accepted definition?
That idea frustrates me, because we do have a commonly accepted definition, and we have had it for decades. I don’t understand why there are people who resist that. Some people just seem to be contrary-wise and don’t want to get with the program. This is not something that we haven’t done or talked about. We have had whole conferences of Pagan leaders, like the Pagan Leaders Summit in 2001, that I attended over ten years ago that addressed this question. These things have been settled and used worldwide for decades now. I don’t understand why new people coming into the Pagan movement can say we don’t really know who we are.
Yes we do; we have known for decades! It is who we are and have been very clear about our definitions. Simply put, Paganism is Nature Worship. That is pretty fundamental. On a broader scale it is the “Old Religion” the original religion of ancient peoples everywhere, indigenous traditions that existed before being taken over by prophet-based religions. It is about the Earth, the seasons, natural cycles and the ways of Nature; that is the core of it. I particularly like the definition of Paganism I overheard in the ‘90′s as “Green Religion.”
Are you actively involved in the School of Wizardry?
These days most of my activity with the School isn’t so much on the internal level. That is all being handled really well. We have a phenomenal faculty and staff, a couple dozen people, who are doing a great job with all that. What I do is just keeping the oversight of the long term vision. I tend to handle the outside public relations, and speaking about it. I try to bring the school to a wider public consciousness and help in shaping the whole thing. Writing the textbooks, trying to encapsulate the obsessive learning I have done all my life, consumes much of my time. To get that together coherently in a literary format so people can have it, and so it will remain, is important to me.
Are you excited about your new book coming out?
I look forward a great deal to seeing how people react to it. The initial manuscript was twice as long as the edited book! A great deal had to be trimmed. What we have now should be tight and fun, and move right along and hopefully people will find it enjoyable. That is really what is comes down to when producing a book. There are two aspects. Most writers think of what they want to give to people. People who are buying the books are looking at what they are receiving. If they don’t like the book it doesn’t matter how well the author has articulated his or her thoughts, it falls flat. If people think it is a great story, and they like it a lot, well cool! If not, then, oh well. You drop a pebble in the pond and watch the ripples spread…
What was your experience of the Midwest?
I grew up out there, what I consider to be “Pleasantville”. I was in high school in the 50′s, the world of Archie and Jughead, Happy Days, Father Knows Best, all that was created after World War II to offer to returning GI’s. To emerge out of that into the sixties was a major cultural revolution. Every sixty years, like clockwork , there has been a major cultural renaissance, the last one being in the 1960′s. Out of that came the Pagan movement, the women’s movement, the civil rights movement, the anti -war movement, and the sexual revolution; it was huge.
The next one of these will be in the 2020′s. I am excited to look forward to that. Each time the people who came of age in one revolutionary era then become the elders, teachers, and wise ones for the young people in the next generation. We have this cycle in our mythology, of wizards and young heroes. Wizards are the mentors for the heroes as they leave on their adventures. Connecting all this from the myths into the reality, the history of past, present, and future is a large part of what I am thinking about and working with these days.
This is the ultimate conspiracy of Pagans. By the time you know enough to know what we are really all about, it too late, you are already one of us.
Maybe it is the climate, or seasonal competitiveness but Yule is BIG in Minnesota. A few early events have already happened last weekend. If you are looking for a Pagan Yule event this weekend, check out these events beginning Friday evening and continuing through Sunday. If you know of other public events, please add them as a comment!
Doors open at 8pm. There will be spin toys for everyone to play with from 8-8:30 > Opening Ceremony begins at 8:30pm > fire dancing performances at 9, 10, 11 and 12 > and drumming throughout the night!This is a family friendly event. Suggested donation $5. Children 10 and younger are FREE.There will be a potluck so please bring food and/or drinks to share (something fitting for the holidays). If you bring something you are not required to pay the $5 entry, though it would still be appreciated :)Opening ceremony at 8:30pm which includes a meditation to help you connect with your inner light to assist you in manifesting your hearts desires (and better!) throughout the coming year.
Accepting donations that will be given to East Side Neighborhood Services.
Saturday December 21, 2013
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Living Table United Church of Christ, 4001 38th Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55406
Please join us as we celebrate this intention for the Winter:
Declaring we are not alone, we kindle our hearths’ Flame.
There will be a light potluck following the ritual and you are welcome to bring something to share with community. There is a small kitchen at the church. You do not have to bring a potluck item to attend the ritual and share in the feasting.
All are welcome, including children and folks from other traditions. Donations are also welcome, but please note that no one will be turned away for lack of funds. This is a sober event. We also invite you to refrain from the use of perfumes, lotions, and other scented products to ensure increased accessibility.
Celebrate the changes with Harmony Tribe
on December 21, 2013
Gather at 2 pm, ritual at 3 pm
Michael Servetus Unitarian Society, 6565 Oakley Drive Northeast, Fridley, MN 55432.
Feasting and camraderie to follow! All are welcome to attend; this is a FREE and very family friendly environment. Bring your family and a dish to pass. Ritual early in the day, early enough for those with other Yule obligations to attend.
|DATE||Saturday, December 21, 2013|
|TIME||6:30 p.m. Gather, 7:00 p.m. Ritual|
|Living Table UCC
4001 38th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55406
Join us in a family-friendly ritual to commemorate the Holly King’s contributions and to celebrate the return of his counterpart, the Oak King.Bring a beverage and a dish to share for the feast, and we’ll lift a cup to the Sun.
Saturnalia Sabbat Open Ritual
|Saturday December 21, 2013|
|6:30 pm – 9:00 pm (GMT-06.00) Central Time (US & Canada)|
|Eye of Horus, 3012 Lyndale Ave S., Minneapolis, MN 55408|
|Ritual 7-9:00pm Gather at 6:30 for setup Join Our Lady of Celestial Fire for this open circle celebration of the rebirth of the divine child. Any ritual garb may be worn. A potluck feast and fellowship to follow.This event is Free, but donations are appreciated to cover the costs.|
Join Steve Sklar and Johnna Morrow for an evening of sonic exploration celebrating the Winter Solstice. An “inner adventure” intended to evoke and stimulate an enhanced sense of well-being, spiritual connectedness, healing, and meditative journeying. Tibetan singing bowls, didgeridoos, guitar, igil (Tuvan horsehead fiddle), voice, exotic flutes, drumming, throat-singing, sruti box, ehecatls and an amazing set of huge gongs. Special guest Brett Fehr will lead an opening invocation.
Admission is $15 in advance and suggested $20 donation at the door.
Saturday, Dec 21st 9:00pm to Sunday Dec 22nd 8:00am
Sacred fire circles are purposeful nights spent working through a personal alchemical process of burning off one’s dross to reveal the gold. It is a deliberate, intense and intent-full night of dancing, drumming, rattling, chanting, meditating, healing, and holding space in ritual mindset.
This event costs $21.00 per person, and pre-registration is required.
Candles lit to celebrate the light in our lives and bless the growing power of the Sun.
Join with members of the Walker Community Church.
You are welcome to arrive between 3:30 and 4pm at the entrance circle with the fireplace. Candles and Cider will be provided.
Applebees Free Meal
On Monday, November 11th, veterans and active duty military can choose from a free signature Thank You Meal menu that includes some of Applebee’s favorite items, including a 7 oz. House Sirloin, Bacon Cheddar Cheeseburger, Three-Cheese Chicken & Sundried Tomato Penne, Fiesta Lime Chicken, Double Crunch Shrimp, Chicken Tenders Platter or Oriental Chicken Salad. Must present valid Veteran’s form of identification or be in uniform.
Bar Louie Free Lunch or Dinner
From open to close Sunday, November 10th and Monday, November 11th every Bar Louie location across the country will offer veterans and military personnel a free meal up to a $12 value when they show valid military I.D. or other proof of service.
California Pizza Kitchen
On Monday, November 11, all veterans or active duty military personnel will be able to get any pizza from our menu for free (dine-in only). Please come in uniform or bring your military ID or other proof of service. Offer valid at participating CPK restaurants, excluding Guam, airport, stadium and university locations.
Champps Free Cheeseburger and Fries
Veterans and active-duty receive a free handcrafted burger and fries all day. Choose from a select menu. Participating locations only, check to confirm.
Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse Eat Free
Veterans and active-duty military eat free on Monday, 11.11.13. Valid ID required or in uniform or photo in uniform.
Cheeseburger in Paradise
On Monday, November 11 get a complimentary All-American Burger with fries to active and retired military personnel. Dine in only and must purchase a beverage and present proof of service.
Einstein Bagels Free Bagel and Shmear
This Veterans Day from 5:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., all active, inactive and retired military personnel are invited to receive a Free Signature or Classic Bagel and Shmear, or any other topping, and no purchase is necessary.
Famous Dave’s Free or Discounted Meal
Famous Dave’s is providing a variety of free meals and discounts at participating locations to former and current military personnel on 11/11/2013. Offers vary by location.
Fatz Eatz and Drinkz
On this Veteran’s Day, 11/11/2013, Veterans and Active Duty military can enjoy a free entrée up to a $15 value. No purchase required! Also, each veteran will receive a $2 coupon for use on his or her next visit.
Friendly’s Free Breakfast and Coffee
Get a free Big Two Do Breakfast and coffee on Veteran’s Day, 11/11/2013.
Golden Corral Free Meal
Monday November 11th from 4 PM to 9 PM get a free Veterans Day buffet and beverage to any veteran who has served in the United States military or is a current active duty service member. All Golden Corral locations will be participating. No identification is required to get your free Veterans day meal.
Hooters Free Meal
Monday, Nov. 11, Hooters invites all veterans and current servicemen and women to a free meal, up to $10.99 in value with any drink purchase, by presenting a military ID or proof of service at any Hooters location across the country.
Hoss’s Family Steak & Sea House Free Meal
Monday November 11th from 11 AM to 9 PM veterans and active duty eat free from a select menu.
Krispy Kreme Free Doughnut & Coffee
Offering a free doughnut and coffee to all those served or currently are serving. Proof of military service required or those in uniform. Only at participating locations.
Little Caesars Free Crazy Bread
All United States armed forces veterans and active military members get a free order of Crazy Bread® with proof of military status at participating stores nationwide this Veterans Day, 11/11/13.
Longhorn Steakhouse Free App
From Nov. 11 – Nov. 14, service members receive a complimentary appetizer from a list of 10 delicious options, including New! Crispy Fried Green Beans, Lobster-Crab-and-Seafood-Stuffed Mushrooms and Sweet Chili Shrimp. Includes veterans and current service members.
Max & Erma’s Free Cheeseburger Combo Meal with Dessert
On Veterans Day, Monday Nov. 11, participating Max & Erma’s locations are celebrating veterans and active military personnel with a Cheeseburger, choice of soup or salad and a chocolate chip cookie.
McCormick and Schmick’s Free Entree
Enjoy a complimentary entree on Sunday November 10th, 2013. All veterans must show official verification. Veterans Day entrees must be enjoyed at the restaurant. No to-go orders permitted.
Menchie’s Free Frozen Yogurt
On Veterans Day, Monday, November 11th, 2013 Veterans and active duty personnel get a a free 6 oz. frozen yogurt. Show a valid ID or be in uniform to receive.
Noah’s Bagels Free Bagel and Shmear
This Veterans Day from 5:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., all active, inactive and retired military personnel are invited to receive a Free Signature or Classic Bagel and Shmear, or any other topping, and no purchase is necessary.
O’Charley’s free meal
On Monday, November 11 all veterans and all active-duty military personnel will have their choice of one of nine meals on the O’Charley’s “$9.99er” menu. Options include O’Charley’s Famous Chicken Tenders & Twisted Chips, Cowboy Sirloin, Homestyle Chicken Pot Pie and Santa Fe Tilapia, among others.
Olive Garden Free Meal
All veterans and military active duty will receive a free meal from a special menu on Veterans Day. Also, all November current military service members and their families get 10% off in honor of Military Appreciation Month.
On The Border Free Entree
All veterans and active duty military will receive a free entree from the “Create Your Own Combo menu” on Monday, November 11, 2013. OTB will also donate 15% of all eligible sales on Veterans Day from guests who bring in a give-back flyer.
Outback Steakhouse Free Bloomin’ Onion® and a beverage
Military personnel and veterans get a Free Bloomin’ Onion® and a beverage. Must have valid identification. Plus, get 10% off all meals from Nov. 12 through Dec. 31.
Paciugo Gelato Caffe
Paciugo will thank our nation’s veterans and troops on Veterans Day with a free 12 oz Gelatte on Monday, November 11, 2013. Military guests will need to provide proof of military service.
Red Lobster Free App & drink
From Nov. 11 – Nov. 14, service members receive a complimentary Texas Tonion appetizer and non-alcohol beverage. Includes veterans and current service members.
Red Robin Free Burger and Fries
All Veterans and Active Duty Military get a free Tavern Double Burger and Bottomless Steak Fries on Monday, Nov. 11.
Midnight 11.11 to Midnight 11.12 vets get a free 6″ turkey sub and 20oz fountain drink.
Shoney’s Offers Free All-American Burger
Shoney’s says ‘Thank You’ to America’s heroes by offering Shoney’s All-American Burger to All Veterans and Active Duty Military Members on Monday, November 11th.
Sizzler Free Lunch
Active duty and retired members of the military get a free lunch on Veterans Day, Monday, November 11, 2013 until 4 p.m. Guests with proof of military service will select a six-ounce six-ounce Tri Tip Steak, single Malibu Chicken or a half dozen Fried Shrimp entrée with a choice of side dish. Note this offer does not include veterans.
Spaghetti Warehouse Buy 1 Get 1 Free Meal
On Sunday, November 10th and Monday, November 11th choose 1 original spaghetti entrée or 15-layer lasagne, get the 2nd entrée free.
Texas Roadhouse Free Lunch
Select from a free special veterans lunch menu including a beverage and sides no November 11th, 2013.
TGI Fridays Free Lunch
Veterans and active duty military service members are invited have lunch on T.G.I Friday’s this Veterans Day, Monday, November 11, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop Free Doughnut
Veterans and active-duty military will receive a free doughnut. No purchase required. Valid ID required or show up in uniform.
Travel Centers of America Free Meal
On Veterans Day, November 11, all CDL drivers who are Military Veterans eat FREE at participating full-service restaurants with proof of service. Must present valid ID.
Tucanos Brazilian Grill
All active duty, reserve and retired military and veterans receive a complimentary Churrasco meal on Monday, Nov. 11, 2013. Also, get 10-percent off the entire bill for veterans and troops who dine with their families, from Friday, Nov. 8 through Veteran’s Day, Monday, November 11.
Twin Peaks Free Meal
On Monday, November 11 all veterans, active and retired members of the Armed Forces are invited to visit Twin Peaks for lunch or dinner and select any meal from the Twin Peaks menu
If you know of a local restaurant offering a free or reduced meal to Veterans and Active Duty members on Veterans Day, please let us know in the comments.
The Westboro Baptist Church, known for protesting at soldier’s funerals, will be in Minnesota on Thursday to protest the legalization of same sex marriage in the state. A counter-protest is being planned by local Pagan Jay Linnel of the Blue Star tradition. His coven members are joining in the counter-protest and invite others to join them. Other non-Pagan groups are also planning peaceful counter-protests.
Counter-protests of Westboro Baptist Church members have often included humor to mock the group and lessen their impact.
Westboro will be at 555 Cedar St / St Paul at 11:00am. The counter-protesters are meeting at the same location at 9am.
I hope people will learn that they don’t have to be limited by their disabilities, and I hope the sighted community will learn to look beyond those challenges that we face. I hope people will discover that a little creativity and a willingness to experiment can go a long way toward enriching their experience with the craft, and enriching their lives overall. - Lady Cedar Nightsong
by Tara “Masery” Miller
Lady Cedar Nightsong is the author of “Tangible Magick” in the upcoming anthology Rooted in the Body, Seeking the Soul: Magic Practitioners Living with Disabilities, Addiction, and Illness. Other authors in the anthoology include local author and PNC editorial contributer Lisa “Spiral” Besnett, Lydia Crabtree, Eric Dupree, Literata Hurley, P. Sufenas Virius Lupu, and Breyonne Blackthorne. You an read an interview with Mr. Dupree on PNC here: http://www.capitalwitch.com/2013/07/interview-with-erick-dupree-of-healing.html
Lady Cedar Nightsong: Thanks for the opportunity to reach out to readers. I love writing, and am just amazed that you liked “Tangible Magick” well enough to run it in your anthology.
Masery: Lady Cedar Nightsong, what is the story behind you choosing that name?
LCN: I honestly use Lady Cedar as a handle for Pagan writing and Internet work. It is not my true ritual name, however cedars are trees I have a deep connection with, and the song of the screech owl at night is unforgettable, once you hear it.
Masery: How long have you lived in Bloomington, Illinois and what is your favorite place to live?
LCN: I have been in Bloomington-Normal for four years, and recently chose to lease an apartment in town and become a permanent resident. I would say my favorites are a toss-up between Fusion Brew, a restaurant selling coffee and herbal tea with a quiet atmosphere, and the farmers’ market in downtown Bloomington on Saturday mornings.
Masery: You are attending Illinois State University to earn your major in journalism. What is it about journalism that interests you? What type of media do you hope to work in such as radio, TV, newspaper or Internet?
LCN: Honestly I have been deeply pondering the reason I got into journalism. At first I didn’t want the job of slogging around disaster areas asking people to think about how badly things are going at the moment. Then in high school I got some CD reviews published, which led to my working for femmemetal.net for about a year in college. While I loved the interviews, I wanted to do something meaningful. I am an activist at heart–Pagan rights, women’s rights, and animal rights are my three main causes. I want to work freelance, publishing articles for both Pagan and non-religious magazines. What I really want is my own online publication, for all things underground, but mainly focused on Paganism and the Craft and environmentalist pieces. I want to make a difference through my writing.
Masery: In your biography you mention that your faith continues to evolve from Wicca to eclectic Pagan. How long have you been Pagan? What is it about Wicca that appeals to you?
LCN: My foundations will probably always be Wiccan. It drew me in, when I discovered that I held a lot of Wiccan beliefs, and seemed to have a lot of craft knowledge from past lives. I love reading about other Pagan paths and adding things that speak to me to what I already believe and practice. I am a spiritual witch.
Masery: You are a member of the Circle of Spirit Tree. What kind of people are in the group? What has been one of your favorite activities with them? You like to work with herbs and stones and consider yourself a hedgewitch. How did you learn your craft?
LCN: The members of the COTST are incredible people. One of the elders is having a book on trees published, both a field guide and a magickal reference. Most members are well-versed in the craft, and many have their specialty, such as the runes, Druidic magick, or herbal remedies. We are a close-knit group with a variety of personalities blended into almost a family dynamic. The most meaningful moments have been the Yule gift exchanges, when we’re all so close and willing to share, and our camping trips, particularly the woodland rituals late at night. There’s a depth and power that is hard to express in words, save to say that it is rooted in the spiritual realm, and in our love for one another and the earth.
I guess you could call me a hedgewitch, although there is also a great deal of cottage craft as well. I call myself an Earthwitch. Either works. For some reason, stones come instinctively to me, though it took a long time to learn to communicate with them. My sister has told me that when I was really young i would bring home shiny stones, wash them, and leave them in the sun, which is a simple cleansing of sorts. Now I have had many years to develop the ability to work with stones. A few favorites are jade, Tibetan quartz, amethyst, smoky quartz, moonstone, and hematite, but I’ll work with anything except for tektite, which I get negative energy from anytime I handle a piece. I think herbal work was just a natural extension of the stone magick.
I’m learning to craft infused oils, incense, elixirs, and herbal teas. It is an ongoing learning process, like everything else is.
Masery: You have low vision. Has that been since birth?
LCN: I have had optic nerve damage since I was born. I have no vision in my right eye, about forty percent in my left.
Masery: For the anthology Rooted in the Body, Seeking the Soul: Magic Practitioners Living with Disabilities, Addiction and Illness you wrote “Tangible Magic”. What inspired you to submit the essay to the book for others to read? What do you hope low vision and sited people will learn from it?
LCN: I honestly did it on an impulse, thinking I got so much joy out of my practice; I wanted to share that joy with others, and I thought they might be able to learn something. I hope people will learn that they don’t have to be limited by their disabilities, and I hope the sighted community will learn to look beyond those challenges that we face. I hope people will discover that a little creativity and a willingness to experiment can go a long way toward enriching their experience with the craft, and enriching their lives overall.
I am teaching crystal workshops at Central Illinois and Chicago Pagan Pride Days. I am also offering divination at Central Illinois Pagan pride. I write Pagan poetry and dark fiction as well as journalistic pieces. If anyone is interested in getting an online publication going, here is where they can reach me. Please don’t spam me. It’s bad karma. paganrockchick (at) gmail.com
Lady Cedar Nightsong is a 23 years old senior journalism major at Illinois State University.She is also with the Circle of Spirit Tree. Bloomington, Illinois branch and gives crystal workshops at Central Illinois Pagan Pride and possibly at Chicago Pagan Pride in the future. She’s been a magick practitioner for a little over six years, but says it’s a natural ability. She says her faith continues to evolve from Wiccan to eclectic Pagan and hopes to create her own tradition.
Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG), one of the oldest Pagan camping festivals in the US, may have surpassed last year’s record breaking attendance. Final numbers are not yet available, but preliminary figures set attendance at 1070 registered guests. The festival was a combination of old and new. Same location, Stonehouse Farm in Illinois, but with new owners. Many familiar faces, but unofficial estimates put first time attendees at 30% of total attendance. There are also some new trends that appear to be emerging within the Pagan community that are very old trends in mainstream society.
In the coming week, the Pagan Newswire Collective is covering the old and the new at PSG in our PSG Report series. Some of the upcoming articles include:
PSG 2013 – an overview in short takes
The weather was almost the reverse of 2011. This year we had sunny, 80 degree days at the start of the festival and rain, flooding, and muck at the end. Both years were an improvement on 2012 where the extreme heat caused many campers to seek medical attention and made sleep difficult. However, just like in 2011, there were problems caused by the Friday afternoon and Saturday morning storms. Tents collapsed or were flooded. Some not only made the most of it, they turned it into a party, complete with floating through flooded areas of camp and mud wrestling.
To counter the sadness of familiar and long time PSG attendees not able to make the festival this year, there were many new faces at PSG this year. The virgin bell,which is rung when a first time attendee enters the gate to the campground, seemed to never stop ringing. It’s not unusual to have over 25% of attendees be PSG virgins, but this year the number appeared higher than normal. Conversely, the informal camps that spring up at PSG, with people camping as a group and coming up with names (and even t-shirts) for their group also appeared to be more numerous.
While you can always count on gnomes and fairies to adorn Pagan campsites, this year the gnomes took over. I blame a tenor named Chris. There was Gnome Camp, where people devoted to gnomes pitched their tents. There were more gnome decorations. There was a gnome contest to be played amongst the merchant booths. And there were roaming gnomes which would randomly show up in your camp. One even made it into Media Camp on morning.
Food and drink have always had a place at Pagan events, but this year was up a notch. Filet mignon with demi glaze and infused simple syrups were on the menu at several campsites. Not only was the food more upscale, the campsites themselves were all about glamping (glamorous camping). A Pagan ethic of being extremely eco-conscious and simply was still evident, but the trend towards providing more elegant and comfortable hospitality was more prominent. This mirrors the trend in the mainstream, but perhaps this is also a sign of greater religious diversity in the Pagan community as hospitality ethics become as important as eco and feminism ethics and influences.
The theme of this year’s PSG was Connections, but the organizers may not have had social media in mind when they came up with it. PSGers were online more this year than previous years. They posted photos, videos, updated their statuses, and made plans to meet for lunch or arrange to pass of child care duties while enjoying the festival. Workshop handouts were made available electronically and there was even a workshop for technomages called “There’s an app for that.” Use of technology was, for the most part, very unobtrusive out of respect for those trying to unplug, but expect the use of social media during festivals to increase, not decrease.
Rainbow Camp, a group comprised of GLBT Pagans and their straight allies, brought back the Rainbow Ritual. The ritual was attended by over 30 Pagans and one attendee said it was “The most powerful and moving ritual I’ve ever attended. I don’t often get to interact with gay Pagans as I live in a rural area. I was just touched.” The ritual, which was done in drag, and the very visible and active presence of Rainbow Camp was welcome after several years of gender controversy at festivals and conferences.
Not only was PSG celebrating the summer solstice, but a super moon also made a magical appearance. A super moon is a full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (perigee) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit. The main ritual, hosted on the last Saturday evening of the festival, was graced by the light of the super moon.
This year’s PSG had many of the things you expect from a Pagan festival. There was all night drumming around the bonfire, rituals, musical performances, and more workshops than a person could ever hope to attend – even if they cloned themselves 7 times over. Hugs, cries of “welcome home” as people entered, and lots of really well made mead. Pagan festivals are an important part of the Pagan experience and they allow you to not only come together to worship communally and to enjoy being fully Pagan for a few days, they allow you to see where Paganism is heading and what challenges we face and offer an opportunity to be part of guiding and shaping the future of our diverse communities. PNC would like to thank all those at this year’s Pagan Spirit Gathering who allowed us to interview and photograph them so our history in the making can be recorded and not lost.
Part two of this interview series with Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone , guests at Heartland Spirit Festival , this continues from the first portion of our interview. This section of the interview focuses on the current practice of Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone, what they have experienced with deity work and integrated.
Nels (N) :Is it easier to speak to the deities now?
Gavin (G) : Something interesting is going on, as Pagans we have been waking the gods since the 1950′s. Voudon and the Caribbean traditions has a few hundred years on us! When you go to a Voudon Bembe, with its ecstatic drumming and dancing, they come through really strong, riding (possessing) the participants. We are now reaching the point where this beginning to happen now in modern neo-paganism, even though it has only been fifty years. This is because we have been waking the gods up. We have noticed something interesting as we have done the work. We are forming a Neo-Pagan pantheon. We only have a finite amount of energy to give the gods as spirits as they wake up. You see the same gods and goddess coming up all the time in our community. Hecate, Brid, Isis, Morrigan, Freja, Odin, Diana etc. Because there is only this finite amount of energy for them, they are congregating and forming a new pantheon. All awakened gods from different cultures forming a pantheon, and redefining roles.
Over the years as we done trance possession we have kept having Hecate appearing, even though neither of us have felt inclined to work with her, but now it seems we haven’t got much choice! As we did the trance prophesy she started coming through at almost every event and public workshop. We had strange occurrences. On one occasion we started conversation wither her in Connecticut through a priestess in trance, and she finished with us, unprompted with a priestess in California. Now it has reached a point where when she comes through somebody, I will know if it is Hecate, because she will burst into fits of laughter when she knows it is me!
Janet (J) : The last time it happened in America she turned around and said to Gavin, “Oh God, it’s not you again”.
G: She has been developing and evolving and has taken on the role of teaching trance with in this new ‘pantheon’.
J: She is taking on the role of a psychopomp for trance, quite fascinating.
G: This does mimic what happens in voudon. She is taking the same role as Elegba/Ellegua. You also have other deities fulfilling other roles as well. That is what is starting to occur, as simple as that. You see it where Brid is taking over the healing role. Brid is forming into three Brid’s, the triple goddess Brid consisting of the original Celtic Brid, Saint Bridget, and Maman Bridget from Voudon. Every priestess we know who works with Brid has found that is what is occurring. Suddenly they get this dark aspect of Brid, this dark earth goddess, the Maman Bridget from Haiti. It is getting drawn to them to balance the other two aspects.
J: There is the Brid of fire, who says right, you are going to be my priestess but I am going to put you through hell, put you on my anvil and beat the shit out of you! She is an initiatory type of goddess.
G: The Morrigan is a protective type of goddess, the Macha. We are also seeing that Freya, who is taking on a different type of role. She is a goddess of journeying. Which is how this all started for us, by working Freya.