Over this past weekend, Pagans, Heathens and Polytheists from around the country met in Detroit, Michigan for ConVocation. Held annually since 1995, the conference was reportedly once again a huge success. ConVocation is run by the Michigan-based Magical Education Council (MEC), who also sponsors a June Pagan picnic and the “Beyond the Veil” event in October.
Along with its usual merchants room, art show, drum circle and guest speakers, the 2016 event included a number of unique workshops and talks. For example, author and publisher Taylor Ellwood “co-facilitated the Pagan leadership workshop with Annika Mongan and Shauna Aura Knight.” This workshop was inspired by the new Pagan Leadership Anthology edited by Ellwood and Knight, and published by Immanion Press.
Rev. Kirk Thomas and John Drum were both in attendance, offering two different ADF rituals. Circle Sanctuary’s Selena Fox presented her Brigid Healing Ritual, including a special part dedicated to those communities affected by the water crisis in Flint. Similarly, Witchdoctor Utu of the Dragon Ritual Drummers created a sacred altar “to honour and bring forth the spirit of Doctor John Montanee” and led a “Voodoo Rite” for healing and purification. These are only a few of the many diverse offerings at ConVocation.
In retrospect, Utu said, “It can be easy to become jaded among some of the pagan events, especially if you travel to so many of them, but every once and a while we again see a community that is doing it all right and for all the right reasons. I can’t say enough about the staff and support crew of Convocation, for its size it’s a very well put together and organized event. They also find ways to makes sure the event brings all the attendees together, and keeps it cohesive as opposed to scattered, which makes its a lot of fun on top of everything else they provide.”
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This past month, a new group was formed called the Polytheist Death Guild. Its purpose is to open a “broad conversation in polytheist communities about death, dying, and the specific issues they present for polytheists.” Organizers said that they “intend also to provide resources for death preparation and funeral planning, and a library of articles and rituals for polytheists of many traditions.”
The Polytheist Death Guild was founded by Rebecca Lynn Scott, author of A Litany to the Many Dead. Scott lives in Seattle and has been helping to write “death rituals for the Hellenic Orphic Bacchic tradition known as the Starry Bull.” On the new website, she explains,”Preparing for the deaths of ourselves and our loved ones, mourning, and assuring that our deaths and funerals are what we want them to be: these are important issues that need to be addressed within our communities of faith.”
As of now, the Polytheist Death Guild has a website with a blog, which also includes contact information. The Guild can also be followed on Twitter @polytheistdeath. For those interested in this work, Scott said that they “plan to hold open chats on the first Tuesday and third Friday of the month, starting in March.” Contact the group directly for more information.
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Asphodel Press has just released a new anthology titled Pagan Consent Culture: Building Communities of Empathy & Autonomy. Edited by Yvonne Aburrow and Christine Hoff Kraemer, the book is broken into three parts and offers essays from over thirty different writers.
Aburrow and Kraemer said, “Although many Pagans see the body and sexuality as sacred, Pagan communities still struggle with the reality of assault and abuse. To build consent culture, good consent practices must be embraced by communities, not just by individuals—and consent is about much more than sexuality.” In part one, “writers develop specifically Pagan philosophies of consent, tackling complex issues.” In part two, the writers offer “personal narratives of abuse and healing,” including ways to prevent such cases. Finally, part three “provides resources for teaching and practicing consent culture.”
Pagan Consent Culture is now available in electronic formats or paperback directly from Asphodel Press via LuLu.com.
In Other News:
- While the Feast of Lights, ConVocation and PantheaCon are now over, there are still other conferences just over the horizon. Sacred Space is the next big event. It will be held Mar 10-13, at the Hunt Valley Inn in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Its featured presenters include: Ian Corrigan, Ivo Dominguez Jr. and Ellen Lorenzi-Prince. For up to the minute information on conference details, follow the conference on Facebook.
- Heathens United Against Racism (HUAR) has announced a May Day event to take place “worldwide.” This event is called “Light the Beacons” and follows the tradition of fire-lighting in order to bring people together. Organizers explain, “On this coming May Day we call on all Heathens around the world who stand for inclusive, tolerant, and diverse practice to light a beacon in solidarity with all other Heathens who stand for these values in our spirituality.” They are asking people around the world to light a candle or even a bonfire on May 1 at any time during that day. After the event is through, they welcome photos of these lights on the event page.
- After news was announced of John Belham-Payne’s death, the Centre for Pagan Studies and the Doreen Valiente Foundation were overwhelmed with an outpouring of community support. Since The Wild Hunt memorial tribute was published, the trustees of both organizations have set up a special John Belham-Payne Memorial Facebook Page to act as a gathering place for people to share photos and stories. And, in the wake of all those memories, John’s legacy has definitely proven that it will live on. This weekend saw the official launch of the book Doreen Valiente – WITCH.
- Witch School International has announced that it is now offering “the Correllian First Degree in Spanish.” The course material was translated by Rev. Harwe Tuileva Primavera and uploaded to the school’s site. CEO Charlynn said, “In the coming months we will also be adding other new course materials.”
- The Dragon Ritual Drummers has announced the release of a new single called The Riders of la Santa Muerte. Witchdoctor Utu said, “With one of our members Flint, being diagnosed with terminal cancer last year, we immersed ourselves in the mysteries of death, with her impending visit soon to arrive, we began to record most of our upcoming CD Dancing with the Dead which haled shortly before his passing.” Utu noted that they have now returned to that music project and decided to release the single in advance. He added that several members do personally venerate Santa Muerte, and often the group will dedicate a piece of music to a “spiritual or tangible force as an offering.” The Dragon Ritual Drummers can be found at Reverbnation.