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?”


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.


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?


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

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 .

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Seeker? – Get looking!

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

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

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

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

 Grove Training   Stillwater (Minnesota) Gardnerian Coven is currently accepting students for our outer court training grove. Seekers interested in training and possible initiation in the Gardnerian Wiccan Tradition can find more information and contact info on our WitchVox listing, here:

These classes have already begun :

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


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

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

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

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

Seeker Classes offered by Silver Phoenix

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

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

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

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

Nels Linde

Gifts and Thank You’s – Editorial


Gifts, they are on most of our minds this time of year.  We anguish over giving them and receiving them, who needs one, who might give us one, why we give them.  It is residue from that dominant holiday in our culture, at least the anguish is.  Most of the gifts we really appreciate are the ones given from the heart, and specific to ourselves and the receiver.  There is a strong alternative movement against all the commercialism.  Give some cookies, or a hand-made necklace, a poem, hand-made card, or a special artifact of nature.  Give something really personal, these things often have more meaning.

Thank you.  Our thank you conversations are the flip side of gifts.  We always say thank you, but we can’t help but betray what we feel most often.  The enlightened honor that old saying, “It’s the thought that counts.” and really endeavor to feel it.  It doesn’t matter if we already have two, or don’t need want or like it.  It may even feel like an obligation or burden.  Why did we not think of them and have a gift?  Whatever we feel, as we accept it, we also know most times the giver instinctively senses our reaction, and it falls into a couple of categories.  We loved it and appreciate it, we are ambivalent and it is a little awkward, or they sense our subtle dread at the responsibility of accepting it.  However it takes place, we complete the gift-thank you ritual and keep moving, it is that busy time of year.

Twin Cities Pagans

How can we avoid the stress of this time of gifts and thank you’s?   What got me thinking about this was the ending of the Paganistan weekly. What a gift.  JRob took the task of building a network of people, and a place to share personal and community events, applied his love and vision of a better community, and just ran with it.  The list, Twin Cities Pagans had been around since year 2000.  I found the post when JRob got involved , message # 649, Aug 18th, 2008:

Blessings All,
I couldn’t find a place which listed the area Pagan events in one calendar, so I asked Robin and he said I could use the calendar from this group to keep track of events.  So if you want to keep up on local Pagan events, check this group’s calendar.  I’m on a bunch of local groups and I continually add things as I find them.
Oh, and I also updated the links section. But I’m not calling dibs.  I hope that other people also feel free to add things.

Many Blessings, Jrob

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Empowerment Training Day for OccupyMPLS

Tuesday, Dec 6th, OccupyMpls sponsored Empowerment Training Day at Walker Church in S. Mpls. It was a day to focus on skill sharing. training, and discussion around the core issues facing OccupyMpls. It was designed to build a respectful and empowering culture within the movement.

Afternoon round table discussions

I participated for a few hours in both the morning and the afternoon. The event had a full schedule from 8am – 5pm.  I arrived about 10am to a room of about 60 people. Starhawk was going over the principals of meeting facilitation and consensus process.  Many present had some experience with these subjects before, and so the depth of the discussion during the presentation was directed at the particular problems facilitating a ‘general assembly’ presented to occupy organizers.

About 10.25 am the meeting was interrupted by an announcement the Plaza security had ‘raided’ the camp earlier that morning as about 8.30am and had taken all unattended items from the Plaza. Several county commissioners phone numbers, who were reported to be meeting Tuesday, distributed and calls were made in rotation as the workshop training continued.

The importance of incorporating core values into the consensus, and general assembly processes was emphasized, as well as the need to select the best decision-making process for each issue the group faced. Consensus Process is not needed for many movement decisions, just the major ones where core values are being defined.

I returned after lunch when open group meetings, now about fifty with many new people, were in progress. Five topics were under discussion at smaller round tables :

  1. Direct Action Strategy
  2. Visioning
  3. General Assemblies
  4. Guideline for “New Norms”
  5. Diversity within the Movement

Each group kept notes on its discussion with the aim of discovering insights, and gleaning items for later general assembly proposal and consideration. Every fifteen minutes or so, the groups paused and people rotated among them as they felt called. I participated in the visioning, direct action, and diversity groups. At the end of the session, spokespersons from each group summarized the discussion and outlined items that deserved further work to integrate the ideas within OccupyMPLS.  A contact person and email  was established for each work group and a sign-up for messaging within each group was posted.

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