POWYS, Wales –The first Welsh Occult Conference is slated to be held June 2 of this year. Organized by author Gary St Michael Nottingham who previously ran the Ludlow Esoteric Conference, this new occult conference also represents his return to event organizing after taking time away for several years.
“I had a break to get on with other stuff,” Nottingham explained. “Just not enough planetary hours in the day to do everything.”While the Ludlow conference was held in Shropshire, England, Nottingham has moved this one over the border and closer to home, as he explained. “Having grown up on the Welsh border i joined a small coven in the early 1970s when I was 15. . . . Bear in mind that the Welsh border country is something of a backwater and at a young age when I needed someone to help with an occult education the gods sent someone to my small village, just at the right time.”
“I have always felt privileged by this, ” he continues, “and have subsequently aided others in their own magical education. . . . I see this [conference] as another manifestation of the intent to help promote the occult current in the U.K.”
Nottingham draws a line between practicing as a Pagan and being involved in occult activities. “Religion is about a belief system, whereas magical/occult practice allows the individual not only to change their reality, but also to experience the divine at a one-to-one level.”
He acknowledges that magical practice is part and parcel of some Pagan paths, such as Wicca, but adds that, “Pagan priesthood would, in my view, benefit from magical practice” and theory in general. The Wiccan practice of drawing down the moon, for Nottingham, is a variant of the practice of “godforms” undertaken in Mather’s Golden Dawn. Understanding commonalities presumably leads to a stronger practice.
Nottingham can talk a long time about godforms of the Sephira. He has passion for the subject, and an eagerness to share his knowledge. The dynamic of impassioned orator conferring wisdom is very much what he’s trying to capture this June.
This is a conference that is built around lectures, explains Nottingham. “There will be no workshops as this event concentrates on the written and spoken word,” he says, “but there will be bookstalls.”
Of the speakers, he says, “all are known to me personally as competent people and are knowledgeable about their subject.”Not surprisingly, Nottingham rates himself knowledgeable about his subject, which will be working with Solomonic grimoires. Tracy Thursfeld will speak on the magical history of the pentagram, while the sacred landscape will be the subject of Mrs Midian’s offering. Additionally, Jake Stratton Ket will speak on the Greek magical papyri, and Sian Humphries will discuss Hecate.
All those speakers, plus access to the bookstalls, costs £12 for the day. Updates will be posted on the Facebook event page, through which tickets may be purchased. Nottingham expects more speakers to sign on, and will update the event page accordingly.
While this is the first conference of its type Nottingham has organized in Wales, he hopes that it won’t be the last, saying that he’s willing to organize the event if it becomes sustainable. “In the past conferences that I have organised, we would get 80-100 people, which for the U.K. is reasonable,” he says. “As long as it pays for itself and everyone has a good time then I think it would be a success.” There has been early interest, he says.
If they come, he will continue to build it.