This past Saturday in Berkeley, California was the one-day conference TheurgiCon, an intensive that focuses on the practice of theurgy, the use of magic and ritual to invoke (or evoke) the gods. This year’s line-up included Tony Mierzwicki, Brandy Williams, Don Frew, Diana Young, and Sam Webster. COG (now on Facebook) members Rachael Watcher and Greg Harder were there on behalf of the Pagan Newswire Collective to cover the event. First, here’s an interview with TheurgiCon founder and organizer Glenn Turner (who also founded PantheaCon).
Here’s their report on TheurgiCon.
It was a room full of mostly older folks dressed in varying ideas of LL Bean casual, coffee in hand, milling about prior to settling down to work for the day; your usual run of the mill business meeting with the usual number of computers, reference books and notated materials. However, with the opening statements of the first speaker, it became obvious that this was not your parent’s kind of business.
Welcome to Theurgicon 2010, held on August 28, in Berkeley California. The brain child of Glenn Turner, long time Witch and veteran Convention organizer, it was a one day symposium, the goal of which was to cover all you ever wanted to know about Theurgy but were afraid to ask; and believe me, you had better be paying attention because the information that proceeded from the day’s speakers was dense, deep, and fast paced. It was, in this attendee’s opinion a masterpiece in organization. Five speakers were arranged in such order as to present basic historical information first, with each speaker building upon the work of his or her predecessor. Each succeeding speaker moving forward in time, followed the thread of theurgy as it developed from its most ancient roots to its present day practice in such organizations as the Open Source Order of The Golden Dawn and British Traditional Wica.
Tony Mierzwicki started the morning followed by Brandy Williams, and Don Frew. They took us from the root and branch of Hermeticism through the development of theugy and the Chaldean Oracles, Platonic cosmology and theurgic practice, to Neo-Platonic cosmology, praxis and its part in Western Occult magical traditions today. They shared elements of ritual practice simple tools and technique. Whew! It reminded me of nothing less than those college lectures where you were afraid to take notes in fear that you would miss something vital. Mr. Mierzwicki and Ms. Williams are accomplished writers and Mr. Frew felt obliged to joke that being a Gardnerian had put a real crimp in his ability to publish though it should be said that he is a historian of note in British Traditional Wica.
By the time time lunch happened our brains were full. I needed the break to digest what had already transpired and I am no new comer to any of the material presented. Lunch was followed by a presentation from Diana Young on The Nexus of Mystic and Magus, and Sam Webster finished up with a discussion of the future of theurgy. He called for altars in public places, the establishment of temples, and clergy to serve the developing laity. He encouraged us to sample deeply, collecting “whole sets” creating synergy, to develop our own interpretations, to think of ways to make our presence more known. I suggested that perhaps we should take a page from the x-geners and practice flash rituals [a reference to "flash mobs" - ed]. Apparently that struck a nerve because many came up to me after the conference to ask if I were serious and when would we start. Let me encourage you who have the knowledge and industry to go forth and flash and may the Gods be with you.
The day of academic pursuit was followed by equally deep and thoughtful conversations in the Hospitality suite accompanied by wine and food. I wandered about seeking impressions of the day from participants. Gus diZerega, author and teacher commented, “I think it was a great presentation. It far exceeded my hopes. The quality of the presentations was wonderful, the variety of perspectives fascinating …” Barbara Cormack, head of the Open Source Golden Dawn, “I came because I feel that my tradition is one of the modern flowerings and an inheritor of theugric practice. I was curious to see what the speakers would do with that topic and I wasn’t disappointed…” Nathan Bjorge, presenter at PantheaCon on Neo Platonic practice “I think that this was a wonderful opportunity for different traditions to come together and explore this history, this context for our modern pagan traditions…” Everyone agreed that it was a great success, worth the money and stated that they looked forward to next year’s presentations with interest as well as curiosity as to how, as a concept, this symposium would develop.
Glenn Turner promises a published presentation of the papers presented, and I look forward to that. I’m also delighted that this is only an annual event. It will take me that long to digest what transpired here today.
I’d like to thank Rachael and Greg for covering the event, and allowing me to share it with you here at The Wild Hunt. I’m hoping this kind of local coverage inspires the formation of a PNC news bureau for the Bay Area of California. As one of the most populous Pagan hot-spots in the country I’m sure there’s no end to the news and events to be covered.
Speaking of California-based Pagan coverage, I’d like to quickly point you to Joanne Elliott, the LA Pagan Examiner, who’s been doing a lot of great local-based coverage. Notably, the plight of Pagan elder Ed Fitch, who’s been fighting to keep his home. That is exactly the kind of stuff that a robust Pagan journalism should be looking into (that, and thousands of other things).