Ontario gears up for Occulticon 2017

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HOLSTEIN, Ont. – As the festival season starts to wind down for the year, organizers of the premiere edition of Occulticon are ramping up to deliver an event that is being billed as “a convention for all things curious, all things occult.”

This new addition to the festival and convention circuit will be held at the Pagan owned and operated Mythwood Campground and Private Retreat from September 8 – 10.

Mythwood Campground is located an hour north of Toronto in Southern Ontario, a region of Canada that already supports a multitude of Pagan, Heathen and Witchcraft related festivals and events. From May until September, the area sees at least one large public gathering and sometimes more each weekend.

Occulticon organizers are promising a unique event and are taking a distinctly different approach to how this new addition to the scene will be presented.

Adam Simpson, the Creative Director and webmaster for Occulticon, outlined the main difference.

“Occulticon isn’t a Pagan event. It will include Pagan elements, but we’re casting a much wider net. We’re hoping to attract visitors from many diverse belief systems, as well as those simply curious about experiences outside of the spectrum of the everyday. We’ve spread the word throughout Ontario, as well as New York and Michigan.”

A detailed schedule will be released closer to the date, but organizers are promising that visitors can expect presentations and lectures on a wide range of topics such as parapsychology, secret societies, ghosts, magick, Witchcraft, astrology, tarot, psychic training, a seance live music performances and more.

In addition to the programming, there will also be vending, a psychic expo and a chance to watch blacksmiths at work creating magical tools.

Rounding out the program will be opportunities to participate in ritual and ceremony.

Frater Archeus will host a High Magick Ceremony during which participants can experience the traditional rites of a practicing ceremonial lodge and initiatory society.

Witchdoctor Utu along with members of the Dragon Ritual Drummers and friends will be consecrating a new permanent altar on Mythwood land with a voodoo ceremony for Harriet “Mama Moses” Tubman and the spirits of the Underground Railroad.

A Sara Kali ceremony led by John Corvus, called “Taking the Cloth” will celebrate the continuation of one’s lifelong dedication to be the magical link of their community.

Addressing this diversity, Simpson said, “Although the convention is non-denominational, it will have an impact on the Ontario Pagan community. This is an opportunity for knowledgeable Pagans to share their thoughts and experiences with a much wider audience.”

“Occulticon will be a gateway for newcomers interested in Paganism, but not knowing where to start.”

The mandate of Occulticon is to support the pursuit of knowledge, history, and ancient religions, with an interest in exploring the mysteries of the universe in a way that supports diversity and respectful intellectual exchange. Courteous discussion of how differing philosophies can bring people together is encouraged.

Occulticon Executive Director Khaman Mythwood [Courtesy]

The original idea for Occulticon came from Khaman Mythwood, one of the owners of the campground. He now serves as the executive director of the event. His personal desire to share the mysteries and hidden aspects of occult practice motivated him to share his vision with the wider world:

“Our patrons at Occulticon can expect to experience something rare and usually unseen to the general public. Experts on the occult from around the world will be sharing their knowledge through lectures and presentations. They will take an academic approach to reveal secrets and hidden knowledge to those who truly seek to better understand the mysteries of life.”

The diverse lineup consists of more than two dozen guest speakers, not only from the local area, but from around the world as well.

Local talent such as Ecstatic Ritualist and the events Master of Ceremonies, Jim Findley, psychotherapist, storyteller and pagan chaplain, Brian Walsh, Romani Wayfairer and Divination practitioner, John Corvus and Witchdoctor Utu of the Dragon Ritual Drummers are but a few of the faces that have been long time contributors to the local communities and events in the area.

Master of Ceremonies and Ecstatic Ritualist, Jim Findley [Courtesy]

International guests include Ian Corrigan, former Archdruid of the ADF who will be traveling from the United States to speak about Archaic Goetia and the Grimoire Revival. Tata Manuel Congo, a well-known ethnologist, occultist and educator, will be making the long trip from Italy to speak about Italian Witchcraft.

The onsite talent coordinator Pamela Fletcher is a well-known and respected priestess and longtime organizer. She has been previously involved with Kaleidoscope Gathering and Gaia Gathering, as well as many other events.

Of this new endeavour, Fletcher remarked, “Occulticon, like some other larger Pagan events, is going to be extremely inclusionary and will have a very broad appeal across many spiritual paths and walks of life. The speakers will be presenting unique and diverse information that anyone, no matter how long they have been on their spiritual journey, will find interesting.”

In addition to the academic-style presentations, world-class entertainment is also being planned including traditional Celtic storyteller Brian Walsh, fiddler Ben Deschamps of the Heather Dale band, and and a special Scottish Bagpipe presentation. It will also include a psychic fair and vendors’ market.”

Mythwood added, “We are proud to host Witchdoctor Utu and the amazing Dragon Ritual Drummers, voted Canada’s number one Pagan hand drumming group.”

Occulticon 2018 is already being considered, and plans are in the works for the next edition.

“We are very excited for the future of Occulticon. It gives us the opportunity to learn and share our knowledge of the occult in a safe open environment with respected Elders and occult experts,” explained Mythwood.

“We already have some amazing things lined up for next year that we just couldn’t fit in the schedule for 2017.”

Simpson’s passion for showcasing his home community and public service is apparent. He said, “It’s time for the Ontario Pagan community to show the greater world what we have to offer. Occulticon is a step in that direction.”

“For newcomers who are interested in Paganism, we can help point them to any number of places where they may be able to find the answers they’re seeking. For veteran members of the Pagan community, Occulticon is an opportunity to learn outside of our traditional milieus. There will be new faces, and you’ll get to see a different side of those you already know and love.”