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  • Veterans Honored at Paganicon

    Ceremony Begins

    Ceremony Begins

    Last Sunday, March fifteenth,  during the afternoon tea at the conclusion of Paganicon,  seven veterans who served in various branches of the armed forces were honored.  In a community ceremony of recognition and appreciation, Selena Fox presented the Pagan Military Service Ribbon to Pagans who have served or are serving in the US Armed Forces.

    Honored Veterans, Selena Fox at left

    Honored Veterans, Selena Fox at left

    Pictured from top, clockwise are Wayne Sears, John Farrow, Herbert Cook Roy, Celeste Proe, Shawn Burns, Debbie Olson, and Tamia Finnegan. They received their pin to the applause of appreciation and support from the over hundred community members present.


    The Ribbon pin, created by Circle Sanctuary in 2011, is being presented to Pagan veterans and troops around the country who request it. If you are a veteran please visit the ribbon website to participate in the honoring recognition.

    Please congratulate these service members!

    Nels Linde

    Selena Fox – Paganicon Guest Interview

    Selena Fox

    Selena Fox is a well-known priestess, environmentalist, religious freedom activist, writer, teacher, and psychotherapist. Also known as Rev. Selena Fox, she is senior minister of Circle Sanctuary in Wisconsin, which has been serving Nature religion practitioners worldwide since 1974.

    Selena will appear at Paganicon March 13-15, 2015 and offer several workshops, participate in panel discussions, lead a ritual, and facilitating the Military Pagan Honoring Ceremony . Tickets are available at the door for the day, weekend, or for special events. Selena responded to written questions:

    Nels: Tell me about your Cauldron Magic workshop?

    Selena: I have been studying folklore and folkways for many years, and old folk traditions are an essential part of the Circle Craft tradition that I practice. In my Cauldron Magic workshop, I will share some of the ways that cauldrons have been used in ceremonies as well as in daily life through time and across a variety of cultures and spiritual traditions. I also will share some of my own experiences working with different types of cauldrons as well as ways that Pagans today can use them as ceremonial tools and symbols for celebrating the seasons, home blessings, and other sacred work. In addition, I plan to facilitate some Cauldron meditations and experiences during the workshop.

    What will you include in the Pagan Death Passages workshop?

    Selena: Creating and guiding Life Passage Rituals is an important part of my services to Pagan community and has been since I began priestess work more than forty years ago. In addition to creating and performing weddings, baby blessings, coming of age into adulthood rites, cronings and sagings, I also do several types of end-of-life passage rituals. The Pagan Death Passages workshop emerged out of my experiences working with individuals and their family and friends prior to, during, and after death. I realized that there was a need to do end-of-life preparation education as well as facilitate crossing overs, funerals, and burials when the need arises.

    In my Pagan Death Passages workshop, I share ideas and information about ways to support end of life planning and processes for family and friends, and I also express the importance of considering your own needs and making your own end of life plans. This workshop also is designed to help facilitate community discussions and considerations about dying and death, topics that some are reluctant to talk about with others.

    In the workshop I not only present some information about types of end-of-life ceremonies but also give practical tips on end-of-life planning. We will explore ways to support a loved one at the time of being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, and discuss approaches to maximizing quality of life in the time remaining. We will talk about working with life review during the last part of life. We will examine crossing over support, including the use of music, touch, presence, readings, and ritual. We will also look at post-death rites, including customizing wakes, funerals, memorials, and celebrations of life. In addition, I will be talking about natural burial as a death passage option.

    Part of my work with Circle Sanctuary includes being the director of Circle Cemetery, a national Pagan cemetery and one of the first Green cemeteries in the USA. It is located at our headquarters near Barneveld, Wisconsin and this year we will be celebrating our cemetery’s 20th anniversary. We inter cremains at our cemetery and also do full body natural burials. Natural burial, also known as Green burial, is an ancient Pagan practice – it is placing an un-embalmed body in the earth in a shroud or other biodegradable container. In the workshop, I will describe some of our work in doing burial rituals at our cemetery, as well as things to consider in selecting a cemetery as part of end-of-life planning.

    Is the Goddess Brigid one of your personal patrons?

    Selena:  Yes, and I’ve been working with Brigid for most of my priestess life. I keep a Brigid Shrine at my home and also am among the caretakers of Brigid’s Spring, an outdoor healing place dedicated to Her at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve.

    I had already been working with Brigid for many years, when I discovered while reading a book on Scottish history that I am descended from some who were caretakers of a Brigid site in Fife, Scotland.

    In addition to doing personal Brigid work, I also facilitate Brigid rites for small and large groups at various conferences and festivals across North America. The Brigid Healing Ritual which I will be facilitating at Paganicon has evolved over time as my own work with Brigid has deepened.

    In this rite as well as in my own person work, I work with Brigid in a variety of forms. In addition to honoring Brigid as the Triple Goddess of Inspiration, Healing, and the Forge, I also work with Her as a Sun Goddess, and a Goddess connected with the Land, Oak, Swan, Flames, and Waters of holy wells and sacred springs. Included in the Brigid Healing Ritual are invocations and chants drawing on these different facets of Brigid. We will be doing different types of healing during the ceremony — healing for ourselves, healing for each other, and healing for loved ones at a distance. And we also will be doing a community working for the well-being of Planet Earth and will energize Brigid crosses, charms, necklaces, and other items participants place on our central altar during the rite. I am looking forward to bringing the Brigid Healing Rite to Paganicon.

    Continue reading

    Paganicon Guest Lupa Greenwolf – Interview

    Lupa Greenwolf

    Lupa is a pagan author, artist, eco-psychologist and amateur naturalist living in Portland, OR. She has spent her life being utterly captivated by the natural world around her, a fascination that led her to earth-based spiritual paths. She is the author of several books on nature spirituality, including “New Paths to Animal Totems: Three Alternative Approaches to Creating Your Own Totemism” (Llewellyn, 2012) and “Plant and Fungus Totems: Connecting With Spirits of Field, Forest and Garden” (Llewellyn 2014).

    Paganicon 5 will be Friday, March 13, – Sunday, March 15, 2015  and registration is still available at the door.

    I interviewed Lupa by phone recently.


    Nels: Is this the first time you’ve come to the Midwest ?

    Lupa: I am very excited to attend! I grew up in the Midwest, but this is only my second time visiting Minneapolis.

    Where did you grow up?

    Lupa:  I grew up in rural Missouri. Then I lived for two years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which some people consider the Eastern edges of the Midwest.

    What is bio-regional totemism, the subject of one of your workshops?

    Lupa:  A bio-region is a particular area of land that has the same basic types of animals, plants, and fungi. The same geology and the same climate. For example I live in the watershed of the Willamette River and for the most part the living beings that you find here, the types of geological formation are similar throughout the area. This is one particular bio-region I spend time in. Bio-regional totemism is a way to connect with the land that you live on. Similar to the totems of the beings that also live there. Using the bio-region as a way defining that space of land.

    Will an animal present as a different kind of a totem in a different bio-region?

    Lupa:   No, not in my experience. I have worked with animals indifferent bio-regions, for example a red tailed hawk I’ve worked with both in the Midwest and out here in the Pacific Northwest. It is still a red tailed hawk in both locations. The setting that we meet in during my meditation is a little different. It is still the same being, it just may have different things to say about a particular piece of land as I’m living on it.

    Are you using your own personal gnosis and meditation in your spirit work, or where does this information come from?

    Lupa:  I am self taught as far are my knowledge and work goes. I am a white girl from the Midwest. While I have known a few folks who practice indigenous paths I am not a part of those cultures and also not part of the cultures of my ancestors, Czech and German and so forth. I grew up primarily here in the US and that is the cultural background that I came from. I grew up in a Catholic household and didn’t have an animistic tradition to are draw on already, I had to create one from scratch based on my own experiences and trading notes with other practitioners .

    Continue reading

    Ivo Dominguez Jr at Paganicon – Interview

    Ivo Dominguez Jr

    Ivo Dominguez, Jr. is a visionary and has been active in Wicca and the Pagan community since 1978 and teaching since 1982.  Ivo was a founding member of The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, a Wiccan Tradition.  He has taught at many gatherings, conferences, and venues across the United States. Ivo is also a professional astrologer, a well known as a ritualist, and author of many chants and songs. Ivo lives in Delaware, where he one of the owners of Bell, Book, & Candle, Delaware’s largest metaphysical shop. One of his passions has been to be one of the driving forces behind the New Alexandria Library project, which is rapidly approaching completion!

    Ivo is a special presenter at Paganicon this weekend. Registration is available at the door, per event, per day, or for the Saturday ball. He was national guest at Minnesota’s  Sacred Harvest Festival in 2004 where he made his initial connections with this area.

    How is the Alexandrian Library project proceeding?
    Yes, it is being built. The weather has not been kind to us. The building is progressing as the fund raising is progressing. We have been clear all along that we want this built without a mortgage, with no debt on the project. If all goes well, and the weather holds, we will be ready to start painting and preparing the interior at the end of June and later this summer moving books into it. It is progressing slower than we would like, but in the long run for the sake of survivability, not having a monthly payment is primary.

    In 1990 four of us bought the land and moved down there. The land is paid off. Groups take a long time to mature. We have deeded over the thirty acres that the library occupies. We are are progressively deeding over the balance of the property through life estates, so once we are all gone the entire property will remain with the library. Currently there are four houses on the land and the organization will inherit them all piecemeal over the course of decades. Once we owners are all passed there will be no real estate tax as Delaware doesn’t collect tax on 501c3 property. We as a group have several decades to ensure that there is a viable group within the non profit to keep and maintain this property.

    Ivo Dominguez Jr with Macha Nightmare in 2004 at Sacred Harvest Festival

    You were a Sacred Harvest Festival back in 2004, it will be great to have you back in our area!
    I am looking forward to attending Paganicon. I start the morning with a panel discussion and then my voice workshop. In the afternoon I have the book signing, a ritual, and then another workshop.

    What is the panel discussion about?
    The early morning panel is called surviving in dispersion. This is I think still being defined. Part of it is how to survive as a Pagan in a non-pagan world, but part of it is also how to survive and thrive if you are say, in a rural area, or an area with a small Pagan community, or one with few resources. I am guessing we’ll also cover what it means to be the “other” within the broader community.

    Do you experience community as an “other”?
    No not at all. I think I was considered because being from Delaware, it is not considered a Pagan hot spot like Paganistan! What I hope to bring is some insight into how you create your own community, your own enclave. How to interact and engage with the local community that may or may not be Pagan. I have been active in my community for a very long time as one of the owners of the local metaphysical shop. I help organize the local Pride event and have contact with the local political organizations. I will bring the perspective that even if you are a very small percentage you can have everything you need if you engage with the larger community. The role of public Pagans in communities where there are not many with a public face may come up. Having a local shop if the police ever find something strange they always come to me to ask,  ”Do you know any thing about this?”. Where this discussion goes will depend on what questions get posed to the panelists. I would like to focus on how the survive and thrive in a small community.

    What is the magical voice workshop about?
    This will be a lot of work on how to use chanting, spoken runes,primal sounds, and why the voice is so powerful. Before we jump in we will talk about magical hearing,learning to listen magically. The only way to join your voice with other people is if you are really listening. I am looking forward to this workshop, I really enjoy it, People leave very energized from this workshop.

    The Four Minds workshop is a ritual?
    Yes, “The Four Minds Ritual” is a sort of meditative ritual. This will not require a whole lot of mobility. In the beginning we will walk the to set boundaries for the space doing some free form toning. For the bulk of the time once they have in mind what they wish to explore or contemplate we will be seated or on the floor with eyes shut and traveling inwards. The ritual is a guided journey through the four elements and then back to spirit with the intention to explore a particular aspect or seek guidance on a particular thing for each person. It is a ritual, mainly internal but with some external portions of it.

    What is the Karma workshop about?
    The Structure of Karma is about exploring the mechanics of, not so much what karma is, but what karma does. Which things cause it to work or not work. The celestial mechanics of karma, lifting the hood to check how the laws of hermetics work to create cause and effect, causality and synchronicity. It sounds strange but it is an exploration of the engine driving karma, as opposed to whether something is good, bad, or indifferent or how do I escape or alleviate karma, or is it punishment or fate? We will explore individual and collective karma. What we do creates ripples out there. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in karma or not, this is cause and effect and change. If you make choices, if you have emotions or thoughts, you are putting into play a whole chain of cause and effect on the linear side. You are adding a whole web of synchronicity on the non-linear side that will pop up into the world as things that manifest. Karma is just a catchall word for the things we do that drives the engine of manifestation.

    Construction of the New Alexandrian Library

    What is your vision of what we need to accomplish in the next twenty years?
    What matters to me is that we leave behind a viable culture and a real infrastructure as Pagans. Infrastructure  is the single most important next step. Things that are tangible and real in the physical world are infrastructure. It could be a building, be land, be a library or a shrine or temple. A large event like Pantheacon is infrastructure too. It takes a large number of individuals, money, time, and energy to create this Brigadoon type of event that lasts only a few days. Three thousand people intersect in a great Pagan crossroads, like a Pagan United Nations session. This is also fragile, it takes very little to destroy an event. It take a lot to maintain, and requires cohesiveness of a group to continue.

    How we hope to maintain things like this is by this example. We put on an event every few years called Between the Worlds. In 2015 it conflicts with a smaller annual event in the Mid-Atlantic area the Sacred Space conference. We could just go forth and divide the teachers and participants between the two events. The smaller group would probably suffer financially and possibly become less viable. Our two boards met and decided to hold a joint conference. Both events will take place in the same hotel and admission to one gets you admission to the other. We have worked it out to be fair and keep both events, the infrastructure viable.  Cooperation is possible, it is not easy. It is messy, but it can be done.

    Ivo speaking at library ground breaking.

    Paganicon Begins THIS FRIDAY   March 14th  7pm – Sunday March 16th 4pm at the Doubletree Park Place St. Louis Park , MN. Ivo Dominguez will be presenting at four events Saturday, plus a book signing.  Registration is available at the door, per event, per day, or for the Saturday ball.

    Nels Linde

    Deborah Lipp at Paganicon – Interview

    Paganicon 4 begins this Friday

    Deborah Lipp

    Deborah Lipp

    March 14th  7pm – 16th 4pm

    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 7pm and runs through Sunday at 4pm.  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.

    Nels Linde

    Oberon Zell-Ravenheart at Paganicon – Interview

    Oberon Zell Ravenheart

    Oberon Zell-Ravenheart

    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.

    Deborah Lipp

    Deborah Lipp

    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.

    Oberon and Morning Glory with unicorn

    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.

    Nels Linde

    Paganicon adds ‘Sacred Gallery Space’

    The third anniversary of Paganicon, a three day convention for Pagans, Heathens, and polytheists held in the Twin Cities, also features The Third Offering, a sacred gallery space and temporary shrine.

    Producers for the art show say this exhibit is quite different from an art exhibit at a science fiction convention or even other Pagan conventions.  “This is one of the things that makes our project different from, for instance, a typical science fiction con, where anything and everything that might possibly  relate to the SF scene is brought together in a fairly chaotic assemblage,” says Paul Rucker, co-producer for The Third Offering.  “We are combining the atmosphere of a gallery with a temple. And to my knowledge, there is no other indoor Pagan con, not even Pantheacon, that is doing anything quite like this.”

    The idea for this year’s gallery began with an art exhibit that Rucker and fellow Helga HedgeWalker created for Paganicon 2012.  It was open for only two hours, but the positive response by attendees convinced the Paganicon board to expand the concept and have it open throughout the duration of the convention.  Rucker and HedgeWalker were asked to design and co-produce the prototype  for this exhibition this year.

    The name for the exhibit, The Third Offering, comes from local ritualist and historian Steven Posch. Posch and HedgeWalker belong to the same coven, which made three  offerings to Minnehaha Falls at the autumn 2012 Pagan Pride festival.  The first sacred offering was water, the second was bread, while the third offering was rose petals, representing beauty. “Steve’s model of the “three offerings”  not only demonstrates the value of making beauty, of creativity, as valid and essential components of experiencing the sacred, but also, as I came to see, a useful way of picturing cultural maturity,” said Rucker.  He went on to say that when concerns for survival, legitimacy, and other cultural basics are addressed, space is made for beauty. “I suggested calling our exhibition space,  “The Third Offering Gallery” to highlight the importance of Beauty as food for the soul, and for an evolving culture.”

    Yet the space is not just an art exhibit, it’s also a temporary shrine.  That idea came from HedgeWalker, who believes shrines are part of how a community can interact with the sacred and the beautiful. Both co-producers say, in future years, they may expand the sacred gallery space to include artists whose specific task is to design the shrine and ritual activity for this event.

    1 g-night-DarkSister

    1 Nuit_Queen-of-Heaven
    The Third Offering features paintings, charcoal, photography, ceramics, and mixed media.  Seven artists, including Rucker and HedgeWalker, are part of this year’s show. Rucker and HedgeWalker also hand selected the artists due to a shortened time table for getting the exhibit launched.  The Paganicon Board also wanted to create a first example of what this could be, before it was opened up further the next year.  For 2014 there will be an official Call For Art to give area artists time to  create new works for submission and there will be a committee that reviews submissions for acceptance.  Rucker says they are open to more three dimensional and sculptural works in the future and ” If we can figure out how to incorporate video and perhaps “time-based” installations in future, we would like to open up the field further.”

    1 She_the_Flowering_of_ishtar

    Rucker, who has created other group Pagan art shows in the past, says, “Pagan themed art is diff

    icult to place in traditional galleries, and opportunities to experience several artists whose works and worldviews overlap in this vein, is rare.”  He

     hopes attendees gain something through the concept they are creating for Paganicon, “Helga and I are both committed to the idea that art’s essence must be experienced directly, in the flesh as it were, by contact with original works. There is a mana in originals that cannot be described, only experienced. How much more so, when several like-spirited works are housed together.”

    The Third Offering opens with a reception this Friday at 9:30pm in room 232.  Some of the artists’ works are available for purchase.  Rucker, HedgeWalker, and Posch are offering a panel presentation Sunday morning on The Third Offering: Sacred Beauty.


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