Paganicon Presenters

I have published interviews of “Guests of Honor” appearing at Paganicon since its inception. There are many from “Paganistan” who have offered workshops each year who are exceptionally qualified as presenters, and recognized around the country. I solicited responses from about ten of the many notables, and in this busy rush of springtime, three responded. I asked them to  describe who they were and their  relationship to this community. I asked, “What do you offer, and why?”

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Clio Anjana

Clio Ajana – ( Participating or offering six workshops!)

I’m Clio Ajana and this is my twelfth year in the Twin Cities Pagan Community. I’m a queer Hellenic Orthodox High Priestess and member of the Lodge of Our Lady of Celestial Fire, E.O.C.T.O. I lead services, welcome newcomers, and revel in spreading knowledge of our path to those who are drawn to us, including our prison ministry. Our tradition in the Twin Cities has been embracing Greek,Roman, and Egyptian gods with an emphasis and welcoming of all LGBTQIA since 1998. I offer my gifts as a Devotee in Service to the Gods in the areas of numerology, astrology, herbalism, eldercare, and writing as a spiritual practice. I write for the Patheos blog, “Daughters of Eve” and consider everything in my life to be touched by and guided by the gods.

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Lisa Spiral Besnett

Lisa Spiral Besnett – Author and presenting:

Friday, March 18 • 3:00pm – 3:45pm
Exploring the World Tree

The World Tree touches all cultures and realities. In this guided meditation we climb the world tree and spend time visiting across the realms. If you are interested in exploring Deity and wondering what you are attracted to, or if perhaps you are wondering about Deities that might be attracted to working with you please join us.

 

I’ve been a member of the Twin Cities Pagan Community since the late 70’s early 80’s. Over the years I’ve worked with CUUPs, Reclaiming, had WicCoM ministerial credentials, served on the Northern Dawn COG board, run a Blue Star coven, taught in Twilight Tradition and generally made a nuisance of myself. I’m really excited that the community has grown to support this convention, a fall Pride event and 3 summer festivals along with Winter Witch Camp and the Earth Conclave. I think there is a strong desire to be connected and to continue to learn and grow on our spiritual paths. I tend to offer workshops that are accessible to “new” pagans, but that are specifically directed at more experienced practitioners. As a writer and workshop presenter I work hard not to let my Wiccan bias be too overwhelming and to make space for other frameworks of belief. This year I’m offering a guided meditation centered on Deity relationships. I’m looking forward to hearing what participants bring back from their journey.

Donald L. Engstrom-Reese –   Who am I? Well …

I am, among other things, an artist, a gardener, a vitki, and a hedge witch. I have been consciously involved with the Mysteries and the Spirit Peoples for well over forty years. My roots thrive in that place between the wild and the domestic. I am deeply informed and inspired by art-making, gardening, Queer Spirit, yoiking, Hedge Witchery, walking, singing, deep dreaming, spirit journeying, baking, primal clan-hold magics, and the exploration of the sacred realms of sex and pleasure. I am committed to the growth and nurturance of the emerging Cultures of Beauty, Balance and Delight. 

      I have taught sustainable witchy ways that nourish and strengthen the Emerging Cultures for over thirty years. My teaching is rooted in a living blend of Queer Spirit, Witchcraft, Heathenry, and other primal magics. I have taught in my local communities, at Earth Conclave gatherings, at Reclaiming Witch Camps, and at Radical Faerie, Queer Spirit, Pagan and men’s gatherings throughout North America and Great Britain. I am an initiate of the Queer Mysteries, the Cult of the Bear, the Cult of the Bee, and the Reclaiming Witch Tradition. I am a vitki and a seithus (ergi seidmadr) who practices the ever evolving forms of contemporary seidr and galdr. I yoik the sun,the moon, and the weather everyday. I am a ‘green-blood whisperer’ deeply in love with life and the breath of life. I have been declared an elder by many of my Witch and Queer Spirit communities. I am continually learning about and exploring what these joyful obligations actual entail.     

My historical relationship to this community?

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Donald and Mark (Both are presenting)

I have lived and thrived for my whole life in the rich lands and sweet waters of the Upper Mississippi Valley. I am one of those whose ways of living are thoroughly infused with and informed by the sacred soils, waters, winds, and flames with whom I live. 

Mark Engstrom-Reese (my husband) and I have live for over ten years with our beloved home and gardens (Hector House) in the charming river city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Together, we offer hospitality and friendship to our communities (human and otherwise), consciously practicing, with clear eyes and open hearts, the arts of Guest and Hostess Law.

What do you offer, and why?

Friday, March 18   1:00pm A Brief Overview of Emerging Queer Spirit

I am committed to this region and all of its people’s. No matter where I roam, I am always called to come back home to my beloved River. I have come to understand more deeply with every passing season, that I live in the heart of a ‘holy land’, a sacred earthy paradise at the center of Turtle Island.

As part of my dedication to living fully in my ‘holy land’, I collaborate with others in offering local classes and workshops on a number of arts and skills specifically designed to encourage to consciously develop and nourish their own day to day deep relationships with their ‘holy land’. In other words, we teach classes that explore fully embracing the sacred ground on which we walk with every step we take, to consciously inhale the sacred winds we breath with our every breath, to deeply drink the ancient waters of life each time we taste the gifts of the rains and snows. I also offer such classes as; learning to live and work with the runes, developing individual and community Pagan Prayer Bead practices, and deepening our relationships with the green-bloods (the botanical realms).

Mark Engstrom-Reese & EmrysAnu are presenting Sunday, March 20 1:00pm
Perennial Paganicon favorites, Mark Engstrom-Reese and EmrysAnu, team up to facilitate a discussion around the issues of safe relationships within Paganism. From sexual boundaries to time, money, and thought control, together we’ll look at the dynamics of abuse between individuals and within groups. Particpants will leave with a solid understanding of the warning signs of abuse and how to promote healthy boundaries within their own groups.

Paganicon 6: March 18-20, 2016, Registration available at the door!  See you there!

Nels Linde

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Mambo Chita Tann at Paganicon – Interview

As Mambo Chita Tann, Tamara L. Siuda is a Haitian Vodou priestess, and the author of Haitian Vodou: An Introduction to Haiti’s Indigenous Spiritual Tradition. She is the head of Sosyete Fos Fe Yo We, a Vodou house in the lineage of Mambo Marie Carmel Charles of New Orleans, Louisiana and Haiti, and has been a practicing Vodouisant for 15 years. Separately, Tamara is a professional Egyptologist and the founder and Nisut (spiritual leader) of the Kemetic Orthodox Religion, a modern form of ancient Egyptian polytheism.

Besides appearing as a Guest of Honor at Paganicon, March 18-20 in Minneapolis, Sosyete Fos Fe Yo We, is sponsoring a hospitality suite with sponsored activities all weekend (see schedule at bottom). I talked to Mambo T by phone:

MAMBO CHITA TANN (Mambo T)

Have you been to Minnesota before?

Mambo T: I have some friends there and have visited previously, but this is the first time as a presenter in the Twin Cities or at Paganicon.

How does Haitian Vodou differ from Ifa and other forms of voodoo?

Mambo T:  Ifa isn’t voodoo at all. Ifa is a practice that is exclusively from the Fon people, the people of the area of what we call Yorubaland, areas in what is now called Benin and Nigeria. There is another area not very far away on which is often referred to as Dahomey, another West African area closer to the sea. That area has its own practice of very similar magical tradition, or religion, depending how you want to call it. Calling any of these things religion is sort of imposed by the outside. The people living on the sea have a tradition that they call Vodu. Haitian Vodou is a tradition exclusively in the Western Hemisphere. It starts in Haiti and it includes elements of many things. It has elements of Vodu and Ifa, it has elements of the indigenous traditions from the Haitian island. It also has some European traditions in it, French things, Martinism, and even Freemasonry. Haitian Vodou is as much a creole as the language of Haiti is a creole. It includes things from many different places, and many different kinds of things. Ifa is much more culturally specific than what we do. We understand it — we actually have some of the same spirits — but Vodou is not limited to what they do in Ifa. There is an also an American creolization going on in New Orleans that contains a lot more Ifa and Yoruba content. The African people who came to New Orleans brought most of their traditions from the Yoruba lands. There is also a kind of American or United States based creolization of a form of voodoo from all the different places voodoo comes from, with root working, conjure, and all of those African and African-American traditions. In some ways the melting is confusing. As for my part, I just do Haitian Vodou.

What is a Mambo?

Mambo T:  A mambo is a priestess. There is a junior mambo and a senior mambo, and I would be initiated to the senior rank. In addition to doing work with the spirits, for people, and helping the community, I can also initiate other people in my own house. That is the major difference between the junior and senior ranks: if you have the authority to bring other people in. The male equivalent of a mambo is called a houngan.

What kind of course of study or path did you take to get where you are?

Mambo T:  I actually got dragged in! I never intended to be involved in Vodou, even though I always found it interesting. I had more than enough obligations on the Egyptian side of my spiritual life. I first got involved with Vodou when I was working with my Egyptian organization and ancestor veneration: knowing who your dead people are and approaching them. And I was doing a set of lessons around how to contact them better. One of the suggestions that had been brought up was to go into genealogy and find out things about the cultures from where they are from. So, I started to look into my own genealogy and found things around some Native American material, which we always knew was there. While peeking into that I started to find paperwork from people from Africa, and that intersected with Haiti. I looked into it, and I got dragged in! I also never intended to initiate as a priest. I just wanted to understand a little bit more about what my ancestors wanted from me. When they answered, then I considered becoming initiates. You don’t have to initiate in Haitian Vodou. Probably 90% of people practice and never go through an initiation; it is not required. You can also initiate just as a serviteur, as a practitioner, at a non-priestly level. But the message came back both from the Vodou spirits and from my Egyptian Gods that divination needed to be done to find out whether everybody approved. So we did divination from the Egyptian and the Vodou sides that came back and said I had to initiate at the same priesthood level in both.

Does initiation involve a course of study, or are you called and then it’s done?

Mambo T:  The initiation ceremony in Haiti is actually multiple ceremonies, and takes days and days of ritual. Haitian Vodou does not have a central authority. Every house has its own rules or training. Most people in Haiti learn by doing and as children and through their whole life. There’s a lot of catch-up that needs to be done, coming from the outside. The particular house that I came into at the time of my first initiation in 2001 did not think it was particularly important to have prior experience. Initiation for them was more of a beginning. You would do the initiation and then learn to do the job. It was very difficult, and now, even 15 years later I still struggle with it. There is a certain basic level material that I think is very good to have. I have a different perspective now. And there is an ongoing issue with this in Haitian Vodou, about how to accommodate people who are not brought up Haitian. Do you just give them initiation and send them off, or do you ask them to learn something first? There are also unfortunately people out there who are more interested in getting money out of you, since it takes thousands of dollars for initiation. There are those who will take your money and tell you you’re a priest, but not do the ceremony correctly.

How do you get experience if it Vodou not practiced in your community?

Mambo T:  Haitian Vodou is a community-oriented practice, even when you’re doing something by yourself. You are still considered to be part of a family and part of the society and tradition and within a larger group. A good, healthy house does have direction. I live in Portland and my closest family is in New Orleans. if I wanted to see my mother or if I want to do a ceremony with people other than myself I have to fly to Haiti, New York or New Orleans right now. Practitioners often travel several times a year to their house, or their family, and also work on their own under the direction of the house. It is a challenge to keep yourself going when you’re isolated. The Lwa are calling people outside Haiti. We don’t know why that is happening, but it is happening They’re providing the way for all of us together. There’s a Haitian proverb that says, “If God calls you, he will pay your way.” If you are supposed to do this, the way will open.

Continue reading

Thank you, Carl Llewellyn Weschcke

It was reported on the Wild Hunt that “Carl Llewellyn Weschcke had passed away on Nov. 7 at the age of 85. Carl was the Chairman of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd, the “the oldest and largest publishers of New Age, Metaphysical, Self-Help, and Spirituality books in the world.” He was a pioneer in the publishing world, a student of metaphysics and an author, himself. ”

Carl Llewellyn Weschcke

Many TC Pagan “old timers” had met Carl, or certainly knew of him. It is surprising to me how many TC Pagans would not recognize his name without the Llewellyn in the middle. He had a major impact on the development of Pagan thought and direction nationally, and certainly locally.  I am republishing Elysia Gallo’s bog post  of remembrance because it reflects on his nature as a person more than his accomplishments. For those, research Carl online. – Nels

Thank you , Carl

by Elysia Gallo (LLewellyn Senior Aquisitions Editor)

Let’s start by saying I can’t believe I’m writing another remembrance on this blog. I’ve lost too many authors in the 10 years I’ve worked for Llewellyn, and now I’ve lost my boss Carl Llewellyn Weschcke. We all have lost a very special person – not just his family, not just the Llewellyn family, but all of the Wiccans, Witches, Pagans, and magicians that I acquire books for, under his mighty imprint. So this is not going to be short.

Carl was a natural-born leader, the kind of person with so much enthusiasm for an idea or a project that others got caught up in it, too. He was a kind, intelligent person who was always looking to expand other people’s minds, by starting with his own. A lot of my fundamental training here at Llewellyn was simply having conversations with him; there was not a single esoteric, metaphysical, or alternative concept that he was not familiar with. He’d photocopy chapters from interesting books for me, or send all of us packets of articles to read. He wanted to spread knowledge and enthusiasm for our topics and our world.

Continue reading

In Memoriam Lola Moffat

On the evening of Friday September 18, 2015, Lola Moffat passed away less than a year after being diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. She was only 37, and is survived by her sister, Katie Daly, and a niece and nephew. She was a talented massage therapist, graduating from Centerpoint School of Massage this year. She was an active and beloved member of the Paganistan community. A member of the Wiccan Church of Minnesota, and regular attendee of the Earth House Midsummer Gather, she touched the lives of many Twin Cities and upper Midwest Pagans. Known for being a kind and loving person, the community was able to come to her aid after her diagnosis with a fundraiser last May.

 Lola received a healing blanket and necklace at her fundraiser and healing ritual in May.

Lola received a healing blanket and necklace at her fundraiser and healing ritual in May.

Some community members shared these remembrances of Lola: Continue reading

Keith Campbell (Twilight) August 10th,1968 – August 5th, 2015

Keith Campbell (Twilight) 1968-2015

Keith Campbell (Twilight) 1968-2015

The large Twin Cities Blue Star Wicca tradition community, and Pagans nationally are mourning the loss of Keith Campbell. His announcement of a cancer diagnosis, and rapid passing was a shock friends and tradition mates are still trying to come to terms with. A local memorial is planned for Sunday, September 13 from 3pm to 6pm (see below). This obituary was just published today:

“Keith James Campbell (Twilight) passed from this realm and on to the Summerlands on Wednesday, August 5, 2015.  Keith was born in Kirkwood, Missouri.  He leaves behind his parents and sister.  He spent many years formative years in Columbia, Missouri and later moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Philadelphia area.  Unfortunately, within three weeks of learning he had pancreatic cancer, Keith passed on.  He was surrounded by loved ones who held him and sang to him as he passed through the veil.

Keith was a beloved friend and mentor to many within the pagan community.  He was a scholar, a singer, a lore keeper, a graphic designer, and a queen.  He was a wealth of knowledge.  He was also an open door.  Keith helped to welcome many people to their path and helped guide them to their best self.

11231910_10153605437342216_3250120115000381307_nWhile in Columbia, Keith was a founder of the  Heretic Clan, ran several festivals, and become a member of Blue Star.  He could be found at many of the Midwest’s pagan festivals.  Diana’s Grove was one of his favorite sacred spaces.  After being a member of Blue Star for a bit, he moved to the Sucking Vortex of Milk and Honey (Minneapolis).  There he became involved in Feri, Reclaiming, TwiTrad and more.  Keith was a legal pagan minister and performed many of our wedding and handfasting ceremonies.  He was a master of ritual theater, managing to be creative, discerning, and engaging.

After moving to Philadelphia, Keith obtained his Third Degree and became a High Priest in Blue Star.  He helped birth the coven of White Oak and the grove of Acorn.

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Keith Campbell (Twilight) 1968-2015

Outside of his Craft legacy, Keith also was a talented graphics designer and vocalist.  His designs can be seen on many t-shirts, flyers and postcards relating to pagan events and gatherings.  He performed with One Voice for a number of years as well.

Keith will be missed by many.  This tremendous loss will be felt by the pagan community for many years to come.

Memorial services are planned in several locations across the country.  In Minneapolis, join us on Sunday, September 13 from 3pm to 6pm. Please bring your stories to share, your willingness to sing, and your love of Keith.

Lake Hiawatha Park Recreation Center
2701 East 44th Street
Minneapolis, Mn 55406

If you have any questions please call Wisteria at 612 559-0652 or email gwisteria@gmail.com.

Additional memorial services are being planned in PA over Labor Day weekend and in MO at Harvest Homecoming.”

~ Wendy McNiff

Keith Campbell was an archivist, historian, resource, High Priest, and mentor in service of the Blue Star Wiccan Tradition.

Keith Campbell was an archivist, historian, resource, High Priest, and mentor in service of the Blue Star Wiccan Tradition.

I met Keith some twenty years ago as a Heretic singer at festival, and then again last fall at a Blue Star Family Gathering in Minnesota. My loss was not deeply personal, but he was invaluable to my tradition and clearly well-loved and highly respected. I invite those who have a personal anecdote, memory, or comments to please add them below!

Nels Linde

Blue Star 2nd Degree