I had the opportunity to interview Crystal Blanton about her appearance as featured guest at this years Sacred Harvest Festival presented by Harmony Tribe, inc. Blanton’s first book, Bridging the Gap, was published in 2010 with Megalithic/ Immanion Press. Her new work, ” Shades of Faith; Minority Voices in Paganism” is forthcoming. Included at bottom is the content of her main workshop offerings at Sacred Harvest Festival.
What do you hope to offer our community at SHF?
The scope of the work that I do is centered around group dynamics and learning how to navigate some of these dynamics in our community. To help with promoting healthier spiritual experiences for people. I take a lot of that material from being a counselor in my day life. I take the skill I use in my everyday job and bring them over to our spiritual community. Many spiritual communities have already done this, it is just we haven’t gotten to that place yet in the Pagan community. I will bring a lot of tools and skills around how to navigate certain group dynamics, how to create more communicative communities, how to navigate conflict and disruptions that can happen in any community dynamic. We’ll cover how to learn and pass on these concepts and tools after the workshops. To create a general sense of optimism in adding these tools that can help to enhance our community at large. That is what I hope to bring to the festival.
Why would people who are not in leadership roles find this relevant?
I think this will be of great interest to everyone in this community because we have to learn how to exist together in healthy ways. When I first entered the Pagan community and joined a local coven, I didn’t bring my job skills with me. It was not a great experience. I think many people have had experiences that were not great within a coven, group, or organization. If I had the used these skills, or had them at the time, I could have used them to mediate something that may have been very harmful to myself or other people. I could have identified some issues prior to them happening. I would have given myself more options in how to be an effective community person. How to identify good leadership. I think it really good for us to give ourselves the skills that help create our community we want to be a part of. It is not just a leader’s job, we all have to help create it and uphold it as well.
You work in the SF Bay area, have you seen your work have an effect out there?
I do. Some of the concepts I am bringing over are not new to the counseling community, but are new in practice inside of the Pagan community. It hasn’t had the time to infiltrate into all areas of my local community. Things that I have been lucky enough to be apart of have shown great progress in modifying the ways that we are dealing with certain situations. I have done some conflict mediations and restorative justice situations within covens and groups, to help mediate conflict that was going on. I have gotten a lot of feedback from people who have attended workshops or read my book and tried to put those tools into practice, that these tools have inspired and helped their communities. This is a work in progress. The more information about these tools that we have is out there, the easier it will be for people to integrate them. I think we are at the beginning stages of doing that.
Anything else our community should know about your appearance at SHF ?
I am just really excited! I have never been to Minnesota, and I understand it has a large Pagan community. I am excited to get my tools out there in a different community and see how they are received and integrated, and have some fun. I can’t wait to get there!
Circle Repair; Restorative practices in covens and circles
Description: Preventative work is important in any group but prevention does not always stop potentially damaging situations within a coven or group. Part of sustaining covens and groups is in our ability to repair what might be affected after a given situation. Restorative Justice is a system of conflict mediation that has been growing in popularity and use within justice systems, schools and other avenues. Join in learning restorative concepts and how to apply that to workings within a coven or group. Come prepared for discussion and ritual participation.
West side story Witches; how gang wars destroy community
Description: Any growing community can create fertile ground for dissension and misunderstandings. This will then become the soil that feeds what can develop into witch wars and destructive dynamics. Our ability to sustain the Pagan community will rely largely on our ability to work within the confines of budding dynamics in a community that is growing rapidly and often without a lot of resources. This workshop will discuss ways to identify potential situations that could cultivate issues within the community at large and potential solutions for resolution.
Mentoring Fundamentals: passing on the basics and beyond
Description: The fundamentals of mentoring derive from an understanding of sincere leadership and the responsibility of the role. Building your repertoire of skills in the basics of counseling techniques, communication styles and teaching skills can increase your effectiveness as a mentor. Whether a leader, mentor or an upcoming one; come and join us to learn and discuss skills that can add to your role in the community.
Boundaries and Mentoring: develop and assert effective boundaries
This workshop will look at ways to create and evaluate your boundaries and expectations for those you are working with. It would discuss the different types of boundaries, how and why boundaries are important in any working spiritual relationship, how they promote spiritual studies for self and others we work with. This workshop will also address the differences between boundaries and expectations with “traditional” ways of mentoring and distance mentoring
Healing Community Circle
Participate in a Restorative Justice Circle that is about community and solidarity. Come together in celebration of spiritual community and be a part of re-creating elements that are supportive, healing, empathetic and community building. While we are learning more about restorative practices that help to build and create cohesive community; learn some of the practical applications by being a part of the process.
Being a Pagan Leader
There are effective skills in leadership used in the mundane world that are very necessary within the confines of Pagan groups and community. Not only do we need to know how to effectively lead rituals but Pagan leaders also need to acquire skills in spiritual counseling, assessment and screening, communication, defusing maladaptive dynamics and maintaining the ethical base of being a priest or priestess without ego inflation. This workshop is meant to discuss and teach some of the most effective techniques for a leader within the Pagan community.