Pagan Community Notes: Occult Humanities Conference, Witches & Pagans, Fracking, and More!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  August 26, 2013 — 11 Comments

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started!

6a00d83454ed4169e201901ee8f344970b-500wiThe Occult Humanities Conference: Contemporary Art and Scholarship on the Esoteric Traditions will be taking place October 18th-20th in New York City, hosted by Hosted by Phantasmaphile, Observatory and the NYU Steinhardt Department of Art and Art Professions. Quote:  “The conference will present a wide array of voices active in the cultural landscape who are specifically addressing the occult tradition through research, scholarship and artistic practice […] The presenters at the OHC represent a rich and expanding community of international artists and academics from multiple disciplines across the humanities who share an exuberance and excitement for how the occult traditions interface with their fields of study as well as the culture at large. The small scale of this conference (approximately 100 attendees) will give ticket holders an intimate look at the presenters and their views.” Participants include Robert Ansell of Fulgur Esoterica, Pam Grossman of Phantasmaphile fameIthell Colquhoun expert Dr. Amy Hale, and author Gary Lachman, among others. If I had the budget for it, I’d be there in a heartbeat! If you’re in New York, you should check it out!

wp27cover1bIssue of #27 of Witches & Pagans Magazine is scheduled to be released on October 15th, and features an interview with Teo Bishop, conducted by T. Thorn Coyle. Quote: “This issue guest-stars a triplet of fascinating Pagan notables. Paranormal and detective novelist Alex Bledsoe sold his first magickal “Lady Firefly” story to PanGaia in 1998. Catch up with his journey in this conversation with Deborah Blake; then listen in as the inimitable T. Thorn Coyle talks with Pagan blogger, mystic, Druid and musician (aka Matt Morris) Teo Bishop; and visit with Renaissance woman, writer, and community leader Tish Owen.” Meanwhile, the rest of the issue is water-themed. Quote: “What would it be like to experience water viscerally? Susan Harper teaches us to become conscious of the sacral nature of this ubiquitous element in her article ‘Sensing Water.’ Loremaster P. Sufenas Virius Lupus writes about the ability of water ­ and even of drowning ­ to assist in the apotheosis of humans in his fascinating look at classical Greek and Roman paganism ‘Deification by Drowning.’ Leni Hester introduces us to the Lady of Fresh Water, Ochun, in ‘No One is an Enemy to Water.'” You can pre-order the issue, here.

The Warrior's CallLast week I reported on an upcoming Pagan-led public ritual in the UK to protect the land near Glastonbury Tor from the practice of “fracking” (hydraulic fracturing to extract oil an gas from the earth). Since then, more Pagan leaders have stepped forward to weigh in on the topic. Author and activist Starhawk said it was “almost unbelievable” that the UK government “would threaten the purity of Chalice Well in Glastonbury, a site sacred to both Pagans and Christians!” So far, over 1000 people have committed to attending the ritual, with many more promising energetic work in solidarity. In addition, Druid leader John Michael Greer writes at length about the false promise, and dangerous effect of the practice. Quote: “The increasingly frantic cheerleading being devoted to the fracking industry these days is simply one more delay in the process of coming to grips with the real crisis of our time—the need to decouple as much as possible of industrial society from its current dependence on fossil fuels.” Could fracking become a new rallying point for Pagans drawn to environmental activism? We’ll keep you posted as this issue develops.

In Other Pagan Community News: 

  • “Tales of Albion,” an 8-part web-based film series follow-up to the Pagan film “The Spirit of Albion,” has posted several production pictures taken over the Summer. Quote: “We are now scheduling like crazy for the next few shoots which will see us tackle a legendary outlaw and the once and future king. We will travel to an 11th Century monastery, the Bronze Age and even Neolithic caves. We will see two world wars, the 95thRifles and a priest with writer’s block! It’s going to be quite a ride…”
  • The Open Hearth Foundation in Washington DC has a library. Here it is in six seconds.
  • October 11-14th will be Twilight Covening, a yearly event held by the EarthSpirit Community. Quote: “Twilight Covening is a three-day institute of Earth spirituality held within a continual three-day ritual. It is a time for exploring ways to deepen Earth-centered spiritual practice and a time to develop our collective wisdom in a shared sacred space as we move into the dark time of the year.”
  • Friday, September 20th will see the launch party for Abraxas Issue Four, at Treadwells in London. Quote: “A night of partying,  40 minute session of speeches, short presentations and a few words from each of the contributors who can join us.  When you’ve finished looking at the art on the walls we will serenade you wtih three short readings. Think of it as a salon for magic and the imagination. Join us, meet the contributors, and revel in the delight of magic and the imagination.”
  • The Delmarva Pagan Pride Festival in Delaware happened yesterday. They had symphonic gothic metal band Cassandra Syndrome play, which you have to admit is pretty hard-core for a Pagan Pride Day event.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Deborah Bender

    Lots of people know what it’s like to experience water viscerally. It’s called having an enema.

    • cernowain greenman

      Or, prep for a colonoscopy will give you that experience :)

  • cernowain greenman

    Seriously, I’ve been wondering for some time if there really is such a thing as occult anymore. “Occult” means hidden, and refers to hidden teachings. And once upon a time books with such material was hard to find. But since the Internet, these teachings have been made public for sometime now. From Alchemy to Kabbala to Enochian, you can find it online. These teachings may still be esoteric, but I don’t think we can still call them “occult”.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      I’ve never met anyone face to face who describe themself as “occult.” I think, with exceptions such as this conference, it’s a word that others use to describe us.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      Do we even want to ‘be’ occult, any more?

      Personally, I’d like to see terms such as ‘occult’ and ‘mystery tradition’ dumped as descriptors of Paganisms.

      Get people out of the broom closet and into the open.

      • Deborah Bender

        I’m hanging on to “mystery tradition” as a descriptor for some kinds of witchcraft and Hellenic religions. It has a specific meaning. Perhaps it can be described as a systematic spiritual technology that assists people who are not natural mystics to have particular mystical experiences in a safe and controlled way.

        Most mystery traditions are initiatory, because they carry and convey insights or experiences that many people cannot access simply by study, thought, prayer, desire or ordinary life experience. People need help in the form of a particular set, setting and guides, as well as help to interpret the experience and integrate the insight into everyday life. There are other kinds of paganism which are not mystery traditions.

        It has nothing to do with broom closets; in the ancient world, people were no more secretive about being initiated into a particular mystery cult than you would be about taking a trip to Australia.

        Early Christianity seems to have been a mystery tradition, and traces remain in Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christianity. The form of a mystery tradition can outlast the essence, like an empty perfume bottle.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          How about ‘revelatory’, rather than ‘mystery’?

          “Mystery”, to me, smacks too much of ‘secrets’. It’s like the Freemasons – they are more famous for their secrecy than their stances.

          • Deborah Bender

            You have a point, but the word mystery is directly derived from the word that the Greeks used for it, and the Greeks had a major influence both on the contemporary religions we are discussing and on the terminology we use to talk about religion in general. It’s a term of art.

            The Greeks made a distinction between the secrets that can be told and the secrets that cannot be told. The secrets that cannot be told are ineffable–by their nature they are inexpressible in language and the only way to find them out is through direct experience. The secrets that can be told are the procedures and tech used to produce those experiences.

            If you call the religion revelatory, the normal response would be, “Why don’t you reveal them in plain language, instead of all this mumbo-jumbo?”

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            The unwise will always resort to such flippant sayings as ‘mumbo-jumbo’. Look at doctors being called ‘quacks’ and psychiatrists getting accused of ‘hokum’ and the like.

            It is all just PR, in the end. All these terms are more for the benefit of others not of the faith than those within it. As such, the terms need concise definitions in order to ‘demystify’ the various Paganisms. That way there will be fewer misconceptions and more understanding.

  • PegAloi

    The conference sounds great, I am going to consider going! (Now ya know how I feel about trying to find a way to afford a trip to Pantheacon!) ;)

  • leaningintomystery

    Twilight Covening is my absolute favorite event of the year: it’s a beautiful ritual paired with an intensive workshop that feeds my work through the winter.