Finding the American Mystics

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  March 11, 2010 — 3 Comments

The Tribeca Film Festival, one of the most prominent independent film festivals in the world, has announced the twelve entries in their World Documentary Feature Competition for 2010, one of which prominently features modern Pagans. That film is “American Mystic”, directed and co-produced by Alex Mar of Empire 8 Productions.

“Set against a vivid backdrop of American rural landscapes, Alex Mar’s meditative documentary artfully weaves together the stories of three young Americans exploring alternative religion: a pagan priestess in California mining country, a Spiritualist in upstate New York, and a Native American father and sundancer in South Dakota, all yearning for fulfilling spirituality in disparate but often strikingly similar ways.”

The Pagan priestess in question is Morpheus Ravenna, who, along with her husband Shannon, operates the Stone City Pagan Sanctuary in California’s Diablo Range, just outside the San Francisco Bay Area.

“Stone City was founded by Morpheus and Shannon on their land in Santa Clara County, California, beginning in 2002. Our purpose is to provide gathering space and facilities for Pagan community events, and permanent sacred spaces dedicated to the Old Gods. Stone City does not serve one single tradition or subset of the community exclusively – our intention is to be available to multiple traditions as a place for gathering, worship and support. Our community of friends and supporters is wonderfully diverse, representing people with backgrounds and practices including witches from many traditions (Feri, Gardnerian, Reclaiming, California Eclectic, and more), Druids, Thelemites, practitioners of Celtic and Norse faiths, Kemetics, members of NROOGD and CAW, shamans and animists, Buddhists, and others. We are dedicated to fostering ties between traditions and strength within the Pagan community.”

I had the distinct pleasure of not only meeting Morpheus and Shannon at this year’s Pantheacon, but to also talk at some length with director Alex Mar concerning the project (during the Pandemonaeon concert of all places). I was left with the impression that Mar, while not a Pagan, seemed genuinely fascinated with our interlocking communities, and clearly respected the work being done by Ravenna and the Stone City Pagan Sanctuary. I came away from our interactions very encouraged that this will be a worthy documentary that respects the beliefs and aspirations of its subjects (a rare thing).

As this project gets closer to its premiere, I’m hoping to showcase a trailer for the documentary as soon as it’s made available. I’m also hoping to conduct an interview with Alex Mar about the documentary for this blog at some point in the near future. I think it’s very exciting that a documentary featuring the accomplishments of modern Pagans in such a positive way is going to be getting a lot of attention from film-lovers, industry professionals, and the press. You can be sure I’ll be keeping you up-to-date concerning this film.

Jason Pitzl-Waters