Archives For Glenn Turner

11181851_1462453380.8327DETROIT – On May 4, Michigan’s Pagan community lost one of their beloved leaders. Michael Wiggins was a teacher, artist, dancer and the “face of Convocation,” an annual Pagan conference held in Michigan. He was born into a Pagan family, making him a second generation witch. He was president of the Michigan Education Council and was declared “Michigan Pagan of the Year” in 2013 for his influence on local events and his advocacy work in the community.

A memorial fund has been set up to raise the needed money to cover his various unexpected final expenses. The current goal amount, which is now at $10,000, was raised twice over the past four days after donors quickly exceed the original and secondary marks. L. Claudine Durham wrote, “The new goal is just a number and is not an expectation…you have already blown away this out of the water and we love you all.”

Fellow Michigan Pagan and writer Kenya Coviak wrote on her blog, “Michael was a truly beautiful soul. A witty conversationalist […] You never knew what insight you would get, but it was always something thoughtful and surprising. His wisdom helped shape a vision of what greatness and beauty that can be ours if we grasp it.”  We’ll have more on Michael’s life and his legacy in the coming days. What is remembered, lives.

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224684_128918613850144_1452602_nTWH – On May 1, the Asatru Folk Assembly announced a change in its leadership. Current Alsherjargothi Stephen McNallen stepped down, handing the reins over to, as he wrote, “an able team consisting of Gothi Matt Flavel, Gythja Pat Hall, and Allen Turnage as Lawspeaker.”  McNallen made the announcement saying, “I created the Asatru Folk Assembly twenty years ago and have led it through thick and thin.” He explained that he had looked around “at the other leaders of [his] generation” and saw them backing off of their daily involvement in organizational operations. He said that it was time for him to do the same.

McNallen wrote, “Others need a chance to lead, without standing in my shadow. They need room to grow, for their own good but also for the good of all that I, and we, have built. I don’t want to be that old geezer hanging on at age eighty-five because he’s just too stubborn to let go.” One of those new incoming leaders, Gothi Matt Flavel, wrote in response, “We are so deeply honored for the trust and the responsibility to lead the Asatru Folk Assembly into a glorious future. We have a strong and proud tradition to build upon and great momentum to continue the good work and mission of the AFA.”

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ALBERTA – A Canadian wildfire in the province of Alberta still rages out of control as residents have been forced to evacuate the area. The Fort McMurray wildfire is said to be larger than both Boston and Chicago combined, and has “grown to nearly 400,000 acres (625 square miles), as of Sunday morning and has destroyed more than 1,600 structures.” The fire, which started on Sunday, may have been ignited by campers or by a lightning strike; the source is not known. While officials say that wildfires are common to this remote area, the region’s prolonged dry conditions have led to the fire’s quick spread and its incredible growth.

Dodie Graham McKay, our Canadian news correspondent, has been speaking with members of Alberta’s very active Pagan community. Edmonton, located in the southern portion of the province, is home to a number of different Pagan organizations, events and retail stores. At this point, Graham McKay has said, “It’s chaos there right now.” Reports are coming in that, as the winds move steadily southeast, the fire is now threatening the neighboring province of Saskatchewan. Graham McKay said, “Fires are also now raging along the Manitoba/Ontario border. Winnipeg is being affected with smoky skies and fire bans. And, it’s only May. The dry season isn’t supposed to happen until August.”

A recent shift to cooler weather and some rain has brought hope in Alberta, and has slowed the spread of the massive fire’s flames. However, officials still say that the flames could burn for many more weeks. Graham McKay has been in contact with several local Pagans in the fire zone and will have the full story on Thursday.

In Other News

  • Over the weekend, the Bay Area Pagan Alliance honored another one of its local community members with the title of Keeper of the Light: Glenn Turner. She is known for many years of devoted work within the local community, as well as being PantheaCon‘s event coordinator. She was given the title of Keeper of the Light during the alliance’s annual May festival held in Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park.  She was presented with the title by Wild Hunt writer, author, and activist Crystal Blanton, who was honored in 2015. Congratulations to Glenn Turner!
  • As noted in the Tallahassee Democrat, a number of religious leaders from the Tallahassee area have signed a joint statement appealing for courtesy. Included in that interfaith group is Covenant of the Goddess member and priestess Diana Kampert.  After listing a number of recent violent and hate-driven events, the group wrote, “These are but a few of the factors that seem to be contributing to a denigration of civil discourse among us. We sense a rising tide of fear, suspicion, disrespect and disregard for one another’s full humanity.” Then the interfaith group called on people to “resist those who would turn us against one another. We urge our neighbors to listen respectfully to people of differing religious and political convictions, and to share their own perspectives without resorting to slanderous attacks.”
  • The Austin Pagan community has also recently garnered some mainstream press coverage. Mary Caldwell, Ed Fitch and Philip Elmore were interviewed by Qiling Wang, a writer for Reporting Texas. The article is titled “Out of the Shadows: Wicca Grows in Austin and Beyond,” and it reportedly caught the attention of the Drudge Report. After more than 400 comments streamed into the site within the first hour of publication, the news outlet had to shut the comments down. The Austin Pagan community is generally very pleased with Wang’s article and her respectful treatment of the subject.
  • The annual festival Rites of Spring is coming up this month. It is hosted by the EarthSpirit Community and held every year in Williamsburg, Massachusetts. The event is open to “all who celebrate the sacred nature of the Earth.”  The Rites of Spring is one of the first week-long Pagan festivals of the summer season, and features workshops, rituals and performances with the reported goal of establishing “a vibrant and joyful living community that expands outward with [attendees] when [they] leave.” Organizers remind interested guests that “on-line registration is open until Friday May 13.”
  • Cherry Hill Seminary has posted its class schedule for summer 2016, and has opened registration. This list of classes include several masters level classes, the military specialization stackables, a selection of short 4-week insight classes, as well as the new educational program that allows students to earn a Certificate Environmental Leadership. Cherry Hill Seminary is the “leading provider of education and practical training in leadership, ministry, and personal growth in Pagan and Nature-Based spiritualities.”

Column: Pantheacon 2016

Heathen Chinese —  February 20, 2016 — 5 Comments

Pantheacon is an annual “conference for Pagans, Heathens, Indigenous Non-European and many of diverse beliefs,” which is held on the unceded land of Tamien Ohlone-speaking peoples in the city of San Jose, California. Pantheacon 2016 took place from February 12-15.


[Courtesy Kanyon Sayers-Roods]

The inherent contradiction of a conference billing itself as being at least partially for “Indigenous Non-European” people while taking place on Indigenous Non-European land was highlighted and addressed by several events scheduled on Sunday February 14.

At 9 a.m., a panel was held on “Indigenous Experiences Inside and Outside the Pagan Community.” The panelists who spoke were Gregg Castro [t’rowt’raahl Salinan/rumsien Ohlone], Jacki Chuculate, Kanyon Sayers-Roods (Hahashkani-Coyote Woman) [Costanoan Ohlone and Chumash], Ryan Ts’ítskw Kozisek [Tlingit and white] and Michaela Spangenburg [multiracial Huron-Wendat].

The 9 a.m. panel was immediately followed by at 11 a.m. by “Native/Pagan Community Dialogue,” at which Ann-Marie Sayers (Mutsun Ohlone), caretaker of Indian Canyon, the only sovereign native lands in central-coastal California, and Director of Costanoan Indian Research, spoke. At 3 p.m., Ann Marie Sayers’s daughter, Kanyon Sayers-Roods, who had already spoken on the 9 a.m. panel, presented on “Finding Balance with Coyote Trickster Medicine.” Kanyon spoke eloquently on being taught the lesson of humility by and through trickster medicine to a packed room, and fielded many questions from the audience.

I have offered space within this column for the speakers from the “Indigenous Experiences Inside and Outside the Pagan Community” panel to write or otherwise publish whatever they wish, if they wish, with no edits or omissions. The time constraint of publishing within a week of Pantheacon has made that difficult, but the offer is continuous and open-ended with regards to future columns.

Kanyon Sayers-Roods recounted her experiences at Pantheacon in a short video which is too large to be uploaded directly, but which can be viewed here.

The questions I had asked, to which she was responding, were as follows:

My main question would be along the lines of: insofar as you feel comfortable sharing, do you feel like the Sunday 9 a.m. panel on “Indigenous Experiences Inside and Outside the Pagan Community” and your Sunday 3 p.m. presentation served your own goals well? How about the other things you attended that day?

To provide some context for the phrasing of this question, I think native-settler conversations (as the Sunday 11 a.m. “Native/Pagan Community Dialogue” was billed, for example) often have an element where settlers are still trying to “take” something from the conversation, even (or perhaps especially) when settlers are trying to be seen as “good allies.” But of course, you (both as individuals and as members of your communities and lineages) have your own reasons for engaging in such conversations, and for sharing your perspectives as you did. I really appreciated the 9 a.m. panel, and I recall that several speakers said that they really didn’t want the visibility of being on it but chose to do so anyway because it aligned with other work they were doing.

Anything that fell short of or exceeded what you were hoping to accomplish? Do you feel you and your ancestors were shown proper respect, or were there moments that you felt tokenized or otherwise disrespected? Any thoughts on how any of your experiences this weekend might influence anything you do in the future? And of course, let’s leave room in this conversation for trickster medicine to have its due, however it may choose to manifest.

Kanyon also offered the following additional thoughts in response:

There are times that I’ve been in the community/public where the sensation and energy is I’ve already conditioned me to feeling like a token Indian, specially around late October and early November. I call those months, “Rent your token NATIVE month” (also with that being said I do enjoy it a lot because that is my most lucrative month, actually being valued for the knowledge I carry and perspective that I share for the work that I thoroughly do everyday of my life ) so because I’ve already been conditioned in that type of environment, I have learned how to shield myself and protect myself so I’m not sure if I can properly assess my feelings if I were to claim I felt tokenized or commodified when it was present at Pantheacon.

I did appreciate those who had the willingness to attempt to voice their perspective with respect and courtesy. One of the things I voiced during one of my panels, was [that] at any given point we are ignorant to any information and what is important is how we walk forward when that new information is brought into our life. Walking with humility, attempting to decolonize our projected actions (less entitlement and privilege and outward energies that lack acknowledgement of how ones actions and words affect those around them–as well as seven generations in the future).

I will say this: I had an amazing time. I enjoyed all of the perspectives and opportunities to share perspective and insight to my life and experiences. Also [to] observe other people in their own native environment (pun intended).

Hospitality: Guests, Hosts, Hosted Guests, Guesting Hosts

A microphone and time were reserved for indigenous attendees to speak at the end of the 9 a.m. panel on “Indigenous Experiences Inside and Outside the Pagan Community,” and several members of the audience did indeed speak movingly and powerfully. As the event description stated, “Indigenous individuals have long been contributors at Pantheacon, and to the community as a whole; yet are often rendered invisible in pagan spaces through pervasive stereotypes, appropriation, and lack of awareness.” The panel provided space for acknowledgement that indigenous people have been present at Pantheacon for many years, but that they just haven’t been seen. Minutes before the room was cleared to make space for the next event, however, the founder and organizer of Pantheacon, Glenn Turner, walked up to the microphone and spoke, despite not identifying as native.

Let’s take a step back here and consider the question of hospitality. In a theological context, Anomalous Thracian writes that “when welcoming gods and spirits into your home and shrines and life, you are welcoming them as sacred guests.” At the same time, however, once the gods are enshrined within a space, you area guest in Their space when you step inside.” In other words, even when “hosting” on one level, one is still a guest on both the smaller level and the larger:

When hosting the gods, it is important to also remember that we are guests in Their dominions, travelers through Their domains of influence, dallying upon the doorsteps of Their infinities. Act accordingly, as guest or host or hosted guest or guesting host. […]

The laws of hospitality are ancient and to a certain extent elastic enough to stretch into different contexts, but always it is about the relationship between being welcome and being welcomed, and in this day, as I sit at a borrowed table, I find that this is as near to the heart of polytheism that I can perceive of in this moment. [Emphasis in original]

By analogy back to the inter-human sphere, one might be the host of a conference, for example, but one is still a guest of the peoples whose land one it is on, and a guest within the spaces provided for those people. A respectful guest would follow the rules delineated within that space. As the Thracian writes, “It isn’t about being a perfect host (there is no such thing, for all guests have different expectations) nor is it about being a perfect guest (there is no such thing, for all hosts have different expectations).” Being aware and respectful of those expectations would be a good first step, however.

[Credit: Klaus D. Peter / Wikimedia]

Matronae Aufaniae Altar [Credit: Klaus D. Peter / Wikimedia]

War: “Allies” and Accomplices

At a 9 p.m. ritual on Sunday evening, the Matronae — “a collective of indigenous Germanic and Celtic goddesses who were worshiped syncretically in the Roman Empire” — spoke through oracular trance possession again, as They had done six months earlier at Many Gods West. They too spoke about the importance of knowing the land upon which one stands: “Some of you know…find this thread and strengthen it.” They spoke of the storm, much prophesied at rituals in the past: “The storm is not coming. It is here.” They spoke of the war in which we cannot fight alone.

This war, then, makes alliances necessary. But the word “ally” itself has been stripped of much of its meaning. The phrase that kept coming to my mind on Monday morning, especially as I reflected upon my own experiences at the Pagans of Color Caucus and at the Pagans of Color Hospitality Suite, was “accomplices not allies.” The author of the article of the same name offers some thoughts on the distinction between the two terms:

In the worst cases, “allies” themselves act paralyzed believing it’s their duty as a “good ally.” There is a difference between acting for others, with others, and for one’s own interests, be explicit. You wouldn’t find an accomplice resigning their agency, or capabilities as an act of “support.” […]

Don’t wait around for anyone to proclaim you to be an accomplice, you certainly cannot proclaim it yourself. You just are or you are not. The lines of oppression are already drawn. Direct action is really the best and may be the only way to learn what it is to be an accomplice. We’re in a fight, so be ready for confrontation and consequence. [Emphasis in original]

“The lines of oppression are already drawn,” and “the storm is not coming, it is here.” For my part, I am looking for people who are already fighting, who remember that they know how to fight, and who exercise that memory. People who are fighting and living with a dignity and ferocity of spirit that can be recognized by any who share it. People whose ancestors are strong, whose ancestors walk close to them, whose ancestors are armed and fighting on their behalf. That’s why I go to events like Pantheacon. That’s why I write.

Dionysus said it this way once: “Under certain circumstances I love what is human”–and with this he alluded to Ariadne who was present–”man is to my mind an agreeable, courageous, inventive animal that has no equal on earth; it finds its way in any labyrinth. I am well disposed towards him: I often reflect how I might yet advance him and make him stronger, more evil, and more profound than he is.”

“Stronger, more evil, and more profound?” I asked startled.

“Yes,” he said once more; “stronger, more evil, and more profound; also more beautiful”–and at that the tempter god smiled with his halcyon smile as though he had just paid an enchanting compliment.

— Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

Interfaith has been a path that Pagans have become accustomed to hearing in our community, and very comfortable with the role that Interfaith plays in connecting our community of practitioners to the greater religious society. Covenant of the Goddess and Circle Sanctuary are examples of some of the prominent Pagan organizations that have invested time, money, and effort into developing trained Interfaith representatives.

While Pagans in the Interfaith community continue to work toward religious tolerance, integration, and networking, we are hearing more about the work of social justice in the community. Is social justice becoming the new interfaith?

University of Berkeley’s Social Justice Symposium defined social justice as “a process, not an outcome, which (1) seeks fair (re)distribution of resources, opportunities, and responsibilities; (2) challenges the roots of oppression and injustice; (3) empowers all people to exercise self-determination and realize their full potential; (4) and builds social solidarity and community capacity for collaborative action.”

Increased attention, advocacy and education have been seen within the themes of festivals, workshop offerings, Pagan blogs, and first-hand involvement in social justice activities. From the Occupy movement, forums addressing discrimination, prison work to peaceful protests, we are seeing some of our fellow Pagans being active in the theme of social equality.

starhawk 5 19 04


As the Pagan community is a microcosm of the larger macro society, how does working in social justice correlate with the paths of those Pagans who are active in the work? Starhawk made a recent statement on her Facebook fan page reflecting on the Martin/Zimmerman verdict, “I advocate nonviolence. But nonviolence is not passivity. It calls us to actively acknowledge that racism and patriarchy are deep, inherent, endemic forms of perpetual violence that infuse our society deeply, and will take much thought and work and courage to transform.

And for those of you who have said, ‘I love your Pagan, spiritual stuff but I’m not sure I’m with you on this’ – this IS my spiritual stuff. The Goddess I embrace is both love and rage, is She who inspires our passion for justice, and sustains us through the long hard work to bring it about.”

Environmental activism has long been associated with goddess worship and Paganism, but this type of social commentary has not always been something considered a spiritual staple in the overarching beliefs of the community. Yet we are seeing more opportunities for social activism, and an increased amount of voices and actions working towards topics of justice.

Joseph Nichter, author and Wiccan Prison Chaplain, took the opportunity to talk about his role of social justice work in the Prison system, and as a Veteran. In referencing the “other” listed on his dogtags in the military, Nichter talked about equal access to rights as a Pagan.

Joseph Merlin Nichter (aka WitchDoctorJoe)

Joseph Merlin Nichter (aka WitchDoctorJoe)

“Those tags were merely precursor to the religious discrimination I experienced while serving my country.  Although my military service has long since come to an end, those experiences left a lasting impression and social justice has come to play a significant role in my spiritual path as a Wiccan Prison Chaplain. I’ve come to believe with every fiber of my being that social justice is of critical importance to health and welfare Paganism, and that Paganism is of critical importance to the health and welfare of our future civilization.” – Joseph Nichter, author, Prison Chaplain.

Pagan activists are becoming more involved in some of the social causes, needs of the greater community, and more vocal about being involved. I reached out to several other Pagans who have done some recent work around issues of social justice advocacy concerning rights for prisoners, LBGTQ, military, the Occupy movement, and systemic injustice.

David Salisbury

David Salisbury

“Social justice is crucial in my spiritual life to the point of being my spiritual life. I cannot separate the two. Any time I’m able to contribute to the movements I’m involved in, I do so as an offering to my gods and the spirit of the world. It’s a holy act for me.

I was originally taught that Paganism is all about relationships — to people, the gods, and the land we inhabit. I think social justice is important to our many traditions because it’s about healing and strengthening the relationships between the three. In my animistic worldview, I can’t help but act because I can so easily see my gods in the face of every suffering person and animal.” – David Salisbury, author, Activist.

T. Thorn Coyle

T. Thorn Coyle

“Social justice has always been very close to my heart. As someone who experiences the sacred in all things, it is incumbent upon me to honor that to the best of my ability. Injustice causes a rift in the fabric of being. It is part of my work as a spiritual person to try to mend that rift, to help reweave the fabric of love. Nothing is devoid of spirit: not the stove or pots at my local soup kitchen; not the ancient forests that require protection; not the family whose teen was killed for little reason other than he was black. I feel a connection to all of these. I must help to right the world.”  – T. Thorn Coyle, author and activist.

Glenn Turner (Photo: OaklandNorth)

Glenn Turner (Photo: OaklandNorth)

“Pagans have a holistic view of the world that I believe polytheism fosters. The joy of a diversity of gods, gives us joy and tolerance of diversity. Through diversity we gain strength and resilience in adversity.

Social Justice is basic to a democracy that believes in equality and liberty for all. Our country was founded on these tenants. People have mostly come here to escape injustice; for slaves brought here against their will, their progeny deserve to find liberty and equality. The nurturing of the poor and disadvantaged can only strengthen our community and environment. Mutual support is a key to group magic and we are all in this world together.” – Glenn Turner, Founder of Pantheacon, Activist

Where Interfaith work has often had a focus on networking Pagans into the greater religious community, social justice work appears to be focused on greater societal issues that are not specifically focused on Paganism. This greater community work is a calling, just as interfaith work, and it is playing a large role in the momentum of how Pagans are investing energy in today’s social issues. While social justice does not replace the role of interfaith, they might just be closely related cousins that will continue to work in tandem with an agenda of spiritual accountability, inclusivity, equal access to religious resources, and social equality.

T. Thorn Coyle best summarized these thoughts in a final statement about the intersection of action, spiritual work and justice:

“We forget. We forget we are connected. We think our states of disconnection are the only reality, but the deeper reality exists in remembering that we are all alive together. When I scrub pots at the soup kitchen, or stand for people in Oakland who have been killed by police, or talk about the importance of the Voting Rights Act, or help send supplies to tornado victims, or organize a blood drive, or write about racism , I do all of this as a reminder to my soul: “You are part of this whole world, and it is of you.”

For full quotes, please see links below.

Glenn Turner

T. Thorn Coyle

Joseph Nichter

Pagan voices is a new spotlight on recent quotations from figures within the Pagan community. These voices may appear in the burgeoning Pagan media, or from a mainstream outlet, but all showcase our wisdom, thought processes, and evolution  in the public eye. Is there a Pagan voice you’d like to see highlighted? Drop me a line with a link to the story, post, or audio.

Ruth Barrett and Melissa Murry at PSG (Photo: PNC-MN)

Ruth Barrett and Melissa Murry at PSG (Photo: PNC-MN)

“Out of this conversation, Ruth and I parted ways but I feel that a great shift had begun. I was looking at where she was coming from and understand her perspective in a way that I had not been even considered before. I felt Ruth had come away with new insight from my workshop and our discussion also. She changed her language and spoke of “both/and” instead of “us/them”. That time was instrumental as we were able to connect before PSG’s media event. And my perspectives prior to this conversation had changed as well. While the ritual was hurtful in its exclusion, I acknowledged that the need for this space was necessary, as well as space for all people who share common experiences together. I believe when trans-men and women have space to connect, heal, and emerge that the conversation might change. And we can share a space together in main ritual events!” – Melissa Murry, from a statement sent to PNC-Minnesota in the wake of a press conference held at Pagan Spirit Gathering on Saturday, featuring Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, Dianic High Priestess Ruth Barrett, and Murry, a transgendered activist.

Kenny Klein

Kenny Klein

“I think that number one, the Pagan Festival phenomenon is not well known. People who identify as Pagans don’t even realize that festivals exist. I don’t know if that’s because the festivals don’t advertise, or if people aren’t utilizing avenues like Witchvox, but for some reason people don’t know about Pagan Festivals. Secondly I think that when people visit Pagan Festivals they have unreasonable expectations. There are two extremes I’ve personally seen. The one extreme involves people who seem to think that the Pagan Festival experience should be the same experience as a Renaissance Faire or SCA event. The other extreme has people, and I think you and I talked about this, who say that if they go to a Pagan Festival three states away they’ll be outed at work and fired. That’s a very unrealistic expectation about who is there and what type of people run festivals. To answer your original question, I think that a large number of Pagan authors don’t know that these festivals exist.”Kenny Klein, musician and author of “Through The Faerie Glass: A Look at the Realm of Unseen and Enchanted Beings,” on why only a small percentage of Pagans attend Pagan festivals.

Shauna Aura Knight

Shauna Aura Knight

“I find myself as an unlikely ambassador in Chicago for the inclusion of transgendered people. Many ask me, “Why do you say, ‘all genders’ , isn’t there only two?” That is what I thought a few years ago and after  I have met, worked with, and lived with several transgendered people, my views have changed. I know I don’t always understand or connect with all the issues a transgendered person may encounter.  I do understand, as a heavily built woman, sometimes not liking my own body or feeling betrayed by my body. There is where I can find compassion. What we really need is more education, particularly in the Midwest, surrounding these issues.”Shauna Aura Knight, teacher and ritual leader, discussing her support for Melissa Murry at Pagan Spirit Gathering.

Crystal Blanton
Crystal Blanton

“How exciting of a time we live with the evolution of human kind and within a Pagan community that allows for such reflections of diversity in opinion, ethnicity, practice, beliefs, socio-economic statues and even varying contributions. Blessed Be the chances to grow and evolve. I am happy to be on this journey with those who choose and if you don’t, for whatever reason, may you find what you need. If you are looking for an avenue to express your spiritual self without multicultural faces like mine, may you find that too but you won’t find it here.”Crystal Blanton, author of “Bridging the Gap: Working Within the Dynamics of Pagan Groups and Society,” on diversity and acceptance within the Pagan community.

Glenn Turner (Photo: OaklandNorth)

Glenn Turner (Photo: OaklandNorth)

“One of the things we do is we provide hope for people, and very personalized customer service. When people come in here, frequently they want a candle that will bring money or love to them. We help them focus and understand how to focus their intent to bring these things into their lives. […] I don’t know if it’s been scientifically proven that this kind of thing works, but in my mind, it’s been proven. […]  I think because so many of us have scientific backgrounds and education, people seek out something spiritual, but they’re not really wanting a list of ‘thou-shall-not’s. They want something that connects them back to the Earth.” Glenn Turner, owner of Ancient Ways in Oakland, California, and founder of PantheaCon in San Jose.

Sannion (Photo: Dver)

Sannion (Photo: Dver)

“We erected the shrine on a tree trunk that extended out over the river. We made a ring of flowers, jewelry and candles, set up a little bowl and a pretty card, stabbed sticks of incense into the moist earth beside it and then hung strips of cloth and the little head I’d decorated on nearby trees. Then Dver sang to the nymphs, we poured out libations of mead, offered them fresh honeycomb and the other things we’d brought, I recited my hymn to the Willamette, and Dver released the floating candles lit into the river and drowned the rusalka doll. Then we spent some time privately communing with the spirits of the place.”Sannion (H. Jeremiah Lewis), a contributor to “Written In Wine: A Devotional Anthology For Dionysos,” on the celebration of the Naiad Nymphaia in Eugene, Oregon.

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

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).

ADDENDUM: Here’s presenter Tony Mierzwicki’s experiences of TheurgiCon.